Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sweet Maple Glazed Almond Drop Scones

I have said it before, You know you have a great cookbook when you keep book marking pages. It's a keeper.

When Crescent Dragonwagon dropped by my site to say "hey, I saw your broa and thought you might like to check out my book", I never expected to have the oohs and ahhs over a cookbook filled with corn meal recipes. I am not saying this for Crescent Dragonwagon's sake, I really loved this book, with so many wonderful recipe ideas and information surrounding corn (and other baking tips to boot), how could you go wrong?

Many of you think you don't like scones. Notice I said think. The reason I say this is that sometimes scones are incredibly dry. If you ever had the pleasure of eating a creamy scone you would never think of scones in a dry kind of way again. You would think creamy perfection. Near to a cake but not all the sweetness of a cake. These INCREDIBLE and I mean incredible scones, were everything I dream of in a scone. They had tons of flavor, great texture and they were oh so creamy. It was almost akin to eating pudding. The only caution I have is that, with all scone recipes, air on the side of under baked. This recipe calls for 10 to 15 minutes. I took them out at 10, against my better judgment. But I guess intuitively something in me knew this was the correct time (at least for my oven). They were just right.

I chose this recipe because we went to a sugar shack this past weekend. We have lots of maple trees here in the North Eastern United States and lots of maple producers. We took the girls and my parents. We had the best time. Here are some pics from our trip.

The girls checking out the collection.

Here is a little history that we learned this past weekend.
"The Native American Indians had been making sugar from the sweet sap of the maple tree for many years. From the journals of early explorers we know that the Native American Indians had a process for making maple sugar as early as 1609. There are many Indian legends about how maple sugar was first discovered. One Iroquois legend tells how Chief Woksis had thrown his tomahawk into a maple tree one late winter evening. After he removed it the following morning, the weather turned sunny and warm. Sap began to flow from the cut in the tree, and drip down into a container which was at the base of the tree. Chief Woksis's squaw used the sap to boil the meat for dinner. As the water in the sap boiled away, a wonderful, sweet maple taste was left with the meat.

Most likely the Native Americans discovered the sweetness of the maple tree by eating "sapsicles," the icicles of frozen maple sap that form from the end of a broken twig. As the ice forms, some of the water evaporates, leaving a sweet treat hanging from the tree." This quote taken from Massachusetts Maple

Recipe courtesy of the author, Crescent Dragonwagon
The Cornbread Gospels
, by Crescent Dragonwagon
Published by Workman Publishing * New York

vegetable oil cooking spray
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal, preferably yellow
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cold butter or vegetable shortening such as Crisco
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream (not fat free)
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
Maple Glaze (recipe follows)

1. Preheat over to 450F. Spray a baking sheet with oil and set aside.
2. Over a medium high heat, heat a cast iron skillet for 2-3 minutes. When it is good and hot, lower the heat slightly and add the almonds. Stirring almost constantly, toast the almonds until they become fragrant and turn golden, then immediately transfer them to a cutting board to cool slightly. Coarsely chop them.
3. Sift together into a large bowl the cornmeal, flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in the butter or shortening until the mixture has the consistency of fine crumbs.
4. Whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, egg, vanilla and almond extracts in a medium bowl until smooth.. Pour this into the dry mixture, stirring with as few strokes as possible to just barely combine the wet and dry; stop while there are some dry clumps. Add the reserved almonds and give a few more stirs.
5. Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes (you can make the glaze as the scones bake). Remove the scones from the oven and let cool, briefly on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the glaze over each scone, allowing the excess to drip onto the baking sheet. Serve warm. No butter is needed- these are rich enough.
Maple Glaze
enough for one batch of drop scones with a little bit left over.

1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
about 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B

Combine the sugar and extracts in a small bowl. Gradually begin stirring in the maple syrup; you want a consistency thin enough to be drizzled onto the scones and drip a little, but not so thin it all rolls away or is just absorbed into the scones.

Bench Notes: Honestly I would change nothing about this recipe, they were awesome. I think you will agree!

Coconut Macaroon Revisited

I love that these pretty little things are not cloyingly sweet. I seem to remember them that way, maybe because they were store bought. They are quite tastey and chewy. I jazzed them up a bit with chocolate for my husbands coworkers.

