Saturday, December 06, 2014

Chocolate caramel tart with sea salt (adapted from Sweet Dreams)

After you serve any of this pie, refrigerate it! It will slump if left at room temperature. Serve it with vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Cookie crust:
1 1/2 cups (175 g) finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs
5 to 8 tablespoons (70 to 115 g) unsalted butter, melted

Caramel Filling:
1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons creme fraiche

Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, chopped
A pinch fine sea salt, such as fleur de sel

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Crumble the cookies into the work bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground. Alternatively, you can put them in a bag and whack them with a rolling pin until finely crushed. Pour the butter into the crumbs and mix (hands are best for this) until the butter is fully incorporated and the texture is that of wet sand. Firmly press the crumbs against the sides of a 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan or Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Crumble the cookies into the work bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground. Alternatively, you can put them in a bag and whack them with a rolling pin until finely crushed. Pour the butter into the crumbs and mix (hands are best for this) until the butter is fully incorporated and the texture is that of wet sand. Firmly press the crumbs against the sides of a 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan, (you can also use a 9 1/2 inch tart pan with removable bottom) then against the bottom of the pan (the underside of a measuring cup works well for smoothing the bottom crust). Chill the crust for at least 15 minutes to help prevent it from crumbling when serving.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove it and allow it to cool before filling.

To prepare the filling, place the water in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and corn syrup and cook the mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until you have a dark amber caramel, about 10 minutes. Carefully whisk in the butter, cream, and creme fraiche (the mixture will hiss and bubble up so stand back), whisking until smooth. (The caramel can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated). Pour the caramel into the pie shell while still warm (or reheat the caramel in the microwave or over low heat until it is pourable) and let sit until the caramel is set, at least 20 minutes.

To make the glaze, in a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Place the chocolate in a bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let sit for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze over the tart while it is still warm. Sprinkle with salt. Let the glaze set at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Baked Apples with Butterpecan Ice cream and Salted Caramel Sauce

I made these last night and thought they were spectacularly good-so easy and do-ahead. Our dinner last night was rich, so I served 1/2 an apple per person.

Serves 4-8 

4 Granny Smith apples, halved, seeded, and cored with a melon baller
1 lemon
Cinnamon powder
Fresh nutmeg, grated
Brown sugar
Brandy or rum
8 tsp butter

1 pint premium butter pecan ice cream (I used Talenti gelato)
Caramel sauce- the best you can get (I used Smuckers)
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt

Place apple halves, skin side down in a baking dish. Squeeze lemon juice over apples. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and nutmeg, put a spoonful of brown sugar on top, and pour a little brandy into the the little cup you created when you cored the apple with the melon baller. Put a pat butter on each one. Pour some more brandy around the apples. Cover and bake for 40 minutes or so. Baking time will depend on the size of your apples. You want them fork-tender, but not collapsed into mush.

If you make these ahead, rewarm them. Place 1 or 2 apple halves in each bowl. Top with a small scoop of ice cream. Put a big spoonful of caramel sauce on top and sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately. 

Crabmeat au Gratin

I got this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cajun-Creole cooking by Terry Thompson-Anderson. I changed a few things, and next time I'll change a few more, but this is delicious!
I made the sauce in the afternoon, cooled it to room temp and folded in the cold crabmeat. Then, I put it in my mom's adorable shell shaped gratin dishes and tpped it with cheese-there was easily enough for 6. I Put the dishes in a roasting pan, covered it, and refrigerated until dinner time. It took longer to cook since it started cold, but it was super easy.

1 lb lump crabmeat (I used the homogenized kind)

1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped (I used a Hungarian pepper for its mild flavor and heat, but next time i'll  use red bell pepper)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne (I used emeril's essence)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 egg yolks, beaten (I added this.)
Juice of 1-2 lemons

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (next time I'll use parmigiano-reggiano)

6 servings

Grease a 13x9 baking dish or 6 gratin dishes. Pick through the crab, disgarding bone or cartilage, but don't break up the lumps. 

Melt butter in a 12" skillet and add all the veg, sauteing until onion is translucent.  Add the flour and cook, stirring 3 minutes ( don't let it brown).  Add milk slowly, stirring constanly, and bring to a boil. Add bread crumbs and seasonings, stirring. Add a 1/2 cup os hot sauce by big spoonfuls to egg yolks, stirring constanly, and then add egg yolk mixture back to sauce. Let cook another 3 minutes, stirring. 
Add the lemon juice to taste. Taste and correct seasonings.

