June 15, 2012

FFwD: Lime Honey Beet Salad

One of our old neighbors in CA was from Russia.  Our daughters became good friends and we use to get together so the girls could play and we would talk about food and cooking.  She was a vegetarian and an amazing gardener.  At one of her daughters birthday parties, she made a beet salad for all the Mom's.  I can still see the look of fear on all the other Mom's faces, it was so funny.   You could just see them waiting for the caesar or pasta salad option, nope... just beet and onion salad.  I felt so bad for my friend who had enough of this stuff to feed an army.  I took my portion like a good friend would and ate as much as I could to be polite.

Needless to say, I knew this was not going to be a recipe for me.  Thank goodness for my day job is all I can say.  I made it for my little group of seniors and they loved it.  

May 25, 2012

FFwD: Lyonnaise Garlic and Herb Cheese

I really need to start looking ahead at our recipes.  We had friends over for dinner last weekend and this would have made a better little nibble than the store bought hummus I served.

The water that drained out of my ricotta and nothing was about the same, so I'd skip that step next time.  I thought the flavors were tasty, just a bit bland.  I think more garlic and maybe lemon juice instead of the red wine vinegar (I couldn't even taste that and I used double) would boost the flavor.  Look forward to see if anyone else made seasoning adjustments.

Happy Friday!

May 18, 2012

FFwD: Double Chocolate Banana Tart

I knew I was going to love the chocolate ganache and shortbread cookie base of this dessert.  But, chocolate and bananas?  It was nice, but probably not my favorite.  I did like the chewiness of the caramelized bananas under the ganache.  

The group of residents I cook for loved this dessert.  One of the girls I work with had two slices!  I would have been sick because this was a rich one.  But, I enjoy cooking for her because she loves her food so much.

Happy Friday!

May 4, 2012

FFwD: Almond Flounder (Lemon Sole) Meunier

The closest I could get to flounder from our fish monger was Lemon Sole.  It had been caught the morning I cooked it and I watched him fillet it right before my eyes.  Doesn't get much fresher than that!

Dover Sole is one of my favorite types of fish to have when we go out for dinner, but I've never attempted cooking a Sole until now.  I'm not sure what the difference is between Dover and Lemon Sole, but they tasted the same to me... delicious.

This was super easy to prepare and took no time to cook because the fillets of fish were so thin.  I want to see if anyone kept their fish warm in the oven and if that worked OK.  I'd love to make this for company, but wouldn't want to steam the nice crunchy crust keeping it warm in the oven.  I served with steamed broccoli and new potatoes as suggested and throughly enjoyed my dinner!

Happy Friday!

May 1, 2012

Cheddar and Chive Scones

Who doesn't love a scone with jam and clotted cream?  So good!  My favorite go to recipe for sweet scones is Barefoot Contessa's Cranberry Orange Scones.  I'll have to take a picture of those next time I make them, they are so delicious.

One of the girls I work with suggested doing a cheddar scone for our residents tea (I'm on the English side of the Atlantic, so tea meaning dinner).  I found a recipe on Martha Stewart's website for Cheddar and Chive Scones.  They were a big hit for the people I cook for and I think they would be great with ham or bacon added to the mix.

from Martha Stewart Living, December 2000

4 oz. extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese, grated
6 T fresh chives, minced
2 c + 1 T all-purpose flour, more for work surface
3 large eggs, beaten lightly, plus 1 egg with 1 T water for egg wash
1/2 c heavy cream
1 T baking powder
1/2 t paprika
1 t salt
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment.  Mix cheddar and chives together with 1 T of flour.  Mix the cream and eggs in another bowl and set aside.

In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, combine all the dry ingredients.  On low speed, add the butter and blend until it's the size of peas.  Add the egg mixture, and mix on low until just blended.  Add in the cheddar and chive mixture to combine.

Transfer dough to a well floured surface.  Pat or roll dough into a 9 inch circle.  With a sharp knife, dipped in flour, cut into triangles.  Place on baking sheet and brush with egg wash.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until outside is browned and scones are cooked through. Cool on a wire rack.

The smell of these when they come out of the oven is amazing!

TWD: Hungarian Shortbread

A family and cake divided...

Now, I wish I had read what was on the menu for TWD prior to today.  I could have used some of the 2 pounds of rhubarb I used on Sunday to make a rhubarb crumble that could have fed the masses. 

