Lemon Tassies

Lemon Tassies

Lemon Tassies

A “tassie” is a small cup-shaped cookie or tart, and comes from the Scottish word tass + ie. which means small cup.  Taking this idea to its simplest form I made the lemon tassies from supplies that I had on hand.  They were extremely easy to make and insanely good to eat.

I started with a package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough,  the kind that comes in a block and can be separated into 24 “squares”,  one for each cookie.  Using two mini-muffin pans,  I placed a block of cookie dough into each well, and with my fingers pressed it to cover the bottom, and up the sides of the muffin cups.  Then I baked them.  After baking, there was a depression in the center of each one where I spooned about 1 teaspoon of lemon curd.

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The heat from the still warm cookies, softened the curd so that it spread and filled the depression.  After they were completely cool, I put a dab of white frosting on each one.  (Frosting was left over from a previous baking project.)  If I didn’t already have the frosting, I would have dusted them with confectioners’ sugar, because I thought they needed something white on them for garnish.  For a special occasion a candied flower, like a violet, would be a lovely garnish.

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When first made the cookie part was crisp, but I kept them in a covered container, and the next day the cookie had softened and become chewy.  That seemed to fit the smooth, lemony filling better and we liked them better that way.

For some reason I always seem to want something lemon in spring time, and I already had a small amount of lemon curd that I had made, so that’s how I came up with this idea.  I think these little finger cookies ( or tarts) would be great served at a tea, a Mother’s Day Brunch,  a shower, or any other springtime occasion.

A few simple supplies are all you need:

  • mini-muffin pans, for a total of 24 cookies
  • 1 package of preformed , refrigerated sugar cookie dough, 24/pkg.
  • 1 jar lemon curd, or your own homemade.**
  • a small amount of vanilla frosting, or other garnish

Spray the muffin cups with non-stick spray.  Preheat the oven as the cookie package suggests.

Place one block of cookie dough in each of the muffin cups; with your fingers press to cover the bottom and up the sides to form a shell.

Press dough into the wells of a mini-muffin pan.

Press dough into the wells of a mini-muffin pan.

Bake for the recommended time on the cookie package, starting to check on them early, so they don’t get too brown.  Remove from the oven, and while still warm, spoon about 1 teaspoon of the lemon curd into the depression of each cookie.

After baking the shells, fill depressions with lemon curd.

After baking the shells, fill depressions with lemon curd.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack,  loosening the cookies so they don’t stick.

Garnish the top of each cookie with your choice of frosting or other decorative garnish.

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**If lemon curd is not available, any flavor of jam would be a nice substitute.

SOURCE:  A Carolyn Original

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Breakfast Before Bed. Really!

Slow cooker oatmeal.

Slow cooker oatmeal.

Did you ever think of making your breakfast before going to bed ?  No?  Me, either.  But then I got this idea from something I read.   So simple, really,  why haven’t I thought of this before now?

The whole idea is to use your crock pot or slow cooker to cook breakfast overnight and when you get up in the morning, instead of starting then to cook cereal, voila, there it is hot and waiting for you.

Hot and waiting for you in the morning.

Hot and waiting for you in the morning.

On the weekends I often will cook steel-cut oats for hot  oatmeal which we both love, but it usually takes about 20 minutes of cooking time.  So of course, I never make it on weekdays.  But with starting it in the crockpot the night before, we can now have oatmeal anytime we want.  And the recipe makes about 6 servings, so once made, I refrigerate the extra, and can warm up just one serving in the microwave very easily whenever I want.   I am so proud of myself for coming up with this.  When I told my daughter about it she said, “yeah, I know,  I’ve done that before.”   Duh!  Where have I been?

In case there’s anyone else out there who has never done this,  here’s all you do:

1.  Peel and slice 2 apples and  put in the bottom of a crockpot,   sprinkle  1/3 cup brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon over the apples.  If you are not fond of apples in oatmeal use raisins, or just leave out the fruit completely.

Apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and oatmeal.  What's not to like.

Apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and oatmeal. What’s not to like.

2.  Pour 2 cups regular or steel-cut oats on top,  then add 4 cups water.   Do not stir!   Cook overnight  8 – 9 hours on low.

Layer it all in the crock pot, set it to low, and forget it.

Layer it all in the crock pot, set it to low, and forget it.

