Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mosaic Monday: Just Desserts!

Mary from Little Red House started Mosaic Monday. and Debbie from Mountain Breaths participated in it and then suggested to Barb from Foley's Follies and to Kathleen from Cuisine Kathleen to try a Mosaic and they told a few and so on and so on and so now I, too, am joining in on Mondays with a Dessert Mosaic. Stop by the Little Red House and check out all the bloggers who have done a fabulous Mosaic Monday, just click on their links!

Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. ~Judith Viorst

I agree with whoever it was that said "LIFE IS UNCERTAIN, EAT DESSERT FIRST!"

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart. ~ Erma Bombeck

More Banana Bread!

In the never ending quest to use up extremely ripe bananas, I found another recipe for banana bread. So this one is now my absolute favorite. but there are millions more recipes out there, and tons more over ripe bananas in my future I'm sure. So I keep looking, and keep trying. If I buy less bananas, there's never enough. If I buy more, they rot. We've loved banana bread, a hundred different ways! With rum, no rum, with nuts, no nuts, oil, no oil. This one is different. No oil, but melted butter. and brown sugar! So good.

The recipe comes from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters. I read cookbooks like novels and spent all morning looking through books to try something new with those bananas that were ripening by the minute. Somehow I always fall back to banana bread. I'm glad I pulled this one from the shelf. The recipe says to have it with butter and orange marmalade, but toasted with some ice cream would work better for me! A lot better!

Banana Bread

Source: Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/3 cups mashed bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts

Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9 X 5 X 3-inch loaf pan with a strip of parchment and coat the pan and the liner with cooking spray. (I used butter!)

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.

Cream butter and both sugars in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add egg and bananas and combine. Add sifted dry ingredients. Fold in nuts.

Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until loaf comes out clean. Cool on rack. Store covered with paper towel and wax paper at room temperature.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Flashback Friday! My Favorite Diner Dessert!

It's Friday already, and that means joining in on Suzy's Flashbacks at Kitchen Bouquet. Today I'm flashing back to Chocolate Sorbet. Soon it'll be time for ice cream and frozen treats! Hey, it can't stay cool and rainy forever, can it? The sorbet was posted by Debbie and Lee at the forums from a recipe by Claudia Fleming on, and a number of blogging buddies have made it and loved it, too!

For one of my most favorite desserts, I'm really flashing back now, before blogging, all the way back to High School. Friday nights in my school meant hanging with friends late night at the diner. After a movie, bowling, ice skating, or whatever you did, we'd go to the diner to meet up with everyone else. After any school function, you headed to the diner. Football, basketball games, whatever. Diner. I'd have toasted Pound Cake and Chocolate Ice Cream almost every Friday night back in the day. So when Lee and Debbie shared the sorbet recipe, what else to do but toast a slice of pound cake! Only this time it wasn't from Entenmann's or the diner, it was from scratch, from my old neighbor, Lisa! Lisa's not really old, and she's no longer my neighbor, but she stayed a friend and her pound cake recipe is still one of the best I've ever had! and even when I overbake it, it's still good. Nice and sweet and dense with a crispy crust on it!

It's Friday, I should go dust off that ice cream maker and make a loaf or two of pound cake!

They really should have called this "Chocolate Lover's Sorbet." It's intensely chocolately. Fabulously chocolately. If you love chocolate, it doesn't get any better than this.

Chocolate Sorbet
posted GB's by Debbie and Lee
recipe by Claudia Fleming, pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern, NY
Printable Recipe

2 1/4 cups water
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
9.75 ounces 70% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Bar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of water

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 1/4 cups of water and the sugar, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Gradually add cocoa powder, whisking until smooth. Reduce heat to low, and cook mixture at a gentle simmer for 30 minutes, until syrupy.

Put chocolate in a large bowl, add half the cocoa syrup, whisking until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Add remaining syrup and whisk well. Strain mixture through a fine sieve, and let cool. Stir in 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of water.

Chill sorbet mixture covered until very cold, at least 4 hours. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 1/4 cups of water and the sugar, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Gradually add cocoa powder, whisking until smooth. Reduce heat to low, and cook mixture at a gentle simmer for 30 minutes, until syrupy.

Put chocolate in a large bowl, add half the cocoa syrup, whisking until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Add remaining syrup and whisk well. Strain mixture through a fine sieve, and let cool. Stir in 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of water.

Chill sorbet mixture covered until very cold, at least 4 hours. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. I use the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker and it's perfect. if I had room in the freezer, I'd get an extra freezer bowl. It's definitely time to drag the ice maker out.

This is my absolute favorite pound cake. It's from my good friend, Lisa. I didn't tell her that, it might go to her head! but it's a really good dense pound cake. Toasted or not!

Lisa's Pound Cake
Printable Recipe

1 cup butter or margarine (softened)
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon Amaretto (or vanilla or almond extract)

Grease and flour two loaf pans.

Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. It's very important to beat until the sugar is no longer grainy.

Beat in eggs, one at a time. Fold in the flour and the amaretto. Spoon into the two prepared loaf pans. Set in a COLD oven and then turn oven on to temperature of 350 degrees F. Bake for approximately 40 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, May 25, 2009

So many mushrooms!

and I used them all up! Stuffing, broiling, sauteing, marinating, roasting, there's so many ways to use up too many mushrooms! So I settled on broiling, stuffing and baking them!

First up was "Stuffed Mushrooms a la Chase!" I usually make my mushrooms the same way, except I never used green onions or cheddar cheese. I used shallots and parmigiano-reggiano! These came out great. I love the addition of the cheddar!


Stuffed Mushrooms
recipe from Chase at the CF
Printable Recipe

20 large white mushrooms
1/3 cup butter (maybe a bit more)
4 or 5 green onions chopped fine
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar
1/3 cups bread crumbs more or less if needed

Clean mushrooms and carefully remove stems. Chop stems and onions finely (I use the food processor.) Melt butter in a saute pan. Saute mushroom stems and onions over medium heat until soft but not browned and the stems have given up their juices. Mixture should be quite moist. Add the bread crumbs, only enough to absorb the liquid. Add the grated cheese and stir just until it has melted. Don't worry if the oil separates from the cheese.

Stuff the mixture into the caps and sprinkle with a bit of salt (or you can salt after they come out of the oven. which is what I usually do.)

Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until the caps are nice and soft.

and then on to Broiled Mushrooms in Snail Butter, which sounds so much better in French, Beurre d'Escargots! Talk about a great lunch! I'm all about the nibbles, rather than a meal! Soak the butter up with a nice crusty piece of baguette from the bakery, freshly baked, doesn't get any better! Serve along with a small salad. and don't forget the wine!

The family got a little gaggy at the thought when I first mentioned snail butter, but once they realized no snails were involved, it was fine! Now to work on blue cheese with them!

Broiled Mushrooms in Snail Butter

Printable Recipe

White Mushrooms, Cremini, whatever you like. Discard the stems, clean the caps however you do
3 garlic cloves (or more if you like)
1 stick of butter (mine comes straight from the frig and into the food processor, cut it in pieces to help it mush up better!)
1 shallot (chopped)
salt and fresh ground pepper
a bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon (Meyer, if you can find one!)

Make sure you use a broiler-safe dish!

Whiz it all except the parsley, in the food processor until smooth, and then spoon into mushroom caps. Squeeze lemon juice on top, as much as like, we like a lot! and broil until it's bubbling and the caps have softened! Sprinkle the chopped parsley over it and serve with a crusty bread to sop up the juices! Best part! You can freeze the snail butter and use it on anything if you have left over. Great on steak, fish or vegetables!

and when you're stuffed and have to get the dishes done, here's a tip to make cleaning up that buttered bowl and blade from the food processor. Put a drop, and I'm not kidding only a drop, of liquid dish detergent and a little bit of warm water in the food processor and then whizz away! You'll have a very clean bowl and blade when you're done. and bubbles galore!

It was a really nice day for a mushroom lunch, but then we're not too picky, anything goes, so lunch the other day was Ravioli from a can! You can gag if you want to, but hey, I like airplane food, too. Sometimes.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Double Magazine Challenge!

Always up for a challenge, this time I managed to find two new recipes from the huge stack of magazines that are piling up on the night table. Suzy at Kitchen Bouquet started this challenge for herself and I loved the idea so I jumped in more than a few posts ago! Click here for her Challenge posts! I think my biggest challenge isn't so much finding a recipe but more FOLLOWING the recipe! Distractions always get in the way!

From Gourmet's recent issue, I made Peach-Lacquered Chicken Wings. The wings came out great, sweet and sticky, next time I'd even more pepper than I threw in. I changed it up a little, I roasted the wings at 400 for about 20 minutes or so, and basted once with the sauce. Then when the wings were pretty much cooked through, I drained the pan and then broiled to crisp it up, basting and then turning the wings and basting again. Twice. Until it got crispy and sticky. Much easier than standing over the broiler for twenty minutes. My smoke alarm appreciated the change in the recipe!

Just out the broiler, perfectly charred! You have to watch these things. The smoke alarm kept me posted!

They actually came out perfect. The burning was from the sauce in the pan. and maybe one or two or four of the wings! Do you think I'd show a picture of the extremely burned ones? Definitely a keeper recipe. Another easy one.

Peach-Lacquered Chicken Wings
Recipe by Melissa Roberts
Gourmet, June 2009
Printable Recipe

3 garlic cloves
1 (3-inch) piece peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup peach or apricot preserves or jam
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes (I used more!)
4 lb chicken wings, tips removed if desired

Preheat broiler.

