Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Holiday Wish!

May you have a wonderful Holiday Meal

With all your Friends and Family

~Peace to All on this Earth~

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cookies, Anyone?

Last Sunday, a group of friends met for a cookie exchange~like we needed cookies to eat! We really wanted the opportunity to get together. Our time that afternoon was very special and we had a wonderful selection of cookies to exchange. Several of the gals mentioned cookie experiences from past holidays as we lunched on home made tomato soup, grilled cheese and egg salad sandwiches.
This was the first cookie exchange for most of us. There must be a thousand different methods to this exchange madness, however, we managed to make certain we had plenty to take home.
Trying to remember the cookie I preferred the most around the holidays, the classic Peanut Butter Blossoms came to mind. These are a one bite and disappear cookie, good frozen or served at room temperature and easy to prepare. I loved these cookies as a child and as an adult, I will root around the cookie tray to single out the Peanut Blossoms ! I don't do this all the time!

48 Hershey's Kisses
1/2 c. shortening
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1/3 c.granulated sugar
1 egg
1 t.vanilla
2 T. milk
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
dash of salt
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Beat the shortening and the peanut butter until well blended. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla. Stir together the flour, baking soda and a dash of salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll dough balls in the granulated sugar; place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a kiss into the center of each cookie. Remove cookie after a few minutes of cooling and then place on racks to cool.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

White and Green

White and green and delicious! One of my favorite vegetable dishes to prepare around the dresses up turkey, ham or your favorite roast. My French sister taught me how to peel each stalk and steam it perfectly. I have a recipe to make homemade mayonnaise to top the asparagus, but it appears I just do not have the know-how or expertise to make the mayo as good as she does~so, the Hellman's appears! This side dish can be served chilled or hot, either way, it makes a beautiful presentation.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Classic Bistro Soup

Just a few Saturdays ago, Paris was chilly with a "few odd showers about". Blue skies kept popping through and stopping the rain periodically.....the perfect time of year for the classic bowl of French Onion Soup.This soup is all about cooking the onions until perfectly caramelized, dark and tender. Then, for me, the best part...the big gooey cheese on the top. Aged Swiss (Gruyere) is the key to getting that rich bubbling crust on the top of the soup. I always seem to have a difficult time scooping up a chunk of the croutes (toasted baguettes) smothered with cheese, and getting it into my mouth without leaving a trail of cheese from the bowl to my mouth! I recently read this classic soup is eaten in the mornings for breakfast as a cure for the common hangover........I think I just would prefer to savor it for lunch! The bistro is located at the entrance of the Paul Bert ( flea) Market on the left. A perfect location to taste this classic, luscious soup.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Zucchini and Feta Fritters

There are many ways to cook with cheese besides melting it on toast or including it in an omelette or even making a souffle. By far, this is a wonderful combination with some of my favorite cheese, feta. This is so easy and incredibly have got to try this!

5 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 cup grated onion
3 oz. of flour
1 beaten egg
7 oz. crumbled feta
oil for frying.I started out with 1 T. and added more with each batch I fried.

Place the grated zucchini, salt and onion in a large bowl. Mix and let sit for 30 minutes until the juice is drawn out by the salt. Drain. Mix the flour, egg and stir in feta cheese to the zucchini mixture. Fry large tablespoons of the mixture in moderately hot oil until brown on both sides, making sure the fritters are well cooked. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
I served the fritters with a chunky hot tomato salsa and sour cream on the side.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

The abundance of pumpkins from across the country has to be one of the best aspects of fall. I am delightfully amazed at the varieties that sprout up every season. I recently found some wonderful varieties at my local Walmart, of all places.....not fond of that store at all. Anyway, the pumpkins and gourds came from Frey Farms located in Illinois. This is a huge outfit and one of the largest producing pumpkin farms in the country.
Having just arrived home from another motorcycling adventure with Big Al, I searched and found Central Market in Ft. Worth. They had a beautiful display of fall gourds and vegetables. As I rode the highway home towards Florida (1200 miles) on my little Honda, all I could think about was what I was going to make with the canned pumpkin that I made last November. It was time to pop the lid!


