Monday, December 28, 2009

Cauliflower Gratin

I expected this dish to be good, but the extent to which is really wowed us was not expected. I can't say I have ever had better cauliflower than this. This dish was a nice change from my regular standby of serving a potato dish with prime rib. This dish is creamy and really rich on flavor. The cauliflower is deliciously tender and all the flavors nicely compliment one another.

Cauliflower Gratin
  • 1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan.

Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris, Clarkson Potter, 2004.

Christmas Dinner Menu

There are no other words for this meal but spectacular. It was a perfect menu for Christmas day. The meal was elegant yet fairly simple to prepare thus allowing lots of time to play with new toys brought by Santa! I didn't prepare dessert with this menu since we got together later in the evening for dessert with family. I think a beautiful trifle would be the perfect ending for this menu.

Sunday Rib Roast with Horseradish Mustard Sauce
Green Bean Bundles
Cauliflower Gratin

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chocolate Mint Thumbprints

This is a another new Christmas cookie I tried this year. It was a big hit at our Christmas Eve buffet. Next time I'm hoping to find the green Andes candies as was pictured in the recipe book. I also would probably cut them a bit smaller. I found it was easier to use my thumb to make the indention as opposed to the wooden spoon handle recommended in the recipe. I did add the green food color to this recipe, even though I'm not a fan of artificial dyes. I didn't want all of our cookies to be beige! I have found natural food color in Whole Foods, however, I find the color it renders tends to be really off and you would have to add quite a bit which can effect the liquid ratios in your recipe. These cookies would also be fun for St. Patrick's Day.

Chocolate Mint Thumbprints

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
2 egg yolks
16 drops green food coloring
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons whipping cream
3 tablespoons butter
18 Andes mints, unwrapped, cut in half diagonally

1. Heat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In large bowl, beat 1 cup butter and the powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in peppermint extract, egg yolks and food coloring until blended. On low speed, beat in flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. With your finger, press a deep well into center of each cookie.

4. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set. Reshape wells with finger. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely; about 15 minutes.

5. In medium microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, cream and 3 tablespoons butter on High 1 minute, whisking frequently until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Fill each well with about 1 teaspoon chocolate mixture; garnish with Andes mint piece. Let stand about 1 hour until chocolate is set.

Source: Adapted from Betty Crocker's Christmas Cookies, Dec./Jan. 2009.

Cherry Tea Cakes

I loved all the new cookie recipes we tried this year but these were probably my very favorite. A really great butter cookie with a delicious almond cherry flavor. I used Tillan Farms maraschino cherries. They have no artificial colors, artificial flavors, sulfites or preservatives. I omitted the red food color from the recipe so mine did not have the pink hue as pictured in my recipe book. You can dip these or drizzle them with white chocolate but I think they are perfect as is.

Cherry Tea Cakes

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons maraschino cherry liquid
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 or 4 drops red food color (omitted)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup drained maraschino cherries, chopped
1/2 cup white vanilla baking chips (omitted)

1. Heat oven to 350. In large bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, cherry liquid, almond extract and food color with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. On low speed, beat in flour and salt. Stir in cherries.

2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart.

3. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool 20 to 30 minutes.

4. In 1 quart resealable freezer plastic bag, place baking chips, seal bag. Microwave 35-50 seconds, squeezing chips in bag every 15 seconds, until chips are melted and smooth. Cut small tip from bottom corner of bag; drizzle melted chips over cookies.

Source: Betty Crocker's Christmas Cookies, Dec/Jan 2009.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Christmas Eve Menu

We hosted a casual gathering for Christmas Eve. The scene was perfectly set with twinkling Christmas lights and beautiful blowing snow outside (a rarity in these parts!). To warm everyone up I had some mulled cider brewing. I think Williams Sonoma has the best mulled spice mix. I mix mine with organic apple juice that is not from concentrate. instead of cider I served the following menu buffet style.

Mulled Cider
Artichoke Bruschetta and Crackers
Mini Spanakopitas
Spiral Sliced Ham
Rolls/Rye Bread
Cranberry Conserve
Maple Orange Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Macaroni and Cheese
Mixed Green Salad with Herbs de Provence Dressing
Soft and Spicy Gingerbread Cookies
Chocolate Mint Thumbprints
Cherry Tea Cakes
Peppermint Bark
Praline Cheesecake

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are a new addition to my annual Christmas cookie baking list. Growing up, we always did lots of different types of cookies but our roll out cookies were always sugar cookies. I thought it would be fun to try a traditional gingerbread instead this year. This recipe, has shown up in several blogs I read. Given the popularity of the recipe, I knew this would be a good one. The dough was easy to mix and roll and the cookies had a perfect balance of spice. I also like that these cookies came out very tender. I have to give credit to my favorite helpers, my husband and son who rolled these out together and did a fantastic job.

