Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tiramisu 2 Ways

Category: Desserts
Difficulty Rating: Easy (if you use lady fingers from the store) Hard (if you make the cake)

Tiramisu is a well-known dessert that originated in Northern Italy. It literally means "Pick Me Up", due to how much espresso is in it. Venice is especially known for it's tiramisu. We ordered it when we were there. It didn't look like much. It was basically a small round of cake soaked in espresso and kahlua and topped with a glop of a cheese-cake like substance with chocolate shavings. Eh. But then we tasted it. Nirvana! Angels sang and everything!

In America I have had a few different versions of tiramisu, but none like the one I had there. So I set out to duplicate it. First, you have to make a 2-layer genoise--which is French spongecake, OR find a store with ladyfingers. Now, because I think most of you are going to opt for using ladyfingers instead of genoise, I'm going to give you directions for the version with ladyfingers first, and genoise second. Hence, "Tiramisu 2 Ways"

Note:
Most food markets that carry gourmet items will have ladyfingers. I have found them at Scotts Valley Market, Safeway and at Shopper's Corner. Call around and you can find 'em! The rest is so easy, it's ridiculous...

The Easy Way:

Ingredients:
1 2-layer 9 inch genoise cake
OR 2 packages of 12 fresh lady fingers (cakes not cookies)
2 C heavy whipping cream
3 large eggs- yolks only
3 T sugar
1/3 C powdered sugar, sifted
8 oz. whipped cream cheese (it's in a tub, already whipped, use Philadelphia brand)
8 oz. fresh marscarpone cheese (if you can't find it, use 8 oz. whipped cream cheese)

Coffee-Kahlua Soaking Solution and Garnish:

1/2 C very strong brewed coffee or espresso, cooled
1/4 C Kahlua
1/4 C sweetened cocoa OR shaved chocolate curls (shave chocolate bars with a razor sharp knife)

Directions:

Whip the cream to soft peaks in a medium bowl. In another, larger bowl, whip the egg yolks and sugar on high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 2 minutes. Pour off any liquid that has accumulated on the marscarpone, then add it and cream cheese to the egg yolks and 3 T sugar and whip on low speed until just blended. The mixture may look slightly separated or grainy. Then, using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the mixture along with 1/3 C powdered sugar and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the coffee and Kahlua to make the soaking solution. Get out a clean pastry brush if you have one to apply the solution. A tablespoon will suffice in a pinch.

If you are using lady fingers, split them in half, keeping them attached to each other as much as possible. Cover the bottom of a a 9-inch baking pan , a souffle dish, a trifle bowl (see picture) with ladyfingers, split side up. Brush ladyfingers liberally with soaking solution. If you like Kahlua, really soak 'em. If you don't like Kahlua only soak 'em halfway through. Glop on half of the marscarpone mixture and spread it evenly over the lady fingers. Put on another layer of lady fingers and repeat. Garnish with sprinkled sweetened cocoa and/or shaved chocolate. You can also use goblets, large wine glasses or martini glasses as serving dishes for tiramisu (see picture). Just do the layers (it's OK to be somewhat messy) inside the glasses.

The Harder Way:
If you are making a genoise instead of using ladyfingers, good for you! It's really not that hard, it just takes time. Here is Paula Peck's recipe:

Genoise:

Ingredients:

6 large eggs (separate whites from yolks)
1 C sugar
1 C sifted flour
1/2 C low salt or unsalted butter, melted and clarified (skim all the white stuff off the top)
1 t vanilla

Directions:

If eggs are cold, put them in a bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes before you start. Then separate eggs; whites into a large mixing bowl and yolks into a medium mixing bowl.Add vanilla to egg yolks and set aside. Beat egg whites in a large mixing bowl until they hold soft peaks. Beat in sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until egg whites are very stiff, about 5 minutes in all. Fold about 1/4 of the egg whites into the yolks. Pour over remaining stiffly beaten whites and fold until just combined. Sprinkle flour, a little at a time, alternately with cooled clarified butter, folding gently only a couple of times after each addition. You should end up with a mixture where the flour/ butter have just disappeared into the batter. Pour into 2 9-inch cake pans lined with baking parchment. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Cool.

From here on out, follow the rest of the tiramisu recipe above, simply substituting the cake layers for ladyfingers. If you use serving dishes that are 9 inches, your layers should fit perfectly. Or you can always cut them to fit. However, if you wish to use goblets or glasses instead of larger serving dishes for the tiramisu, you will have to cut or rip up the cake layers into pieces that will fit into the glasses in layers with the marscarpone mixture.






Honey-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Sour Cream Sauce








Category: Pork
Difficulty Rating: Easy but Elegant
Healthy-ish  (without the sauce)

I made this one Christmas, and the fam loved it! Serves 4 (so double it for 8).