3.   Before serving give the pot a stir to mix it all up and enjoy with milk or cream poured over the top.   YUM!

A hot breakfast waiting for you.

A hot breakfast waiting for you.

Sausage, Fennel and Ricotta Pizza

Sausage, fennel and ricotta pizza.

Sausage, fennel and ricotta pizza.

Friday evenings feel like pizza night to me.  Not always, but quite frequently I make it for dinner.  When you make it often you need a variety of toppings to fall back on- at least I do.   As I have said previously,  variety is the spice of my life.  I get bored easily with the repetition of the same foods, and pizza is one of those foods that lends itself to whatever you may have on hand to put on it.

Last week’s version ended up with a crazy combination of things, that somehow worked together, and became an instant favorite.  I’m writing this down so that I don’t forget it.   It started with a roll of refrigerated pizza dough from the supermarket.  This was my first time using this particular product.  I usually use a ball of dough from the bakery department.  The pizza dough was very easy to use.  Just unroll it onto your pan and with your fingers press it out to fit.  Make it thick or thin;  however you like it.

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The toppings consisted of half pound of sausage meat,  half a fennel bulb, thinly sliced, some sliced red onion, and ricotta cheese to which I added some Italian herbs and minced garlic.  A pizza like this could be vegetarian by omitting the sausage and adding in some other vegetables like broccoli, and/or peppers.  In place of the fennel, you might use baby spinach.

SAUSAGE, FENNEL AND RICOTTA PIZZA

YIELD:   8 slices

INGREDIENTS

  • 1   12 oz. roll refrigerated pizza dough
  • 1 -2 links Italian turkey or pork sausage
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 1 Tablespoon cornmeal
  • 2 Tablespoons pesto
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1.   Remove pizza dough from refrigerator and bring to room temperature while oven preheats.   Preheat oven to 450*F.  Lightly grease a pizza pan,  baking sheet, or pizza stone.   Sprinkle cornmeal evenly on baking pan or stone.

2.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove casings form sausage.  Crumble and add to pan, cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned.    Add fennel bulb; cook 4 minutes or until tender.

3.  Roll pizza dough into a 16 – inch oval and place on baking sheet, or press into the pan with your fingers.

4.  Brush the dough evenly with the pesto.  Sprinkle the sausage mixture evenly over the dough.  Combine ricotta with the minced garlic and Italian seasoning in a small bowl;  top pizza with teaspoonfuls of ricotta mixture.  Sprinkle red onion and remaining ingredients evenly over pizza.

Layer on all the ingredients.

Layer on all the ingredients.

5.  Bake at 450*F for 10 – 11 minutes or until golden.  Cut into 8 slices.

In my version, the crust was thin and crispy.

In my version, the crust was thin and crispy.

Served with a hearty salad this made a very filling meal.

We never get tired of pizza.

We never get tired of pizza.

SOURCE:    My own creation

Butternut Ravioli in Sage Browned Butter Sauce

Butternut Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Butternut Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Not too long ago we were out for a special dinner that was catered, and for the appetizer we were served this dish; butternut squash ravioli with a sage brown butter sauce.  It was so good I wanted the recipe, but, sadly, it was not available from the chef.  So I went on the hunt for a similar recipe, and on the Food Network website, I found this one by Emeril Lagasse.

He roasted his squash for starters, but I simply steamed mine, then mashed it with the same results.  Possibly roasting the squash brings out a debt of flavor that mine lacked, but with the nice balance of seasonings that are added I was perfectly satisfied with my results.  I found that using won ton wrappers is a good substitute for fresh pasta dough, if you’re in a time crunch.  However you don’t get that toothy “al dente” texture.  Not a big issue for me;  we enjoyed them all the same.

In trying out this recipe I served the ravioli as a side dish with roast chicken, and it was a good compliment.  The original recipe is written to be served as an appetizer, and that is very nice for a sit-down dinner where silverware is in use. But I would not try to serve it when people need to balance a plate and use a fork to eat it.

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH RAVIOLI WITH A SAGE BROWN BUTTER SAUCE

YIELD:   4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 9 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 cup cooked butternut squash, mashed
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesean cheese, plus more for serving
  • pinch nutmeg
  • fresh pasta dough,rolled out into wide ribbons,  or won ton wrappers
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS

1.  In a large saute pan, over medium heat, melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter.  Add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the cream and continue to cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in 3 Tablespoons cheese and nutmeg.  Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.  Cool completely.

