Saturday, November 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

1 9" pie crust (I used chocolate cookie crust)
1 10 oz pkg peanut butter chips
3 oz cream cheese
¼ C powdered sugar
1/3 C + 2 Tbls milk
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 Tbls cold water
2 Tbls boiling water
½ C sugar
1/3 C cocoa powder
1 C whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
Optional: additional prepared whipped cream for serving.

Melt 1½ C peanut butter chips. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1/3 C milk in medium bowl until smooth. Add melted chips; beat well. Beat in remaining 2 Tbls milk. Spread in pie shell.

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl; let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Cool slightly.

Combine sugar and cocoa in medium bowl; add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat until stiff; pour in gelatin mixture, beating until well blended. Spoon over peanut butter mixture in pie shell. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Garnish with remaining chips; serve with additional whipped cream.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cucumber & Smoked Salmon Verrines

Verrine is French for 'glass case' or 'protective glass'. In a culinary context, it refers to any layered recipe, usually an appetizer or dessert, served in individual glass dishes. Goblets can work. You might even use any clear, glass, drinking glasses...depending on the size and shape (smaller breakfast/juice glasses?).

Ingredients (Serves 4):
1 cucumber
dash salt
1 Tbls lime juice
1 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil + more to drizzle
½ apple (green or pink lady)
4 pink radishes
9 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped dill
4-6 oz smoked salmon, diced
½ tsp cracked red peppercorns

Peel and seed cucumber, grate it and place it in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let rest on the side for 30 minutes to drain. Peel, core and cut the apple in small sticks and drizzle with lime juice to prevent oxidation. Transfer to a bowl. Wash and trim the radishes; cut into very small sticks.

Press on the cucumber with the tip of your fingers to squeeze out the excess water; combine with the apple and radish sticks. Add the fresh herbs, 1 tablespoon yogurt* and the olive oil. No need to add more salt as the cucumber is already seasoned.

Divide between four glasses. Top with 2 tablespoons of yogurt in each glass and finish with the diced smoked salmon. (I made two layers of each ingredient in my verrines.) Drizzle with olive oil and top with cracked red peppercorns. Garnish with lime slices -- to drizzle with extra lime juice. Serve with bread sticks.

This image isn't anything I made personally (it's a street-side vendor's treat, for sale in Venice when I was visiting earlier this summer); but it is another example of a verrine...a honey, yogurt, granola, and mixed fruit verrine. Beautiful presentation and it doesn't require any complicated recipe or prep work.

Monday, August 22, 2011


The recipe below is from my cooking class in Florence, Italy, recently. Even as the chef, Giovanni, was dictating the recipe below, he was telling us his own personal preferences for variations. (For example, he doesn't use any liquer, saying there are enough other flavors already, and it thins the cream filling.) The picture at right is my own variation of the recipe: I don't like coffee; so I substituted a chocolate infused red wine, and instead of dusting the glasses with cocoa powder I used a layer of fudge sauce. Use the recipe below, given in its original form, as a base and create your own favorite dessert!

Ingredients (serves 5)
1 lb mascarpone cheese, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
5 Tbls (heaping) sugar
5 Tbls sweetened cocoa powder
10 ladyfingers (or other similar biscuits/cookies, or spongecake)
1 C coffee
5 Tbls liquer (Baileys, Kahlua, rum...)

Separate eggs. Whisk sugar into egg yolks a little at a time. Add mascarpone to yolk mixture, stirring until very smooth. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form; fold gently into yolk mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Add liquer to egg cream mixture.

Dust serving dishes with cocoa. Add a layer of cream mixture, dust with cocoa, top with ladyfingers that have been dipped in coffee. (If using spongecake, slice and cut to fit serving dishes.) Top with another layer of cream, and dust tops with more cocoa powder.

Serve garnished with chocolate shavings, additional biscuits, whipped cream...

Thursday, August 18, 2011


This is more of a reminder than a recipe. When I was traveling in Italy, and when I would eat somewhere "nice" (i.e. typically a bit more expensive, with multiple courses) I was more than once served something like this.

In Italy, cheese was typically served after the main (meat) course and salad, right before the dolce, dessert. The cheese was most likely to be fontina, pecorino, some type of romano, or another local variety; the fruit always a stone/pit fruit (nectarine, peach, plum) -- though that could have been simply because of what was/wasn't in season at the time I was there; and honey for drizzling...often a locally made variety.

I served a cheese, fruit & honey plate recently to a group of girlfriends who came over for the evening -- not for dinner, just for cheese & wine, and later on...dessert. Simple to prepare, but a bit more upscale than your typical cheese and crackers. :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wine-Marinated Peaches

Ingredients (per person):
1 peach
1 tsp fresh chopped mint
1 Tbls brown sugar
¼ C white wine (a Riesling is nice...sweet)

In a bowl, mix sugar and wine until sugar is dissolved. Add chopped mint.

