Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A gift of apples means sauce!

Recently, my daughter and her husband had a quick get-away into the mountains of Georgia. For doggie sitting their new pup, Miss Lexie, I received  more apples than I knew what to do with~well, actually, I knew exactly what I would do when I saw my gift! I can not think of a better gift for a foodie......food stuff!

You guessed it, applesauce!

If you ever wanted your home to smell like fall, just bake an apple pie or cook the apples down into a  sauce filled with spices and sweetness. That works every time. When the family gathers here for Thanksgiving, there is always an apple pie baking in the oven just to set the mood~it does work, every time.......

I used 5 pounds of apples, peeled and cored. I only had to add 1/4 of a cup of sugar because they really were quite sweet. I also added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar for color and taste, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and 1/2  teaspoon of apple pie spices. That was it!
 I  cooked the apples down for about 25 minutes, medium heat, stirring well and them used my potato masher rather than the processor to get the texture I like best. I enjoy applesauce chunky and soft!

There must be a hundred ways to make applesauce, but this one worked for me. Having everything on hand made it that much easier. Thanks kids.....you warmed my heart and made my day!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Timing is everything in Tuscany!

A lecture and tasting in Balsamic Vinegars. We do several classes while on tour.

This was our group this fall. I can't tell you when we have had a more exciting and fun loving group. Robin, my associate, is in the white shirt. The guests are from all over the U.S. How very proud I was to be their leader this year! They loved discovering, learning and appreciated everything, especially about great wines and delicious foods! What is there not to love about this region!

Cooking class

Ready for the pot~soup time! Fagioli all'uccelletto con salsiccia all'origano e mandorle!

Making a fresh tomato sauce for our pasta. (Salsa di pomodoro a crudo) Yes, we cooked for a day!

Frittata  di zucchine e cipolle~ready for the oven

Simply a divine frittata with a splash of olive oil!

How fortunate to be able to be there to share in the harvest this year!

Ready for harvest!

Let me guess, your mouth is watering!

One of the small hilltop villages we visit while on tour.

Our favorite well known butcher friend, Dario, in his shop. Holding court, as usual! He is such a fine host!

The mornings were cool and nothing better than that smell of burning wood taking away the chill in homes ~the burning firewood was addicting. Honestly, it was hard to leave this year....counting the days until my next tour.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Going to a baby shower!

        Fun day preparing for a friends baby shower. Forgot how much fun it was to make cookies!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Grilled Romaine Lettuce with Seasonings

Grilled Romaine right off the grill!

One head of Romaine lettuce is cut in half and seasoned well with vinaigrette. This recipe calls for two heads of lettuce.

Ingredients for grilled lettuce~serves 4

4 Romaine hearts, fresh, rinsed and dried,that's two heads split.
4T. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 t. salt
2T. red wine vinegar
3 t. of fresh chopped herbs; thyme,oregano,rosemary or 2t. of mixed dried herbs
ground pepper to taste

Remove any old dark looking leaves from the lettuce.You can to chop off the top to even things out if you wish, but I chose not to. Do leave the root intact so the lettuce will stay together. I trimmed off just a tad.

Prepare the oil,vinegar and herbs in small bowl and whisk to mix well. My daughter tried using a bottled oil and vinegar salad dressing, but did not care for the taste. She liked mine better, made from scratch and using the fresh herbs.

Turn the grill up pretty high or if you are cooking your meat or veggies already, this temperature will do the job. Before putting the lettuce on the grill, spread your prepared dressing all over with basting brush.

Grill the lettuce until lightly browned on all sides. It does not take very long at all, especially with the high heat, so watch closely.Turn with tongs every minute until all sides are brown.

Serve as soon as possible. We cut each of our halves in half again, just using one head. This way we were able to serve four smaller portions!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Corn off the cob~perfect summer side!

Fresh corn in season makes a great side dish!
This recipe will serve 4-6 generous portions.

4 ears of fresh corn, cleaned. I looked for the really over-sized ears!
1 T. unsalted  butter.
1/4 C. of turkey bacon already prepared or you can fry your own. You can use regular bacon.
1/2 C. heavy cream. I used whipping cream.
1/2 t. salt.
1 t. finely chopped green pepper.
Black pepper to your taste.
1/2 C. of minced sweet white onion.

Make certain that your corn has all the silt removed. Take a sharp knife and carefully cut down the sides of each ear, turning as you go. The kernels have a way of flying off the cob so, I placed my ears of corn in a large flat bowl while cutting. Take a dull knife and and scrape the ears again to remove excess corn milk and pulp.  Set this aside. This added juice really makes your taste buds pop!

Using a heavy skillet, add the cut corn and cook while stirring for several minutes or until thoroughly cooked....it does not take very long. Add prepared bacon, cook additional minute. Remove from heat and place the skillet to the side.

In another skillet, melt the butter and add the minced onion. Saute until clear. Add the corn mixture with bacon and now add the heavy cream. Reduce heat to a low temperature and cook for another 5 minutes while stirring.
Season with salt and pepper and add the chopped green pepper before serving.

I served this with a beef tenderloin main course and fresh greens.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cannoli,quick style!

A quick dessert for this evening!

I had a package of the mini-chips......decided to cap them off with chocolate.