2.  Start a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat and bring to boiling.  Cut the pasta into 3 – inch squares.  (Or alternately, use won ton wrappers.)  Place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each square.  Bring one corner of the square to the opposite corner, forming a triangle, and seal completely, by wetting the edges slightly and pressing together.  Add the ravioli to the pot of boiling salted water.  Cook until al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes or until the ravioli float and are pale in color.

Remove the pasta from the water and drain well.  Season with salt and pepper.

3.  In a medium saute pan, melt the remaining 8 Tablespoons butter.  Add the sage leaves to the butter and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown.  Remove from the heat.

4.  Place some of the ravioli in the center of each serving plate.  Spoon the butter sauce over the ravioli.  Sprinkle with additional cheese and garnish with parsley.

Can be served as a side dish also.

Can be served as a side dish also.

SOURCE:  Emeril Lagasse, via Food Network

Black and White Bars

Black and White Bars

Black and White Bars

Black and white, the classic color combination;  found in so many places.  In the fashion world with black and white you can’t go wrong.  I always feel as though I am well put-together when I wear it.  Any season, any reason it’s always right.  Think of a piano keyboard, another perfect example of this combination, and nothing can improve upon it.   Well, in this recipe for black and white bars, the same is true.  White chocolate with bittersweet dark chocolate make beautiful music together.  I can’t think of one thing to make them better.

So good!

So good!

They are pretty simple to make requiring one large bowl, a smaller one, and a hand mixer.  The recipe calls for baking them in a 9 – inch square pan, but I made a mistake and used an 8 – inch pan.  They came out quite thick, but for me, thicker is better, and more chewy.  So use what you have, remembering that if you use a smaller pan you need to bake them at least 5 minutes longer.  (test with a toothpick). You will not be disappointed in these bars, except maybe at how fast they disappear.  Be sure to get yours before they’re all gone!

BLACK AND WHITE BARS

YIELD:  16 squares

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chopped white chocolate, or white chipsIMG_3617
  • 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick ) butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1  1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup bittersweet chunks or large chips

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Lightly grease a 9 – inch square pan

2.  Place the white chocolate, butter, and sugar in a heatproof bowl.  Heat at low power in the microwave for 1 minute intervals, or over simmering water, until the chocolate softens.  White chocolate is sensitive to to scorching, so watch carefully.

Melting the white chocolate, sugar and butter over simmering water.

Melting the white chocolate, sugar and butter over simmering water.

3.  When the butter is melted and the white chocolate looks soft, stir in the vanilla, nutmeg and salt.  Let the mixture cool to lukewarm,  then beat in the eggs.

Beating in the eggs.

Beating in the eggs.

4.  In a separate medium bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder; stir into the egg mixture.

Stir in the flour and baking powder.

Stir in the flour and baking powder.

Stir in 3/4 cup of the dark chocolate chunks.

Stir in the dark chocolate chunks or chips.

Stir in the dark chocolate chunks or chips.

Spoon the batter into a greased 9″ square pan, and sprinkle the remaining chocolate chunks over the top.

In the pan, ready for the oven.

In the pan, ready for the oven.

5.  Bake the squares for 25 minutes,  ( 30 minutes for a smaller pan), until light golden brown and the edges pull just slightly away from the pan.  Remove from the oven and cool before cutting.

It was hard to wait for them to cool.

It was hard to wait for them to cool.

I cheated a little and cut them before they were completely cool, so the chocolate is still warm and melty-like—nothing wrong with that–except you don’t get a nice clean cut.  Who cares when they taste this good!

SOURCE:  King Arthur Flour.com/recipes/bars

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Buffalo Chicken Chili with Blue Cheese Chips

Buffalo Chicken Chili with Blue Cheese Chips

This recipe is a take off on the favorite appetizer Buffalo Chicken Wings.  It contains all the same ingredients, but in different form.  I’ve made this dish several times now and each time we seem to enjoy it more and more.  I’ve made a few adjustments to the original recipe which came from Rachael Ray on her daytime T.V. show.