Pit and dice the peach (peel it if you want, but it's not necessary; white peaches look especially pretty). Add peach pieces to wine mixture, stirring to coat. Place in refrigerator to marinate 1-2 hours before serving; stir it once or twice while marinating to make sure all peach pieces are coated/soaking in wine mixture.

Delicious on it's own, but you can also serve it over ice cream, sponge cake, angel food cake, etc. Other fruits (strawberries, nectarines, pears, plums...) can be prepared the same way. Use more or less sugar depending on how sweet the fruit is itself.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Egg Noodle Pasta

We made this type of pasta in both the cooking classes I attended when I visited Italy. This simple recipe can be rolled out and cut into spaghetti, vermicelli, fettuccine, linguine...made into ravioli (pictured below), farfalle... Or other shapes if you're really creative and have a lot of time. In one of the classes, the chef scoffed at using a pasta rolling machine, preferring to do everything by hand (which really doesn't take long if you're only making a single recipe -- below, serves 1 or 2). In the other class...the chef used one! :)

2/3 C flour*
1 large egg

(Lots of pasta recipes include a little olive oil and/or a pinch of salt. Neither of the chefs in my two cooking classes in Italy did -- but I have experimented with it since then. I like a little olive oil.)

Mound the flour on a flat surface and make a well in the middle. Crack the egg into the middle of the flour well. With a fork, beat the egg and begin mixing in the flour. As a dough begins to form, use your hands to knead the dough until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is very smooth.

Roll the dough very thin; cut or shape into desired noodle size/shape. Place in boiling water for 2-4 minutes.

Cooking time may be slightly longer if you stuff the pasta (e.g. ravioli) or if it's folded or gathered like with a farfalle shaped noodle ('bow-tie' pasta); but with fresh pasta it's really quick.

*In Italy, the recipe was given in if you have a kitchen scale: 100 grams of flour. Generic, all purpose flour works well with this pasta. In one of the classes we made another pasta with semolina flour; I'll try that out and post it soon. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Marinated Eggplant

I took a one-day cooking class when I was in Rome -- "Fabiolous Cooking Day" (the chef's name is Fabio)...actually the class was in Mazzano, a small country village not far from Rome. I haven't found this recipe on the site, so I don't have exact amounts, but I don't remember really measuring anything as we made this dish anyway! :)

white wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
fresh parsley

Thinly slice the eggplant and lay it on a baking sheet or in a baking dish, preferably in a single layer but it's okay if they overlap some. Put it in the oven (375°) until the slices begin to dry and turn a light golden brown. (30-45 minutes, depends how thick your slices are.)

While the eggplant is roasting, dice a few cloves of garlic (more if you like stronger garlic flavor) and chop fresh parsley. I'd guess about three to four cloves of garlic and 2-3 tablespoons of parsley for each medium sized eggplant.

In a bowl, lay down a layer of roasted eggplant and sprinkle generously with equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar, then toss in some garlic and chopped parsley. Keep layering in that way until you've doused all the eggplant slices. (There was a little oil and wine 'juice' puddling in the bottom of the dish when we made it in my cooking class, but not enough that the eggplant slices were floating around in a brine or anything.)

Put it in the frig to marinate for at least an hour, turning once or twice to coat slices evenly. Longer than an hour would probably be great, though when I made it at home the eggplant leftover the next day was definitely more 'wilted', so don't make this dish too far in advance.

Serve chilled as a side dish.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Braised Baby Carrots

I'm really NOT a fan of cooked carrots. But when I can get them from my garden, prepped, cooked, and onto the table in less than ½ an hour...they're sweet and tender!

fresh carrots
olive oil
brown sugar
(balsamic vinegar)

Cut off the excess stems. I don't really peel the carrots, just scrub them under running water. Throw a little olive oil (or butter) in a small sauté pan over medium heat and add the carrots. Little carrots like these (pictured) really only need to cook 3-5 minutes at most. Sprinkle with brown sugar during the last minute or so, and then keep them moving so it doesn't burn, but begins to carmelize. (I'm fairly generous with the brown sugar.) I added a tablespoon or so of a balsamic vinegar glaze (a recent acquisition, in Italy!) to these carrots; but they're delicious with just the brown sugar. Or get creative...instead of brown sugar, sprinkle on cinnamon, curry, garlic or any of your favorite spices. Not all at once, of course!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Frutti di Bosco (mixed wild berry) Gelato

Ice cream, sorbet, gelato...what's the difference? Check it out here.

¾ sugar
1 C milk
16 oz mixed berries
juice of one lemon

Combine the milk, sugar, and berries in a saucepan; heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature.

Place all ingredients, including lemon juice, in a blender and process until smooth. If desired, strain to remove any seeds. Place mixture in ice cream maker for 20-25 minutes. If desired, transfer to an air-tight container to freeze for a firmer consistency.