Put into greased dishes and top with cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
Serve with hot french bread.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Delicious Spanish meatballs (albondigas deliciosas)

Made these tonight and served them with yellow rice. They were scrumptious! Taste a bit of your hungarian pepper.  If it happens to be a hot one, be sure to devein and deseed or use less.

Serves 4
1 1/3 lb ground chuck
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
1/2 hungarian pepper, chopped fine
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped prosciutto or serrano ham
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1/2 cup sherry
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp mexican oregano (or 1/2 tsp Italian oregano)
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked spanish paprika
Liquid drained from 1 can of chopped tomatoes

Mix all together, adding more liquid if it doesn't seem moist enough. Put a tbl of mixture into a microwave proof dish and microwave on high 40 seconds. Taste and correct seasonings. Form mixture into meatballs.

1-2 tbl olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1/2 hungarian pepper, chopped fine
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped prosciutto or serrano ham
1/2 cup chopped Spanish chorizo
1 can chopped tomatoes, drained and pureed
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp mexican oregano
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked spanish paprika

Saute onion, garlic, peppers, prosciutto and chorizo in olive oil. Add tomatoes, sauce, herbs and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil. Add meatballs and bring sauce back to simmer. Cover and let cook about 10 minutes. Uncover and let simmer about 20 minutes or until sauce is reduced.
Serve with yellow rice.

Yellow Rice

Saute a few tbl of chopped onion if you have it. Add 2 cups chicken stock with a good pinch of saffron and bring to a boil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add 2 cups rice, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes. Turn off heat and leave covered another 5 minutes.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Asian-style chicken thighs

I made this tonight for Phillip who, although he works at PF Changs, still wants Asian food all the time.

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbl hoisin sauce
1 tbl rice wine vinegar
1 tbl chili garlic paste
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 tbl ginger, minced
1/2 tsp 5 spice powder
Salt, pepper, garlic powder

1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbl rice wine vinegar
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 tsp chili garlic paste, or a chopped, fresh serrano chili
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Pinch of sugar

Preheat oven to 350

Mix everything put salt, pepper, and 5 spice together and place in plastic bag or bowl with chicken, coating well. Season chicken on both sides with salt, pepper, and 5 spice, and let stand at least 1/2 hour.  Line a roasting pan with release aluminum foil and place chicken and marinade in pan. Bake for 30 minutes, turn and bake 15 minutes more til glazed.  Serve with rice and sauce.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Chicken fricasee

Saturday night, we stayed in to watch the Auburn-Ole Miss game. It was a cold, nasty night, and I wanted something savory and delicious--chicken fricasee filled the bill. Serve this with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

1 tbl olive oil
1 cut up chicken, seaoned with salt,pepper, and garlic powder reserve back, neck, and wing tips for a quick stock
1 thick slice pancetta, diced (you can substitute regular bacon or even ham, but you'll need more olive oil if you use ham)
1 onion, chopped (reserve end for stock)
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
2 tbl flour
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbl tomato paste
1 tsp dry thyme
1-2 bay leaves
Salt, pepper

Set oven to 350

Put neck, back, and wing tips in saucepan and cover with water. Add a stalk of celery and the ends from your chopped onion. Add a boullion cube and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer.

Fry the pancetta til brown in olive oil in a dutch oven. Remove from pan and reserve. Add season chicken and brown in batches. Remove from pan.  Add onions and saute til translucent. Add garlic and   Flour and saute till flour has cooked, about 3 minutes.  Add red wine, stirring. Add back pancetta and chicken. Add about 1 cup of chicken stock, stirring to scrape up all the brown bits.  The liquid shouldn't cover the chicken completely. Add tomato paste and herbs, and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Turn the chicken skin side up. Cover and bake in oven 30 minutes.  Remove lid and let bake another 30 minutes until sauce is reduced and chicken skin is crisp.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Halloween healthy chili

I always make chili and pumpkin pie for Halloween, but this year Phillip wanted pecan pie for his birthday. With plenty of delicious pecan pie  I only had to whip up some chili. I wanted to make a healthier version, one full of vegetables. If you want to make this lower cal, you could substitute ground turkey for the ground sirloin. I chop all my vegetables in the food processor which really makes this go fast. If you don't have a food processor, just grate the carrot and zucchini.

