Saturday, September 4, 2021

Quick (and I mean Quick) Tasty Pasta Dish

My son loves to watch quick food TikTok's and came to me with this one a few weeks ago.  We are about to make it for a third time.  He's learning in particular about very affordable cooking that is made fresh, not from a can, that can feed a crowd or provide leftovers.  This checks all boxes!  We make this with Italian Sausage but you can substitute Shrimp, Cubed Chicken Breasts, or a variety of vegetables.  We altered it a bit to suit our taste but it's very quick to put together and is practical for Brunch, Lunch, Buffets, Dinner or late night eating after a night out.

I think it's wise to prep everything first because this goes together very quickly.  For entertaining, I would have the 5 Italian Sausage Links cooked and cut into slices in advance and even cook the pasta til al dente because it will be reheated in the large skillet just before serving. If using chicken, I would rinse and cut into 1/2" cubes just over 1 pound of breast meat.  After the garlic is softened, add chicken and let carmelize and cook til barely done.  Remember, this will continue cooking as you add the other things.  If using Shrimp add it right after the garlic is softened but be ready with all the other ingredients because over cooked shrimp will be tough.

But if you don't have time for the pre cooking, in a skillet begin cooking the sausage links first.  At the same time, begin heating  a large pot of water - enough to cook a 1 lb of Pasta- penne, rigatoni or what ever shape you like.  Once pasta is just about fully cooked, drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking process if making in advance.  If you are in the process of making the dish, drain and add pasta to the large Sauteuse pan.  

Rinse and spin dry 2 Cups Fresh Spinach.  Cut in half 1 1/2 Cups Grape Tomatoes.  Have 3 Cloves of Garlic peeled and ready to press.  

Preheat a sauteuse pan (or large skillet) over medium heat.  Add 2 Tbl Olive Oil.  Press Garlic into the hot oil.  Add Tomatoes and Sausage slices and cook for 1 minute.  Add cooked Pasta and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add Spinach and Fresh Herbs and cook til spinach is wilted.  Finish with Parmesan Cheese, Salt, Pepper and Red Pepper Flakes. Serve at one with warm crusty Bread and a Salad.  

For vegetarians and/or GF diets.  Prepare using Roasted Red Onion wedges, Colorful Bell Peppers slices, cubed Eggplant and Zucchini.  Roast for 20-30 minutes till golden brown.  Set aside til ready to use.  Use a dried GF pasta.






Saturday, November 21, 2020

Apple (Open Slab) Recipe Mash Up

When making Apple recipes, there's no better place than going to the source - Alsace.   So maybe it's taken me 30 years to make this again but I plan this time to Mash It Up with an apple checkerboard design I saw on Cloudy Kitchen in the Open Slab Dessert.  (NOTE I don't know Cloudy Kitchen's background but the photography and the presentations are always professional looking).  The blog format is similar to mine, in that you get a bit of background and you have to actually READ the recipe.  I chose a similar format because all of my kitchen mishaps over the years were due to not reading the recipe in full, twice is even better.  I'm not too crazy about Frangiane filling so that's where the Mash Up comes in.  I made an Alsatian Apple Tart from Food and Wine 1991, yep 29 years ago and loved it.  But I want the apple design and plan to use a small sheet pan instead of a tart pan that Cloudy Kitchen shows.  

So for Thanksgiving 2020, this Mash Up is one of my desserts.  I normally bake a deep dish Apple Pie so I'm changing it up, you know why not.  Everything else is changed up so why not my Thanksgiving dessert.

DOUGH- Ahead of time - a day or 2 ahead, knock out the dough.  You'll be glad you did.  Bake the dessert either on Wednesday or first thing Thursday morning if you have an extra oven.  I'm opting for making the dough on Tuesday and baking on Wednesday.  The dough takes all of 10 minutes.  I'm making 1 1/2 times the original recipe because I'm using a sheet pan not a tart pan and I want enough dough.


In a processor, measure just shy of 2 Cups of Flour, 1/2 tsp Salt, 1 1/2 TBL Sugar.  Pulse a few times.  Add 1 1/2 Sticks Unsalted Butter cut into 1/2" cubes.  Pulse until it resembles course meal.  Sprinkle mixture with 4 1/2 TBL Cold Water and pluse until dough forms.  Use more water, 1 tsp at a time, if needed.  Don't over mix.  

