Saturday, December 31, 2005

Rosemary Yeast Rolls with Sea Salt

For the Rolls:
1 cup water, warm (not hot)
3 teaspoons regular active dry yeast
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
3-1/4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt

For the Topping

1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
sea salt, for sprinkling
fresh or dried rosemary
Have the 3 bowls you will need out before you start. Bring the butter and egg up to room temperature.
Sprinkle the yeast into the warm water and let rest in a mixing bowl for three minutes. Add butter and mix with a mixer on low until the butter is broken up (the mixture will look curdled). Add the egg and beat on low until incorporated. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the bread flour, sugar and salt. Add to the water/butter mixture and beat on low until the dough just comes together. The dough will be very sticky, but should clean the bowl. Form into a ball with your hands, transfer the dough to a large buttered bowl, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about one-two hours. Once the dough has risen, break off fifteen even ball shaped pieces of dough and place in greased muffin tins and let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes). Once risen, brush the tops of the rolls with the melted butter, sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt as desired.

Bake in a 375 degrees oven for 10-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. (For my oven 18 minutes is perfect).

Friday, December 30, 2005

Favorite Party Layer Dip

A couple years ago, I attended a holiday get together of some successful doctor and scientist types, many of whom were gourmets with pretty much unlimited entertaining budgets. I guess after I showed up at the same house for Halloween wearing the top half of military fatigues with skin colored leggings and my date wearing the bottom half of the fatigues with a skin colored T-shirt. . . we were "upper and lower G.I." I was considered, likely a nut, but fun to have at such event.

It was at a house the size of Rhode Island. There was stuffed breads with cheeses and nuts, roast beast under glass, elaborate cookies and all kinds of wonderful, exotic things. And what everyone was standing around, hoovering in like there was no tomorrow, and spilling on their formal shirts, was my simple layered bean dip. that took five minutes from start to oven. Go figure.

1 large can refried beans (minus 1/3 cup which you can save for a breakfast burrito) mixed with 1/2 heaping teaspoon Penzey's Northwoods Seasoning or southwest style seasoning of your choice
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 jar Mrs. Renfro's salsa (trust me on this, do not substitute if you can find it).
2 cups shredded cheese, mix of cheddar and monterey jack
1 large can sliced black olives
sliced green onions and/or tomato for garnish

Pre heat the oven at 325 degrees.

In medium casserole dish, layer the beans (in which you've mixed the Penzey's seasoning and red pepper) with the cream cheese, salsa, cheddar and olives, and sprinkle with a little green onion and tomato for color. Heat for about 30 minutes or until the edges are bubbling. Serve with sturdy chips.

Stand back.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Makes 24-26, serving 2-4.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon of Penzey's Vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter

In a bowl, mix flour with sugar, baking powder, cardamom, and salt. In a small bowl, beat egg to blend with milk, vanilla and 2 tablespoons butter. Add liquids to dry ingredients and stir JUST until evenly moistened. (there may be some small lumps in the batter)

Place an aebleskiver pan over medium-low heat. When pan is hot enough to make a drop of water do the hustle on it (about 360 degrees)  brush pancake cups lightly with melted butter and fill each to slightly below the rim with batter (a 1/8 cup measure is perfect for this).

In about 1 and  1/2 minutes, thin crusts will form on bottoms of balls (centers will still be wet); pierce the crust with a slender wood skewer (knitting needles work great) and gently pull shell to rotate the pancake ball until about half the cooked portion is above the cup rim and uncooked batter flows down into cup. Cook until crust on bottom of ball is again firm enough to pierce, about another minute, then rotate ball with skewer until the ridge formed as the pancake first cooked is on top. Cook, turning occasionally with skewer, until balls are evenly browned and no longer moist in the center, another 2-3 minutes (depending on the type of pan, such as teflon, it make take a couple extra minutes but with a good seasoned cast iron the total cooking time for each batch should be about 4-5 minutes

.Check by piercing center of last pancake ball added to pan with skewer--it should come out clean--or by breaking the ball open slightly; if balls start to get too brown, turn heat to low until they are cooked in the center. Lift cooked balls from pan and serve hot.

If you want to make filled ones, add a half a teaspoon of jam or a small spoonful of cooked sausage to the batter just before you make your first turn.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Oven Fried Chicken and Roasted Potatoes

Oven Fried Chicken and Roasted Potatoes

Seasoned flour
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons Penzey's Ozark seasoning
(there are stores across the country or you can buy online, see the lower sidebar link list for the address).
1/4 teaspoon black or chipotle pepper. (I use half and half)

If you want to use a store bought seasoned flour, my all time favorite is Kentucky Kernel by Hodgson Mill. Walmart carries it, as does the Marsh chain in IND and you can get it on line. It's awesome but it does have a tiny bit of MSG in it, so if you have anyone in the family with allergies to that take note.

Prep 4-6 pieces of chicken by dipping each in a mixture of 1 egg whisked with about 1/2 cup water. Then drop and flip the moistened pieces in a small dish containing about a cup of seasoned flour until thoroughly coated. (do not save the flour that has been in contact with the chicken for reuse)

Place on a shallow pan that's been generously greased with lard and/or bacon fat. Use enough to leave more than a sheen but not so much you can stick your finger in it and leave an impression. You want just enough to crisp the chicken, not leave a layer of liquid oil.
Bake chicken at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, turn and bake another 30.

Cut up enough potatoes to feed 3-4 people into 2 inch chunks. Sprinkle with rosemary or more Ozark seasoning, or just salt, pepper and garlic powder, whatever suits your fancy. Sprinkle on some olive oil (I rarely actually measure in cooking, I'm guessing about 3 Tablespoons) and toss to coat.
Bake alongside of the chicken in a small cooking pan for 45 minutes, stirring once or twice. If potatoes appear too dry after first stir, add another teaspoon of olive oil.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Oatmeal and Potato Bread

This makes one dense, moist loaf that is good plain, toasted or as an accompaniment to beef or lamb.

2 baking potatoes (you want a floury type potato like the Russet, not a waxy potato)
3 1/2 cups King Arthur's bread flour (with extra for dusting)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, finely chopped
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon Molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 Tablespoons uncooked oatmeal
2 Tablespoons powdered milk
1 cup slightly warm water

Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 inch bread pan. Cut the potatoes into large pieces, but do not peel. (leaving the skin on for cooking results in a moister potato). Cover the potato chunks with water and bring to a boil, cooking for about 22-25 minutes (you want tender, but not falling apart.) Drain, remove skin and mash until smooth. Let cool

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl that is slightly warm. Cut in the butter until well blended (or blend in with your fingers) Stir in the sugar, molasses, yeast, oats and powdered milk. Mix in the cooled mashed potato, then add the water and gently mix into a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured clean surface and knead for 5-10 minutes (just until smooth and elastic). Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about an hour)

Turn the dough out again and knead lightly, shaping into a loaf and placing in the greased pan. Cover and let rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven for 425 degrees C (220 C.)