Serves 8

1/2-1 lb ground sirloin (90% lean) 
3 fat garlic cloves, papery husks removed
2-3 carrots, in chunks
1 zucchini, in chunks
1 red pepper or banana pepper in chunks
1 onion, in chunks
1 can rotel
1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
1 can crushed tomatoes
1-2 cans red beans drained ( use 2 cans if you only used 1/2 lb of meat)
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbl sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tbl chili powder
Salt, pepper
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1 cup water + 1 chichen bouillion cube or 1 can beef broth if you use turkey 

Brown meat over medium high heat, season with salt, pepper, some chili powder and smoked paprika.
While meat is browning, mince garlic in food processor.  Add carrots and mince fine. Add zucchini and mince fine. Add onions and peppers and chop coarsely.  Add all vegetables to meat and saute, seasoning with salt, pepper, some more of the spices.  Now add tomato products and beans. Taste and add more of the spices. Rince out your food processor with water and add to the chili along with the boullion cube. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook, partially covered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Italian sausage and eggplant pasta sauce

The other night, my wonderful, but picky-eater husband was out of town. I seized the opportunity to put eveything he hates into my dinner--Thus, pasta with eggplant, olives, and red peppers. This would also be delicious without Italian sausage, but it's wonderful with it.

Serves 6

1 1 lb package hot italian sausage, casings removed and cut into fairly large chunks
2-3 tbl olive oil
1 eggplant, peeled and chopped into fairly large dice (keep it big, so that it doesn't turn into mush)
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, in large dice (you can sub green or yellow)
1 hungarian pepper, chopped (I used seeds and all to up the spiciness)
3-4 large garlic cloves, minces
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 tbl tomato paste
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 kalamata olives, pitted and cut in hald
1/4 cup capers

Brown sausage and remove. Add eggplant and 1 minced garlic to pan drippings and saute. Season with salt and pepper.  Remove eggplant. Add olive oil, onion, peppers and saute. When onion is translucent, add remaining garlic. Return sausage and eggplant, stirring well.  Add wine, tomatoes, paste, basil, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, but go light on the salt since the sauce will be reduced. Stir well, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Let simmer partially covered for 30 minutes until sauce has thickened and eggplant is soft. Add olives and capers, stir, and correct seasonings. Serve over shell pasta or rotini.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Apple cream cheese cake with praline frosting from Positively Splendid

  1. This sounds delicious. Got to try it!

  2. For the cream cheese filling

  3. 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  4. 1/4 cup butter, softened
  5. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  6. 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  7. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. Pinch of salt
For the batter
  1. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  5. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  6. 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  10. 3/4 cup canola oil
  11. 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  12. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  13. 3 cups peeled and finely chopped apples, a combination of Gala and Granny Smith
  14. 1 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted, plus 2-3 tablespoons for garnish (optional)
For the frosting
  1. 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  2. 1/4 cup butter
  3. 3 tablespoons milk
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1 cup powdered sugar
For the cream cheese filling
  1. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together at medium speed with a hand-held electric mixer. Add the sugar, and beat well to combine. Add the 2 tablespoons flour and remaining ingredients, and beat until mixture is light and creamy. Set bowl aside.
For the batter
  1. Place flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and baking soda in bowl of an electric stand mixer outfitted with a paddle attachment. Stir at low speed to combine. Add the eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla to the bowl, and mix at medium speed until dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in the chopped apples and walnuts.
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Grease and flour a 14-cup Bundt pan. Pour half of the apple batter into the pan, using a spatula to spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the batter, leaving a 1-inch border around edges of pan. Spread the remaining batter over the cream cheese mixture, making sure the batter extends all the way to the outer edges of the pan. (This will prevent the cream cheese filling from oozing out at the cake cooks.)
  4. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. (Be sure when testing to not insert the tester through the cream cheese filling, as this might make the cake appear uncooked.) Cool in pan on wire rack for 10-15 minutes before inverting onto the rack to cool completely.
For the frosting
  1. While cake cools, prepare the frosting. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter and milk. Heat in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until mixture boils and sugar dissolves, about 90 seconds total. Stir in vanilla. Gradually stir in powdered sugar, mixing with a spoon until mixture is smooth and creamy. Drizzle warm frosting over cooled cake. Top with remaining chopped walnuts, if desired.
Adapted from Southern Living

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Easy gnocchi casserole from the Food Network

This sounds like a great, fast dinner. I'll change the cheese to Parmigiano Reggiano.