Place dough on plastic wrap and press into a rectangular shape.  Wrap tightly and refrigerate.  


BAKING- Remove dough from refrigerator 30 minutes in advance of rolling.  My pan is 13" x 9" and has relatively straight sides.  It is very sturdy and won't twist when baking.  Roll into a large enough rectangle that it fits into the sheet pan with some over hang.  If it too big trim the excess but fold under the extra dough and crimp using you knuckles.  It's ok if some ares are slightly thicker than others.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly prick the bottom and sides of the dough and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly golden.   

Buy either Cortland or Golden Delicious Apples.  Prep Apples.  Peel and using a knife, cut the tops and bottome making a flat surface.  Cut downward along the core, cutting 2 apple domes, 1 from each side.  Lay the flat side downward on a board and cut apples into 1/8" slices.  Arrange each dome on the crust in a shingled fashion rotating each apple by 90 degrees to create a checkered-board pattern.  In a medium bowl, mix (2) 7oz Containers Cream Fraiche, 3/4 Cup Sugar, 1 tsp Vanilla and pour over the apples.  Sprinkle with Cinnamon and optional 2/3 finely Chopped Walnuts.  Bake for 25-35 minutes until the filling is set and apples are cooked.  Serve warm or at room temperature with Freshly Whipped Cream or good quality Vanilla Ice Cream.






Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Three Mushroom Tart

I made this a few times after meeting my husband but I believe the last time may have been a distance birthday.  It was the weekend my husband met my parents at their NC home.  A few of us drove/flew there in order to attend a local symphony concert where my Dad, dressed in his tux, was to direct the symphony in Radetzky's March.  At the time, we didn't know what song so it was all a surprise to us when he appeared on stage at the end.  Back story is that earlier that year he attended a silent auction and won the bid to  conduct during an evening performance.  It was hilarious because during the piece, he stopped conducting and turned to face the audience and the audience roared with laughter as the symphony played on, not missing a beat.  It was all good fun.  That weekend is still a very fond memory of mine.  But that Sunday was my birthday and we had these tarts for a mid-day meal.  I recall that day as if it were yesterday.

This hails from April 1996 Gourmet Magazine, a well used issue of mine.  When I recently set out to make this, I couldn't recall where the recipe came from and looked for hours this past weekend until I found it.  I forgot I have a directory of all the recipes that I make (or would like to make) from my magazine collection.   But I was literally thumbing through the index of dozens and dozens of magazines scanning for it until I found it.  The directory is handy in that it is in alphabetical order and lists exactly where to find a recipe in my hundreds of magazines.  

So here's how you make this.  

Thaw a 1 Package of Puff Pastry or if you are talented make your own.  I have to admit, I've been watching The British Baking Show Master Class and plan to make my own soon.  That'll be for another day.

Read the recipe through and do all your prep in advance.  

Make sure you have a variety of 3 mushrooms.  You need at least one to have an appearance similar to enoki, or in my case Wegmans opened up nearby and I spied Beech (my new favorite).  

For the mushrooms -  8-10 Button, 8-10 Baby Bella (or Shitake), 6 oz Beech.  Pick out 4 of the best of the Button and Baby Bella that will be sliced for the top.  Take the rest and clean, trim the stems, and dice.  You should have about 3 Cups of diced Mushrooms total.  

To a skillet, add 2 TBL Unsalted Butter.  Add 1/2 Cup Minced Shallots and cook over medium heat to sweat, about 3 minutes.  Add diced Mushrooms, 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce, Salt and Pepper.  Cook over medium high heat until the liquid is evaporated.  Add 1/4 Cup Sherry with 1 TBL Balsamic Vinegar and cook until the liquid evaporates.  Place this mixture in a bowl to cool.  Can be made in advance up to this point.

Preheat oven to 425.  Roll Puff Pastry and place in a rectangular tart pan.  

In a measuring cup, combine 1/3 Cup Heavy Cream with 1 Egg.  Add this to the cooked mushroom mixture.  Pour this into the prepared tart pan.  Slice the Button and Bella mushrooms into 1/4" slices and arrange them in rows along the long sides of the tart pan.  Place the Beech mushrooms down the center.  Brush with the Juice of a Lemon.

