Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year Recipes

Here we go again, another New Year's and many more resolutions. YUCK! Years ago I gave up on the whole idea of resolutions, way too much pressure. I will say that after hanging out with some amazing chefs over the holidays and over indulging in so many fabulous treats, I could step up my work out and eat a bit lighter! Don’t get me wrong, I have never been a big fan of long term no carb diets. I mean think about a diet that says you can have a burger wrapped in bacon and cheese, but don’t eat a carrot! I also hate the word diet! I think for the long haul moderation is the key. And so many people believe that no carbs means no Italian! I love to watch my Italian friends eat. It is all about pleasure! I think we could learn something from them. How they savor or every bite of small amounts of a wide variety of foods. It could be a simple lettuce salad with balsamic or a tiny chocolate truffle or a glass of Pinot noir. It is all about pleasure! You can take many Italian dishes and un-carb them. Have a Caesar without croutons or use a classic pesto over swordfish or scallops. You can use your favorite sauce over spaghetti squash as I have done with a classic tomato and basil. I invite you to try some of these Northern Italian inspired recipes. A bit lighter perhaps, but you can always serve them up with a little risotto, pasta or roasted potatoes! Mostly I encourage you to embrace the body you have and to be healthy, happy and live a love filled life.

Prosciutto with Melon

This is a classic appetizer. It is also great with a loaf of crusty bread or you can wrap the prosciutto around figs; or spread some goat cheese on slice and wrap around grilled asparagus.

1 melon, cut into 6 wedges
18 paper-thin prosciutto slices

Place 1 melon wedge on each of 6 plates. Arrange 3 prosciutto slices alongside melon or drape over melon and serve.

Spicy Mozzarella with Oregano and Capers
Serve with an assortment of artichoke hearts, olives and salami for an appetizer or light lunch.

12 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
3 tablespoons capers, chopped
Kosher Salt and ground Pepper to taste

Overlap cheese slices on medium platter.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed pepper and stir just until garlic begins to color, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in oregano, salt, and pepper. Cool. Stir in capers and remaining 4 tablespoons oil. Spoon
over cheese slices.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Basil and Parmesan

3 pounds of spaghetti squash (1 large or 2 small)
2 tablespoons butter OR 2tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
5 tablespoons fresh basil
Preheat oven to 375. Place squash on baking dish and pierce with a fork 6 times. Bake until squash tests tender when pierced with a fork. About 45 minutes; turning once during cooking.
Half way through cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Sautee onions and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat until tomatoes are thickened. Remove squash from the oven and using an oven mitt, cut the squash in half. Remove the seeds then pull the long strands into a large bowl using a fork. Toss well with butter, Parmesan and basil. Divide four ways and spoon sauce over top.

Halibut in Herb Sauce

1/4-cup fresh lemon juice
1/4-cup olive oil
6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
6 6-ounce halibut fillets
Olive Oil for brushing

Puree first 5 ingredients in processor. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat broiler. Brush fish with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until just opaque in center, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer fish to plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 chicken breast halves with ribs and skin, cut crosswise in half
3 chicken drumsticks with skin
3 chicken thighs with skin
6 ounces 1/4-inch cubes prosciutto
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup crushed tomatoes with added puree
Fresh rosemary for garnish

Preheat oven to 325°F. Heat extra-virgin olive oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, sauté chicken until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter. Add prosciutto, sliced garlic, and chopped rosemary to same pot. Stir 1 minute. Add dry white wine, chicken broth, and crushed tomatoes with puree. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Boil 5 minutes. Return chicken to pot, arranging in single layer. Return to boil. Cover pot and place in oven. Bake until chicken breasts are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove pot from oven.
Bring chicken mixture to simmer. Transfer chicken to platter; tent with foil. Boil until sauce is reduced to 2 cups and coats back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year Cocktail Party

The cocktail parties that we throw are not like our mother’s that had somewhat goofy food, instead they are cornucopia of amazing flavored taste treats that fill us like dinner. You can have a grand assortment to accommodate all types of diets. Our stationary table is created with risers and fabrics to allow lots of interesting nooks to place food. We make all of our own sauces and dip, but there are many great pre-made ones available. Great crusty bread and a fun assortment of cheese and fresh fruit and veggies are all great items. Some of these years’ hot items are deviled eggs, turkey meatballs and pigs in blanket using mini Aidell’s sausages with homemade pastry and mustard. In this column I have included my three most popular signature tray pass items and my most requested recipes. As for the bar caterers use a formula that roughly estimates 10 people will consume 20 drinks at the average cocktail party. I would add 1 drink per person, as it is a holiday. If you pour 1.5-ounce shots you will get 16 cocktails from a 750 ml bottle while a liter bottle will yield 22. The average bottle of wine will get roughly 5 glasses. Most people don’t have a full bar, but serve beer, wine, sodas and a “featured drink.” You could make vodka martinis and also with a few additions add festive flair with cosmos, apple martinis, chocolate martinis and lemon drops. Be creative, have fun and have a happy and healthy New Year.

Shrimp with Coconut
3 Pounds Shrimp
3 cups shredded coconut (on a plate)
2 cups pancake mix
1 cup orange juice
1/2-cup coconut milk (more to thin the batter)
2 eggs
1-teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peanut or canola oil for frying
Set deep fryer or wok for 375. In a bowl mix pancake mix, eggs O.J. coconut milk and cayenne pepper. Holding by the tail dip each shrimp into the batter, roll in the coconut and drop into bubbling oil. Do not overcrowd the fryer; cooking several batches as necessary. Fry until shrimp are golden brown; about 3 minutes. (Don’t over cook, as the shrimp gets tough). Drain on a brown bag. Let cool a bit then serve.

Crab cakes with Remoulade Sauce
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small red onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
3/4-cup fine breadcrumbs
1/2-teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4-teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Mix all above ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Shape the crab mixture into 24 small cakes. In a heavy skillet, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Sauté the crab cakes for 5 minutes per side until golden brown.
Remoulade Sauce

1 egg
2 egg yolks
2 dill pickles, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons balsamic
3-tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup minced parsley
Fresh pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade except the oil. Process for 15 seconds. With it still running, pour the oil through the feed tube in a steady stream to make a thick sauce. Dollop over crab cakes.

Vegetarian Moonrolls
Similar to eggrolls but fresher with more veggies, a ton of flavor!

1-tablespoon olive oil
1-teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch of sea salt
1-cup carrots
1 each red and yellow bell peppers,
Halved and sliced
1 1/2 cups snow peas, thinly sliced
1 cup green or red cabbage, thinly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1-teaspoon fresh ginger
1/4-cup fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1/4-cup hoisin sauce
1-tablespoon chili sauce
40 pot sticker wrappers
1 egg, beaten
3 cups canola or peanut oil for frying

In a wok or fry pan heat olive and sesame oil. Add garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute and then add the rest of the veggies and cook about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add vinegar, hoisin sauce, chili sauce and cilantro.
To make moonrolls, moisten edge of wrapper with the egg then add 2-3 tablespoons filling in the center. 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the center. Fold in half and seal completely. They will look like half moons! Heat 3 cups of canola or peanut oil on high heat. Drop moo rolls in batches of 3 and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden. When cooled down a bit serve with sauce.

Dipping Sauce

3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 inch fresh ginger, finely minced
1 cup apricot preserves
4 ounces Chinese mustard
4 Tablespoon rice vinegar (or sake)
Mix all ingredients together.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Brunch

With so many holiday parties and evening events some times a leisurely brunch is a great way to entertain. Here is a very special menu that offers something for everyone. If you don’t like bacon and cheddar try replacing it with ripe winter tomatoes slices and goat cheese. Ginger scones are my most requested but I like to make all of them as minis so people can enjoy many flavors. Be sure to serve with plenty of heavy cream and jam. Mix and match these recipes with some of your family favorites. Add roasted potatoes, a green salad, brewed coffee, fresh squeezed juice and mimosas and you can truly relax and enjoy yourself with family and friends.

Holiday French Toast
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 large baguette
3/4 cup half and half
3/4-cup eggnog
5 eggs
1-teaspoon vanilla
1/4-teaspoon salt

In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, until smooth and pour into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Cut one-inch slices of the baguette and arrange baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, eggnog, vanilla, and salt until well combined and pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, over night.
Preheat oven to 350 and bring bread to room temperature.
Bakes uncovered until puffed and edges are pale golden. 35 minutes.
Bacon And Cheddar Frittata
1-pound bacon
1 dozen eggs
1-cup milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1-teaspoon thyme
1-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Butter a 9-12 inch Pyrex rectangular pan. Set aside. In a large Sauté pan, melt butter and sauté onion, and bell pepper. When soft add bacon. When fully cooked drain on paper towel. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk and seasonings. Add the bacon mixture and mix well. Add the cheddar. Pour into baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 oven about 35 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Carsten’s Cured Salmon
Get a side of salmon, pack it in chopped dill, wrap it in rock salt, sprinkle a bit of aquavit - just to make it moist - wrap it in plastic or big zip lock - but all air has to be out - weigh it down with bottles or bricks - 24 hours later (no more or it gets hard) thoroughly wash the salt off - display with skin side at bottom - with your best knife shave the salmon into paper thin slices and serve with the following dressing.
Whisk together:
1-cup olive oil
1/4-cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3-tablespoon fresh dill

Ginger Scones
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3-cup sugar
1-tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, grated and frozen for 15 minutes
1 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
1-cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones

In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder and mix on low. Add the lemon zest and butter, and pulse until the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the ginger. Make a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball. Pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inches thick. Using a three-inch cookie cutter (or smaller if doing minis) cut out rounds. Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining cream. Bake in a pre heated 400-degree oven for 12 to 16 minutes, until they are pale browned. Let cool on a rack

Replace the ginger and the lemon zest with:
Cranberry orange scones- juice of one small orange, 2 teaspoons orange zest and one cup dried cranberries.
Rosemary garlic scones- 5 cloves garlic chopped fine and sauté until golden. Add with the flour with 3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary.
Chocolate chip scones-add with the flour one and a half cups mini chocolate chips.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tree Trimming Party

This time of year there are so many great reasons to throw a party. We all want to spend more time with friends and family.
The ease and the ability to prepare this menu a head of time makes a great tree trimming party that you can make a spectacular presentation and fully participate in all the activates. This is a sit down dinner designed with two courses. If you are tight on oven space, you can eliminate the roasted veggies and steam or sauté what ever you like. Keep it simple. The idea is to give yourself lots of time with your guests. The evening before I would make the Caesar dressing, the crotons and the cranberry sauce. Serve cheese with crusty bread for appetizers. Have them out in the same room as the tree when the guests arrive. (I also recommend having the tree set up with the lights already strung.) One hour before Prep Salad. Place sauce in a saucepan, Bake Chicken and roast potatoes and after the tree is trimmed simmer the sauce. Toss the Caesar and serve it as a first coarse. Then plate up the main coarse and serve. After dinner you can relax a bit, clean up, make coffee and after about 30 minutes serve dessert. I would make the cake the day before as well. It is all about sharing time with friends and family and sharing a great meal!

Caesar Salad
In small bowl whisk together-
1 egg
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-tablespoon anchovy paste

Then add,
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Up to 3 cloves of garlic to taste
2 teaspoon dried thyme

In a steady stream add
1/2-cup olive oil
2 cups canola oil

If you would like, add a few shakes of pepper or a dash of Tabasco sauce. If you like a stronger flavor or are not keen on the anchovy paste, a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce works wonders.
Fill a large salad bowl with lettuce. The traditional Caesar lettuce is Romaine. I like to add spinach and radicchio for flavor and color. Mix in croutons (see below) shaved or grated Parmesan and then toss in the dressing. Go lightly the worst Caesars are the ones that are over-dressed. Taste as you go. For variation you can add cherry tomatoes or toasted pine nuts, both are tasty and add a little pizzazz.
Truly, you can use any kind of bread, seasoning and oil. I will give you the basic, but again - go for it and make it your own.
1 baguette (long loaf of French or sour dough bread)
Olive oil to coat
Pinch of Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Slice baguettes into quarter inch slices. Place in large bowl. Toss with oil until well coated. Add salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet in single layer rows and bake at 350 until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Cranberry Chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 shallots, finely chopped
2-teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoon Sage
1/2-teaspoon white pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 bag Fresh cranberries (12 ozes)
1/2-cup sugar
1-teaspoon cornstarch
8 chicken breasts

Sautee shallots over medium heat until tender. Add sage and thyme and sauté for one minute. Add stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cranberries and sugar and boil until cranberries burst, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Whisk it in and return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes longer. Add white pepper. And serve over chicken. (To bake the chicken I slather with butter, thyme and sage. Cook at 400 for about 45 minutes until cooked through and golden. Pour a generous amount of sauce over the chicken.

Roasted Potatoes

You can use any potatoes that you like or can find. (There are over 400 varieties!) I love the mix of flavors and you don’t need to peel them. I usually use 2 potatoes per person. Be sure to include 2 Sweet potatoes and 2 Yams. Even my most devoted Adkins following friends can’t resist makes for such a simple, amazing presentation.

A mix of 16 potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
(Red, russet, Yukon gold, purple, fingerling, golden wonder Epicure, Cara, King Edward, Linzer Delikatess, Just to name a few.)
Coat evenly with Olive oil (About 1/2 a cup)
Sprinkle with kosher Salt, pepper, and dried thyme
Roast in a 400 degree oven until fork tender and golden Brown. About 1 hour.

Assorted Roast Veggies
If you are short on oven space you can do these a couple of hours before the guests arrive and then re heat for a few minutes after you take out the chicken and potatoes. This is a good combo of taste and color, however you can use any vegetable that you like. Also if you have left over you can make bowtie pasta with grilled veggies. (Page)

Roast Carrots, Parsnips and Asparagus

8 carrots, peeled with greens on and trimmed to 1 inch
8 parsnips
32 asparagus
Kosher Salt, pepper
Olive oil

Toss in a baking pan with olive oil. Salt and pepper. Roast at 400 until brown and slightly caramelized, turning occasionally about 30 minutes.

Chocolate Yule Log Cake

This is a very traditional Christmas cake usually made in Europe for Christmas Eve. Considering the lovely presentation it is pretty simple to make. Remember that butter cream is like glue so you can hide a multitude of cracks and mistakes.

5 eggs, separated
1-cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4-teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white chocolate, chopped
1/4-cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting:
1-cup butter, softened
1-cup coco powder
2 cups powder sugar
2-teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

For Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-inch x 9-inch jellyroll pan with baker’s joy and then line it with parchment paper and spray again.
Beat the egg yolks and 1/2-cup sugar in a bowl and beat until it thickens enough to leave a trail. Then whisk the cocoa, flour and salt and gradually fold into the egg yolks.
Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add thee cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar beating on high speed until stiff peaks form. . Add one-fourth to the egg yolks and fold in, then add the rest of the egg whites and fold in carefully.
Pour into the jellyroll pan and spread evenly all over the pan, right up to the edges and into the corners. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch and the cake springs back when pressed.
Turn the cake out on to a linen towel dusted with powdered sugar. Peel off parchment paper. Carefully roll up in the towel, starting with a short side. Cool on a wire rack.

Break up the chocolate in to small pieces then put it and 1/4-cup cream into a saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring continuously until the chocolate melts. Put it to one side to cool to room temperature.
Whip the remaining cream and vanilla until it reaches the soft peaks stage then fold it into the cooled chocolate mixture. Chill. Unroll cooled cake and Spread over cake to 1/2 inch of each side. Re-roll cake. Be gentle, but don’t worry if it cracks…that’s why we have butter cream frosting!!!!!

Butter Cream Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl mix all of frosting ingredients together. Frost cake. Using a fork make lines to imitate tree bark.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pecan Bars

As promised...the recipe for pecan bars!

Pecan Bars

1/2 pound butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350. Mix in large bowl. Press the dough into a large (presprayed) jelly roll pan. Remember to press the dough up the sides too. Bake fo 15 minutes, until slightly brown. Set aside.

1/2 pound butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
5 cups chopped pecans

Melt butter and honey in a saucepan then addall sugars and bring to a boil(not stirring.) Let it boil approximately 2 minutes. Remove from heat and then stir. Add cream and pecans. Let sit for 5 minutes. Pour into crust and then bake at 350 for 30 minutes, reducing the heat the last 10 minutes to 250. Make sure it gets real bubbly looking. Let cool for an hour before trying to cut bars. Cut four rows x six rows. Then cut triangular, bite size pieces by slicing diagonally in both directions.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Cookies Part Deux

As I continue to receive emails and teach classes on cookie baking I can really get a sense of how interested we are in it. Many people have fear on baking. I am often asked for tips on baking. When I talk about how easy it can be people look at me like a reindeer caught in the headlights. This time of year gives us a great opportunity to do the one thing that will make us better. Practice! When using chocolate for baking I look for the highest percent of cacao for an intensely rich yet balanced chocolate sensation. All of the companies are making 60 percent or more! So practice away with your friends and family and share some warmth this holiday season.

4 cups chocolate chips or pieces
1 14-0unce can sweetened condensed milk
2-tablespoon water
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
1-teaspoon vanilla
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and water. Microwave, uncovered, on 100% power (high) for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 1 minute more, or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Spread mixture into 2 9x6-inch rectangular pans that have been sprayed with bakers joy. Chill fudge about 30 minutes or until firm. Cut fudge into 1-1/2-inch squares. Makes 48 pieces

Peanut butter Fudge
4 cups brown sugar
2 cups evaporated milk
1-cup peanut butter
2-teaspoon butter
2-teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped peanuts

Put all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to boil gently until a little dab added to cold water forms a soft ball. Add peanut butter, butter, and vanilla; beat until the mixture begins to thicken. Add nuts. Spread in a buttered 9x6 inch pan; chill until fully set and cut into squares. Makes about 30.

Blueberry Lemon Crumbles
1 cup sliced almonds
1 ¾ cup flour
1-cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1-teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks butter
2 egg yolks
1-teaspoon vanilla
Juice of one lemon
1 cup dried blueberries
½ cup blueberry preserves

Preheat oven to 375.Place almonds on cookie sheet and toast stirring once until golden. Cool completely and leave oven on. In food processor pulse flour, brown sugar, 1-teaspoon lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles a course meal. Add yolks and vanilla and process until mixture comes together in clumps. Transfer 11/2 cups dough to a bowl and stir in almonds for the crumble topping. Gather remaining dough into a ball. Spray 2 mini muffin tins (24 minis all together.) with bakers joy. Press 1 tablespoon of into the bottom and up the sides of each muffin cup. Chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile stir remaining zest lemon juice, blueberries and preserves in a small bowl. Spoon 1-teaspoon blueberry mixture into each muffin cup. Crumble 1 teaspoon almond mixture evenly into each cup. Bake until top is golden and filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes. When completely cool loosen edges with a sharp paring knife and carefully remove from pan.