It goes together easily and can be made in less than an hour’s time.  I’ve also made it in my slow cooker, by using less liquids, and it came out great.  This is a variation on the traditional red chili, one I would call a white chili, even though it contains tomatoes.  If you and your family like Buffalo wings, try this slightly different, mixed up version of the same flavors.

I think you will like this.

I think you will like this.

To make this into a low carbohydrate meal, you can omit the white beans.  Whether you use the beans or not this chili is low-cal, it’s good and good for you.  As Rachael would say, It’s Yum-O!

BUFFALO CHICKEN CHILI

SERVINGS:  about 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

    Just a few ingredients, you may already have on hand.

    Just a few ingredients, you may already have on hand.

  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 ribs celery with leafy tops, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • 1 can tomato sauce  ( 15 ounces )
  • 1 can stewed, fire-roasted or crushed tomatoes ( 15 ounces)
  • 1 can ( 15 ounce ) canollini or other white beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
  • 1 bag whole grain tortilla chips
  • 8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • a handful flat-leaf parsley chopped, or dried parsley

PREPARATION

1.  Place a large pot over medium-high heat with the EVOO, rotate the pan to spread the oil.  Add the ground chicken and break it up, lightly browning it for 5 minutes.

Brown up the chicken.

Brown up the chicken.

2.  Add the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, paprika and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 7-8 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot.

Chopped veggies and chicken stock waiting their turn in the pot.

Chopped veggies and chicken stock waiting their turn in the pot.

Add the veggies.

Add the veggies.

3.  Add the hot sauce, tomato sauce, tomatoes, and white beans, (if using) to the chili and bring up to a bubble.  Simmer for 8 – 10 minutes more to let the flavors come together.

Tomatoes, sauce and beans added, plus seasonings.

Tomatoes, sauce and beans added, plus seasonings.

4.  While the chili is simmering, pre-heat the broiler.   Spread the chips out on a cookie sheet.  Top with the crumbled blue cheese and transfer to the oven to melt the cheese, 2 – 3 minutes.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

5.  To serve, spoon into bowls and top each serving with a few blue cheese chips, or serve along side.

YUM-O,  delicious!

It’s YUM-O!

SOURCE:  www. rachaelray.com/recipes

Banana Scones

Banana Scones

Banana Scones

Weekends are great for having a lovely leisurely breakfast (or brunch) so I’m getting you ready for the weekend with this recipe for some great tasting banana scones.  The flavor of banana is unmistakeable and enhanced by cinnamon and a little nutmeg.  A little like warm comforting banana bread but not so sweet.  I think they are perfect just as they are, but the original recipe I found included a Brown Butter Glaze to put on them after they are baked.  This could elevate them to a dessert if you are so inclined.  We enjoyed them plain, so no glaze for us, but I am including the full recipe here.

The scone dough is tender and lightly seasoned.  It includes mashed banana and yogurt as the moisture source in the dough.  The recipe produces a large yield ( I got 30 small-sized scones), but they freeze well, so you could bake half and freeze half to be baked at a later time, or just make half the recipe for a reduced number of scones.  If you do freeze them, remember to add about  5  minutes to the baking time.  You will have some lovely breakfasts to look forward to in the weeks ahead.

BANANA SCONES WITH BROWN BUTTER GLAZE

YIELD:  about 14 – 16 large or 25 -30 small scones

INGREDIENTS:

Just a few ingredients, including yogurt or sour cream.

Just a few ingredients, including yogurt or sour cream.

For the scones:

  • 2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2  1/2 cups white whole wheat flour*
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 8 Tablespoons  ( 1 stick ) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1  1/2 cup mashed banana  ( about 3 – 4 bananas)
  • 1 cup low-fat greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Buttermilk, if needed, plus more for brushing the tops

For the glaze:

  •  8 Tablespoons,  (4 oz.) butter
  • 1 1 /2 – 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons milk, plus more as needed

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400*F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

2.  In a very large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.  Whisk to blend.  Stir in the pieces of cold butter and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas.

Cut butter into the dry ingredients.

Cut butter into the dry ingredients.

3.  In a second bowl, combine the mashed banana and yogurt and stir to blend.  Add the banana mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients.

Fold banana mixture into dry ingredients.

Fold banana mixture into dry ingredients.