Brush the surface of the loaf with water or milk and sprinkle with a few pinches of dry oatmeal. Bake for 25-30 minutes (It should be light brown and sound hollow when tapped). Cool on a wire rack and serve warm.

Friday, December 2, 2005

Dark Chocolate Stout Ice Cream

7 ounces dark chocolate chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Youngs Double Chocolate Stout
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, heat the milk (just the milk, not the cream too), salt and sugar until warm.

Place the shaved chocolate in a bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.

In another small bowl whisk the egg yolks

VERY slowly, drizzle the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks mixture back into the saucepan and place on medium heat.

Continue to cook, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan, stirring continuously, just until the mixture coats the spatula.

Pour the mixture through the strainer over the dark chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Whisk in the Stout, vanilla and cream. Place bowl in a much bigger bowl full of ice to super chill it, placing it in the refrigerator until thoroughly cold.

Freeze in your ice cream freezer according to manufacturer's directions. Makes about a quart.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Afterburner Steak Marinade

Afterburner Steak Marinade
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Guinness
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons key lime juice
a pinch of dried thyme
2 generous tablespoons Sriracha
2 pounds New York strip or rib-eye steak

Whisk together and marinate steak in a big zip lock for up to 24 hours. Grill as you like, brushing with marinade. Or, if you like smoke and noise, coat marinated steak very lightly with olive oil, let sit at room temperature for a few minutes and then cook for one minute in a preheated smoking hot cast iron pan, flip the steak and immediately place in a preheated 450-500 F oven for 3-5 minutes. (be prepared for smoke alarm). Remaining marinade can be cooked down in hot pan until reduced, for a dipping sauce, while the steak rests, lightly covered with foil for 3-5 minutes.

Serves 2-3 people.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Steak with Espresso Chili Rub

Dry Rub

* 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
* 2 Tablespoons ancho chili powder
* 1 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1 heaping Tablespoon Penzey's chili 9000 or your favorite chili powder
* 1/4 cup espresso coffee (ground very fine)
* 1 and a half teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon celery powder
* 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a grinder and grind to a coarse powder. It will keep in the freezer for several months, you will need 1 to 2 Tablespoons for each steak (depending on how zippy you like it)

To prepare steaks:

Preheat oven to 475 - 500 degrees F. for at least 20 minutes.

You will need 1 1/2 to 2 pounds rib eye or other well marbled steak. Brush each side of the steak with olive oil (I used Artisano's Hojiblanca EVOO from Australia) and then rub steak with up to 2 Tablespoons of the dry rub per steak and let sit out at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Make sure you have a very heavy duty oven mitt, a couple small pats of butter and a pair of tongs nearby. You will also want to open a window or two and possibly disarm the smoke detector. (you think I'm kidding, don't you :-) Preheat a cast iron pan (just big enough to hold both steaks) over high heat until smoking hot (and I mean smokin!) Do not add any oil, other than what the pan is seasoned with, as the surface of the steak has enough oil to do the trick.

The pan is ready if you add a drop of water and it dances for a second before disappearing.

Place the steaks, rub side down, in the center of pan and sear for exactly one minute. You will think it's burning, it's going to smoke like no one's business, but short of flames shooting to the ceiling, do not mess with it.

Armed with your heavy oven mitt (this pan is HOT and weighs as much as your ammo can) top each steak with a small pat of butter and immediately place the pan in the oven. Roast the steaks for four minutes, then flip with your tongs and roast another two minutes for medium rare. If using a meat thermometer, for medium rare, remove the steaks when the the thermometer is 125 degrees F. (it will continue to cook after removing to bring the temp up to 130 degrees.) Add or subtract 5 degrees F. for medium or rare.

Remove the steaks to a platter and loosely tent with foil for five minutes. The resting time allows the juices to redistribute into the meat making it extra tender.

Whoopie Pies

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies:


3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup lard (or can substitute vegetable shortening)
½ cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 teaspoons red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the rack positioned in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, lard (or shortening) and both sugars together on low until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and the red food coloring and beat until just blended.

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and remaining ½ cup buttermilk and beat until completely combined.

Using a measuring cup, drop 1/4 cup of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for about 11-13 minutes each (check at 10 minutes, when done the cakes spring back with pressed gently). Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. (if you wish to bake together, bake 2 pans, in top third and bottom third of oven, swapping the positions halfway through the baking). Note: For mine, I used a generous 1/3 cup measure and baked a couple of extra minutes. Like any cookie or small bakery product I always recommend doing a test one to get your cooking time right.

Cream Cheese/Whipped Cream Filling
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a small chilled bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.
Cut vanilla bean in half and scrape into the whipping cream (or add vanilla extract to cream if not using the bean)

In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream.

To assemble: Use use a pastry bag with a round tip (I used a #12 Wilton tip) to pipe the filling onto the flat side of one cake or simply spread on the flat side of one cake with a knife. Top it with another cake, flat-side down. Repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling.

Dark Chocolate Whoopie Pies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/4 teaspoon Mexican vanilla
1 large egg
1/4 cup Scharfeen Berger unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup Hersey's Special Dark Dutch Process cocoa
2 1/3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla till smooth. Add the egg, again beating till smooth.

Add the cocoa, stirring to combine.

Add the flour to the batter alternately with the milk, beating till smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat again briefly.

Drop the dough by the 1/4-cupful onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving several inches between the cakes.

Bake the cakes for 12 to 15 minutes, till they're firm just gently spring back when touched. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pans.

Whipped Cream Filling:
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
3 Tablespoons plus two teaspoons white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Penzey's Vanilla sugar

Chill the bowl and whisk attachment of an electric mixer. You can do this by placing in the refrigerator or in a room with your ex wife. Both would probably work.

Pour the cream in a medium sized bowl. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into cream. Add remains of bean to cream and whisk to incorporate. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Strain cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the chilled bowl of your electric mixer, then beat with the chilled whisk attachment at medium speed for 1 minute.

With the mixer running, slowly sprinkle in sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Use a pastry bag to pipe onto flat side of whoopie pie.

Storing: Remove the whoopie pies from the parchment paper with a spatula and then allow to cool thoroughly before filling. Assembled whoopie pies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If you need to stack layers, place a piece of wax paper between layers.

Note: Depending on how thick you fill them, you may have filling left over which can be used on a few cupcakes or to fill a couple pastries.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Blueberry Oatmeal muffins

  • 1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Penzey's vanilla
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 and 1/2 cups wild blueberries

    Whole wheat pastry flour is finer textured than regular. If you do not have it, sift your whole wheat flour twice to incorporate some air in it, or use half regular flour and half whole wheat. Otherwise they will be a bit too "dense"

    Combine oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. If you use slow cooking oats, pulse one cup in a blender once or twice and mix with remaining oatmeal. Mix in milk, egg, and oil; mix JUST until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix or you will have hockey pucks. Fold in blueberries. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes.

Bacon Jalapeno Cheeseburgers

Food Styling and recipe from June 2005 Bon Appetit (one of my all time favorite cooking magazines).