Soft and Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. molasses
1 egg
4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg

-In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
-Stir in molasses and egg.
-Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth.
-Cover, and chill for at least one hour.
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line with parchment.
-On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.
-Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
-Place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
-Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm.
-Let cool for 10 minutes on pan.
-Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
-Frost or decorate when cool.

Source: Annie's Eats as adapted from Good Things Catered as originally adapted from

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Fig Relish and Acorn Squash with Butter Sauce

I recently purchased Cooking Light's new cookbook, Fresh Food Fast. The idea behind the cookbook is the recipes are only 5 ingredients and take 15 minutes to prepare. I'm a big proponent of clean eating and cooking with fresh organic seasonal foods so a five ingredient approach is perfect for me. This book has come in handy during this busy holiday season. This pork tenderloin dish was really easy to make and I loved the combination of flavors. I'm a big fan of figs and they paired perfectly in this dish. As suggested I served this with a side of acorn squash with butter sauce. It was hard to believe this dish was so fast to make.

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Onion-Fig Relish

1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spry
8 dried Mission figs
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 (8-ounce) container refrigerated prechopped onion (I used one red onion)

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Sprinkle pork evenly with salt and pepper; coat with cooking spray. Heat a medium sized cast iron skillet or other ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork; cook 4 minutes or until browned on all sides, turning occasionally.

3. While pork browns, coarsely chop figs. Combine vinegar, 2 tablespoons water and soy sauce in small bowl. When pork is browned, remove pan from heat. Add figs, onion, and vinegar mixture to pan, stirring to loosen brown bits.

4. Bake, uncovered at 425 for 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160. Stir onion mixture; cover pan loosely with foil. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Yields: 4 servings

Acorn Squash with Butter Sauce

1 acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Pierce squash several times with a sharp knife; place on paper towels in microwave oven. Microwave on High 1 minute. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and membrane. Cut each squash half lengthwise into 4 wedges. Pour 1/3 cup water into an 11x7 inch baking dish. Place squash, cut sides up, in pan. Cover with plastic wrap, turning back 1 corner to vent (do not allow plastic wrap to touch food). Microwave on High 10 minutes or until tender.

2. Place butter in a small microwave safe bowl. Cover and microwave at High 20 seconds our until butter melts. Stir in syrup, nutmeg, and salt. Spoon sauce over squash wedges. Yield: 4 servings.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Barefoot Blogger's Bread Pudding

I'll preface this post by saying I'm not a bread pudding fan. If given a choice of desserts it is probably the last one I would pick. My husband on the other hand loves bread pudding. So when I saw this months Barefoot Blogger pick from Peggy of Pantry Revisited, I knew at least one person in our house would be happy to eat this dessert if I made it. The recipe was very simple to assemble but be prepared, this recipe uses almost a whole carton of eggs! I thought the dish was good but didn't fit my idea of a traditional bread pudding. To me it was more like a french toast casserole. My husband thought it was good but said he prefers the traditional bread pudding. He also missed the hard sauce that usually accompanies a bread pudding. I would make this dish again but it would be part of a brunch buffet.

Croissant Bread Pudding
  • 3 extra-large whole eggs
  • 8 extra-large egg yolks
  • 5 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 croissants, preferably stale, sliced horizontally
  • 1 cup raisins (I used dried cranberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the raisins, then the tops of the croissants (brown side up), being sure the raisins are between the layers of croissants or they will burn while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.

Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Clarkson, Potter, 1999.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sugar Topped Molasses Cookies

I can't think of a better way to start off the holiday baking season than these cookies. I really like the nice punch of spice that distinguishes these cookies from ordinary gingerbread cookies. These cookies pair perfectly with hot chocolate or hot tea and the sugar coat adds a nice sparkle finish to the cookies.

Sugar Topped Molasses Cookies

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice pinch cracked or coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)

1 large egg

1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and pepper. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat for 2 minutes or so to blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. If some flour remains in the bottom of the bowl, to avoid over-beating the dough, mix in the last of the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. You'll have a smooth, very soft dough.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Freeze for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The dough can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days.) Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Put the sugar in a small bowl.

Working with one packet of dough at a time, divide it into 12 pieces, and roll each piece into a smooth ball between your palms. One by one, roll the balls around in the bowl of sugar , then place them on one of the baking sheets. Dip the bottom of a glass into the sugar and use it to press down on the cookies until they are between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the tops feel set to the touch. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, if the cookies have spread and are touching, use the edge of a metal spatula to separate them while they are still hot.

Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Yield: about 24 fairly large cookies (I got a few more)

Storage: The cookies will keep for at least 1 week in the cookie jar. Wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours, Houghton Mifflin Harcour, 2006.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart

All I can say about this dessert, is absolute show stopper! I was a bit skeptical about the banana in this dish but it really isn't a strong component and actually just serves to mellow the pumpkin flavor a bit. I loved the graham cracker crust with the pumpkin, for me a far better compliment than a traditional pie crust. This tart is not too sweet, not too heavy and the filling has the perfect velvet like texture. I know this dish will have a regular spot at our future Thanksgiving dinners.

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart

For the crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 crackers)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 ripe banana, finely mashed
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

For the decoration:

  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Orange zest, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter in a bowl and mix well. Pour into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press evenly into the sides and then the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes and then cool to room temperature.

For the filling, heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. You don't want the eggs to scramble. Remove from the heat.

Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture and pour it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

For the decoration, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Pipe or spoon the whipped cream decoratively on the tart and sprinkle, if desired, with orange zest. Serve chilled.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Clarkson Potter, 2002.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Barefoot Blogger's November Recipes

I'm finally catching up on my November posts for the Barefoot Bloggers. I have already made and previously posted both of the recipes chosen for this month.

Thanks to Lisa of Lime in the Coconut for picking the Company Pot Roast. Its a simple and comforting meal for a cold fall evening. It pairs nicely with Ina's Baked Potatoes with Yogurt and Sour Cream.

Thanks also to Suzie of Munch and Nibble for picking Ina's creme brulee recipe. Although, Suzie picked Ina's original version, I previously made Ina's Raspberry Creme Brulee which is the same basic formula with a few changes to spices and liquor. The raspberry creme brulee is one of my all time favorite desserts. For a classic creme brulee, this is my go to recipe.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

I have to admit for many years I was not a fan of whole berry cranberry sauce or fresh cranberry relish. When I host Thanksgiving I always serve both whole berry and jellied cranberry sauce since there always seems to be fans in both camps. This recipe has changed my opinion of whole berry sauce. Simple combination of flavors produces an fantastic result. The combination of citrus juices adds a wonderful depth of flavor. Ina recommends using this for day after Thanksgiving sandwiches and I can see why. I can't imagine finding another recipe I would like better than this one.

Cranberry Fruit Conserve
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 orange, zest grated and juiced
  • 1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts. Let cool, and serve chilled.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties, Clarkson Potter, 2002.

Triple Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

I've been looking for a good stuffed mushroom recipe and this one is definitely a winner in that category. I think you could easily vary the cheeses in this recipe and even add sausage, bacon, or pancetta to make them truly over the top. These were a perfect starter for our Thanksgiving meal.

Triple Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

48 med. white mushrooms (2 lbs)
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. finely chopped green onions
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350. Using damp paper towel, wipe mushroom caps clean; remove and discard stems or save for another use. In colander squeeze liquid out of spinach until dry.

2. In large bowl, mix spinach, feta, cream cheese, green onions, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until well combined. Fill each mushroom with heaping teaspoon spinach mixture, tip with Parmesan.

3. Transfer to 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 jelly-roll pan; bake 20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and filling is golden brown.

Source: Paula Deen, Good Housekeeping Magazine, November 2009.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu

Here is the menu for our Thanksgiving feast. Recipes and reviews to follow!

Apple Cider

Triple Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Pastry Wrapped Raspberry Baked Brie (from Central Market)
Marinated Cheese
Mixed Nuts

Cape Cod Chopped Salad
Apple Cider Brined Turkey
Sausage and Herb Stuffing
Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Marshmallow Topping
Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Fruit Conserve
Jellied Cranberry Sauce
Cloverleaf Rolls

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart
Pear Ginger Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All Sold Out Chicken Pot Pies

Finally a recipe to blog! Seems like November is just flying by me at a warp speed. I made two absolutely delicious recipes this month and then forgot to get pictures of them. Otherwise, we have been enjoying several of our favorite meals that have already appeared here. I can't tell you how long I've had this recipe tagged to make. I've probably already mentioned in my blog that the Pastry Queen is one of my favorite cookbooks. Since purchasing that book several years ago I have added Rebecca Rather's additional books to my collection including her newest one, The Pastry Queen Parties. I had the opportunity to visit the Rather Sweet Bakery in Fredericksburg, Texas and I highly recommend it to anyone in the area. I also attended a cooking class hosted by Rebecca which was also fantastic. So with the weather turning cold and grey and this recipe popping up on several blogs I read I knew it was time to try it. Be warned, this is not a fast recipe to make. I estimate in preparation alone I spent well over an hour. I can say the time spent was well worth it. This was fantastic. Next time I will probably add some carrots as they are a requisite vegetable in a pot pie for me. I omitted the hot sauce to make it kid friendly. I also omitted the red bell pepper as it didn't seem right in a pot pie to me. I love the additional vegetable suggestions of turnips, asparagus and corn. I think any combination in this recipe would be great. This is comfort food at its very best. Now, if I had only made Rebecca's incredible recipe for Mexican chocolate cake to go with it!

