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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

SMOKY TOMATO SOUP WITH CANDIED BACON

This was a very quick, easy and delicious week night meal.
I had to look up piment d'Espelette and its substitute, as it is not an ingredient I have on hand (Food & Wine magazine explained it as a dried pepper from France). From what I could gather, hot paprika would have done nicely, but I didn't have that in the house either, so ended up substituting regular paprika.

SMOKY TOMATO SOUP WITH CANDIED BACON



8 slices bacon
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (I didn't measure exactly, but used the zest of 1 orange)
1/2 teaspoon piment d'Espelette
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup rose wine
1 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons sour cream

Heat oven to 400F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, Arrange the bacon on the paper and bake for 8 minutes, until almost crisp. Drain the oil  from the baking sheet. Sprinkle the bacon with the sugar and bake for a further 8 minutes, until glazed. Cool.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt the butter in the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Stir in the granulated sugar, smoked paprika, orange zest, piment d'Espelette, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the rose and bring to a boil.
Add the tomatoes with their juices, bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
Stir the water, orange juice and sour cream into the saucepan. Working in batches, puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan, re-season with salt and pepper. (I like a chunky soup, so I left out this step).
Ladle into bowls and serve with the bacon.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, July 2009
www.foodandwine.com

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SPARKLING GINGER ORANGE COCKTAIL and FRUIT SALAD WITH YOGURT and GOUDA GRITS and TOMATO HERB MINI FRITTATAS and PRALINE PULL APART BREAD

Rolfs brother, and dear friends of ours came to town a few weeks ago, and we had a celebratory Sunday brunch in their honor.
It was a wonderful morning, a fun menu to put together, and the weather was pleasant enough that we could eat outside.
By the time I could snap a picture of the praline pull apart bread, this small piece was all that was left - the bread looked a lot more impressive when it was fresh out of the pan, and was obviously very tasty!! The recipe urged to make sure and not miss the important step of whipping the cream, and my kids urged me to make sure and bake the bread again!!

SPARKLING GINGER ORANGE COCKTAIL




Place 1 tablespoon of finely grated ginger in a large pitcher. Stir 2 (750 milliliter) bottles of chilled sparkling wine, 1 (89 ounce) container of orange juice, and 1 (46 ounce) can of chilled pineapple juice into the ginger.
Serve over ice.
Enjoy!

FRUIT SALAD WITH YOGURT


4 cups of fresh pineapple chunks
1 quart of strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
3 cups of seedless green grapes
2 mangoes, peeled and sliced (my mangoes weren't ripe, so I had to leave them out!)
1 container of fresh blueberries
1 container of fresh blackberries
2 cups of greek yogurt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon of honey

Toss together the fruit in a large serving bowl. Spoon yogurt into a separate serving bowl, sprinkle yogurt with sugar and drizzle with honey. Serve fruit with the yogurt mixture.
Enjoy!

GOUDA GRITS


4 cups chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups of quick cooking grits
2 cups shredded gouda cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons hot sauce

Bring first four ingredients to a boil over high heat, whisk in grits. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in gouda and remaining ingredients.
Enjoy!

TOMATO HERB MINI FRITTATAS


12 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 450F.
Whisk first four ingredients together until blended, then whisk in herbs. Stir in tomatoes and one cup of cheese.
Place 8 lightly greased ramekins on a baking sheet. Ladle mixture evenly among ramekins. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
Bake for 16 minutes, or until set and lightly browned.
Enjoy!

Recipes above adapted from Southern Living, April 2011
www.southernliving.com/

PRALINE PULL APART BREAD


1 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon divided
1 (2 pound) package frozen bread roll dough
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Stir together granulated sugar and 3 teaspoons cinnamon. Coat each roll in butter, dredge rolls in sugar mixture. Arrange in a lightly greased 10-inch tube pan, sprinkle with pecans. Cover and chill 8 to 18 hours.
Heat oven to 325F.
Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, stir in brown sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Pour mixture over dough. Place pan on a foil lined baking sheet.
Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes, invert onto a serving plate, and drizzle with any remaining glaze in pan.
Enjoy!

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

ROMAINE WITH PARMESAN VINAIGRETTE and ASPARAGUS RICOTTA TART WITH GRUYERE

I recently invited a friend over for lunch, and wanted to serve something fresh and healthy - this was my menu - maybe a little better suited to spring than winter!
I really enjoyed the vinaigrette, and would definitely make it again, no matter the time of year.