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
One 8-ounce piece deli ham, diced
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
One 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese

Preheat the broiler to high heat.

Melt the butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the ham and thyme and continue to cook until the ham is lightly browned.

Add the chicken broth and 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Add the gnocchi, stir well, cover and cook until the gnocchi is slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Uncover and stir in the peas, cream, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and broil until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Serve.

Read more at:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chicken Paprika

I don't pretend to know anything about Eastern European cooking. So, please don't yell at me because this isn't authentic Chicken Paprikash. I just made this up for dinner tonight and served it over egg noodles. My son, Phillip, loved it.

Serves 3

Olive oil
3 chicken thighs, boned, skinned and diced
1/2 large onion, diced
1 red or green pepper, diced
1 banana pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlice, minced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced 
1-2 tbls sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup sour cream mixed with 1 tsp corn starch
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
1-2 tbl vinegar

Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and saute on medium high heat til browned on all sides. Add onion and peppers and saute til onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute a minute. Add tomatoes and paprika and saute. Add the white wine, stock, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste and correct seasonings. Add sour cream, corn starch, and bring to a boil til thickened. Add vinegar and let cook another minute or 2. Serve over egg noodles

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Chana saag (chickpeas with Spinach)

I ate this last week at our local indian restaurant and really liked it. I want to try it at home now.

4 bundles spinach, washed leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 28 ounce can of chickpeas
1 teaspoon dry ginger powder
1 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon fennel
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoon tomato puree
1 28 ounce can stewed/diced tomatoes
Salt to taste

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a tall stockpot. Add the spinach leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for about 5 minutes breaking down the spinach leaves until wilted and pulped but some liquid remains. Remove to a separate bowl.

2. Heat 1 more tablespoon of olive oil in the same stockpot. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 1-2 minutes until they sizzle.  Add the chickpeas and 2 teaspoons salt.

3. Remove from heat and add the ground spices.

4. Return to heat and mix in the tomato puree and canned tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then add 3 cups water. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

5. Add the spinach with its liquid and cook for another 5-10 minutes on low heat.

6. Taste and adjust salt and chili as needed. Serve hot with naan, raita and rice.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fromage Forte - odds and ends cheese spread

We love cheese, and it's way too expensive to waste. I invented this to use up all those bits and pieces of cheese that accumulate in the fridge. After I "invented" this, I saw Jacques Pepin make almost the same thing! I stole the idea of adding brandy from Jacques. This will keep covered in the fridge for a couple more weeks.

Special equipment-food processor or blender

All your leftover cheese, trimmed of any mold and cut into chunks
1 small garlic clove
Splash of brandy and/ or a splash of white wine
Splash of worcertershire sauce
Good pinch of cayenne pepper

Start by grinding any of the hard cheeses, then add the garlic and other cheeses. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Add more brandy or wine to achieve a smooth, spreadable consistency.  Place in crocks, cover and refrigerate.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cinnamon sugar plum cake

This is a delicious, not too sweet cake. It would be great for breakfast or served warm with vanilla ice cream for dessert. The recipe is from

yield:Makes 6 to 8 servings


  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

  • 4-5 large plums (about 1 1/4 pounds), pitted, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Whisk first 3 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in 3/4 cup sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, then lemon juice and lemon peel, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Press plum wedges halfway into batter in concentric circles, spacing slightly apart. Mix remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; sprinkle 1/2 over plums. Bake until cake is browned on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar. Cut around cake; release pan sides. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

French 75 cocktail

  1. Pour the lemon juice, gin, and Cointreau into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a chilled Champagne flute.
  4. Carefully fill with Champagne.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Papa's favorite burgers

I made these today with Papa Joe ( the Papa in the recipe title refers to Hemingway not Papa joe). They are fantastic--delicious and juicy.

