Sunday, December 16, 2012

Comfort on a chilly evening~Escarole and White Beans

Nothing more satisfying to me around the holidays than a low-cal healthy side dish. We are talking about 130 calories for a cup of the escarole and beans. I did  enjoy it with a little grated Parmeasan-Reggiano. Maybe just a few more calories!
A tip from the chef~while blanching the escarole is not necessary, it is recommended; blanching the greens makes them more vibrant in color and takes away the bitterness.

This recipe serves 4 and takes about 15 minute to prepare.

1 pkg. of fresh chopped escarole.
1T. of olive oil.
1 clove of minced garlic.
1/2 C. of vegetable culinary stock.
1 can of Cannellini Beans, do not drain.

Blanch the escarole for 1 minute in a large pot of boiling water. Salt the water to your liking. I find I need a little more salt than normal when cooking greens. Drain and gently squeeze any water from greens.( I just press a large spoon again the greens in the strainer.)
Add the oil and garlic to a large skillit. Keep stirring for 1 minute.
Add the escarole, cook a bit longer while stirring. Sometimes the stems are larger on the greens and need to cook more.
Add the stock and beans. Simmer covered for 5 minutes.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chocolate Macaroons

I got into the habit of making these when I realized how expensive they are to buy here now in the States. They really are not all that difficult to make.

You can make your own chocolate filling or to save time, use some pre-made icings.

Ingredients~make 16 to 20

3/4 cup of ground almonds-used Bob's Red Mill brand
1 cup of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
2 extra large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 cup of superfine sugar

For the filling, I just used a chocolate icing mix.

Place almonds, powered sugar and cocoa into a food processor and process for 15 seconds.
Sift the mixture into a bowl. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. I used my molds from Mastrad. (a pre-formed silicon mat)
Whip the eggs whites until they hold soft peaks. Gradually add sugar  to make a firm and glossy meringue.
Use your spatula to fold in  the almond mixture to the egg whites, one third at a time. When thoroughly incorporated, continue to cut and fold the mixture until it forms a shiny batter and has a thick ribbon-like consistency.This may take a few minutes of gentle folding. Do not over fold.
Pour the batter into a pastry bag. I used a 1cm. plain tip for pipping. Place as many circles as you can get on your sheets or mat. When all completed,tap your baking sheets firmly to get out any air bubbles. I used a tooth pick to pop some of the air bubbles that did not break. Let mixture stand at room temperature for at least thirty minutes.When you touch, nothing should stick on your finger.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool completely on racks. Carefully peel from paper or mat.
Spread icing and match up macaroons!  Not as hard as it sounds. Beats paying 1 dollar for each one!!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Swiss goats but, Italian made cheeses!

Whenever Robin and I lead a group in Italy, the two of us usually find a small apartment to live in where we can prepare our own meals. It really helps us cut down on the costs. First things first, where can we locate some fresh cheese? Always on the lookout for whatever is local  and in season, here are a few of our finds. These goats are from Switzerland, just over the hill! They must be walked at least four miles everyday to produce the best milk.  We ran into a chef from London who was working with the goats. His mission was to observe and study first hand what it takes  to produce such amazing cheeses! He is enjoying the walks!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Engagement Party Moments

The proposal took place under the Eiffel Tower. The groom-to-be had a private conversation with my husband, asking to marry our daughter......the secret was never revealed until we received the phone call from Paris !

And, everyone who knows me, knows of my passion for France and Paris~and now, it is one of my daughter's as well! 

The decorations (Oyster Pearls) include French Dragees I purchased from India Tree

While in Ballards Design, I found sheets of paper with Parisian captions to place behind the cookies.