ROMAINE WITH PARMESAN VINAIGRETTE


1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 hearts of romaine

Mix first 5 ingredients together, whisk to combine. Add oil, whisk.
Season with salt and pepper.
Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.
Whisk vinaigrette to blend.
Trim ends of romaine, then slice lengthwise. Arrange on plates and drizzle with vinaigrette.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2008
www.bonappetit.com/

ASPARAGUS RICOTTA TART WITH GRUYERE


1 sheet of frozen puff pasty, thawed
1 egg, beaten to blend
1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup gruyere, grated, divided
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oven to 400F.
Roll out pastry on a floured surface to a 13 by 10 inch rectangle. Brush the edges with the beaten egg, then fold edges toward the middle, to form a raised border about 1/2 an inch thick. Brush the border with egg, reserve remaining beaten egg. Transfer pastry to a baking sheet. Chill while preparing filling.
Steam asparagus just until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from steamer, cut off top 2 inches of asparagus tops, set aside.
Coarsely puree remaining asparagus stalks in processor. Add remaining beaten egg, ricotta, 3 teaspoons oil, and salt, process until thick puree forms. Transfer to bowl, stir in 1/3 cup gruyere and the parmesan cheese, season with pepper. Spread mixture evenly over pastry. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup gruyere. Toss asparagus tips with remaining 1 teaspoon oil, arrange tips over filling.
Bake tart until filling is set, about 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2008
www.bonappetit.com/

Saturday, November 26, 2011

CHICKEN WITH MAPLE STUFFING and BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHEESE POLENTA and GREEN BEANS AND MUSHROOMS

This was the menu for a Sunday night family dinner - simple enough for casual dining, and fabulous enough to share with guests.

CHICKEN WITH MAPLE STUFFING


1/2 cup finely ground toasted walnuts
1 cup lightly toasted plain breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons chilled butter

Combine walnuts, breadcrumbs and sage in a medium bowl. Add butter, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, mix well.
Combine chicken broth, white wine, thyme sprigs and remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cook until reduced to one cup, about 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 425F.
Heat olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Add chicken, cook until golden brown on bottom, about 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Turn chicken over and mound breadcrumb mixture on top of each breast, pressing lightly to adhere. Transfer pan to oven and bake until topping is browned and chicken is cooked, 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove chicken and keep warm. Add broth mixture to pan, stirring to loosen browned bits. Boil until reduced to about 3/4 cup. Reduce heat to low, add chilled butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until melted. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Serve sauce with chicken.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish
www.relish.com/

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHEESE POLENTA


1 1/2 cups butternut squash, cooked and mashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup water
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup polenta
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup smoked gouda, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oven to 375F.
Spread the pine nuts on a pie plate and toast in the oven for 4 minutes, until golden. Coarsely chop the nuts.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sage and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring until golden, about 10 minutes.
In a saucepan, bring the water and chicken broth to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Cook over very low heat, stirring frequently, until tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of butter along with mashed squash, pine nuts, onion, gouda and parmesan cheese.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine magazine
www.foodandwine.com/

GREEN BEANS AND MUSHROOMS


2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 pound green beans, blanched
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat, add mushrooms and brown. Add beans and cook to crisp, season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with almonds.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray
www.rachaelraymag.com/

Friday, November 25, 2011

CHOCOLATE CHIP CORNBREAD

Part of what drew me to this recipe was the request to Bon Appetit  - the gentleman had vacationed in Mexico and said he would wake in the morning to the "unforgettable scent of chocolate chip corn bread baking in the oven".
It sounded so intriguing, I had to try it!

CHOCOLATE CHIP CORNBREAD


1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs

Heat oven to 375F.
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray.
Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Stir in chocolate chips. Whisk milk, canola oil and eggs in medium bowl. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients, stir just to blend. Transfer to prepared pan.
Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Invert cornbread onto rack, serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2008
www.bonappetit.com/

Thursday, November 24, 2011

CRANBERRY SCONES

I hadn't cooked with, or even seen, a fresh cranberry before moving to the States. It took me a while to build up an interest in cooking with this unfamiliar ingredient, but a good recipe is a perfect guide and confidence booster.
These fresh cranberry scones are a fun, tasty breakfast for the holiday season - Happy Thanksgiving!!

CRANBERRY SCONES


2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar PLUS 2 tablespoons
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk

Heat oven to 400F.
Stir together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, stir in cranberries.
Whisk together butter, 1/2 cup milk and one egg, add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened and dough forms.
Drop by 1/3 cupfuls (I made baby scones, dropping dough by tablespoons onto cookie sheet, and baking for 10 minutes) onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Whisk together remaining one egg and 1 tablespoon milk. Brush tops of dough with egg mixture and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CIDER CINNAMON BRUSSELS SPROUTS and ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS, ONION AND APPLE

We have recently been loving brussels sprouts, usually we roast them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, so I was excited to come across these two yummy recipes for our current favorite vegetable.
I made the cider cinnamon brussels sprouts on a recent RV trip, and the roasted brussels sprouts with onion and apple during out family Thanksgiving gathering.