Ingredients:

2 pork tenderloins (the small kind, not the huge ones)
fennel seeds
1 T chopped rosemary (dried is OK)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 C sour cream or fresh marscarpone if you can get it (Shopper's Corner in Santa Cruz has it)
2-3 T sweet Balsamic Vinegar (Kirkland is the brand I use) or add 1/4 t sugar to sour balsamic

Directions:

Brush 2 tenderloins lightly with honey. In a mortar or food processor, crush i T of fennel seeds. Add them to 1 T of finely chopped rosemary, salt, pepper and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Spread this mixture on pork. Do this a day ahead if you can, to let the flavors meld in the refrigerator overnight. But it's not a requirement. Place pork in a shallow oiled pan.Roast in the oven at 400 degrees until the pork is faintly pink in the middle, about 30 minutes. If you grill it, scoop off most of the honey glaze before grilling. Grill until the proper temperature on the meat thermometer for pork is halfway reached. Then, spread the glaze back on and cook until done. Less burning that way.... Meanwhile, mix 1 cup sour cream with 2-3 T Balsamic Vinegar. Slice tenderloins into medallion-like slices and lay against each other in succession on a platter.  Garnish with fresh rosemary wands or fennel leaves if you have them. Italian parsley is fine, too. Slice and serve. Note: It occurs to me that this could also be done with large, thick pork chops. Try it and let me know!

Best Darn Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Category: Cookies and Bars
Difficulty Rating: Easy

Do you like peanut butter and chocolate? Then you like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Reese's Pieces, and occasionally dipping a spoonful of peanut butter out of the jar and then sprinkling it with chocolate chips. What? You never tried that? Oh well....maybe it's just me!

These are my best " boy cookies". I mean, if you give a boy one of these they are pretty much happy for 24 hours. I give these to boys that help me haul things, or rake things, or leap tall buildings at a single bound. That kinda stuff.

I know Laura Scudder's peanut butter is in the picture, but actually any peanut butter that is not natural is easier to work with. I like the way Peter Pan tastes, and often use Skippy when it's on sale. I also almost always use (this is mui importante) Guittard milk chocolate chips. They are soooo good with peanut butter because they aren't as bitter as regular chocolate chips! Ooey-gooey-chewy!

Ingredients:

1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C peanut butter
1/4 C shortening
1/4 C butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/4 C flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 bag chocolate chips (preferably Guittard milk chocolate chips)

Directions:

Mix sugars, peanut butter, shortening, butter and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm. Heat oven to 375 degrees. shape dough into 1 1/4--inch balls. Place about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten in crisscross pattern with fork. Bake 9-10 minutes until light golden brown. cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ina Gartin's Panzanella Salad

Category: Fruits and Vegies
Difficulty Rating: Easy-Medium (lots of chopping)
Healthy (but don't eat all the croutons)

Of course you know Ina Gartin. She is the sweet, soft-spoken"Barefoot Contessa" on Foodnet. com, who owns a catering shop/company and has written many beautiful cookbooks.  All of her recipes are incredible. In fact, if you have to buy only one cookbook in your life other than an all-purpose cookbook (Joy of Cooking, Fannie Farmer etc.) I would buy her "Barefoot Contessa" cookbook.

This is her Italian "Panzanella" salad recipe. My daughter considers it one of her specialties. It combines the scent and flavor of basil, the color and succulence of peppers and tomatoes and the freshness and crunch of cucumber. Take a bite, savor the warm croutons soaked in vinaigrette. You are "en Italia".



Ingredients:

3 T good olive oil
1 small French bread (not sourdough) cut into 1-inch cubes
1 t kosher salt (I used sea salt--what the heck)
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse, or English cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
(scoop out the cucumber seeds by running a spoon down the middle of lengthwise halved cuke)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced (if you have a mandolin, use it)
20 large basil leaves, coarsley chopped (try Trader Joe's)
3 T capers, drained

Ingredients for Vinaigrette:

1 t finely minced garlic
1/2 t Dijon mustard
3 T champagne vinegar
1/2 C good olive oil ( you know, the one you got as a Christmas present from Susan)
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil and another sprinkling of salt halfway through if you feel it needs it (I did).

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the ingredients.

In a large bowl, mix the prepared vegetables and the drained capers. Add the croutons on top, and pour on the vinaigrette. Season liberally and to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the sald to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend. Makes enough for 6 people.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chilled Fresh Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette










Category: Vegetables
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Healthy

OK. Say it's Easter. You have ham and maybe a rice dish. You need a vegetable that's what! And asparagus is in season! Since we already have so much hot food, try this for a refreshing, lemony contrast. This recipe was filched and adapted after I saw Alex Guarnaschelli do it on Food Network.com. It tastes as fresh as Spring itself!

Ingredients:

1 lb. fresh pencil-sized asparagus
2 lemons, juiced
2 T white wine vinegar ( I use Rice Wine Vinegar)
1 heaping t. honey
1 T Dijon mustard (Alex used 2 T--but I wanted the dressing to taste more like lemon)
4 T olive oil
2-3 T roasted, salted sunflower seeds (optional, but very advisable! It's the salt...)


Directions:

First, put a large soup pot, filled with about 4 inches of hot water on the stove. Set the heat on high. Then get out a 9X13 inch baking pan, fill it with water and ice. Trim the ends of the asparagus and put it in the cold water for 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon or spatula, take the asparagus out of the ice-water and transfer it to the water on the stove that is now boiling. Leave it for 4-5 minutes until the asparagus is just cooked, but not limp. Transfer the cooked asparagus back to the cold water (you may need to add more ice) to "shock" it and let it cool. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Drain the asparagus and place it on a serving plate. Spoon vinaigrette over it and roll the asparagus in it until completely coated. Arrange asparagus on the plate (or plates, if serving individual portions) in a haphazard manner instead of lining the stalks up straight. It looks better that way. Garnish with salted sunflower seeds and some quartered lemon. Delightful!