On with the Hungarian Shortbread... my son doesn't like jam, so I knew a compromise would have to be made on this one.  Strawberry jam would go on half to stay true to the recipe.  I thought of maybe spreading some Nutella on part of the crust and then remembered my secret bag of Ghirardelli chocolate squares with carmel that I keep for emergencies :)  Sort of reminded me of Millionaire Shortbread, but better.

Shredding the frozen shortbread dough gave these bars a really light texture, unlike crunchy shortbread cookies. The bars with the chocolate carmel squares were yummy, but I think I preferred the sweetness of the bars with the strawberry jam.

If you'd like to get the recipe, check out Baking with Julia.  Or find it on one of our Tuesdays with Dorie hosts blogs, Lynette at 1smallkitchen or Cher at The not so exciting adventures of a dabbler...

April 27, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My dear friend Ellen in Ca. makes the best, chewiest chocolate chip cookies! She'd bring them over and they would never last very long in our house. She showed me how to make them, but I never could make them like she did. Her trick was to use cold butter, which is opposite of what most recipes tell you to do.

Now that there are miles and an ocean between us, I've had to try and find a recipe that could stand in as a substitute. I came across this highly rated chocolate chip cookie recipe (I love reading recipe reviews) and thought I'd give it a try. They were described to come out just the way I like them, chewy and crisp on the edges. Yum!

This recipe calls for melted butter??? The recipe doesn't require the dough to be refrigerated and it was very soft once mixed. I actually put mine in the fridge for 2 days, because I've heard or read that it really brings all the flavors together. These were pretty darn good!  I used dark and white chocolate chips, nuts would be good in them too.

Cookies made by a friend always have a special sweetness about them. These made me think of my dear friend :)

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Gourmet October 2003 at Epicurious

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
2 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment or wax paper.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat butter with sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Lightly beat 1 egg and add 1 3/4 T of it plus 2 remaining whole eggs to butter mixture, beating with mixer until creamy, about 1 minute.  Beat in vanilla.  Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until just blended, stir in chips.  At this point, I refrigerated the dough for 2 days, the recipe doesn't call for that.

Scoop 1/4 c batter for each cookie, 3 inches apart and flatten mounds with a moistened palm of your hand.  I just used a tablespoon to form balls and they were plenty big.

Bake until golden, 13 to 15 minutes.  12 minutes was the magic number for the smaller cookies.

Cooled cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days.  Mine won't last 3 days :)

April 20, 2012

FFwD: Coconut Friands

This was a really easy cake to make.  Today was one of those multi-tasking days and I managed to put these together while making dinner.  They reminded me more of a macaroon than a sponge cake. Very nice, and who doesn't love a bite sized cake!

Happy Friday!

April 17, 2012

TWD: Lemon Loaf Cake

Growing up, my Mom was never a baker. But, when the urge for cake hit you could bet money on what she would make, Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines lemon bundt cake. My brother and I still tease her to this day that while our friends Mom's made chocolate cakes, cookies & brownies, we had box lemon bundt cake with powdered sugar glaze.  Memories.

It's still her favorite dessert and if I lived closer to her, I'd run this cake over to her. It was delicious! My family dove into it before I could even whip up Mom's famous glaze.

I baked my cake for 55 minutes and the toothpick came out clean everywhere except in that little bump on the top. But, I didn't want to dry out my cake trying to bake that last little bit. What causes that to happen? This was a really easy cake to make and will definitely reappear in our house.

See that little gooey spot?  Looks like a Twinkie.

If you'd like to try out this weeks recipe, check it out on one of the hosts blogs. Truc at Treats or Michelle at The Beauty of Life.

April 16, 2012

Baltimore Crab Cakes

While I don't live in Baltimore, I do live in a place where fresh crab is equally as abundant.  And crab cakes are just one of my all time favorites.

These crab cakes are full of crab and flavor, delicious!  On the advice of one of the reviews, I mixed the egg with the crab and let it sit while I got everything else ready.  I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to divide out the crab which gave me 13 crab cakes.  Put them in the freezer for 10 minutes before dipping them in the breadcrumbs.

