Saturday, December 03, 2011

Triple Ginger Cookies from Epicurious

These are fantastic. I have changed this recipe by increasing the amount of fresh and ground ginger. The original recipe called for 1 1/2 tsps of each.

You can view the complete recipe online at:

Triple-Ginger Cookies
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup light (mild-flavored) molasses
3 teaspoons finely grated fresh peeled ginger
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup (about) sugar

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F (or 325 convect bake).
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, crystallized ginger, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy and light, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in both brown sugars. Beat on medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, molasses, fresh ginger, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat to blend. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, beating on low speed just to blend between additions.
Place 1/3 cup sugar in small bowl. Measure 1 tablespoon dough. Roll into ball between palms of hands, then roll in sugar in bowl to coat; place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cookie dough, spacing cookies 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.
Bake cookies until surfaces crack and cookies are firm around edges but still slightly soft in center, about 15 minutes. Cool completely on sheets on rack. DO AHEAD: Cookies can be made up to 4 days ahead. Store in airtight containers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Paula Deen's Orange Brownies

My sister-in-law, Kate, just sent this rexipe to me. I haven't tried it yet, but I wish that I had gotten it sooner. Saturday was our last home game and tailgate, so I'll have to wait til next year for football season. This sounds delicious enough to serve anytime.
Orange Brownies
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen, 2007
about 20 to 24 brownies
•       1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
•       2 cups granulated sugar
•       1 teaspoon salt
•       1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
•       4 eggs
•       2 teaspoons pure orange extract
•       1 teaspoon grated orange zest
•       1 recipe Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.
Orange Brownies:
Stir together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven, allow to cool and pierce entire cake with a fork. Spread the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting over completely cooled brownies. Cut into squares.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
•       1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
•       4 tablespoons softened butter
•       1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar
•       2 tablespoons orange zest
•       2 tablespoons orange juice
In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together with a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until it is all combined and smooth. Beat in the orange zest and juice. Spread over brownies.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cook's Country Soft and Chewy Dinner Rolls

I have not tried these rolls. The recipe, however, is from Cook's Country, and their recipes are usually perfect. Frankly, I think that it's hard to beat Sister Shubert's Rolls, but they aren't available everywhere.

Makes 12 rolls

1 1/4cups water, heated to 110 degrees
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1tablespoon sugar
1envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
3cups all-purpose flour
1/2cup instant potato flakes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. WARM OVEN Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease large bowl.

2. MAKE DOUGH Whisk water, oil, sugar, and yeast in liquid measuring cup until yeast dissolves. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, potato flakes, and 1½ teaspoons salt until combined. With mixer on low, add water mixture in steady stream and mix until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, about 6 minutes.

3. LET RISE Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, cohesive ball. Transfer dough to prepared bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

4. SHAPE ROLLS Punch down dough on lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into quarters and cut each quarter into 3 equal pieces. On clean surface, form each piece into rough ball by pinching and pulling the edges under so that the top is smooth. Then cup each round with your palm and move in a circular motion on an unfloured surface to shape a smooth ball. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and return to turned-off oven until doubled in size, about 20 minutes. (Or refrigerate rolls for up to 24 hours.)

5. BRUSH AND BAKE Remove rolls from oven and discard plastic wrap. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush rolls with egg and sprinkle evenly with ½ teaspoon salt. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through cooking. Cool rolls on sheet 10 minutes. Serve.

MAKE AHEAD: Bake as directed until rolls are just beginning to brown and outside is set, about 5 minutes. Cool completely and freeze in zipper-lock bag. When ready to reheat, defrost at room temperature for about 1 hour and bake 10 minutes in 400-degree oven.

TO MAKE WITHOUT A MIXER: In step 2, whisk water, oil, sugar, and yeast in liquid measuring cup. Mix flour, potato flakes, and salt in large bowl. Make well in flour, then add water mixture to well. Stir until dough becomes shaggy and difficult to stir. Turn out onto floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth and forms cohesive ball, about 10 minutes. Proceed as directed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Getting ready for Thanksgiving

The trick to having a great Thanksgiving meal without a nervous breakdown or complete physical breakdown is planning. Here's what I do-

Several weeks ahead
Make turkey stock for gravy and dressing, freeze. (Buy turkey necks or wings. Roast and then make stock.
Make cranberry sauce, refrigerate
Make cornbread, crumble and freeze
Make pie crusts and freeze. Freeze crusts uncovered for a couple of hours. Then cover well with aluminum foil and then place in plastic freezer bags and return to freezer.
Make soup and freeze

Sunday before-
Cook sausage and veg for dressing, freeze
Make roux for gravy, refrigerate

2 days before
Prepare green beam casserole and refrigerate
Prepare onion casserole and refrigerate
Prepare sweet potato casserole, if serving, and refrigerate

Day before -
Make pumpkin pie filling, refrigerate
Brine the turkey

Thanksgiving am
Remove pie crusts and pumpkin filling from freezer
Prep and bake pecan pie
Prep and bake pumpkin pie

Pancetta and winter squash soup

Roast turkey
Cornbread dressing
Green bean casserole
Homemade cranberry sauce
mashed potatoes
Roasted sweet potatoes, or sweet potato casserole
Ama B's creamed onions

Mimoi's pecan pie
pumpkin pie

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Julia's Leek and Potato Soup

I've made this soup since I got the cookbook, Julia Child's Kitchen, 30 years ago. This is super easy and delicious. If you don't have leeks, you can use any combination of onions, green onions, shallots, etc. You can also add leftover, cooked vegetables to vary it.