1 lb. of cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup of light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/4 cup of pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 t.vanilla
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon

Gingersnap Crust
5 T. melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup of crushed gingersnaps
3 T. sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the crushed gingersnaps, butter, sugar and pat the mixture into a 9 inch spring form pan. Pat the mixture up the sides of the pan about one inch.. Bake until lightly darkened, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
In a large bowl, mix the cheese and brown sugar until creamy. Add the pumpkin and eggs and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into the crust- lined pan. Bake for 45 minutes or longer or until firm. Refrigerate until chilled and serve.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quick Tomato Soup

Native to South America, it took a little time for this fruit to gain acceptance as a food (treated as a veggie today) in the U.S. and Europe. Today, the tomato is an integral part of our lives and many of the worlds cuisines. Sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and sweet basil is one of my favorite summer side dishes. Look at the other recipes that depend and rely on a few good tomatoes to build character in a bowl....gazpacho, minestrone, ratatouille and of course, tomato soup.

For the soup
4 cups tomatoes
1/2 C. medium chopped onion
1/2 C. chopped celery
1/4 C. chopped carrots
32 Oz. of chicken broth, I used low fat
1 t. salt
3 T. butter, salted
3 T. all purpose flour

Gently saute the onion, celery and carrots until soft. Add tomatoes and simmer ten minutes. Add (cooled) cooked ingredients and process until smooth. Add flour and butter to medium size pan to make a roux. Whisk continuously while adding 1 cup of the broth. Slowly add the rest of the chicken broth, stirring well. Incorporate the tomato base to the broth and simmer.

This soup takes very little time to tasty with some warm, crusty French bread.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Oh Sweet Madeleines

There are two cabinets in my kitchen that I avoid with a passion ~ where the pans are....(Connie Francis came to mind). I never seem to be able to keep the pans organized or lined up! This afternoon, I decided enough of this clanging around every time I go to grab one and to my surprise, I found my Madeleine baking mold. It's the silvery silicon model, but still remains top on my list for being able to remove the delicate cakes without harming them.
The recipe I followed came from 101 I was particularly interested in the butter method that was suggested. It worked like a charm.....for a fleeting moment I imagined myself in Paris, parked on a sidewalk somewhere, sipping coffee, savoring my little cake and watching the day go by.

The part about the butter was interesting. I usually just melt the required butter and toss it in. This time, I melted 1 1/2 sticks of butter on a medium fire and heated the butter until it turned brown and gave off a nutty, delicious aroma, taking about 20 minutes. I kept repeating to myself, "I am actually frying this butter."Indeed I was! Then using a paper towel, stuffed into a mesh strainer, I removed the solids that appeared from the liquid unsalted butter. The butter was clear and hot and needed to cool to room temperature. I loved the aroma! When the butter had cooled, I gently folded it into the egg and flour mixture, stirring just enough to bring everything together.
The outcome was better than I hoped for. I even managed to stuff one, the Madeleine that is, into the mouth of my favorite UPS person as he handed me a package at the door, a package from my French sister...........

Monday, September 07, 2009

Ah, modern technology!

When camping in the Serengeti, you won't always find the modern conveniences of home, but it worked perfectly! This was our chef, amazingly talented with limited means, but consistently creating the most delicious meals. The dish washing crew really kept things shinning!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Coffee Time in Tanzania

The ladies in this picture have gathered the dried coffee beans from the drying and sorting boxes and now the beans are ready to be shipped and roasted. Of course, I had to have a cup first! No modern means of production in sight~just a lot of hard back-breaking work for hours at a time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Out Of Florida

Off to Africa for a few weeks to visit some old friends and to meet some new ones! I hope they have our fruit quencher ready for when we arrive...