Before the final breadcrumbs

Before going into my mouth!  These were sooooo good!

from Bon Appetit on Epicurious.com

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning (I didn't have this and it was fine)
1/2 jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped (used a whole chili)
1 pound lump crab meat, picked over
1 1/4 c panko breadcrumbs, divided (used plain)
1 tablespoon chives
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons oil

Whisk first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add crab; fold to blend.  Stir in 3/4 cup breadcrumbs, chives, salt and pepper.  Divide into equal portions.  Form each into 1" thick patties.  Refrigerate or freeze for 10 minutes.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Coat cakes in remaining crumbs.  Fry until golden brown and crisp, 3 - 4 minutes per side.

I served the crab cakes with a Lemon Aioli.

from Martha Stewart

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Mix all ingredients together.

April 13, 2012

FFwD: Sardine Rillettes

I knew this was not going to be a recipe that my family or myself would be able to embrace. So, I made this one at work in what I call my test kitchen :)

Instead of cream cheese I used fromage frais, which is similar in taste but less dense than cream cheese. The cream mixture tasted pretty good before I added the sardines. Once they hit the mix I'll have to say I was not a fan. I don't like fishy fish and sardines definitely fall into that category. It was very easy to make and was enjoyed by most that tried some.

Hope everyone had a great Easter. Now that I've reintroduced chocolate and dessert back into my diet, I have to admit I'm a chocoholic. If it's in the house, it will eventually find its way into my mouth. I'm letting my children eat more chocolate than I normally would just to rid the house of all the chocolate bunnies, chicks and eggs!

April 6, 2012

FFwD: Asparagus with bacon

This was another short and sweet recipe.  I've done bacon with green beans forever, funny I never thought of doing it with other green vegetables.  We enjoyed the two flavors with a nice, juicy steak.  Great side dish!

Hope everyone has a very Happy Easter... mine will be happy and full of chocolate and dessert!!!

April 3, 2012

TWD: Pizza Rustica

This was one that took some explaining to my family. "What are we having for dinner?" they ask, "pizza rustica", I say. Then we went over what that meant and what it was... still all they heard was pizza. Out of the oven my little pizza pie came and everyone was like, "I thought we were having pizza"! No one ever listens to me.

The crust was very quick and easy to make as was the filling. I added about an ounce of spicy pepperoni to the filling mixture. I was surprised that the sweet pastry went so well with the creamy, savory filling. Very nice dinner and a yummy lunch today.

This weeks TWD recipe was selected by Emily at Capital Region Dining and Raelynn of The Place They Call Home.  Check out their blogs and all the others Baking with Julia at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Happy Baking!

March 31, 2012

FFwD: Crab and Grapefruit Salad

This one was pretty short and sweet; crab, veggies, grapefruit, herbs and a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.  Toss it all together and viola, lunch!

Nice and fresh,  you could really taste all the ingredients because there wasn't much of a dressing.  The recipe said to dry the grapefruit in paper towel for several hours, key to keeping your salad from getting soggy.  Next time, I'd probably leave out the mint.  I like mint, but not really in my food.

March 24, 2012

FFwD: Cocoa Sables

I gave up chocolate and desserts for Lent, so this one was a hard one to make.  I had to make it quickly and get it in the fridge fast, to keep my fingers out of the dough.  Instead of adding chopped chocolate to the batter, I added mini chocolate chips.  Since this is a dough that you can freeze, I baked just enough for the kiddos and hid my stash in the freezer.  Can't wait to try them myself, but the little ones enjoyed them for dessert.

Happy Friday!

March 20, 2012

TWD: Irish Soda Bread

fSince the recipe said this was not going to be a bread to keep very long, I thought it would make a perfect rainy day kid activity.

My little baking assistants vetoed any raisins, currents or any other dried fruit.  They did decide on some food coloring to make it more festive ;)

It doesn't get much easier than this, throw all the ingredients in the bowl, mix, shape and bake!  Not sure why one loaf rose more than the other, maybe because I helped my son measure his flour and let my daughter fly solo?  It was nice with a little butter and strawberry jam, but it did turn to stone quite quickly.

This weeks Tuesday's with Dorie recipe was selected by Cathy at My Culinary Mission and Carla at Chocolate Moosey.

March 17, 2012

FFwD: cheese souffle

I've baked sweet souffles, using Julia Childs, Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook.  For this recipe, I referred to MAofFC on how to handle the egg whites because I know that's the key and I can never remember exactly what to do.  The eggs should be room temperature and after they've increased in volume, you add a 1/4 t. cream of tartar and a pinch of salt.  She also says to add the egg yolks to the bechamel sauce while it's hot, so I did that too.