I just got back from kickboxing and I am whipped. I hardly have the strength to write. Pathetic! Things are kind of at a stand still on the weight loss front. I seem to be stuck in a rut. Must kickbox myself into some more motivation. Got any for me? Success stories? Before and after pics? How do you trudge on when there is a mountain to move? And, yes, I ate four of these pretty little things. That is why they are sitting on the counter packaged up for their commute to DH job!

Coconut Macaroons
Joy of Baking

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups coconut
1/2 cup cake flour

In a double boiler combine egg whites, sugar and salt. Heat until the mixture is warm to the touch. Remove from heat and whisk in flour and then vanilla. FInally the coconut. Place in refrigerator for about an hour.

Remove from refrigerator and scoop up small balls, about an inch in size. Place on a parchment lined cooking sheet, insert an almond in the center. Bake for about 15 minutes in a 325 degree oven. They do spread so leave adequate space between them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Lasagne

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Thank you to Daring Bakers for being the oh so cool group that you are. I love every minute of it! Thank you to the hosts. This was a tastey dish that I might not have tried otherwise.

My one issue was with the dough. I needed to add about a half cup of water to get it to come together. Once I did that, everything came together well. I did double the batch and froze half. So glad I did because we really enjoyed this pasta plain too. I am looking forward to bringing it out and making some noodles.

The Daring Bakers are a fabulous group. Check them out here if you would like to join. I have learned so much from being a member!

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)

Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Working Ahead:
The ragu and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.

Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:
Yes, these are hung on my laundry drying rack.

Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes

Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.

2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Working by Hand:


A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches (60cm to 77cm deep by 60cm to 92cm). Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.

A pastry scraper and a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.

A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick (89cm long and 5cm thick). The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.
Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.

Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.

Mixing the dough:
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.

With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Stretching and Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.

Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.

Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colours. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm). Note: Enza says that transparency is a crucial element of lasagne pasta and the dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. She says this is why her housekeeper has such strong arms!

Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.

#2 Bechamel

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups (approx 570ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

#3 Country Style Ragu’ (Ragu alla Contadina)

Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 30 minutes and Cooking time 2 hours

Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 mL)
2 ounces/60g pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
1 small carrot, minced
4 ounces/125g boneless veal shoulder or round
4 ounces/125g pork loin, trimmed of fat, or 4 ounces/125g mild Italian sausage (made without fennel)
8 ounces/250g beef skirt steak, hanging tender, or boneless chuck blade or chuck center cut (in order of preference)
1 ounce/30g thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
2/3 cup (5 ounces/160ml) dry red wine
1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible)
2 cups (16 ounces/500ml) milk
3 canned plum tomatoes, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Working Ahead:
The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.

Browning the Ragu Base:
Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the pancetta and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind all the meats together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. First the meats will give off a liquid and turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the skillet into a strainer and shake out the fat. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.

Reducing and Simmering: Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.

Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

TOFU and YOGURT ICE CREAM a winning combination

My husband's birthday is coming up and I have been searching for the perfect cake. He wants something with hazelnuts and chocolate, that's all I know so far. I have thought about remaking this cake or that cake but I need something new for my blog. Some uncharted territory that I can post. I looked through my Bo Friberg's book, The Advanced Profession Pastry Chef. While I did not find anything that jumped out at me for DH, I did find this fabulous recipe for Tofu Ice Cream. I was so excited. I went to the store the next day to buy soft tofu! I already had the bananas! Whoo hoo! I didn't change anything as he is a master (except for a few minor things as they were in my pantry). Next time I will try some type of chocolate addition- hmm maybe chocolate and hazelnuts.

If you have been wanting to try tofu, this is the recipe to start with! No one, I mean no one would ever know there is tofu in it. No aftertaste. No unfamiliar flavor. All creamy, delicious goodness. Lipsmacking in fact!

Banana Tofu Frozen Yogurt

from the The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef, by Bo Friberg; Jon Wiley and Sons, Inc.

12 ounces soft tofu
2 pounds ripe bananas
4 teaspoons lime juice ( I used lemon)
1/2 cup vegetable oil ( I used corn oil)
1 1/2 cups unflavored nonfat yogurt
3/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a food processor, puree the tofu, peeled bananas, and lime juice until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in oil, yogurt, honey and vanilla.

