Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cherry-Almond Cheesecake

Category: Desserts
Difficulty Rating: Medium

This is a really old favorite that I've been making since I was 21. I used to make it for parties and for men I was dating. One guy said he ate so much of it it literally made him sick. Was that a compliment or not? The other night I made it and it just barely had enough time to cool and chill before I served it. So I put it in the freezer. That works pretty well, actually! While I was looking in the freezer I found a box of cereal I had absent-mindedly put in there. Where did my brain go? If someone finds it, please return it to me as soon as possible.

Directions: Prepare one Graham Cracker Crust in a 9-inch pie pan or an 8-inch springform. Just follow the directions on the back of the Graham Cracker Crumb box.

Filling:

Cream until consistency of whipped cream: 1 1/2 lbs cream cheese. Whip in, adding gradually: 1 C sugar and 1/4 t. salt. Beat until light and fluffy. Fold in : 4 egg whites, beaten stiff. Add 1 t. lemon juice. Pour slowly into graham crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a bit brown on top with a crack or two. If you double the recipe (for a 10-inch springform) you will definitely have to cook it longer. Remove and set oven to 425 degrees.

Blend:

1 pint sour cream, 2 T sugar, 1/2 t. vanilla, 1/2 t. almond extract. Pour carefully over cheesecake, spreading evenly to the edges. Bake, for 5 minutes in a 425 degree oven. Remove, and put in refrigerator for several hours. Remove and make or pour a can of  cherry pie filling evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Leave the very edges (about 1/1 inch) white.  Devour!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Brie and Carmelized Onion Chicken Breasts

Category: Chicken
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Pretty Durn Healthy

I have eaten so much chicken I am really pretty sick of it.  So, in this cookbook you will only find chicken recipes that are really good. Here's another great recipe from "Cooking Light"...almost anything savory is better with brie and carmelized onions--and only 216 calories a serving!

Ingredients:

1 t olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cup sliced onion
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2/3 C dry white wine, divided
2 oz. Brie cheese, rind removed and cheese cut into small pieces (or substitute Fontina)
1/8 t salt
1/8 t black pepper
4 (4-oz.) skinned, boned chicken breast halves
2 T minced onion
1 T chopped fresh sage
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 10 1/2 oz. can low-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

Heat 1/2 t oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add sliced onion; cook 30 moinutes or until golden, stirring often. Add sliced garlic, and saute 5 minutes. Stir in 1/3 C wine; cook 5 minutes until liquid alsomost evaporates. spoon onion mixture into a bowl; cool. Stir in Brie, salt and pepper. Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff about 1 1/2 T onion mixture into pockets. Heat 1/2 t oil in pan over medium-hi heat. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan, keep warm. Add 1/3 C wine, minced onion, chopped sage and minced garlic into pan. Cook over medium-hi heat 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve sauce with chicken. Yield: 4 servings (1 chicken breast per person).

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Danish Cucumber Salad









Catagory: Fruits and Vegetables
Difficulty: Easy
Healthy

My grandmother, Gladys, used to make this salad for her legendary buffets. She used to serve it with ham, melon en prosciutto, and fettucine al pesto. But it would be great at a California-style BBQ too!

I have no idea why these are called Danish Cucumbers. My Grandmother was not Danish. But the Danes do a good job at making things in general. Like Danish furniture and Danish breakfast rolls (especially Cheese Danish). And that handsome Danish actor, Viggo Mortensen, who was in "The Lord of the Rings"movie. He is well made. So trust the Danes. They're great. And so is this recipe.

Ingredients:

1 medium or large cucumber
1 t. salt
3 T sugar
3 T white wine or rice wine vinegar
1 T vegetable oil (cholesteral- free or extra virgin olive oil)
2 T cold water
White or black pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice cucumbers very thin, sprinkle with salt; let stand 15 minutes, drain. Whisk remaining ingredients together and mix with cukes. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Nom!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Knife and Fork Salad








Category: Fruits and Vegies
Difficulty Rating: Easy-Medium (because of sectioning grapefruit)

Have you noticed I favor green salads with fruit? That's because most people are a bit tired of vegetable salads--unless you have a lot of interesting and expensive ingredients in them . And since I am always working with a budget--greens are an inexpensive way to extend a fruit salad. Not too mention the fact when you introduce lettuce to a fruit salad it saves one a whole lot of chopping and peeling!

This salad pairs well with ham or any other semi-sweet main course. The grapefruit and avocado are refreshing, and the curry dressing is a perfect. ... This was from a 1970's issue of Sunset Magazine.