Fold together gently with a spatula until a dough begins to come together.  (Be careful not to over mix, as it will result in tough, dense scones.)  If some of the dry ingredients are not incorporating into the dough, add a bit of buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time just until all dry ingredients are moistened and incorporated.

4.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Gently knead a few times to ensure even mixing.  pat the dough out into a slab about 3/4 -to-1-inch thick.  Cut out rounds of dough using biscuit/doughnut cutters  (about 3 1/2-inch diameter for large scones or 2 1/2 inch diameter for smaller scones.)  Place dough rounds on the prepared baking sheet at least an inch or two apart.  Lightly brush the tops with buttermilk.**

5.  Bake the scones until the tops are golden brown and scones are just set, about 16 – 18 minutes for large scones and 14 -15 minutes for smaller ones.  Let cool on a wire rack.

Don't they look tender and light?

Don’t they look tender and light?

6.  While the scones are cooling, make the glaze.  Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Let melt and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter is a deep golden brown color,  being careful not to burn it.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Transfer the browned butter to a bowl and whisk in the confectioners’ sugar.  Whisk in the milk a little at a time until the mixture is smooth.  Spoon or drizzle the glaze over the scones and let set before serving.

Scrumptious with a little butter on a warm scone.

Scrumptious with a little butter on a warm scone.

*  I prefer using half white whole wheat flour in as many baked goods as is feasible, but you can use all all-purpose flour if you wish.

** At this point you can place the unbaked scones on a baking sheet, transfer to the freezer and freeze until solid.  Then store in an air-tight container and save for later.  To bake after freezing, just bake as normal but add a few minutes onto the baking time and check to be sure they are fully baked through.

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SOURCE:  Adapted from  The Kitchen, via Annie’s Eats.

Corned Beef Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Corn Beef and Cheese Sandwich.

Grilled Corn Beef and Cheese Sandwich.

Did you know  that everyday is some kind of National Food Holiday?  And some days celebrate more than one kind of food.  I don’t usually pay much attention to this sort of thing because some of them are just plain silly.  For instance, you could get pretty tipsy if you celebrate National Mulled Wine Day,  or bust a gut for National Nutella Day, or get really greasy fingers on National Fried Chicken Day. See what I mean?

However there is one that I could get into in a big way.  I really love grilled cheese sandwiches, and if there was a day to celebrate them, I would eat them all day.  Well,  SURPRISE! Grilled cheese is so highly regarded it has not just a day, but a whole month devoted to it, and this is it.  April is National Grilled Cheese Month.  Yea, I am totally in.

If you like corned beef and you love grilled cheese sandwiches, then you are gonna love this sandwich that combines both along with some glazed onions cooked in dark beer.  WOW! what a combination.

With some corned beef left from our Irish meal, I made these sandwiches for a weekend lunch.  You can make the sandwich anytime using corned beef from the deli, but I used what I had on hand.  You start by slowly cooking sliced onion in a little butter with some sugar, salt and pepper, then add dark beer such as porter or stout.  Let that cook slowly to condense it into a syrupy liquid.  Add the corned beef and heat it up.  Then layer up the sandwich, and grill it.  Rich, gooey, filling and soooo good.

CORNED BEEF GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

Worcestershire sauce and whole grain mustard contribute their flavors, too.

Worcestershire sauce and whole grain mustard contribute their flavors, too.

MAKES  2

  • 1  1/2  Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup dark beer, such as porter or stout
  • 2 ounces deli sliced corned beef, cut into strips
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1  1/2 cups grated cheese
  • 4 slices marble rye bread

1.  Melt 1/2 Tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sprinkle with the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.

Cooking the onions with seasonings.

Cooking the onions with seasonings.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and beer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and the liquid is slightly syrupy, about 8 more minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the corned beef.

Corned beef added into the pan.

Corned beef added into the pan.

2.  Divide half the cheese between 2 bread slices;  top with the corned beef mixture, and the remaining cheese and 2 bread slices.

Layer up the ingredients on the rye bread.

Layer up the ingredients on the rye bread.

3.  Melt the remaining 1 Tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sandwiches and cook, pressing occasionally with a spatula, until the bread is toasted and the cheese melts, about 4 minutes per side, adding more butter to the pan if needed.***

***  I used my panini pan to grill the sandwiches, and instead of using butter to toast them, I spread mayonnaise on the outer sides of the bread.  This makes a nice golden toasted sandwich.   I read somewhere that chefs in restaurants use mayonnaise for grilled sandwiches, so now I do it, too.