Serve...garnished with fresh berries. :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Limone (Lemon) Gelato

Having just returned from Italy, I was anxious to try out some gelato recipes in my ice-cream maker here at home! Gelato, ice cream, sorbet...what's the difference? A simplified explanation: Traditionally, gelato has a lower fat content (4-8%) than ice cream (12-16%); it's usually made with milk rather than cream, though it may contain a combination of both. Gelato often has a higher sugar content (around 20% depending on the flavor) than ice cream (averaging around 15%) because the sugar-water content is balanced to act as an 'anti-freeze' to keep the gelato from freezing solid. A true sorbet has no dairy, only fruit juice (which may be sweetened) and water. ('Sherbet' -- both the word and the frozen dessert -- is derived from 'sorbet', but often contains a little dairy.) So now you know! :)

¾ C sugar
1 C milk
1 C water
¾ C lemon juice
zest of one lemon

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to rolling boil, stirring frequently; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. If desired, strain out zest. Let cool to room temp.

Place mixture in ice cream maker for 20-25 minutes. If desired, transfer to air-tight container and freeze for a firmer consistency.

Garnish with lemon slices.

This is a basic recipe, but could be a good starting point for flavor combinations...I love lemon-ginger frozen yogurt, for example. Mint, honey, lavender...other flavors may be delicious in combination!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Raspberry Purée

1 pint raspberries
¼ C lime juice
1/3 C sugar
1-2 tsp corn starch

Purée all ingredients in a blender; if desired, strain out seeds. Heat gently in a saucepan to thicken. Serve (warm or chilled) over fruit, ice cream, cheesecake, angel food cake...

I like lime juice with the raspberries, but lemon works fine too (with raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries...) With raspberries, 1/3 C sugar tastes about right to me, but use less sugar with sweeter blueberries or blackberries.

Grilled Peaches (Plums, Nectarines...)

Peaches, nectarines and plums get a deep, carmel-like flavor when cooked on a grill (or under a broiler) that makes them even more delicious! A few tips...

* Just-ripe fruit works best; if it's very soft/over-ripe to begin with, it gets TOO soft when cooked.

* Coat grill with a light layer of non-stick cooking spray ("high heat" varieties for grilling are great, but anything works) OR lightly brush fruit surface with olive oil or melted butter.

* Place fruit on the grill for just a minute or two to sear. Check the underside -- once it's golden with grill marks, turn it over to finish cooking.

* Add flavor by sprinkling fruit with cinnamon or nutmeg, if desired. Or drizzle with a berry purée.

* Fruit skewers are a fun way to serve it too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Orange & Pale Ale Marinade

Makes enough for about 2 lbs meat.

½ C medium-bodied beer - pale ale
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
½ onion
1 tsp salt

Peel onion and shred on a grater. Whisk together all ingredients. Put meat in a glass baking dish; coat with marinade. Bake...

This was not my favorite marinade. I generally like the zingy sweet of citrus (in case you hadn't noticed in many of the recent marinade recipes). I don't like beer, though I have other recipes/marinades made with beer that I DO like. Mostly this one was just rather bitter. Maybe with a different ale and a sweet onion...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lemon-Basil Chile Glaze

¾ C (6 oz) thawed frozen lemonade concentrate
¼ C chopped fresh basil leaves
1 Tbls olive oil
zest of 4 lemons
¼ C lemon juice
1 tsp red chile flakes

Combine all ingredients. Use glaze to baste meat while grilling.
Makes enough for 4 lbs meat.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Broiled Fruit Desserts

More of a reminder than a recipe. I usually do this with apples or bananas (I almost always have one or the other around), but I have done the same with peaches and plums; other fruits could work too.

Slice the fruit, thinly, and place it in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil and lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray. I often 'dot' it with butter or sprinkle lightly with lemon juice. If desired, sprinkle with white or brown sugar. Sometimes I use sugar-cinnamon. Put it under the broiler long enough for the fruit to brown and begin to carmelize. If you want, turn the fruit and brown both sides.

The fruit can also be browned in a fry pan (with butter), or toasted on the grill.

Pictured: apple pie, without the crust.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Honey-Lime Marinade

Makes enough for about 2 lbs meat.

¼ C olive oil
¼ C lime juice
zest of 2 limes
2 tsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp cayenne

Whisk all ingredients together. Put meat into a glass baking dish and pour marinade over it, turning to coat. Marinate 1-3 hours. Grill, broil, bake...

For a stickier glaze, mix 2 more Tbls honey with 1 Tbls lime juice and brush onto meat during last 5 minutes of cooking.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sticky Brown Sugar Glaze

It's June. We're PAST Memorial day. Even if the weather isn't exactly cooperating yet, it's GRILLING TIME. I have a few marinade recipes I'll post over the next few days, weeks...

