Saturday, January 24, 2015
Monday, September 15, 2014
Caesar Salad with Red Pepper and Avocado
1 large head romaine lettuce, cored and coarsely cubbed
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced, about 1/2 inch slices
1 sweet red pepper, cored and seeded, cut in julienne slices
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced veriically in 1/2 inch slices
-Chill lettuce. In large bowl, combine lettuce and all but 1/3
cup salad dressing. Arrange salad on large serving platter or
on individual salad plates. Top with croutons. Arrange
avocado, red pepper and onion slices around edge of salad.
Drizzle remaining 1/3 cups salad dressing on vegetable slices
and sprinkle entire plate with grated parmesan cheese (or
garnish with a parmesan cheese crisp) and more
freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 medium white or yellow onion
1 tab. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 - 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
freshly ground black pepper to taste
-Combine dressing ingredients in food processor. Blend until
smooth and then chill.
4 cups cubed french bread or baguette
1 clove garlic, finely minced
5 tab. finely grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the
garlic, cheese and oil. Pour onto baking sheet. Cover with
bread cubes and toss to coat. Bake until crisp, about 10
Optional: To make the salad a complete meal, mix cooked shredded chicken into the salad when you add the dressing or place a grilled chicken breast or salmon fillet on the top of each individual serving of the salad.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 bananas, sliced in 3/4 inch slices
1 cup fresh blueberries
8 Pecan Sandie cookies cut into 6 pieces
8 coconut macaroons, broken into large pieces
6 gingersnaps, coarsely crushed
-Combine cut fruit and cookies in medium bowl and chill for 30 minutes. Place about 3/4 cup salad on each single serving dish. Top with 1/4 cup dressing and garnish with gingersnaps. Serve immediately. (If salad sits at room temperature for long, the cookies become soggy. The salad is more visually appealing if the dressing is spooned on top rather than tossed with the salad.)
3/4 cup cream, lightly whipped
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3 ounces softened cream cheese
1 tab. grated orange rind
-Combine ingredients until well combined and chill until ready to use.
Monday, June 9, 2014
2 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups white sugar
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberries, pureed
3 cups fresh strawberries
white chocolate curls
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 10 inch round cake pans.
-In a large bowl, beat sugar, gelatin and butter until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix flour and baking powder and beat, alternately with the milk into the sugar mixture. Fold in 1 tsp. vanilla and pureed strawberries. Divide equally into 2 prepared pans.
-Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then remove from pans and cool completely.
White - Chocolate Buttercream:
1 2/3 cups sugar
7 large egg whites
1 1/2 pounds (6 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoons, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 ounces good quality white chocolate, melted and cooled
-Place sugar and egg whites in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
-Transfer hot mixture to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and cooled, about 10 minutes. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
-Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter by the tablespoon,
beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and white chocolate. If not using immediately, refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Bring to room
temperature before using; beat on low speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.
To assemble cake:
-With a long serated knife, slice each cool cake in half horizontally. Insert knife half way through the cake and rotate the cake carefully as you gently saw through the cake. Set the 2 cake layers aside and repeat with other cake.
-Place one cake layer on cake platter and frost with about 1 cup of buttercream. Arrange sliced berries over layer of buttercream.
-Place another cake layer over first layer and repeat buttercream and fresh berry layer. Repeat one more time.
-Frost the top and sides of cake with the remaining buttercream. Decorate top of the cake and around the bottom with more sliced and halved berries and white chocolate curls. Chill. Remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.
*Cook's Comments: If you don't have cake flour on hand, combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour with 1/4 cup cornstarch and blend well with a whisk.
Friday, June 6, 2014
centuries before I was born, to the "scone", a dry biscuit concoction
that had to be served with tea just to wash it down. How could this be,
I wondered and assumed the English were unfortunately mistaken but
then when I considered that an entire Brisith nation was confused,
I confess, I had to question my assumptions about food origins. In my
search for the truth, I looked inwardly to examine my own culinary
heritage, a heritage that included pioneers crossing the plains in covered
wagons with yeast and flour preciously stored in cushioned barrels.
My mother carried on the pioneer tradition and called these fried, golden
yeast squares, "scones". As her mother had done before her, she taught
me how to stretch the dough a bit just before cooking, to ensure
the scones rose with a pillowy puff in their middles as they cooked.