I knew this might not be a hit with my kids, so I took back up quesadilla orders for them.  My husbands on a total health kick (he's turning 40 this year, need I say more) and was worried about all the calories he was going to consume.  Now, I had already hid the whole milk carton and evidence of all the cheese lurking in my sauce :)  After moaning about how unhealthy it was going to be, he had 3 portions! 

Final verdict, kids thought it tasted like scrambled eggs, husband prefers a souffle he can add Grand Marnier too.  I thought it needed some fresh herbs and maybe bacon, because it did sort of remind me of breakfast.  

March 9, 2012

FFwD: saint-germain-des-pres onion biscuits

I love biscuits and being from the South, I could quit happily have eaten these with some cream gravy and nothing else.  But, being a good Mom and wife I thought I should put together something a little more substantial for dinner :)

I remembered a Barefoot Contessa recipe for a Chicken Stew with Biscuits in her Family Style cookbook.  Substituted Dories onion biscuits for Ina's... complete meal!

One of my favorite dishes my Grandma made was chicken & dumplings, husband doesn't like dumplings so I never make it.  I've found my solution, chicken & biscuits!  Since I baked mine in my chicken stew I'll have to rely on all the other Dorie bloggers to see what the texture was like baked on a sheet pan.  In the stew, they were perfect, soft, full of flavor and totally reminded me of good old-fashioned chicken & dumplings.

Happy Friday!

TWD: Rugelach

I made this a week early, wrote the post, couldn't figure out how to set the date to post in the future, so here's my late rugelach homework.

This was a totally new one for me.  I've never made or eaten Rugelach, so I had no idea what this one was going to taste like?  Definitely more of a pastry than a cookie.  I used walnuts, hazelnuts, dates, apricots and dried cranberries for the filling.  The dough was very easy to make, I even used light cream cheese and it worked out fine.

I loved the apricot spread with almonds and wish I had made more to use on toast.  Maybe I'll make more with my leftover dried apricots :)

I really enjoyed these and think you could really play around with different fillings.  I'm thinking... a pumpkin puree in place of the apricot spread, maybe mix walnuts & pecans and for the fruit filling - dried cranberries or raisins and chocolate chips.  Not sure if it would still be considered Rugelach, but I think it would be delicious with all the cinnamon sugar.

This week's recipe was hosted by Margaret and Jessica.  You can check out the recipe on their blogs.

March 2, 2012

FFwD: Roasted Salmon with Lentils

Always nice to follow up a flop recipe with a success ;)  I make salmon probably once a week because it's so quick and easy.  I've never used lentils as a side dish (only in soups) and was pleasantly surprised with the result.  The lentils really gave the salmon a nice warm, earthy flavor.  This one is a keeper!

What a short post, hope everyone else enjoyed this weeks recipe!

Happy Friday!

February 25, 2012

FFwD: Cheese-Topped Onion Soup

I've made French Onion soup before, but have always rushed the process with browning my onions.  This time, I started out patiently with what I thought was plenty of time to actually caramelise my onions and make a pot of soup.

Well, apparently I bought the non-browning onions for this recipe.  I cooked them on the lowest setting on my stove for 1 hour - no colour.  OK, the recipe said 1 hour or more, so I nudged the heat up a little and another 35 minutes passed - no colour.  So, now the husband is home and the in laws are on their way over and I have a pot of ghostly onions.  Patience lost at this point, I decided to crank up the heat and carry on!

As far as the cheesy top, I did it separately and served on top of the soup. Hopefully, reading other posts I can find the magic trick to brown onions successfully.

Happy French Friday!

I started crying at the 2lb. mark

My colourless soup, thank goodness for cheese toast!

February 21, 2012

TWD: Chocolate Truffle Tartlet

I intended to make this for Valentine's Day, but we already had a pan of brownies and plate full of peanut butter & chocolate cookies on the counter.  So, instead I made them at work and they were enjoyed by all.  This is one I'll make again soon!

The dough was easy to make but did sort of have a patchwork quilt appearance once I got it rolled out to fit my tart pan.  I didn't have individual ones, but they look so cute miniature that I may have to invest in some :o)

The filling was delicious and I even cheated by using Callebaut chocolate chips.  I didn't have any amaretti cookies or biscotti, so ended up using crushed up meringues.  They almost looked like marshmallows in the tart but didn't really had any crunch like the cookies would have... next time.