1½ C brown sugar
3 Tbls cider vinegar
3 Tbls beer or water
½ - 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dry mustard

Combine all ingredients. Use this glaze to baste meat while grilling. Makes enough for 4 lbs meat.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Apple-Blackberry Pie

3-4 medium apples
2 C blackberries
1 C sugar*
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
2 Tbls flour

* I like the tartness of Granny Smith apples, and then I generally use the full cup of sugar. With sweeter apples, you can get by with less; the blackberries are plenty sweet.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Line a 9" pie plate with bottom crust. Peel, core and slice/dice apples. Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour. Gently mix apples and blackberries with sugar and spice mixture. Pour into pie crust. Top with upper crust, crimping top and bottom crusts to seal edges. Stab crust with a fork or cut small slits with a knife to allow steam to vent. Bake 1¼ hours.

If you want a glazed crust (on this or any pie), whisk an egg yolk with 1-2 Tbls milk and brush over top crust. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar if desired.

Vinegar Pie Crust

My grandma, Nellie May, used to be able to get two complete, 9" pies (tops and bottoms) out of this recipe. Not me! I can get three crusts, and have a bit left over. I usually make one pie with top and bottom crust, and one 'open topped' pie with a crumble-style crust, or a quiche, or one smaller 'pot-pie'...

3 C flour*
1¼ C shortening
1½ tsp salt
1 egg
2 Tbls vinegar
3 Tbls water

Cut the shortening into the flour and salt; then add egg, vinegar and water. Do not overmix. Roll thinly and gently press into pie dish.

* Whole wheat flour works too, though not as complimentary with the tang of vinegar (just use cold water); great for a quiche or with meat & veggie pot-pies.

Variation: Mix 1 C shredded cheddar cheese with the flour and salt. Delicious with apple pie and meat & veggie pot pies.

Ginger-Garlic Shrimp

1 lb shrimp
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls minced garlic
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1+ Tbls butter, olive oil
lemon wedges

In a bowl (big enough to hold 1 lb shrimp) combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Optional: Remove shrimp tails for easier eating...

Heat pan. Add butter and a little olive oil to sauté pan. Add shrimp to hot pan. Sauté until pink. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Dump hot shrimp into bowl with spiced mix and toss to coat.

Serve over white sticky rice. Squeeze lemon wedges over cooked shrimp and/or serve with lemon wedge garnish.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Taco Salad

I don't have a recipe for taco salad (do you need one?!). Besides, I usually just use the envelopes of taco seasoning on the meat. (I know, I'm such a gourmet!) Honestly, I'm not really a huge Mexican food fan - and seriously, taco salad? Isn't it a pretty Americanized version (perversion?!) of any real Mexican dish?!

Anyway, I thought I'd post a picture so that when I log on just to search for 'inspiration' and dinner ideas I'm reminded of taco salad once in a while!

ground beef/turkey
(or shredded chicken)
peppers (green/red/yellow)
cheddar (and/or other) cheese
tortilla chips
chopped olives
sour cream

Brown the meat, slice and dice the veggies, shred the cheese...and enjoy!

Three-Onion Quiche

I used a sweet vidalia onion instead of half the leeks. Really, any combination of onions, leeks, shallots and/or scallions would work fine. Variety is nice, and the red and green onions add visual appeal. Other cheeses would work too, of course...

9" pie crust
1 Tbls butter
3 medium leeks
2 bunches green onions
½ red onion
1 Tbls flour
1 C half-and-half
3 eggs
½ tsp salt
2 C shredded white cheddar

Preheat oven to 425°

Bake pie crust 15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

Meanwhile...thinly slice leeks (white and light green parts), thickly slice green onions including half the green stalks, slice the red onion - cut into thin half moon slices. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat; sauté 20 minutes or until very tender.

Whisk together flour, eggs, half-and-half, and salt. Add the cheese. Stir in ¾ of the onion mixture, and pour it all into the pie crust. Top with the rest of the sautéed onions. Bake 20 to 30 minutes (until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (If the edges start to get too dark, cover them with foil.)

Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sweet & Hot Caribbean Marinade

Makes enough for about 2 lbs meat.

1 C chopped green onions
¼ C lime juice
(I like a little extra lime!)
½ C olive oil
2 Tbls brown sugar
1 Tbls allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 minced chile*
1 tsp salt

* 1 habanero or other similar...or more if you like it hotter

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend into a loose paste. Place meat in a glass baking dish; coat with marinade. Bake...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

Pictured: full recipe (2 loaves), with currants added to just 1 loaf.
4 C flour
1 Tbls baking powder
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp baking soda
1 C raisins, dried currants...
2 C buttermilk

Sift together dry ingredients. Stir in raisins, currants (and/or caraway seeds, etc). Add buttermilk and stir until dough forms. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead for one minute. Halve the dough; shape each half into a round loaf. Transfer loaves to lightly greased baking sheet.

Use a sharp knife to cut a ¼" deep 'X' across tops of loaves. Bake at 350°, 45-55 minutes. Transfer loaves to rack to cool.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Flavored Butters

Honey butter and garlic butter are delicious, but...nothing new. Still, flavored butters are an easy way to dress up a meal! Use them on breads, veggies, potatoes...