In my imaginings, I could make it work; the pioneers' encounters with
Native Americans were for the most part friendly...
perhaps even included exchanges of culinary techniques? Regardless,
stubbornly I continue to defend my heritage and proclaim scones to be
thinly rolled yeast (roll) dough, cut into squares and deep fried until
golden. Versatility allows them to be served with butter, or if
in the mood for a sweet version with honey, jam or powdered sugar.
Often, family Sunday dinners are scones and soup, the only variable
being the kind of soup served. (I confess to being a bit of a softy -
preparing 2 - 3 different soups to satisfy 6 diverse clamoring appetites.)
Which leads me happily to this recipe. Indian Fry Bread was here
first...and certainly Mexican influence saw taco potential in the
flat round bread... and just as 2 + 2= 4, Navajo, Mexican and
Scones = Navajo Tacos! Served at county fairs, amusement parks
and rodeo days concessions in western states they are a creation
worthy of their ancestry - even though the pedigree chart may be
somewhat complicated to follow!
And as to the British scone (which I have ultimately,
learned to savor) I just call them "Tea Biscuits". Problem solved!
2 tab. dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 cups boiling water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tab. shortening
2 tab. butter
1 tab. salt
5 cups flour, approximately
-Sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup lukewarm water in small bowl.
Set aside for 5 minutes. In large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups boiling water, sugar, shortening, butter and salt. Mix briefly and allow to cool to lukewarm. Stir in dissolved yeast and eggs. Mix well. Add flour as necessary to make dough easy to handle. Knead for 5 minutes by hand or with electric mixer with the dough hook.
-Place dough in a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in warm place or in the oven on "bread proofing" setting for about 1 1/2 hours, or dough may be refrigerated 8 hours or overnight. (This longer process allows dough to rise slowly.)
-When ready to use, punch the dough down and roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a floured surface. Let dough rest 10 minutes then cut into 3 - 4 inch squares, or rectangles. Let dough rest another 30 minutes.
-Heat vegetable oil to about 375 degrees in deep fryer or large, deep skillet or dutch oven. Place dough squares carefully onto hot oil, pulling and stretching slightly just before. Cook until golden brown on first side and scone puffs up in the middle. (Sometimes the squares do not puff.....they are still delicious, so serve them anyway.) Turn squares with tongs to the other side and continue to cook until golden (about 3- 4 minutes total cooking time). Place on paper towels. Serve warm or at room temperature.
To create Navajo Tacos, serve scones with:
-browned and seasoned ground beef, (season with salt,
pepper, garlic powder, minced onion, chili powder and
-chili with beans, or pinto or black beans
-chopped onions, tomatoes, olives
-shredded cheddar or jack cheese
-peeled and diced avocado
-Place warm ground beef and chili or beans on top of
scone and garnish with toppings as desired.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
When I first discovered it at "Fritzbee's" restaurant in the 1980's I felt the
same. I have watched over the years as various renditions of Chicken
Tortilla Soup have come and gone, most delicious but none measuring up to
Fritzbee's level. Some created their flavor base with tomato sauce; others
were nothing more than chicken broth with tortilla strips on top. In my
attempts to ensure that even when Frtizbee's closed I could continue to enjoy
their soup, I created a version which relies on the flavor and substance of the
tortilla itself as an integral part of the broth. Providing the structure to the
soup in a similar way that bread does to some Italian soups, the tortilla breaks
down and thickens the soup to a creamy consistency. The toppings (fried corn
tortilla strips, chopped avocado, sour cream, shredded Monterey Jack cheese),
add a crunch and a fresh Tex-Mex bite.
Now the matter of cilantro....there are two kinds of people in the world,
those that like cilantro and those that don't. It's like a genetic tendency, that
can't be swayed or convinced otherwise. Don't try to coax me - cilantro and
I have never been friends. And my husband is hesitant to eat at Mexican
restaurants worried his food will be laced with what to others, is a staple
condiment. So if you are genetically inclined to appreciate it, pile on the
cilantro. If not, you will appreciate my revelation while chopping cilantro
one day in prep for a cooking class: cilantro smells like stink bugs.
That evening one of my cooking students interjected unprompted,
"You know, cilantro smells like stink bugs." There you have it - proof positive!