Process in an ice cream freezer following the manufacturers instructions. Transfer to a chilled bowl and store, covered, in the freezer.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Split Pea Soup

When I comment on blogs sometimes I think, man I love all of these foods. I say something like "oh, raspberry and lime is one of my favorite combinations". Yes its true but then there's blueberry and lemon, chocolate and hazelnut... on and on it goes. Well, its all true, I love everything! Except peas. Well, I didn't until a few years ago. I discovered I did like peas as long as they weren't cooked too long. I throw my frozen peas in at the end. Love it that way. Fresh, well, it just goes without saying that, I love it!

Pea soup, well you know, now, I love it too! Try it, you like it!

Split Pea Soup

1 1/2 cups green split peas
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
6 cups water
1 teaspoon Lowry's salt
ham bone

In a crockpot combine all ingredients. If you are using a large soup pot. Saute onions and carrots in one tablespoon of olive oil until golden. Add the remainder of ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer until peas are falling apart.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Avocado and Crab Enchiladas

Every time I buy crab, I make crab cakes. I love crab cakes. This time I wanted to be a bit different and have some crab enchiladas. They were very good but I missed my crab cakes. I think the avocado would be great with, say, black beans.


1 medium onion, chopped
15 black olives, chopped
1/2 pound crab meat, fresh or frozen
1 avocado, mashed
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 dashes Tabasco sauce
6 corn tortillas (you can use flour, I prefer the taste of corn)
4 ounces shredded Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese -- grated

2 teaspoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced

Saute onion and garlic in butter until onion is softened. Remove from heat and cool.

Remove two tablepoons of the cooled onions and garlic and add 1/2 cup of the sour cream. Spoon half of that into the bottom of a small casserole dish (you will have aprox. 6 enchiladas). The other half is added for the top of the enchiladas.

Mash avocado in a bowl and add the remainder of sour cream, Tabasco, lemon juice, s and p, chopped black olives, crab, shredded cheese (reserving two tablespoons of cheese for the topping) and the remaining cooled onions and garlic. Stir to combine and spoon into enchiladas. Lightly roll and place seam side down in the casserole dish. Smooth the remainder of the reserved sour cream mixture on top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with the reserved cheese.

Cover and place in a 375F oven for about 40 minutes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rosemary Flatbread

Why is it that I have binders full of recipes? An expanding file full of recipes? A' to be filed' box of recipes? And a huge smattering of cookbooks. Why? AM I obsessed? You know I am beginning to think I have a problem. Besides Bloggers Anonymous, I will have to join Recipes Anonymous. But what the h--- would we talk about? The weather? Food is just far more interesting. So many things to talk about trends, techniques, ingredients, where to get produce, what restaurants are stellar... On and on it goes.

When I go to the gym, guess what the older ladies are talking about? Why, yes, it's food, how did you know? I am not alone in my obsession, but really do I need to have so many recipes? Or more importantly, why do I have so many recipes? Can you tell I was a psychotherapist in my professional life? Yup, I am analyzing again. So here is my theory.

Everyone's food always looks better than my own. AND. There is a better recipe on the horizon.

Great pie crust recipe? Why not see if this one is a little better, or a little easier.
Great chocolate cake recipe? Same thing again. And did you notice that Repressed Pastry Chef's chocolate cake was super popular on Tastespotting. Why? Not because we don't have a gazillion chocolate cake recipes in our archives both printed and unprinted but because we think we can find something better. I guess when all is said and done, is that such a bad thing? ~ Thinking we can find something better or easier. I guess it is the drive that has produced inventions, better products, new lands,and overall better lives.

Okay, so maybe I don't need Recipes Anonymous but merely a secretary!
King Arthur's Whole Grain Baking

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary
1 1/4 cups durum flour
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water

Combine dry ingredients. Mix in olive oil and water. Knead until you have a firm dough. This takes about five minutes. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 475F. Divide dough into eight segments. Take one piece and rewrap the dough to keep it from drying out. Shape the segment into a disk. Place on parchment. I use washed out cereal bags to roll out my dough. No extra flour is needed and it does not stick. Place the cereal bag over the dough. Roll it out until it as thin as possible. Remove teh plastic and spray with water, lightly. Add salt and seeds as desired. Transfer dough on parchment to a baking sheet. Bake until golden.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hey Pumpkin, where have you been hiding?