Soften butter to room temperature. Add ingredients to taste.
Here are some other flavor combinations to get you started:

* sun dried tomato and caper butter
* chile-lime-tequila butter
* curry butter
* diced, caramelized mushroom & shallot butter (pictured)
* rosemary and thyme butter
* cardamom-honey butter
* tarragon and lemon zest butter
* cabernet-gorgonzola butter

To really go all out: Roll butter into a log; chill, then slice into ¼" pieces before serving.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Braised Caribou

4 lb caribou roast
4 strips salt pork or bacon
salt and pepper
1/8 tsp cloves
2 bay leaves
2/3 C Claret (or red wine of your choice)
1/2 C water
1 onion; sliced
1 C water
1 C cranberry juice

Lard the caribou with salt pork or bacon. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cloves. Marinate in claret with the two bay leaves for 2 to 3 days in a cool place.

Drain, place in a baking pan, add water and sliced onion; cover and cook in slow oven (300°) about 1 hour.

Add the marinade and the cranberry juice, cover and cook until tender, about 1 hour longer.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cheese Latkes

Probably not a recipe I'll make very often (cheese deep-fried in oil for one thing!). They're a unique treat -- and would be good with something sightly tart (sour cherry preserves was suggested, or even a little lemon...) They're good, but not...amazingly delicious.

3 cups cottage cheese
6 eggs
3 Tbls sugar
1½ Tbls vanilla
¾ tsp salt
1½ C flour
vegetable oil for frying

Combine all ingredients (except oil) in a large bowl. (I added a little extra flour because the mixture was really quite runny. I used large eggs, so maybe that was part of it.)

Pour ½" oil into a 10-12" fry pan over medium heat. When oil reaches about 275°, scoop ¼ C cheese mixture and gently drop into hot oil; press lightly with a spatula to flatten into a disc -- if you don't, the middles don't get cooked. Cook 3 to 5 'pancakes' at a time - do not crowd in pan - loosening from the bottom as needed, until undersides are golden brown (about 2 minutes). Gently turn and cook another 1-2 minutes until golden brown on other side. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then keep warm in 200° oven while cooking remaining latkes.

Serve hot with maple syrup, preserves, and/or cinnamon-sugar.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Caribou Steaks with Green Peppercorn Sauce

4 caribou steaks 1" thick
2 cloves garlic (or to taste)
2 Tbls olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Green peppercorn sauce:
4 Tbls butter
2-3 Tbls cream
1/4 C whole green peppercorns
salt to taste
1 Tbls cognac

Carefully trim away all visible fat. (On the caribou,there's next to NO fat; but if you use beef...trim away!) Combine garlic and olive oil. Pour over steaks and marinate, refrigerated, over night.

Season steaks with salt and freshly ground pepper. Broil or grill 5-7 minutes per side or until meat has only a hint of pink.

For the sauce: In a small sauce pan, melt butter and stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Place the steaks on warmed plates and pour sauce over them.

Glazed Butter Cookies

This is a basic recipe that is easy to use in lots of variations... Though not excessively rich or decadent, it is perfectly fine as a simple butter cookie. It's also substantial enough (not so light and buttery that it crumbles easily) that it makes a good base for bar cookies topped with fruit preserves, nuts, caramel, chocolate... You can get creative with it!

2½ C flour
¾ C powdered sugar
1 C butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbls cream cheese

Combine flour and powdered sugar; cut butter into pieces and add, one at a time, until mixture is crumbly and damp. Add vanilla and cream cheese, mixing until incorporated. Divide dough in half; shape each half into a disc. Refrigerate 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°. Roll out dough and cut into shapes...OR, for bar into the bottom of a baking dish, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Glaze and/or decorate...OR top with preserves, nuts, chocolate, etc.

1 Tbls cream cheese
2-3 Tbls milk*
1½ C powdered sugar

* Instead of milk, try pineapple juice, lemon juice, orange juice...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mustard & Wine Marinated Game Chops

4 game chops (elk, caribou, venison)
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
3 Tbls stone ground mustard
1 C red wine

Rub chops with mustard. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with wine and marinate overnight in refrigerator. Broil or grill to medium rare basting with the marinade.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Herbed Yukon Gold Potato Latkes

3½ lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
5 eggs
½ C matzo meal
¾ C chopped fresh chives
½ C chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbls salt
1 tsp pepper
vegetable oil for frying
10-12 oz smoked salmon
sour cream
garnish with: thinly sliced red onion, capers, chives...

When I made these, I had fresh chives and thyme, but I used dried parsley and rosemary. Of course, fresh is best, but let's be realistic folks -- who has all these fresh herbs on hand year round? Do the best you can. :)

Yukon Gold potato skins are so thin that there's no need to peel them; simply remove any brown spots or eyes. Grate potatoes and soak in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes.

Drain potatoes in a colander; squeeze out excess water: wring out potatoes, by handfuls, in a kitchen towel and return to bowl. Use a fresh towel when needed.

In another bowl, stir together eggs, matzo meal, herbs, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes and mix well. (If liquid ever begins to pool in the bottom of the bowl, drain it off, or...more matzo meal can be added, 2 Tbls at a time.)