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"It's Like Buttah" Cookies

Category: Cookies and Bars
Difficulty Rating: Very Easy

This is probably the first recipe I ever read. Before I could read I would sometimes try to figure out recipes from the pictures in my children's cookbook. This almost always resulted in yucky-tasting gobs of gook. I would invariably leave the sugar out of cake recipes. I remember even trying to mix it in after the layers were in the oven! But hey, I was four. When I finally learned how to actually read recipes, it helped me cook a lot better.

So this was the first recipe I ever read AND made. I still have it in my eleven-year old printing on a recipe card from my first collection of recipes. These thumb-print cookies were from a North Carolina Junior League Cookbook, circa 1948 or so. The reason these cookies are photographed on newsprint was that that's what Mom used to cool them on. And so did we...

Ingredients:

1/2 C butter
1/2 C sugar
1 C flour
1 egg yolk (separated)
1 t real vanilla
1 good pinch salt

Directions:

Soften butter to room temperature and mix other ingredients thoroughly into butter, use hands if necessary. Pinch off small pieces of mixture and roll into balls the size of large marbles or walnuts. For best results, chill for an hour minimum. Then place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Make a small depression in each with a thumb and put about 1/4 t. jam in the middle. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Watch them and take them out when they just start to brown on the edges. Yield:24

Note: You can put them in the oven without chilling--they'll just spread out a whole lot more and not look as pretty. But who cares if you're hungry and just home from school!







1/2 C butter

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eureka! Chocolate Chip Cookies

Category: Cookies and Bars
Difficulty Rating: Easy

EUREKA I have found it! The perfect non-oatmeal chocolate chip cookie!

Alton Brown of TV cooking show fame, has created a very celebrated cookie that is on cooking blogs everywhere. It's called "The Chewy". I have altered it slightly, and they are as perfect as cookie-shop cookies. They taste like the best Toll House batch you've ever made, except they are consistently slightly raised, not flat!!! You can also tell when they're done just by looking at them. Yaaaaaay! Every batch turns out the same--the minute they're light brown, they're done. And if you roll the dough in balls or scoop it onto the cookie sheet-- they come out uniform in size and shape!!! Wooooohoooo!

My hubby is on the fire board in our town. So he asked me to make a big batch and give them to the Scotts Valley Fire Department. They loved 'em! I am now a deputy Fire Marshall. Just like in first grade. Except I can't fit into the little hat any more.

Note: When separating eggs always do it over a separate bowl. Then, if you do goof up, you don't have to fish eggshells or egg-whites out of the dough!


Ingredients:

2 sticks melted butter
2 1/4 C flour
1 t kosher salt
1 t baking soda
1/4 C sugar
1 1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 T milk
1 1/2 t real vanilla extract (I really like the Costco Kirkland vanilla)
2 C semisweet chocolate chips (or use a mixture of a few kinds of chocolate chips)

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside. Put melted butter in a medium mixing bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Combine the butter and sugars on medium speed of an electric mixer. Add the egg, yolk, milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Note: The first time I made this, it was wierd for me to use melted butter in cookie dough. It made the dough seem alarmingly liquid. Never fear, chilling the dough will make it firm up.

Chill the dough for about 1 1/2 hours at the least, or overnight in the refrigerator, then scoop (using a #20 disher), onto parchment-lined or greased cookie sheets. OR, lacking a scoop, roll dough into balls the size of a golf-ball and place them on the cookie sheet. These are pretty big cookies-they won't be chewy if they aren't big. So don't put more than 9 on a sheet--Alton recommends 6. Don't know why.... 9 worked fine. Anyway, bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, but not dark brown. Rotate cookie sheet halfway through baking for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. These are best served warm with cold milk.




























Sunday, April 17, 2011

Outrageous Cheesy Potatoes

Category: Fruits and Vegies
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Not Healthy At All

My nephews Nate and Taylor love cheesy potatoes. So do I! You know, we all want them. Hot and cheesy and flavorful. See those brown edges in the picture? Mmmmm. You know! That's the good stuff. But how to get it?

I dreamed of "Au Gratin" or cheesy potatoes combined with scalloped potatoes. I wanted them to have layers of cream and tender potatoes with lots of melty cheese, and a golden bubbly crust on top. So, after a week-long Quest, I found it. This recipe is adapted from one by Food Network guest chef Cathy Lowe. Have it with ham at Easter or anytime you just want comfort food. It's addictive. This will feed 6 French people or 4-5 Americans. (We go back for seconds!)

Swiss Potato Gratin:

2 T butter
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch slices)
1 C milk
1 C water
1 bay leaf
salt, pepper and nutmeg
3 C grated Emmantaler Swiss cheese (don't get domestic!)
1 T green onions, minced
2/3 C heavy cream ( I used 3/4 C)
8-10 pieces of crumbled crisp bacon (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 10 inch baking dish. In medium saucepan, combine potatoes, milk, water, bay leaf and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, stir once or twice, and reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender but not mooshy.