I will be doing a little exploring while on the road-never know what you will find. Be back in a few weeks...take care!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

No Words Needed

Just a lovely spot to people watch and have a great refreshment~ or two!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Spinach and Cheddar Souffle

Most of the time when I am on the road (airports), I will pick up a few magazines to help kill some of the waiting time. This recipe came from the August issue of House Beautiful. Flipping the pages, I noticed one of the Barefoot Contessa's easy and extremely delicious looking recipes and article. I was attracted to this because I read where this dish could be prepared in advance, up to two hours. The presentation of any kind of souffle when guests are seated is something that does not occur very often when I have company for dinner. Guess this is why I was so attracted to the recipe....maybe I could really pull this off! Well, it worked like a charm!

3 T. unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing dish
1/4 C. finely grated Parmesan Cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
3 T all-purpose flour
1 C. scalded milk
1/4 t. nutmeg
pinch of Cayenne
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 C. grated aged Cheddar cheese, lightly packed
1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 t. cream of tarter

1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter the inside of a 6-to-8 cup souffle dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

2 Melt butter and stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Take pan off the heat and whisk in the hot milk, nutmeg, Cayenne, 1/2 t.salt and 1/4/t. of pepper. Cook over low heat, whisking for one minute further until thick and smooth.

3 Off the heat, but while still hot, mix in the egg yolks. Stir in the cheeses and the spinach and pour in large bowl.

4 Put egg whites, cream of tarter and pinch of salt in a bowl, beat at low speed one minute and then kick it up on medium until the egg whites are glossy with peaks.

5 Whisk 1/4 of the eggs whites into the cheese mixture to lighten and then fold in the rest. Pour into the souffle dish, smoothing the top. The Contessa suggests drawing a large circle on the top with a spatula and place in middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Do not open oven while baking. To make in advance, prepare recipe through step 3(adding the cheeses). Keep the mixture covered at room temperature until ready to bake.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Cheesecake Made With Ricotta

After my walk this morning , I sat down to cool off, glanced through Martha's book and this is what I found. I have been watching the calories lately and knew I was treading in dangerous territory. I have REALLY been missing my desserts and thought I might be safe with this cheesecake.

Unsalted butter, soft for greasing pan
3/4 C. sugar, more for greasing pan
6 lg.eggs, separated
1 1/2 lbs. fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/4 C. flour
1/4 t. salt
zest of one orange

Oven 375 degrees
1 Butter and sugar 9" spring form pan.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, cheese, flour, zest, 6 T.of the sugar and salt until mixed. Set aside

2 Mix the egg whites until foamy. Add the remaining 6 T. of sugar and beat until the egg whites are glossy and thick.

3 Gently fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the ricotta mixture until combined. Gently fold the remaining egg whites and mix. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, about one hour. One hour is all it took!

Transfer to a rack to cool, 10 minutes. Re-invert to another rack, cooling the top side of the cheesecake.

This cheesecake is best eaten the day it is made. I did keep what was left in the fridge and it was very tasty the next day for lunch.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pain D'Avignon (Boulangerie-Cafe)

The next time you visit Hyannis, MA, or if it is on the list of places to visit in the future, you may want to drop in for a cup of coffee or purchase one the various gourmet items for retail.
Pain D'Avignon Bakery is located near the airport in convenient. In fact, you actually pass by the cafe as you leave the airport property.

Inside the 15,000 sq.foot facility they bake their own Artisan breads, croissants, pies and pastries for many of New England's hotels and speciality shops, including Whole Foods and The Market at Pine Hills.

Also, the cafe is rented out for private parties or business events~one more note, they will FedEX any of the breads anywhere! Should I mention the Cranberry Pecan Rustic, Kalamata Olive, Raisin Pecan,Whole Wheat or French?

