Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reduced-Fat Strawberry Shortcakes

I have used the same shortcake recipe for probably forty or more years. My mother always made a yellow cake which we used as shortcake when I was a child. It was much to soft to suit me. I came across a recipe in BH&G in the 60's which was a hit with our family. Today I have found a reduced-fat recipe which I am sure will be the new family recipe.
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Reduced-Fat Strawberry Shortcake
Ingredients:
Shortcakes:
2 c. all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 T. fat free Greek yogurt
1/2 c. skim milk
4 T. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
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Strawberries:
6 cups strawberries (2 cups hulled plus 4 cups hulled halved and sliced.)
3 T. Sugar
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Whipped Topping:
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 c. fat free Greek yogurt
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Directions:
Strawberries:
Crush 2 cups hulled strawberries in a large bowl with potato masher.Stir in four cups sliced berries and sugar and let set at room temperature until sugar has dissolved and berries are juicy, about 30 minutes.
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Shortcakes:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place rack in middle of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
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Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in small bowl. Whisk yogurt, milk, and butter in a large bowl until small clumps remain. Stir in flour mixture until well combined. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead until smooth, 8 to 10 times.
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Pat dough into an 8 inch circle about 1/2 inch thick. Using a 3 inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out shortcakes and transfer to a prepared baking sheet. Gently pat dough scraps into 1/2 inch circle and cut out additional shortcakes. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool cakes about 10 minutes.
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Whipped Topping:
With electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gently fold in yogurt. Keep chilled until ready to use.
Assemble: Halve shortcakes and evenly divide berry mixture among shortcake bottoms. Replace tops and add a few more berries and a dallop of whipped cream.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Frittelle Di Riso ~ Rice Fritters

Frittelle Di Riso
Rice Fritters
This is the fourth and final recipe from the cooking class I attended at Ponte Winery. Chef Roberto Carboni was most captivating with his techniques and recipes which I have shared. Rice fritters are an Italian dessert speciality.
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Pair with Ponte Moscato
Ingredients:
4 c. whole milk
1 1/2 c. arboria rice
4 T. sugar
2 T. unsalted butter
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 T. vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated
5 c. vegetable oil for frying
3 T. sugar for sprinkling on tops
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Directions:
In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk with half of the sugar, the butter, the lemon zest and the vanilla. Bring to a boil and add the rice. Lower the heat and let cook for about 30 minutes until the rice is almost dry. Set aside and let cool at room temperature.
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In a large bowl, mix the cooled cooked rice with the egg yolks. Whip the egg whites until stiff and fold into the rice mixture.
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In a deep fryer or a heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 350 degrees. With two tablespoons, shape the rice mixture into oval shapes and drop into the hot ol wthout crowding too many at once. With a slotted spoon, scoop from the oil and set on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
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Arrange the fritters on individual plates or a large platter, sprinkle with sugar and serve hot.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tagliata Florentina

Tagliata Florentina
Florentine Sliced Steak
This is another wonderful recipe and method for cooking a melt in your mouth steak from the wonderful Tuscan Cooking Class that I attended at Ponte Winery with Chef Roberto Carboni.
Pair with Ponte Super Tuscan Wine
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Ingredients:
2 T-bone or ribeye steaks, each about 1 lb. and 1 inch thick
2 c. tender baby arugula leaves
6 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese cut into thin shavings
3 T. extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
2 T. aged bsalmic vinegar for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
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Directions:
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator one-half hour befor grilling.
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Preheat oven to 450 F. and place a cast iron skillet to heat in oven.
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Prepare the steaks by sprinkling both sides with olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
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Using tongs (to avoid piercing the meat), Set the steaks on the hot cast iron pan which has been coated by lightly wiping with a cloth with olive oil and place back in the oven.
Cook until the steaks are well browned on both sides, about 8 minutes for medium-rare for a one-inch thick steak.
Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent and let rest for a few minutes, then cut across the grain into 1 to 3-inch slices, removing the bone.
Arrange the slices on a serving platter and top with any juices that accumulated on the cutting board. Season generously with pepper. Scatter the arugula and shaves of Parmigiano-Reggiano on each dinner plate, drizzle with olive oil and bsalmic vinegar and serve with slices of the steak.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ravioli Ignudi

Ravioli Ignudi
Naked Ravioli
This is another recipe from the cooking class I attended at Ponte Winery with Chef Roberto Carboni.
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Pair with Barbera Ponte Wine
Ingredients:
10 oz. ricotta Cheese
2 lb. spinach, leaves only
4 oz. mortadella, very finely chopped
1 1/2 c. Parmigiana-Reggiano, grated
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, grated
2 egg yolks
2/3 c. flour
1/3 c. unsalted butter
8 whole fresh sage leaves
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Directions:
Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring water to a boil and add one tablespoon of salt.
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Cook the spinach quickly, until tender, about 4 minutes.
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Drain well, wrap in a cheesecloth and squeeze all the excess water. Chop coarsely.
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In a large bowl, mix the spinach with the ricotta cheese; slowly incorporate the mortadella, 2/3 of Parmesan cheese, nutmeg and the egg yolks. Mix thoroughly.
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With a spoon, scoop a spoonful of the mixture into your hands well-floured and form into a dumpling-like oval shape: Cook the first few to see how hold up and don't break when cooked in water. If they do break, dredge (coat) with flour.
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Bring a large pasta pot filled with lightly salted water to a boil. As soon as the Ravioli rise to the top of the water, remove them from the water.
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The ravioli can be baked at 450^ for 5 to 6 minutes
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For The Brown Butter Sauce: 
Melt half of the butter in a saute pan with the sage leaves and black pepper. When the sage leaves and the butter begin to turn golden brown, add additional pepper and add the water, little by little. Keep stirring and adding water or chicken stock, on low hear until you have a creamy, velvet butter sauce. Serve the naked ravioli as you like. Top with shaved Parmesan shavings. Garnish with a couple of fresh sage leaves and freshly shaved Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Zuppa Di Cavolo Nero