Don't let the remainder of that beer go to waste, enjoy it with your sandwich.

Don’t let the remainder of that beer go to waste, enjoy it with your sandwich.

SOURCE:  Food Network Magazine,  March, 2013

Orecchiette with Kale and Breadcrumbs

Orecchiette with kale and breadcrumbs (and sausage).

Orecchiette with kale and breadcrumbs.

In Italian, orecchiette  means “little ears”, and for this dish that pasta is the perfect shape for holding the kale and bread crumbs. I love the fact that there are so many different shapes of pasta and each of them, or similar ones, are meant for a specific type of sauce.  One cannot get bored with pasta when there are so many to choose from.

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I had never cooked with orecchiette before, but on reading the recipe, it looked like something I would like (including my newfound fondness for kale).  This is a hearty dish that is vegetarian, but accepts the addition of meat -in this case, sausage-very well.   I wasn’t sure if a meal consisting of only pasta and kale would be adequate for Mr. D.  so I decided on adding crumbled Italian sausage rather than whole links or slices because of the shape of the pasta.  In the supermarkets that I go to, this pasta shape was hard to find.  The “name brand” pasta companies didn’t seem to have it.  I finally found it in the isle with imported foods.

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The yield of this recipe is large, probably enough to feed 6 people.  I used half a pound of pasta and kept all the other ingredients the same, plus I added half pound of ground Italian sausage (no casings).  This was enough for two of us with enough left over for another meal, or for lunches.  It is very flavorful; we really enjoyed it, and the homemade bread crumbs are a great addition.  Whatever dry bread you may have on hand can be used for the crumbs.  I had a piece of baguette that I used and it worked out well.

ORECCHIETTE WITH KALE AND BREADCRUMBS

YIELD:    about 6 servingsIMG_3559

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large bunch of kale, trimmed of thick stems
  • kosher salt
  • 5 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
  • 2 tablespoons ( 1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 anchovy fillets, packed in oil, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. orecchiette pasta
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage, optional

1.  Working in batches, cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 4 minutes.  Using tongs or a skimmer, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet;  let cool.  Set aside pot with water.  Squeeze out excess liquid from kale.  Chop leaves and set aside.

Cook, cool and drain kale, then chop.

Cook, cool and drain kale, then chop.

2.  Heat 3 Tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.  Add 1/3 of the chopped garlic and cook, stirring often, until breadcrumbs are golden, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate;  let cool.

Making the breadcrumbs.

Making the breadcrumbs.

3.  If using sausage,  crumble sausage in a large heavy pan, breaking it up with a spoon, and cook until browned.  Drain any fat rendered, and set the sausage aside, then proceed with step #4 using the same pan.

4.  Heat butter and remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium-low heat.  Add anchovies, red pepper flakes, and remaining 2/3 chopped garlic;  mashing anchovies with a spoon, until a paste forms, about 2 minutes.  Add reserved kale and 1/2 cup water.  Cook, stirring often until kale is warmed through, about 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Kale with seasonings in the pan.

Kale with seasonings in the pan.

Add in the cooked sausage.

Add in the cooked sausage.

5.  Meanwhile, bring reserved kale cooking liquid to a boil;  add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.  Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to kale mixture and stir to coat.  Increase heat to medium and continue stirring adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta.

Drained pasta added into the mixture.

Drained pasta added into the mixture.

Mix in Parmesan and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs;  toss to combine.

6.  To serve, divide pasta among bowls and sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs.

IMG_3565

SOURCE:   Bon Appetit

Tiramisu, a Lightened-up Version

Today marks the beginning of my second year writing this blog, and I wanted to share with you something fabulous.  I think this recipe is certainly that.  Rich, indulgent and just plain delicious!

Tiramisu, with less calories and fat but still rich and delicious.

Tiramisu, with less calories and fat but still rich and delicious.

Most likely you have had tiramisu at one time or another.   You know, the elegant, espresso-soaked sponge cake dessert, which is characterized by its rich layers of buttery mascarpone cheese and sweetened whipped cream, topped off with shaved chocolate.  If you have never had it, then I suggest you try this lightened up version for a treat that still delivers the flavor of the original without all the fat and calories.

