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Thursday, May 22, 2014

INSIDE OUT S'MORES BROWNIES

Although the first day of Summer is officially June 21st, we already want eats that are most enjoyed during the fiery temperatures of our warmest season.
These s'mores Brownies may not be cooked over the blaze of an outdoor fire, but they still evoke fun memories of vacations past, and are every bit as delicious as those that are heated to gooey perfection over the coals.

INSIDE OUT S'MORES BROWNIES


1 cup butter
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
9 honey graham cracker squares
1 cup small marshmallows

Heat oven to 350F.
Line a 11 by 7 inch baking pan with parchment paper, lightly grease.
In a medium saucepan melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla until combined. Stir in flour.
Spread half the batter in the prepared pan. Top with graham crackers, sprinkle with marshmallows (dont let them touch the sides of the pan).
Carefully spread the remaining batter on the marshmallows and graham crackers, covering them completely.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until set.
Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, February 2012
www.bhg.com/recipes/‎

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

MEXICAN CHICKEN SALAD

This is the perfect time of year to be dining outside here in Fayetteville - beautifully flavorful and fresh, this Mexican Chicken Salad is the perfect accompaniment to your al-fresco experience.

MEXICAN CHICKEN SALAD


1 cup corn kernels
1 lettuce
2 hot, cooked chicken breasts, sliced
4 to 5 radishes, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (I used a mixture of red and yellow tomatoes)
1/2 cucumber, cut into 2 cm chunks
handful of cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons buritto or taco seasoning mix
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice

Cook the corn in a saucepan of boiling, lightly salted water for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and set aside. Tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces and arrange on a serving platter. Add the chicken, radishes, tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro leaves and corn.
Lightly whisk the burrito seasoning mix, brown sugar, olive oil and lime juice together in a small jar. Taste and add a little salt if needed.
Drizzle dressing over salad and serve.
Enjoy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

WILD MUSHROOM SOUP WITH WHITE PORT and BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH TOMATO AND FENNEL and SPICED PUMPKIN, FIG, PINE NUT AND GINGER TART

We were fortunate to be invited to spend the night in the middle of the woods - although close to home, it felt like a world away. We were "warned" it was very basic, no electricity or hot water - and the guys were planning to go coon hunting once the sun went down.
I packed my book, left out the high heel shoes, and was very excited to cook and provide dinner for the group. I planned for the menu to be rustic, to equal our accommodations, and our friends offered the refined fun of wine pairings for each course.
The fire burning in the hearth, the gently lamp light and the company and conversation was warm and cozy. It was a peaceful, beautiful evening, and my husband and I took full advantage of the hiking trails around the property the next morning.

The beautiful Cabin
Treasures inside the Cabin
WILD MUSHROOM SOUP WITH WHITE PORT
PAIRED WITH A 2012 SCHUG SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR


8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 shallots, chopped
3 1/2 to 4 cups of dried wild mushrooms (I used porcini, lobster, wood ear and oyster)
4 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cups white port wine
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups cream
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped parsley

Soak dried wild mushrooms in hot chicken stock for an hour. Strain, save liquid and chop mushrooms.
Saute shallots in butter until translucent. Add all the mushrooms, both fresh and wild. Cook until very little liquid remains.
Add port wine and reduce liquid again until most of it is gone. Add in flour (I mix it with a little water or broth first). Stir well. Add saved mushroom liquid, cook for half and hour at a low simmer.
Add in cream and bring just to a boil then to turn to low and simmer for half and hour.
Blend using an immersion blender to the consistency of your choice.
Add salt and pepper to taste, divide among bowls and top with parsley.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Dining Guide. February 2014
www.nwaonline.com/dining/‎

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH TOMATO AND FENNEL
PAIRED WITH A 2008 BELL SIERRA FOOTHILLS SYRAH




4 lamb shanks
1/2 cup flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, peeled and cut in half, then sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 leek, sliced into 1/4 inch half moons
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 (28 ounce) can peeled whole tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 dried bay leaves
2 fennel bulbs, cut into half and sliced 1/4 inch thick

Heat oven to 375F.
Season lamb all over with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge lamb in flour, turning to coat evenly, shake off excess. Heat oil and butter in an 8 quart dutch oven, over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, cook until shanks are well browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer shanks to a large plate, drain off all but 2 tablespoons of fat.
Place dutch oven over medium heat, add onions and leek, and sauté until they are lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cook 4 minutes more. Add red wine, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Return shanks to the dutch oven, and add chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover and place in oven. Braise for 2 hours, add fennel and cook for 30 minutes longer.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer shanks and vegetables to a large bowl. Using a ladle, skim fat from surface of cooking liquid, cook over medium heat until liquid is thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Return shanks and vegetables to pan, cook until heated through. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
Enjoy!