Place in hot oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until deep golden brown.  Don't open the oven door for the first 20 minutes.  Rotate the tart pan once and cook for final 5 minutes.  The pastry and filling should puff to a height taller than the tart pan.  Remove tart from oven and let rest for a few minutes before removing the rim.  Let rest another 5 mintutes and slice into 3-4 pieces.  Each tart will feed 3-4 depending on what else you serve.  A salad of some sort is highly recmmended.  




Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Scratch Made Marshmallow

I decided to finally give these a try!!  What a cool recipe.  I watched an episode years ago when Ina Garten made these for a hot chocolate gift she was making for friends.  I bought gelatin but never attempted the recipe.  Now, possibly 4-5 years later that I bought gelatin again and finally decided to make marshmallow in order to have a little fun using it.  I used Alton Brown's recipe only because making marshmallow seemed more like a chemistry experiment and he is all about the science.  It's a precise recipe as I looked up Ina and she uses the same ratios as Alton. 

NOTE:  This recipe is not for kids!! 

There are a few steps you should do in advance to minimize running around by being set up in advance.  Since this is candy making being a thermometer is involved, there isn't time later.  

First - Bloom the Gelatin.  To the bowl of your mixer, add 1/2 Cup Ice Cold Water.  Add 3 Packs fo Gelatin (3/4 oz).   Let that sit.  Have your wire whip ready.

Second - Prep a 9" x 13" pan.  Spray the bottom and sides lightly with spray Canola Oil.  Sift 1/4 C. Confections Sugar mixed with 1/4 C. Corn Starch.   Generously, add most of it to the bottom of the dish.  Cover with foil and shake excess to coat the sides.  If you need, more, repeat.  

This is a video after about 8-9 minutes.

To a small saucepan, add, 1 1/2 C. Sugar, 1 C. Corn Syrup, 1/2 C. Water and 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt.  Place over medium high heat, COVER, and cook for 3-4 minutes.  The sugar should be (mostly) dissolved.  Add a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook until it reaches 240.  I stirred a few times.  

With the mixer on low, and while it's running, slowly add the sugar mixture into the gelatin, pouring only down the side of the bowl.  Continue until it's all combined.  Turn the mixer to high and mix for 13 minutes.  Add 1 tsp of good Vanilla and mix for another minute but no more than 2.  

This is a video after vanilla was added.

Pour the sticky mixture straight into the prepared dish.  Dust the top with the Sugar/Corn Starch Mixture and let cool anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.    Turn out into parchment paper or cutting board for cutting.  

Have fun with what you do with it!  




Saturday, July 25, 2020

Fougasse, First Crack!

I've seen this in the past and decided to make it while we were all holed up for the duration with Covid 19.  I'm just now posting a bunch of things I made.  I will make it a few more times because I have changes to make.  First thing is I need to figure out the exact kneeding times.  I need to get a better sense of what dough I am after.  Also, recipe I found rolled it out too thin.  It was a bit crunchier than I envisioned and I liked it better when I came across the thicker parts.  

Rachel Ray's Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Feta

I get stuck in a rut unless I continuously sharpen my blade when it comes new cooking ideas.  Fortunately, I can turn to Rachel Ray because she always comes through.  There is hardly an episode that I watch that I don't walk away with something I can make immediately with little to no effort on my part.  She makes food that is from scratch, using simple ingredients, and is satisying to all.  

Last week I was going through some of her recorded shows on my drive and she did a simple Greek inspired sheet pan dinner.  Last night, my son C had his friend K over and I decided to try it out.  One of the things I liked is that while it was in the oven, I cleaned up the mess I had made.  I made the sheet cake (found here on my blog) for dessert before this went in the oven so I really had a lot going on and my kitchen was a mess.

I began cooking around 5:30 and by 7:30ish we were eating.  Not too bad!

Honestly, this recipe had me at Lemon and Olive Oil and from there the decision was made to make this dish this week.  I have to admit, the baked feta looked interesting and I had some on hand.  I knew we would all like it and it turns out, K liked it, too.