Delicious dessert, almost like a gooey brownie with a crisp cookie base.  My filling was quite thin, so I think the individual tart pans are definitely in my future.

This weeks recipe can be viewed on one of the hosts blogs A Whisk and a Spoon.

Happy Baking!

Served with whipped cream, but ice cream would be better ;)

February 17, 2012

FFwD: Mussels with chorizo with or without pasta

I'll be honest, I don't like mussels.  I've tried them and it's the texture of them that I don't care for.  My husband on the other hand loves them... Valentine's day made in heaven!  I thought I'll do mussels for him and I'll have the sauce with crab over pasta, perfect.

Once I got my little bag of goodies home, I remembered an episode of Barefoot Contessa where she talked about soaking mussels with flour and water to disgorge any sand.  Ina's never steered me wrong, so I soaked the mussels in 2 quarts of water with 1/3 cup of flour for 30 minutes and then cleaned them all up.

The chorizo and tomato sauce that went with these came together quickly and was delicious.  My husband loved it and had the mussels just with French bread (no grit or sand).  I did a separate pan of sauce for my crab and it was equally as yummy with pasta.  Happy hearts all around <3

All cleaned up and ready for the pot!
Looks good!
Crab version.

February 10, 2012

FFwD: Nutella Tartine

We aren't French, but Nutella is a staple in our house that is used on a daily basis.  My kids don't have PB&J in their lunch boxes, they have PB&N!  So, today they had turkey for lunch knowing what was coming after school.  

I bought some nice little brioche rolls for this sweet little treat.  I don't particularly like marmalade, so I made mine with some apricot jam that I had in the fridge.  Topped with toasted hazelnuts and enjoyed with a cup of tea!

Didn't plan this to look like a heart... have a
Happy Valentine's Day!

February 7, 2012

TWD: White Loaves

I'm so excited to start baking through the Baking with Julia cookbook from the beginning!  A few weeks ago I had my first experience with yeast making brioche rolls with the French Friday's with Dorie group.  This weeks white loaves recipe was pretty quick compared to those.

The smell of the bread baking was just as amazing though, yum! I probably cut into it before it was cool enough, but I just couldn't wait! If you go to the trouble of making homemade bread, you just must have it with real butter. It was delicious with just butter and even better with a little raspberry jam :) Made great toast the following morning too.

This week's recipe was chosen by Laurie (Slush) and Jules (Someone's in the Kitchen), the recipe is posted on Jules blog or you can find it in the cookbook, Baking with Julia.

Happy Baking!

February 3, 2012

FFwD: Gorgonzola and Apple Quiche

Every now and then you have one of those days when you should just step out of the kitchen.  Tonight was one of those nights!

All was going to plan until I smelt the smell of burning butter... I didn't have a tart pan so I used my spring form pan.  But, I didn't wrap the bottom with foil or put it on a baking sheet... don't know why it didn't dawn on me that all those lovely chunks of butter I could see in my dough were going to melt and seep through to the bottom of my oven, thank you nose!

Got the tart all assembled and into the oven, thought things were going good now.  Relaxing with my wonderful glass of CA Chardonnay (sorry folks, but French wine is just not the same and I miss my Napa wines) reading through the recipe... ARGGG, I forgot to put the egg & cream mixture on top!  Are you kidding me???  I wish I could say I'd drank 1/2 the bottle of wine, but at this point I hadn't made it through my first glass.  The tart had only been in the oven for 3 minutes (doesn't take me long to relax) so quick put the eggs in.  

What's missing from this photo?

Eggs!  Major component of a quiche!

Now, thinking ahead, I knew this might not be a favorite with my 9 & 6 year old, so thank goodness for back up chicken nuggets (sometimes you do what you gotta do).  And thank goodness I did, because after 15 minutes I went to put those nuggets in to find that half the egg had run through the tart and onto the baking sheet! 

It had a little puff in the center

Add caption

In the end, it was very tasty.  The husband & I enjoyed it with our salad and I'm looking forward to my lunch tomorrow!

Happy French Friday!

*Now watching Bon Voyage Charlie Brown (they're in France, how appropriate) with last glass of said Chardonnay ;o)

While the good husband was in England
for work this week, he found Far Niente at Costco!
Happiness ;o)