Pour ¾" oil into a 10-12" frying pan over medium-high heat until it reaches 350° on a candy thermometer. Scoop ¼ C of potato mixture from bowl, using a wide knife or spatula to flatten and shape into a patty about ½" thick, and gently slide pancake into hot oil. Don't crowd latkes in the pan. Cook until edges are crispy and well browned and undersides are dark golden brown (about 3 minutes each side).

Transfer latkes to paper towels to drain, keep warm in a 200° oven while cooking remaining latke pancakes. Serve hot with smoked salmon, sour cream, red onion, chives, and/or capers.

This recipe didn't list it, but I've often seen latkes paired and served with applesauce.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Asparagus Mushroom Quiche

1½ C whole-wheat flour
10 Tbls cold butter
3 eggs
1 C mushrooms
1 C slender asparagus
1½ C half-and-half
3/4 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 C shredded gruyere cheese
½ C green onion

Cut butter into chunks
cut asparagus into 2" pieces
slice large mushrooms
finely chop green onions

Whirl in food processor (or cut together) flour and butter until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add 1 egg and mix until dough holds together. Press evenly over bottom and up 1¼" of side of 9" spring form pan. Chill.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Blanch asparagus in a saucepan of boiling water until barely tender-crisp, about 1 minute; drain. Transfer to a bowl of cold water to cool. Drain and pat dry.

In a large bowl, whisk remaining 2 eggs to blend; whisk in half-and-half, salt and pepper. Sprinkle gruyere and onion in prepared crust, then arrange asparagus and morels on top. Pour egg mixture over vegetables.

Bake on lower rack until filling no longer jiggles when gently shaken (40-45 minutes). Let cool in pan at least 30 minutes. Loosen quiche from pan rim with a knife, remove rim, and slice. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Roasted Salmon with Dill-Yogurt Sauce

½ English cucumber
½ C sour cream
½ C plain yogurt
2 tsp chopped fresh dill
(extra for garnish)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbls lemon juice
1½ lbs 1 inch thick salmon fillets
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.
Grate cucumber, squeeze out excess water.

Ina small bowl, stir together the cucumber, sour cream, yogurt, dill, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 Tbls lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Rinse salmon and pat dry; put skin side down in a baking dish lined with aluminum foil and lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining minced garlic clove, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Bake until barely opaque in the center (10-15 minutes).

Serve salmon warm or cold with yogurt sauce. Garnish with extra dill sprigs if desired.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Quick & Easy Lemon Berry Tartlets

Here's the recipe, as is. The only thing not instant or out of a can is the lemon zest. Even the instant version is light and lemony for a quick and easy dessert. And it's not bad. But not anything impressive either. The whipped topping, graham crusts and preserves could, of course, be replaced with fresh whipped cream, crusts made from scratch, and fresh berries instead of preserves... If I make it again I'll dress it up; maybe a layer of real lemon curd under a thinner spread of the whipped tart filling. The fresh berries were a definite improvement over preserves.

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
¼ C lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1 C frozen whipped topping
6 mini graham pie crusts
½ C berry preserves

Whisk sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, and lemon peel until blended and mixture begins to thicken. Fold in whipped topping. Divide evenly between the 6 mini pie crusts. Use a spoon to make a 1" deep depression in the center of each tart. Refrigerate until firm (about 2 hrs). Refresh depression if needed; fill each tartlet with preserves (or fresh berries).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cuban Roast Pork with Lime Sauce

6 lbs pork
12 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lg onion
½ C orange juice
juice of 2 limes
½ tsp salt
1 Tbls oregano
1 Tbls cumin
black pepper to taste

Tips: pork - pork shoulder country style ribs, or pork shoulder blade roast work well, 6 lbs boneless; garlic - I like garlic. The gal I got this recipe from loves garlic. Adjust the number of cloves to suit your own taste. :)

Cut onion into large pieces. Combine all ingredients; marinate pork for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Remove pork from marinade. Place in a foil lined baking dish, fat facing up. Insert chunks of onion around the pork, and cover. Bake at 275° for 1½ - 2 hours until pork is slightly pink and still firm (not yet browned).

Open foil, increase oven heat to 375°; roast until brown (about 45 minutes). Pork should flake easily when done.

Remove pork from foil, reserving juice in a separate container for lime sauce. Wrap pork in new foil and place in slow cooker 2-3 hours.

Lime Sauce
juice of 3 limes
juice of 2 oranges
½ C juice from pork roast, strained
¼ tsp salt
pepper to taste
fresh ginger to taste
1 Tbls garlic paste (crushed garlic)
3 tsp sugar
1 Tbls corn starch

Dissolve cornstarch in 2 Tbls cold water; combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Serve over pork.

Lemon-Ricotta Cookies

2½ C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ C butter, softened
2 C sugar
2 eggs
15 oz ricotta cheese
3 Tbls lemon juice
grated zest from 1 lemon

1½ C powdered sugar
3 Tbls lemon juice
optional: lemon zest

Preheat oven to 375°.