CIDER CINNAMON BRUSSELS SPROUTS


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups brussels sprouts, halved
1 large apple, diced
1 large pear, diced
1 cup apple cider
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large pan over medium heat, heat oil. Cook brussels sprouts cut side down, flipping once, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add apple and pear, cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add cider and cinnamon, simmer, stirring until all the liquid cooks away.

Recipe adapted from Self, November 2011
www.self.com/

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS, ONION AND APPLE


1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine the brussels sprouts, onion, apple, oil, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste in a large roasting pan, toss to coat evenly. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 25 minutes, then uncover and stir.
Increase the temperature to 375F. Return pan to the oven (uncovered) and roast for 15 minutes, or until the sprouts are lightly browned on top.
Bring the apple cider to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the butter and brown sugar, mixing until thy have dissolved.
Boil 10 to 15 minutes, or until it has reduced to the consistency of thin maple syrup.
Transfer the roasted brussels sprouts mixture to a serving bowl, add the cider syrup and toss to incorprate. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, November 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CRANBERRY CRUMBLE

This is a delicious fall treat - I love that there is a cake layer between the fruit and streusel - making it just a little bit different from an ordinary crumble.

CRANBERRY CRUMBLE


FILLING
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup boiling water
1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 firm, ripe pear, cored and sliced
1 apple, cored and sliced
1/4 cup sugar

CAKE
cooking spray
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

STREUSEL
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons oats
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Heat oven to 350F.
Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
To prepare filling, combine dried apricots and water in a small bowl, let stand 30 minutes.
Combine remaining filling ingredients in a large bowl. Add apricots and soaking liquid, mix well. Spoon into prepared pan.
To prepare cake, combine flour, sugar, butter and salt in a food processor. Pulse until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup for streusel topping.
Add egg to flour mixture in food processor. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk, stir well, and add to flour mixture. Add vanilla. Pulse to make a cake batter. Pour over cranberry mixture in pan.
To prepare streusel, add streusel ingredients to resered flour mixture. Toss well. Sprinkle over cake batter and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish
www.relish.com/recipes/

Monday, November 21, 2011

SWEET ONION, GRUYERE AND BACON QUICHE and BLUE CHEESE QUICHE

These two recipes are great if you are looking for a light, quick lunch or dinner, or have overnight guests, and need a delicious breakfast.

SWEET ONION, GRUYERE AND BACON QUICHE


6 slices of bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 large eggs
3/4 cup cream
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
1 pie crust

Place oven rack in lower third of oven. Heat oven to 425F.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add bacon and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add cream, cornstarch, pepper, salt and nutmeg, then whisk to combine.
Mix cheese into cooled onion-bacon mixture, then spoon the mixture into the pie shell in an even layer. Pour the egg mixture evenly on top.
Bake the quiche for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top and set in the center. Transfer to a rack to cool before slicing.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, January 2008


BLUE CHEESE QUICHE


3 ounces blue cheese
6 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons softened butter
3 tablespoons whipping cream
2 eggs
salt and white pepper
cayenne pepper to taste
1 teaspoon minced green onion tops
9 inch frozen pie crust

Heat oven to 400F.
Thaw pie crust for 15 minutes, pre-bake it for 8 minutes. Take it out, poke holes in the bottom with a fork. Put it back in for 2 minutes. Take it out. Lower the oven to 375F.
Blend the cheese, butter and cream with a fork, then beat in the eggs. Season to taste and stir in the green onion tops.
Pour into a pastry shell and set in upper third of oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until quiche has puffed and top has browned.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from People, August 2009
www.people.com/

Sunday, November 20, 2011

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND MAPLE MUFFINS

My plan was to take muffins to the neighbors to wish them a happy Thanksgiving - however, the kids absolutely loved these, and ate them for breakfast and dessert - so there weren't enough to go around. Next time I will have to double the batch and start my deliveries a little more promptly!

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND MAPLE MUFFINS


2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash, mashed
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
6 ounces vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F.
Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients whisking until smooth. Whisk wet mixture into flour mixture.
Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake 20 minutes or until a wood pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool a few minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, November 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

SIDE CAR and GREEN OLIVE AND WALNUT CROSTINI and SWEET POTATO SOUP WITH RUM CREAM and FLOUNDER WITH BLACK-EYED PEAS and ROSEMARY PEAR CRISP

We had a fabulous couple for dinner, and wanted to make it fresh and fun. We had drinks and appetizers in our "library" and dinner and dessert in the wine cellar. The Rosemary Pear Crisp is one of my all time favorite desserts!! I first made it over Christmas, 2008, and have made it every year since!!
My husband cooked the main dish, and I thought the pea ragout was absolutely delicious - in fact, we shared the left overs for breakfast.