Tiramisu, an elegant dessert.

Tiramisu, an elegant dessert.

The classic recipe packs a wallop;  a day’s worth of fat and almost 600 calories.  Mascarpone is Italy’s version of a dessert butter;  delicious to be sure, but you don’t need so much to make a dessert which is still rich tasting.  To lighten it , this recipe subs in 1/3 less fat cream cheese, with still a bit of mascarpone for richness, and mixes it into a lightly sweetened egg custard.  Egg whites are whipped, then folded into the custard, eliminating the need for whipped cream.  Crisp lady-fingers get dipped into Kahlua-spiked coffee and are then layered with the creamy custard-like filling.  A dusting of bittersweet chocolate adds one more layer of flavor for an indulgent treat that will truly be a pick-me-up, for that’s what “tiramisu” means.

Two layers of sweet, creamy indulgence.

Two layers of sweet, creamy indulgence.

We were guests at my  sister-in-law’s home for Easter dinner, and this is what I brought for dessert.  Everyone thought it was divine.  I needn’t have  worried that they would detect it wasn’t the original version. It disappeared so fast no one even questioned it.

TIRAMISU

SERVINGS:    10

INGREDIENTS

Ladyfingers, 2 kinds of cheese, Kahlua, and eggs.

Ladyfingers, 2 kinds of cheese, Kahlua, and eggs.

  • 1  1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup ground dark roast coffee
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tablespoons Kahlua  (coffee-flavored liqueur), divided
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 8  ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2  ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 24 crisp savoiardi ladyfingers  ( 1  [ 7oz.] pkg.)
  • 3/4  ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely grated

1.  Bring 1  1/2 cups water to a boil, and remove from heat.  Add coffee; cover and let stand for 10 minutes.  Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a medium bowl; discard grounds.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.  I brewed extra coffee in the morning, then into 1 1/2 cups coffee I added 1 Tablespoon espresso  powder; heated up the mixture to dissolve the espresso, then chilled it.

Espresso mixed with brewed coffee for a strong coffee flavor.

Espresso mixed with brewed coffee for a strong coffee flavor.

2.  Combine  1/4 cup sugar, egg yolks, and 1 Tablespoon Kahlua in the top of a double boiler, stirring well with a whisk.  Cook over simmering water, whisking constantly, until thick and candy thermometer registers 160* (about 9 minutes).  Remove from heat; refrigerate 10 minutes.

Cooking the egg yolks with sugar and Kaluha.

Cooking the egg yolks with sugar and Kaluha.

3.  Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until medium peaks form.  Combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil.   Cook, without stirring, until the candy thermometer registers 250*.  With mixer at low speed,  carefully pour hot syrup over egg whites.  Gradually increase speed to high; beat for 2 minutes or until stiff peaks form  (do not over mix )

4.  Combine egg yolk mixture, cream cheese, and mascarpone cheese in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

Egg yolk mixture beaten with cream cheese and mascarpone.

Egg yolk mixture beaten with cream cheese and mascarpone.

Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into cream cheese mixture;  gently fold remaining egg white mixture into cream cheese mixture.

Fold egg whites into egg/ cheese mixture.

Fold egg whites into egg/ cheese mixture.

5.  Add remaining 1 Tablespoon Kahlua to coffee.  Quickly dip 12 ladyfingers into coffee mixture; arrange in the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.  Note:  I used an 8″ x 12″ pan and 15 ladyfingers, without changing anything else, and there was enough coffee and custard to cover adequately.

Ladyfingers dipped and placed into bottom of baking dish.

Ladyfingers dipped and placed into bottom of baking dish.

Spread half of cream cheese mixture over ladyfingers.

Spread with half the cream cheese mixture.

Spread with half the cream cheese mixture.

Sprinkle with half of the chocolate.

Sprinkle with half the chocolate.

Sprinkle with half the chocolate.

Repeat procedure with the remaining ladyfingers, coffee mixture, and cream cheese mixture .  Sprinkle with remaining chocolate.  Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

This makes a full pan.

This makes a full pan.

Cut into squares and remove with a spatula.

Cut into squares and remove with a spatula.

Try it.  I'm sure you will love it!

Try it. I’m sure you will love it!

SOURCE:  Cooking Light