SPICED PUMPKIN, FIG, PINE NUT AND GINGER TART
PAIRED WITH A NON-VINTAGE BELL NORTH COAST BRUT


300 grams of pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1.5 cm dice
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons chopped crystallized ginger
110 grams unsalted butter, melted
200 grams of ginger cookies
6 dried figs, stems removed, sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
LEMON VANILLA CREAM
2 lemons, zest and juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
100 grams of mascarpone
150 mills of chilled cream

Heat oven to 170C.
Combine pumpkin, spice, sugar, ginger and 30 grams of the butter, place on a lined cookie sheet and bake until pumpkin is tender.
Crumb ginger cookies in a food processor, and remaining butter and mix again briefly. Press into a tart tin and refrigerate.
Tip pumpkin into a bowl with figs and pine nuts and stir until combined. Spoon mixture into tart case and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from tin.
Serve with lemon vanilla cream.

LEMON VANILLA CREAM
Place lemon juice and zest in a small pan with sugar and vanilla. Bring to the boil then simmer to a thickish syrup. Cool before mixing with mascarpone. Whisk cream to soft peaks and gently stir into mascarpone mixture.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from New Zealand House and Garden
nzhouseandgarden.co.nz/‎

Friday, May 16, 2014

TACOS AL PASTOR and AQUA PEARL

I was cooking Tacos Al Pastor at the same time we were receiving a tutorial on a water system that produces alkaline water along with a myriad of health benefits.
Once our lovely and compelling presenters had left, I indulged in a cocktail. Using the pineapple juice I had drained from the tidbits that are featured in the tacos.

TACOS AL PASTOR


1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 (8 ounce) can pineapple tidbits in juice, drained
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
6 tortillas, warmed
Toppings: sliced radishes, fresh cilantro leaves, crumbled queso fresco, sliced jalapeño

Combine pork, pineapple, onion, cilantro, chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, pepper, garlic and salt in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag. Seal and chill 4 to 24 hours.
Cook pork mixture in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until pork is done. Serve mixture with warm tortillas and desired toppings.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, June 2009
www.southernliving.com/food

AQUA PEARL


3 ounces pineapple juice
6 tablespoons gin
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons simple syrup or agave syrup
2 teaspoons blue curaçao liqueur
4 dashes of angostura bitters
ice cubes

Mix pineapple juicce, gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, blue curaçao, and angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice. Cover and shake well. Strain into 2 martini glasses.
Enjoy!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

CHOCOLATE CHIP BROWNIES

Because sometimes only chocolate will do!

CHOCOLATE CHIP BROWNIES


1/2 cup walnus
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate plus one cup
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F.
Line the bottom and sides of an 8 or 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and grease the lining.
Put the nuts in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the flour and salt, and pulse a few times to combine.
Put the butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until they melt and the mixture is smooth.
Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Beat together the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl, then add the egg mixture to the saucepan and stir to combine. Stir in first the flour mixture, then the chocolate chips and transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
Bake until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes. Cool thoroughly before removing from the pan and cutting.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 2012
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

GREEN BEANS WITH GREEN OLIVE DRESSING - FAYETTEVILLE PILATES AND BARRE - RECIPEDOODLE WEDNESDAY

I love the variety and versatility of all vegetables, and these wonderful Green Beans with Green Olive Dressing are no exception.
The tart lemon and brininess of the green olives are a lovely surprise in this delightful dish.

GREEN BEANS WITH GREEN OLIVE DRESSING


2 cups pitted green olives
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed

In a food processor, combine olives, olive oil, parsley, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Cover and process until the mixture is almost a paste.
Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, steam green beans for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just tender. Toss green beans with about half of the olive mixture before serving. Serve extra alongside as desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, September 2013
www.bhg.com/recipes/‎

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TRAVEL TUESDAY - RAGLAN, NEW ZEALAND


View through the flax plants
Seagull on a stump
Freshest fish in town - right on the wharf - this is where we had lunch
Boat beside the wharf
Lunch
Lunch being prepared!
Fish and Chips at Raglan Fish - some of THE best I have ever tasted
Max and a starfish