To a pot, add 1/2 Cup of Olive Oil.  Add to it the cut up Cloves of 1 Bulb of Garlic.  Put this over medium low heat and cook for about 20 minutes until lightly browned and soft.  While that is cooking, rinse 8-10 Chicken Thighs and place in a bowl.  

Scrub and cut into quarters 4 Large New Potatoes.  Add to a pot of salted water and par-boil for about 5 minutes.  She used Fingerlings but as she said, any thin skinned potatoes will work.  


Preheat Oven to 425.  

Zest 2 Lemons and reserve the zest for garnish.  Juice a least 3 Lemon halves, possibly all 4, but I got plenty of juice from the 3.  

Once garlic is soft, mash it with a fork and pour over the chicken coating it all.  Add the lemon juice.    

Remove the thighs from the bowl leaving the oil mixure behind and place them on a sheet pan.  Add potatoes to the oil, coat them, and add them to the sheet pan.  I also added a 1/2 Large Red Onion cut into about 6 slices.  Coat them in the oil and add to the pan.  Next, using about 8oz of Feta, cut into chucks and add to the sheet pan.  Laddle the oil mixture over the chicken and potatoes.  Place the garlic pieces on the chicken.  (I forgot to do this - nestle the lemon 1/2's into the sleet pan maybe even cutting them in 1/2 again).  Season with Salt, Pepper and Oregano.  (She used fresh oregano and I didn't have any).

Place in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes - I baked for the full 60 minutes.  What I have learned is to help with browning certain foods, every 10-15 minutes I can open the oven door briefly to let the moisture escape.  I also spun the baking pan 180 degrees every 20-30 minues.  

She served a salad with her meal and I didn't, so I needed a vegetable.  I peeled and cut into large pieces, 4-5 Carrots.  I nestled these in the open spaces on the sheet pan with 40 minutes left to cook.  They were done perfectly.  

Remove the chicken and let it rest for about 7-9 minutes.  Garnish with Fresh Parsley and reserved lemon zest.  

I served a Baguette - or any crusty bread will do.  With the oven off, I added the bread to the oven for about 5 minutes then also let it rest before cutting.  It was delicious dipped in the lemony olive oil mixture.  

All in all, a simple (cost effective) meal that can serve a crowd.  

Banana and Nutella stuffed French Toast

I can't even recall where this idea came from.  I'm certain though I was watching something on tv or online and decided to make it the next day for breakfast.  Other than that, I don't know who to give the credit to.  I may have improvised something I saw, I'm not really sure.  I was going to dust it with powdered sugar or even drizzle Vermont Maple Syrup but it was sweet enough as is was, so we ate it plain.  

The proportions below will make 2 sandwiches.

To a flat bottom bowl (I use a pasta plate) mix 1 Egg, 2 Tbl Cream (1/2 & 1/2, milk, or even egg nog works fine), 1 Tbl Orange Juice, 1/4 tsp Vanilla, and 1/2 tsp Cinnamon.  

Slice 1/2 Banana.  Spread Nutella on 2 slices of bread.  NOTE: Pictured is sliced whole wheat bread but a nice loaf that you cut would be nicer cut in 1/2" slices.  Arrange banana on 1 slice of bread and sandwich with the other slice.  

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a small amount to Cooking Spray.  Dip the banana sandwich in the egg mixture, quickly, turning it over in order to coat the second side.  Add to the hot pan.  Cook until golden brown, turning once.  Spread with a small amount of Butter.  Cut in 1/2 and serve at once.    

Quiche Lorraine

I always thought Quiche Lorraine was made with bacon and swiss cheese.  Turns out I'm incorrect.  It's a rich custard with only bacon and surprising, no cheese at all.  I've bought various quiches lately and am continually left thinking that they'd be better if I made the crust myself and filled them with what I want.  So when I set out to make a Quiche Lorriane, I referred to my 1000 Gourmet Recipes cookbook.  That's where I learned the truth about what it really is.  So I made my own crust but followed their recipe for the filling.
Make you favorite savory pie dough and let rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.  

Preheat oven to 375.  Roll out dough and line a pie dish.  Lightly prick the bottom and sides, without going all the way through the dough to the dish, to prevent shinking.   Bake for 20 minutes or until light brown then let cool.  