Other Pastry Queen Recipes:
Tropical Carrot Cake
Tuxedo Cake
Larger Than Life Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake

All Sold Out Chicken Pot Pies

Yield: 6 servings


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced

  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 purchased cooked rotisserie chicken or 1 whole stewed chicken, cooled

  • 8 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)

  • 1 (8-ounce) package frozen peas (optional)


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 cup all purpose flour

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (optional) Dash of hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco

  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter

  • 3 cups all purpose flour

  • 10 ounces chilled cream cheese

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

  • 1 large egg

  1. To make the filling:

  2. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the onion and potato; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms and sauté about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the crushed red pepper and add salt and pepper to taste.

  3. While the vegetables are sauteing, skin the chicken, pull the meat off the bones and shred the meat or cut into bite-size pieces. Place the green beans in a microwave-safe bowl and add enough water to cover. Cover the dish and microwave on high power about 10 minutes, until the beans are tender. Drain thoroughly. Stir the beans, peas and chicken into the vegetable mixture. Set the filling aside.

  4. To make the cream sauce:

  5. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook the sauce over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup. Add the cream, hot pepper sauce, and salt and white pepper to taste. Pour the cream sauce over the chicken filling and stir to combine. Fill individual 1’/4-cup capacity oven-safe bowls three - quarters of the way to the top with the creamed chicken filling.

  6. To make the crust:

  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the butter into 16 pieces. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the cream cheese, salt, and white pepper. Continue pulsing just until the dough forms a ball.

  8. Set the dough on a flat surface dusted with flour. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Measure the diameter of the pot pie bowls—mine are about 4 inches across—and cut out dough rounds that are 1 1/2 inches larger in diameter. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Lay the dough rounds on top of the pot pies, making sure the dough hangs evenly over each bowl. Brush the dough lightly with the beaten egg. Bake the pies for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Rather Sweet Variation

Pot pies lend themselves to all manner of vegetable additions, such as diced carrots, fresh corn kernels, diced turnips, sliced celery, cut-up asparagus spears, or sliced wild mushrooms. Just add them to the sauté mix and enjoy.

My friend Suzie Humphreys Mayo is often on the road for work and likes to make sure her husband eats well while she’s away. She double wraps the pot pies in plastic wrap and pops them in the freezer. Her husband bakes them at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes and dinner is ready. (The pies will keep frozen for 2 to 3 weeks.) Miss Emily, the eighty- seven-year- old mother of another good friend, loves to have a stock of frozen pot pies in her freezer. I never put green beans in hers; she prefers peas.

Source: Rebecca Rather, The Pastry Queen, Ten Speed Press 2004.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spiderweb Cupcakes

I made these to take to our pre-trick-or-treating Halloween party. I was really happy with how they came out. To save time, I did use a boxed cake mix and pre-made frosting. The spiders are made from gum drops that have been rolled out. These were fun and easy to make.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tortellini Sausage Soup

Yes, another soup recipe! Its that time of year! This soup was an unplanned dinner. I found myself without anything defrosted and not knowing what to make for dinner. I looked in the pantry and found I had tortellini and was thinking of incorporating it in some sort of soup when I remembered this recipe from Our Best Bites. I just recently found this site and they have some really fantastic looking recipes. As luck would have it, I had almost everything I needed to make this tortellini sausage soup, including the sausage which is easy to defrost! This was a wonderfully hearty and filling soup. It was a unanimous hit in our house. It makes just enough for dinner and then some leftovers which is perfect. I didn't have zucchini so I added some organic frozen chopped spinach. I paired this with mozzarella grilled cheese sandwiches. It was a perfect dinner to lead in to watching Its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown with our three year old.

Tortellini Sausage Soup

3 links Italian sausage
4 cloves pressed garlic
1 onion, diced
½ c. water
2 cans chicken broth
½ c. apple cider
1 16-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 c. sliced carrots
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 medium zucchini, grated (great way to use your food processor if you have one) (I used organic frozen spinach instead)
8-10 oz. package cheese tortellini
2 Tbsp. dried parsley

If you're using link sausage, remove the casings and crumble into a large soup pot. To remove the casings, you can use a sharp knife to cut a slit down one side of the sausage and then peel back the casing. And just so you know, both Sara and I have tried taking pictures of this method and there is no G-rated way of posting those pictures...