Spicy Ranch Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

dash of Penzeys ancho chili powder (optional)

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 green onions, finely chopped 1 and 1/2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño chile

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk all ingredients together and set aside while you make up burgers and glaze.


1 pounds ground beef

1/2 small onion, chopped 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped seeded jalapeño chile

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

pinch of cayenne pepper

gentle mix together and form into four patties, chill until ready.

Worcestershire-Coffee Glaze

2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cup light corn syrup

1 and 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 and 1/2 teaspoons tomato sauce (or ketchup if you don't have on hand)

1/4 teaspoon Starbucks Vive instant coffee

1/2 teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar (light may be substituted)

1 and 1 /2 teaspoons butter

Combine in small pan over low heat and stir until coffee dissolved. (can be doubled and works well as a glaze for pork or roast).>

Remove from heat and whisk in butter.

8 bacon slices, cook while your grill heats up. (medium high)

Toast buns on grill until golden (about 1 to 2 minutes). Tranfer to plates. Grill burgers until done basting each side frequently with glaze (about 5 minutes on each side for medium). Place cheese on each patty at the end and allow to melt. On each bun, place lettuce slide, some ranch sauce, burger with cheese, bacon and a little bit more sauce. If you wish have some tomatoes and grilled onions as additional toppings.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

That's a Spicy Meatball

1 1/4 pound ground beef or venison (mine is home processed and ground with some lean pork loin)
1 package Hot breakfast sausage
1/2 onion
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 heaping teaspoons minced garlic
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Italian Cheese (I used Italian 5 cheese blend, fresh not dried)
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley chopped, being careful to remove stems
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil (also removing stems).
1 teaspoon Penzey's Italian seasoning (or a pinch of thyme, marjoram, oregano and rosemary)
A pinch of dried red pepper (about one good shake)
3 cups day old sourdough bread, cut into small cubes, crusts removed.
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup lukewarm water.


Saute onion until caramelized in olive oil adding garlic in the last minute or two. In a large bowl, place basil, parsley, seasoning, meat, cheese, and meat and combine. Add in two eggs and combine a little more. In another bowl, pour liquids over bread and let stand for just a couple of minute to soften bread. Mix the bread mixture into meat mixture with your hands, breaking up any larger pieces of bread. Form meatballs into extra large golf ball sizes. Place meatballs in pan lightly coated with olive oil and then bake at 375 for 34-37 minutes. (use olive oil for pan, don't use non stick spray, for some reason it burns on the pan more than expected, at least with my pans).

Makes enough to feed five or six hungry people.

Serve with your favorite marinara sauce and perhaps a bottle of Sangiovese wine.

Easy Meatball Marinara

2 jars Classico Basil spaghetti sauce. (hard to find though Costco has it but one of the best inexpensive sauces)

Pour it into a saucepan, then add 1/4 cup dry red wine (I used Trader Joe Merlot) to each empty sauce jar, put lid back on and shake up to remove rest of sauce clinging to jar, and pour in the saucepan).

1/2 teaspoon Pensey's garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon Pensey's Italian seasoning (or a pinch of marjoram, oregano, thyme and rosemary)

pinch of sugar or 1/4 teaspoon wild honey

1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste) and a few grinds of pepper.

Heat until bubbling.

Serve over meatballs and pasta.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Praline Snickerdoodles

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda (make sure the baking soda is fresh, baking soda should bubble when added to vinegar, baking powder should bubble when added to hot water.
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tespoon Penzey's Mexican vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup pork lard, at room temperature
1 and 3/4 cups sugar, divided into 1 and 1/2 cups and 1/4 cup
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup toffee pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans (toasted first is a nice touch)

1 Tablespoon ground Vietnamese cinnamon

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Use more than one, giving the pan time to cool down between batches so the cookies don't spread too much.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt in bowl.

With a mixer set on medium-high speed, beat butter, lard, 1 1/2 cups sugar (that will leave you with 1/4 cup of regular sugar for the topping) until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, until combined.

Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture gradually, mixing until just combined, then add toffee pieces and pecans.

Combine theTablespoon of cinnamon, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a wide cereal or soup bowl.

Roll dough into 1 and a half inch balls with moistened hands (to prevent sticking), flattening the top just slightly. Toss in cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat, then place 2 to 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake each sheet separately until edges are light golden brown and centers are look puffy and soft, but still slightly underdone, 10-12 minutes, rotating each sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let set five minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Chocolate Eclairs

Recipe from Paula Dean


1 cup water
1 stick margarine or butter
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
4 eggs

3 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

2 (1-ounce) squares chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 cup whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat water and margarine or butter to boiling point. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is smooth and forms a ball when tested in cold water. Remove from heat and let cool. Beat in 4 eggs, one at a time. Drop dough from teaspoon to form small elongated eclairs onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until light brown. Set aside to cool. Prepare filling by combining milk, sugar, salt and flour; cook slowly until thickens. Add 3 beaten eggs and continue to cook until mixture is even thicker. Remove from heat, cool and add vanilla.

With a serrated knife, slice pastry puffs lengthwise, but not all the way through. Pipe custard mixture into the center. Melt chocolate for icing, add sugar and cream. Cook over medium heat until soft ball stage.* Let cool and beat until smooth. Ice tops of the eclairs
* "soft ball stage" -245 to 240 degrees farenheit. At this temperature, sugar syrup dropped into cold water will form a soft, flexible ball. If you remove the ball from water, it will flatten like a pancake after a few moments in your hand.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Spicy Venison Surprise

This was a "what can I make with what's in the freezer and cupboard" dish that started with a couple of cans and NO recipe but turned out really good. It's sort of a cross between gumbo and chili and was good by itself in a bowl or served over rice.

How does it start?

Well it starts with some corn fields. Then, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blued.

.Then a couple of very cold days later. . .
Some venison to grind up in the kitchen.

To a pound and a half of that fresh ground meat, which was frozen for weeks such as this, add. . .

28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1 small can tomato paste
3 tablespoons Penzey's Chili 9000
(Penzey's has stores in most large Midwest cities and you can buy on line).
1 Tablespoon Penzey's Southwest Seasoning (or substitute ancho chili powder, a dash of oregano and some garlic powder to equal 1 T. for the Southwest seasoning)
1 small can chopped jalapenos (I used the hot ones, if you're timid you will want mild or medium)
2 cans black beans drained and rinsed
3/4 bottle Coca Cola WITH SUGAR (bottled in Mexico, sold in Cosco and in the Hispanic section of some IND supermarkets). It's well worth the money for the clean, clear taste in my opinion.
2 cups fresh corn, frozen

Mix and cook in crockpot or on stove on low for a couple of hours. (You can add a 1/4 cup water to it if it's going to cook for a long time or uncovered). I made this and shared at lunch with some male coworkers. It got a definite "thumbs up".