Drain the potatoes and layer half of them in the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle on quite a bit of salt (1/2 t) and 1/8 t pepper and 1/8 nutmeg, 1 T minced green onions, half the bacon and half the cheese. Spread out remaining potatoes and the same amount of seasonings and the other half of the cheese and bacon. Note: You can use a sharp or white cheddar instead of the Swiss, but I wouldn't put in any nutmeg.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Debbie Busch's Carrot-Pecan Cake

Category: Desserts
Difficulty Rating: Medium

In the late 1970s to the 1980s carrot cake was all the rage. There were bazillions of recipes out there. There were two kinds of carrot cake--the kind with a glaze and the kind with cream cheese frosting. I like both, but I went on a Quest in the early 1980s to find the best frosted carrot cake in the world. I take my Quests very seriously. I finally thought I had it with a recipe that I discovered in a Hawaiian cookbook. But no! I went to a Bible Study (for singles) one night and found my friend Debbie Busch, who was a fantastic cook, made a cake that was better than mine! I mean, how dare she !? Worse, she had all the single men eating her cake and eating out of her hand! Humbled, I asked her for her recipe. The moral: Sometimes you don't have to search the world for the best things. Sometimes they are right there in your back yard....

Note: Do use baking parchment in the bottom of your baking pans. This cake is very moist and hard to get out of the pan in one piece without it!

Ingredients:

2 C flour
2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
2 t cinnamon
2 C sugar
1 1/2 C oil
4 eggs
2 C grated carrots
1 8 oz can drained, crushed pineapple
1/2 C nuts

Directions:

Sift together first 5 ingredients. Add sugar, oil and eggs. Mix well. Add carrots, pineapple and nuts. Blend thouroughly. Pour into greased and floured 9 X 13" pan or 3 round layer pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Cool and frost.

Divalicious Cream Cheese Frosting: (it's the Jennifer Lopez of frostings)

1/2 C or 1 stick butter, softened
1 8 0z. package cream cheese
2 C powdered sugar,sifted
1 t real vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese together and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip it good! Chill or add more powdered sugar if it doesn't hold in soft peaks. This depends on how hot the day is and how cold your ingredients are.


Sebastiani Spaghetti Sauce

Category: Beef
Difficulty Rating: Medium

Everybody should make home-made spaghetti sauce at least once. I used to make this all the time when Lauren was small. It will fill your house with happy smells, and make you feel like an Italian Mama. How? Just dip some fresh sourdough into the sauce while it's still in the pot. Mmmmmmmm. Gorgeous! Instant Mama. I nabbed this one out of a magazine ( Sunset?) that had an article on the Sebastiani wine family. It seems the family members had a parting of the ways business-wise at some point, but you know what? I bet they all have and still use the family recipes!

Note: Remember to at least double the recipe and freeze some for another night!

Ingredients:

4 chopped onions
4 stalks celery
4 T olive oil
4 T butter
1 lb lean ground beef
1 t garlic salt
1 T Basil
4 garlic cloves (smashed and minced fine)
1/2 C parsley
4/4 C sliced mushrooms (can use Italian dried Porcini, but please re-hydrate)
1/4 t Rosemary
1 large can solid pack stewed tomatoes ( I've never tried fresh, but it would be interesting)
6 cans tomato sauce (8 oz.)
1 fresh chili pepper (minced fine, no seeds) or 2 dried ( ditto)
1 1/2 C water
1 C good red wine (I use Coppola's "Rosso" currently at Trader Joes)
1 t. sugar or Palm sugar

Directions:

Saute onions, celery in olive oil and butter in a soup pot. In another pan, brown 1 lb lean ground beef. Drain, salt and pepper to taste and add to the soup pot with all other ingredients. Simmer for 3-4 hours with lid on. Taste. If it needs more salt, add it. If it needs more garlic, add it. If it's acidic and needs more sugar, add it. We in America are used to a lot of sugar in our pasta sauce. So adjust to your taste. Finally, add more wine if you think it needs it. The better the wine, the better the sauce. If you get the cheap stuff make sure you have tasted it and like it. It should be smooth, not bitter. Gypsy Chariot Red is remarkable and inexpensive, but available only a few times a year at TJs.







Friday, April 15, 2011

Laura's Green-Chili Corn Casserole

Category: Fruits and Vegetables
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Not Healthybut manditory for Thanksgiving

This is a casserole, that since about 1976 has been served at every Thanksgiving we have ever had. Some Christmases too. Obviously, it is GOOD! We make my sister, Laura, make it. She's kinda tired of making it, but I'm afraid she will have to keep making it until we all die. Yes, others can make it, but it is best when Aunt Laura makes it. It's easy, and you can also make it for Easter to go with Plum-Chutney glazed ham! This recipe will maybe serve 4 people. Small people. But if you have a crowd--triple it. Oh, and if you do triple it, bake it in one greased 9X13 baking dish and one 8X8 pan or two small casserole dishes. Put the baking dishes in a large (roasting?) pan of water when you bake.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
3 T flour
1/2 C cream
1 C milk
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 T sugar
1 1/2 C corn
3 T melted butter
3 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 C chopped green chilis (mild, no seeds, please)

Directions:

Beat eggs and flour. Add cream, milk, salt, pepper and sugar. Add corn, butter, cheese and chilis. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Be sure and put casserole in a pan of water while baking! Use two pans if making a large ammount...to ensure the middle will be cooked.