Makes 7 big burgers


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 oz. sliced ham, minced
  • ⅓ cup dry red or white wine
  • ¼ cup grated cheddar
  • 2 tbsp. capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp. grated tart apple
  • 1 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1½ tsp. ground sage
  • 1½ tsp. India relish
  • ½ tsp. Beau Monde seasoning ( I substituted season salt)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced garlic, minced
  • small scallions, minced
  • egg, beaten
  • plum tomato, cored, peeled, and grated
  • ½ small carrot, grated
  • ½ small yellow onion, grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • ​Hamburger buns, lettuce, sliced tomato and onion, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, for serving


Mix ingredients, except for oil, buns, and condiments, in a bowl; form into four 6-oz. patties. Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Cook patties, flipping once, until cooked to desired doneness, 8–10 minutes for medium rare. Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Peach Pie

I made this for Labor Day because peaches are just wonderful right now.

2 cups AP flour (White Lily preferably)
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup Crisco
4-6 tbl cold water

In food processor or bowl, mix flour and salt together.  Add crisco and cut in with fingers or processor til mixture resembles course meal.  Add 4 tbl of water down the feed tube with processor running. Process for a few seconds. Check mixture to see if it holds together. If not, add more water and repeat.  Make 2 disks of dough, 1 slightly bigger and wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least an hour.
Roll out larger disk for bottom crust and line pie plate. Roll out smaller disk for top crust.


6 large peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2-3 tbl corn starch (depending on how juicy the peaches are)
3 tbl butter
Mix all but butter together. Fill pastry lined pie dish, dot with butter, and top with pastry. If you wish, mix 1 egg with a tbl of water and brush the top of the pie crust.  Cut 4-5 slits in crust.

Bake at 425 for 1 hour.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Best Beef Stew

This is a constantly evolving recipe that I toy with every time I make. Based on my family's reviews, this is the definitive version. If you don't have beef demi glace, omit the water and use good, canned beef stock.  This could also be done in a crock pot on low for 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 325

Serves 4-6

3 tbl olive oil
1- 2 1/2-3 lb chuck roast
2 onions, diced
2 fat cloves of garlic, minced
1 large carrot, cut in half
4 tbl flour
1 heaping tbl tomato paste
1/2 cup brandy
2 cups red wine (I used a nice Zinfandel)
1-2 cups water 
1 heaping tbl Beef demi glace (i use williams sonoma brand)
2 tbl Worstershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Garlic powder

Cut the roast into 2" chunks and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat a dutch oven until hot, add oil, and brown beef in batches, removing the beef to a bowl as it browns.  Add the onions, season with a little salt, and cook until brown.  Add the flour and brown. Add the brandy and deglaze.  Add wine, tomato paste, water, beef demi glace, thyme, and bay leaves, and carrot.  Season with a little salt and pepper (if you use beef stock that is salted, don't add more salt). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Place in a 325 degree oven for 3-4 hours or until the meat is tender.  Remove carrot and bay leaves before serving. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Minced Pork Salad


1 pound lean ground pork or finely chopped pork

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen® Premium Fish Sauce

1 teaspoon thinly sliced fresh chile (or to desired heat level)

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (or to desired heat level)

2 tablespoons thinly sliced onion

2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots

2 tablespoons crushed unsalted roasted peanuts

2 tablespoons thinly sliced ginger

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves

8 large lettuce leaves

Cooking Instructions:

PLACE pork and water in medium saucepan on medium heat. Simmer until pork is cooked through.

MIX cooked pork, lime juice, fish sauce, chile and ground red pepper in large bowl until well blended. (Start with a small anmount of the chile and ground red pepper and increase to desired heat level.) Cool slightly.

ADD onion, shallots, peanuts, ginger, cilantro and mint; toss lightly. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves. Garnish with additional peanuts, ginger, cilantro and mint, if desired.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Yellow Squash Curry

This is easy and delicious--a great vegetarian option or side dish with chicken sukka.
Serves 4 

3 medium Yellow Squash, chopped
1 red Onion,  chopped
1/2 - 1 Fresh serrano or jalapeƱo, minced
1 Tomato, chopped
1 tsp Ginger garlic paste (1 fat clove of garlic and an equal knob of fresh ginger)
1/2-1 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
1/4 tsp Garam Masala 
1/2 cup Coconut milk (I use light.)
Salt - to taste
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Cumin seeds
5 Curry leaves (I omitted this)
Cilantro - for garnish
2 tbl Oil

1. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves, cover and cook until the mustard seeds quit sputtering.
2. Add chopped onion and serrano and saute, add ginger garlic paste and saute.
3. Add chopped tomatoes and saute till everything forms a gravy. 
4. Now add the yellow squash and fry along with turmeric powder,cayenne, coriander powder, garam masala and salt. Cover and cook till the squash is cooked adding a little water as needed. 
5. Uncover, add coconut milk and let the gravy simmer and reduce for few minutes. 
6. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sriracha Honey Lime Chicken Thighs with Cilantro Green Onion Dip

This is a great recipe for chicken thighs cooked on the grill.  Takes 30-40 minutes total time to prep and cook.  You can also use a wing sauce and dip but I prefer the thighs.
While making the sauces, pre- heat grill to med-high tempature

Cilantro Green Onion Dip (courtesy of Williams Sonoma)
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 green onions, white and light green, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a small glass  bowl, mix together all ingredients and put in refrigerator to let flavors blend.

Sriracha Honey Lime Sauce

In another glass bowl (lime juices and metal bowls are not a great combination)
Mix together
4Tbs melted, unsalted butter
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 +cup of Sriracha Sauce
1 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. fresh lime juice ( I also added a little fresh lime zest)

Crispy Chicken Thighs
Rinse and dry chicken thighs (about 2-3lbs)
Toss thighs with a little olive oil (a Tbs or two for the whole batch)
Salt & Pepper
Have grill heated to med high temperature
Put thighs on grill skin side down for about 10 min, turn and cook for another 10 minutes
Remove thighs from grill and toss in or brush on the Sriracha sauce (If you don't like the skin, you can remove before you toss the thighs in the Sriracha sauce)
Put thighs back on grill for another minute or two on each side.

Serve hot off the grill with the Cilantro Green Onion Dip.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Coconut Cream cheese sheet cake

Cook time: 40 Min  Prep time: 15 Min  Serves: 24 squaresIngredients
1 c butter, softened (2 sticks)
6 oz cream cheese, softened
6 eggs
2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract ( i used 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp coconut extract
2 1/4 c cake flour
1/4 c coconut milk or cream of coconut ( optional )
1/4 c butter,softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla or coconut extract is good as well
1 1/2 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 c coconut- for toasting and sprinkling on top of the frosting
Note: can add a few tablespoons milk, cream or coconut milk ( i don't , as i like a thick frosting on the cake )
1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Prepare a 9 x 13 pan with non stick cooking spray.
2. Cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar.
3. Beat in eggs one at a time, vanilla and then mix in flour.
4. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. As this cake cools, it will fall...that's don't be should be the thickness of a sheet will not be thick like a regular cake...:) Cool on cooling rack
5. Frosting: Beat together butter, cheese, vanilla and add sugar. Mix until well blended.
6. You can now toast coconut. I toast mine in a lighty sprayed skillet and keep tossing until golden. You can also place coconut on a baking sheet and toast in oven, turning frequently so not to burn.
7. I then gently remove the cake from the pan; and cut the cooled cake into 24 squares, and top with frosting and coconut. You can leave cake in pan and frost. I did it my way for presentation... Enjoy!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Baingan Bharta - Punjabi Style Eggplant

Even my husband, the eggplant hater, loves this! 


3 medium-sized eggplants (roughly 500gms/ 1 pound)
2 tbsps vegetable/ sunflower/ canola cooking oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 medium-sized onions chopped fine
1 tbsp garlic paste or garlic chopped very fine
1" piece of ginger grated fine
2 green chillies (optional but they give the Bharta a nice kick!)
2 large tomatoes chopped fine
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala 
2 tbsps finely chopped fresh green coriander

Baingan Ka Bharta requires that the eggplant be roasted. This can be done in several different ways:
Roast on a gas cooktop by just placing the eggplant straight on the burner and keeping the flame on low setting. Keep turning and cooking till all the skin on the eggplant is charred and the inner flesh looks really soft. A good sign to watch for is that the eggplant seems to 'cave in' on itself!
Grill in your oven grill or on your barbecue grill. Again, keep turning periodically till all the skin on the eggplant is charred and the inner flesh looks really soft.
'Roast' in your oven till all the skin on the eggplant is charred and the inner flesh looks really soft.
Once the eggplant is roasted, allow to cool fully and then peel off and discard the charred skin. Once cool, coarsely mash and keep aside for later use.