Friday, November 4, 2005

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon Penzey's cinnamon (theirs is the best I've ever had).
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 and 1/4 teaspoon Penzey's Mexican vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
>1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Blend together the butter, sweet potatoes, eggs, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt, corn syrup and evaporated milk. Pour filling into crust and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until inserted knife comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Serve with whipped cream to which a dab of hazelnut liquor has been whipped in with it or Dulce de Leche ice cream

Thursday, November 3, 2005

"Life Hands You Lemons" Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup safflower oil plus 1/2 teaspoon lemon infused extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 1/2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla

lemon curd (found in the jam/jelly section of stores that carry imported jams/jellies)
vanilla or course grained baking sugar (for topping)

preheat oven to 375 F. Line 9 to 10 medium muffins tins with paper liners. Note: f you use 9 the muffins as I did, you will get a nice "muffin top" with crispy edges, 10 will yield more symetrical muffins.

In a large bowl, measure flour. In small blender or food processor, pulse sugar a second at a time, 3-5 times to make it extra fine (or use Castor sugar if you can find it). Whisk sugar into flour and add baking powder, soda and salt, whisking again after adding.

In another small bowl whisk together the egg, oils, milk and vanilla. (If you don't have lemon olive oil use another 1/2 teaspoon of safflower oil).

Make a "well" in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in all at once. Stir with a fork, very gently, just until combined. It should have some lumps in it.

Spoon a heaping Tablespoon of the batter into each muffin cup. Top with approximately 1/2 to 3/4 tsp of the lemon curd (a baby spoon works really well for those of you with little ones). Then top with the rest of the batter. Sprinkle very lightly with vanilla sugar and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until well risen, slightly brown and firm to the touch (9 muffins took 18 minutes in my oven)

Remove from the oven and brush with a little more lemon curd and a bit of course grained baking sugar or vanilla sugar. Cool slightly and enjoy!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Honey Butter Corn Bread

2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large  eggs
1 and 2/3 cups milk
2  and  just slightly less than 1/3  cups  all-purpose King Arthurs flour (fill the 1/3 cup measure then remove a half teaspoon of flour)
1 cup plus 1/2  teaspoon cornmeal
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (check the expiration date, baking powder does not work as well if it is old)
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 Tbsp honey

You will need three bowls, large, medium and small

In large bowl with a hand held mixer cream butter and sugar  (do NOT substitute margarine or tub spread).  In medium bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. I do not sift the flour, but use a large spoon to gently scoop and shake it into the measure cup (over a bowl to catch the excess) so it is not packed down, then I use a knife to level the top. 

 In small bowl combine the eggs and milk. Add  egg/milk mixture to creamed mixture alternatively with the flour mixture, stirring gently after each addition. When combined,  stir in a good squirt of honey (about 2 generous tablespoons) and gently stir until blended.

 Bake in preheated, lightly oiled cast iron skillet or  a lightly buttered 13 x 9 pan (do not preheat) at 400 for 22-27 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean).


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Honey Thyme Glazed Haminal

Due to the difficulties in processing and canning traditional ham, scientists have bio engineered a smaller, tastier, and boneless animal that's conveniently can-shaped: Haminal!

Note to the Ham Processors - think of all the time and money you'll save. Just dispatch it humanely, remove the fur and pop it in the can!

Of course then you'll need a recipe.

Honey Thyme Glazed Haminal 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried ginger
1 (12-to 14-pounds) boneless or semi boneless fully cooked ham
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup mild honey
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Let ham sit at room temperature for one hour. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in lower third. Peel off and discard any rind or skin from ham, leaving 1/4 inch of fat on ham. Score fat on top of ham in a crosshatch pattern without cutting into meat. Put ham on a rack in a large roasting pan. Cover ham with parchment paper, then cover roasting pan with foil. Bake 1 and 3/4 hours.

Melt butter with thyme and let stand until ready to use. While ham continues to bake, boil vinegar in a small saucepan until reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Remove from heat and whisk in honey, ginger, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme butter that you had on standby. When the hour and 3/4 is done, remove ham from oven, leaving heat at 350. Discard foil and parchment from ham. If there is no liquid in roasting pan, add 1 cup water (liquid will prevent glaze from burning in pan).

Brush ham with half of honey glaze, then bake, uncovered, 30 minutes. Brush with remaining glaze and bake until glaze is deep golden-brown and ham is heated through, about 30 minutes more (140 F. internal temperature).

Served with mashed garlic red potatoes, stuffing, and green beans.

Sausage Lentil Soup

Range Kitchen Sausage Lentil Soup

1 pound ground Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves roasted garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
2 cups dry lentils
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups beef stock (you can use canned)
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Ozark Seasoning (or salt, pepper, and a pinch of smoked Paprika)
3/4 cup spinach, rinsed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used Artisanos 18 year old Baslmatic vinegar)

Brown sausage in large soup pot until no longer pink. Remove meat and set aside. Drain off the grease, leaving just a few bits of meat in the bottom of the pan. Add olive oil, onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaves Italian seasoning, and basil; cook on low for two or three minutes. Stir in lentils, stock, water and undrained tomatoes. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook another 10-15 minutes. Remove bay leaves, stir in vinegar and serve.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Stufffed Shells with Pancetta and Garlic Cooking Cream

To make garlic cooking cream:

Roast a head of of garlic and scoop out garlic goodness into small saucepan (2-4 cloves, to taste) Add 1/2 a package of cream cheese and 1/4 cup sour cream. Warm, stirring occasionally.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet and a 10 x 9 glass baking dish. Set aside

1 box jumbo pasta shells

Cook shells in boiling salted water 4-6 minutes. They should be firm as they will continue to cook in the oven.

Drain and place on cookie sheet, and spread out so they cool (a slotted spoon works better than a colander so the shells don't fall apart).

In another bowl mix:

1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 small eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons parsley

pinch of salt and pepper

In a large fry pan:

saute 2 to 3 ounces of Pancetta on medium in 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil for about 5 minutes (will be golden brown) and remove. The pancetta is more of a "flavor" to the dish, not the main meat ingredient. It is also quite salty, so be very stingy on salt in the rest of the recipe.

Finely chop the Pancetta and return to pan. Add 1 pound ground turkey or chicken breast and cook thoroughly. Do not drain.

1/4 cup grated carrot (gives it a nice sweetness)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 jar Basil Marinara sauce
1 teaspoon wild honey
1 heaping teaspoon of Penzey's Tuscan Sunset OR
pinch of:
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cover and simmer on low 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in warmed "cooking cream" (like the Kraft kind but without all the chemicals), stir well and reduce heat just to keep warm.

To assemble:

Fill each cooled shell with a generous 2-3 Tablespoons of ricotta filling

Spread a cup and half of the sauce in the bottom of the oiled cook pan. Place shells on top and cover with remaining Pancetta meat sauce. Sprinkle a cup of fresh shredded Parmesan cheese on top and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

* To Roast Garlic:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.
Place the garlic heads in a baking pan and drizzle with a couple teaspoons of olive oil, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed.