Plum- Chutney Glazed Ham

Category: Pork
Difficulty Rating: Very Easy
Not Healthy

It's Easter, and when I think of Easter, I think of ham. Baked ham, by itself, is pretty darn good. But when you put a great glaze on it, it's REALLY good. This glaze is unusual, it's a little tangy. The only danger in trying this recipe is that you will eat so much of it you will become a ham. (tee-hee)

I was served this first in about 1978 at my friend Steve Stark's apartment. We were young and hip and sophisticated--we thought! Steve went on to design gorgeous stage sets for ACT in San Francisco. He was just good at everything creative--including cooking. My best friend Jan, a talented floral designer, cooked too. Jan was not only one of the sweetest people I have ever met, but she was also one of the best cooks! I'll never forget throwing pasta against the wall with her to see if it was 'al dente' or not. Anyway, they made this incredible glazed ham.

The recipe came from Bon Apetit Magazine. That night we had it with Fettucine Alfredo. But it would also be good with my mom's Herbed Spinach Bake, Laura's Chili-Corn Casserole, or Outrageous Cheesy Potatoes--all of which will be featured on this blog in the next few days...

Ingredients:

1 pre-cooked ham
whole cloves
1/4 C chutney (Major Grey's is fine)
1/4 C plum jam
1 t rice wine vinegar
1/8 t Tabasco
1 T Dijon Mustard
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
1/2 C brown sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With a sharp knife remove and rind and excess fat from ham. Score remaining layer of fat in a diamond pattern and stud with cloves at each intersection. Mix all sauce ingredients together and heat. Place ham on rack in a well-greased baking pan. If the ham wieghs under 8 lbs, plan to cook it 18-24 minutes a pound. If it is large, cook it 10-15 minutes a pound.


Ratatouille a la Chrissy









Category: Vegetables
Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Healthy

This is one of my favorite vegetable dishes. For one thing, it goes with anything. It is tasty yet won't overpower any of your other dishes. My boss, Chris Braunschweig, one of the best bosses I've ever had, made it for a dinner party at her house. She showed me how to entertain in true style. Her living room was red and glittered with gorgeous Christmas decorations on top of her French Style decor. She was elegant, funny, smart, honest and incredibly talented as a leader and homemaker. Make this and enjoy it as much as I did working for her!

1 lb zucchini, sliced
1 lb eggplant, diced (my mom hates eggplant, but she likes this)
1 lg. onion, cut in wedges
1 T GF flour or cornstarch
1 lb. diced tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 t basil
1/2 lb sliced Swiss cheese ( people who don't eat dairy can scoop it off)

Directions:

Saute almonds with bacon in skillet; when almonds a lightly toasted and bacon crisp remove with slotted spoon and put on paper towels to drain. Put zucchini, eggplant and onion into skillet. Cover and cook over med-low heat 15 minutes shaking or stirring to prevent sticking. Mix in flour, then add the rest of the ingredients. Layer vegetable mixture, almonds, bacon and slices of cheese in a 2-qt baking dish or dutch oven, ending with bacon and almonds on top. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Or, if serving later, put in the refrigerator and bake for 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven or 'til hot.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chocolate-Espresso Boondt Cake

Category: Desserts
Difficulty Rating: Medium

A few years ago there was a really funny movie called "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". In it, a very White/Anglo-Saxon /Protestant lady brings a Bundt cake to a party given by a Greek-American family. The Greek matriarch who receives it had never seen a "kek with a hole in it" before, let alone a "boondt kek". It was one of the best scenes in the movie!!! From then on I have called Bundt cakes "boondt cakes". It still makes me giggle.

When Lauren was growing up, I made Chocolate Kahlua Boondt Cake so many times I wore out my Bundt pan! I entertain a lot, and it was made with a mix, so it was convenient. Since then, I have realized that it's much more fun to make cakes from scratch. So I found another very moist, "boondt" recipe that tastes even better than my olde one. Here it is...an adaptation of Sue Hart's recipe in the WOW Ministries Cookbook from Santa Cruz Bible Church (1988?). You can make it with Kahlua, with rum or with a dark roast or espresso coffee--your choice!

Ingredients:

3/4 C butter
1 2/3 C sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
3/4 C sour cream
1/4 C espresso, strong coffee, Kahlua, or rum
2 C flour
2/3 C unsweetened cocoa
1/2 t salt
2 t baking soda
3/4 c buttermilk or sour milk
2 C chocolate chips --divided
2 T corn syrup
4T additional butter

Note: It always frustrates me when buttermilk is an ingredient in a recipe. I mean, what do you do with it other than bake? No one drinks it. And there's usually so much left over! Then I found out you can freeze it, in ice-cube trays or in Tupperware thingies, until you need it for another baking project! What a relief!