Now set up a pan on medium heat and add the cooking oil. When hot, add the cumin seeds and cook till the spluttering stops.
Add the onions and fry till soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and the ginger and fry for 1 minute.
Add the tomato and all the powdered spices, including the garam masala. Stir well and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring often to prevent the spice mix from sticking to the pan. Sprinkle a little water if needed.
Now add the eggplant and mix well. Add the chopped fresh coriander and stir. Cook another minute and turn off the heat.
Serve hot with Chapatis or Rice and your favorite Daal dish.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Chicken Tetrazinni

This is a great family meal. It's inexpensive, and you can use up your leftover chicken and pasta. It's also delicious! Quantities of chicken, pasta, etc, can vary, but you need to make sure that you have, what seems like, more than enough white sauce.  The pasta will continue to absorb the sauce, so be generous with the sauce.

5 servings

2 cups cooked, cubed chicken 
1/2 lb cooked spaghetti, chopped up

White sauce
4 tbl butter
1-2 celery stalks, chopped fine
1/4 of a large onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup carrots, sliced thinly
(1 cup sliced mushrooms)
5 tbl flour
4 cups, chicken stock (add a boullion cube if it's not flavorful enough)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup milk or cream
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded parmigiano reggiano
1/2 cup shredded gruyere ( you can substitute your favorite cheese)
Olive oil or butter to drizzle over

Preheat oven to 350

Make white sauce:  melt butter and saute veg until onion is translucent.  Add flour and cook, stirring for a minute.  Add chicken stock, stirring constantly til it comes to a boil and thickens.  (If your sauce isn't thick enough you can add a tbl of cornstarch to the wine) Add wine, milk or cream and seasonings. Bring back to the boil and turn off. (May be made ahead, covered with pastic wrap directly on sauce, and refrigerated. Reheat before proceeding.)

Add chicken and pasta to sauce and place in greased 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Top with bread crums and cheeses and drizzle with olive oil or dot with butter.  

Bake covered for 20 minutes, uncover and bake another 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown on top.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tinga de Pollo - Chicken Tinga from Pati Jinich

I made this tonight and served it with tortillas, refried beans, salsa, and salsa verde. Jim loved it and so did I! This would be really easy if you used a rotisserie chicken or leftover roast chicken.

Salsa verde con aguacate (avocado) 
I make this with my stick blender, but you can do it by hand too.
1 avocado, smashed up
Juice from 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbl chopped cilantro or to taste
1 chopped serrano or to taste
Enough salsa verde to loosen it up to sauce consistency
Mix all together. Taste and correct seasonings, lime juice, and cilantro

Tinga de pollo
Makes about 5 cups (serves 4-6)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 white onion, slivered
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 Roma tomatoes, or 2 lbs, rinsed (you can sub canned tomatoes)
2 tomatillos, or 1/4 lb, husked and rinsed (sub green salsa)
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or more to taste
2 tablespoons sauce from chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 whole chipotle chile in adobo sauce, optional
5 cups cooked shredded chicken

To Serve (quantities as desired):
Corn tostadas, or tortillas, store bought or home made
Refried beans
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Queso fresco or cotija, crumbled
Avocado slices or salsa verde con aguacate

Place tomatoes (omit if you are using canned tomatoes) and tomatillos in a medium saucepan, cover with water. Bring it to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tomatoes and tomatillos are soft, thoroughly cooked and mushy but not falling apart.

Remove tomatoes and tomatillos with a slotted spoon, and place them in the jar of a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
Heat the oil in a large and deep pan over medium heat; once it is hot but not smoking, stir in the onion and cook until soft and translucent, for about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until the onion and garlic mixture becomes fragrant and lightly browned, about 1 minute.
Pour the tomato/tomatillo sauce on top and add the oregano, marjoram, thyme, salt, black pepper and the chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (if you want more heat add an entire chipotle chile in adobo sauce). Let it simmer, stirring now and then, until it seasons and deepens to a deep red color, about 10 to 12 minutes. You may want to partially cover the pan as the sauce will want to jump out onto your burners.
Add the shredded chicken and combine it with the sauce. Let it cook, occasionally stirring, until the chicken has absorbed almost all of the juices and the mixture is moist but not juicy.
To assemble the Tostadas: Spread refried beans on a tostada, add the chicken tinga mixture, top with shredded lettuce, avocado slices, crumbled cheese and, if you want some, cream too. You may also serve with salsa verde on the side.