Apple, cranberry, pear version
Follow the same recipe for the crust and crumble.
Peel and core 2 apples and a pear. Dice finely and in a mixing bowl toss with 6 ounces of dried cranberries, ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ cup sugar. Proceed as in the blueberry version.

Chocolate Dipped hazlenut sticks
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups chopped hazelnuts
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
in a large bowl be at butter and sugar with an eltric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in yolks one at a time. Add vanills and mix until smooth. Gradually add flour and mix well. By hand add the hazlenuts. Half the dough and place into two peices of wax paper and shape into a 11x2inch loaf. Chill the dough for about 1 half hour. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange on cookie sheet about one inch apart on cookie sheet. Half each slice lenghtwise to form sticks and seperate them. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 10 minutes until pale golden. Carefull remove sticks and cool completely. In a double broiler or a small saucepan over a larger saucepan of boiling water melt chocolate.gently dip each stik into the chocolate covering half of the sstick.Remove excess chocolate and place on wax paper for chocolate to harden.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holiday Cookies

This time of year my e- mail gets full with people requesting cookie recipes. I enjoy giving cookie platters as holiday gifts and I enjoy baking with my daughter and her friends. These are super easy and very consistent favorites. Double or triple the recipes and you can have plenty for your gift list. Over the next few weeks I will give you my most requested holiday cookie recipes so you can enjoy making them with your friends and family.

Rum Balls
1 cup Butter
1/2 cup Powder Sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
1-teaspoon rum extract
1-tablespoon dark rum
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in rums and vanilla.
Add flour and salt. Mix in nuts. Roll in teaspoon size balls. Bake at 325 for 14- 17 minutes. Roll warm balls in powder sugar.

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups Sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Beat butter and sugar together untill creamy. Mix in eggs. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Shape into balls about one inch in diameter. Chill one hour.
Combine topping ingredients in small bowl. Drop dough balls into topping mixture. Coat well. Place on greased baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks and let cool.

Basic Sugar Cookies
2 1/2 sticks Butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
31/4 cups Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the vanilia. Graudually add the flour mixture until well blended and smooth. Divide dough in two. Place each half in between large sheets of wax or parchmment paper. Roll out to a quarter inch thick watching for creases. Layer the dough on a cookie sheet and refriderate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 and grease two cookie sheets.Remove 1 porton and leave the other until you are ready. Remove one sheet of wax paper and replace with a new one. (An old bakers trick to keep the dough from sticing when using cookie cutters. Throw away the second sheet and cut out the cookies using holiday cookie cutters. Gently place the cookies about one inch apart on the cookie sheet. Roll out the dough scraps and place bak in the fridge and mix with the second half scraps. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; rotate half way through for even cooking. Place on a rack until they firm upand then transfeer to a wire rackand cool completely before using royal icing.
*Note- If you are working with kids, I like to do the baking a few days befor the decorating. The older kids can help and then all the cookies are done so you can just set out the icing and sprinkles and let the kids go to town.

Royal Icing
2 large egg whites
4 cups confectioners' sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine the ingredients in a bowl. It really is handy to have a kitchen aide or standing mixer for this, but not essential. Beat together until stiff about 10 minutes. You don’t want it dry, but it has to be really stiff or else it does not harden. This makes over 2 cups so you can put in small bowls and add food coloring. Make as many colors as you like and use whatever sprinkles and or candy you like to decorate.


3 sticks, softened
4 C. flour
1 C. sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 egg
2 T. milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy;
Add almond and vanilla egg, and milk and beat until well mixed.
Whisk flour and baking powder together, and then add to dough
Mix with hands if necessary. (Dough will be very stiff).
Push dough into spritzer gun and press shapes onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 6 minutes. Then let cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes and then remove and cool completely on rack.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Shout Out To Chef Ann Cooper

As I start gearing up for some amazing holiday recipes...keep checking we are devolping many...I wanted to take a moment to recognize the awesome Chef Ann Cooper and praise her great work and leadership in our schools.

Chef Ann Cooper is one of my heroes. She is changing the way our children eat. She is the Director Of Nutrition at the Berkley Unified School District. She is the founder of Lunch Lessons a consulting firm and is dedicated to food, family farms and improving the health of American children. I invite you to check out her blog http://www.lunchlessons.org/. Packed with tons of information and together we can create great food for our children and edible schoolyards so that we teach our kids to think globally and to eat locally.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

From The Amazon Herb Company

Here are some holiday bests from my friends at the Amazon Herb Company. I highly recomend the treasure tea. It is super yummy and you can feel the healing powers of the rain forrest with each sip.To order call Jennifer Hadley (323) 848-8786 or on the web at JenniferHadly.com.

Pumpkin Pie with oils!

1/4 + 1/8 cup Young Living's Blue Agave

2 large organic eggs

2 drops cinnamon essential oil

2 drops ginger essential oil
1 drop clove essential oil

1 drop nutmeg essential oil

1⁄4 tsp salt

1 cup fresh organic pumpkin puree

1 1⁄2 cups heavy (double) cream, scalded

One unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 375° F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the agave and eggs until well blended.
Add the cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg essential oils
and the salt.
Mix well.

Add the pumpkin puree and scalded cream and whisk until smooth.
Pour into the pie shell.

Bake the pie for 10 minutes at 375° F, reduce heat to 350° F and continue baking for 35 - 45 minutes until the filling is firm in the center.
Test the center with the tip of a knife; if it comes out clean, the pie is done.

Serve with whipped cream.



16 oz. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut up
3 med. green apples, peeled, cored, chopped coarsely
2 (10 1/2 oz.) cans chicken broth (or make your own)
1 med. onion, chopped
3 slices white bread, torn in pieces
Salt, pepper, rosemary, marjoram

Combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes. Cool, then put in blender until smooth. When ready to serve, heat again. Add a swirl of half and half after you transfer the soup to the serving bowls. Garnish with some chopped parsley.


1 lg. or 2 sm. butternut squash (1 lb.)
4 tart green apples
1 lg. onion
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/4 tsp. marjoram
4 1/2 (10 1/2 oz.) cans chicken broth (double strength)
3 cans water
3 slices white bread
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsp. parsley, freshly chopped

Cut squash in half, peel and seed. Peel, core and coarsely chop apples. Peel onion and chop coarsely. Combine all ingredients with rosemary, marjoram, chicken broth, water, bread, salt and pepper in heavy saucepan uncovered for 45 minutes.
Puree the soup until smooth (do in several batches, not filling blender more than 1/4 full). Return soup to saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Serve hot with fresh parsley on top.

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
(serves 6 to 8)

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut
3 medium apples, peeled chored and chopped
2 cans of chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
3 slices white bread torn into pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 cup whipping cream

In a Dutch oven, combine squash, apples, chicken broth, water, bread, onion, salt, pepper and herbs.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.
Place 1/4 cup of mixture at a time into a blender; blend until smooth.
Return to Dutch oven and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and stir in cream.

Creamy Winter Squash & Apple Soup Recipe

4 pounds assorted Winter Squashes, (such as Turban, Butternut, Hubbard, Austrailian Blue)
1 Tablespoon ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon ground Coriander
2 teaspoons minced fresh Sage, or 3/4 teaspoon dried rubbed Sage
1 1/2 tablespoons ground Mace
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 tart Apple, such as, Granny Smith, cored, peeled and grated.
14 1/2 ounces of chicken or vegetable broth
(best if you make your own from organic chicken or veggies)
1 cup raw Goat's Milk Yogurt (try to avoid cow & soy products as they are not healthy)
finely chopped Pine Nuts and Sage for garnish, or toasted squash seeds.

Preheat oven to 375*F.
Cut squah in half, scoop out seeds and fibers.
Place cut side down on shallow baking pan.
Bake for 45 to 75 minutes, or until very soft.
Let cool, then scrape the squash meat from the skin.
Mash the squash and set aside.

While squash is baking, combine Cumin and Coriander in a dry saute pan.
Toast, stirring constantly until the spices begin to change color, when it just begins to smoke, remove
from heat and set aside to cool in small bowl.
Add Sage and Mace.

Heat Olive Oil over medium heat in a heavy large sauce pan.
Add onion, cook until soft but NOT brown.
Stir in the spice mixture. Add the Apple.
Increase heat and cook uncovered until apple mixture becomes dry and begins to brown.
Add the broth and scrape up ingredients up from the bottom of pot.
Stir in squash, bring to simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Puree the soup in blender or food processor in several batches. Season with salt & pepper
to taste.

Add the raw Goat's Milk Yogurt a little at a time...it's easiest to do this by putting some
soup in a bowl and whisking a dallop of yogurt in,
then pour back into the soup pot, then repeat until yogurt is gone.
Stir soup well.

Serve immediately or keep warm over low heat. Never boil squash soup as it will ruin the

Garnish with Pine Nuts and Sage.

Tea for Two
• 2 t Rose petals
• 1 t Spearmint herb
• 1 t Licorice ground root
• 1 t Hawthorn herb
• A pinch of coriander, cinnamon,
and nutmeg.
• Vanilla or ginger honey to taste
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
Place herbs in the hot water and
simmer on low for 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and steep for 5
minutes. Strain and drink.

