Monday, August 15, 2011

Blueberry Roly Poly

This recipe is from the 1949 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book.  This and my Fannie Farmer of the same vintage is great for real comfort food recipes.  I found this one a couple of weeks ago and have made it with both peaches and blueberries.  Yummy either way!

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 cup water
2 tsp grated lemon rind (from about 1/2 a large lemon)
2 tbsp lemon juice (1/2 a large lemon)

Add to a small saucepan and boil for 10 minutes.  Pour into a 10" x 8" x 2" baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2 cups sifted all purpose white flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt (I just use a big pinch)
6-7 tbs shortening (I use 7 tbs butter)
about 2/3 -3/4 cup milk (I use 3/4 cup)

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter.  Mix in the milk to form a rough dough.  Dump onto a board and roll out into a rectangle approx 12" x 8" (I find it easier to roll if you make the rectangle slightly larger by an inch or two in both directions).  DO NOT over mix the biscuit dough!

1/4 cup brown sugar firmly packed
2 cups blueberries
2 tbs softened butter

Top the rectangle with the brown sugar & blueberries to within 1/2" from the edges.  Roll up from the long side, like jelly roll.  (You'll need to sort of squeeze it gently together to keep it in a cylinder.)  Cut into 8 even pieces and lay flat in the baking dish.  Dot with the softened butter.  Bake in 425 over for 30 to 35 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Camping in the Rough - Blast from the Bayou - Breakfast

Asparagus Camembert Omelette with Mimosas

Who says you can't have good food while camping, certainly not me!  Here are some of our experiences from our recent trip to CT for the Blast from the Bayou Cajun & Zydeco Festival.  It truly is a blast. We always have a great time when we're there.

Dan backstage-ish with Cedric Watson

Since Dan had to work, I got to stake out our site & begin set up of the camp.  The tent is easy.  It's the easy-up and kitchen that are the hard part!  I never said that I travelled light.  You bring a knife block when you camp, don't you?  Luckily, he got to CT in time to help me out in between the downpours that are inevitable when festival camping.

So for breakfast we had the omelette pictured above.  I made it with the last purple asparagus.  Only needed one, since he was a monster (yes, definitely a he).  Had picked up some beautiful Camembert from  Brookford Farm in NH.  If you get a chance to visit there, you should!  And we HAD to have bacon, it's one of the rules.

To make the omelette, I first peeled the lower portion of the asparagus.  You have to peel the large ones, or you won't be able to eat them.  Then I sliced it thinly and blanched until tender in a bit of lightly salted & sugared water.  Drain & set aside.

Looks yummy already, doesn't it?!  Heat a medium sized nonstick skillet over medium low heat, add a pat of butter & a little olive oil. When the butter stops foaming it's time to add your 4 eggs that you've lightly beaten with about 1/4 cup of milk and some salt & pepper to taste.

Then cut off the weirdo rind.  You can see how ripe the cheese is, by the time it went into the pan it was really runny!  Once the eggs have set a bit add the asparagus pieces & the cheese.  Once the cheese has melted a bit, flip over one side of the eggs, cook for another minute or two, the serve!  There was a Cajun food vendor on site, so we bought grits from her.  She couldn't figure out why we just wanted plain grits, heh heh, wasn't telling her!

Moral of the story?  Eat well, no matter where you are!  Enjoy!

Portabella Pizzas

So, I really wanted to have some pizza, but didn't want it to be too heavy.  Luckily I found these beautiful portabella mushrooms in my new fancy Market Basket in Lowell (my new favorite store).

These were super easy to make.  You will need:

2 or 3 large portabella mushrooms per person, stems removed and wiped clean
1/2 c of your favorite tomato sauce, preferably home made, per person
a little olive oil
Your favorite toppings, I used peppers and vidalia onions
1 slice of mozzeralla cheese for each mushroom
parmesean or romano cheese for grating
pinch of crush red pepper flakes
Fresh basil, finely sliced

Turn your oven onto 400 degrees to preheat.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat a small amount of olive oil.  Put in as many mushroom as will fit in the pan.  Cook the mushrooms flipping a couple of times until they are softened.  If you don't cook them ahead of time, they'll still be raw when you go to eat them, blech!  Continue cooking your mushrooms until you have them all precooked.