Begin cooking sausage over medium heat, stirring frequently. If your sausage is pretty fatty, you'll want to drain it when it's about halfway cooked. Meanwhile, chop onions and garlic and add to the sausage. Continue cooking until onions are translucent and your sausage is cooked. Your house will smell heavenly.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, juice, water, chicken broth, carrots, oregano, and basil. Cover and simmer for 1/2 hour. Add parsley and zucchini and simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Add the tortellini and cook until tender, and then serve with bread and freshly-grated Parmesan.
Source: Our Best Bites

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Barefoot Blogger's-Cheddar Corn Chowder-

Jill of My Next Life picked Ina's Cheddar Corn Chowder as the second Barefoot Blogger pick for October. I previously made and blogged about this recipe here. I did go ahead and remake the recipe since it was a great pick for the weather we are having. One thing I found that I hadn't remembered is that this soup really tastes better the second day so its a good one to make ahead. This time I also halved the recipe and I still had enough to eat for leftovers and freeze. This one hits the spot on a cold and rainy day. I recently watched Ina make a similar version that adds lobster. I'll have to try that one soon, sounds very decadent!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Barefoot Blogger's Blue Cheese Souffle

I was happy to see that Summer of Sexy Apartment chose this recipe as one of the October Barefoot Blogger picks. I've made dessert souffles but never a savory souffle. My husband and I recently enjoyed a lovely dinner at a local souffle bistro. The only bad thing about a savory souffle for dinner is it leaves no room for a dessert souffle! This recipe seemed a fun way to try to recreate that meal at home. I don't find souffles terribly difficult to make, they just require patience and a gentle hand. This one puffed up beautifully and looked delicious. Be warned if you make this though, it needs to be served immediately. My souffle deflated less than 5 minutes after I took it out of the oven. Although, I am a blue cheese lover, the flavor was overwhelming to me in the recipe. I would consider making another cheese souffle but would likely use a milder cheese. A Gruyere or fontina would probably be a better choice.

Blue Cheese Souffle

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup scalded milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces good Roquefort cheese, chopped
  • 5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter the inside of an 8-cup souffle dish (7 1/2 inches in diameter and 3 1/4 inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, the cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.

Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Roquefort and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.

Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten and then fold in the rest. Pour into the souffle dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the souffle rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don't peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

Source: Barefoot in Paris, Clarkson Potter, 2004.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

White Chocolate Gingerbread Blondies

When I purchased the Martha Stewart Cookies Cookbook, this was one of the first recipes that caught my eye. Now that we are enjoying lots of fall weather it seemed a perfect time to try this one. This recipe makes a lot so its a good one for a crowd. I served these at our weekly play date and they were a hit. I found the ends on mine were a little too crispy so I just cut those pieces off. These have a nice spicy gingerbread taste which is balanced nicely with the sweetness of the white chocolate. These are a perfect fall treat. They would be a fantastic finish for a dinner with a spicy bowl of chili or as a compliment to homemade hot chocolate.

White Chocolate Gingerbread Blondies

Makes about 4 dozen 2-inch squares

  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 10 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used white chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 17-by-12-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment cut to fit, and coat parchment. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  2. Beat butter and brown and granulated sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in white chocolate.
  3. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake until edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 2-inch squares or desired shape. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Source: Martha Stewart's Cookies, Clarkson Potter, 2008.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Provencal Vegetable Soup

I made this soup a few weeks ago on a cold and rainy day and it really hit the spot. I loved the addition of the saffron to the soup and the fresh tomato basil pistou adds a lovely brightness to the soup. To me it was an upscale version of the classic tomato vegetable soup. We really loved this one. I will definitely be making it again.

Provencal Vegetable Soup
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-diced unpeeled boiling potatoes (1 pound)
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-diced carrots (1 pound)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 quarts homemade chicken stock or canned broth
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/2 pound haricots verts, ends removed and cut in 1/2
  • 4 ounces spaghetti, broken in pieces
  • 1 cup Pistou, recipe follows
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot, add the onions, and saute over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the leeks, potatoes, carrots, salt, and pepper and saute over medium heat for another 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and saffron, bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Add the haricots verts and spaghetti, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 more minutes.

To serve, whisk 1/4 cup of the pistou into the hot soup, then season to taste. Depending on the saltiness of your chicken stock, you may need to add up to another tablespoon of salt. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and more pistou.