When the garlic is cool enough that you can handle it without burning yourself, use a small knife to cut the skin slightly around each clove. Your your fingers or a small cocktail fork to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Yukon Bacon Maple Quiche

Yukon Bacon Maple Quiche

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin-olive oil
2 medium Vidalia onions, sliced
3/4 to One pound bacon
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
8 large eggs
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 quart heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons of thyme is nice

To make the pastry: combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. (or use a food processor) Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat the egg yolk and ice water in a small bowl to blend, add it to the pastry. Work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the counter and a rolling pin lightly with flour. Roll the dough out into a 14-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick. Carefully roll the dough up onto the pin (this may take a little practice) and lay it inside a 9-inch springform pan. Press the dough firmly into the bottom and sides so it fits tightly; trim the excess dough around the rim. Place the pan on a sturdy cookie sheet so it will be easier to move in and out of the oven, this quiche is pretty heavy.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the filling: Heat a skillet over medium-low heat, and add the bacon and fry until just tender crisp. Remove the bacon and wipe out the pan, leaving some of the bacon leavings Chop the bacon into 1 inch pieces. Add the olive oil and the onions to the pan. Slowly cook the onions, stirring, until they caramelize and release their natural sugars. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to help the onions break down, if needed and as they are about halfway cooked, the maple syrup. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy, pour in the cream; season with salt and pepper. Arrange the caramelized onions and about 2/3 of the bacon over the bottom of the crust, sprinkle with cheese and carefully pour in the cream and egg mixture; the filling should be about 1-inch from the top of the pan. Sprinkle the remaining bacon on the top. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 15 minutes or until the quiche is set, puffy, and jiggles slightly. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes.

Loosen the quiche from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Carefully unmold the ring, and transfer the quiche (with the bottom base) to a serving plate. Cut it into wedges, add a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Brigid's Best Potatoes

Brigid's Best Potatoes

3 and 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled or not, cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
small sprig fresh basil, chopped roughly in small pieces
Mix together: 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, and a pinch of Penzey's garlic powder (or your favorite brand)
3 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 10 ounces whole cheese)
1 and 1/3 cups whipping cream
1 and 1/3 cups chicken stock (I use homemade which I make and freeze but you can use chicken broth)
1/4 cup Dijon and white wine mustard (the Grey Poupon brand is quite good for the price)

Heat oven to 400 F. Butter a 2-3 quart shallow baking dish. Overlap 1/3 of the potatoes in dish, sprinkle lightly with 1/3 of the salt/pepper/garlic mixture, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp dill and 1 cup cheese.

Repeat layering twice, using the rest of the potatoes, divided, 1/2 t. dill and 1 cup of cheese for each layer, sprinkling with the remaining salt/pepper/garlic mixture.

Lightly whisk the cream, chicken stock and mustard in bowl. Stir in chopped basil and pour over the potatoes.

Bake until the top is crusty and starting to brown and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

400 degrees for 1 hour, or 325 for 2 hours.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Spicy Oven Fried Chicken

1 chicken cut up (four thigh and leg pieces also work well for this)
4 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Penzey's Chili 9000 ( a chili powder that has all KINDS of good stuff in it, and is the base of the chili I've won two work chili cook offs with).
heaping 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground tellecherry pepper
pinch of smoked Paprika
pinch of Penzey's ancho chili powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff, fresh and finely grated, NOT from a green can).
1 and 1/4 cups buttermilk.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking or cookie sheet with foil and sprinkle butter bits on top and place in oven to melt. Keep your eye on it so it doesn't burn. Put the flour, cornmeal, seasonings and cheese in a plastic bag and shake to mix. Put the buttermilk in a shallow, wide bowl or dish and place chicken pieces in the buttermilk for 10-15 minutes, then remove and place pieces one at a time in the bag to coat by shaking.

Place the chicken on the baking pan and turn once to coat with a bit of butter. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes, skin side up. Turn the smaller pieces over carefully so the coating doesn't come off. Breasts can be left skin side up. Bake another 25 minutes. Note: really large breasts may need an additional 5-10 minutes and no, don't go there. :-)

Monday, October 3, 2005

Deep Dish Peach Cobbler With Caramel Cream Sauce

This makes a cobbler with both a top and bottom pastry layer, almost like a deep dish pie. If you wish, you can cut the pastry in half and just do the lattice top. Serve with caramel cream sauce.

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 butter
3/4 cup lard
1 extra large egg (or two small eggs)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cup cold water

3 and 1/2 to 3 and 3/4 pounds fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced
(about 9 medium to large peaches)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice adding water to make 3/4 cup total liquid (if peaches are in season and very juicy you may wish to reduce the total O.J. and water to 1/2 cup).
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla
1 and 1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
small pinch of ginger
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

for topping
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the lard/butter mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cold water. Sprinkle over flour mixture, and work with hands to form dough into a ball. Chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Roll out half of dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Place in a 9x13 inch baking dish, covering bottom and halfway up sides. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. (you can also cut this recipe in half and use a 8 x 8 pan for smaller families)

In a large saucepan, mix the peaches, lemon juice, and orange juice. Add 1/2 cup butter, and cook over medium-low heat until butter is melted. In a mixing bowl, stir together the sugars, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and cornstarch; mix into peach mixture. Remove from heat, and pour into baked crust.

Roll remaining dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut into half-inch-wide strips. Weave strips into a lattice over peaches. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown.

Caramel Cream Sauce

Combine 3/4 sugar (white, but you could use brown or a blend if that's what you have on hand) and 1/4 water in a heavy bottom saucepan with tall sides. Boil the mixture over a medium high heat just until the water evaporates and the sugar begins to melt.

Immediately reduce the heat, stirring constantly, and continue to cook until the sugar is completely melted (it will be a dark amber color.) The whole process takes about 20 minutes. Remove the melted sugar from the heat and add 1 cup cream gradually, whisking constantly. The cream will foam up quite a bit and you need to whisk constantly so that the sugar blends. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and a tiny dab of butter (about 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon) and whisk again. Set aside to cool slightly.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bacon Wrapped Venison Shank

Most hunters aren't quite sure what to do with the shank. Elk, deer, antelope. But nothing gets wasted here. This book is one of the best I've seen if you've never processed your own meat and need detailed, pictorial instructions (and don't worry folks, those are painting drop cloths, not the scene of violent meat mayhem).

Shanks (the lower part of the leg) have a lot of sinew and connective tissue so there really isn't a lot you can do to make them tender or tasty. So they usually get ground up into burger. Nothing braises quite like a shank, whether it be lamb, beef, veal or, in this case, venison, but if you are short on actual prep time, a marinade makes a good alternative. For the hunters out there, we all know that we really shouldn't’t waste the shanks of the deer, elk or antelope we shoot and with the right prep you can get a tasty supper. Prep is the key. Muscles that get a lot of work, though tough as all get out, are full of flavor.

A proper marinade is easy, and will help to break down the connection tissue into a silky coating that will tenderize and sweeten the meat. Add in a little spice and some savory bacon. . . .

I made this a weekend or two ago, and it was a hit.