Place the mushrooms in a baking dish that is large enough to hold them all.  It needs to be at least 1" deep since there will be lots of juice, not a bad thing!
Top each mushroom with some of the tomato sauce, add a pinch of salt and crushed red pepper.  Add a few threads of the sliced basil.  Cover each mushroom with a slice of mozzerella.  Top with your favorite pizza fixins.  Add some parmesean if you like.  Pop in the oven for 15 minutes or so, or until they are nicely browned.

They don't make a crisp pizza, but the flavor is incredible.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spicy Corn Dogs

I came up with this recipe several years ago, mostly as a joke. You know how a recipe sort of comes together in your head? You can see it & smell it? The key to these corn dogs is the hot cast iron corn muffin pans. If you don't have these, you can substitute a regular muffin pan, they'll still taste good, but won't look the same. The corn bread recipe is inspired by the one in Gourmet Cookbook that I grew up with... Great for kids or kids at heart. They keep well in the fridge for several days and also freeze nicely. That only happens in my house if I make a double batch!

Serves 10
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal
2 organic eggs
1 cup whole or 2% milk
3 tablespoons melted butter or bacon drippings, more to grease the pans
1/2 cup grated cheese such as cheddar
2 tablespoons minced jalapeno (optional)
14 ounces mini hot dogs

Place 4 cast iron corn muffin pans into a cold oven. Heat the oven to 400 degrees for at least 30 minutes. Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Stir in the grated cheese & minced jalapeno.

Whisk together the milk & eggs. Pour over the flour mixture. Gently stir together with the melted butter. Be careful to stir only to combine. Do not over mix! Take one pan out of the oven. Next you'll have to grease the corn pan. I find the best way to do this is to take the rest of your stick of butter and run it along the inside of the corn forms. The butter will bubble up immediately, very cool.

Spoon in about 2 tbsp batter into each corn section. Gently press 2 mini hot dogs into each section. Place pan back in the oven. Repeat with the remaining 3 pans.

Bake the corn dogs for approx 20 minutes until nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple of minutes. Gently remove each corn dog with a couple of small forks. Place onto a baker's rack. Serve with mustard if you wish.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

May Wine

This time of year is so nice!  Everything is starting to come up in the garden, ahhhh.....  So, that means it's time to make May Wine or Maiwein in German.  Growing up, we always had sweet woodruff growing under the lilacs.  When it's blooming you can make May Wine.

Pick a handful of sweet woodruff once the dew has dried.

Open a bottle of good white or rose wine.  I'm using an Austrian rose for mine today.  Don't use an overly bold wine, something along the lines of a Pinot Grisio, Chenin Blanc, or a Gruner Veltliner will work great.

Put the blossoms in a glass pitcher or jar and pour over the wine.  Let sit in a cool place or fridge for several hours or overnight.

Strain out the blossoms.  Serve over ice, mixed 50 - 50 with seltzer or club soda.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spring Brunch

It's so much fun when there is finally something to pick and eat out of the garden!  We had enough to make a lovely brunch of asparagus dipped into soft boiled eggs, radish canapes with tarragon chive butter, and a lavender rhubarb compote.   Ahhh, that was nice!  If you don't have an Egg Clack, you must get one...

Lavender Rhubarb Compote

½ c sugar
½ c water
½ tea lavender blossoms
2 c rhubarb stalks cut into ½” pieces
½ c Greek yogurt
Edible flowers for garnish

Simmer the water with the sugar and lavender in a saucepan for 5 minutes.  Add the rhubarb and simmer gently until just tender, about 10 minutes.   Set aside to cool.  To serve:  spoon compote  into 4 glass dishes.  Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt.  Garnish with edible flowers.  Serves 4.