Cranberry sauce with agave syrup

1/4-1/2 cup of orange juice
1 package cranberries
1 cup wolfberries
10 dates chopped
1/2 cup pineapple (dried or fresh)
drizzle vanilla extract (my mom never measured this, she just drizzled a few drops - to taste)
I like the almond although it's usually artificial, you can choose not to use this one
and of course 1 cup (start with 1/2, then add the rest as it cooks if needed)
1 cinnamon stick
3 clove stars (1/4 teaspoon of powdered clove) or 1 drop of ABUNDANCE OR CLOVE OIL
I like the fresh ginger better, but you may prefer the ONE DROP GINGER OIL
please remember that more than one drop is going to be too much,
so use a dropper instead of the topper on the bottles so you can control it better
I like adding a few drops of NINGXIA RED as you go to create the thickness you want
1 Apple - sliced - so many apples, maybe a little bit of a few varieties is best, some stay firm, some will melt and create thickness you want
(applesauce in a pinch if you don't have time to get it)
FOR THE RICH ONES that can afford ROSE OIL - one drop or a few drizzles of rose water (IF NEW TO THIS, AVOID THIS ONE this time, try it next time, it's a preference to me but maybe not to you)
ONE stick of pure, organic, unsalted butter or equivalent - I hear you, but it makes it taste so good people, maybe 1/4 cup to start and taste, OR coconut cream ( i do both when I can, get the GRACE coconut juice (no additives) or the GOYA cream of coconut, more work to cut it because it's usually frozen) just add a few tablespoons at a time, it's giving it more contrasting color and smoothes the taste and makes it GLOW. (not dark and gummy in contrast, not as inviting by site, I'd say).

heat the orange juice, do not boil over, add all the drops of oils, spices, extracts, 1/2 of AGAVE, coco milk etc. first and stir a minute
ADD the wolfberries, cranberries, dates, pineapple
PUT ON LOW FIRE - COVER with tight lid
in about 3 minutes - uncover and check to see what's happening,
the berries should be popping and exploding their juices and becoming less mass...
ADD rest of Agave slowly and you can almost SMELL the sweetness, so control it a bit,
you can add extra at the end when you're tasting and adjusting.
Some like it tart and bitter than others.
DRIZZLE that Ningxia Red - COVER FOR another 3 mins. then UNCOVER and keep stirring now,
This doesn't take long to gel and it can be tasted then and if one wants, add nuts (my family doesn't like this,
I DO, I like walnuts or chest nuts) but they are broken up pretty good, not to chunky if you like them.
Leave almost hole for those that don't and can remove them (gasp!)
DON'T deliberately stir, just take the spatula, reach the bottom and turn over delicately - some like the authentic look of whole cranberries with dents in them as a visual effect, of course the wolfberries are austensibly beautiful, full, round, plump and tastey! Is it just me, or is this the best thing around. I used wolfberry juice before, and not the Nigxia Red is just great.
STEAL my recipe if you must but please say Noorul Wiggins contributed it only because my mom and mom in law should be blessed in recognition when you add my name to it. They are my taste mentors and God Knows they are the best cooks I ever met in this life!

Flavored Butters

Your heat-and-serve rolls can be easily dressed up for
Thanksgiving dinner by making these flavored butters:

--Cranberry-Walnut-Cinnamon Spread:
blend softened butter with finely chopped dried cranberry, chopped toasted walnuts, and pinches of cinnamon

--Zesty Lemon Spread:
blend softened butter with finely chopped lemon zest

--Garlic-Herb Spread:
blend softened butter with finely chopped herbs such as chives and sprinkle bottled garlic powder


Pumpkin Carob Cookies

2 eggs
1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla
1 1/2 c. Blue Agave
3/3/4 c. whole-wheat flour or spelt flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
1 drop Young Living clove essential oil
1 drop Young Living nutmeg essential oil
2 drops Young Living cinnamon essential oil
1 c. solid pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. grain sweetened carob chips (optional)

Mix all liquid ingredients and pumpkin together.
Add dry ingredients and mix well.
If desired, add nuts and carob chips.
Chill dough.
Place 1-inch balls on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Breezy Hill Holiday Pumpkin Torte
4 c. crumbled whole-wheat graham crackers
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, cold
Grind crackers in a food processor, blender, or put in a large zip lock bag and roll until they are a fine consistency. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the crunched crackers with cold butter. Pat into a 9" x 13" cake pan. Refrigerate while making the filling.
Cream together and set aside:
c. Blue Agave
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese In a 2-quart saucepan,
2 medium eggs, beaten
c. Blue Agave
2 Tbs. maple syrup
1 c. rice or goat milk 1 drop nutmeg oil
1 drop clove oil
1 drop cinnamon or cassia oil
drop ginger oil

Stir, then add and blend together 15 oz. pureed prepared pumpkin. Heat to sporadic bubbling, stirring constantly (optional: partially cover and stir 5 minutes). Remove from burner and cool 20 minutes or more. Add to the cream cheese mixture until marbled. Spread mixture on to the cooled crust and refrigerate about 2 hours before serving.
Other options: Double the cream cheese mixture and use half for topping; use 4 cups of a flavorful, healthy, dry breakfast cereal for the crust instead of crackers, or eliminate the crust and spoon into custard cups.
Recipe submitted by: Rosemary Tietz


Wolfberry Cookies

1/2 c. diced dried apricots
1/2 c. wolfberries or raisins
1 egg
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
3 tbsp. natural, unsweetened apple juice
5/8 c. Blue Agave
1/4 c. fractionate coconut oil
1/4 c. unsalted butter
1 pinch of sea salt
1/2 c. cashews, raw and unsalted
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Soak apricots and wolfberries or raisins in apple juice.
Cream butter and coconut oil in mixer,
add egg, Blue Agave, and sea salt.
Cream until fluffy.
Add flour, baking powder, and oats.
Mix until blended.
Mix in cashews, apricots and wolfberries or raisins (do not drain).
Lightly grease baking sheet.
Place rounded teaspoons of cookie dough onto baking sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes, until cookies melt and are light brown in color.

Makes 3 dozen.

Happy Holidays

Enjoy Your Treats!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fun Holiday Soups

Mussel Bisque
2 pounds mussels
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
1 red onion, diced
1 leek, thinly sliced
1carrot, thinly sliced
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 strands saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons fresh chopped, parsley, basil
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1-cup heavy cream
Kosher Salt and pepper to taste

Scrub the mussels and remove the beards. Place in a large pan with the white wine and 1-cup water. Cover the pan and cook over high heat until they open. (Throw away any that don’t.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. Cover and set aside until needed. Strain the wine and water mixture and set aside. Heat the butter in the same pan and Sauté the onion, leek carrot, tomatoes and garlic over high heat for a couple of minutes Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the mussel stock 1 cup water and the herbs and simmer for 15 minutes. Shell the mussels and add with the celery, pepper and cream. Season and serve. Serves 4-6

Pumpkin and Gruyere Soup
One 5-6 pound pumpkin
1/4-cup butter
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cups chicken or vegetable
2 cups heavy cream
Zest of one orange
Juice of one orange
Juice of one lemon
1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
1-pound Gruyere cheese, shredded
Cut pumpkin in half, Scoop out and strings and seeds.
Cut away the hard peel and coarsely chop the flesh. In a large soup pan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté 5 minutes. Add the stock and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until pumpkin is tender. About 45 minutes. Blend or process the soup. Return the puree to pot and stir in the cream, orange, lemon, ginger. Reserve a little cheese for garnish (perhaps with some fresh sage) Sprinkle into the soup. Stir over low heat until cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Tomato and Red Pepper Soup with Chili Cream

3 Red peppers
2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup Sherry or sherry Vinaigrette
8 tomatoes peeled and seeded
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs thyme, chopped
1 bunch basil. Chopped
1-tablespoon fresh black pepper
1-cup heavy cream
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut red pepper and roast on 350 oven for 45 minutes. (You can also place directly on a gas flame.) In a large soup pan sauté olive oil, garlic and onion
Add the sherry and stir until it evaporates.
Stir in the tomatoes and stock
Add the herbs and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and red peppers. Simmer 15 minutes. In small batches blend or process the soup until smooth serve with a dollop of chili cream.

Chili Cream
1 green chili
2 cloves garlic
1 cup spinach leaves, blanched in hot water
1/2-cup heavy cream
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper
In a small food processor place the chili, garlic, spinach and process until smooth. Add the lime and salt. Dollop over the soup

Beet Soup with Horseradish Cream
1 large red onion, chopped
4garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
5 medium beets (2 lb without greens), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red apple such as Gala, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

In a large soup pot sauté. Onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add beets and apple and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
Add stock then simmer, uncovered, until beets are tender, about 40 minutes. Stir in vinegar and brown sugar.
Purée soup until very smooth. Return soup to pan, then season with salt and pepper and reheat. If soup is too thick, add enough water to thin to desired consistency. Serve at once with a dollop of horseradish cream.

Horse Radish Cream
1 16-ounce tub sour cream
6 tablespoon prepared horseradish (or to taste)
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Whisk together in a small bowl. Add pepper to taste.

Cream Of Artichoke Soup
1 Large artichokes
1 lemon
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1/2-teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4-cup butter
4 cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt, fresh ground pepper to taste
Cut stem at bottom of artichoke. Cut the top third of the artichoke and snip off remaining sharp tips of leaves with kitchen shears. Gently pull the leaves of the artichoke to spread them out a bit. In a large saucepan place artichokes in with 3 cups water and juice of one lemon. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium and cook for about 45 minutes until very tender. Drain the artichokes and cool down with water. When cool enough to handle cut artichokes in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the fuzzy choke part. Place artichokes in a blender or food processor until very smooth. In a large soup pan sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in the butter over medium heat. When the garlic is golden add artichoke puree. Whisk in the heavy cream and salt and pepper. Serve when heated through.