4 large garlic cloves

1/4 cup tomato paste

24 large basil leaves

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 cup good olive oil

Place the garlic, tomato paste, basil, and Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor and puree. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil down the feed tube to make a paste. Pack into a container, pour a film of olive oil on top, and close the lid.

Yield: 1 cup

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris, Clarkson Potter, 2005.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Creamy Pumpkin Custard wtih Golden Raisin Compote

I absolutely love pumpkin. I was a bit worried when I found out there was a canned pumpkin shortage this year. I went to several area groceries and lo and behold there was no pumpkin to be found. I couldn't conceive of a fall without all my favorite pumpkin recipes and several new ones I want to try. Luckily, I happened upon a store with a healthy supply of canned pumpkin and my pantry is now well stocked! Yes, I bought 10 cans of pumpkin! I decided this recipe was a worthy source for one of my precious cans of pumpkin and it did not disappoint. Although labeled a custard, it was reminiscent of pumpkin cheesecake. This dessert is very rich and decadent. The golden raisin compote adds nice texture and flavor. The only change I would make next time is to add some candied pecans. I just couldn't help thinking a little crunch would have been a nice addition. This is the first recipe I have tried from the Dolce Italiano cookbook and if this recipe is any indication of how great the recipes are, I can't wait to try more. The perfect ending to a fabulous fall meal.

Creamy Pumpkin Custard wtih Golden Raisin Compote

Makes 6 servings

¼ cup granulated sugar, plus more for dusting the ramekins
2 pieces crystallized ginger (about 1 ounce), minced
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon yogurt or sour cream
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup canned pumpkin (straight up pumpkin, without the pumpkin pie spices)
Golden Raisin Compote (recipe follows), for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325 F and position a rack in the center. Grease six 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups with nonstick cooking spray, then coat the bottoms and sides with a light dusting of granulated sugar, shaking out the excess. Have ready a flat-bottomed roasting pan large enough to accommodate the ramekins with ¾ inch of space in between them.

Place the granulated sugar and crystallized ginger in the bowl of a food processor and process until the ginger is finely ground. Place the mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add the cream cheese and light brown sugar. Cream the ingredients together on medium speed until smooth and lump-free, about 2 minutes. Beat in the yogurt or sour cream, followed by the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and salt, then beat in the pumpkin puree until just combined.

Divide the mixture among the ramekins, filling them ¾ full and tapping each one once or twice on the counter to even the top. Place the ramekins in the roasting pan and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil, tenting it slightly so the foil does not touch the top of the ramekins.

Carefully place the pan in the oven and bake the custards for 25 minutes, then rotate the pan to ensure even baking. Bake them for another 15 minutes and then check for doneness; the custards should appear slightly puffy and their surfaces should be matte. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the custards to cool for 10 minutes, then remove them from the bain-marie and chill until firm, at least 4 hours.

To serve, run the tip of a knife around the edge of each custard and flip it on to a serving plate. Top each serving with a spoon full of golden raisin compote.

Golden Raisin Compote

Makes about 1 ½ cups

1 heaping cup of raisins
¾ cup juice from fresh oranges
¼ cup golden or dark rum
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Place the raisins, orange juice, rum, and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Simmer until the raisins are soft and plump, then pour the liquid through a sieve and strain out the raisins and place them in a small bowl. Return the liquid to the pan and continue simmering until it is syrupy and reduced to about ½ cup. Remove the pan and from the heat and whisk in the butter. Combine the sauce with the raisins and cool to room temperature.

Source: Gina De Palma, Dolce Italiano, 2007.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cooking Italy-Sliced Potatoes with Mushrooms

This pick from the Cooking Italy group was the perfect accompaniment to the Pan Roasted Lamb with Juniper Berries I served as part of my dinner party menu. This dish would really go well with most meat dishes. I love how perfectly tender the potatoes came out. I had trouble finding dried porcini so I ended up using a dried mushroom mix which had porcini in it. This dish has lots of flavor and was fairly simple to assemble. I liked the technique for cooking the potatoes so much I would consider making it without the mushroom as well and possibly changing up the herb combinations to suit the dish I was making. I know others in the group had issues with the cooking time but mine cooked fine in the time specified in the recipe. I used Yukon gold potatoes so I'm not sure if that made the difference.

Sliced Potatoes Baked with Porcini and Fresh Cultivated Mushrooms, Riveria Style

A small packet or 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted
The filtered water from the mushroom soak
1 pound small new, waxy boiling potatoes
1/2 pound fresh, firm white button or cremini mushrooms
An oven to table baking dish no larger than 11 inches by 7 inches or its equivalent
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic chopped, very fine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill

1. Put the reconstituted mushrooms and their filtered water into a small saucepan, turn on the heat to medium high and cook until all the liquid has boiled away. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 400.