Clacked Soft Boiled Eggs with Asparagus Dippers and Radish Canapes

4 large organic eggs
8 asparagus spears
1 stick unsalted good quality butter, softened
1 tbs fresh tarragon
3 tbs fresh chives
Several grinds of pepper
6 oz radishes, sliced very thin
4 slices very good bread
Coarse sea salt to taste
Pinch of sugar

Chop the tarragon and chives, mix with the softened butter.  Grind in a bit of fresh pepper.  Cover tightly and set aside for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors develop.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.   Any leftover butter can top any vegetable you have on hand.  Also freezes very well, a wonderful find in the middle of winter!

Trim the bottom of the asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler to remove the tough fibers.  Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer with a pinch of salt and sugar.  Add the asparagus and simmer until just tender, time will vary with the size of your asparagus.  I am using the purple asparagus from my garden which is my favorite kind since it reminds me of the white asparagus available in Europe.

When ready to serve, gently cook the eggs.  Simmer a medium saucepan of water.  Prick a hole in the end of each egg.  Gently lower into the simmering water.  Cook for approx 4 ½ minutes, or to your liking.  Set each egg into an egg cup.  Remove the top with an Egg Clack or crack with a spoon.  Dunk the asparagus spears in the egg yolk and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kaffe mit Schlag - Not Your Omama's Jause

My mother grew up in Vienna, so I also absorbed the coffee culture known as Jause.  This is along the lines of an English Tea with sweets but with coffee instead of tea.  And, the most important thing, at least for me, is the Schlagobers, whipped cream lighty sweetened and a touch of vanilla.  Typically you would have some sort of strudel, kuchen, torte or other sweet.  To offset the sweets you would have a steaming hot pot of strong Viennese coffee served in small cups.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’d be offered the local Zwetchen or Marillen Brand, plum or apricot brandy.  I’ve put my own spin on this tradition with a variation of an apple strudel and a chocolate square with a big bowl of whipped cream.

Schoko Schnitten

¾ c freshly brewed coffee
1 tbs sugar
½ c prunes, pitted and diced
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, melted
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 tea vanilla extract
1 tbs plus 2 tea  instant expresso powder, divided
3 eggs
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c Cocoa
1/2 tea baking powder
1/2 tea salt
½ c chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1 ½ c chocolate chips divided
16 chocolate covered espresso beans
1/2 c heavy cream

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.  I line the pan with buttered, non-stick foil, works like a charm.  Place the chopped hazelnuts in a ramekin and toast in the oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  You can toast the nuts as the oven heats. 

Pour the freshly brewed coffee over the prune pieces, stir in 1 tbs sugar and set aside to plump about 15 minutes.  Drain.

Combine butter, sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla in bowl. Add eggs; beat well with spoon. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture.  Gently fold in the nuts, drained prunes, and ½ c chocolate chips.  Spread the cake mixture evenly into prepared pan.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.   Cut evenly into 16 squares.  Place squares on a wire rack that has a parchment lined tray underneath.

Heat the heavy cream to barely simmering.  Put 1 c chocolate chips in a small bowl with the 2 tea espresso powder.  Pour the hot cream over and stir to create a mocha ganache.  Set aside to cool.

Gently spoon the cooled mocha ganache over each cake square.  Place one chocolate covered espresso bean on top of each cake square.  Set aside to let the ganache set. 

Whip 1 c heavy cream with 1 tbs sugar and ½ tea vanilla extract until thick.  Serve chilled with a steaming pot of Vienna roast coffee.

Apfel Strudel Schale

This is a deconstructed apple strudel, taking each element and rethinking it and making it bite-sized.  You get all the elements of the classic strudel without having to make your own pulled dough, something I have yet to attempt.  This may be made ahead up to the point of assembly.  Once assembled, the Schale will only keep for about 30 minutes before becoming soggy.