Thursday night I took a Tuscan cooking class with Chef Roberto Carbonari at Ponte Winery. I can't remember a class that was as much fun! My neighbor lady Alice who enjoys the classes as much as I do accompanied me. We both are looking forward to the next scheduled class with Chef Roberto Carboni.
Zuppa Di Cavolo Nero
Pair with Ponte Pinot Grigio
Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. dried beans
6 c. water
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 potatoes, medium, cubed
4 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 tsp. parsley, minced
1 c. Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 lb. Lacinato Kale (Elephant or Nero Kale)
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 loaf rustic bread, sliced
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Directions:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the 1/3 cup olive oil.
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Add the onions and let cook a couple of minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and potatoes stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and translucent, about 8 minutes.
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Add the chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
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Add the Lacinato kale, the cooked white beans and their liquid, parsley, salt and pepper, and enough water just to cover the vegetables.
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Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
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Cover reduce the heat to low and simmer until all the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.
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Scoop into warmed bowls and drizzle with the olive oil.
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Serve hot with slices of arm rustic bread and grated Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mountain Meadow Mushroom Farm

Mountain Meadow Mushroom Farm
Another fun thing I do is conduct tours for the Oaks North Travel Club. Conduct is explained. I choose the destination, work up a budget, advertise the trip at the Club meetings, charter a bus, collect the checks, call everyone a week prior, meet them at the Club House and away we go!

This is a clump of the growing medium which has been recently sewn. The growing medium is cotton plant hulls, grape seed and skins crushed, dry wall, and sterilized straw.

The plant is beginning to develop.

The fruit of the plant is the mushroom. Three pickings or growths will occur from each planting. This shows the area where a "picker" cut mushrooms today.
This photo shows the 8,000. lbs. of mushrooms picked today and waiting to be sorted, graded and packaged for distribution. The State of California does not allow retailing at the plant. Mushrooms are sold to distributors.
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Mountain Meadow Mushroom Farm
What could entertain a "Foodie" more than a trip to a food source. I was always told that I should be so careful about the specks on mushrooms as the mushrooms are grown in manure. I have always made a very laborious task of cleaning my mushrooms. I now know they are grown in sterilized straw from the Del Mar Race Track. Compounding the growing medium is a real science as the many components contribute to a vital balance of the chemistry. After three cuttings the growing medium is placed on a compost pile and given to local gardeners. The next sowing requires new growing medium. The tour was very interesting.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mushrooms On Toast

Mushrooms On Toast
Yesterday at the Green Grocery, I sampled an appetizer that I thought, "it doesn't get easier than this". I served them to friends last evening and it was thumbs up!
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Ingredients:
Heat 1 T. oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
Add 1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms and 1 T. each chopped fresh thyme and rosemary.
Saute until softened, about 3 minutes.
Spoon onto 12 baguette toasts.
Garnish with fresh thyme
Serves 4

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Happy Birthday Oreo

Happy Birthday Oreo
I confess that not every lunch I packed for our children years ago had a home baked cookie in the sack. Oreos made it to one hundred because of mothers like me. Today I still say a glass of milk for dunking and a plate of oreos, now that is comfort food. Right children?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Crab Imperial

Crab Imperial

INGREDIENTS

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shell pieces
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp. sherry
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. worcestershire
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Toasted, sliced country bread, for serving
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INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat oven to 400°. Heat 5 tbsp. butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour, and cook, stirring, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk in cream, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in crabmeat, half the bread crumbs, bell pepper, onion, half the parsley, sherry, lemon juice, Worcestershire, half the paprika, mustard, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Divide mixture evenly among 6 shallow 6-oz. ramekins; place ramekins on a baking sheet and set aside.
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2. In a small bowl, mix remaining butter, bread crumbs, and paprika until evenly combined; sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs evenly over each ramekin. Bake until lightly browned and bubbling in the center, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve hot with toast on the side. Serves 6

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Sausage and Lentils with Fennel

A fennel trifecta—you'll find that the sweet fronds, bulb, and seeds mix harmoniously in this dish.
ingredients:
1 cup dried lentils (preferably French green lentils; 7 ounces
4 1/2 cups cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 medium (3/4-pound) fennel bulb (sometimes labeled "anise"), stalks discarded, reserving fronds
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/4 pounds sweet Italian sausage links
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar, or to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Directions:
Bring lentils, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender but not falling apart, 12 to 25 minutes. *

Read More http://www.epicurious.com:80/recipes/food/views/Sausage-and-Lentils-with-Fennel-236943#ixzz1o6sA1O1yprepaBring lentils, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender but not falling apart, 12 to 25 minuteWhile lentils simmer, cut fennel bulb into 1/4-inch dice and chop enough fennel fronds to measure 2 tablespoons. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then stir in onion, carrot, fennel bulb, fennel seeds, and remaining teaspoon salt. Cover pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.Bring lentils, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lenti*

Meanwhile, lightly prick sausages in a couple of places with tip of a sharp knife, then cook sausages in remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board.
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Drain cooked lentils in a sieve set over a bowl and reserve cooking water. Stir lentils into vegetables with enough cooking water to moisten (1/4 to 1/2 cup) and cook over moderate heat until heated through. Stir in parsley, pepper, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon fennel fronds. Season with vinegar and salt.
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Cut sausages diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve lentils topped with sausage and sprinkled with remaining tablespoon fennel fronds. Drizzle all over with extra-virgin olive oil.