6-8 servings
3 tbl butter
3 cups chopped leeks (white part only), or onions
3 tbl flour
4-6 cups water
1 tbl salt
Pepper to taste
1 cup or so of tender green part of leeks, chopped (optional)
4 cups (1 1/2 lbs) potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly
1 cup milk
1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream or sour cream and 2-3 tbl butter (I don't usually add this, but it does make it delicious)
2-3 tbl minced fresh parsley or chives

Melt butter in a 3-4 qt pot. Stir in the leeks/onions, cover pan and cook on low for 5 minutes without browning. Blend in flour and stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes without browning. Remove from heat and add 1 cup water, slowly, stirring. Return to heat and add remaining water, stirring. Add salt and pepper, optional leek greens, and the potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer partially covered for about 40 minutes.

Mash with a potato masher for a chunky soup or blend with stick blender for a smoother texture.

To serve, add milk and as much of the cream and butter as you'd like. Don't allow it to come to a boil again if you're using the milk. It may curdle. Taste and correct seasonings. Serve and garnish with chives or parsley.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Old-fashioned Butterscotch Pie

Here's a pie from that I want to try. Phillip loves butterscotch, so this would be a great pie for his birthday.

Fully Baked Pastry Shell
For Filling:
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 beaten egg yolks
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
For Meringue:
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
Other necessary recipes: Basic Pie Pastry
FOR FILLING: Prepare and fully bake pastry shell as directed; set aside to cool. In a heavy, medium saucepan stir together the brown sugar, flour, and salt. Add egg yolks and milk. Cook while stirring with a wire whisk till thickened and bubbly. (Mixture may appear curdled. Stir briskly while cooking and mixture will become smooth.) Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in margarine or butter and vanilla. Pour hot filling into baked pastry shell.

FOR MERINGUE: In a mixing bowl beat egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute, or till soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed about 4 minutes more, or till mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks (tips stand straight) and sugar completely dissolves. Immediately spread meringue over hot filling, spreading to edge of pastry to seal and prevent shrinkage.

Bake pie in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 15 minutes. Cool on a rack for 1 hour. Chill 3-6 hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


My friend, Kathleen, made this Saturday night for Connie's birthday celebration. Wow! What a delicious dessert. She uses a can of apples and adds her own sugar and spices, rather than pie filling.


Crust:  ½ cup butter, softened
          1/3 cup sugar
           ¼ teaspoon vanilla
           1 cup flour
Filling:  1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
             ¼ cup sugar
            1 egg
            ½ teaspoon vanilla
Topping:  1 can Comstock apple pie filling
               Sliced almonds
               Pumpkin or apple pie spice mix or cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar for crust until light and fluffy.  Stir in ¼ t. vanilla and then blend in flour.  Press this mixture into a bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.  Work the crust gently up the sides of the pan about 1 inch.

Combine cream cheese and ¼ cup sugar well and blend until smooth.  Add the egg and the ½ teaspoon vanilla.  Spread the filling evenly over the unbaked crust.

Place the apple pie filling slices in a decorative pattern over the top and sprinkle with spice.  Toss on a few sliced almonds.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking an additional 25 minutes.  Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before removing the sides of the pan to serve.  You can also cool pan, cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until serving.

Variations:  I substitute the vanilla extract with almond extract.  To lower the caloric content, I use a can of NO SUGAR ADDED Comstock apple pie filling and add apple or pumpkin pie spice to the slices.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spinach Maria

I fixed this yesterday to take to a birthday dinner for my friend Connie. I thought that it was delicious, and I always like something you can do in advance. The amounts are approximate. You'll have to taste and correct because I was just wingin' it.

Preheat oven to 350

1-2 tbl olive oil
1 tbl butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 fat garlic clove, chopped fine
2 pcks frozen, chopped spinach
Salt & pepper to taste

2 tbl butter
4 tbl flour
2 cups milk
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tbl Worstershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil and butter with a pinch of salt. Add spinach and cook til defrosted over medium heat. Raise heat. Push spinach to one side, tilt the skillet, and press on spinach to remove and evaporate excess liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove spinach to a mixing bowl.

Make white sauce in same skillet. Melt butter over low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes, without letting the mixture brown. Add milk, stirring constantly. Raise heat and continue stirring until sauce boils. Lower heat and let simmer 3 minutes. Turn off heat and add cheeses and spices. Add sauce to spinach, stir, taste, and correct seasonings.

Place in buttered casserole dish and top with additional sharp cheddar. Cover and bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. To do ahead, cover and refrigerate. Then place in the microwave for 5 minutes at 70% power, then into the oven for 30.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Corn Muffins with Green Onions and Sour Cream from Epicurious

I made these today for a morning tailgate. They were very good, but I made a few changes.