Ingredients:

1/2 C salad oil
1/4 C Dijon mustard
3 T honey ( I put in less)
3 T lemon juice
1 t celery salt
1/4 t dry mustard
1/4 t curry powder
1 1/4 C mayonnaise
3 heads red leaf or butter lettuce
4 lg. ruby or pink grapefruit
2 lg. ripe avocados

In a bowl, mix oil, Dijon, lemon juice, celery salt, dry mustard, and curry powder.Whisk in mayonnaise. Makes 2 C.

Tear lettuce leaves in bunches off of the lettuce heads. Rinse gently, drain and dry in a salad spinner, or wrap in towels to dry and put in refrigerator. Chill at least 30 minutes or overnight.

On a large platter or 12 salad plates, arrange lettuce in clumps the size of a small hand. Cut, and section grapefruit (see Google:" How to Section Grapefruit"). Place 1 /12 of the grapefruit and avocadoes on top of a bed of lettuce leaves on each plate--or arrange all of the avocado and grapefruit artistically on top of lettuce on a platter. Drizzle 2 T of the dressing on the salad. Pass remainder after serving.

Mandarin Salad--My Brunch Tradition

Category: Fruits and Vegies
Difficulty Rating: Easy

When you don't have a lot of cash and want to have a brunch for a bunch, this salad can be your best friend! It's happy, delicious and looks really pretty! The candied almond slices really make it special. My family will recognize this because I have made it so many times I can make it in my sleep. It never fails to please!

Note: If you feel like it, add some sliced avocados around on top after you've tossed it or plated it.


Ingredients and Directions:

Place in a medium salad bowl:

1/2 small head lettuce, washed, crisped and torn into bite-size pieces (3 C)
1/2 bunch romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (3C)
2 medium celery stalks, chopped (1 C)
2 med. thinly sliced green onions
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin orange segments, drained

Sweet and Sour Dressing:

Whisk the following in a small bowl:

1/4 C vegetable oil
2 T sugar
2 T white vinegar
1T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t salt
dash pepper
dash red pepper sauce

Sugared Almonds:

In a no-stick frying pan or saucepan, put 4 t sugar over low heat about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until sugar is melted and almonds are coated. They should turn light brown but don't let many get black. You'll have to take those out! Remove the almonds from the pan and cool them, breaking them apart, on a sheet of baking parchment or a buttered plate.

Sprinkle almonds on top of greens and oranges, then pour on salad dressing and toss lightly. If the salad is going to be seen in the salad bowl, toss it BEFORE you put on the oranges, then put them in a pile in the middle of the greens and sprinkle the almonds on after that. It's so easy and so pretty!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Apricot Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

Category: Breakfast
Difficulty Rating: Easy-Medium (if you make the glaze--I don't!)

This coffee cake is an adaptation of a classic. Introduced to me by my dear friend Carol Lawless, it is a recipe featured in Ina Garten's wonderful Parties! cookbook. It's a gorgeous, showy cake. When Carol, who is an excellent cook, brought it to a party, we all were drooling in awe! Yet, it's not that hard to make. My kinda coffee-cake!

Because Ina has tinkered with the eggs vs. flour ratio, it is light and moist compared to most sour cream coffee cake recipes. It still has the familiar ribbon of cinnamon streusel, but the texture is more delicate. I really think it has a lot to do with the fact that she uses cake flour instead of regular flour. I also added some tangy dried apricots and used toasted almonds instead of walnuts. A nice change I think!

I've been making the Betty Crocker Cookbook version of this since Lauren was a baby--and my mom made the same one before me. That recipe uses regular flour. But if you have any cake flour in the house, I urge you to try Ina's instead. Much bettah!

Ingredients:

12 T unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 t real vanilla extract
1 t brandy (optional)
1 1/4 C sour cream
2 1/2 C cake flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt

Streusel:

3/4 C light brown sugar, packed
1/2 C flour
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
3 T cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 C finely minced dried apricots*(optional)
2/3 C toasted walnuts--chopped very fine


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease (shortening is best for this) and flour a 10-inch tube pan. This is juuuussst enough for a medium sized coffee cake. You can use a 12-cup Bundt pan, but do double the recipe!

Note: When I use my Bundt pan, which is NOT non-stick, I cut 1" X 15" strips of baking parchment and lay them in the larger parts of the greased pan (not the crevices) and all the way up the sides. The way I lay them looks like a wagon-wheel's spokes. It's much easier to get the coffee cake out in one piece that way.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla... brandy and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flou , baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Or mix in a food processor.  Mix in chopped almonds and apricots.