This is the beginning of a beautiful life for two very special people~Our families are thrilled to announce the engagement! Congratulations you two!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

My new favorite tomato~Cherokee Purple

Cherokee purple is the name of a cultivar of tomato, unusual for the deep purple/red hue of its fruit. It was one of the first of the "black" color group of tomatoes. It is also unusual in being extremely popular for the sake of its flavor, instead of only its unusual color. Cherokee Purple tomatoes are beefsteak in style, with "green shoulders" across the top. They are also notable for having a dense, juicy texture, with small seed locules irregularly scattered throughout the flesh. The comparatively dark interior color is enhanced by the tendency of the seeds to be surrounded by green gel. (Information found on the internet.)
The Saturday Farmers Market in Friday Harbor,WA, had folks standing in line for these tomatoes!

The Cherokee Purple Tomato

Just a little comparison so you can see that delicious color!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bacon in Brown Sugar

Quick  and easy!
Wonderful appetizer directly from the oven to the table

I cut the large pieces of bacon into thirds.

Use one pound of apple-wood or similar tasting bacon. Sprinkle one cup of dark brown sugar thoroughly over bacon. (Cover each piece really well.) Seal in a container and refrigerate overnight. Place each slice on a baking rack,which is placed on a cookie sheet or similar. Bake about 25-30 minutes, at 300 degrees, turning occasionally until brown. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Vidalia Onion and Peach Relish

  Looking for something different to top off my goat cheese and turkeys burgers, I spotted this recipe in the May issue of Southern Living. It did take some time to chop the onions(not too many tears) and peaches. If you do have a chopper, you could save some time with the onions.
 The recipe makes 10 (8 ounce) jars and the total time involved was close to 1 hour and 30 minutes.

I added a pear at the last minutes as I was short of peaches. ( I kept eating them!)

Made and packaged with love to hand out to my friends!

I am going to try this on top of my pork roasts as well.

2 cups of sugar
2 cups of apple cider vinegar
2 cups of water
1/4 cup of Gin! Yep, you read that correctly!
1 1/2 T. of salt. The recipe called for 2 teaspoons
1 T. mustard seeds
1 t.celery salt
1/2 t.dried crushed red pepper
4 bay leaves, crushed. I also used extra leaves and placed them in the jars primarily for decoration.
3 pounds of Vidalia onions,finely chopped
3 pounds of fresh peaches, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves,thinly sliced.

Fill your canner half full with water and bring to a boil. ( Make sure you have washed all your jars.) Now, place 10 jars in a large stockpot and cover the jars with water. Bring to a boil and then to a simmer. Now place the bands and lids in a sauce pan and cover with water, boil and simmer. Remove hot jars, one at a time, using your jar lifter.

Bring the water, sugar,vinegar, gin, celery salt, mustard seeds, red pepper and the crushed bay leaves to a boil in a Dutch over over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peaches and garlic; boil, stirring occasionally,15 minutes.

Pour hot mixture into the hot jars, filling to 1/2 inch from the top. Remove all the air bubbles and remember to wipe the rims clean. Cover immediately with the metal lids and screw on the bands, not too tight. Place the jars in the canning rack and then drop into the simmering water-bath. Add additional boiling water as needed to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Bring the water to a rolling boil; boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Remove the jars from the canner and let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Test seals of jars by pressing the center of each lid. If the lids do not pop, the jars are properly sealed. Store in a cool, dark place at room temperature up to a year.

For refrigerator relish: Omit steps 1 and 3. Prepare the recipe as directed in step 2. Let the mixture completely cool, about 2 hours. Store in airtight containers in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Veggie Toast~Ducasse Style

A very good friend of mine from Seattle mailed me this recipe last week. I was just waiting for the perfect occasion to prepare this and today was the day. The recipe is adapted from French Chef  Ducasse who recently shared his simple, but most refreshing combination of veggies and bread. I had to substitute a few of the ingredients, but I feel they worked perfectly fine. Easy to prepare and surprisingly delicious for lunch. The original recipe was adapted from Nature, courtesy of Rizzoli.

Recipe for Spring Tartines~(Makes four or six large servings, however, I cut them all in half which was perfect for each of us!)