Adding a touch of fresh whipping cream and mint from the mint pot outside! Never stick mint in the ground....it takes off and keeps growing everywhere!

This is such a simple and delicious recipe! It is so light!

2 cups of ricotta cheese
3/4 C. of powdered sugar
1 t. of cinnamon
1/4 c. of whipping cream
1/4 c. of mini-chocolate chips
zest of 1 lemon, lightly scraped
1t. vanilla

Combine the cheese, sugar and cinnamon. Add the vanilla. Mix well, add vanilla and zest of lemon. Sprinkle in the chocolate chips. Gently combine.

In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream until it hold soft peaks. It's not very much to beat, so it doesn't take long. Scrape and gently fold the whipping cream into cheese mixture. Pipe the cheese mixture into the tubes, which I purchased from the grocery store. Sprinkle additional chips on both ends of cannoli. Chill for three hours. I can only imagine how freshly made ones would have tasted. I will try that next time,when I have more time and have the molds!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bananaleines from any Banana Bread Recipe!

My version of Madeleines~ a gift for one of my husbands friends who just had a knee operation.

I thought I did a rather fairly nice job decorating and packing these little scrumptious goodies into a basket,which by the way,was filled with beefsteak tomatoes when I received it from my dear friend, Leslie. My other dear friend, my husband, a Marine, was taking these to another Marine friend, the one that just had the knee operation, and just told me, "I can't deliver these like Little Red Riding Hood to another Marine.....what would he think as he saw me carrying this little darling basket into his house?? I looked at him directly and told him what I thought......."deliver the goods! Leave the basket in the car and have his wife get them".... "Yes, Mam".....we both had a good chuckle... found out later, wife was not at home!!!
I received a wonderful thank you from this great Marine. He did not comment about the foo-foo-ness of the basket, I did not expect any comments about that, but he certainly enjoyed his muffins!
I suppose its just a girl thing!

I baked these according to one of my favorite banana bread recipes. I am sure we all have a favorite! Just another way to bake it! 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Seared Scallops with Steamed potatoes

Saint - Jacques Aux Pommes Vapeur

When I walk into my office and glance over at the cookbooks lined up on the bookcase, I do feel guilty at times for neglecting to read these works of art. It is so easy to go on line today and search for a recipe....but there is just something so gratifying about opening a book, flipping the pages and searching for just the right recipe for a future meal.Yesterday was one of those days. I had some extra time and I also had all of the ingredients at my fingertips. ( It really ticks me off when I find something delicious to make and  I don't have all the ingredients. I try so hard not to make unnecessary runs to the grocery store.) So, I grabbed The French Market written by JoAnne Harris & Fran Warde and trotted off to the kitchen to whip up and re-created this rustic regional specialty. Using ones imagination,  there could be many variations to this recipe.

Serves 6
1 1/2 pd of small boiling potatoes. You can use white or red skinned.
7 oz. of thick bacon. I used half the package.Tear into thick strips after it has cooked.
1 T. of white vinegar.
A bunch of fresh tarragon, leaves chopped. I sprinkled a tad of dried tarragon for finishing touch.
3 T. olive oil.
Sea salt, to taste.
Freshly ground pepper, to taste.
18 medium sea scallops. I used 5 really large ones.
3 T. of unsalted butter.

Steam the potatoes until tender. Meanwhile, heat 1T. of the oil in a large skillet over medium high-heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. When the potatoes are tender, cool until easy to handle and slice them into thick rounds. Mix the sliced potatoes, bacon, the remaining 2 T. of oil,vinegar and tarragon (reserve a bit for the garnish in a bowl) and season with salt and pepper.

Rinse the scallops and pat dry on paper towels. Heat the butter in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook until golden, about 1 minute on each side. Divide the warm salad among 6 dinner plates. Top each with three scallops, sprinkle with reserved tarragon. Serve immediately. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

La Cuisine Paris

My sister and I had a very quick trip to Paris recently and managed to squeeze in a class making souffles. In this photo, I am getting the Souffle aux Epinards  ready for the oven. There were 10 American students attending. The class lasted just under three hours and we were also served lunch during this time. Our lunch included both souffles that we prepared and also a very delicate fresh Salade folle et Vinaigrette. Oh, and plenty of wine and fresh bread!

Just finished preparing the Bechamel Sauce for the spinach souffle.

Here you can see the spinach puree. It was heated in butter and sauteed until it just wilted then processed into a smooth puree.

Nothing more beautiful and perfect than an egg ~

Souffle aux Epinards directly from the oven.

Souffle au Grand Marnier, steaming hot!

The location of the school is directly along the river on Quai de l'Hotel de ville.

Certainly worth the time if you have a few extra hours on your next visit to Paris.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Scenes from our last tour in Tuscan Territory!

We visit

We drink

We explore

We pick

We shop

We taste more

We walk

We watch

We marvel at color

We learn

We share

We drive on white roads

We smell

We visit

We believe traveling is more than just getting on and off tour buses, being lead around by following flags in crowded cities~we strive to experience the real sights, hear the local sounds and savor what comes from the rich landscape. We partner with local citizens, born and raised in Tuscany, who engage all our senses at once that make our trips so memorable. 

We photograph

We lend a hand

We visit locals

We step down into the cellars~the experiences we share, live on....