Monthly Archives: December 2014

Chocolate Pie

I am sitting here staring at a blank page wondering what recipe I want to share with all of you. We are coming up on a new year; 2015 is fast approaching.  I have never formerly made any resolutions; out loud anyway. But I am going to consider 2015 as a blank page that I can fill however I want.

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I do want to fill my blank page with things that bring me joy, I love cooking and sharing recipes that I think everyone should try. I love showing people how to make delicious food in my kitchen.  I want to learn how to take better photographs; I would love to create a cookbook with my daughter even if it is just for the two of us; which in turn would help me organize my recipes, they are everywhere and sometimes hard to find when I want to make something.

I wanted something chocolaty for Christmas dessert this year.  It had to be something that came together pretty simple as I had a pretty ambitious menu for breakfast and dinner on Christmas day.  I did have a few sous chefs this year.

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Chocolate Pie

CRUST

To make it easier on yourself; you can use a pre-made crust from your local grocer’s freezer section. Or by all means make your favorite basic crust – you will need to blind bake and cool which ever you choose. Note this recipe will make 2 regular size pie shells. You can make 1 deep dish size crust but there should still could be some extra filling. You can also store the leftovers in small ramekins/glasses – makes a nice chocolate treat for later.

PIE

1 ½ cup sugar

¼ corn starch

¼ tsp salt

3 cups milk – I used 1%

4 whole egg yolks

6 ½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, in pieces

2 tsp vanilla

2 tbs butter

Whipped cream – optional – it cuts the deep chocolate flavor and also covers up less than perfect surfaces; if you need to.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk together

Pour milk and egg yolks. Whisk together

Stir over medium heat until the mixture just comes to boil and thickens 5+/- minutes. as soon as it starts to bubble and becomes thick similar to pudding; remove it from the heat. Add chocolate, vanilla and butter. Stir till combined.

Pour the pudding into the prepared pie crust.

Chill in the fridge uncovered for at least 4 hours.

Slice and serve with whipped cream!

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I want to wish you all a VERY Happy Healthy 2015 and keep exploring new foods and recipes

Hawaiian Ham & Cheese Sandwiches – and – a Goat Cheese stuffed Endives

Yesterday was filled with cooking, singing, laughing, eating and drinking!  We had our annual Christmas party.  It has come to be quite the event, my good friend plays the piano and we start out by singing Christmas carols and end the night singing anything from Billy Joel, James Taylor to Queen and finally some great Show tunes.

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The day was entirely for making all the pick up and go foods for the table and also having breakfast ready to go for the next day, there is nothing worse than having to feed a ton of people; OK maybe not a ton but we had 14 for breakfast this morning; regardless; making food with such little sleep and maybe a few too many glasses of wine is not the most enjoyable task so I make sure that breakfast is super simple while still being delicious. I made 3 dishes that either set up overnight or can wait for me to cook them.  I made a strata, hash brown casserole and French toast casserole and picked up some fresh cut up fruit as well as some fresh blueberries, raspberries and a pomegranate; combining them all in a bowl of fresh fruit to lighten up all the casseroles.

I tried out a few new recipes my daughter sent me and they all were excellent, there were definitely a couple of keepers that I want to share with all of you.  The sandwiches are warm and full of delicious flavors. The endives are crazy good and I really hope you take a chance on these and test them out. They may look like something outside your comfort zone but I think you might be pleasantly surprised by how well the different flavors work so well together. I also made a simple version of chicken and waffles that was a crowd pleaser. mini waffles oven toasted, frozen chicken tenders baked and covered with warmed real maple syrup.

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Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

20 +/- small Hawaiian sweet rolls cut in half crosswise (depends on what size pan you have)

1 Pound Black forest ham, sliced – you’ll want one piece per roll

20 +/- slices provolone cheese

8 oz. cream cheese – room temperature for spreading

1 tbs yellow mustard

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

2 tbs dried minced onions

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tbs poppy seeds (optional)

Either preheat your oven to 350’ or make ahead and bake them 30-40 minutes before you are ready to serve them.

Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with the roll bottoms, top with a slice of ham on each; then the provolone. Spread the cream cheese on the bottom half of the tops and place them on top of their bottom mates.

In a medium bowl, combine the butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, onions and parmesan cheese.  Mix well and if baking right away pour evenly over the tops.  If making later wait to add just before baking; if using poppy seeds sprinkle on top of butter mixture.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, or until warmed through and cheese melted.

Serve warm

Endives with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 tbs honey

Combine on a baking sheet either coated with cooking spray or better yet a silipat mat. Bake at 350’ for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.

1 tbs honey

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

3 tbs orange juice

Combine all 3 in a small saucepan; bring mixture to a boil over high heat, and cook until reduced to 3 tbs; about 6-7 minutes.

16 endive leaves 9 about 2 heads

1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

16 small orange sections

1 tbs minced fresh chives

¼ tsp cracked black pepper

Fill each endive leaf with 1 orange section. Top each section with 1 tsp cheese and 1 tsp walnuts; arrange on a plate. Drizzle the vinegar mixture evenly over the leaves, and sprinkle evenly with chives and pepper.

Mexican Pork Stew – easy and delicious

In cooking I truly believe that a recipe is just a place to start; use it more as a guideline than a rule. I have heard many people in my classes that only feel comfortable with following the recipe word for word. I do try to make a new recipe as written but more times than not I end up changing it, a little more of this, less of that, I’m not a mushroom fan so I have been known to grind them up, I probably shouldn’t have confessed that. Sometimes I change it for my families’ tastes; other times it is just a matter of finding what I can at my local grocery store. I would never, not try a recipe that sounded interesting to me just because I couldn’t find one particular ingredient, there are always exceptions to this rule but as far as flavorings go I feel you can use whatever floats your boat.