*Note: If your dried "cots" are not very sweet or on the hard side (which is most of the time)--bring a cup of water to boil in a saucepan...add a teaspoon of sugar and the apricots then simmer for a few minutes. Drain water and let the fruit drain on a few paper towels before using them.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel-side up,onto a serving plate. Whisk the powdered sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.













Thursday, May 5, 2011

Doris Schweitzer's Chili Egg Puff

Category: Breakfast
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Not Very Healthy

Doris Schweitzer was the straight-talking, loyal till the end, sweet at the core book-keeper for Santa Cruz Bible church for around 20 years. She was a great friend, a loving mom, a staunch Republican and a superb cook. I mean, who else would make filet Mignon for people when they were sick? I remember when she had some of the gals in our office there over to lunch at her apartment. She had made a bundt cake shaped like an rose and served us this egg casserole. It's quick, it's tasty and you can serve a lot of people with it (on a shoe-string).

Ingredients:

10 eggs
1/2 C flour
1/2 t salt
1 pt. cottage cheese (grated)
1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese (grated)
1/2 C butter, melted
1 4 oz. can diced green chilis
1 C chopped ham, sausage, or vegetables
1 t baking powder

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until light. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, jack cheese and butter. Stir in chilies and meat. Put in greased 9X 13 baking dishes--filled 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees about 35 minutes. Serves 15 ladies or 10 men.

Quiche Me Quick

Quiche Me Quick

Category: Breakfast
Difficulty Rating: Very Easy (if you use frozen crust) Easy (if you make your own)

I first found this quiche in my reliable red Betty Crocker Cookbook back in the 1980's and have used it ever since. Now don't be a snob--Betty has great recipes! A girlfriend gave me the cookbook when I was 18 and I've used it ever since! Except I had to replace it after I burned it on the stove....

This quiche is quick, easy, economical and delicious. It's a traditional, French-style Quiche Lorraine : creamy, more like a custard than a frittata. I have used it for numerous brunches. And someone always asks me for the recipe. Go figure! So, if you're making brunch for Mom on Mother's Day, or for a bridal or baby shower, this is just the thing!

Ingredients:

1 pastry shell for a pie --9"(see bottom of page for an excellent homemade crust)
8 slices bacon (1/3 C crumbled bacon)
1 C shredded Swiss cheese ( I use Jarlsberg when it's for company)
1/3 C chopped onion (sauteed in butter till limp in 1 t butter)
4 large eggs
2 C heavy cream or half and half
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t ground red pepper (cayenne)

--Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork a few times and cover the crimped edges of the crust with a 2 "foil "ribbon" to keep it from over-browning. It just makes SENSE--to avoid a sunburn, cover up! If you are using a homemade crust, use pie weights to avoid bubbles. You CAN use dried beans instead of pie weights, but you sometimes have to dig them out a little after the crust is cooled. Some people use uncooked rice for this but...well, just don't. Put prepared homemade pie crust in the oven for 15 minutes. Put a frozen pie crust in for just 10 minutes. Remove shell from oven to cool...keep foil on.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees while mixing together cream, salt, pepper and cayenne. Sprinkle onion, bacon, Swiss cheese in cooled pastry shell. Pour liquid mixture over it. Bake in oven for 45-50 minutes until puffy and brown on top. Cool till luke-warm and serve.

Sweet Buttery Crust (this is slightly sweet--eliminate the sugar if you don't like sweet crust)
Note: This recipe is adapted from Gingerbread Bagels.com

Ingredients:

4C flour
1 T sugar
2 t salt
1 1/2 C shortening, very cold and diced
1/4 C butter
1/2 C very cold water
1 large egg (cold)

Directions:

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Place bowl in freezer 5 min. Cut (put it in the freezer ahead of time) shortening and cold butter into pieces. Add the shortening/butter to the flour, using a fork or two knives, or throw it into the food processor for a couple of seconds until the mixture is crumbly. Combine 1/2 cold water with an egg and add it to the bowl. Process or mix with a fork until dough comes together into a ball.  Press down ball to form a disc. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before rolling out. Roll out on a floured and clean surface like any pie crust. If you don't know how to shape a pie crust in a pan --see Being Ermas's  "Mom's Apple Pie" for pictures.