While the crust is baking, preheat a skillet over medium heat.  Cut into batons, 1/2 pound Thick Slab Bacon, and cook until just done.  Place bacon on paper towel lined plate to cool.  (You can cook it first and then crumble but I think the results are better if you cut then cook).  

In a bowl, mix the following.  (I buy only large eggs because that's what recipes call for).  4 Eggs, 2 Egg Yolks, 2 Cups Heavy Cream, 1 Cup Whole Milk, 1 tsp Salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground Nutmeg.   Pour egg mixture into cooled pie crust.  Top with all the bacon and cook for 35-40 minutes until just set but still wobbly in the center.  It will firm up as it cools.  If crust looks as if it will get too dark, have ready foil and fashion a ring and add it to the exposed crust for the last 10 minutes in the oven.  

Serve with a salad, vegetable side, and muffin or roll.  This makes a nice brunch, lunch or light Sunday super.  


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Cheese Soufflé

I haven't made a souffle in ages.  I haven't made this one in 39 years.  I remember making it at my Mom's request after returning home from college.  It comes from her McCall's Cookbook.  It's a really neat recipe and it's fairly flawless in my opinion.  Follow the steps and you'll be just fine.

Separate 4 Eggs and let the whites warm to room temperature, no more than 1 hour.  I used my Kitchenaid mixer for the whites.  

Preheat oven to 350.  Set up a 1 1/2 Quart Souffle dish in a pan with 1" of water.  You don't have to prepare the souffle dish, the mixture goes straight into the dish then right into the oven.

Pre-measure into a bowl, 3 TBL Flour, 1/2 tsp Salt, Sprinkle of each Cayenne Pepper and  Paprika.


In a medium sized saucepan, melt 2 TBL Butter over medium heat.  Remove from heat.  Add dry ingredients and stir til smooth.  Add 3/4 Cup Milk and place back on heat and cook until just boiling point.  Add 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese (or hard cheese of your choice) and stir until melted.  Remove from heat to allow to cool.  Slightly beat the 4 Eggs Yolks and add to mixture.  

While you wait for the cheese mixture to cool, beat egg whites and once they are foamy, add 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar.  Beat to stiff peaks but no more.  

By hand, using a rubber spatula, fold in 1/4 of the cheese mixture to the egg whites.  Continue adding and folding until it is all combined.  


Pour the mixture into the souffle dish and using the spatula, draw a circle in the mixture about 1/2" from the edge of the dish.  (The recipe called for 1" but I think it should've been closer to the edge than that.  This will give it a top hat effect as it rises.  Place in oven.  Bake for 50-55 minutes.  It will collapse some once you remove it from the oven.  Serve immediately by spooning souffle onto your plate.  Terrific with any grilled or roasted meats.


Friday, April 3, 2020

Smoothie Season

About 5 years ago we gave our son a Ninja.  What I love about it is how smooth the smoothies end up especially when using berries.  We've been on a kick of walking the dog then making a smoothies when we get back.  I had a ton of spinach so my son suggested we add some.  I have to admit, I like the texture (not to mention the healthy additive) and as he said, you can't taste it.  The Ninja is also nice because it comes with 3 cup sizes.  A single, a large single and a double which is perfect for 2 singles.  

These aren't ultra healthy type smoothies although you can certainly make them that way, these are just fun breakfast replacement smoothies with.  

I've grown to love them with Sherbet and buy Orange and Raspberry regularly.  Though it has sugar it makes the drink lactose free if that's a concern.  Another low sugar and lactose free option is to use nut milks.  

NOTE:  Do not overfill the cup because it will leak all over the base since you are adding air and the volumne will expand.   

I like to add ice the Ninja cup first because it's placed upside down on the base for mixing.  

Feel free to add what you like but right now Pineapples are $1.88 so that's certainly a good choice.  I always use Banana.  I have Strawberries and Fresh Spinach.  I also like Orange Juice.  I bought some Bacardi Pina Colada Mix, which I haven't used in ages, but one can made about 5 Double smoothies - each enough for (2) 12oz. smoothies.

Add the Ice, the Fruit, Spinach.  A scoop of Sherbet and a large dollop of Pina Colada Mix.  Add Juice or Milk or both.  Mix on the base until smooth.  Drink immediately.