Location: 15 Hinkley Road, Hyannis, MA ~508.778.8588

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gurgling Away the Summer

I just had to show everyone this darling little pot~I have used them for tea, milk, lemonade,water and sangria......just about any liquid you can pour. When you fill the pot half way, air gets trapped in the handle and it actually gurgles when you start pouring. Comes in oddles of luscious colors. A great conversation piece and ice-breaker! Email me if you want to know where to get one.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How About A Date!

We grill many times during the week. I love cooking anything I possibly can outdoors -something about that taste the oven just can't top! This salad is perfect for steak or beef, burgers included. I love the range of colors as well as the texture and represents summertime and a summery lightness all on one plate!

The highlight for me in this salad is the date....I don't use them too often in salads and why, I don't know. I enjoy eating dates right out of the package or stuffed with cream cheese, topped with a small sliver of ginger. The dressing I made , which I did not photograph, is very simple yet packed to the gills with intense flavors. I know there are numerous other dressings that work well with this simple salad. The dressing you might use will depend on the meat or fish you are cooking. I made my dressing with orange juice, white wine vinegar and walnut oil.

I just cut several wedges from the bibb lettuce and scattered them on a platter. Also, I sliced blue cheese into pieces and arranged the cheese on the wedges. Cut up a few dates, grab some walnuts and there you have it~ a robust salad that will compliment your barbecue and delight your taste buds!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Food for thought this Memorial Day

   This Memorial Day holiday we are on the road riding our motorcycles, not cooking, in Washington, D.C., with Rolling Thunder, a group of advocates for all America's armed forces nationwide and seeks to bring POW/MIA issues to the political forefront. Estimates vary, but as many as five hundred thousand motorcycles roar down Constitution and Independence Avenue in formation  showing support for those who have served and are serving in our military today. It is impressive to see the thousands of on-lookers crowd along the sidewalks and curbs to salute and wave to the riders who have taken their holiday to come to Washington to speak for those who cannot.
 For those readers who have family members that  are serving or who have served this country, thank you for your service........

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rhubarb Sangria

Not in my wildest of dreams did I ever think to add rhubarb to my repetoire and list of exotic cocktails, but guess what?And how very refreshing it is! I should clarify that by saying if you happen to enjoy rhubarb.
I have been reading a lot of recipes which include rhubarb and there are many floating around this time of year. My mother and grandmother grew rhubarb, but it was consumed strictly for pies, jams and chilled soups. They both would have enjoyed this drink.....cheers!

Rhubarb Sangria
1 C. sugar
3/4 C. water
1 bottle of sparkling rose-have it in the grocery stores
5 oz. of brandy
1 C. of red wine
2 t. lime juice
3 large stalks of rhubarb cut into 3/4 inch sections
1 t. vanilla
1 T. powdered sugar

Begin by cleaning the rhubarb stalks-chop and setting aside. Bring the sugar and water to a boil until the sugar has dissolved. Add the rhubarb.Let the rhubarb sit in the sugar solution for 5 to 10 minutes.Watch that it doesn't become too soft. Add the brandy, red wine, lime juice, vanilla, powdered sugar and stir vigorously in serving pitcher. Add the sugar water with rhubarb. Now add the sparkling rose wine at the last minute. Pour into glasses filled with ice and garnish with fruit.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Springtime in NYC

I really had not planned to be in New York for the weekend, but it turned out to be one of the best I have had in years. The rain stopped, the sun decided to pop out and people began filling the walkways and aisles. Their carts and baskets were overflowing with the produce and spring delicacies brought in from NY and a few other surrounding states.

The vegetable pictures are from the market located at Union Station. The variety of vegetables ranged from wild arugula to wild ramps with their beautiful flat broad leaves to mushrooms and French fingerling potatoes. There was no shortage of anything. I only wished I was having a dinner party that weekend ~ everything I would have needed was right there in front of me! The asparagus was piled high and beautifully displayed tempting every "passer-by- er". Home-baked pies and breads were also in abundance. Did I mention the cheese and fresh butters? For a brief moment I thought I was in France~ New York City, you were beautiful this weekend.