SIDECAR


1 part blended scotch whiskey
2 parts fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 part cointreau

Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini cocktail glass. Garnish with an olive twist.
Enjoy!

GREEN OLIVE AND WALNUT CROSTINI


1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup green olives, pitted and finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick and toasted
3/4 cup goat cheese

Heat oven to 350F.
Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Let cool then finely chop.
In a medium bowl, mix the walnuts, olives, olive oil , anchovies and garlic.
Spread each slice of toasted baguette with 2 teaspoons of the goat cheese and top with 1 tablespoon of the olive mixture.
Arrange the crostini on a platter and serve.
Enjoy!

SWEET POTATO SOUP WITH RUM CREAM


3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
4 cups chicken stock
5 to 6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
pinch ground red pepper
1 cup cream
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt and white pepper to taste
rum cream (recipe follows)

In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and curry powder, cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a separate saucepan, heat stock to a simmer. Add sweet potatoes to onion, then add heated stock, maple syrup, thyme and ground red pepper. Cook until sweet potatoes are soft, about 25 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs from soup, puree soup in small batches, or using an immersion blender in the pot.
Return soup to heat, add cream, nutmeg and salt and white pepper.
To Serve: Transfer soup to individual bowls and serve with a dollop of rum cream.
RUM CREAM
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons dark rum
pinch sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add lemon juice and zest, rum and sugar. Continue whipping until cream is almost stiff. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Enjoy!

FLOUNDER WITH BLACK-EYED PEAS


4 flounder fillets
salt
red chili flakes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 slices of bacon, chopped
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped PLUS 1 whole clove, smashed
2 sprigs thyme
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 dried bay leaves

Pat fish dry. Liberally season both sides with salt and a generous pinch of chili flakes.
Set a medium pot over medium-high heat. Swirl in 1 tablespoon oil. Add bacon and cook 4 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add onions and chopped garlic and stir until well coated. Add thyme and cook 3 minutes, or until onions are soft.
Add stock, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Add peas and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until liquid reduces and thickens. Season to taste with salt.
While beans cook, set a large heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, swirl in 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil. Lay fish in pan, cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until crisped. Flip fillets and cook 2 more minutes or until cooked through. Transfer fish to a warm plate.
Wipe pan clean and set over high heat. Once hot, swirl in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil. Add mushrooms, smashed garlic clove and bay leaves, and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes or until mushrooms are browned and cooked through.
To plate, spoon 1/2 cup pea ragout onto 4 dishes. Top each with a fillet, spoon mushrooms over fish.
Enjoy!

ROSEMARY PEAR CRISP


6 ripe pears
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, divided use
1 cup flour PLUS 2 tablespoons, divided use
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger
1 vanilla bean, split
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1 inch pieces

Heat oven to 375F.
Quarter, core and peel the pears. Sprinkle pears with lemon juice as you go to prevent browning. Cut each quarter crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. You should have about 6 cups.
Once you have sliced all the pears, add 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of the flour and the crystallized ginger to the pears, tossing to coat. With the tip of a knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean onto the pears and toss to coat evenly. Set them aside while you prepare the topping.
Combine the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 cup flour, baking powder, ground ginger, salt and rosemary. Add butter and work into the dry ingredients until it is crumbly.
Spoon the pear mixture into 6 individual sized ramekins. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over the top of the fruit. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and let stand until warm before serving.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

CURRIED SHRIMP AND CORN CHOWDER and KUMARA LENTIL AND CUMIN SOUP

It definitely feels like soup weather here in Northwest Arkansas - and I've recently made a couple of quick and flavorful soups, that are perfect for the fall weather.
One of the things I missed the most after moving to America, was the New Zealand native sweet potato, or kumara - I even went so far as to beg the customs agent to allow me to bring one in - but no such luck!! To my great joy, I have discovered Japanese sweet potatoes at Ozark Natural Foods, which are one and the same as my beloved kumara!!

CURRIED SHRIMP AND CORN CHOWDER



1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups fresh corn kernels (I used canned)
14 ounces of chicken broth
1 can of lite coconut milk
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound of peeled, large raw shrimp
Toppings: toasted coconut, thinly sliced green onions, coarsely chopped roasted peanuts.