Curried Red Pepper Soup
4 large red bell peppers, chopped
2 medium onion, chopped

4 tablespoons butter

6 cups vegetable stock

2 cups sour cream

1 teaspoon curry powder
Pepper to taste
Sauté onion and pepper in butter over medium heat 
When peppers are soft, add the curry powder and stock and cover 
Once the peppers are soft, add cream, and puree 
Return to low heat and simmer uncovered until a rich soupy consistency is attained 
Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Spicy Red Lentil Soup
1 tbsp olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp curry powder

¼- cup tomato paste

2 (15 ounce Can) crushed tomatoes

6 cups vegetable stock

½- cup red lentils

Heat oil in large pan, add onions, garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring, until onions are soft Add the rest of the ingredients and cook, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Lovely Lisa’s Minestrone
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 yellow onions, diced
6 stalks of celery including leaves, thinly sliced
3 carrots, chopped
1 Tablespoon Italian herbs
Sweat above ingredients in covered large soup pot 5 minutes
Uncover and add
4 cloves garlic, minced
Sauté 5 minutes
12 cups of chicken or veggie stock
3 cups canned chop tomatoes
2 Yukon gold potatoes diced
2 cans 15 oz cannelli beans, drained
1 small head Savoy cabbage, quartered and sliced
Bring to boil and simmer 30 minutes
8 oz pasta of your choice
6 more cups of stock
2 cups green beans cut into 1-inch pieces
Simmer 15 minutes
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese

San Francisco Style Clam Chowder
6 slices bacon, chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped in ½ inch pieces
1 green pepper, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-cup water
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
Splash Tabasco and Worchester Sauce, to taste
2 cups raw clams with juice
2 cups heavy cream
Sauté bacon until crisp in a large stockpot. Add onions, potatoes, green pepper, celery and garlic. Add 2 cups of water and season with salt and pepper, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. In a separate pan heat the clams and their juice for 3 minutes. Add the clams and juice to the pot, pour in the half and half. Heat, stirring until piping hot. Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Holiday Sweets

This recipe is based on my first cookbook, the fabulous Fannie Farmer, but I tweaked it a bit and have been back and forth. After many years this crust is consistently the best and most reliable. This crust can be used with all kinds of pies, tortes and even some bar cookies. The best way to cut in the shortening so that the fat is evenly distributed is to use a pastry blender. You can also hold two table knives in one hand to cut the shortening in. You want to do this quickly and handle the pastry as little as possible. To help you transfer the dough to your pie plate drape the pastry over your rolling pin. Carefully unroll pastry over the plate very gently as stretching the dough could make the pie shrink as it bakes. To keep edges from browning during baking cover with foil. This recipe makes 2 nine-inch pastries.

Best Basic Pie Pastry

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
½ cup butter
Up to 8 Tablespoons ice water

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender cut the shortening into the flour until the pieces are the size of rice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over part of the flour mixture and stir very gently with a fork, Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat using 2 tablespoons of water (up to 8) until all the dough is moistened. Divide dough in half. Form each into a ball you can do this the evening before wrap in plastic. . This is enough for 1 nine-inch double-crusted pie or two baked pastry shells.
Double crusted pies-
On a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth roll dough into a twelve-inch circle. Allow the crust to hang over the plate about 1/4 of an inch for under and 1/2 inch for over. Prick the upper crust to allow steam to escape. Fit under crust into the pie plate, add filling then add the top crust. Press edges lightly together.

9-inch pastry shell
Taking one of the balls roll dough on a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth into a twelve-inch circle. Ease the pastry into a nine-inch pie plate, Trim to 1/2 inch beyond the pie pan and fold under the extra pastry. To flute the edges, place your thumb against the inside of the pastry and press the dough around your thumb with your other hand’s thumb and index finger. Prick the bottom all around where the bottom and the sides meet and all over the bottom and sides.
9 inch with pastry leaves
Taking one of the balls roll into 12-inch circle. Fit carefully into 9-inch pie plate reserving edges. Between wax paper roll trimmings to 1/8 inch thick. Remove top layer and using a sharp knife carefully cut out 2 by 3/4 inch pastry leaves. With a toothpick make veins. Mix one egg yolk with a tablespoon of water. Brush crust edge with egg mixture. Overlap and press leaves on the edge. Brush leaves with yolk mixture.

Taking one of the balls, on a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth roll into a 10-inch circle. Gently place over the tart pan pressing up against the sides. Trim to 1/4 of an inch above the pan.

Apple Pie

2 nine-inch piecrusts
1-cup sugar
1-teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-teaspoon ginger
Pinch of salt
8 medium sized apples (a medium apple = about 1 cup)
6 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Peel, core and slice the apples. Try to keep the size of the slices even. Mix sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl. Stir in apples. Pour into 9-inch pie plate sprayed with bakers joy. Dot with butter.
Cover with top crust and seal the edges. Cut slits in the top. Cover edge with 3-inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent too much browning. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits

Apple, Pear and Cranberry Pie

2 nine-inch piecrusts
1-cup sugar
1-teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-teaspoon ginger
Pinch of salt
4 medium sized apples
4 medium pears
2 cups cranberries
6 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Peel, core and slice the apples and the pears. Try to keep the size of the slices even. Coarsely chop the cranberries. Mix sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl. Stir in fruit. Pour into 9-inch pie plat sprayed with bakers joy. Dot with butter.
Cover with top crust and seal the edges. Cut slits in the top. Cover edge with 3-inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent too much browning. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits

Layered Pecan and Pumpkin Pie
1/4-cup cold water
1 package unflavored gelatin
1 can (16 ounces) pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons for whipping cream +2 tablespoons for egg whites
1/2-cup milk
3 eggs, separated
1-teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1-teaspoon cinnamon
1/4-teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2-teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whipping cream
1 9 inch pie shell, baked and cooled

In a large saucepan combine water and gelatin let stand for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in pumpkin, 1/2-cup sugar, milk, lightly beaten egg yolks, spices and salt. Heat until just boiling stirring constantly. Turn heat to simmer and cook 5 minutes more. Remove from heat, add vanilla and cool. Chill until mixture thickens (a couple of hours) Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until stiff. Fold into pumpkin mixture along with chopped pecans. Beat whipping cream with 2 tablespoons sugar until very stiff. Put half pumpkin mixture into the shell and spread level. Top with 3/4 of the whip cream and spread level. Spoon remaining pumpkin mixture. Decorate with the remaining whip cream. Chill at least 4 hours before serving or overnight.

Sweet potato pie with cinnamon whip cream
3 cups sweet potato flesh
(Bake 4 large sweet potatoes for 1 1/2 hours at 400. When cool enough to handle scoop out 3 cups of flesh.)
1-cup heavy cream
1/2-cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1-inch fresh ginger, finery chopped
1- 9 inch pie crust, baked to pale golden
1 cup whipping cream
3 teaspoons sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a food processor puree the sweet potatoes, cream, sugar, eggs, salt, spice and ginger until smooth. Pour into pie shell and bake in a 350 pre-heated oven for about one hour until pie is firm. Chill at least 4 hours (overnight) when ready to serve, beat the cream with the cinnamon-sugar until stiff. You can decorate the pie with the cream or you can slice and serve the pie with a dollop of cream.

Cranberry-chocolate Tart
1 9- inch piecrust
Follow basic piecrust directions. Pre heat oven to 375. Roll out dough to fill a 9-inch tart pan with a removable button. Fold overhang in and form sides that extend 1/4 inch above the top of pan. Pierce all over with a fork and bake for about 30 minutes until a light golden brown. (Watch closely and if crusts fall in, press back up with a fork.) Cool on rack.
3/4-cup heavy cream
12 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1-teaspoon vanilla
In a medium saucepan bring cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and add chocolate with a whisk. Whisk in vanilla. Pour into crust and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
2 cups cranberries
1-cup sugar
Preheat oven to 375. Spray a jellyroll pan with bakers joy. In a small bowl gently toss the cranberries with the sugar. Spread evenly in pan. Bake 10 minutes. Using a spatula gently turn the berries and bake for about 10 minutes longer until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes. Pour berries over filling and drizzle with syrup from the sheet. Chill at least one hour before serving.

Pecan Sweet Potato Pie
1 pastry-lined pie shell
2 cups cooked, peeled sweet potatoes
4 ounces butter
1/2-cup heavy cream
1/2-cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-teaspoon ground ginger
1/2-teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons brandy, bourbon, or orange juice
1/2-cup dark corn syrup
1 cup pecan halves

Prick bottom of piecrust with a fork; bake in preheated 425° oven for 12 minutes. Set aside. Mash sweet potatoes with half of the butter (1/4 cup). Let cool. Add heavy cream, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, spices, and brandy, bourbon, or orange juice. Beat until fluffy; turn into piecrust. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.
Combine remaining 1/4-cup butter with corn syrup and pecans; sprinkle evenly over top of pie. Return pie to oven and bake 25 minutes longer, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Mexican Chocolate Soufflé
With Coffee Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2-cup heavy cream
1-cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 egg yolks
6 egg whites
1-tablespoon strong coffee
1-teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/3-cup sugar

Pre heat oven to 350. Spray a 1 1/2 quart soufflé dish with bakers joy. In a saucepan melt the butter and then whisk in the cornstarch and cook for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cream and continue to stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Whisk in the egg yolks, coffee and cinnamon until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixture until frothy. Add the salt and continue beating until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue beating until they form stiff, shinny peaks. Fold eggs into the chocolate mixture. Gently scrape batter into soufflé dish. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 35 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve with sauce on the side.