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Case in point a couple of years ago my sister-in-law was visiting for Christmas and while I was at work she put together her rendition of Mexican Pork Stew. She didn’t have her recipe on hand but had made it many times before so she headed out to our local grocery store.  It recall chuckling while she told me what was supposed to be in it versus what she found to substitute for the ingredients that she couldn’t find. Just recently she photocopied the page in her cookbook with the actual recipe.

Original version                               Adapted version

Canned tomatillos                               Salsa verde

Diced/seeded tomatoes                      Canned Diced tomatoes

Green hot chilies seeded                    Can diced green chilies

Since I had never had the “real” one and the one she made from my store was delicious I have made hers a few times and every time it gets eaten as a snack just heated up in a small bowl, made into a taco, and served over rice or noodle.

I hope you get a little adventurous and don’t shy away from a recipe just because there is something in it you are not a fan of, just substitute it for something you do like. Who knows you could come up with something even better than the original.

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Mexican Pork Stew – My version adapted from Debs’ which was adapted from San Francisco A la Carte cookbook

3 pound boneless pork cut into 2-inch cubes

2 tbs olive oil

1 large onion diced

3 cloves crushed garlic

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes – I had some small tomatoes I needed to use so I seeded, chopped and added them

1 4.5 ounce can of green chilies

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp cumin

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 chorizo sausages skinned, sliced browned

1 cup chicken broth

In a saute pan add the oil and brown the pork on all sides small batches at a time; careful not to over crowd, place your crock-pot near the stove and transfer the browned pork into the crock-pot. Brown the chorizo I placed all of these in the pan and watched to get some brown on them, add to the crock. If the pan is dry use a little more oil. Saute the onions for a couple of minutes; add the garlic and cook a little longer; careful not to brown the garlic. Add everything to the crock-pot; cover to about halfway up the pot with chicken stock. Cook on low all day or on high 4-5 hours.

Serve with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and some sour cream.  Sliced avocado is also wonderful served on top. Great served over rice or pasta or served with mashed potatoes. Also great as a taco, be sure to use a slotted spoon to drain the liquid.  I also just love some in a small bowl with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.  endless possibilities.

Lobster Cake with Tomato Tartar Sauce (Blanchard’s on Anguilla)

I am not sure if you have ever tried this but sometimes when I am at a restaurant I ask the server what their favorite thing on the menu is, especially if I am torn at what I might want to order.  This last Friday night was our last night of vacation we were on the Caribbean island of Anguilla.

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While we waited for our table to be set I opened a cookbook that was sitting on the table; it opened to somewhere in the middle and I saw Vermont Cheddar Soup – I thought that was odd but looked good, maybe I might purchase a copy out of sheer interest.

We had all decided; our son came with us on vacation; that were not going to order any apps.  When one of our many servers came to the table, they were all very attentive; I asked him what was his favorite thing on the menu? He mentioned the Lobster Crab Cakes; we ordered them to share and that was when I decided I was going to buy their cookbook, they were excellent and I was SO happy to see the recipe listed for Lobster Cakes.

On the plane home I read the entire cookbook cover to cover and found several things I want to try my hand at making.  Here is the first recipe I wanted to share it with you.

Oh the deal with Vermont being part of their cook book is they are originally from Vermont and now split their time between Anguilla in the winters and Vermont in the summers. Sounds like a pretty awesome gig to me.

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Blanchard’s Lobster Cakes with Tomato Tartar Sauce – I made 22 cakes – freeze cooked leftovers – re-heat in the oven just till warm – about 15-20 minutes.

5 Tbs unsalted butter

¾ cup AP Flour

2 cups Milk

1 Pound cooked lobster meat, coarsely chopped and patted dry (you can substitute crab or shrimp or any combo)

1 cup red bell pepper, diced small and patted dry

¼ scallions (white and green), thinly sliced

½ tsp cayenne pepper

¾ tsp salt

½ Tbs freshly cracked black pepper

2+ cups fresh bread crumbs

Olive oil and butter for sauteing

1 ½ cup tomato tartar sauce – see below

In a large deep sided saucepan, heat the butter over low heat until it stops foaming. Add the flour gradually and cook for 2 minutes, it is very dry, whisking continually. Add the milk ½ cup at a time, whisking constantly to get rid of the lumps. Simmer for 5 minutes, continuing to whisk until thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the lobster, peppers, scallions, cayenne, salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of bread crumbs, you will want this a little sticky, if too much, add a little more breadcrumb; add the milk mixture, and mix well. Cool to room temperature, shape into small 1 – 1 ½ inch balls and flatten slightly. The lobster cake should be about ½ inch thick. Coat the cakes with more breadcrumbs.

Heat butter and olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Cook the cakes until golden brown on both sides. Drain on a paper towel and serve hot with Tomato Tartar Sauce.

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Tomato Tartar Sauce

1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp tomato paste – (I LOVE the tube tomato paste from Amore – it keeps for a VERY long time in the fridge once opened – Buy it you wont be disapointed)

2 Tbs minced onions

1 Tbs capers, rinsed, drained and chopped

¼ cup minced dill pickles, patted dry

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, lemon juice and tomato paste. Add the onion, capers, pickles, and salt and pepper, and whisk until blended

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Great Tip

an easy way to get the sweet lobster meat out of the legs is to use a rolling pin – though as a child we used to just suck the meat out – that was my first taste/joy of eating lobster.