½ c water
½ c sugar
6 cardamom pods
2 c thinly sliced peeled Gala apple
1 tea lemon juice
15 mini fillo shells
½ c bread crumbs
2 tbs unsalted butter
1tbs sugar
3 tbs slivered almonds
¼ tea cinnamon freshly grated

Bring the sugar, water, and cardamom pods to a simmer.  Continue to cook for 5 minutes.  Remove the cardamom and add in the sliced apple.  Stir and continue to cook for about 10 minutes until softened.  Set aside to cool.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Once cool, remove the apple slices to a small bowl using a slotted spoon to leave as much of the juices behind in the pan.  Return the remaining juices to the stove.   Bring to a simmer and continue to cook until the syrup is thick approx 10 minutes.  Pour over the apple slices and stir.  Set aside to cool.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the almonds, bread crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon.   Slowly toast for several minutes until fragrant, stirring often.

To assemble:  fill each fillo shell with a spoonful of the apple slices being careful not to add too much syrup.  Top with the breadcrumb mixture.  Serve with whipped cream.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Schnittlauch Butter Brot

Every spring the first thing to come up in the garden is the chives, Schnittlauch in German. My mother always makes this as soon as the chives are tall enough to cut. I know it's spring when I'm able to make my first Schnittlauch Butter Brot of the season. This is a great appetizer or part of a light lunch.

  • 1 bunch chives, snipped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • slices fresh hearty bread
  • coarse salt, to taste
  1. Spread the bread liberally with the butter. Flip the bread over onto the snipped chives to coat the bread. Cut into smaller pieces if desired. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


What is there about pizza that is so wonderful?  It’s so simple to make, but yet so difficult to get right.  How many bad pizzas have you endured?  I was so spoiled living in the North End of Boston.  I could have all sorts of fantastic pizzas at a moment’s notice.  Now I’m mired in the Land of Bad Pizza.  The much loved local favorite is a sickeningly sweet bastardization.  Abysmal.  Inexcusable.  Just plain wrong.

We grew up making all kinds of bread.  My mother kept my brother, sister, and me entertained with small balls of bread.  Beating them into submission was a favorite past time.  I think I’ve had my hand in it ever since.

I hadn’t found a good pizza dough recipe until my cousin Janet have me a copy of an April 1992 article from the New York Times called “Food, The Primal Pizza”.  This is the dough I’ve used ever since.  It’s fool proof and freezes easily so you can have pizza pretty much any time you like!

Primal Pizza
1 c warm water
1 tbs yeast
¾ c whole wheat flour
2 ¼ c all purpose flour (more or less)
1 tea Kosher or sea salt
½ c plain yogurt
Olive oil for the bowl and to flavor crust
Cornmeal for the baking stone
2 c marinara sauce, preferably homemade
1 lb mozzarella, shredded
Misc toppings of your choice

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and mix.  Let sit for 10 minutes to activate.  Mix in the yogurt, salt, whole wheat flour and enough of the all purpose flour to create a nice ball of dough.  This will be anywhere from 1 ½ c all purpose flour to the entire amount.  Much will depend on the brand of flour and the ambient humidity of your kitchen.  Knead for several minutes.  Lightly oil a medium sized bowl, drop in the dough swirl around to coat the dough ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour.  Punch down and proceed with the recipe or divide in half, place into lightly oiled plastic containers and freeze for future use.

Place a pizza stone on a rack in your oven.  Preheat your oven to the highest temperature available. 

Cut the dough into 4 even pieces.  Work with one piece at a time, covering the remaining pieces with a towel.  Lightly flour your work surface and roll out a ball of dough into a rustic circle approx 15” in diameter.  Sprinkle a piece of parchment or nonstick tin foil with a light layer of cornmeal and place onto a pizza peel.  Slide the rolled out dough onto the parchment or foil Lightly brush the pizza with olive oil or use a sprayer such as Misto.  Evenly spread about ½ c of marinara sauce over the dough avoiding about a ½” at the edge.  Cover with a healthy handful or two of the shredded mozzarella.  Garnish with your favorite toppings.  Slide the parchment or foil onto the pizza stone using the peel.  It’s a little scary the first time, but you get used to it.  Cook until nicely browned about 10 minutes.  Slide the peel under the parchment or foil and remove the pizza.  Wait a couple of minutes before cutting and serving.  Proceed with the remaining dough.  Makes 4 pizzas. 