Saute onion in hot oil over medium heat, 5 minutes or until tender, add garlic, and saute 1 minute. Add potatoes and next 7 ingredients, bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Stir in shrimp, cook 4 to 5 minutes, or just until shrimp turn pink. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with desired toppings.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, April 2011
www.southernliving.com/

KUMARA LENTIL AND CUMIN SOUP


6 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon cumin
12 sage leaves, torn in half
1 medium leek, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large kumara, peeled and diced
1/4 cup split red lentils
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
handful of chopped parsley

Melt butter in a saucepan over a high heat until nut brown and foamy. Add onion and cumin. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add sage, leek, garlic and kumara and mix well. Add lentils and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes or until lentils and kumara are tender.
Adjust soup for seasoning and stir in parsley.
Enjoy!

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

THE FAT ELVIS

I LOVE the name, and the idea of this fabulous banana biscuit, filled with bacon, peanut butter and fresh sliced banana. The kids didn't care too much for the combination, but I most definitely enjoyed every delicious bite of mine. 

THE FAT ELVIS



5 to 6 ripe bananas
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup cold butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
peanut butter spread
10 cooked bacon slices, halved

Heat oven to 450F.
Cut 4 bananas into 2 inch pieces, halve each piece lengthwise. Mash remaining bananas to equal 1/2 cup.
Sift together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, add mashed bananas and peanuts.
Cut butter into small cubes, place in flour mixture, cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender, fork or your fingers until crumbly. Add buttermilk, stirring just until mixture is slightly moistened.
Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface, shape into a ball. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick circle.
Cut with a floured, 3-inch round cutter, and place biscuits 1 inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden.
Split warm biscuits, spread bottom halves of biscuits with peanut butter spread. Top each with 2 bacon pieces and 2 banana slices. Cover with biscuit tops.

PEANUT BUTTER SPREAD

Stir together 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla in a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds, or until softened. Stir until smooth.

Recipe adapted from Kimberly Pack, as printed in Southern Living, May 2011
www.southernliving.com/

Monday, November 14, 2011

TURKEY FETA MEATBALLS IN VEGETABLE TOMATO SAUCE

TURKEY FETA MEATBALLS IN VEGETABLE TOMATO SAUCE

I had a friend and her kids for dinner, and served these meatballs.
Mine were a little dry - probably as a result of too much chatting, which caused dinner to be delayed - but the sauce was delicious, and there was enough left over to have "vegetable stew" for lunch the next day.



VEGETABLE TOMATO SAUCE
1/4 cup olive oil
2 white onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 zucchini, grated
2 carrots, grated
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes

MEATBALLS
1 pound ground turkey
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or basil

To prepare sauce, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, saute 5 minutes. Add bell peppers and next 5 ingredients. Cook 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer until butternut squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
Heat oven to 350F.
To prepare the meatballs, mix all ingrdients in a bowl, add some water if mixture is dry. Shape into 12 balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake about 25 minutes, until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Serve with sauce over spaghetti, if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish
www.relish.com/

Friday, November 11, 2011

SMOKED SALMON AND ARTICHOKE DIP and ASPARAGUS TURNOVERS and ALMOND TOFFEE MOCHA SQUARES

A friend graciously invited us for dinner, and I was excited to make appetizers and a dessert - and to visit with her parents who were in town. We had a very fun, fabulous and delicious evening.

SMOKED SALMON AND ARTICHOKE DIP


6 ounces smoked salmon
1 4 ounce can mild green chilies
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (extra for sprinkling on top)
1 14 ounce can of artichoke hearts
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350F.
Chop smoked salmon. Drain chilies, and drain and chop artichokes. Mix all together, fold in mayonnaise, cheese and cream cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve hot and bubbly with crackers, tortilla chips or slices of crusty bread or crostini.
Enjoy!

ASPARAGUS TURNOVERS


1 pound puff pastry
1/2 cup cream cheese
zest and juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated, divided use
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 thin slices of cooked smoked ham (I used bacon, but have used ham in the past, and I think it makes a prettier turnover)
1 1/4 pounds asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat oven to 400F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry to 1/8 of an inch.
In a bowl, combine cream cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, chives and 3 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese, and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide mixture among pastry squares and spread to 1/2 inch of edges. Top cream cheese mixture with a slice of ham and several spears of asparagus, leaving asparagus spears exposed.
Brush edges with water and fold pastry over each side to form a pouch, pressing edges gently to seal.
Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Arrange pouches on a baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 2009

ALMOND TOFFEE MOCHA SQUARES


1 box brownie mix
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped toffee candy bars
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Heat oven to 350F.
Grease a 13 by 9 inch pan. In a large bowl, beat brownie mix, 1 teaspoon instant coffee, butter, water and eggs with electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Gently stir in 1/2 cup chopped candy bars and 1/2 cup almonds. Spread batter in greased pan.
Bake for 24 to 28 minutes or until edges are firm. Do not over bake.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack - about 1 hour.

