Sunday, May 30, 2010

hear the buzz....

no recipe
just a little update 
on our bees
that are reproducing
at the rate of about 1000
a day
pretty cool

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Splat Cookies

this is definitely not a new recipe
as a matter of fact
it might be as old as time
or at least as old as
quaker old-time oatmeal
on the other hand
had never heard of
or tasted this cookie
before i met my husband

upon seeing it at a pot-luck table
he murmured
that is my favorite kind of cookie
it would be great if you could figure out the recipe
which was easy
compared to the 
memory game
you know the one
where someone describes something they once had
and then asks if you can duplicate it
that sucks

this is my version of what is commonly known as
no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies
i call them splat cookies
because i make the dough
and basically
splat them into shape
no muss
no fuss
Splat Cookies
(printable recipe)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk, cream, or evaporated milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
generous pinch of salt
1/4 cup dark cocoa
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3 cups oatmeal
1 tsp vanilla
Throw the sugar, milk (or whatever you are using), butter, salt and cocoa into a heavy bottomed pan.  Cook on medium heat stirring occasionally until it comes to a boil.  Stir constantly for 3 minutes while it is boiling. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla.  Stir until the peanut butter has melted. Drop in the chocolate chips and give a good stir, then stir in the oats. If the mixture begins to seize up on you, place over a gentle heat to loosen it up a bit...if it still is being funky, add a bit more milk (cream, evap milk)...just a tad at a time.  Using a tablespoon, drop onto a lined cookie sheet and let cool.
Eat with friends and a glass of milk!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club- Tortelli with Butter and Sage

i'm on a bit of a pasta jag lately
i can't really explain it
except that dishes like this 
are magic in the food pyramid department
protein check
carb check
dairy check
add a salad and you are golden

this is not an easy recipe
i admit it
unless you buy pasta sheets
or use wonton wrappers
(giada does, why shouldn't you?)

but it is really good
cheesy and fresh
Tortelli with Buttery Sage Sauce
modified from mario batali
1 1/2 lbs pasta dough
8 oz fresh ricotta**
(or store bought if you are not an obsessive person like i am quickly becoming)
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 cup finely chopped italian parsley
zest from 1 lemon grated on a microplane
salt and pepper
4 Tbs unsalted butter
8 fresh sage leaves
4 Tbs cream 
divide pasta into 4 pieces, roll each one out through the thinnest setting a pasta machine.  lay the sheets on a lightly floured work surface and cover with a damp kitchen towel. 
make the filling:  in a large bowl combine the ricotta, 1 cup of parmesan, the eggs, nutmeg, lemon zest and parsley and mix until thoroughly blended.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  
cut the pasta into 3" squares, cutting only 4 or 5 at a time. place a generous teaspoon of the filling in the center of each and fold the dough to form a triangle.  press the edges together to seal. bring the two bottom points together and pinch to seal. transfer to a baking sheet lined with a kitchen towel. 
bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously.  
meanwhile, make the sauce.  In a saute pan, melt the butter, add the sage leaves and let the butter get a little not let it burn. add the cream and let simmer just to thicken slightly. 
cook the pasta in briskly boiling water for about 3-4 minutes. using a slotted spoon, drain the pasta well and transfer to the butter sauce.  toss to coat and add the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan and cook over low heat until the pasta is well coated.  serve immediately.
**i sometimes find that regular grocery store ricotta can be a bit watery...i usually drain it for a few hours or overnight in cheesecloth, a colander or coffee filter.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

kale--i hardly knew thee

listen to me
i am a sucker for anything crunchy
so when i saw an episode
of top chef masters
and one of them
made crispy kale
i thought to myself
i might like that
and boy did i
especially after i drizzled it with truffle oil
and sprinkled it with a bit of sea salt
here's a secret
i took it to the movies
and crunched away with the best of em'
listen to me
you have to try this
Crunchy Kale
(printable recipe)
1 bunch kale--washed and dried
olive oil
sea salt
truffle oil
remove the stems of the kale and cut the leaves into nice size pieces (like potato chips). place on a lightly oiled  sheet pan.  drizzle just a bit of oil on top...just a little bit. sprinkle with sea salt.  place in a 250 oven and bake for about 40 minutes. check periodically to see how it is crisping up.  once crisped, remove from oven and  drizzle with truffle oil.  alternatively, you can replace the sea salt with truffle salt.  who am i kidding---this is good even if you don't have truffle oil.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

rhubarb and strawberry custard tart

we like rhubarb around here

it is so yummy baked in puff pastry
 slow cooked to jam
finely diced raw and tossed in a bit of sugar and cardamom on top of sweet panna cotta
complementing apples and blueberries in a crispy warm cobbler
or like this
churned into a custard protected by strawberry soldiers
in a crispy-buttery crust
can't you just taste it?