Bacon Wrapped Venison Shanks

2 lbs venison shank per person. For each add:
1/2 lb bacon (Plain, thin-sliced Bacon is best)
3 cups dark brown sugar
2 cups soy sauce
2 heaping teaspoons of ground ginger
dash of garlic powder (or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of minced garlic).

Mix sugar, soy and seasoning in a large zip lock bag (you can use more than one bag if you have several helpings, I usually only have four to prep unless I got the Three Mile Island Whitetail). Poke just a few shallow holes in the venison with a fork. Add venison shank(s) to the marinade in the bag. Put in the fridge at night and let marinate until dinner tomorrow.

Remove the shank(s) and place on a slotted bake sheet with a drip pan or aluminum foil below to catch dripping. Don't throw away marinade.

Wrap the shank in uncooked Bacon. You may use more than 1/2 a pound, just make sure the shank is covered, securing it as needed with a toothpick or two.

Drizzle some of the the remaining marinade over the meat. You want enough to moisten the meat and also a little in the bottom of the pan so you can continue to baste the shank with the marinade throughout the cooking process with a brush or a turkey baster.

Place on center rack in oven and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. This should cook the meat to about rare. If you want it more cooked, even with the searing step that follows, add 5-10 minutes. This is a naturally tough piece of meat so leaning towards rare will give you the better cut and taste.

Remove shank from oven and place the shank directly on a grill over medium-high heat for a minute to sear the bacon and outer shank. If you wish to pass on this step, cook the shank at 300 degrees F. for an hour and a half, remove and let rest five minutes and slice and serve. The bacon won't be as crispy but it will be as good.

Jumbo Shrimp in Herbed Cream Sauce

Due to the evening light, and shadows as not all the lamps are set up, the photo is not all that great but it was delicious.

1 pound medium or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed Kosher salt and freshly white pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup J Vineyards and Winery, California Pinot Gris (or your favorite Chardonnay)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 to 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Pat the shrimp dry, put them on a plate, and sprinkle lightly with salt and white pepper to taste. Heat a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. As soon as the pan feels hot when you hold your hand an inch or two above its surface, add the oil. When the oil is hot enough to swirl easily in the pan, carefully add the shrimp, placing them evenly in the pan. Without disturbing them, cook the shrimp for 2 minutes on one side. With a fork or a small spatula, flip the shrimp over and cook them until they are uniformly pink and beginning to curl, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the shrimp from the pan to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep them warm. Raise the heat under the pan to high. Add the wine and with a wooden spoon, stir and scrape to dissolve the pan deposits. Let the liquid simmer until it has reduced in volume by half (4 to 7 minutes). Reduce the heat and stir in the cream. Reduce slightly and stir in the Dijon and continue simmering until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes more. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the shrimp and crushed tarragon to the sauce and simmer briefly to heat up the shrimp.

Sprinkle with some of the tarragon you reserved from the ingredient amount for this purpose or parsley if desired.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Crispy Cornbread Waffles

I almost always make cornbread in a cast iron skillet, as I especially like the way the edges crisp up. If you do too, this is a waffle for you. It's not thick like a Belgium waffle but quite light and delicate and best of all VERY crispy, tasting like the best bits of cast iron cooking.

Crispy Cornbread Waffles


1 cup Yellow Cornmeal
½ cup plus one and a half to two Tablespoons All Purpose Flour (use two if you use an extra large egg, if you use a large egg, use one and half to get the right consistency of batter).
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
2 cups Kefir (remaining Kefir is great to make smoothies with fresh fruit)
1 extra large egg
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons wild honey (I didn't measure, just put in a little spoonful)
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
3 Tablespoons melted lard
1 Tablespoon melted butter (NOT margarine)
1/8 teaspoon Penzeys Mexican vanilla

In one bowl mix flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder (please check the expiration dates on the baking powder and soda, using expired ones will affect the results of most recipes).

In another bowl, whisk egg. Add in baking soda and stir. Stir in Kefir. The mixture will look light and foamy.

Add liquid to dry ingredients until combined. Stir in melted lard/butter mixture and vanilla, stirring gently.

Cook the waffles according to the waffle iron recommendations until the waffles are lightly golden and crispy. (You may need to grease the waffle iron to prevent the waffles from sticking.)

Serve immediately with syrup, honey, bacon and more butter. Leftovers may be frozen for toaster waffles another morning. Makes enough waffles for 3-4 people and recipe cuts in half easily (just use a small egg).

Friday, September 2, 2005

Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna

12 lasagna noodles
4 medium red sweet peppers (or two 7 ounce jars of roasted red sweet pepper)
1 teaspoons olive oil
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup fresh basil - snipped
5 cloves garlic minced
3 drops Scoville Brothers Heavy Metal Heat hot sauce
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces sweet or hot (I used hot) bulk Italian sausage
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups milk
1 pound ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoon parsley
dash of pepper and a pinch of salt
2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese (the real stuff not the stuff in a green can).

Preheat oven to 425 F. Cook sausage with 1/2 teaspoon of the chopped garlic in a fairly deep pan. Drain all but about a teaspoon of the grease. Cook the noodles in a separate pot as per directions to "al dente" (you want them a bit firm as they will soften up in the oven).

To roast red peppers: Place them cut sides down on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and browned. Wrap in foil and let sit for half an hour until they are cool enough to handle. Peel the skins from the peppers and cut into thin strips. If using the ready to go bottled kind, simply drain and cut into strips.

Now turn the oven down to 350 F.

Red Pepper/Meat sauce: In the pan you cooked the sausage in, add the olive oil and cook the sweet peppers on medium heat for a minute. Stir in tomatoes, basil, parsley, black pepper and half of the salt. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add sausage and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Bechamel Sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir in flour, nutmeg and remaining salt until smooth. Add the milk all at once, and cook and stir constantly with a whisk over medium until thickened and bubbly (the mixture should coat the back of a wooden spoon). You must stir this constantly or it WILL burn, but it only takes a few minutes to cook. Set aside to cool slightly while you whip up the ricotta.

Ricotta - mix ricotta with eggs, parsley and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Add dash of pepper and pinch of salt (to taste) and mix thoroughly.

To assemble.

Layer One - Spray the bottom of a lasagna pan (3 quart rectangular) with non stick cooking spray. Cover with 3 lasagna noodles. Top with 3/4 cup bechamal sauce, about a cup of the red pepper/meat sauce on the noodles, 1/3 of the Ricotta mixture and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Layer Two - 3 more noodles, 3/4 cup bechamel sauce, one cup red pepper/meat sauce, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Layer Three - 3 more noodles , 3/4 cup bechamel sauce, a little less than one cup red pepper/meat sauce, remaining ricotta mixture, 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Layer Four - 3 more noodles, remaining red pepper/meat sauce, remaining bechamel sauce, and remaining Parmesan. Make sure the noodles on the top layer are completely covered with sauce.

Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes or until bubbly and just starting to brown on the top. Let stand 15-20 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Directions: After assembly, cover the lasagna with plastic wrap and put in fridge up to one day ahead. To serve, remove plastic wrap and cover with foil. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 25-25 minutes, until bubbly and starting to brown.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

HOTR Steak Seasoning

2 Tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon tellecherry black pepper
1 Tablespoons paprika
1 Tablespoon dehydrated onion
1 Tablespoon dehydrated garlic
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 Tablespoon dillweed
1 Tablespoon crushed coriander
pinch of dried thyme
pink of dried rosemary
pinch of dried fennel

Mix together and store in a shaker.
Shake or rub 1 tablespoon seasoning onto meat before grilling before grilling.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Crossing the Road at Mach.80 - Easy Chicken Dinner

You start by dipping some extra large chicken breasts into a mixture of whisked egg with a dash of salt and little basil in it. Then coat the chicken pieces with Italian seasoned Japanese Planko bread crumbs. (They have more of a "bite" to them than Italian ones).

Pepper each piece lightly and place on a baking pan sprayed with non stick spray and bake at 400F for 25 minutes to crisp up the crumbs.

Then pour enough Poppyseed dressing over the top of each piece to cover, quickly return to oven and bake another 25 minutes. The coating ends up as a blend of soft and crunch with a delicate, almost sweet and sour undertone to it. The chicken underneath stays unbelievably juicy. I sliced it after baking and served on top of Amish noodles with a salad and dinner was on the table in just a little over an hour.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Buttermilk is responsible for this cake's moist and tender crumb. You can buy buttermilk or buttermilk powder, or you can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar, cider vinegar, or lemon juice to 1 cup (240 ml) of milk. Just let this mixture stand 5 to 10 minutes before using. .

Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. liquid red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk , at room temperature
2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
Grease two muffin pans (24 muffins). Let your eggs and buttermilk come up to room temperature before starting (trust me on this one). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour, cocoa, and salt into a bowl.

In stand mixer with paddle attachment, )or a hardy hand held mixer if that's all you have) beat butter at low speed until creamy. Add sugar; blend on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each. Scrape bowl; add food coloring and vanilla.
On low speed, beat in flour mixture in thirds, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
In small bowl, stir together vinegar and baking soda. Let sit about 15 seconds to foam up. Gently fold into batter.
Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. (check it at 20 minutes with a toothpick, if it comes out clean, they are done). Cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges and turn them out onto a wire rack. Frost when completely cool.

  Cream Cheese Frosting with Vanilla Bean
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean pod
Directions Slit your vanilla bean in half and use the tip of your knife to scrape the vanilla bean paste from each side of the pod.

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, the vanilla bean paste, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use. Makes enough for a large cake or two dozen cupcakes.

Friday, August 5, 2005

Southern Biscuits

Tall, light and fluffy, and in the oven in less than 5 minutes.

2 cups White Lily Self Rising Flour (the flour DOES make a different on this)
1/4 cup lard
2/3 to 3/4 cups buttermilk

HEAT oven to 500°F. Coat baking sheet with no-stick cooking spray. MEASURE flour into large bowl. Cut in lard with pastry blender or 2 knives until crumbs are the size of peas. Blend in just enough milk with fork until dough leaves sides of bowl. TURN dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently 2 to 3 times.  (no more) Roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut using biscuit cutter or small juice glass. Place on prepared baking sheet 1 inch apart for crisp sides or almost touching for soft sides. BAKE 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. >

Sunday, July 31, 2005

"Shake and Bake" style coating mix

This makes enough for several dinners, so the salt content per serving isn't as high as you think and is definitely less sodium than the store bought brand. Use 1/2 to 1 cup per roaster or package of chicken pieces. The remainder freezes well. I freeze servings of it in gallon zip lock bags, remove, let thaw a bit, then add chicken and I'm done!

Dried bread crumbs, crushed Ritz crackers or corn flakes, enough to equal four cups
1/3 cup vegetable or Extra Virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons celery salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced onion
dash of white pepper
1 pinch dried basil leaves
1 pinch dried parsley
2 pinches dried marjoram (or one pinch oregano)
small pinch or two of cayenne (optional)

Handy HOTR Hints:

(1) To make your own bread crumbs - 4 slices bread - bake at 275-300 F. for 25 minutes till completely dry and lightly brown. Break up and put in food processor till all fine crumbs. Makes about 1 cup.

(2) Brigid - what's the difference between a pinch, a small pinch and a dash?

To add a pinch of something as a cooking ingredient. Use your thumb, index finger and middle finger to grab the spice.

To add a small pinch. Use your thumb and index finger only to grab some spice, then add it.

A dash is at least 1/16 but less than 1/8 teaspoon. For me, I just shake one shake of whatever it is into the dish (provided it has the top with little holes, otherwise you don't have a dash of spice you have a dirigible of spice)

(3) you can reduce the salt in this and it's still good, My Dad does a low salt diet since his stroke a few years ago. I reduce the salt by half and replace the celery salt with celery seed and he still loves it.


Pulverize the crumb source in a food processor or blender til you get the consistency you want (not powder but small enough to adhere). Add in oil and spices with a few quick pulses at the end. If using previously prepared crumbs, just add it all to the bag in the next step and shake well.

Place desired amount to be used in a large plastic food storage bag. Seal bag and shake a couple more times.. Open and add chicken (with the oil you don't need to moisten the chicken) and shake until well coated. (one piece at a time). Place on a lightly greased cooking sheet and bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until golden brown and an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Boston Cream Donuts

Boston Cream donuts

Vanilla Cream Filling

4 large egg yolks (save the whites for something else)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 and 1/2 teaspoon Penzey's vanilla

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick and light yellow. Gently stir in flour and cornstarch until mixture is smooth.

In a medium sized saucepan, heat milk, cream, and vanilla bean over medium until almost, but not actually, boiling. Take a 1/4 cup of the hot liquid and, whisking rapidly, stream it into the egg/sugar mixture. Add another 1/4 and whisk well, finally pouring the entire mixture in.(this keeps the eggs from curdling from the heat). When all blended, put back in the saucepan on the stove. Remove the vanilla bean.

Whisk and cook this mixture constantly over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil, whisking constantly for a minute or two (the mixture should be thick and become harder to stir). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool. When cook, store in fridge until you are ready to use.


1/4 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon yeast (one small package)
4 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup plus 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup warm milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 tablespoons melted butter (unsalted)
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups oil for frying

In a small cup measure, combine 1/4 cup warm water with yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let dissolve and set aside. Gently heat the milk in a pan or small bowl, adding the butter to it to melt. Add to the yeast mixture to the milk/butter mixture when the yeast is ready (bubbles form on the surface).