Using an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until well blended; add ricotta, lemon juice and zest, beating until combined. Stir in dry ingredients.

Pipe using a pastry bag, or drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake 15 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheets 20 minutes.

Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice (and zest) until smooth. Spoon onto each cookie, using the back of the spoon to gently spread glaze.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Caribou Steaks with Whisky Sauce

I love the combination of citrus, shallots and mustard. But the sauce isn't appealing - the look or texture. I'd like to try it again...without the corn starch to thicken it; I'd use it as a marinade and baste with it during cooking (I'd bake or broil rather than sautéing in a fry pan).

4 caribou steaks
2 Tbsp butter; divided
1/4 C finely chopped shallots
5 crushed cranberries
1/4 C Scotch whiskey
3/4 C orange juice
2 Tbls lemon juice
2 Tbls red currant jelly
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbls water

Combine 1 Tbls butter, shallots and berries in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until shallots soften. Add Scotch whiskey and heat until just boiling. Stir in orange juice, lemon juice, jelly and mustard. Heat until boiling. Combine cornstarch with water. Stir into sauce; cook until thickened and set aside.

In a frying pan melt the remaining butter and saute the steaks. Do not overcook. Serve immediately with sauce.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tangerine Crème Brûlée

3 eggs
5 egg yolks
½ C tangerine juice
½ C sugar
2½ C heavy whipping cream
½ C finely shredded tangerine zest
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix eggs, yolks, tangerine juice, and ¼ cup sugar in a medium bowl until blended. In a medium saucepan,heat cream and zest over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until just about to boil. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Reheat cream until almost boiling again; add hot cream to the egg mixture and little at a time, stirring constantly.

Add salt and vanilla to hot custard mixture; stir to combine. Pour custard through fine meshed strainer. Preheat oven to 350°.

Place 8 6-oz ramekins in a roasting pan and divide custard evenly (about ½ cup each). Add enough boiling water into roasting pan to come 3/4 up the sides of the ramekins. Cover pan with foil.

Bake until just set (about 20 minutes - check earlier as ovens differ). Remove custards from water bath and let cool about 20 minutes. Chill custards 4 hours.

Sprinkle 2 tsp sugar evenly over each custard. Use a kitchen blowtorch to melt and set sugar topping. Serve immediately.

If you have a gas broiler, the custard tops can be broiled, as close to the heating element as possible without touching. Not as good as with a blowtorch, but a suitable alternative.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Beet Gratin

6 medium-sized beets (red, yellow, white...)
3 Tbls butter
2 Tbls minced shallot
2 Tbls flour
2 C milk
4 oz crumbled sweet blue cheese
(Roquefort, Point Reyes, etc.)

trim beets and place in a deep pot, cover with cold water aand 1 Tbls salt. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer until they are soft and easily fall when stabbed with a thin life. Strain beets; cool to room temperature. While they cool...

Heat a medium saucepan and add butter; when sizzling, add shallot and saute until soft, but not brown. Add flour and whisk over medium-heat. slowly add milk and whisk until thickened. Remove from heat and add blue cheese. Whisk until incorporated and season with salt and pepper; cover and set aside.

When beets are cool, rub skins off and cut beets into bite-sized pieces. Preheat oven broiler placing rack 3-4 inches below the flame. Lay beets in a single layer in a baking dish (or individual ramekins). Spoon the béchamel (the white sauce with shallots) over beets, taking care not to drown them. Place gratin dish under flame until bubbling and well browned. Remove and serve immediately.

Garnish with any of the following: julienned beet greens, arugula, tossed greens tossed lightly in a simple vinaigrette, crisped prosciutto, crisp fried shallots...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sesame-Ginger Marinade

1 Tbls sesame seeds, toasted
2 tsp grated ginger root
2 Tbls honey
2 Tbls soy sauce
4 skinned, boned chicken breast halves, or pork chops, beef steaks, etc.

Combine first 4 incredients in a small bowl. Marinate meat 1-4 hours before baking or broiling. Or: Grill meat basting frequently with sesame-ginger sauce.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

COOL BEANS: White-Bean and Tomato Bruschetta

4 oz sliced pancetta
3 Tbls olive oil
1 C chopped onion
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 C dry white wine
1 (15 oz) can white beans
2 C lightly packed spinach leaves
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 loaf Italian bread

Chop spinach leaves. Rinse and drain white beans; drain diced tomatoes.

Fry pancetta in 1 Tbls oil in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp; drain on paper towel and break into small pieces. Set aside. (Pancetta is a seasoned, Italian bacon. Not at all hard to find even here in the States, but you could substitute ham or other bacon. Not exactly the same...but a reasonable substitute.)

Add remaining oil, onion and rosemary to skillet; cook over medium heat about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil; boil 1 minute. Stir in beans, reduce heat to low, cover, simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach, tomato, salt and pepper (to taste). Cover and let stand while toasting bread.