Coffee Sauce
1-pint vanilla ice cream
3 tablespoons coffee liqueur
Let the ice cream soften for 20 minutes. Place in a bowl and mix in liqueur and stir until blended. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Pumpkin Buche de Noel
3 eggs
1-cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
Juice of one lemon
3/4-cup flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2-teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup powdered sugar
1-cup cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

For the cake:
Beat eggs on high speed for 5 minutes. Add sugar gradually. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice. Set aside. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Fold into pumpkin mixture. Spread on greased and floured 10x15 sheet cake pan. Top with pecans. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Turn out on towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Roll and let cool. Combine powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Unroll cake; spread on filling and roll back up. Sprinkle with Powder sugar. Keep refrigerated.

Chocolate Soufflé
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2-cup milk
1/2-cup sugar
4 egg yolks
6 egg whites
1-teaspoon vanilla
Combine the chocolate, milk and all but two tablespoons of sugar in the top of a double broiler over simmering water. Cook stirring constantly until chocolate and sugar are melted. remove from heat, add vanilla and let cool for 15 minutes. Whisk egg yolks one at a time into the chocolate mixture until blended. Beat egg whites with an elastic mixer until stiff. Add remaining sugar and beat until blended. Using the whisk add 1/3 of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture and whisk until blended. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites into the chocolate. Butter 6 individual soufflé dishes covering the entire inside surface and rim. Sprinkle with sugar. Fill each soufflé dish to the rim and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven dust with powered sugar and serve immediately with fresh whipped cream.

Pear Tart with Maytag Blue Crust
2 cups red wine
1-cup sugar
1-cup water
1 orange, halved
1lemon, halved
1-inch ginger, peeled
3 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
4 pears, peeled and cored
In a large soup pot place all ingredients except pears and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add pears. Poach until tender about 20 minutes. Remove from stove and coo completely. Refrigerate over night.
Pastry Cream-
1/3-cup sugar
1-cup cups milk
2 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup Butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
In a medium saucepan mix half the sugar to the milk and bring to a boil stirring constantly. In a medium bowl whisk together the rest of the sugar and cornstarch and yolks. Once the milk is boiling pour 1/4 of the milk mixture into the egg mixture whisking constantly. Pour the egg mixture into the rest of the milk mixture and return to the heat whisking until the cream thickens and comes to a complete boil. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla whisking until the butter completely melts. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic until it comes to room temperature.
3/4 cup all flour
1/4-teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup crumbled Maytag Blue Cheese
Up to 4 Tablespoons ice water
1/4 cup raspberry jelly, melted
Place butter cut into tiny pieces (I use a grater) and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour until the pieces are the size of rice. Add cheese. Sprinkle 1-tablespoon water over part of the flour mixture and stir very gently with a fork, Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat using 1 tablespoons of water at a time until all the dough is moistened. Roll dough into a ball wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Roll out to be 10 inches round. Place in a 9-inch tart pan sprayed with bakers joy. Bake in a preheated 350 oven until golden about 15 minutes. When cool spread the vanilla cream over the crust. Slice the pears and place them decoratively over the cream. Brush with raspberry jelly and refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanksgiving update

As many of my best recipes the lentil loaf has shifted into many variations. I was reminded of this one by a reader who makes it at least once a week! I invite you to be creative and take what you like best from any recipe to make it new and exciting for you and your family.

By your request, I have been working on Thanksgiving sides and show stopping desserts. I will post soon, but would love to hear from you with any special recipes worth sharing with the rest of my blog friends. Let’s have some fun with this!

Mini Lentil Loaves with Country Gravy
1 cup dry lentils
2 1/2 cps water
2 bay leaves
1 red onion, diced
3 stalks celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2-teaspoon kosher salt
2-teaspoon black pepper
2-teaspoon cayenne pepper
2-teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
Juice of one lemon
3/4 cup oats
3/4 dry bread crumbs

In a medium saucepan simmer the lentils and bay leaves with water until they are soft and the lentlis split eaisly, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile in a medium skillet heat the oil. Sautee the onions, garlic, carrots, celeryred peppers until soft. Remove from heat and add the seasonings. Let cool. Process the Oats in a blender until finely ground.Combine the lentils with the vegatables and then add the oats and bread crumbs. Add the sesame oil and lemon juice. Shape into 12 mini loaves and line up on a sprayed cookie sheet.. Place in a preheated 400 degree oven.and bake until lightly brown about 15 minutes.

Country Gravy
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 portabella mushrooms, slice 1/4 inch thick, then each slice in 4ths
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 cups veggie stock
1/2-teaspoon thyme
1/2-teaspoon rosemary
Pinch salt and pepper
3 tablespoons whle wheat flour
Fresh thyme and rosemary to float on the top

In a skillet heat 1 1/2-tablespoon olive oil. Add mushroom, garlic and onion and sauté for about 7 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and the onions are translucent. Remove from skillet and set aside. Heat up remaining oil and add flour and whisk until smooth and cook 30 seconds. Add stock in a steady stream while continuing to whisk cook 5 minutes. Stir in reserve mushrooms, thyme and rosemary and cook 5 minutes more season with salt and pepper. Pour into gravy boat and serve with mashed potatoes and the baked lentil loaf.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one my most favorite food holidays. I love to create new and adventures recipes, but I also love my childhood favorites.
(Yes, even I do the green beans with canned mushroom soup and French onions!) Soaked in family tradition and memories it is hard to think of breaking our parents and grandparents tradition. The only thing is many of us don’t eat like our parents and grandparents. Now I’m certainly a healthy eater, but I think holidays are the time to loose all rules, indulge a little and celebrate. I have for many years incorporated plenty of vegetarian dishes in my Thanksgiving. This is a guideline for a full vegetarian Thanks giving, but you can always mix and match. I have made notes on the recipes as to what can be made ahead of time to ease the day so those of us that do the cooking can enjoy our families and ourselves.
Working with Chef Brian Houd at The Nowhere Café in West Hollywood, I learned a tremendous amount about Vegetarian cooking. Flavors need to pop and be bold. Otherwise, well, it’s just plain boring. I do recall a couple of Thanksgivings where for some crazy reason the Turkey was missing. Like when Uncle Pat cooked the turkey with the plastic wrap on it. Or when Auntie Jo didn’t know that you were actually supposed to defrost a Turkey before cooking it! Or what about my friends that bought a turke0y too big to fit in their oven!!! We still all managed to leave full and happy. So whether or not you choose some of this menu, all of it or stick to family favorites, the best part of Thanksgiving is reflecting all the blessings we have to be grateful for and surrounding ourselves with those we love.

Carrot Ginger soup

1-tablespoon olive oil
2 medium red onions, sliced
1 (4 inch) piece fresh ginger
8 cups vegetable stock
2 pounds carrots cut into 2-inch pieces
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2-teaspoon white pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over low heat and sauté onions until they are translucent. Roughly chop the peeled ginger and add to the onions and sauté’ together for about 3 minutes. Increase heat and add the stock and carrots. Simmer over medium heat until the carrots are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Puree.
*Can be made the night before. Cover tightly and refridgerated. Re-warn on stove.

Mix Greens with pears, Gorgonzola and a maple syrup vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
6-tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup Olive Oil
Fresh Ground pepper
Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.

1 bag spinach
1 bag arugala
1 bag mache
(Or any mixture of harvest Greens)

Toss all lettuces together. Lightly toss with dressing.
3 ripe Asian pears, cored and sliced
6 ozs Gorgonzola
Arrange lettuces on platter. Place pears prettily on top and sprinkle with Gorgonzola and fresh ground pepper.
*The dressing can be made the day before. Store in a bottle, covered. It can stay room temp.

Baked Lentil Loaf with country gravy

1 cup dry lentils
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic
1-tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 celery stalks finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2-cup ketchup
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup raw cashews, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-teaspoon thyme
1-teaspoon rosemary
1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a medium saucepan cook the lentils and the bay leaf until soft about 45 minutes. Set aside. Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is translucent about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery red peppers, cashews and the spices and sauté about 15 minutes more. Let cool.
Add veggie mixture to lentil mixture mix well and then add the eggs, rolled oats and ketchup. Mix well and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for about 45 minutes until firm. Serve warm with gravy.
*A great leftover sandwich is n a toasted roll with roasted red peppers, Russian dressing and Cole slaw.
*Can be made the day before up until the baking part. Wrap tightly in plastic, refrigerate. Take out of fridge and bring to room temperature (about one hour) then bake as indicated.

Country Gravy
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 portabella mushrooms, slice 1/4 inch thick, then each slice in 4ths
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 cups veggie stock
1/2-teaspoon thyme
1/2-teaspoon rosemary
Pinch salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
Fresh thyme and rosemary to float on the top
In a skillet heat 1 1/2-tablespoon olive oil. Add mushroom, garlic and onion and sauté for about 7 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and the onions are translucent. Remove from skillet and set aside. Heat up remaining oil and add flour and whisk until smooth and cook 30 seconds. Add stock in a steady stream while continuing to whisk cook 5 minutes. Stir in reserve mushrooms, thyme and rosemary and cook 5 minutes more season with salt and pepper. Pour into gravy boat and serve with mashed potatoes and the baked lentil loaf.
*Best if made that day.

Cornbread Stuffing with Dried Cranberries and Pine Nuts

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic
4 cups Corn bread (either homemade, day old and cut into quarter inch pieces or boxed unseasoned cornbread for stuffing)
1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups pine nuts, roasted
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped sage
4 cups Vegetable stock

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onions, carrots and celery for about 7 minutes until tender. Add stock and bring to a boil. In a large bowls mix cornbread, cranberries, pine nuts, parsley and sage. Toss with stock mixture to coat evenly and place in a shallow baking dis. Bake at 350 covered with foil for 1/2 hour and uncover and cook for 15 minutes more until golden brown on top.
*Can be made the day before up until the baking part. Wrap tightly in plastic, refrigerate. Take out of fridge and bring to room temperature (about one hour) then bake as indicated.