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal mix
1/4 cup sugar (I omitted this)
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed, drained
1 cup chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 18 1/3-cup muffin cups with paper liners. Combine first dry ingredients in large bowl. Whisk sour cream, eggs, milk and melted butter in another bowl. Add sour cream mixture to dry ingedients and stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in corn kernels and green onions.

Divide batter equally among muffin cups. Bake until golden and tester inserted into center of muffins comes out clean, about 12 minutes. Cool on rack. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip

My friend, Kathleen, brought this to dinner last night, and everyone loved it!

2 (12.5 oz)cans Tyson brand chicken
2 8 oz blocks cream cheese, softened
1 cup wing sauce
1 cup blue cheese dressing

Mix all together and place in 9x13 casserole sprayed with Pam. Spread shredded cheddar cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with celery and tortilla chips.

Texas Sheet Cake from Cook's Country

This is  delicious, easy, and serves a crowd. It freezes really well too. I sliced it into serving-size pieces and placed them in cupcake liners. Then I put them into plastic containers and froze.

Serves 24

Toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2 cups  all-purpose flour
2 cups  sugar
1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
1/2 teaspoon  salt
2 large  eggs plus 2 yolks
2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
1/4 cup  sour cream
8 ounces  semisweet chocolate , chopped
4 tablespoons  unsalted butter
3/4 cup  vegetable oil
3/4 cup  water
1/2 cup  Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Chocolate Icing
8 tablespoons (1 stick)  unsalted butter
1/2 cup  heavy cream
1/2 cup  Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tablespoon  light corn syrup
3 cups  confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon  vanilla extract
1 cup  toasted pecans , chopped
1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 18- by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Whisk eggs and yolks, vanilla, and sour cream in another bowl until smooth.

2. Heat chocolate, butter, oil, water, and cocoa in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk chocolate mixture into flour mixture until incorporated. Whisk egg mixture into batter, then pour into prepared baking pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack.

3. For the icing: About 5 minutes before cake is done, heat butter, cream, cocoa, and corn syrup in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Off heat, whisk in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Spread warm icing evenly over hot cake and sprinkle with pecans. Let cake cool to room temperature on wire rack, about 1 hour, then refrigerate until icing is set, about 1 hour longer. (Cake can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Cut into 3-inch squares. Serve.

Pesto and Sun-dried Tomato torte

The original recipe came from Epicurious, but it was a little bland. I've made some changes that, I think, make it much better. This recipe make so much that you can do 2 smaller tortes and freeze one for another day. Also, don't worry if your layers don't go according to the directions. It won't matter at all.

5 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
fresh lemon juice and lemon rind
2 2/3 cups cream cheese, room temperature (about 21 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/3 cups drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato paste

Pesto layer
Finely chop garlic in processor. Reserve half of garlic for other layers. Add basil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, 2 tbl olive oil and juice from half the lemon. Process until well blended. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Using on/off turns, process just until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and correct seasonings. Transfer pesto to medium bowl.

Tomato layer
Coarsely chop tomatoes in processor. Add tomato paste and half of reserved garlic and process until mixture is almost smooth. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese and blend well. Add 1-2 tbl olive oil. Add juice of half a lemon, salt, pepper, cayenne. Taste and correct seasonings.

Cream cheese layer
In food processor, beat 2 cups cream cheese and remaining parmesean with remaining garlic and lemon rind until fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.

Spray 6 cup bowl with nonstick spray. Line with plastic wrap, extending plastic over sides. Spread 3/4 cup cream cheese-parmesean mixture evenly over bottom of prepared dish. Top with half of tomato mixture, then 1/2 cup cream cheese-parmesean mixture, then half of pesto mixture. Repeat layering with 1/2 cup cream cheese-parmesean mixture, remaining tomato mixture, 1/2 cup cream cheese-parmesean mixture and remaining pesto. Top with remaining cream cheese-parmeseanmixture. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Invert torta onto platter. Peel off plastic. Garnish with basil sprigs. Serve with baguette slices.

Makes 20 servings.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bellinni floats

I made this for a lovely, poolside lunch at my friend Kathleen's house. I had homemade peach sorbet, but you could certainly use a nice, store-bought sorbet.

For each float:
place 2-3 scoops of sorbet in a tall glass
Fill glass with cold Prosecco, Cava, or other sparkling wine.
Garnish with mint sprig, if desired.

Serve with a straw and ice tea spoon.

Peach Sorbet

I made this yesterday, using the bounty of luscious, ripe peaches that are available right now. I had poached some peaches with cinnamon and had kept the syrup which I added to the peaches. This, along with a slosh of brandy made an incredible sorbet!
Equipment - ice cream maker
Serves 4

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Peel from 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup ice
1/4 cup brandy
5-6 peaches, Peeled,sliced, and pureed to make about 2 cups
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt

To peel peaches, place in boiling water about a minute (longer the firmer they are). Drain and cool. The skins will slip off easily. If not, repeat.

Cook sugar, water, peel, cinnamon until sugar is dissolved. Move to bowl and add ice, stirring to dissolve. Remove lemon peel and cinnamon stick. Add peach puree, brandy, and salt, stir and taste. If not sweet enough, add a little corn syrup or make some more sugar syrup. If it tastes a little flat, add more lemon juice. Freeze according to directions in yiur ice cream maker.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I made this today from leftover meat and salsa from tostadas. You could use leftover chili as well or just salsa. This is sort of a Mexican lasagne.

