January 2, 2009
The first time I had these, it was at an overly chic NY Bar Mitzvah in the mid 90′s. They were delicious and it only took me about a decade to realize that the ingredients were fairly obvious and they could be re-created in my home with out a full catering staff or the religious right of passage. Since then, I have made them for a bunch of gatherings and took them to a wonderful get together Wednesday night. They look way fancier than they are and taste great.
new potatoes (smaller is better)
scallions or chives (either works, go with your preference)
caviar (again, go with your preference)
cracked black pepper
Roast potatoes in a 350 degree oven until cooked through*. Remove and cool completely. Slice potatoes in half. Cut the bottom of the potato so it will lay flat. With a small spoon or a mellon baller, scoop a small section from the cut side of the potato. Place cold sour cream in a pastery bag or a plastic baggie with one corner cut. Pipe sour cream into the small hallow in the potato. Top with caviar, cracked black pepper and scallion. Serve cold.
* I like to do this the night before to before to be sure the potatoes are nice and cold. It also always takes longer to cook the potatoes than I think it will, so don’t leave it until the last minute.
December 19, 2008
I don’t bake, at all. So when I feel compelled to create and distribute sweets this time of year I usually turn to candy. These truffles look fancy but are fairly simple and a little goes a long way.
2 bars (4 oz each) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tsp heavy (whipping) cream
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 Tbsp cognac or other very good brandy
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Line an 8 inch square baking pan with nonstick foil, letting foil extend above pan on 2 sides
Stir chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
Stir in ginger, Cognac and vanilla until blended. Pour into prepared pan; spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours until set.
Lift foil from pan. Remove from foil to a cutting board. Cut with a sharp knife into 6 rows lengthwise and 6 rows crosswise*. Sift coco or confectioners sugar over top, dip in chocolate coating or serve as is.**
* I know they looks small, trust me…they are rich
** If you choose to leave them plain you can twist them in small strips of wax paper for gifts. Decorated, they look very beautiful in a tin.
November 21, 2008
I made this for dinner last night and it was delicious. If you don’t like broccolini you can probably swap it out for regular broccoli or another green veggie, although I think it is really delicious as is. Enjoy and if you make it, please let me know how it goes!
12 oz bow tie (farfalle) pasta
1 package (20 oz) hot Italian sausage*
1 lb broccolini or broccoli rabe, cut crosswise in half
1 pt grape tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
Cook pasta as box directs in salted water, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water before draining.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook sausage, breaking up unto chunks with spoon, 4 minutes or until no loner pink.
Add reserved pasta water and broccolini to skillet. Cover; cook 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, cover and cook 2 minutes until tomatoes just begin to burst. Toss with cooked pasta and Parmesan. Serve with additional Parmesan if desired.
* you can use turkey sausage if you prefer
November 14, 2008
This time of year D and I get into a ‘big breakfast on Sunday’ routine. It is nice to sit down together and eat something fun or fattening or both. Recently a friend of mine gave me wheat (which I am allergic too) free baking mix so I will most definitely be making these soon. You can serve them for breakfast if you wish or for dessert with some whipped cream an berries. Actually, I am not sure there is ever a time you would not want to serve chocolate pancakes.
2 cups baking mix
1 cup non fat milk
4 tablespoons coco mix*
1/2 cup mini chocolate pieces
mix baking mix, milk, eggs and coco in a large bowl. Fold in chocolate pieces. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot nonstick skillet; cook until bubbles form on top; flip pancakes; cook through. Serve with syrup, jam or fresh whipped cream.
*you can combine 2 tablespoons of unsweetened coco and 2 tablespoons of sugar if you don’t have coco mix
November 7, 2008
The last day my local farmers market was open, I asked my favorite vegetable and flower provider what I could buy up that would last the longest. He suggested some squash and a few other hearty vegetables (including the most delicious turnips I have ever eaten). For almost 2 weeks now I have had a beautiful butternut squash sitting in my fridge and have yet to be inspired on what to do with it. Then I found this recipe. It is amazingly simple and the butter and spices bring out all natural sweetness and richness naturally found in butternut squash.
2 Tbsp butter
2 lbs fresh butternut squash chunks*
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 400 degrees. You will need a rimmed baking pan lined with nonstick foil.
Put butter in pan. Place in oven until melted. Remove pan from oven and add remaining ingredients. Toss to coat and spread into an even layer.
Roast 25 to 30 minuted, tossing once or twice, until squash is tender. Transfer to serving bowl.
* you can either start with a whole squash or buy the pre-cut chunks in the produce section of your local market. If you start with the whole squash, be careful cutting it. I have nearly taken off four fingers attempting to cut one in half.
