Thursday, July 18, 2013

Watermelon, Feta, and Black pepper Skewers

My friend, Nancy, told me about this.  She says it is fantastic.

Ripe watermelon, cubed
olive oil
sea salt
black pepper
feta, cubed
basil leaves, if desired

Toss watermelon in a little olive oil, sprinkling of salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Skewer basil, watermelon and feta on toothpicks.  Refrigerate until about 1/2 hour before serving.

Asian-style Duck Legs

This is Papa Joe's recipe. It's very easy and delicious.

Serves 2-3
    • 1 lb duck legs or legs and thighs
    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 2 star anise
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
    • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
    • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
    • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
    • 4 tablespoons green ginger wine (sub dry sherry if you can't find this)
  1. Marinate duck in remaining ingredients for about 8 hours (from the morning until dinner time is good). Turn occasionally through the day.
  2. Heat oven to 325.
  3. Remove the duck from the marinade and lay on a foil lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 2 hours or until very tender.
  5. You may need to pour off the fat a couple of times during the cooking time.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Ham and Cheese Skewers

This is a really nice appetizer for a summer party, and it's super-easy!  This will only be as good as the ingredients you use, so don't stint on good ham and cheese.  You could definitely change this up by using different hams, cheeses, and fruits.  How about prosciutto, melon, and fontina?

Makes about 60 skewers

1/2 lb (3/4" thick) sliced smoked Virginia ham
1 5 oz blue cheese wedge
1 large Gala apple, sliced
1 bunch fresh watercress
60 4" skewers

Cut ham into 3/4" cubes.  Carefully break cheese into 60 pieces.  Cut apple slices into thirds.

Thread cheese, apple, watercress, and ham onto skewers, ending with ham.  Stand skewers upright (ham ends down) on a serving plate.

Cheddar Crisps

Makes about 55 crisps

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 pound extra sharp Cheddar, grated
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 cups Rice Crispies

In a bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter with the cheddar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the flour, salt, and cayenne a little at a time, beating until well combined.  Add the cereal and beat until just combined.  Form the mixture into balls (about a heaping tsp) and place 2 inches apart on buttered baking sheets.  Flatten each ball with the back of a floured fork.  Bake in batches at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden.

Ama B's Spinach Artichoke Dip

Ama B says this is really good.

Makes 8 servings

1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 14 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 5 1/2 oz container garlic and herb Allouette
1 cup parmesean cheese, shredded or grated
1 8 oz container sour cream
1/2 cup mayonaise
1 2 oz jar chopped pimiento
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 or 2 garlic cloves crushed
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Drain spinach really well, pressing between paper towels.

Stir together spinach and everything but bacon.  Spoon into a lightly greased 11 x 7 baking dish.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until bubbly.  Sprinkle with bacon and serve with crackers.

Ama B's Buttery Herb-Cheese Mini-Muffins

Makes 2 1/2 dozen
preheat 350

2 Cups self-rising flour
2 sticks melted butter
1 6 1/2 oz container Alouette garlic-herb cheese
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix all together.  Spoon into lightly greased (Use Pam) mini muffin pans and fill to the top.  Bake 25 minutes, until lightly browned.

Ama B's Penne Salad with Asparagus, Smoked Salmon

If you love smoked salmon, you'll love this salad.

Makes 4 servings

6 tbl mayonaise
1 1/2 tbl dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbl sour cream
1 tbl chopped fresh tarragon (you could substitute fresh dill or cilantro)
1 tbl fresh lemon juice
1 tbl poppy seeds (omit if you don't have them)

2 cups penne pasta, cooked al dente
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
4 oz. smoked salmon, cut into 1/2" pieces

Cook asparagus until crisp-tender, drain, and reserve about 1/4 cup cooking liquid.  Rinse with ice water and drain well.  Mix pasta, asparagus, scallions, and salmon together.  Add cooking liquid to dressing and add to salad, tossing to blend. Season with salt and pepper, and chill at least 1 hour.

Ama B's Sesame Chicken Salad

Another of Ama B's great salads.