 Preheat oven to 350

Serves 3-4
2 Cups leftover chili
or 1 cup of leftover taco meat mixed with 1 can of Rotel
Corn removed from the cob of 1 ear of corn or frozen corn
Left over tostadas about 6 or taco chips
sharp, shredded cheddar or Monterrey jack

Mix chili and corn together or mix taco meat with Rotel and corn. If your chili is thick, add a little water to it. Spray a casserole dish with Pam. Add a layer of chips, then chili & corn mixture, then cheese.  Continue to layer until you have at least 3 layers.
Cover, bake at 350 until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Debbie's Lemon Meringue Pie

Nothing is more classic as a summer dessert than Lemon Meringue Pie. I have been making this pie for years and it is always a hit and everyone always ask for the recipe. I like to make pies but some people find them tricky--but a homemade pie is worth the effort. For this recipe, I have included all the tips that I have developed over the years. If you feel really challenged by making a pie crust, you can use the refrigerated pie crust (not frozen pie crust). All you have to do is put in a pie pan and bake. Not quite as good as homemade but an adequate substitute.

Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Crisco
4-5 Tbs very cold water

Mix flour and salt together in bowl. Add 1/4 c of the Crisco and cut in with pastry blender (not an electric blender) Use the pastry blender to mix flour/salt with Crisco until it is very crumbly. Then add the other 1/4 c of Crisco and keep mixing with pastry blender until the dough is looking like small peas. Add 4-5 Tbs of very cold water and lightly blend with fork by continually pushing dough with fork to side of bowl, until it will form one large ball. (Always be gentle with the dough, the harder you mix and the more you mix, the dough becomes less flaky) Remove ball from bowl and place on lightly floured board. ( I like to use the new non-stick silicone pads designed for rolling dough. They have multi-sized circles on the surface so you know how big your pie dough circle needs to be . Take the lightly floured ball and flatten the ball using the edge of one side of your hand, press 3 times one way and then 3 times the other. Then roll out till crust is about 1/8 inch thick or forms about a 10 inch circle. Place your lightly dusted rolling pin toward one side of the circle and then gently lift edge of dough (sometimes using a flat pancake turner to help release the dough. Gently lift the edge of dough on top of the rolling pin and then gently lift rolling pin to release dough and put in a 9 inch pie pan. ( I like to use a glass pie pan for the lemon meringue pie). Thoroughly prick the bottom and sides of the dough with the edge of the fork. Do not make big holes but prick all over to avoid pie from creating big air pockets on the bottom as it bakes. At this point, you can refrigerate dough if you are not ready to make your pies. At room temperature, put pie crust in 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until shell is golden brown but not dark brown. Remove pie crust and cool. Turn off oven while shell is cooling so that oven will not be too hot when you bake the pie filling with the meringue. If oven is too hot when you cook filling/meringue, meringue may brown too quickly on outside and not be cooked inside.

Lemon Filling
Once the pie crust is cool and so is your oven, preheat oven to 325 degrees. You want to have all your ingredients ready, including the meringue ingredients. Some people tell you to let the filling cool before putting the meringue on top but I find that it works best if you put the meringue on the filling while it is still hot. I think it helps cook the interior of the meringue and you get less "weeping" (water separation between filling and meringue.)

Combine in a 2-3 quart saucepan:
1 and 1/2 cups sugar (make sure it doesn't have any clumps)
6 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blend together.
Then gradually add the following and blend until smooth.
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup FRESH lemon juice ( generally about 21/2 -3 lemons)
Then add, blending thoroughly
3 egg yolks, well beaten (save egg whites for meringue)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Stirring constantly, very gradually add
1 and 1/2 cups boiling water.
Put saucepan with filling mixture over medium heat and bring to a full boil stirring gently. I like to use a small flat silicone whisk to gently stir. Do not use metal utensils to stir. As it comes to a full boil, the mixture will begin to thicken, reduce heat and simmer slowly for an additional minute while gently stirring.
Remove from heat and stir in:
1-2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest.
(Do not add more lemon juice to filling, if you want a more lemony taste, increase the lemon zest. Use a good micro planer to zest the lemon and try to use mainly the yellow skin of the lemon without too much of the white rind of the lemon.

Immediately make the Meringue:
In a clean, grease-free glass or metal bowl, mix on medium speed until foamy:
5 egg whites, room temperature (the recipe calls for 4 but I find that 5 creates a nice layer of meringue)
Add and continue beating until soft peaks form:
a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
Very gradually beat in :
1/2 cup sugar, preferably superfine (if you don't have superfine, use regular sugar but run through sifter to avoid any large clumps of sugar)
Continue beating on high speed until the peaks are stiff and glossy but not dry. Beat in:
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Pour hot filling into pie crust. Using a spatula, drop large clumps of meringue around exterior of pie and then gently spread all the way over to the edge of the pie crust. ( Spreading the meringue all the way to the edge of the pie crust, seals the meringue and keeps it from pulling away from the edge of the pie. ) When you have gently spread all the way to the edge of the crust then gently spread the remaining meringue on the hot filling, piling a little higher toward the center of the pie but making sure to completely cover the filling, leaving no gaps.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes. Cool on rack before serving. The pie is always best if served after it has completely cooled but without needing to put it in refrigerator. I try to make it about an hour or two before I think dinner will be served. Because of the eggs, you will probably want to store leftovers in refrigerator but refrigeration makes the dough less flaky and makes the meringue more sticky.

Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Lidia's Fagottini di pollo

I saw this a few weeks ago on Lidia's tv show. Delicious! You could certainly do this ahead. It's as delicious, reheated the next day.

Serves 6

1 medium onion, cut in chunks
1 large carrot, cut in chunks
1 stalk celery , cut in chunks
10 fresh sage leaves
2 plump garlic cloves, peeled
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, preferably 6 to 8 large thighs
6 slices bacon strips, thinly sliced, 2 inches wide
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
3 tablespoons Grana Padano, or Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
You will need a food processor; a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet or sauté pan, 12-inch diameter or larger, with a cover; toothpicks.

Using a food processor, mince the onion, carrot, celery, 4 sage leaves, and the garlic into a fine- textured pestata. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into the big skillet, and set over medium heat. Stir the pestata into the oil, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until it has wilted and just starts to stick to the pan bottom. Scrape all of the pestata into a bowl to cool.

Trim the chicken thighs of fat and any loose bits of flesh, and lay them open, boned side up, on a cutting board. One at a time, cover each thigh with a piece of plastic wrap, and pound it with a meat mallet (or other heavy implement) to an even thickness of about 1/2 inch. Sprinkle salt lightly on the flattened sides, using another 1/2 teaspoon in all.

Spread a tablespoon or so of the cooled pestata in a thin layer on each thigh, almost to the edges- use more or less depending on size. Fold the thighs over into thirds, as if folding a letter, and compress gently. Wrap a strip of bacon the long way around each bundle, so the open sides are partly sealed. Overlap the ends of the bacon and thread a toothpick through them to hold the strip in place.

Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil into the big skillet-cleaned of pestata-and set over medium-high heat. Lay all the chicken bundles in the pan, turning them when the bacon starts sizzling and rendering fat. Sauté the fagottini for 5 minutes or longer, turning several times, so the bacon and chicken are lightly caramelized all over. As they brown, drop the remaining pestata by spoonfuls in between the bundles, along with the rest of the sage leaves, to cook on the pan bottom.

When everything is sizzling, pour in the wine and bring to a bubbling simmer. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, turning the fagottini occasionally. Pour the crushed tomatoes (and juices) all over the bundles, and shake the pan to mix them with the wine. Season with the remaining teaspoon salt, and bring the braising liquid to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan, adjust the heat to keep things bubbling steadily, and braise until the thighs are cooked through and tender, 25 to 30 minutes, depending on size. (If you're not sure, slice discreetly into one of the bundles to check for doneness.)

If you want to finish the fagottini with a crisp gratinato topping, arrange a rack in the top part of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees while the chicken braises. When the meat is done, uncover the skillet, raise the heat, and reduce the braising liquid a bit, exposing the tops of the thighs. Turn off the heat, and carefully pull the toothpicks out of the bundles. Sprinkle a teaspoon or so of grated cheese over each, and set the skillet in the oven. Bake about 10 minutes, until the gratinato is golden, the bacon very crisp, and the sauce quite thick. Remove from the oven carefully.

To finish the fagottini on the stovetop: Reduce the braising juices in the uncovered pan a bit longer, until thickened to a sauce. Turn off the heat, pull out the toothpicks, sprinkle a teaspoon cheese over each, and set the cover back on for a minute, to melt the cheese.

To serve the fagottini: set one (or more if they're small) on a serving plate with sauce spooned around the hot bundle.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Potato salad with Dill and Capers

I made this last Saturday night for a dinner on the deck. We had grilled lamb chops, tossed salad, and this delicious potato salad.

For 4

10 new potatoes, boiled in their skins
1 small garlic clove, chopped fine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4-1/2 red onion, sliced thin
3 tbl capers
1/3 cup Hellmans mayo
1/4 cup non fat yoghurt
1 tbl dijon mustard
Big handful fresh dill chopped, reserve some for garnish

Place potatoes in large pan of cold,salted water and bring to a boil. Let boil about 15-20 minutes. When a knife goes into potatoes easily, drain and let cool until you can handle them.

Place garlic in a bowl and slice warm potatoes into it. Add salt and pepper and toss. Mix vinegar and olive oil together and sprinkle about half over potatoes. Add onion, mayo, yoghurt, and mustard. Stir. Add capers and most of dill. Stir, taste, and correct seasonings. If potato salad isn't creamy enough, add a tbl or so of water. Garnish with reserved dill. Before serving, sprinkle salad with remaining oil and vinegar mixture.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Banana Cake with Toffee Sauce

I just read this recipe in Bon Appetit, and I've got to try it. This sounds delicious!

Toffee Sauce
1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons (or more) heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Banana Cake
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 to 3)
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Sliced bananas (optional)

8x8x2-inch nonstick metal baking pan

Toffee Sauce
Bring 1 1/4 cups cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and 1/8
teaspoon salt to boil in heavy small saucepan over medium heat,
whisking until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook at
gentle boil until sauce coats spoon thickly and is reduced to 1 1/2
cups, whisking occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and
cool. Whisk in 3 tablespoons or more cream to thin sauce to desired
consistency. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Rewarm slightly before using.