Gingered Snow Peas
I make this recipe with snow peas, but also have made it with green beans, carrots and even Brussels sprouts. It is so yummy.

1-pound snow peas, destemed
2 tablespoons each, butter and olive oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3-tablespoon soy sauce
In a skillet or en electric wok (high heat) heat oil, add snow peas and ginger and sauté for about 3 minutes, until tender. Place in a bowl and toss with soy sauce. Serve at once.
* Best if made that day

Butternut squash in coconut milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2-teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup, toasted coconut
Fresh cilantro

Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger and sauté until tender. Add coconut milk, sugar and pepper flakes and cook until sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil; add squash. Simmer until fork tender about 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove squash from the pan and place in a serving bowl. Boil remaining liquid until thick, stirring constantly. Toss with the squash and garnish with toasted coconut and fresh cilantro!

Roasted Beets With Horseradish and Goat Cheese
1 pound beets, washed, steams trimmed 1/2 inch above beetroot
1-tablespoon horse radish (or to taste)
1/4-teaspoon thyme
Pinch salt and pepper
8 ozs goat cheese
Place beet in a tightly covered casserole dish. Pour enough water to cover 1/2 inch at the bottom. Roast at 350 for 2 1/2 hours. It is cooked when the skin is slightly wrinkled and removes easily with your fingers. Remove from oven and as soon as they are cool enough to touch, remove skin and cut into about 8 1/4 inch pieces. While still warm mix well with horseradish, thyme, salt and pepper. Chill for at least 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead, just add cheese right before serving.) Mix well again. Add the crumbled goat cheese. Mix and serve.
*Can make ahead up to the adding of goat cheese. Store covered in the fridge.

Cranberry-Chipolte Compote
(Makes about 1 quart)
1-tablespoon olive oil
3 med. Fuji apples
3 med Asian pears
(Both peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1-pound fresh cranberries
4-oz chipolte peppers (canned in adobo) chopped fine
3-tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2-cup sugar
1/2-cup dark brown sugar
Zest from one orange
1/2-cup fresh orange juice
1-teaspoon nutmeg
1/4-cup Grand Mariner

Heat oil in med. skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté pears, apples & dried cranberries until soft. (3-5 minuets)
Add Grand Mariner and sauté until the grand mariner is reduced in half. Add fresh cranberries, chipoltes, cimmamon, sugars, zest and O.J. Stir and simmer for 40-45 min (until it begins to thicken.
Add nutmeg and Grand mariner; mix well
Refrigerate for 24 hours.
*Needs to be made at least a day ahead. Up to three.

24-Karat Cake
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups cooking oil
2 cups grated carrot
8 1/2-oz. Crushed pineapple, drained
1 1/2 cup chopped nuts
To flour, add salt, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon. Mix. Add eggs and cooking oil and mix well. Add carrot, pineapple and nuts. Put in 9x13 greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Beat the following ingredients until smooth.
1/2 cup butter
8oz cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 pound powder sugar

*all cakes taste better the second day. You can make the cake part up to three days in advance wrap tightly. Once the frosting is on it must be stored in the fridge.

Totally Traditional Thanksgiving

From election jubilation to WHAT…Thanksgiving? I was surprised to get my first call of the year from a friend that was starting to panic about her first Thanksgiving at her new home. O.K. guys we have at least a week to start panicking! Actually there is absolutely no reason to stress at all. This is a time to express gratitude and celebrate the people you love in your life. It is a time to create a beautiful meal for those you love or to be a part of a potluck where everyone can bring his or her greatest dishes. So here is a totally traditional Thanksgiving. I will blog throughout the next few weeks with all different Thanksgivings recipes and am happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Roasted peppers with fresh mozzarella
Very similar to a tomatoes caprasi, this version is with roasted peppers.

12 large red bell peppers
1/4-cup olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced

Turn all gas burners on high. Place peppers directly on flame watching very carefully, Turn until the entire pepper is a burnt a bluish, black color. Place in plastic bag for 15 minutes. Meanwhile whisk together oil, garlic, basil and balsamic vinegar. Under cold water rub the skin off and slice into strips. Loosely layer in a bowl drizzling with oil mixture. Toss gently with mozzarella slices.

Pumpkin Soup
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1-tablespoon flour
4 cups Chicken Stock
1 15 oz can of pumpkin
(Or two cups fresh pumpkin puree)
1-tablespoon brown sugar
1/4-teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4-teaspoon nutmeg
1/4-teaspoon cinnamon
1-cup heavy cream

In a soup pot, sauté onion in butter until tender. Remove from heat and stir in flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually stir in stock, pumpkin, brown sugar, cayenne, nutmeg and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cream and cook for 5 more minutes. Sprinkle a little more cinnamon on top and serve.

Mixed green salad with cranberry vinaigrette
1/2-cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4-cup orange juice1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 cup olive oil
10 cups assorted mixed greens
1 cup dried cranberries
8 oz goat cheese
1 cup toasted pine nuts
In a food processor process vinegar, Dijon, orange juice and peel with the cranberries until they are finely chopped. In a steady stream add the olive oil. Meanwhile in a large salad bowl mix greens, cranberries, goat cheese and pine nuts. Immediately before serving dress lightly. (You will not use all the dressing. You can save for another use.


Basic Roast Turkey
I so enjoy turkey. I sometimes even cook one just for the heck of it the summer!!!!! You may laugh, but think about it. A few dinners, sandwiches and soup!!!!! It is fabulous. This is a turkey that I have been making for years. I have seen many trends including placing slices of grapefruit under the skin, injecting it with a whole bottle Bernstein’s Italian dressing and every other fusion trend in the book. While I do enjoy a deep fried turkey and some of these other clever ways to prepare the bird, on Thanksgiving I want a traditional Butter roasted turkey. My friends tease me and call me the butterball hotline and are always calling me for tips, menu ideas and for quick problem solving. After a few times you’ll see just how easy and pleasurable preparing this meal can be. Many people fuss with ties and pins and clamps and all kind of goofy gadgets. I say less is more the only thing that I really recommend is a baster. For larger crowds if you have the oven space two smaller turkeys will be a bit tendered than one large one. While I prefer a fresh bird, many time s I have cooked a frozen with huge success. I always say never turn down a free turkey so if the markets or work gives you one its great!!!!! To thaw the most effective way is the refrigerate method. (1 day per 5 pounds.) The other is the sink method. Cover the turkey with cold water and change the water every few hours. It takes a full day. For that beautiful brown, crisp skin cook uncovered. Place the oven rack on the lowest possible position. I am including this basic guide for the amount of time to cook a turkey, but an instant-read meat thermometer is going to be your best indicator in another culinary debate is to stuff or not to stuff. I always do. It just adds so many flavors to the stuffing. I place the stuffing that does not fit in the bird in a shallow baking dish so that it gets that crisp top and then I mix them up. Don’t forget to allow enough time for the turkey to sit out before cutting (45 minutes so that and that are done in enough time to heat any sides that are nessacerry.

1 16 pound turkey Fresh or frozen, thawed
12 cups your version of Gwen’s stuffing
1 to 2 sticks butter, softened
Salt and pepper
Pre heat oven to 350. Remove neck and giblets (I use in the stuffing.) Wash inside and out and dry inside and out with a paper towel. . Loosely spoon some stuffing into the neck. (It looks like the boootie, but it is the neck!!!) Fold skin flaps back. Flip and loosely stuff the body. You can tie or clamp, but I just place the skin back. Place in a shallow baking ban with or without a roaster breast side up. Cover with one stick of softened butter. Roast 4 1/2 to 5 hours don’t open the oven for the first hour. After the first hour baste every half hour adding more butter half way through. About one hour before the turkey is done start checking for doneness. The turkey is done when the instant read thermometer reads 170 and the stuffing reads 165. Let it rest for 45 minutes and carve and serve.

Carving the bird
I will admit that I never wanted to carve a turkey. Growing up it was my dad’s job. I cook I don’t carve. One year I threw a Thanksgiving orphans bash and there was not a man present that could carve the turkey! I called my dad in a panic and he talked me through it. Kind of a right of passage! I will still eagerly look for that man who has his own dad bonding moment and try and pass it off…. I do have to put the rest of the meal to put together. As pretty as the whole turkey looks on a platter it is much easier to cut on a cutting board and some china can be scratched. As well as I’ve seen more than one bird fly off onto the floor! Also keep in mind that it can get a little messy as you look for creative work surface. One year a friend used the top of the washing machine. The juices got into everything and it was a mess. I recommend that you carve one side of the turkey first and then the other. Use a very sharp knife and position the turkey facing you. Slice between the leg and breast and holding it with your hand snap it off. Hold the drumstick almost vertically and cut in diagonal slices. Slice the thigh meat. Working toward the center of the bird slice breast meat vertically about half an inch thick. Cut through wing joint and then snap it off. Arrange on a platter and serve with all the trimmings!

Mashed potatoes
I do enjoy the trendy, nevou-mashed potatoes, but again on Thanksgiving I wand good old fashioned, decadent spuds.