TOPPING

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped toffee candy bar
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon instant coffee with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Increase speed to high, beat in cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.
Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled brownies, sprinkle 1 cup chopped candy bars and 1/2 cup almonds over top.
Refrigerate at least and hour before serving.
Cut into bars.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, October 2004

Thursday, November 10, 2011

LEMON DROP MARTINI and ROASTED CARROT GINGER SOUP WITH CHILE BUTTER and APPLE BOURBON CAKE

We had wonderful, dear friends for dinner to celebrate her birthday. We wanted to dine in the wine cellar, after cocktails and appetizers in the dining room.
My husband grilled steaks for the main course, and I took care of the rest.

LEMON DROP MARTINI


juice of 6 lemons
4 tablespoons sugar
4 shots of vodka
ice in shaker
fresh mint leaves to serve, if desired

Mix lemon juice, sugar and vodka in a martini shaker filled with ice.
Shake well and pour equally into two martini glasses. Garnish with mint, if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Oprah Magazine, September 2009
www.theoprahmag.com

ROASTED CARROT GINGER SOUP WITH CHILE BUTTER


1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cubed
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, sliced
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
4 cups chicken broth, more if needed
salt to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper

CHILE BUTTER

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons green onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine the carrots, parsnips, onion and ginger in a shallow roasting pan. Dot with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Pour 2 cups of the broth into the pan, cover well and bake until the vegetables are very tender, about 2 hours.
Transfer the vegetables and broth to a large soup pot, add remaining 2 cups of broth. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.
Puree the soup in a food processor, or with an immersion blender, adding more broth if desired.
Serve portions with a teaspoon of chile butter on top.

CHILE BUTTER

Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2010
www.bonappetit.com/

APPLE BOURBON CAKE


4 cups peeled, cored, coarsely chopped apples
1 cup bourbon
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
whipped cream for serving

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine apples and bourbon. Let apples macerate in bourbon about 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally to mix.
Heat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil and eggs.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Stir into egg mixture. Add bourbon-apples and nuts and stir to combine.
Grease a 9 by 13 baking pan. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

CANDY BAR CUPCAKES WITH CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOW FROSTING and SNICKERS SURPRISES

Here are a couple of yummy ideas for the halloween candy you may still have lying around.

CANDY BAR CUPCAKES


9 fun size, or 21 mini chocolate coated caramel and creamy nougat bars
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
chocolate marshmallow frosting

Heat oven to 350F.
Melt candy bars and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring until smoth. Set aside.
Beat sugar and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer about 3 minutes, or until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Combine flour and salt. Stir together buttermilk and baking soda. Gradually add flour mixtre to sugar mixture, alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in melted candy bar mixture and vanilla. Place 36 paper baking cups in muffin pans, spoon batter evenly into paper baking cups, filling two-thirds full.
Bake for 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely on wire racks. Spread cupcakes evenly with chocolate-marshmallow frosting.

CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

3 cups miniature marshmallows
3/4 cup butter, cut up
3/4 cup evaporated milk
6 ounces of chocolate, chopped
6 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Melt first four ingredients in a saucepan, over medium-low heat, stirring 5 minutes or until mixture is smooth.
Transfer chocolate mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed with an electric mixer. Increase speed to medium-high, and beat 5 minutes or until frosting is cool, thick, and spreadable. Stir in 1 tablespoon of vanilla
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living
www.southernliving.com/

SNICKERS SURPRISES


1 stick of butter (softened)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup light brown suar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package snickers miniatures

Combine the butter, peanut butter and sugars using a mixer on a medium to low speed, utnil light and fluffy.
Slowly add the egg and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Then mix in flour, salt and baking soda.
Cover and chill dough for 2 to 3 hours.
Unwrap the snickers miniatures. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Divide into 1 tablespoon pieces and flatten. Place a snickers miniature in the center of each piece of dough and form the dough into a ball around it.
Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 300F for 12 to 15 minutes.
Let cookies cool on a baking rack.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Mars Bright Ideas
www.marsbrightideas.com/search

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SOUTHWEST PASTA SALAD and SEARED PEAR, BACON AND ARUGULA PANZANELLA and ASPARAGUS, GRAPE AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD

Here are three salads that are great with lunch or dinner - with the addition of grilled chicken, they would make a complete, simple, easy to clean-up meal.
I do love the combination of the toasted bread, seared pear and bacon in the panzanella, the freshness of the asparagus, grapes and goat cheese, and the mix of cool, creamy and spicy in the pasta salad.