Banna Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8x8x2-inch nonstick metal baking pan.
Dust baking pan with flour, tapping out excess.
Whisk flour, baking power, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Using
electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well
blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in mashed bananas, rum, and
vanilla (batter may look curdled). Add dry ingredients in 4 additions,
beating just to blend after each addition. Spread batter evenly in
prepared baking pan.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 38
minutes. Spread 1/2 cup toffee sauce evenly over cake. Return cake to
oven and bake until sauce is bubbling thickly, about 6 minutes. Cool
cake in pan on rack 30 minutes. Cut around cake in pan. Cut cake into
9 squares or 12 rectangles. Serve cake slightly warm or at room
temperature with toffee sauce and top with sliced bananas, if desired.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Roast or grilled Asparagus

This is a delicious way to prepare asparagus. You won't believe how yummy it it. You can grill these if you have a grill pan. If you don't roast them in the oven.

If roasting, preheat oven to 425

Serves 3-4

1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed of the woody ends
Extra virgin olive oil
(1/2-1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Toss asparagus with all other ingredients. Place on grill pan or in baking dish. Grill or roast about 5 minutes, or until asparagus has browned and is cooked through. You can also serve this at room temperature with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Farfalle with prosciutto and brocolli

I made this tonight because I had some prosciutto that needed to be used. It's way too expensive to throw away! I thought that it was a quick and tasty dinner.

Serves 2
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small head of brocolli
4 slices prosciutto, cut into strips
1/2 onion sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup or more parmigiano reggiano, grated
Salt, pepper to taste
1/3 box farfalle (bow ties)
Put a big pot of salted water on to boil.
Remove the brocolli florets; peel, slice, and dice the stem. Heat olive oil and saute onion with a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes. Add brocolli stems, prosciutto, and garlic, stirring. Add brocolli florets and season with salt. Add 1/2 cup water, cover, reduce heat and cook 15 minutes or so until brocolli is tender. Add pasta to water and cook while brocolli finishes. When tender, add to brocolli along with some of the pasta water. Add parmigiano, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Farfalle with Butternut Squash

I am embarrassed to admit that I have never cooked with butternut squash before. I'm not sure why. I guess my mom never cooked with it, so I just hadn't tried. Also, there don't seem to be lots of recipes for it. Anyway, I bought one the other day, and here's what I did with it. I thought that it was delicious.

1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pancetta cubed
1/2 purple onion,chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 butternut squashed, diced
3-4 sliced prosciutto, diced (You can substitute a nice, flavorful ham.)
1 can chicken stock (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup or more of water
2-3 stalks of thyme
salt & black pepper to taste
1-1 1/2 cups farfalle (bowties)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano reggiano or to taste.
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Saute pancetta in oil til golden.  Add onion, celery, carrots, a pinch of salt and saute 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic,prosciutto, and squash and saute a couple of minutes more. Add chicken stock,and thyme.Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and cook until squash is almost tender.
 Add water and pasta. Add more water if there's not enough to almost cover pasta. Return to the boil and clamp on a lid and cook, stirring frequently. When the pasta is tender, remove the thyme stalk, salt and pepper to taste, and stir in Parmigiano Reggiano and lemon juice. Serve immediately with more Parmigiano.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Connie's Favorite Butternut squash bisque from Southern Living

1  large butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
2  Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
2  large onions, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2  to 2 1/2 cup chicken broth
1  cup  fresh orange juice
2  teaspoons  grated orange rind
2  teaspoons  curry powder
1  teaspoon  salt
1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1  cup  whipping cream
1/2  cup  milk
Marmalade Cream (Mix together 1 cup sour cream, 2 tbl orange marmalade, 1/2 tsp curry powder, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
Cut squash in half, and remove seeds. Place squash halves, apple wedges, and onions on a lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet, cut sides down.

Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from oven; cool. Scoop out squash pulp, discarding shells.

Combine pulp, roasted apples and onions, broth, and next 5 ingredients in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes. Remove mixture from heat; cool.

Process squash mixture, 1 cup at a time, in a food processor until smooth. Return purée to Dutch oven, and chill 8 hours, if desired.

Heat soup in Dutch oven over low heat. Slowly add whipping cream and milk, stirring constantly until thoroughly heated and smooth. Remove from heat, and top with Marmalade Cream. Serve immediately.


This is a very Italian lasagna, using Lidia's Bolognese sauce and a bechamel (white sauce) instead of ricotta.  You can use what ever sauce you like.  I sometimes make this with the Spaghetti sauce with Italian sausage. Whenever I make spaghetti sauce, I always make extra and freeze it. If the sauce is already made, then this recipe is a snap. Do not be tempted to substitute cheap cheese for the Parmigiano Reggiano. The lasagna will not be nearly as good.