actually, if you swing by right now
you might just get the last slice

Rhubarb and Strawberry Custard Tart
(printable recipe)
2 1/2 cups rhubarb--cut into large dice
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 Tbs lemon juice
4 egg yolks
4 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1 lb  fresh strawberries
1 pre-baked pie or tart shell
place the rhubarb, sugar,  1/4 tsp salt and lemon juice in a saucepan.  cook on medium heat until the sugar is melted, the rhubarb is soft and the sugar syrup is nice and red and bubbly.  meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, 1/4 tsp salt, cream and vanilla until pale yellow.  slowly temper the eggs with the rhubarb and sugar, then put it all back into the saucepan.  turn the heat to low and stir continually until it begins to thicken to a custard. allow the mixture to just bubble...don't let it go to a rolling boil, but you can let it bubble once or twice.  pour into a clean bowl and stir in unsalted butter.  let it cool to lukewarm, then pour into prepared crust.  top with whole strawberry soldiers, or slice strawberries and lay flat on top.  place in refrigerator to chill before serving.
*if you are worried at all about your crust sogging, one of my tricks is to "seal" it with a bit of white chocolate.  this just provides a layer between the moisture..which helps keep the crust, crusty.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--Paglia e Fieno

if firenze holds my heart
roma holds my mind

many years ago
on a warm afternoon
guidebook in hand
i found myself 
in rome
off the beaten track

and i was hungry
wandering can do that to a girl

i had been making my way towards the ghetto
because fried artichokes
are what dreams are made of
but i was silly
because it was saturday
and they honor the sabbath 
in the ghetto

so i explored a bit more
and found
a charming restaurant
built in the substructure of the old teatro di pompeo
where the roman senate met
and where caesar was killed
and where i tried my very first
paglia e fieno 

it means straw and hay
and it is a pasta dish
that makes my mind wander
and my heart sing
Paglia e Fieno
(printable recipe)
While this recipe is rich, I have made it a lot less rich by reducing the amount of dairy and substituting 1/2&1/2 for the cream
1/2 lb    fettucine
1/2 lb   spinach fettucine
olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, smashed but kept whole
2 Tbs    unsalted butter
1/4 cup  diced pancetta
3 Tbs    finely chopped shallots
1 1 /2 cups sliced crimini or porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup  frozen or fresh peas
3/4  cup dry white wine
1/2 cup half and half
finely grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
cook pasta in boiling salted water. meanwhile, make sauce.  heat a large skillet and pour in enough olive oil to make a very thin layer.  drop in the garlic and cook until the garlic browns.  remove the garlic and throw away.  put heat on low and toss in pancetta.  do not let the pancetta crisp up.  add the shallots and after a few minutes, pour in about 1/4 cup of the wine, and let it absorb. toss in the mushrooms. as they begin to soften and cook, drop in the peas.  add the remaining wine, the half and half, and the butter, and slowly simmer to thicken a bit.  Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat.  add as much parmesan as you like...but it doesn't need much. don't add salt and pepper until after you add the cheese.
* the restaurant in Rome is called Da Pancrazio

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Queen of Hearts Tarts

here's what i'm thinkin'

why wasn't there MORE broo ha ha about
Alice in Wonderland?

it came and went too fast
not that i loved the story
because i really didn't
my eyes lit up
and then
teared up
at the design and beauty
of this film
and i keep hoping
for the occasion
to recreate
some of its amazing elements

is not that day
but i think these tarts are fun
representing the
smoldering of the Red Queen's dark heart
and the
flame of her hair
Queen of Hearts Tart
1 recipe italian meringue dyed red
strawberry, raspberry, mixed berry, or apricot jam
chocolate pastry cream (recipe follows)
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
pinch salt
1 Tbs dark rum or 1 tsp vanilla
2 cups milk
5 oz bittersweet chocolate-chopped or chipped
1 Tbs unsalted butter
Roll out dough and place into tart or tartlet pans as directed.  Blind bake until completely done.  Let cool.   Meanwhile, make the pastry cream.
Whisk together the sugar, salt, egg yolks and cornstarch until light yellow. Whisk in the rum or vanilla. Scald the milk in a saucepan, then temper the egg mixture, whisking as you add the milk.  Return to saucepan and low heat. Cook over low heat until it begins to thicken and just starts to bubble a not let it simmer or boil.  Pour through sieve into a clean bowl. Add chocolate and butter and stir to melt and combine.  Let cool a bit.
Spoon and spread a thin layer of jam in the bottom of the tart shell. Top with chocolate pastry cream.  Whip up meringue and top the tart or tartlets in design of your choice.  Pop in a 350 oven and bake until meringue begins to firm up, but does not brown....note: if you are making this as a non-queen of hearts tart, keep the meringue it's natural color and let it bake away until brown or use a torch to color as you please. Chill before serving