I am back to my muffins. I found this mother load of pumpkin puree in my freezer and it has been making some star appearances in my kitchen. I know with everyone's mind turned towards asparagus and strawberries as Spring descends upon us, this is hardly what you are looking for. Nevertheless, in my humble opinion, pumpkin is always welcome in my kitchen no matter what the season.


2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup oil
3 eggs

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl and stir. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes. Makes 12 mega muffins. Or 24 regular.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's Day

You know on St. Patty's Day, everyone is Irish. No matter where your ancestors or you came from, you can don some green and drink some green and eat some green! I love corned beef and cabbage. I have it once a year, St. Patty's Day. But if the truth be told, its not really an Irish dish per se. How it got to be that status I do not know. I think a more traditional meal in Ireland would be salmon or some other fish. Here is a quote from About.

"... this celebration was not the only interruption of the lent fast. Since the late 11th century meat was eaten in honor of Patrick - a tradition that emerged from a wrong interpretation of a legend.

Apparently Saint Patrick had tucked away some roast pork for "emergencies" during lent. When he finally took the pork from hiding it was out of remorse. He had just decided to become a vegetarian and asked God for a sign. Promptly an angel appeared and relayed the message to throw the roast pork into the nearest stream. Patrick did so, the pork was transformed into fishes, swimming off lively.

Thus it came to pass that roast pork was called "Saint Patrick's Fish" in Ireland. And as fish is allowed during lent, "Saint Patrick's Fish" was certainly allowed on March 17th!..." Click here to find out more.

And of course macarons are SO NOT Irish, they are French. But hey if were all pretending to be Irish when St. Patty's Day comes then why not these minty macarons!

Mint Macarons with Bittersweet Ganache

125 grams almond flour
225 grams powdered sugar
100 grams egg whites(that have been at room temp for 24 hours)
25 grams sugar

Preheat oven to 300 °F . Combine almond flour and confectioners together in a bowl and stir to combine. In a mixing bowl whip egg whites at medium speed. When they begin to get foamy add the granulated sugar slowly. Beat until the whites form medium-peaks and are still glossy.

Fold in your dry ingredients slowly to the meringue. I our it all in, kind of on the side of the bowl and begin to incorporate it from there.

Pipe the batter to a diameter of about an inch. And let rest for 20 to 30 minutes before baking. Bake for about 11 minutes or until done, turning the sheets halfway through.


2 cups bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light cream

Heat milk and add the warm milk to the chocolate. Stir until all chocolate is melted. Spread on to the macarons.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Lemon Curd

Kat over at A Good Appetite made these lemon ricotta pancakes and I just knew I had to make them. Her and Matt always seem to be filled with good ideas. So last Sunday morning I could not get on the internet, so I kind of winged it. I was very pleased with the result and apparently so was everyone else because they disappeared in a flash. (Hence the not so perfect pancakes were all that were left, sigh). Next time, because there will definitely be a next time, I will try Kat's recipe.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 egg
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/3 buttermilk
3/4 cup ricotta
zest of one lemon

Whisk the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add buttermilk, egg, salt, sugar and zest. Whisk to combine. Add ricotta and stir with a spoon.


Your batter should not plop off the spoon but it should not run of the spoon like water either. It should look a tiny bit thicker than buttermilk.

The pan should not be too hot because the surface will cook faster than the insides and you will have mushy pancakes.

Lemon Curd

5 yolks
1 cup sugar
juice and zest of 4 lemons
1 stick of butter (4 oz.) cut in eight pieces

Combine yolks, sugar, juice and zest of lemons in a stainless steel bowl. Whisk until combined. Place bowl over boiling water. (You could also use a double boiler). Stir with whisk constantly. You want to heat it until it sticks to the back of a spoon. When you run your finger through it, it makes a trail. This usually takes anywhere from eight to ten minutes.

Take off the heat and whisk in pieces of butter one at a time until melted. Place in a glass or ceramic container and refrigerate. You can store this for about a week. It freezes well and defrosts rapidly.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Peanut Butter Cups

I don't know what happened at Christmas time but I bought a ton of chocolate and chocolate chips. So here I am losing weight and chocolate is not really a big part of my life. What to do with all that chocolate? Easter is coming. I thought instead of spending a ton on Easter candy, why not make my own.