10 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 sticks butter, cut
1 cup half and half
Salt and white pepper to taste

In a large soup pot bring salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until fork tender. Drain into a colander. Return to pot and add butter half and half and beat with electric mixer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pan Gravy:

1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 sprig thyme
2 sprigs parsley
1/2 stick butter, cut into 4 slices
Freshly ground black pepper

Tilt the roasting pan and, with a large basting spoon, skim as much fat as possible off the juices. Place the pan on 2 burners on top of the stove, set to medium heat. Add the white wine to the pan and stir and scrape with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan deposits. Continue boiling until the liquid has reduced in half, 7 to 10 minutes. Add Stock, thyme, and parsley. Bring to a boil and strain into a saucepan. Bring back to a boil, skim, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Using a fork dip one of the butter pieces heavily in flour. Blend in until well incorporated and continue to add butter/flour mixture until the gravy has thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sautee Green beans
Corn Soufflé
Cranberry Sauce
Baked Sweet Potatoes
8 sweet potatoes or Yams
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 /2 cup dark molassas
In a large soup pot (or 2) place whole sweet pototes and cover with water. Cook over high heat until fork tender about 40 minutes. Drain in collander and when cool enoughto handle remove skin. Slice in quarters and Layer with the butter,brown sugar and molass in a roasting pan. Roat uncovered for 45 minutes mixing halfway through.

Cloverleaf Rolls
I was trying to explain these to a friend one day and was surprised that she had absolutly no idea what I was talking about!!!!. I don’t think a holiday is complete without them, however most of you did just fine with out them!!!!! A really pretty and most delishios taste treat and not really hard at all. (Don’t let the yeast fool you...theese are really easy!!!!!)

2 yeast cakes or 2 packages dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup warm milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
5- 5 1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
Melted butter for brushing top

In the bowl of an elertric mixer sprinkle or crumble yeast over the top. Add 1 tablespoon sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add the remaining sugar, milk, salt and butter. Mix in 2 cups flour beat for 5 minutes until smooth ands elastic. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in 2 more cups of flour to make a soft dough. Sprinkle remaining flour on a board and tun dough. Knead until dough is smooth and bubbly. (8-10 minutes) or about 3 minutes if you use a kitchen aide fitted with a dough hook.) Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic and a towel. Let rise in a warm place for about one hour until double in size.Punch dough down. Knead into a small ball acover with towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Pinch off pieces of dough and shape into 1- inch balls. Dip into melted butter and place 3 balls into each cup of a sprayed muffin tin. Cover with towel and let rise for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400. Bake 15 minutes untill golden brown. You can remove from pan and let cool on a pastry rack....but much better served right out of the oven.

Layered Pecan and Pumpkin Pie
1/4 cup cold water
1 pakage unflavored gelatin
1 can (16 ounces) pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons for whipping cream +2 tablespoons for egg whites
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs, seperated
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whipping cfream
1 9 inch pie shell, baked and cooled (page )

In a large saucepan combine water and gelitan let stand for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in pumpkin, 1/2 cup sugar,milk, lightly beaten egg yolks, spices and salt. Heat until just boiling stiring constantly. Turn heat to simmer and cook 5 minutes more. Remove from heat ,add vanilla and cool. Chill untill mixture thickens (a couple of hours) Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Graudally beat in 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until stiff. Fold into pumpkin mixture along with chopped pecans. Beat whipping cream with 2 tablespoons suga until very stiff. Put half pumpkin mixture into the shell and spread level. Top with 3/4 of the whip creamand spread level. Spoon remaining pumpkin mixture. Decorate with the remaining whip cream. Chill at least 4 hours before serving or overnight.

Sweet potatoe pie with cinnamon whip cream
3 cups sweet potato flesh
(Bake 4 large sweet potatoes for 1 1/2 hours at 400. When cool enough to handle scoop out 3 cups of flesh.)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 inch fresh ginger, finey chopped
1- 9 inch pie crust, baked to pale golden (page )
1 cup whipping cream
3 teaspoons sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a food processor puree the sweetpotatoes, cream, sugar,eggs, salt, spice and ginger until smooth. Pour into pie shell and bake in a 350 pre-heated oven for about one hour until pie is firm. Chill at least 4 hours (overnight) when ready to serve, beat the cream with the cinnamon-sugar untill stiff. You can decorate the pie with the cream or you can slice and serve the pie with a dallop of cream.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


When you have kids Halloween takes on a whole new meaning. My daughter starts planning on November 1st as to what she is going to be for the next year and staigizizes for the big day all year long! On this spooky day, I love to have the gang at my house. Because of the nature of trick or treating I like to make sure that the kids get something nutritious in there bellies before the big event. I usually have people arrive around 5:00. Hors d’ oeuvres for the grown- ups, and solid food for the kids. They will probably be way to excite to eat, but the old trick you have to eat 3 bites of hot dog before you can go is really effective!!! To simplify you can always order pizza for the kids. Also… I try to serve only milk and water. They won’t need any extra sugar. If I do desert at all (CANDY) it is geared only towards the adults. Another fun thing to do if you have friends in the neighborhood, start at one house for pre trick or treat and end up at another for after and candy swapping! It is a good idea to have at least one person stay back at the house to answer the door. (Friends with out kids or teenagers are super for this post!) We all start out together and have everything set up for the after trick or treat dinner. Your kids can stay with the gang and you can slip back a little early to put up the finishing touches

Pre Trick or Treating Menu

Pigs in a blanket
(Turkey hotdogs wrapped in crescent rolls)

Assorted cheese and Breads
Humus and Pita Bread
Lots of veggies and dips
Milk and Water for the kids
Hot Cider
Hot Mulled Wine

After Trick Or treating Buffet Menu
Cookie cutter quesdillas
Caesar Salad
Vegetable Chili
Chili con Carne with Beans
Corn Bread
Jalapeno corn Bread
Warm Milk

Cookie Cutter Quesdillas
What quesidilla doesn’t taste better in the shape of a pumpkin or goast? You can find great Halloween cookie cutters. The larger, simpler shapes work best. The kids love them and they work well for any holiday.
1-package flour tortillas
1 pound (or 1 bag) shredded cheese
Traditionally it would be jack, but mozzarella works great, and cheddar adds a great color.

Very lightly grease or spray 2 cookie sheets. Lay out the tortillas on a cutting board. Choose a cookie cutter and cut out two of each shape. Place bottom on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with cheese you have to play a bit depending on the shape, but about 1/4 inch high and stop about a quarter inch around. Place second cutout on top. Bake at 350 for about seven minutes. (Again watch closely as the size of the cookie cutter does vary the time) Serve withy guacamole and salsa.
• Another great debate!!!!!! My partner swears that it is easier to make the quesidills first and then cut them into shapes. There is a lot of waste that way, but somehow the grown ups always seem to finish the leftovers!!!!!

Caesar Salad
In small bowl whisk together-
1 egg
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon anchovy paste

Then add,
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Up to 3 cloves of garlic to taste
2 teaspoon dried thyme

In a steady stream add
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups canola oil

If you would like, add a few shakes of pepper or a dash of Tabasco sauce. If you like a stronger flavor or are not keen on the anchovy paste, a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce works wonders.
Fill a large salad bowl with lettuce. The traditional Caesar lettuce is Romaine. I like to add spinach and radicchio for flavor and color. Mix in croutons (see below) shaved or grated Parmesan and then toss in the dressing. Go lightly the worst Caesars are the ones that are over-dressed. Taste as you go. For variation you can add cherry tomatoes or toasted pine nuts, both are tasty and add a little pizzazz.
Truly, you can use any kind of bread, seasoning and oil. I will give you the basic, but again - go for it and make it your own.
1 baguette (long loaf of French or sour dough bread)
Olive oil to coat
Pinch of Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Slice baguettes into quarter inch slices. Place in large bowl. Toss with oil until well coated. Add salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet in single layer rows and bake at 350 until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Vegetable Chili
This is a basic roadmap. You can add or delete any veggies. So warm and cozy, like a hearty chili should be.

! /2 cup olive oil
4 small red onions, roughly chopped
8 cloves of garlic
2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
6 carrots cut lengthwise then sliced
3 bunches broccoli, roughly chopped
3 zucchini cut lengthwise then sliced
3 yellow squash, cut lengthwise then sliced
3 carrots cut lengthwise then sliced
2 cans (35 ounces) Italian style stewed tomatoes
3 pounds fresh ripe Plum tomatoes cut in 1- inch cubes
4-6 tablespoons chili powder (to taste)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons Italian Spices
(Or any combo of basil, oregano, sage, etc.)
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1-teaspoon salt
2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
2 cups tomato sauce

Heat olive oil in really large pot. Add onion, garlic, peppers, carrots and broccoli. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add all tomatoes and beans. Sauté for 5 more minutes. Add all spices and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the marinara sauce and 1 cup of water. Cook covered, stirring frequently for 1 hour. Serve with lots of shredded cheddar cheese chopped scallions and homemade corn bread.

Chili con Carne

3 Red Onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Pinch of salt
2 pounds Sirloin, cut into half inch pieces
2 15 oz cans kidney beans
3 large cans diced tomatoes

Sauté’ onions and garlic in the olive oil until tender over medium heat. Add seasoning. Then add the sirloin and brown the meat stirring constantly. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for at least one more hour.

Corn Bread
1-cup buttermilk
2 eggs, well beaten
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1-cup flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
1/2-teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
Spray a 9-inch square pan with bakers joy. Combine buttermilk, eggs and butter. In a medium bowl mix cornmeal, flour baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir in the buttermilk mixture until just mixed. The batter may be a bit lumpy. Pour into the greased pan. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes until the top of the bread is golden brown.

Jalapeno Cornbread
Great flavor with a nice kick!!!
4 eggs
1-cup buttermilk
2 cups corn, fresh, frozen or canned
2 sticks melted butter
4 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
2 cups cornmeal, blue, yellow or white
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Mix in a large bowl. Spray a loaf pan with bakers joy. Bake at 350 for about one hour or until golden on top.