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--buttermilk fried chicken

i am currently reading this novel
called The Help
and it is really, really good
and it isn't about food at all
but there is a character
that is a really good southern cook
and every time she tells her story
there is some sort of amazing meal lying in the periphery
and i admit
although not crucial to the story line
i can't seem to get it out of my mind
so for about a week now
i have had visions 
smothered pork chops
fried chicken
fresh peach ice cream
caramel cake
dancing in my head
try as i might
i just can't shake it
that summer swimsuit season
looms near
gimme, gimme, gimme
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
(printable recipe)
1 whole fryer chicken--cut into parts (or 8-10 of your fave pieces)
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp sugar 
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried marjoram leaves
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
peanut oil for cooking
Clean and dry the chicken pieces.  Place in a large freezer/storage bag.  Give the Tabasco about 5 or 6 shakes into the bag, then put enough buttermilk in the bag to coat all chicken pieces.  Mix it around a bit to insure every piece gets coated with tabasco and buttermilk.  Place in the fridge and let "marinate" for 4 hours or overnight. Remove chicken from fridge about an hour before cooking to bring to room temperature (if it is a very hot kitchen, use your judgement on this).  You do not want to put ice cold chicken into the hot pan, but you also do not want it to sit out for more than 1 hour.  Heat peanut oil in a heavy bottomed pan (i use a cast iron skillet), to about half-way up the sides.  Meanwhile, prepare the flour.  Mix the flour, turmeric, sugar, onion powder, parsley flakes, thyme, marjoram, pepper, salt, cayenne, and garlic powder in a shallow dish.  Remove chicken pieces from the buttermilk and immediately drop into the flour mixture.  Coat evenly and generously.  Drop into the hot oil and be patient. Do not crowd the it in several batches if necessary.  The chicken will take about 10-13 minutes per side depending on the size of each piece. Dark meat takes a bit longer, so put it in the oil first.  Turn each piece only once...and keep the oil below 375..but at or above 350.  Remove from oil and drain on brown paper or other kitchen paper.  

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

P is for Pie

my best friend
from childhood
loved apple pie so much
that it was her birthday "cake" 
every year
i was always disappointed
i didn't quite get the concept
that it wasn't about me

it sorta turned me off to pie 
until college
when i found myself in a restaurant
pioneer pies
and i thought
if anyone has good pie
it has got to be this place

i was wrong

but it spurred an interest

and now

i always have time for pie
I am participating in alphabe-thursday
over at

you should go check it out
and see what all the fun is about
this week
sponsored by the letter P

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--Taco Salad

as the days get 
i look forward to my food getting

there are days when
even i
don't like to be in a warm kitchen

growing up,
come summer
there was always a crowd
at our table

this salad was 
my mother's summer standby

it was one of those dinners
that every body loved
and tastes surprisingly good

with a tall cold glass of milk
a tangy margarita 
(click is a great recipe)

i really love it
hope you do too
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 lb lean ground beef (or turkey)
1 Tbs taco seasoning
olive oil
1 large head romaine lettuce
1 can kidney beans--drained and rinsed
black olives (the kind in a can)
shredded cheddar or "mexican blend" cheese
girard's champagne dressing
combination of equal parts sour cream and salsa mixed into a dressing
tortilla chips
(i have an aunt that uses nacho cheese doritos and swears by it--i like tortilla strips)
Heat olive oil in a saute pan.  Cook onions until they are translucent and start to brown around the edges.  Toss in the ground beef and cook through, breaking up into pieces.  Scatter in the taco seasoning along with 3 Tbs water.  Stir to coat, let cool.  
Meanwhile, chop lettuce and toss in all ingredients into a large salad bowl...including chips.  Once the meat is cooled, toss into salad and add dressing. Serve immediately.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Je Sweets

get it?
it is a play on je suis
which is almost the extent of my french language knowledge
as part of my real life
i am on the board of a private high school
which means
i do a bit of donating
this year
the big gala had a
with a french market

 i donated a  little something
for the auction
for the french market
i did a sweets table
modeled after
a sweet shoppe
i frequent
in my dreams
you can get the recipe for the 
and the 
* hubster made my signage, stickers
and the template for the eiffel  tower

bon bon!
( i have no clue if that is even french, but if i were french, which i am not, i would make it the newest french catch-phrase)


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