Those of us that live on the East Coast have unfortunately become familiar with
this immigrant from Asia over the past few years as these pesky insects have
darted about our heads, clogged up our gas fireplaces, dive-bombed into our
hair during church meetings, fouling the air with their scent. It does not
necessarily follow that they taste the same.....I will leave that up to someone who
to be the judge!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
tortillas are broken up and absorbed into broth. Season with
cumin, salt and pepper.
until crisp and golden.
cheese and tortilla strips.
-For a heartier version, add 1 cup frozen corn niblets and 3/4 cup black
use boxed chicken stock or canned chicken broth and add 1 tab.
"Better Than Boullion" paste to develop a rich chicken flavor.
Best option - purchase a whole stewing chicken and place in large pot
-cover with water and add a whole quartered onion, 3 stalks chunked
celery, 3 carrots in large chunks, 3 sprigs parsley and salt and pepper.
Simmer over low heat 2 hours. There you have your rich broth and
chicken for the soup!
Thursday, February 27, 2014
you aren't inclined to eat it! The breezes of Provence in the south of France, must be
perfumed with the herbs of this salad, marjoram, rosemary, thyme and tarragon, growing next to fields of sunflowers and lavender in the warm Mediterranean sun. Or at least I can imagine it so, from pictures and movies I've seen of the region. So inspired I've been that my kitchen décor is an homage to the colors of Provence, including buttery yellow and pottery blue painted walls, accented with curtains made from napkins purchased in Paris...as close as I've made it so far.
I can more easily imagine orchards of olive trees rooted on rocky, craggy terraces.... I come by that musing from first hand experience, having lived in Tunisia. This North African, Mediterranean country is not touted as a great producer of olive oil and yet 30% of its cultivated land is dedicated to olive husbandry- which I would attest to having been lost, on
one occasion, among olive trees standing at attention, like wooden soldiers as far as the
eye could see in every direction. Judging from the position of the sun, my husband was certain he must be driving in the right direction as we bumped about the rows and furrows of the olive orchards for what seemed hours. The monotony was only broken by an impromptu visit to an ancient olive oil factory we happened upon. The best field trip ever for our children who were allowed to walk right up next to the workers without a hairnet on and watch as the workers filled round woven baskets with olives, piled the baskets one upon another on the stone press, and then lowered a heavy stone on top of the stack to press the oil from the olives, leaving the pits and pith behind in the woven mesh of the baskets. The Tunisian workers were delighted to display their skill in their un-mechanized, yet ingenious industry and were delighted to find that anyone, let alone American tourists might be interested. Alas the Tunisian industry saved the first press, the light pale oil, for export and sold the green, bitter, 3rd or 4th press for the locals and expats who temporarily ate as the locals did. In this salad recipe, treat these beautiful veggies to an oil fit for their vibrance!
Provencal Pepper Salad
vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
Place under broiler, as close as possible to heating element.
Cook, turning peppers frequently until skin on all sides has
charred. Place peppers in a plastic bag for 10 minutes.
dish with slices. Sprinkle with a quarter of the salad dressing;
add a layer of prepared green peppers and sprinkle with
dressing; add a layer of red peppers and sprinkle with
dressing. Shell eggs and slice into rings. Cover red pepper
layer with a layer of sliced eggs and pour the remaining
dressing over the top. Arrange anchovy fillets in a lattice on
top. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Persnickety PS: Techniques used for Peeling Pesky Peppers!
For all techniques: If you worry you've burned your peppers, don't throw them out...they're just
ready to peel!
Technique #1: I first learned how to peel peppers from our Tunisian maid - placing them directly on the flame of a gas burner, turning as each surface was charred. (It worked beautifully but was a messy affair.)
Technique #2: Garnered from a Mexican cookbook, this became my go-to peeling method for years. Place the whole peppers on a rack underneath the hot broiler. Char and blacken peppers on all sides by turning to another side, once the top surface is charred. Takes about 5 minutes per side. Remove peppers from oven and place them in a plastic bag and set aside for 10 minutes. Then peel off the charred skin under running cold water. (It is sometimes difficult to char the peppers evenly which makes it hard to easily remove the peel.)
Enter Technique #3: Currently my method of choice as the flatter surfaces of the pepper, char more evenly and therefore peel uniformly. Cut the pepper into quarters and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, skin side up about 6 inches under the broiler. Broil until pepper quarters are charred and blackened. Remove and place in a plastic bag or in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap and let sit 10 minutes. Remove charred skin under running cold water. If the recipe suggests saving the juices from the peppers, peel over a bowl to catch the juices (however, the skin is more difficult to remove without the running water.)