In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine cups of the flour, sugar, the liquid yeast mixture eggs, butter, and salt. Let it run onlow for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for a minute more by hand, adding the extra half cup of flour to keep it from sticking to the board (if neede). Please dough in a clean oiled bowl and cover with a towel until doubled in bulk (about an hour)

Once it has doubled in size, dump it onto a well floured surface, roll and cut it into plain rounds. Arrange them on a lightly flouring chopping board, cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Heat about 3 inches of oil to 330-350 degrees (180 C). Gently lower into the hot oil and fry on both sides until light golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove to paper towels to cool

When doughnuts are cool, fill a large pastry bag fitted with a Bismark tip (the long skinny one) with the pastry cream Insert the tip into the side of the doughnuts, and fill with pastry cream. Top with chocolate glaze and serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Glaze
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Penzey's vanilla extract

In a medium sized cereal bowl, bring heavy cream to a boil in the microwave, about 30 seconds. Pour in chocolate chips, honey, and vanilla. Let sit for five minutes.

Whisk everything with a fork until smooth. Store leftovers in refrigerator (good on ice cream).

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Shiver Me Timbers - Brandied Hot Chocolate

h/t Terry Border's Bent Objects

Brandied Hot Chocolate

The thickness and taste varies on the chocolate’s level of cacao. Ghirardelli is great, and produced a full-bodied cocoa. Lindt is also good but needs a tad more cornstarch for thickening. Avoid chocolate with more than 60 percent cacao. It will be too bitter.

2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup water
10 oz fine-quality bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsweetened Ghirardelli cocoa
2 to 3 tablespoons brandy
1 drop of lemon juice per serving.

Make cornstarch slurry. Whisk together cornstarch and 2 tablespoons milk and set aside.

Bring water to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat to moderately low and add chopped chocolate and a pinch of salt, whisking until smooth.

Add cream and remaining milk (1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) and increase heat to moderate, then cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and heated through.

Whisk cornstarch slurry again, then add half to chocolate mixture and simmer, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Add brandy, remaining cornstarch mixture to thicken if desired, then simmer, whisking, 1 minute. Just before serving add ONE drop of lemon juice to each serving. The recipe makes about 3 cups, enough for 3 nice mugs. The lemon juice will bring out the aromatics in the chocolate without lending any citrus taste to it.

Perhaps better without pirate marshmallows, but whatever floats your boat.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Lasagna Bites - Range Version

2-3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound ground turkey breast
dash of salt
dash of pepper
1 medium chopped sweet onion
a heaping cup of chopped mushrooms
14.5 oz can Muir Glen organic crushed tomatoes (best of all the brands)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
a pinch each of:
(or use your favorite blended Italian seasoning, a very full teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
splash of red wine
1/2 teaspoon wild honey

Note: If you are making this with sauce already prepared, use about 2 and a half cups.

Ricotta filling:

1 and 1/2 cups part skim ricotta mixed with a pinch or two each of salt and two or three of grinds of fresh cracked pepper and 1/2 teaspoon basil

The Presentation: 24 small square wonton wrappers (found near the tofu in the refrigerated section of the produce dept)


1 and 1/2 cups of Parmesan, Asiago, Romano, Fontina and Mozzarella mixed

Topping: Parsley or dried red pepper and chives

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions in olive oil until starting to soften, add mushrooms and cook a few more minutes Add the turkey and cook over medium until turkey is cooked through. In the last minute or so of cooking add the garlic. Drain off any moisture and add the crushed tomatoes, wine, honey and seasoning, simmer on low until liquid thickened. About 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, a pinch of salt and pepper, and basil. Stir to mix well. Set aside.

Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each of the 12 cups, pressing firmly in the bottom of the cup and up the sides.

Using half of the meat mixture, divide it among the 12 muffin cups. Next, using half of the ricotta mixture, spoon it evenly over each of the meat filled cups. Sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons of the cheese blend.

Gently press another wonton wrapper on top of the first meat/cheese layer, pressing down into the sides of the tin to form a shallow bowl shape.

Repeat the process by distributing the remaining sauce and ricotta and finally the rest of the shredded cheeses.

Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the wonton edges are brown and crispy all around. For my oven, and as much as I stuffed them it was 14 and a half minutes.

Let the cups cool slightly, remove them from the pan ( a fork helps lift them out) and serve!

Monday, July 4, 2005

Beef Tenderloin In Madeira Wine Sauce

This sounds really detailed, but it's easier than it looks. Have your ingredients all measured a head of time.

Beef Tenderloin Recipe
1 whole beef tenderloin, about5-6 pounds before trimming
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Penzey's Roast Beef Seasoning, or salt and pepper with a dash of Italian seasoning and sweet paprika
4-5 Vidalia cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (I use this 25 year old stuff that's amazing, don't go for the cheap)

To Make the Tenderloin
Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, remove the chain muscle from the beef tenderloin. (The chain muscle is the long, thin muscle, connective tissue, and fat that runs almost the length of the beef tenderloin.) Reserve it for something like stir fry. Then remove the silver skin and most of the surface fat from the tenderloin.

Five to Six inches from the narrow end of the beef tenderloin, make a shallow cut crosswise across the tenderloin, cutting about halfway through the meat. Fold this narrow end piece under so that the tenderloin is uniformly thick from one end to the other. Secure the tenderloin with kitchen string, tying it at 1 1/2-inch intervals along the length of the tenderloin.

Place the tenderloin on a platter. Brush or rub the meat on all sides with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper, paprika/herb mix or the Penzey's beef seasoning. firmly pressing the seasonings in with your fingertips. Let stand at room temperature for an hour. Find someone to do something with for an hour. If it's not housework they will probably be more willing, or if they didn't watch you first with the giant knife and the tenderloin.

In a large skillet over low heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions, stirring to coat with the oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add 1/4 cup water, the thyme, and the balsamic vinegar. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft (but not brown!), about 15 minutes. Uncover. If any liquid remains in the pan, increase the heat to medium and cook just until the liquid evaporates. Again, do not let the onions get brown.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Arrange the onions along the center of a shallow roasting pan just large enough to hold the tenderloin and place it on top.

Roast the tenderloin until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 125°F (52°C) for medium-rare, about 45 minutes. The roast will vary somewhat in doneness depending on the thickness of its sections. Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the meat to a platter, and tent with aluminum foil. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing while you make the sauce.

Madeira Wine sauce
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 oz. Butter (1/4 stick)
1/2 pound white or crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon. cracked peppercorn
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. dried thyme (or one sprig)
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
splash or two of red wine (about 3 Tablespoons)
3/4 cup Madeira wine
1 cup Demi-Glace (Specialty grocers often carry this pre- made)
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

In a medium sized saucepan, sauté shallots in butter for 1-2 minutes or until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are tender. (about 3 minutes). Remove mushrooms and set aside.

Add peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaf and cook 30 seconds. to pan. Add splash of red wine and balsamic vinegar and stir until just a tiny bit left in the pan. Add Madeira wine and bring to boil.

Add Demi-Glace and whisk until incorporated into the sauce. Return mushrooms to pan and add heavy cream and reduce briefly.

Try and not lick your fingers. The heavy cream is strictly optional and gives the sauce a richer color and flavor

Transfer the tenderloin to a carving board. Remove the strings and carve the roast into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Place a spoonful of the reserved onions onto individual plates and top with a slice of tenderloin. Spoon a little of the sauce over the meat and pass the remaining sauce at the table.