20 thin asparagus spears, blanched and then immersed in ice cold water
1 carton of cherry tomatoes, sliced very thin
10 radishes, thinly sliced
3/4 cup of shelled Edamame soybeans
1/2 Cup of Parmesan cheese
1/2 Cup of torn baby arugula
salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 pieces of multigrain bread, toasted and sprayed with olive oil on one side
6 Oz. of ricotta cheese

Cut the asparagus tips into 2 inch lengths and add with the peas in boiling water for one minute, then place in ice bath until cool. Remove and dry on paper towels. Spread the ricotta cheese on the toasted bread. Line tomatoes in the center. Layer the radish slices and peas on the top. Slice the asparagus tips lengthwise and scatter on top. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with arugula and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve as soon as they are prepared.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Back to the market

A trip to the antique markets in Paris is always on my agenda. This is a perfect place to stroll and maybe locate something special to pack up in your suitcase to bring home. Since I gravitate towards anything to do with food, I continually keep my eyes peeled for tabletop ideas as well. This trip I grabbed a few serving pieces. As you can see, spoons are easy to pack.

Just dig in and grab a few! Memories of your market experience will be with you for many meals  to come. When I take my guests to the market, I always suggest taking  a piece or two back home. Conversations of Paris continue to flow ~

Now, the horse ~ I could not get him in my suitcase, but what a treasure! Around every corner, another gem is found!

Then we see other wonderful treasures as we walk along the crowed stalls.
 Life is good ~

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Roasted Beets with Fresh Greens

Try  roasting your fresh beets wrapped in foil for 45 minutes, cool then remove the skins.

Fresh beet salad with dressing.

Beets were purchased earlier in the day from the farmers market on Sanibel Island ~ big and delicious! Sorry to see the market close for the season.....

Wonderful huge heads of fresh lettuce also picked up from the farmers market.

Dressing for salad
1 T. red wine vinegar, 1/2 t. Dijon mustard, 3/4 t. balsamic vinegar, 1/4 c. olive oil, 4-6 ounces of fresh lettuce or baby greens, 3-4 beets, ( cooked) mine were rather large, salt and pepper to taste, fresh herbs to your liking; I added parsley and tarragon.

 Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. Toss with the lettuce, beets and added herbs right before serving. A nice serving for two!
  After the pictures were taken, I threw in some crumbled goat cheese.That really topped it off!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Still working on the Macarons

Vanilla Macarons

Recipe for Macarons
makes 16

3/4 cup  ground almonds, (Bob's Red Mill Almond  Meal Flour) I found it at Walmart of all places! 1 cup of confectioners' sugar, 2 extra large egg whites, room temperature, 1/4cup sugar and 1/2 tsp.vanilla extract.

Sift ground almonds together with sugar and set aside. Place the egg whites in mixing bowl and whip until soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, making a firm, glossy meringue. Beat in vanilla. Using a spatula, fold the almond mixture into egg whites, 1/3 of a cup at a time. When all the ingredients are incorporated, continue to cut and fold the mixture until it forms a shiny batter with a thick ribbonlike consistency. I take a spoonful of the batter and place on a plate to see if the batter spreads without any peaks and is smooth on the top.

Pour the batter into a pastry bag. Pipe 32 small circles onto prepared baking sheets.Try to have them all the same size for matching purposes. (Parchment papers placed on baking sheets.) I use a rubber silicon pre-formed mat that can be purchased from Amazon, made by Mastrad. (Plaque a petits macarons) They also have the large mats for sale.
  Tap baking sheets firmly to remove any air bubbles and let sit for 40 minutes at room temperature.

Bake on preheated over for 10-15 minutes at 325 degrees. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from paper or mats. Remove slowly and carefully~don't rush this step!
For the Filling
4 T. unsalted softened butter, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 cup of confectioners' sugar, sifted. I added some food coloring to my filling at this time. Beat the butter and sugar well until pale and fluffy then add sugar until smooth and creamy. Use filling to sandwich pairs of macarons together.

I will continue to practice until I get these perfected. I still had then too fat~practice makes perfect!