Peanut Butter Cups

2/3 cup Nilla Wafers crushed (or Graham Crackers)
1 1/4 cups peanut butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 cups chocolate, chopped

Combine crushed cookies with peanut butter. Blend in confectioners sugar. You should have a mixture that is almost like a smooth dough. If it seems dry, add a little more peanut butter.

Place half of chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave for 45 seconds. Stir. Heat 45 seconds. Stir. Keep going until your chocolate is melted.

With a teaspoon place a small amount of chocolate into paper line mini muffin cups. Use the spoon to slather the chocolate up the sides of the cup. Let harden or place in refrigerator.

Spoon a small amount of the peanut mixture into the cup, leaving enough space to add the final layer of chocolate on top. Place in freezer, until hardened.

Heat remainder of chocolate in a bowl and cover the peanut mixture in the cups. Let harden, preferably in the refrigerator.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hot and Sour Soup

Can you see the love in the bowl? I think that is one of the things that differentiates it between the restaurant and my home. While it was an arduous task collecting all the ingredients, it was well worth the effort. I don't think it was just the love that set it apart though. I think it was the taste as well. I found the recipe at Gourmet (epicurious) and changed a few things one of them was adding shitakes. I think this was a good choice as wood ear mushrooms (at least here in the States) are quite flavorless. I do love their texture. I remember when I was a teenager and experimenting with Chinese food, it was one of the first things I tried. When you soak there dehydrated masses in water, it is amazing how huge they become.

I read in someone's blog that Hot and Sour Soup is not thick in China like it is here in the States. That's okay, I like mine thick anyway. Authentic or not it was a great soup. Honestly, I went to bed thinking about it. Does anyone else do that?

Hot and Sour Soup

adapted from this recipe at Epicurious

3 ounces lean boneless pork loin, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
4 small Chinese dried black mushrooms
8 small dried shitake mushrooms
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
12 dried lily buds
1/2 cup canned sliced bamboo shoots, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-wide strips
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

4 oz firm tofu (about a quarter of a block), cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips

2 large egg whites

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper (a must as it is the only source of hot)
3 stalks of green onions, chopped diaganolly

Rehydrate mushrooms and lily buds. Place them in seperate cups and pour boiling water over them, enough to cover. Let sit for at least 15 minutes. Reserve a quarter cup of the soaking liquid and mix it with the cornstarch, set aside. Slice shitakes in long pieces, a quarter of an inch thick. Cut ends off of lily buds, slice them in half and tear them lengthwise.

Combine vinegars, soy sauce and sugar. Set aside. Prepare everything, mise en place as it will go very fast.

Boil bamboo shoots seperately to get the bitterness out of them.

Heat pan until very hot. Add oils and then pork. Cook until pink is gone. Add mushrooms, lily buds and bamboo shoots. Cook one minute. Add broth and tofu. Bring to a boil and add vinegars and cornstarch mixture. Simmer one minute more.

Stir the soup and drizzle the egg whites into the soup. Sprinkle with scallions and white pepper. Serve.

Calories: 2 large dinner sized servings: 375. Recipe total is 743.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Soup and Salad, Japanese Style

One of my favorite items at a Japanese restaurant is the salad dressing. It is so immensely flavorful. Finally, after a culmination of recipes I have reached the flavor I wanted. Of course I love tempura too but that is a little guilt provoking as it is deep fried.
I also like miso, so much in fact that I have been making it for years. When my older daughter was two she started eating it. She loved to eat all my tofu from my soup. She's older now and still loves it as well as tofu. She is a very picky eater but I am so grateful that she likes tofu. I use to make smoothies for her when she was incredibly picky. I'd put fruit, sugar and tofu in them. She loved them. At least I knew she was getting her protein and fiber!

So funny when you become a Mom or a Dad you find yourself rejoicing over the simple things in life, eating and yes, pooping. Oh, and how can I forget, sleeping!

Japanese Salad Dressing

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sake
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon French mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons carrot, grated
1 tablespoon onion, grated
1 teaspoon tamari

Combine all and whisk until combined.

* I have heard there is a version with Japanese mayonnaise. I will have to try that one some time.

Miso Soup
While you can get pretty involved making miso, this is a simpler version. You can even skip the konbu step if you have miso with dashi in it.