Directions :

Generously grease (shortening is best) and flour a 9 or 12 cup Bundt pan. Especially get the shortening inside the angles of the pan. Set aside. Cream butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend in sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Blend in sour cream, vanilla and your choice of Kahlua, rum, espresso or strong coffee. Stir baking soda into a measuring cup with 3/4 C buttermilk in it. Combine flour, cocoa and salt in a separate bowl with a whisk. Add alternatively with buttermilk to creamed mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Fold in 1 C chocolate chips, reserving the second cup for glaze. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out absolutely clean. If you don't have a "tester" use a piece of uncooked spaghetti.

Chocolate Glaze: Heat 1 C chocolate chips, 4 T butter and 2 T corn syrup in a 1 qt. saucepan over low heat, until the chocolate is melted. Cool slightly and drizzle over the top of the cooled cake. It should drip down the sides of the cake in the nooks and crannies too.

Butter Rum Glaze: ( an alternative to the Chocolate Glaze if you decide to use rum in the cake)
Melt 1/4 C butter in small saucepan. Stir in 2 T water and 1/2 C sugar. Boil 3 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in rum. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hooray! It's Sole Cabernet!

Category: Fish
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Not Healthy--hollandaise!

This delightful recipe was devised by Jo Anne Woodward--an award-winning actress who was in films in the 1950's through the 70's. She later became known as much for her healthy cooking almost as much as she was known for being a great actress. In them thar days, healthy cooks and vegetarians didn't mind using a little butter in their recipes, as you will see. But this is a quick and delicious way to serve fish. Yes, you can use this for Red Snapper and other white fish too.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs Sole or Snapper
3/4 C cabernet
large pinches of dill, salt, pepper
4 egg yolks (this means the yellow part only)
1/4 t salt
2 T white vinegar ( white rice wine vinegar is best)
2 T fresh lemon
1/8 t cayenne pepper
3/4 C butter

Directions:

Place 1 1/2 lbs sole or Snapper in a 9X12" buttered baking dish. Pour 3/4 C Cabernet over all. Sprinkle with pinches of dill, salt and pepper. Bake at 450 degrees for 7-10 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, make blender hollandaise...

Directions for Easy Blender Hollandaise:

Whirl in a blender 4 egg yolks, 1/4 t. salt, 2 T white vinegar, 2 T fresh lemon, 1/8 t cayenne pepper. Set blender aside with mixture while you proceed. Melt 3/4 C butter until it sizzles, but is not brown. After 5 seconds add to the blender mixture in a steady stream, still blending. Voila! Easy Blender Hollandaise! Simply spoon some on top of the cooked fish--very easy, very good!


Note: You can use this blender Hollandaise for Eggs Benedict too. So much easier for a group!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Melody's Strawberry/Blueberry Bread

Category: Breads
Difficulty Rating: Easy

Melody Nicholson is a baker. And a giver. She says "I either bake for people I love or I give them flowers from my garden". She is truly one of the most loving people I know. She's a Christian and she acts like it. This is one of her recipes. I warn you, this bread is addictive. Especially the carmelized cinnamon crust. GOSH! You will want to just tear off all the edges and eat them on the spot. Note: Strawberries tend to melt into the bread, unless they're big, so blueberries work best for me.

Ingredients:

3 C sifted flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon
2 C sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 C vegetable oil
1 C chopped pecans (walnuts are OK too)
1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed and drained OR 1 1/4 C frozen blueberries, washed and drained.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degreees. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. In smaller bowl, Mmix eggs and oil, add to dry ingredients. Fold in nuts and berries. Pour into 2 greased 9 X5 loaf pans. Do not try and put the mixture all into one pan. That's a Bozo NoNo! It will not cook in the center. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Slice with a serrated knife and serve. Great with coffee or tea!

Rosemary Roast Lamb








Category: Lamb
Difficulty Rating: Easy-Medium
Healthy

Sunday dinner. In some places they still have it. The idea of family all in one place at one time, loving each other and eating great warm plates of home-cooked bliss. Mmmmmmm.

Does your family like meat and potatoes? If they do, make this! Lauren and Alan both give it a huge thumbs up. Why? Garlic and meat juices with rosemary infuse new potatoes, green beans and tomatoes to make a lamb dish that is buttery and yet tastes fresh at the same time. You instinctively know it's good and good for you.

"Rosemary for remembrance" as Ophelia said in "Hamlet". Well, your family or guests will certainly remember this! --Adapted from "The Healthy Gourmet's Guide to Light Entrees".

Common Sense Tip: You will find lamb, reasonably priced, at a Big Box store like Costco near Easter.

Ingredients:

1 leg of lamb (6-7 lbs) trimmed of all fat and oven-ready
2 cloves garlic, cut into 3 slivers each
1 t olive oil
2 t dried rosemary (or more)
1 t salt (I use about 2 t)
1 -1/2 t black pepper
1 lb new potatoes, washed and peeled thru the middle (see picture)
1 lb fresh green beans
1 C chicken broth (full salt is best, but use low-sodium if you like)
2 1/2 C sliced white or yellow onions
1 can (16 oz) tomatoes, drained
1/2--1 t garlic powder (your taste)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a sharp knife, make 6 small incisions in the thickest part of the meat and insert garlic slivers. My friend Denise Aspinal, who is half Italian, taught me to do this when I was 22. I've been doing it on all roasts of any kind ever since. I am impatient, so it is hard for me. Is anybody else out there impatient? Just be glad I'm not a surgeon...