SOUTHWEST PASTA SALAD



1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/3 cup mayonnaise
zest and juice from 1 lime
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups macaroni, cooked and drained
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed (I used the whole can)
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Mix dressing, mayonnaise, lime zest, juice, pepper sauce and cumin in a large bowl.
Add remaining ingredients, mix lightly.
Refrigerate 1 hour.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Family, Summer 2011
www.kraftrecipes.com

SEARED PEAR, BACON AND ARUGULA PANZANELLA


Half a loaf of country bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste
5 ounces of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 pears, cored and cut into cubes
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 cups baby arugula
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

Heat oven to 400F.
Scatter the bread cubes and pine nuts on a baking sheet and toss with the butter, season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer and bake, stirring halfway through, until golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, crisp the bacon over medium heat for about 12 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Pour out all but 2 teaspoons of the drippings and reserve in a bowl. Return the pan to medium high heat.
Add the pears, season with salt and cook until just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl with the bread, pine nuts, bacon and shallots.
Whisk the vinegar into the reserved bacon drippings. Pour the dressing over the pear mixture, add the arugula and thyme and toss.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine
www.rachaelraymag.com/

ASPARAGUS, GRAPE AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD


1 pound of fresh asparagus
4 cups salad greens
2 cups seedless red grapes
8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
4 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts
balsamic vinaigrette

Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus, arrange asparagus in a steamer basket over boiling water.
Cover and steam 2 to 4 minutes or until asparagus is crisp tender. Cut into 1 inch pieces.
Arrange salad greens on a serving platter, top evenly with asparagus, grapes and next 4 ingredients. Serve with vinaigrette.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, March 2007
www.southernliving.com/

Monday, November 7, 2011

CREAMY PASTA WITH TOMATO CONFIT AND FRESH GOAT CHEESE

I love this creamy, rich, flavorful pasta dish. I first made it as a lunch dish for girlfriends, and recently made it for my family, to favorable reviews.
I like that the pasta gets pan fried, and then cooks slowly in the chicken stock - the same cooking method as a risotto.

CREAMY PASTA WITH TOMATO CONFIT AND FRESH GOAT CHEESE


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
salt
1/2 to 3/4 pound rotini pasta
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 tablespoons basil leaves, finely shredded

In a medium saucepan, combine olive oil, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and half of the garlic, bring to a simmer.
Cook over low heat until the tomatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme and bay leaf.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the pasta and cook, stirring until golden in spots, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining garlic, cook for 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the pasta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and cooking until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The pasta is done when it is al dente and suspended in a lightly thickened sauce, about 17 minutes total.
Stir the tomatoes into the pasta. Off the heat, add the goat cheese and parmesan and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chives and basil and serve right away.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, October, 2008
www.foodandwine.com

Sunday, November 6, 2011

PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH GREEN BEANS

I had some fresh green beans, and wanted to do something a little different than my usual boil or roast. I found this recipe, and thought I would try it out - it was definitely different! A meal in itself!

PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH GREEN BEANS


fresh green beans
4 slices of bacon
1 small onion, diced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 hard boiled egg, chopped

Cook green beans in a pot of salted, boiling water.
Cook bacon in skillet until crisp and brown, remove from pan and place on paper towels, crumble.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings, add onion and saute until tender.
Blend cornstarch, salt and mustard in a small bowl, and add to pan. Stir chicken broth into skillet.
Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in sugar and vinegar, add beans and heat until bubbly hot. Sprinkle with bacon and egg.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, 2005

Saturday, November 5, 2011

MUSHROOM SOUP WITH TOASTED BREAD

We had friends for dinner, and served this interesting soup as an appetizer, with steak to follow.
The chef grew up in a poor region in France, and this was a recipe he learned from his mother. Pureeing the lush mushrooms with toasted bread, thickens the texture and deepens its flavor and makes for a rich, luscious soup.

MUSHROOM SOUP WITH TOASTED BREAD



three 1/2 inch slices of sourdough bread (6 ounces), crusts removed
4 tablespoons butter
8 ounces white mushrooms, coarsely chopped
8 ounces portobello mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and white pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
fresh thyme to garnish

Heat oven to 300F.
Bake the bread slices on a baking sheet for about an hour, until deeply browned.
In a pot, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Ad the broth and 1/2 up of the cream, bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the mushrooms are tender, 10 minutes.
Add the toasted bread to the soup, simmer until softened, 5 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, puree soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Ladle the soup onto bowls, garnish and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, February 2009

Friday, November 4, 2011

TOMATO AND TAPENADE TARTLETS

This was a great way to finish up the last of the summer basil and tomatoes. Simple and elegant, I paired the tartlets with a salad and a glass of wine for myself and my husband.