October 31, 2008
I thought in honor of Halloween, I would share a really easy recipe for making caramel apples. This could not be simpler and it promises to be a big hit with your trick-or-treaters or your friends.
1 (14 oz bag) of individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped*
2 tablespoons milk
crushed nuts, any variety will do
6 wooden craft sticks
Remove the stem from each washed apple and insert a craft stick into the top.
Place caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl, microwave 2 minutes, stirring once. Allow to cool briefly.
Roll each apple in the caramel and then in the nuts. Allow to cool on a well buttered cookie sheet (wax paper will do as well). Enjoy!
* Since the caramel can get a little hot so if you have little ones that want to help, unwrapping the caramels is a great job.
October 24, 2008
I made these the other night to go along with some salmon burgers and they were great. I guess conventional wisdom says to figure one potato per person but I would plan on more, I promise…they will go fast!
2 russet potatoes, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, and then into fourths to make big, fat wedges
1/4 cup extra -virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Preheat baking sheet in the oven for at least 5 minutes*
While the baking sheet is heating, toss the potatoes with the olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Then dump the potatoes out on the a baking sheet, spreading to a single layer. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then, until the potatoes are cooked through, brown and crispy. Toss the fries in a big bowel with the parsley and cheese
* I am convinced that this step is what makes the fries so crispy
October 17, 2008
Depending on the marmalade you use, this chicken comes out a little different each time. It is also great on other chicken parts or on chicken tenders (which then make a great sandwich), you may need to adjust your cooking time accordingly.
1/2 cup orange marmalade (sweet or bitter)
2 Tbsp* chili powder (mild, hot or mixed)
8 chicken drumsticks (apx 2 1/4 lb)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1. Heat Oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with nonstick foil.
2. Mix marmalade, chili powder, salt and pepper in a large ziptop bag. Add chicken; seal bag. Turn and squeeze bag to coat drumsticks. Arrange on lined baking sheet, spooking on any excess marmalade mixture.
3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat, not touching the bone, registers 180 degrees.
* yes, 2 tablespoons. I know it looks like a lot but trust me, it works.
October 10, 2008
This weekend D and I are heading to VT with some friends to get away for a few days and enjoy the fall foliage. With the cooler night air and the sight of leaves turning color I thought I would share a recipe for one of my favorite fall beverages.
2 quarts (8 cups) apple juice*
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks, broken into 1 inch pieces
1 cup rum
In a large saucepan combine first four ingredients. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. Strain to remove pieces. Add rum and serve warm with a cinnamon stick in each glass.
Note: You can omit the rum if you are planning on serving this to kids, or keep the rum and figure they will sleep really well that night. (I do not have kids of my own so please, do not feel like you need to report me to child protective services)
* you can use whatever apple juice you want, but I find the better the juice the better your final product will be, fresh cider would be the best.
October 3, 2008
Between the cooler weather and the sagging economy (D’s firm had more lay offs yesterday) I have been seriously craving comfort food. Polenta is a very inexpensive and very filling meal. It can be served as a base for your favorite sauce, topped with grilled veggies, chicken or shrimp or on it’s own for something simple, quick and easy. My favorite is with a nice poached egg on top and wilted greens. Here is a great recipe for basic polenta; you can serve it soft right out of the pot or pour it into a baking pan to set and slice it. I will give you instructions for both.
1 heaping tablespoon coarse salt
1 dried bay leaf
2 cups coarse-ground polenta meal*
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Put 6 cups of cold water, the salt, and bay leaf into a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, and bring to a boil. Bring remaining 4 cups of cold water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add polenta to large pot in handfuls, separating your fingers to let the grains slip through and whisking constantly until combined. Reduce heat until only a couple of large bubbles appear at a time.
3. Whisk 2 ladlefuls of simmering water into polenta, and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until water has been absorbed, about 5 minuted. Continue to add 2 ladlefuls of water every 5 minutes, stirring often and waiting for it to be absorbed before adding more, until polenta is creamy and just pulls away from the sides of the pot, about 45 minuted. (It may be necessary to adjust the heat.)
4. If not serving immediately, reduce heat to lowest setting, cover pot and keep warm until ready to serve (up to 1 hour). Remove bay leaf. Season with pepper.
For soft polenta: Stir in a few tablespoons of butter if desired, serve immediately. Top with fresh shaved cheese
For set polenta: Pour into a slightly damp baking dish (apx 13 X 9) and let stand until no longer steaming, about 10 minutes. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cold and set, about 1 1/2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Turn out polenta and cut unto strips, squares or triangles, serve.
* can be found in the Italian food section of most supermarkets