Rub meat with oil. I mean really massage it. Cook with love. Sprinkle with rosemary, 1/2 t salt, and 1 t pepper; press seasonings into the meat. Put meat in a large roasting pan (the biggest you have) and roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Don't eat it now, you're not done cooking yet!

Surround meat with potatoes and green beans, making two little piles of each. Pour chicken broth over vegies and sprinkle with onions, tomatoes, remaining salt, remaining pepper and garlic powder. I like garlic, so I use at least 1 t. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 1 hour and 10 minutes. Meat will be medium rare to medium, and internal temperature will register 150 degrees on a meat thermometer. Don't over cook! The meat police will come and get you!

Carve and arrange meat on a platter surrounded with vegetables.














Ingredients:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Viennese Pork Chops with Sherry and Apples










Category: Pork
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Not Really Healthy But Could Be Worse


Do rainy days and Mondays always get you down? Don't cry, boo-boo! Make some comfort food! Carmelized onions, sizzling brown pork in a sultry sweet sauce made with apples and sherry... baby! Another go-to recipe, this is one of my oldest--from the seventies. Have it on a cold night when you just want REAL FOOD quick and easy!

(The real trick is getting your hubby to do the dishes. Now that is my idea of comfort)




Ingredients:

4-6 pork chops (cut about 1-inch thick)
1 1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
4 apples, peeled cored and quartered
12 small boiling onions OR 1 medium onion, peeled, sliced, and sauteed in 2 T butter
1/4 C raisins
1/2 C sherry
1/2 C water
3 T brown sugar or Palm sugar or 1 T maple syrup
1/4 t nutmeg
dash of thyme

Directions:

Brown 6 pork chops (cut about 1 inch thick or more) in a skillet for about 5 minutes on each side till browned. Pour off drippings. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the chops in a lightly greased baking dish (9X13 glass pan or a dutch oven is fine) and cover with apples, onions and raisins. Add sherry, water, brown sugar, nutmeg and thyme. Cover and bake in 375 degree oven 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes. Serves 4-6.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Twice-Baked Patooties

Category: Vegetables
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Not Healthy

The other night, I served dinner at my church to about 25 people. There was a late-comer to the group that said she'd had dinner. But when my hubby said there were "still some twice-baked potatoes " she hurried in to get one. I know people who don't like chocolate (yes, I really do), but I don't know anybody who doesn't like twice-baked potatoes.

This is your basic twice-baked recipe, except I substituted green chilis for bacon. Gayle's Bakery (in Capitola) does theirs this way. It's different, tasty, and very economical. But you can certainly forget the chili's and add a teaspoon of crumbled bacon per potato if you prefer! YUM! Be sure and always use the sharpest cheddar you can find, though. Sharp cheddar makes it beddar! Oh, and you can multiply the ingredients up to a bazillion if you're cooking for large parties.

Ingredients:

3 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed
1 T butter
2 T sour cream
2 medium minced garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/2 t Lawry's seasoning salt
1 large pinch pepper
1 1/2 C sharp cheddar--divided into 1 C and 1/2 C
1/2 to 1 t minced green chilis (no seeds) OR use Hormel's Real Bacon Bits

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pierce potatoes all over with a fork and bake in oven for about 1 hour or until they are baked through. Do Not Undercook. Remember, you're going to need to mash these babies!

Take the patooties out of the oven. Let them cool for about 1 hour or overnight. Slice them in half, lengthwise, on a clean work surface. Scoop out the potato with a spoon, and put white stuff in a small mixing bowl. Leave a little of the white stuff on the peel, the idea is to keep the peel sturdy and intact. No holes. Like a little boat. Set 'boats" aside.

Mash potato in bowl with 1 T butter, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 t Lawry's, and a large pinch pepper. Don not mash into a creamy texture, leave some lumps in there! Add the rest of the ingredients, mixing just until combine. Put potato mixture back into potato skins with a spoon. Then, put a good heaping tablespoon of the remaining cheddar cheese on top of each 'boat". Place in a greased baking pan and bake in the oven until cheese is melted and potato is hot --around 30 minutes.

Christie's Coleslaw

Catagory: Fruits and Vegies
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Healthy

Gayles Bakery & Rosticceria in Capitola is one of the best places for food on earth, let alone Santa Cruz County. It is so good, it should be bronzed!

When we went to Gayles as a family, Lauren always got twice-baked potatoes, Alan always got pastries (usually Schnecken) and I always, ALWAYS got "Christie's Coleslaw". No, this ain't yo mama's coleslaw. This has cilantro and fresh ginger root. Holy Asian-American Fusion, Batman!

This recipe was from Gayle's official website...