8 cups water
1 large piece of konbu (a hard piece of kelp)
4 tablespoon miso paste
2 green onions, sliced thinly
4 ounces firm tofu, small dice

In a large sauce pan bring water to a boil. Drp in konbu and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove konbu. Add miso, stirring to incorporate it. Add tofu. Bring to a boil and simmer one minute more. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle on green onions.

* I usually put shredded seaweed in this soup as well but my daughter won't eat it. But she will eat pieces of roasted seaweed when I make sushi. Go figure. Who am I to question.

You can really add any vegetables you would like to this soup. Thinly sliced carrots are a nice addition.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


It's Paper Chef time. I am so excited because it has been several months since I participated. This month the ingredients of choice were: anchovies, figs, polenta and mint. I didn't like my first creation, although if I played with it more I probably could have come up with something more suitable. The second creation was pretty good. Great for bruschetta.
And Lawd! I have to tell you that polenta fries are awesome. Crunchy and corny, they were awesome with the tapenade and this (below) raspberry salsa.

This pic is a rockin' Saturday night date with my hubbie. Bailey's Irish Cream, polenta fries and a game. This is how we spend most Saturday nights. Usually it's Scrabble but we decided this past weeked to live on the edge and play Battleship. Yeah Baby. But seriously, when you are married with young children this is a great, free date! Works for us!

On with the recipes.

Minted Fig Canapes

1 clove garlic, minced
8 dried figs
1/2 cup of port
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint or 1 teaspoon dried
1 1/2 anchovies
1 tablespoon capers, reserving a few for decoration

Combine figs, port, water, mint, anchovies in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Heat until the figs are plump. Add capers and pulse in a processor until coarsely chopped. Heap onto polenta rounds and top with reserved capers.

Polenta Rounds and Fries

In a large sauce pan heat 4 cups of water with 1 teaspoon salt. In a bowl combine cornmeal and 2 cups water. Add to salted water when it comes to a boil. Boil for about twenty mintues until it is thickened. Pour into a greased cookie sheet. Cool overnight in the refrigerator. Cut into rounds the following day. Or cut into sticks for fries.

For polenta fries, spray with cooking oil and bake at 375F until they become crisp. Turning over to crisp up on other side.

Fig and Olive Tapenade

Using the above mixture, I added 2 more cloves of garlic and about 8 large green olives.I processed it until it was ground finer.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Shrimp and White Bean Cassoulet

I have been working diligently to make a list of all my recipes for easier reference. Whew, I had no idea I had posted so many! I am just now up to D, after hours of work. It's worth it. I love when blogs have a handy dandy list of recipes. I like to look at the titles and click on ones that sound interesting. So pretty soon they will all be there. If you want to check it out, go here.

Some time ago in Oprah's magazine I saw this recipe. I knew I had to make it. Never mind that it took me a couple years. It was very tasty, lots of flavor and very creamy. It came together rather quickly and once it is in the oven, it frees you up to do other things.

I will submit this for Magazine Monday's at Ivonne's Cream Puffs in Venice site.

Shrimp and White Bean Cassoulet
Adapted from this recipe at The Oprah magazine, O

2 tablespoons olive oil , divided
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic , minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound medium shrimp , shelled and deveined
1/3 cup tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley , divided
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of black pepper
1/2 cup tablespoons dry white wine
3 1/2 cups cooked white beans or 2 cans (14.5 ounces) cannellini beans , drained and rinsed
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium flame, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil, let butter turn golden. Add onion and saute. When golden add garlic and pepper flakes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 1/2 cup of wine. Add shrimp and most of the parsley, reserving some for the topping. When shrimp turn pink, stir in flour and salt until combined. Add beans salt and pepper and water. Transfer mixture to a 1 1/2 quart, oven safe dish.

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and remaining parsley. Layer bread crumb mixture over top of filled baking dish. Bake covered for about fifteen minutes. Remove cover and bake until bread crumbs are golden.

Friday, March 6, 2009


I just wanted to share a post about sushi. I certainly do not consider myself an expert on sushi but I will say that I am getting better each time. And so can you! If you are one of the millions of people that enjoy sushi, you CAN make it yourself. It is pretty quick once you have everything ready.