Monday, May 2, 2011

Saturday Celebration Lemon Tarts

Category: Desserts
Difficulty Rating: Easy-Medium

" The Queen of Hearts, she baked some tarts, all on a summer's day...". At our church, we used to have these events called "Saturday Celebrations". They started out as "Mother-Daughter Tea's" but then moved on to be more than tea. One year, I coordinated "Tea in the Garden", including the food. We had about $400. to spend on food for 300 women, so we ended up with quiche, some kind of salad, and these lovely little tarts. I used the least expensive lemon curd recipe I could find and it was really really good! Putting whupped cream on top cut the sweet and made it fabulous! This is from "The Doubleday Cookbook" circa 1979.

Ingredients for Lemon Curd:

1 C butter
2 C sugar
3 T finely grated lemon rind
2/3 C lemon juice
1/8 t salt
4 eggs

Garnish: 2 C whipping cream, 1/8 t vanilla, 1 T sifted powdered sugar, and chocolate "jimmies".

Directions:

Melt butter on the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Add sugar, lemon rind, juice and salt and stir until sugar dissolves, 2-3 minutes. Beat eggs just until frothy, mix in 1 C lemon mixture, return to double boiler and cook and stir 7-9 minutes until thick. Ladle into small jars or a mixing bowl , cover and cool to room temperature. Store in refrigerator until ready to use as a filling for tart, cakes, pies, sweet rolls, or as a spread for toast or bagels.

Note: If after refrigeration your curd doesn't get thick enough, you can always pour off the clear liquid on top and stick it in a pot back on the stove. Warm it up, then sift a couple of tablespoons flour into it and cook a few more minutes. Cool and it should be fine.

Ingredients for Tart Shells:

6 oz ( 2 small packages) cream cheese or low-fat cream cheese
1 C butter or margarine
2 C sifted all-purpose flour

Directions:

Let cream cheese and butter soften to room temperature. Blend together. Stir in flour. Chill about 1 hour. Shape into 1 inch balls and place into muffin tins. Press dough evenly against bottoms and sides of each. Bake at 325 until slightly brown around the edges. Remove from oven, cool in pans and remove to fill.

To Assemble Tarts:

Fill cooled tart shells with cooled lemon curd. I use a teaspoon, but if you have lots of piping equipment, pipe the filling in. Then whip a couple of cups of whipping cream and add a little (1/8 t) vanilla and a T of sifted powdered sugar at the end. Pipe or spoon whipping cream onto the tarts and decorate with chocolate "jimmies" (sprinkles) or grated lemon rind.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chicken Vermicelli Carbonara

Category: Chicken
Difficulty Rating: Medium (because of reduction of sauce)
Healthy
When I first looked at this recipe in Cooking Light I thought: 'well, that's simple'. But when I made it, I realized how all the subtle tastes come together into something somehow comforting and complex at the same time. It's all about the reduction--browning the onions in rich, fennel-seasoned stock again and again at the beginning. It will take you a little time, but it's worth it. Yield: 6-8 servings  408 calories per serving

Ingredients:

1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 t fennel seeds
1 3/4 C low-sodium chicken broth
12-14 oz. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cup into 1/2 inch chunks
1 C finely chopped parsley
3 egg whites
1 egg
12 oz to 1 lb vermicelli or any thin pasta
1 1/2 C (about 6 oz) finely shredded Parmesan cheese (domestic is fine)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a wide nonstick frying pan, combine onion, fennel seeds, and 1 C of the broth. Bring to a boil; boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated. Continue to cook until browned bits accumulate in pan; then add water, 2 T at a time, stirring until all browned bits are loosened. continue to cook until mixture begins to brown again; repeat deglazing using 2 T water each time, until onions are a uniformly light golden brown color.

To pan, add chicken and 2 T more water. cook, stirring , until drippings begin to brown, deglaze pan with 2 T water. When pan is dry, add remaining 3/4 C broth; bring to a boil. Add parsley; keep warm over lowest heat. In a bowl, beat egg whites and egg to blend; set aside.

In 6-qt pan, cook vermicelli in 4 qt.s boiling water just until tender to bite (8-10 minutes) or cook according to package directions. Drain well.

Add hot pasta to pan with chicken. Pour egg mixture over pasta and at once begin lifting with 2 forks to mix well (eggs cook if you delay mixing) add 1 C of the cheese as you mix. Pour mixture onto a warm deep platter or casserole and continue to mix until almost all broth is absorbed. Season to taste with remaining 1/2 C cheese, salt, and pepper. Makes 6-8 servings.