1 8 oz package spaghetti or vermicelli, broken into 1/4s and cooked al dente
3 chicken breasts, boned and cut into long 1/4" strips
2 tbl vegetable oil
1/2 cup scallions, finely sliced
1/4 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1/2 to 1 cup snow peas, blanched, shocked in ice water, and patted dry (if large, cut in half)
1 cup whole cashew, lightly salted
4-5 lettuce leaves

Marinade for chicken:
1 tbl soy sauce
1 tbl oil
1 tbl dry sherry
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced

3 tbl soy sauce
3 tbl sesame oil
1 tbl rice vinegar
1 tbl sugar
2 tsp hot chili oil

Cook and rinse pasta in cold water til chilled.  Drain thoroughly.  Marinate chicken for 1/2 hour at room temperature or 1-3 hours refrigerated.  Drain marinade and saute chicken in vegetable oil until just cooked.  Drain, cool, and refrigerate. When cool mix with everything, but lettuce.  Serve on lettuce.

Ama B's Italian Pasta Salad

This is a delicious and easy pasta salad. Make sure that you reserve some of the dressing to add right before you serve.  You can also add cooked, diced chicken, ham, or salami if you want a main course salad.

12 oz box tri-color rotini, cooked al dente
12 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1"pieces
8 oz jar Italian marinated mushrooms, drained
1/4 cup capers, drained
1/2-1 Cup Kalamata olives, depitted and halved
9 oz package frozen artichoke heart halves or quarters
1-4 oz Havarti, provolone, or feta cheese, cubed
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced

1 tbl fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dill

Mix all ingredients for dressing. Mix all ingredients for salad and add dressing, reserving some dressing to add right before serving.

Ama B's Thanksgiving Congealed Cranberry & Cheese Salad

Ama B always made this salad for Thanksgiving.  I love it, although I don't make it for Thanksgiving anymore.  I know that it sounds sooo 1950's. It is, but it's delicious.

1 pkg raspberry Jello
1 1/2 Cups boiling water
1 pkg cream cheese (I think 8 oz, Ama B's recipe doesn't say)
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained (reserve juice)
1 Cup whole cranberry sauce
1/2 Cup chopped pecans

Dissolve jello in the boiling water and set aside to cool.  Mix cream cheese with small amount of the pineapple juice.  Add pineapple, pecans, and cranberry sauce and mix well. Add to the cooled jello mixture, pour into a casserole dish and refrigerate until firm.  Slice into squares and serve on a leaf of lettuce.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Lane cake from Cook's Country Test Kitchen

  • Cake
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
  • Filling
  • 5 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins (see note)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Frosting
  • 2 large egg whites (see note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
We like bourbon, but any whiskey will work. For the frosting, be sure to start with room-temperature egg whites to ensure that they'll heat to a safe temperature.
Mix batter:Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk milk, egg whites, and vanilla in large measuring cup. With electric mixer on low speed, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until only pea-size pieces remain. Pour in half of milk mixture and increase speed to medium-high. Beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Slowly add remaining milk mixture and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
Bake cakes:Scrape equal amounts of batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack. Cool completely, at least 1 hour. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for 2 days.)
Make filling:Whisk bourbon, milk, cornstarch, and salt in small bowl until smooth. Process coconut in food processor until finely ground. Add pecans and raisins and pulse until coarsely ground. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-low heat. Add processed coconut mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in bourbon mixture and bring to boil. Off heat, add condensed milk and vanilla. Transfer to medium bowl and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. (Filling can be refrigerated in airtight container for 2 days. Bring filling to room temperature before using.)
Whip frosting:With electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, slowly add sugar and whip until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes; set aside. Bring corn syrup to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until large bubbles appear around perimeter of pan, about 1 minute. With mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into whites (avoid pouring syrup onto beaters, or it will splash). Add vanilla and beat until mixture has cooled and is very thick and glossy, 3 to 5 minutes.
Assemble cake:Place 1 cake round on serving platter. Spread filling over cake, then top with second cake round. Spread frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Serve. (Cake can be refrigerated, covered, for 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
Serving Size
Serves 10 to 12
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