For 6-8 people
1 box Barilla no cook lasagna noodles
1/2 recipe of Lidia's Bolognese sauce
1-1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano 
3 cups bechamel sauce

For the bechamel

4 tbl butter
6 tbl flour
3 cups milk
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour.  Cook, whisking without browning, for 3 minutes.  Add 1 cup of the milk,stirring vigorously until it thickens and all the lumps have disappeared.  Add the remaining milk, slowly, stirring. Bring back up to the boil, stirring continuously.  If it gets to thick, add some more milk until it's the consistencly of slightly thickened cream.  You want it to flow off your spoon, not plop and glop. You can make this ahead and spray the top with Pam so it won't form a skin.  You will need to rewarm it before assembling the lasagna, and you'll probably need to add some more milk.

Preheat oven to 350

Since you're using no-cook lasagna noodles.  Thin the bolognese sauce with some water before beginning.

Spray an ovenproof casserole dish with Pam and add a little Bolognese to the dish. Top with a layer of noodles. Add more meat sauce, then white sauce, then cheese.  Repeat until you run out of ingredients or room in your casserole dish. Cover with Release aluminum foil. This can be done ahead and refrigerated.  Take out of the fridge for about an hour before baking. Bake at 350 covered for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more.  Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Lidia's Bolognese Sauce

This is right from Lidia's website, and it is FANTASTIC! I made 1/2 a recipe, with the milk, and used the sauce for a phenomenal lasagna, but this would be incredible over paparadelle with peas, as well.  Here's the link to the recipe and other fantastic recipes.

For the Pestata, Vegetables, and Meat
2 pounds ground beef, (15% fat content)
2 pounds ground pork, (15% fat content)
2 cups dry white wine
6 ounces bacon, or pancetta
⅓ cup garlic cloves, (about 6 fat cloves)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 large celery stalks, minced or chopped
1 carrot, shredded

Long-Cooking Ingredients For the Ricetta Antica
6 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups milk, very hot
nutmeg, for grating (to make 1/2 teaspoon)
2 cups turkey broth or vegetable broth, hot
freshly ground black pepper

Food Processor;
Preparing the Meat and Pestata

Put all 4 pounds of ground meat in a large mixing bowl. With your fingers, crumble and loosen it all up; then toss and crumble the beef and pork together. Pour over the white wine and work all the meat through your fingers again so it's evenly moistened.

To make the pestata, cut the bacon or pancetta slices into 1-inch pieces and put them in the bowl of a food processor with the peeled garlic. Process them into a fine paste.
Cooking The Sauce Base

Pour the olive oil into the heavy sauce pan and scrape in all of the pestata. Set the pan over medium-high heat and break up the pestata and stir it around the pan bottom to start rendering the fat. Cook for 3 minutes or more, stirring often, until the bacon and garlic are sizzling and aromatic and there's a good deal of fat in the pan.

Stir the minced onions into the fat and cook for a couple of minutes until sizzling and starting to sweat. Stir in the celery and carrot and cook the vegetables until wilted and golden, stirring frequently and thoroughly over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes or more.

Turn the heat up a notch, push the vegetables off to the side and plop all the meat into the pan; sprinkle the salt on. Give the meat on the pan bottom a few moments to brown then stir, spread, and toss with a sturdy spoon mixing it in the vegetables too and making sure every bit of meat browns and begins releasing fat and juices. Soon the meat liquid will almost cover the meat itself. Cook at high heat, stirring often, until all that liquid has disappeared, even in the bottom of the pan. This will take 1/2-hour to 45 minutes, depending on the heat and width of the pan. Stir occasionally and as the liquid level diminishes, lower the heat too, so the meat doesn't burn.

Heat up slowly the cooking liquids for either the Ricetta Antica (milk) or the Ricetta Tradizionale (broth), whichever version you are making. The procedures for each are different so I am giving them in separate sections.
Long Cooking Bolognese Ricetta Antica With Milk

When all the meat liquid has been cooked off, drop the 6 tablespoons of tomato paste into a clear space on the pan bottom. Toast it for a minute in the hot spot, then stir to blend it with the meat and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.

Pour in 2 cups of the hot milk and stir into the meat; add more milk if needed to bring the level just over the top of the meat. Grate the nutmeg right above the pan, dropping in at least 1/2 teaspoon, or more if you love it. Stir it in well; also carefully clear the pan bottom of any caramelized bits, meat or vegetable, as milk will stick in these spots and scorch.

Bring the sauce liquid to an active simmer, cover the pan and adjust the heat to maintain slow steady cooking, with small bubbles perking all over the surface of the sauce.

From this point, the Bolognese should cook for 3 hours. Check the pot every 20 minutes and add hot milk as needed to cover the meat. The liquid level should be reducing by 1-1/2 to 2 cups between additions, so you'll need to have warm broth or water ready to replenish the sauce after all the milk has been added.

If the sauce level is falling much faster, and it takes more than 2 cups to cover the meat, lower the heat to slow the evaporation. If the sauce level drops slowly or not at all, raise the heat and set the cover ajar to speed its concentration. Stir well at every addition (and in between) and make sure nothing's sticking to the bottom.

For the final stage, see Finishing the Sauce, below.
Both The Ragu Bolognese: Finishing The Sauce And Final Steps

During the final interval of cooking, you want to reduce the level of the liquid-once milk or broth but now a highly developed sauce. At the end, the meat should no longer be covered but appear suspended in a thick, flowing medium. If the meat is still submerged by a lot of liquid, remove the cover completely to cook off moisture quickly.