The first step is to prepare your sushi. I use About's guideline for preparing sushi rice. Sushi rice is a glutinous type of rice. Lending itself to sushi rolling. Other rices would surely fall apart. I dont always add the vinegar, sugar and salt to the rice.

Have all your ingredients ready as it makes it so much easier. I have carrot, cucumber, avocado and I usually have mock crab but this is salmon. There is not a lot of fresh fish around here. One of these days I will venture into another kind of sushi besides California Roll. For now I save it for the professionals.

You need to have this bamboo mat for rolling but I am sure you could fashion something else that would work as well. What that would be I have no idea at the moment. You lay plastic wrap over the bamboo.

Lay down your roasted seaweed square, then spoon the rice evenly over that, down a half an inche from where you will start and leaving about 1 1/2 inches space at the end.
Press firmly as you roll make sure everything is being compacted neatly into the roll. This really is the hardest part I think.
You kind of have to pull up on the plastic wrap and bamboo mat as you go otherwise you will roll it into your roll. I don't think that would be too tastey.

I use a serrated knife as it seems to cut cleanly. I lay it down so I can measure the rolls to be as even as possible. Because I am not skilled enough I usually have little ends that are not filled so the first cut is mine, not being perfect but tastey anyhow.

You will note they are not perfect. Each time you make them you will become more and more skilled and find it easier and easier. Like anything really. My main point wasn't to say I was perfect at this. My main point was to say that these things that we pay tons of money for we CAN do ourselves sometimes. Save a buck and take a little pride in what we created.


If I told you that this bread was sour like a sour dough loaf with a touch of sweet, ever so slight, would you eat it? If I told you that the inside was tender and the crust, crisp, would you eat it?

Now, if I told you that I used beets to make red bread and pickle juice to add a taste of dill to the bread and it lent such an amazing sourness to the bread, would you still want to take a bite?

Crazy ingredients as they seem, they worked together quite nicely. I couldn't have hoped for a better result.

My daughter devoured a slice without even asking why it was red. All she knew was that it was fresh out of the oven and a buttered slice was probably going to taste good. Yeah, she liked it. Then my husband said why is it red? I paused and said red food dye. Liar! I paused again, looked at her and then my husband and said beets... and the white, pickle juice. Gasp. She wanted to protest. She startedto, but the allure of fresh buttered bread won out despite the ingredients. VICTORY!
It's pretty psychedelic isn't it? Some time ago I was perusing Susan of Wild Yeast's, Yeast spotting and wow did I see a very cool loaf of bread. Click here to check it out at My Food Blog. So I tweaked it to make my own version which went something like this.

And speaking of Susan, I will be submitting this to YeastSpotting!


for the red:
1 1/4 cups tempid beet puree
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or canola)

for the white:
1 cup tempid pickle juice
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon yeast
no salt, there is enough in the pickle juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

Directions for each but done seperately. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl or a mixer. Add wet ingredients, juice and oil, to the dry. Combine until the dough is pulling away from the mixer bowl. You want a smooth non sticky dough. If you are hand kneading, do so for about five minutes. Place in an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk.

Once both doughs are done and had their first rise then you can begin to shape. Lay half of the white dough down and press into a circle. Place red dough on top and press into a circles as well. Shape the other half of the white dough into a circle and place it on top. Roll and twist into a ball, pinching the ends to seal. Place round on baking sheet and cover, let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake at 350F for about 40 minutes. Bread is ready when the internal temperature has reach 200F.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Portugese Dish with Broa

I did a search for the type of recipe that was suggested by Bernard Clayton to go with the Broa (click here for that). Not too many recipes out there like what he was talking about. But all I needed was one and I found it. Delicious. A very simple dish with some nice flavor. We really enjoyed this. I would like to make it again because you can prep everything ahead of time and then pop it in the oven. Have to love that type of recipe.

Baked Eggs with Ham, Sausage and Peas
Adapted from Regional Recipes

1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 (16 ounce) can tomatoes (with liquid)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2.5 ounces fully cooked smoked ham, diced
2 smoked chicken chorizo sausage, sliced thinly
2 eggs
1/4 cup cooked green peas
2 tablespoons chopped pimento

Cook and stir onion and garlic in oil in 2-quart saucepan until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, sugar and paprika; break up tomatoes with fork. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.Cook and stir ham and chorizo sausage in 8-inch skillet until sausage is done, about 5 minutes; drain.Divide tomato mixture evenly among 4 ungreased 1-ounce custard cups. Break 1 egg over mixture in each cup. Arrange ham mixture, peas and pimiento around each egg. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees F until eggs are set, 12 to 15 minutes.Serve in custard cups.
Yields 2 servings.