3. Peel the potatoes, wash them in cold water, and cut them in 1/4 inch slices.

4. Slice off and discard a think disk from the butt end of the fresh mushroom's stem without detaching the stem from the cap. Wash the mushrooms rapidly in cold running water, taking care no to let them soak. Pat gently, but thoroughly dry with a soft cloth towel. Cut them lengthwise into slices the same thickness as the potatoes, keeping the stems and caps together.

5. Choose a baking dish which all ingredients will fit without being stacked any higher than 1 1/2 inches. Put the olive oil, garlic, potatoes, the porcini and the sliced, fresh mushrooms, parsley and several grindings of pepper. Toss several times to mix the ingredients evenly, and level them off with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Place the dish on the uppermost rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then add salt, toss to distribute it well, return the dish to the oven and continue baking until the potatoes are tender, approximately another 15 minutes.

6. After taking the dish out of the oven. let it settle for a few minutes before bringing it to the table. If you find there is more oil in the dish than you would like, spoon away the excess before serving.
Source: Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1992.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cooking Italy-Pan Roasted Lamb with Juniper Berries

This was my first recipe from the new blogging group I joined, Cooking Italy. This recipe really took me out of my comfort zone. I have never cooked lamb and I've only eaten it once very recently. I had lamb chops at a Greek restaurant and was surprised at how much I liked it and how it really tasted much like steak. This recipe gave me another opportunity to use my new dutch oven and a jar of juniper berries I purchased awhile back. It really couldn't have been a simpler dish to make, throw all the ingredients in the pot and cook. I think I over cooked mine a bit. It was probably done closer to the three 2 1/2 to 3 hour mark. It was still delicious and tender although a little dry. This dish has rich depth of flavor and is definitely one I would make again. I couldn't find lamb shoulder but the butcher at Whole Foods helped me pick out bone-in lamb chops which he also cut into pieces as instructed by the recipe. Angela, the creator of Cooking Italy paired the lamb dish perfectly with Marcella's Sliced Potatoes Baked with Porcini and Fresh Cultivated Mushrooms, Riveria Style. A very rustic and earthy pairing and a perfect way to enjoy a fall dinner. Here is a link to my full dinner party menu.

Pan Roasted Lamb with Juniper Berries

2 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 3-4 inch pieces, with the bone in.
1 tablespoon chopped carrot
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped celery
1 cup dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, mashed lightly with a knife handle, the skin removed
A sprig of fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons lightly crushed, juniper berries
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill

1. Choose a heavy-bottomed or enameled cast-iron pot that will contain all the ingredients. Put all the ingredients in to it, cover the pot, and turn the heat on to medium low. Turn the lamb pieces over about twice an hour.

2. After 2 hours, the ingredients should have shed a considerable amount of juice. Set the pot's cover on slightly ajar, and continue cooking at slightly higher heat. Turn the meat from time to time. Ager an hour and a half more, the lamb should feel tender when prodded with a fork. If there is still too much liquid in the pot, uncover, raise the heat and reduce it to a less runny consistency. Taste the meat and correct for salt.

3. Tip the pot and spoon off as much of the liquified lamb fat as you can. Transfer the entire contents of the pot to a warm platter and serve at once.

Source: Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1992.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mixed Greens with Roasted Pears and Blue Cheese

This may just be my new favorite salad! Classic Ina, this was so simple to make and yet so amazingly delicious. The pears smelled fabulous while baking. This dish is quintessential fall on a plate and makes a very elegant presentation. I substituted red wine for the port.

Mixed Greens with Roasted Pears and Blue Cheese
  • 3 ripe but firm Anjou pears
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 3 ounces coarsely crumbled sharp blue cheese such as Stilton
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons port
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 6 ounces baby arugula
  • Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Peel the pears and slice them lengthwise into halves. With a small sharp paring knife and a melon baller, remove the core and seeds from each pear, leaving a round well for the filling. Trim a small slice away from the rounded sides of each pear half so that they will sit in the baking dish without wobbling. Toss the pears with some lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Arrange them, core side up, in a baking dish large enough to hold the pears snugly.

Gently toss the crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries, and walnuts together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture among the pears, mounding it on top of the indentation.

In the same small bowl, combine the apple cider, port, and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over and around the pears. Bake the pears, basting occasionally with the cider mixture, for 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside until warm or at room temperature.

Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the basting liquid in a large bowl. Divide the arugula among 6 plates and top each with a pear half. Drizzle each pear with some of the basting liquid, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home, Clarkson Potter, 2006.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Dinner Party and New Blogging Group!

