Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Home on the Range Thoughts of the Day

To Do Is To Be-----Descartes
To Be Is To Do-----Voltaire
Do Be Do Be Do---Frank Sinatra

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Irish Stew and Beer Bread

Brigid's Beer Bread

3 cups SIFTED (you must do this if you don't want a door stop) self rising flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
12 ounces ale
1/2 teaspoon of herb seasoning
3 Tablespoons of butter - melted

I love Guinness and Rosemary. Sam Adams is also good, with a pinch of oregano and a small handful of cheddar. I've used just a pinch of fresh dill and a Octoberfest ale. This is one you can make your own.

Sift flour and stir in sugar and salt and seasoning. Add in room temperature ale and stir gently until just blended. Put into loaf pan sprayed with Pam and pour melted butter over the top. Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes.

Irish Stew (hat tip to Jim at Closet Cooking for the base recipe and food photo styling).

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound lamb, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon flour
1 large bottle or can of Guinness (or other dark stout)
beef stock (have at least a quart home made or a couple large cans of store bought beef broth)
Seasoning - a couple of tablespoons of chopped rosemary and thyme, a dash of oregano is also nice
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
2 large potatoes or 4-5 yukon golds cut into pieces.
4 carrots (cut into bite sized pieces)


Heat the oil in a large pot.

Add the lamb and brown well, but on no more than low/medium heat

Add the onions and saute until tender, about six minutes

Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir.

Add the Guinness and enough beef stock to cover the meat.

Add the seasoning, bring to a boil, reduce to low and cover and simmer until the meat is tender. About 2 hours on LOW. Check about 3/4 way through and add a little more broth or Guinness if needed to keep the meat well braised.

Add the potatoes and carrots and just enough additional beef stock to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until they are tender, about 20-60 minutes depending on how big of pieces you cut. (If you use the Yukon golds the cooking time will be on the low end)

Remove Bay leaf. Garnish with fresh parsley (optional) and serve.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Cherry Coffee Cake

Berry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
adapted from

2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4-1 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
8 ounces cream cheese softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg (not that's not a repeat, another egg).
1/2 cup sour cherry preserves
1/2 cup chopped almonds


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour bottom and sides of 9 or 10 inch spring form pan.

Combine flour and 3/4 cup sugar.

Add the butter to the sugar-flour mixture and cut with pastry blender or fork until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Reserve 1 cup of crumb mixture.

To remaining mixture, add baking powder, soda, salt, sour cream, one egg and almond extract; blend well.

Spread batter over bottom and up sides of pan 2 inches (batter should be 1/4 inch thick on sides).

Combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 egg; blend well.

Pour over batter in pan.

Carefully spread preserves over all.

Combine reserved crumbs and sliced almonds.

Sprinkle over top.

Bake 55 minutes or until filling is set.

Cool 15 minutes.

Remove sides of pan.

Serve warm or cool.

Refrigerate leftovers.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chocolate Eclairs

Chocolate Eclairs
from: Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé.

The Éclairs consist of three parts, the dough, the pastry cream and a chocolate glaze

Pastry Dough:

• ½ cup whole milk
• ½ cup water
• 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter,
cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. The bottom of the pan may develop a slight crust, this is normal. You need to just continue stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your hand mixer or if you've had enough coffee, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. As you add the first egg you may notice the dough separates. This is normal, by the time you add the rest of the eggs and mix well the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Baking the Éclairs

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 4-1/2 inches "fat fingers" Leave a couple of inches of space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

If you wish to wait a bit to fill, they will keep for several hours in a cool, dry place.

Crème Pâtissière - Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
(Adapted from The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts)
1 3/4 cup Half and Half
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 of a Vanilla Bean
4 Egg Yolks, large
1/2 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Flour
Pinch of Salt

1. Heat half-and-half in a medium saucepan until warm. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer or by hand, ribbon egg yolks and sugar until very thick and pale yellow and there is no presence of sugar granules. Stir in flour and the salt. Very gradually add warm half-and-half to yolk mixture stirring with a whisk or using your mixer.

3. Transfer mixture to a saucepan and add the inside of half of a vanilla bean. Cook over medium-low heat stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. When mixture begins to bubble (must boil) continue stirring for 1-2 minutes (lower heat if necessary).

4. Remove from heat, add vanilla extract and strain into a bowl. Refrigerate. Makes 2 1/2 cups.


This can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for two or three days.

In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze

(The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts)

* 8 ounces Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate chopped.
* 2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
* 2 Tablespoons corn syrup

In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Remove from heat. Add vegetable shortening and corn syrup. Stir. Let cool to desired consistency. This will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can reheat for application in a microwave or with a double broiler. It does work best if you glaze right away though.

Assembling the éclairs:
1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.

The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled. (like that is going to be a problem)

Monday, September 18, 2006


Whisk in a bowl.

5 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream

In a pan, fry up about 8-9 ounces of spicy breakfast sausage. Sprinkle with a shake of red pepper (to taste) and a 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of Penzey's Northwoods Fire Seasoning (a mix of salt, chipotle pepper, hungarian paprika, tellicherry black pepper, garlic, rosemary, thyme and cayenne).

Chop two cups of of diced veggies (I used chopped frozen broccoli which I nuked just long enough to thaw).

Mix cooked/drained sausage with veggies and egg/milk mixture. Stir in

1 box stove top stuffing - I used cornbread style.

Stir in 1/2 to 3/4 cups cheese. Bake at 375 in deep casserole dish for one hour, covered. Remove lid, sprinkle with about another half cup cheese and bake 5 minutes longer, until cheese is melted.

I served with Pillsbury cresent rolls smeared with a half teaspoon of Jalapeno Jelly and 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese, then rolled up.

For a milder dish, this is also excellent with sage flavored stuffing with smoked ham or turkey, using Penzey's Ozark seasoning or seasoning of your choice instead of the red pepper and fire seasoning.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Chicken and Noodles -HOTR Style

The chicken and noodles was easy. In a pan I sauteed some onion and a heaping half teaspoon minced garlic, then added sliced grilled chicken from the barbecue, and just let it sit on warm for the flavors to mingle while I made the sauce and noodles. Cook a small/medium sized package of thick home style noodles. The sauce was made from what was in the refrigerator.
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (or teaspoons garlic powder)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 ounces grated Romano
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • dash of red pepper flakes (less than 1/8 teaspoon)
DIRECTIONS - Melt butter in a medium, non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add cream cheese and garlic stirring with wire whisk until smooth. Add milk, a little at a time, whisking to smooth out lumps. Stir in Parmesan and pepper. Remove from heat when sauce reaches desired consistency. Sauce thickens pretty rapidly when removed from heat.

While this is cooking, nuke or lightly grill couple of cups of fresh veggies til tender crisp.

Toss cooked sauce with hot pasta, chicken mixture and veggies. Serve with grated cheese and extra red pepper flakes.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Bacon Florentine Style Quiche

1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 package thawed spinach - drained thoroughly and pressed so there is no water left.
1/3 cup mayo
1/3 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup shredded Mozarella Cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
6 or so slices of bacon cooked until slightly crispy and chopped
1 prepared pie crust

Sautee onions and mushrooms in a little olive oil (just enough so they don't stick) until the onions are caramalized and starting to turn golden. Stir in spinach, remove from heat and mix well.

Mix mayo, milk and eggs, whisking well. Stir in veggies, cheese and seasoning. Pour into unbaked pie crust, top with bacon and bake 45 -50 minutes at 375. (check at 40 minutes as ovens vary).