My Notes:

I omitted the parsley because I didnt have any- definitely would use it next time.
The calories for half the recipe is about 350.

Crumble Broa into the mixture for more taste, flavor and texture.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cheerio Bars

With a surplus of Cheerios around my house, I felt it was time to call in the big guns to get the kids to eat them. You see lately my kids are on an oatmeal kick. Not a bad thing but I have lots of Cheerios here. What will make anything disappear fast? Peanut Butter and chocolate.


2/3 cup corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Cheerios
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan combine corn syrup and brown sugar. Heat until bubbles appear around the sides of the pan. Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter until fully combined. Add Cheerios, chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Press into a sprayed 9 x 13 pan, evenly and tightly. When cool, cut into 24 bars.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Portugese Corn Bread, aka BROA

When I lived in AZ, I met a wonderful girl named Eunice, (pronounce ow-knee-say- kinda). So beautiful the way she pronounced it. She was Portugese and came from San Paolo. We became quick friends. Upon returning from Brazil, she brought some sun cured meat home that is not available here in the States. She and her husband had me and a couple other people over for feijoda. WHOA. It was good. And REAL salty. It is customary I guess to serve oranges after the meal to help with the saltiness. I loved the time we had at their house. Eating, hanging out and just being silly.

I must say that Portugese is an amazingly beautiful language to listen to.

Recently I came upon this recipe for Broa, a yeasted corn bread. It's Portugese. I decided to give it a try. I really like corn bread and a yeasted corn bread piqued my interest. It's not sweet like traditional American corn bread but it is not dry either. The bread is also used in a dish that I will post in a couple days.

I am sending this one over to Susan at Wild Yeast. She always has such beautiful breads!


from Bernard Claytons, New Complete Book of Breads

1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 T olive oil
2 pkg. dry yeast
2 c bread flour, approx.

Grind cornmeal to a powder in a food processor. You may skip this step, but the product will not be as smooth.

Mix until smooth: 1 c of the powdered cornmeal, the salt and
the water. Add olive oil, and cool to lukewarm. Blend in the yeast.

Gradually add the remaining cornmeal and 1 c flour, mixing constantly. Add more flour if dough is still sticky. Rise until double in volume.

Knead until firm. Shape into round loaf. Rise until double. Bake @ 350 for about 30 to 40 minutes.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

RECIPES TO RIVAL: Ricotta Cheese

A very cool month at Recipes to Rival. Our challenge this month was to make ricotta cheese. I was very excited to hear about the challenge as I have been wanting to make ricotta for quite some time. Thanks Lauren of I'll Eat You Delish and Temperance of High on the Hog.

It was a fairly easy process with a great yield. For a full story on our blog, click here. I used whole milk as I wanted a big bang for my buck. The higher the percentage of fat, the larger the yield. My yield was about 1 1/2 pounds of ricotta. Not bad! The one thing I would have done differently is that I would have put salt in it. I will be spending some time perfecting this recipe to suit my tastes. By the way, mine never reached 185F. I understand you are not suppose to boil it so I wonder how it could reach 185F. I settled on 110 because that was as close to boiling as I was going to get and I already had quite a bit of curds.

In doing this challenge I began doing some research about cheese and found this pretty informative site. Can you see that this cheese making will be in my near future. I felt the ricotta that we made tasted more like queso fresco than ricotta. This is why I would like to experiment some more.
this whey has a future in a bread recipe.

Recipe for Ricotta Making

1 gallon milk (you can use 1 percent on up, remember that the more fat in the milk, the more cheese it will yield.)
1 quart buttermilk

cheesecloth (if it seems to loose to catch all the curds, double it up)

Place buttermilk and milk in a pot, heat on med-low heat until it reaches 185 degrees.

It will begin to separate into curds and whey. Be sure to stir occasionally to make sure no curds stick to the bottom and burn. You will see that as the temperature approaches 185, the whey becomes clearer as the curds coagulate more.

Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and hang for 10-15 minutes. Remove from cheesecloth and place in an airtight container.