If you want to make calzones use the same dough recipe but divide the dough into half.  Fill with your favorite goodies down the center of the dough circle leaving an inch edge.  Fold the dough up over the long ends of the filling, and then fold over one side of the dough over the filling.  Gently force out any air.  Continue to fold over, place the seam on the underneath side.  Cook the same way as the pizza leaving in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Makes 2 calzones.

If you are using frozen dough, take out of the freezer 2 or 3 hours ahead of time and leave on the counter to thaw.  Or take it out the freezer in the morning, place in the fridge.  It should be ready to use at supper time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pancetta Horseradish Dip and Chips for Company

I have fond memories of the tubs of Bacon Horseradish Dip you could get in the 70's. Now that I know better, I make it myself. This is one of the things I came up with after making pancetta for Charcoutepalooza which I am "auditing". Use pancetta from the store or substitute your favorite bacon. Freshly-grated horseradish is best here, but the kind in the jar is ok. 
For the Dip:
1/4 pound homemade pancetta cut into lardons
3/4 cups sour cream
3/4 cups non-fat GreekYogurt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chives chopped
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel, Meyer if you can get it
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

For the Chips:
1 packet sandwich size pita bread
olive oil in a pump (Misto)
your favorite course salt

Cook the pancetta lardoons in a heavy bottomed frying pan until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels & let cool.
Chop the parsley, chives, and thyme together until fine.
Mix the sour cream and Greek yogurt in a bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour or longer.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut each pita around the edge with a small knife or scissors to yield 2 circles. Cut circles into 6 wedges. Spread on a sheet pan in one layer. You may need to do in batches. Spray the pita wedges lightly with olive oil. I use my handy dandy Misto. Sprinkle liberally with your favorite course salt. Toast in the oven until evenly golden brown. Watch them carefully! Cool on a rack.
Serve with the chips and your favorite cut vegetables.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easy Elegant Artichokes

I adore artichokes.  They're so beautiful and so delicious!  Unlike most of my suburban elementary school classmates, we would have artichokes frequently and always had lots of fun eating them.  They were great kid food, kept us all occupied while the parents could have a moment's peace and quiet.  I still make them when ever I can find nice one's in the market.  To save time I normally do them in the pressure cooker, but you can cook them in your favorite manner and then proceed with the recipe.  These are a great side dish or appetizer.  You can either serve just one half per person if you are having other dishes, or serve both halves if you are having a lighter meal.  It's wonderful with fish.

2 whole large artichokes
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs olive oil
½ lemon, in wedges

Trim the artichokes as follows:
            Trim a small bit off the cut end
            With a large knife, cut off the top 1” or so
            Snap off the bottom row or two of leaves
            With a paring knife carefully trim off the outside fibrous layer and the base of the 
            lower leaves

Cook the artichokes until tender by using one of the following methods:
            Simmer in lots of salted water with 1 tea sugar
            Pressure cooker for 10 minutes with 1 cup water w/ ½ tea salt & ½ tea sugar

Check for tenderness by pulling off one of the lower leaves and eating!  If it’s still tough, give it a few more minutes.

Remove the artichokes from the stove and drain.  Cool slightly.  When cool enough to handle, place them upside down on a cutting board so that you can cut them in half north to south.  Carefully remove the choke and small leaves in the center with a paring knife.

Melt the butter with the olive oil and salt in a large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.  Add the artichokes cut side down.  Cook over medium low until the cut side is nicely browned.

Notes:  serves 2 to 4.  If you would like, you can melt additional butter and pour over before serving, but you really don't need to.