A few minutes before the end of cooking, taste a bit of meat and sauce and add salt if you want. Grind 1 teaspoon of black pepper right into the sauce, stir it in and cook about 5 minutes before removing the pan from the heat.

If you'll be using the sauce right away, spoon off the fat from the surface, or stir it in as is done traditionally. Otherwise, let the sauce cool, then chill it thoroughly and lift off the solidified fat. Store the sauce for several days in the refrigerator or freeze it (in measured amounts for different dishes) for use within a few months.

Julia Child's Pears Poached in Red Wine

This recipe is for Mary Beth. I made for dessert last night after a main course of rich lasagne, and she really liked it. I thought that they were delicious, too--cool, refreshing, and, best of all, do ahead. Rather than serve individual plates, I served them in 1 large low dish, so that everyone could help themselves to 1 or 2 (or 3). The pears are from Julia Child's Kitchen. The garnishes were my idea.

For 4

3 or more pears, firm and ripe, but not too ripe (Bartlett, Anjou, Bosc, Comice)
1 qt water with 2 tbl lemon juice in a big bowl

2 cups red wine in a 3 qt pan
The zest of 1 lemon
2 tbl lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick of cinnamon

Peel, halve, and cord the pears, dropping them into the the bowl of water with lemon. Meanwhile, simmer the wine with all othee ingredients for about 5 minutes. Transfer pears to wine mixture and bring just to a simmer. If pears aren't covered by liquid, add more wine or water and sugar; proportions are 6 tbl sugar to 1 cup of liquid. Lower heat and maintain at not quite simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until just tender when pierced with a knife. Let cool in syrup at least 20 minutes.

Remove the pears and most of the syrup to another container, leaving about a cup of syrup in the pan. Refrigerate the pears. Add a 3 tbl more sugar to the syrup, bring to a boil and reduce until thick. Remove the thickened syrup to another container and refrigerate.

1/3 cup mascarpone, or cream cheese, softened
grated lemon rind of 1/2 lemon
1-2 tsp sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp vanilla
a little milk or cream if mixture is to thick

Mix all together.

Fresh blueberries
chocolate syrup 

To serve place about a teaspoonful or so of the cheese mixture in the hollow of each pear and drizzle with glaze. Serve with fresh blueberries as a garnish. Pass chocolate syrup for people to add if desired..

Super easy tortilla soup

My friend, Kathleen, gave me this recipe, along with a sample of the soup. It's amazing how flavorful this is for so little effort.

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 packet taco seasoning
1 large container chicken broth
2 cans Rotel with chilis
1 can corn, or 1 pck frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained

Mix seasonings into 1/2 cup of broth and add all to a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-30 minutes, or until thouroughly heated. Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips. (I'm going to skip the cheese and serve this with lime wedges and chopped cilantro.)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Crock Pot or Not Coq au Vin Blanc (Chicken in White Wine)

Really good, super easy! If you don't have a crock pot, cook this in your oven at 325 for 2 hours or on top of the stove at a bare simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If you do have a crock pot, you could do all of this the night before, put it in the fridge, and then cook it the next day.

2-3 tbl Extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken thighs
1/4 lb pancetta, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup white wine or dry vermouth
1 bay leaf
Several stalks of fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp of dry thyme
Salt & pepper

Salt & pepper the chicken. Saute chicken thighs in some olive oil in a skillet or dutch oven if you don't have a crock pot. When brown, remove to the crock pot and discard the grease. Add a tbl of fresh olive oil to the pan and saute the pancetta until it begins to brown.  Add the celery, carrot, and onion and saute until onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and saute a minute more.  Add brandy and wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits.  Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add all to the crock pot or put chicken back in if you aren't using a crock pot.  Make a bouquet garni of the bay leaf and thyme, by wrapping a length of kitchen twine around it several times and tying a knot.  Cook on low 4 hours or more.

The Best Shrimp Scampi

I made this last night for the family. It turned out delicious; the best shrimp scampi that I've made. If you want to make it ahead, you can do everything up to adding the shrimp ahead of time. Just make sure that you start your linguine before you add the shrimp. The linguine, once it has come to the boil, will take about 8 minutes.  Since the shrimp are small they will only take about 5 minutes to cook.

Serves 3-4

To marinate shrimp
1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 fat cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
several grindings of black pepper
2-3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
4-5 green onions, chopped

Place shrimp in bowl with garlic, olive oil, and pepper flakes.  Cover and refrigerate. Mine marinated for 3-4 hours, but more or less won't matter too much.

3/4 box of linguine, cooked

2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
2 tbl butter

1/4 brandy
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth with 1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in it
1/4 cup chopped canned tomatoes,drained, or one fresh Roma tomato, chopped
1-2 tbl capers
1-2 tbl fresh oregano
Juice of 1 fresh lemon

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Melt olive oil and butter in a large skillet and saute over low heat for 15-20 seconds. Add shrimp with its marinade and saute for 1 minute on 1 side, turn and saute another minute.  Add the brandy, wine, and tomatoes and cook, stirring until shrimp or opaque, about 4 more minutes. Don't overcook--they'll continue to cook after you turn off the stove.  Add capers, oregano, and lemon juice. Add the linguine to the shrimp mixture and toss to coat. Serve the plates and top with cheese.