TOMATO AND TAPENADE TARTLETS


1/2 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 cup olive tapenade
5 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
6 slices of cheddar (the recipe called for fresh mozzarella, but I like something a little more flavorful)
sea salt
balsamic glaze and olive oil to drizzle
12 basil leaves

Heat oven to 400F.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Roll pastry out on floured surface to 13 inch square. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out 6 rounds, transfer to baking tray. Pierce each round with fork. Top with another sheet of parchment and another baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven, place on rack to cool.
Spread a generous tablespoon of tapenade over each pastry round, top with artfully arranged tomato and cheese slices. Bake 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Arrange basil leaves on top of each tartlet, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze, sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, August, 2008

Thursday, November 3, 2011

CINNAMON CRUMBLE COFFEE CAKE and OVERNIGHT CINNAMON PECAN COFFEE CAKE

I have made this delicious cinnamon crumble coffee cake several times - usually when we have visitors so they can help devour it! The recipe comes from my sister-in-law in Texas, who affectionately calls it "crack cake". I soon discovered it really is very difficult to have just one piece!

CINNAMON CRUMBLE COFFEE CAKE


2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 stick of butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans, optional

Heat oven to 350F.
Mix first 6 ingredients until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of mixture for topping. Add remaining ingredients, except butter and pecans.
Beat 4 minutes. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch pan, greased and floured.
Sprinkle reserved 1 cup of crumble on top to cover. Sprinkle pecans over top, if desired.
Bake for 20 minutes, remove coffee cake from oven, and drizzle melted butter over the top. Return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Carrie Wilkin.

OVERNIGHT CINNAMON PECAN COFFEE CAKE


3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Beat butter and granulated sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Combine flour and next four ingredients, add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Spread batter into a greased 13x9 inch pan.
Stir together brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon, sprinkle over batter. Cover pan with plastic wrap and chill 8 to 18 hours.
Heat oven to 350F. Bake coffee cake 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, December 2009
www.southernliving.com

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

THREE-WAY CINCINNATI CHILI and GAME DAY CHILI

My family loved the Cincinnati chili and spaghetti - I think the sweetness of the cinnamon really appealed to the kids, and of course the noodles. 
I found it interesting that Tom and John Kiradjieff began serving Cincinnati chili in 1922 at their hot dog stand - modifying a traditional stew and serving it over hot dogs and spaghetti. Traditionally you can order it in several different ways, with ingredients including the chili, spaghetti, grated cheddar cheese, diced onions and kidney beans. (adapted from Wikipedia).

I made the Game Day Chili and cornbread, for my brother and his family when they were here to give them a taste of America. Although we have similar dishes, we don't have chili in New Zealand.

THREE-WAY CINCINNATI CHILI


12 ounces spaghetti
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 - 4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound lean ground beef
16 ounce can of baked beans
1/4 cup red wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheese

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, toss to coat, then cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, cumin, cinnamon, garlic and tomato paste. Saute until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the ground beef and saute until nearly cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add the beans and wine, mix well, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide the spaghetti between bowls, top each with chili, then with shredded cheese.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, October 2008

GAME DAY CHILI


2 pounds ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons ground red pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5 ounce) can beef broth
1 (12 ounce) bottle dark beer
3 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

Cook first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.
Drain well and return to pan. Add chili powder and next 3 ingredients, cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 2 hours.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, January 2011
www.southernliving.com/

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PUMPKIN FONDUE

One of the many things I love about this time of the year, is that I get to make pumpkin fondue.
I first had this at my friend Ashleys house, when we would meet before trick-or-treating - and it has become a part of every Halloween since then!! I love to scoop out the soft pumpkin, with a mound of the rich, gooey cheese - piled on a piece of warm, crusty bread - it is absolutely divine!
This dish always gets rave reviews, and many requests for the recipe. Thanks again Ashley!!

PUMPKIN FONDUE


1 medium flat pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup butter
1 onion, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2/3 cup white wine, plus a little extra for a cornflour slurry
3 sprigs of sage, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 can artichokes, finely chopped
3/4 cup gruyere cheese, grated
3/4 cup white sharp cheddar, grated
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350F.
Slice the top off the pumpkin, hollow out the core and discard all the fibers and seeds. Rub with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and smear the inside with half the butter. Put into a roasting pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the pumpkin.
Heat the remaining butter in a skillet, add the onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent. Add the wine, heat to simmering, then add all the remaining ingredients, except the cornflour and sour cream, and stir until the cheese melts. In a small bowl, mix a little wine with the cornflour, pour into the cheese mixture, and stir until slightly thickened. Stir in the sour cream.
Spoon the cheese mixture into the pumpkin, place back in oven and continue baking for about 10 minutes.
Serve with spoons and crusty bread.
Enjoy!