Ingredients:

1 small head cabbage (1 1/2 lbs) red or green or a mixture of both, shredded.
6 carrots, cut into curls with a peeler (I just shredded 'em)
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (1/2 C)
1 bunch cilantro, stemmed and coarsely chopped (1 C, loosely packed)

Dressing:

1/2 C low-fat mayonnaise (Best Foods works well)
2 T grated fresh ginger root
2 T grated onion (I didn't use this--there's a lot of onion in the salad, and I didn't want to cry)
1/3 C sugar, or 2 T honey
1/2 C rice vinegar
1/2 to 1 t salt ( to taste--I tripled the recipe and only needed 2 t)
1 t pepper

Topping:

1/4 C candied ginger, finely chopped (optional--I don't think Gayle's uses this any more)
1/4 C peanuts, chopped (I used salted ones)

Combine the vegetables and cilantro in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl until well mixed. Dress the slaw with the dressing so that it is well coated. Place the coleslaw in a serving dish and top with chopped peanuts.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Judy's Citrus-Garlic Chicken

Category: Chicken
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Healthy (if you don't eat too much sauce)

This chicken is finger-lickin' good, and it's much healthier for you than the fried kind made by The Colonel! I asked Judy Golnick, Alan's sister to send us a couple of her best recipes--and I'm so grateful she sent this! It's quick and easy and is a good way to use up extra oranges you may have left-over from those big bags they sell at Trader-Joe's. If you only have lemons, you can substitute them for the limes, but the limes make this really special. I added a sauce (that is optional for calorie-counters) just in case you want a little more orange. The original delicious marinade is by Clare Robinson of Food Network.Com.

Ingredients:

4-5 large bone-in, skin on the chicken, about 3 lbs (I used boneless, skinless becuz I had 'em)
Juice of 1 large navel orange, or two small navel oranges.
Zested skin from 1/2 large whole navel orange or one small navel orange. (zest or grate off only the orange part--the white part is bitter)
2 limes, one zested, both juiced
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and smashed
1 t salt, plus more for seasoning
freshly cracked black pepper (regular pepper works fine, too)

Directions:

Put the chicken in a large bowl. Put orange and lime zests and fruit juice in a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, garlic, 1 t salt, and a generous grind of pepper. Pour the marinade over the chicken and marinate 20-30 minutes, but now more that 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees OR heat up your BBQ grill. Put chicken on a rack on a baking sheet, or just in a baking pan. Drizzle a small spoonful of marinade on each piece of chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake until the juices run clear when the chicken is stabbed with a knife. Fear not! The chicken will not retaliate! Use a couple of very thin slices of orange (see picture) to dress it up and serve to nearest people with mouths open.

If you are using a BBQ grill , spray or brush any parts of the chicken that are without skin with cooking oil (or it will stick). Then season with salt and pepper. I use boneless skinless chicken and find grilling is good because the black stripes on it make it prettier than just a naked white blob. Where was I? Oh yes, grill chicken until juices run clear (see above). Drizzle an extra spoonful of marinade on top of each breast, put thin orange slices on it, and serve.

Optional Orange Sauce:

I often grill the heck out of boneless skinless chicken, so it's important to me to have a nice sauce I can make just in case it turns out too dry. So, here's what I came up with...

Make a roux with 2 T butter melted in a saucepan (on medium heat)and mixed with 2 T flour. Stir until it bubbles and no longer tastes like raw flour. About 3-5 minutes. Add 1 cup fresh sqoozed orange juice, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Stir until thick and yellow. Spoon over plated chicken, decorate with thin orange slices, and serve. YUM!

Lynne's Cherry-Oat Scones

Category: Breakfast
Difficulty Rating: Easy

I have 3 good scone recipes, but this is my favorite...It's whole-wheat nutty in flavor--with the added surprise of dried cherries. Sweet and rich, these are oh so good with coffee or tea in the morning.

This recipe comes from Lynn Ingram. She she managed to "bake 'em and bring 'em" to Bible Study one morning. And knocked our sox off. There we were, women in bare feet, munching happily away...

Note: You need to freeze these for at least two hours in advance of cooking. So I would suggest making these the night before you cook 'em--then just wake up and pop 'em in the oven! Oh! I forgot to mention that you can make them in a food processor--works just fine!

Ingredients:

1 1/4 C whole wheat flour
2 C flour
3/4 C sugar (I cut the sugar down to 1/2 C--I tend to like things less sweet--like shortbread)
3/4 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 1/2 t baking powder
2 1/2 C oats
1 C dried sour cherries, roughly chopped (you can also use cherry-flavored dried cranberries)
10 oz. chilled butter, cut into pieces
2/3 C buttermilk
Topping; 1 T heavy cream,
1 T extra fine sugar ( I used regular sugar mixed with 1/8 t cinnamon)

Directions:

In a bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine all the dry ingredients with cherries. Add butter and mix on medium speed until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk. Mix until combined--taking care to mix as little as possible until you get a slightly wet, crumbly dough that will juuuust barely hold together if you pat it into a biscuit shape. If it will not hold together, you can always add a bit more buttermilk to the mixture.

Turn out the dough on to a clean work surface (I used my counter, and put a 20" piece of foil then a long piece of plastic wrap on top of the foil for my work surface). With hands, quickly pat mixture into a 16" X 3 1/2" rectangle that is 1 1/2 inches high (or thereabouts). Score rectangle into ten triangles. Lift up the edges of the plastic wrap and foil and fold them over at the top, covering and enveloping the scone dough. Transfer "packet" to freezer for at least 2 hours (keeps in freezer for a month or more).

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from freezer. Place scones 2" apart on baking sheet. Brush with cream and sprinkle on sugar or cinnamon-sugar. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.