Fall is my favorite time of year to throw dinner parties. I love putting together rustic meals using all the beautiful fall colors in the ingredients to inspire me! This menu came about largely due to the new blogging group I joined, Cooking Italy. The group is dedicated to cooking through Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I've restrained myself from joining several other blogging groups but couldn't resist this one. Being half Italian I really love learning about Italian cooking and couldn't resist jumping at the opportunity to learn more traditional dishes and challenge myself with recipes that have a greater degree of difficulty. The picks for this month looked fabulous so I purchased the book and set about designing this menu using the lamb and potato dishes from the Cooking Italy group. I will be posting the recipes for this menu and reviews of these recipes over the next week.

Mixed Greens with Roasted Pears and Blue Cheese
Pan Roasted Lamb with Juniper Berries
Sliced Potatoes Baked with Porcini and Fresh Cultivated Mushrooms Riviera Style
Semolina Bread
Pumpkin Custards with Golden Raisin Compote

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Classic Chicken Jambalaya

We have been so busy the last week with all the birthday celebrations at our house. I think we are finally at a point of cake overload! My birthday and my son's birthday are only a few days apart which is fun but makes for a hectic week! I got this beautiful new dutch oven for my birthday and have been waiting to use it. More rainy cold weather here yesterday meant the perfect day to break it in. I've had this jambalaya recipe flagged for a while and it seemed fitting for my first recipe in the new pot and the gloomy weather. My husband loves Cajun food and is a big fan of my gumbo so I knew this would be right up his alley! Sure enough, he loved it! This recipe takes a bit of prep work with chopping and cooking on the stove but once you get it in the oven its good to go. I ended up with extra ham and thyme leftover from this recipe so I'm looking forward to making Emeril's creamy ham and potato pie in the next few days! I love it when a good plan for leftovers comes together!

Other Cajun Favorites:
Chicken Andouille Gumbo
Slow Cooker Red Beans with Andouille Sausage
King Cake
Classic Chicken Jambalaya

Makes 6 to 8 servings

One 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Emeril's Original Essence (I used the cajun seasoning I already had)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell peppers
1 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound andouille sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 pound boneless smoked ham, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 cups rice
2 cups Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup canned whole tomatoes, drained and crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Emeril's Kick It Up! Red Pepper Sauce, or other hot sauce, plus more for serving
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons finely sliced green onions, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. Season the chicken with 2 tablespoons Essence and the salt.
  3. Heat the oil in a small Dutch oven or heavy lidded pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides, working in batches if necessary, 8 to 10 minutes per batch.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the celery, bell peppers, and onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add the sausage and ham and cook for another 2 minutes.
  7. Add the rice, stir to blend, and cook for another 2 minutes.
  8. Add the Chicken Stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire, the remaining 1 teaspoon Essence, the pepper sauce, bay leaves, and thyme. Stir to combine and return the chicken to the pot, nestling the pieces in the rice mixture.
  9. Cover the pot and bake until the chicken and rice are tender, about 40 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and let stand, still covered, for 5 minutes. Garnish with the green onions and serve with hot sauce.
Source: Emeril Lagasse as Featured in Holiday Cooking with Top American Chefs.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Triple Tier Brownies

These were really simple to make and very addictive! These are perfect for a fall picnic or tail gating. I used organic ingredients where I could. I also used my new favorite peanut butter, Earth Balance natural peanut butter with flax seed. You can't taste the flax seed and it doesn't effect the texture but you get all the wonderful benefits of the flax seeds. I'm not a big fan of canned frosting but I didn't have time to make my own to substitute. There is an organic canned frosting on the market but I used it once and thought it was only so so. You could also play around with this recipe and substitute different flavors of frosting or use cocoa krispies instead of rice krispies. I was thinking the addition of a marshmallow layer would also be great. To keep with the organic ingredients you can also use an organic rice cereal.

Triple Tier Brownies
  • 1 package fudge brownie mix (13-inch x 9-inch pan size) (I used organic)
  • 1 package (11-1/2 ounces) milk chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used Earth Balance Natural Peanut Butter with Flax Seeds)
  • 3 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 can (16 ounces) cream cheese frosting
  • 1 cup salted peanuts, chopped (I omitted)


Prepare and bake brownie mix according to package directions, using a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Cool on a wire rack.
In a large saucepan, combine chocolate chips and peanut butter. Cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes or until blended, stirring occasionally. Stir in cereal; set aside.
Spread frosting over brownies. Sprinkle with peanuts. Spread with peanut butter mixture. Chill for 30 minutes or until set before cutting. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: about 5 dozen.

Source: Taste of Home