Slice bread on the diagonal and toast: Arrange bread slices ona baking sheet adn place under broiler. Toast on one side until golden (about 2 minutes); turn bread and toast second side.

Stir bean mixture and spread on toasts; sprinkle with reserved pancetta.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

The original recipe was for a "Coffee Banana Smoothie", but I can't stand coffee. For those of you who DO drink coffee...use ½ C cold coffee and 2 tsp sugar instead of the chocolate syrup.

1 banana
1 C milk
1/3 C chocolate syrup*
½ C ice

Peel and slice banana. Place all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth. Enjoy!

* I used Myrtle's Hot Fudge Sauce - thinned down with some extra milk.

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

Chicken works great, but so would pork, ham...

1 (10 - 11 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1/3 C water
3/4 C uncooked long-grain rice
2 C fresh or frozen vegetables
½ tsp onion powder
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
½ C shredded cheddar cheese

Stir together soup, water, rice, vegetables and onion powder in a casserole baking dish. Top with chicken. Season chicken as desired. Cover

Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until done. Uncover and top with cheese for the last 5-10 minutes.

Crab Eggs Benedict

Yes..that's ham, not crab, in the photo. The recipe was from a seafood focus in a magazine, and crab would be a rich and delicious alternative, but what I had on hand today was the traditional ham. :)'s the hollandaise that really makes eggs benedict 'eggs benedict'!

6 egg yolks
1/4 C lemon juice
2 Tbls Dijon mustard
1 C melted butter
1½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
6 English muffins
3 C crab
12 eggs

Preheat oven to 450°

Make hollandaise sauce: Put egg yolks, lemon juice and mustard in a double boiler over simmering hot water. Whisk to blend. Continue whisking constantly while adding butter in a slow steady stream. Cook sauce until it reaches 140°, then adjust heat to maintain temperature. Add salt, pepper and cayenne and continue whisking until smooth and thick (about 3 minutes).

Toast English muffins. Top with crab meat, dividing evenly.

Poach eggs: Bring 1" water to boil in a 12 inch skillet. Lower heat so that small bubbles form on bottom of pan and break to surface only occasionally. Crack eggs into water one at a time, holding shells close to the water's surface and letting eggs slide out gently. Poach eggs in two batches to keep them from crowding, 3-4 minutes for soft-cooked eggs. Lift eggs out with a slotted spoon, patting dry with a paper towel. Put one egg on each crab-topped muffin half. (You can simply fry the eggs if you'd rather...)

Top each egg with 2 - 3 tablespoons hollandaise.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 C butter
½ C sugar
1 C brown sugar
1 C peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 C quick rolled oats
2½ C flour
1 tsp baking soda
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°

Cream butter and sugars. Add peanut butter, stirring until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour, oats and baking soda all at once, stirring until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonfulls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned but still soft in the center.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No-Fuss Focaccia

3 Tbls olive oil; additional oil for topping bread
1½ C warm water
4 tsp (2 pkgs) active dry yeast
1¼ tsp salt
3¼ C (bread) flour
Italian seasoning or dried herbs of your choice for topping

Lightly grease a 9x13" rectangular pan...drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil in bottom of pan, tilt to coat.

Combine water with yeast. Add remaining oil, salt and flour; beat on high speed for 1 minute. Scoop sticky batter into prepared pan; cover pan and let rise at room temperature until it becomes puffy (about 90 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375°. Drizzle dough with additional olive oil, sprinkle with Italian seasoning or herbs of choice. (I also added a bit of grated parmesan.) Bake bread until golden brown (35-40 minutes). Remove from oven, let stand 5 minutes then turn out of pan. Serve warm.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lemon-Ginger Frozen Yogurt

¾ C water
½ C sugar
¼ C light corn syrup
½ C lemon juice
4 C plain yogurt
2 Tbls finely minced fresh ginger
1 tsp lemon zest
Optional: lemon slices or crystallized ginger for garnish

Place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined colander set over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 5-6 hours. Discard liquid.

In saucepan, boil water, sugar, corn syrup and ginger until sugar melts. Stir frequently, boil 2 minutes. Strain into a bowl and let cool.

Blend yogurt, lemon juice, zest and boiled syrup. Pour into ice cream maker and process for about 20-25 minutes or until firm. If needed, transfer to airtight container and freeze an additional 2-3 hours.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


½ C butter
1 C flour
5 eggs
1 C grated gruyère
½ C grated parmesan
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 425°

Heat butter and 1 cup water in saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted and it begins to boil. Reduce heat; add flour and stir vigorously until mixture pulls away from teh sides of pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat.

Add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition until mixture forms a smooth paste (dough will separage at first after each egg is added). Stir in grated cheese, mustard and pepper.

Drop mixture in heaping spoonfulls onto greased baking sheets. Bake 30 minutes or until puffed and brown. Cut slits in sides of puffs; return to oven, lower heat to 350°. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

Makes 40-45 bite-sized appetizers, less if you make them bigger.