With motor running, drop garlic into a food processor and finely chop. Add ginger and finely chop.

Add preserves, soy sauce, water, and red-pepper flakes and pulse until sauce is combined.
Line bottom and sides of a large 4-sided sheet pan with foil and lightly oil foil.
Pat wings dry and put in sheet pan. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Pour sauce over wings and toss to coat, then spread in 1 layer.

Broil wings 4 to 6 inches from heat 5 minutes, then turn over and baste with sauce from pan. Continue to broil, rotating pan and turning and basting 3 more times, until chicken is cooked through and browned in spots, 20 to 25 minutes.

and for the side dish, Rösti Potatoes from Food& Wine seemed easy enough. It's a Swiss-style potato pancake. Reminded me of a giant latke without the onions. So I got out my trusty food processor and the cast iron pan and I was all set. Except I had no baking potatoes. I had a ton of fingerlings, so why not. Being lazy, I never peeled them, and just grated away in the food processor. I assumed the pan was hot enough. Never assume. So big deal, I turned the heat up. It was beginning to look a little grayish. I tried to slide it out of the pan onto a plate so I could fry the other side. It stuck. I manged to get it back in the pan. So maybe I will call my potatoes, Sloppy Rösti's! They sure did taste good, even if they weren't pretty!

Rösti Potatoes
Recipe by Francis Mallmann
Food & Wine, June 2009
Printable Recipe

2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, scrubbed
Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying

Heat a large griddle over moderately low heat or on a preheated grill. On a work surface, using a box grater, coarsely shred the potatoes into 10 fluffy piles—don’t pat the piles down.

Add 1/8 inch of oil to the griddle and heat until shimmering. Carefully transfer the potato piles to the griddle, keeping them fluffy and evenly spaced. Season with salt. Cook over moderately low heat until well-browned and crisp on the bottom, 15 minutes. Turn the piles, adding another 1/8 inch of oil to the griddle. Cook for 15 minutes longer, until the potatoes are browned and crisp; season with salt and serve.

Make Ahead:
The rösti potatoes can be fried 2 hours in advance. Reheat before serving.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Flashback Friday! Interesting Combo's!

Time for another Flashback. With Suzy from Kitchen Bouquet! and this flashback recipe originally came from Debbie at Mountain Breaths.

Kind of a strange combination tonight, Cold Sesame Noodles with grilled Tequila Burgers, but it was good. It was a beautiful day, and that would mean I can get a break from cooking and send out the Griller to grill! and so I did!

My version of Debbie's Tequila Burgers are actually a combination of two recipes. Took all of Debbie's recipe which on their own are great, but added some Pepperjack cheese and a jalapeño-cumin sauce from a Steven Raichlen recipe at Food & Wine online. It made one fantastic and spicy burger!

Mexican Burgers (Tequila Burgers)
from Debbie @ Mountain Breaths
Printable Recipe

1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Tequila
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

sour dough bread

Top with:
sliced tomato

Finely chop onion, jalapeño and cilantro.

Combine beef, egg, cilantro, jalapeño, onion, salt, tequila and pepper in large bowl.

Divide into 4 patties.

Cut up the tomatoes and avocado and set aside for topping.

Grill burgers on each side for 4 minutes for medium doneness.

Toast bread lightly, if desired.

Top burger with avocado and tomato slices. Serve with salsa and mustard.

***I mixed in about six crumbled slices of Pepper Jack Cheese into the meat mixture with more Tequila and less cilantro. Shred some iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes, red onion, pepper jack cheese and top with the Jalapeno-Avocado Sauce for a perfectly perfect burger!

Jalapeño, Cumin and Avocado Sauce
adapted from this recipe from Food and Wine / Steve Raichlen
Printable Recipe

2 large fresh jalapeños, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/8 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (use more if you like it)
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons water (more or less to thin out the sauce!)
2 teaspoons ground cumin (more or less to taste)
1/2 of an avocado
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

In a blender or food processor, combine the jalapeños and avocado with 1/8 cup of cilantro, garlic, lime juice, water, cumin and a generous pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Puree the sauce until smooth.

Combined the spicy burgers with a Stir-Fry. probably meant to be served hot, I served it sort of cold since it was like a cold sesame noodle dish. Ended up just warm. Not sure if it was meant to be served cold, and of course I got a late start, what else is new? So the sauce sort of came apart, the noodles were warm and it looked pretty ugly but it still tasted pretty good. Mexican and Asian, a trend? maybe not.

Stir-Fried Snow Peas with Soba
By Martha Rose Shulman – NY Times Online

1 tablespoon peanut butter (to taste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons hot red pepper oil (to taste)
Pinch of cayenne
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 pound snow peas, strings and stem ends removed
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts only
8 ounces soba noodles, cooked
4 large radishes, trimmed, cut in half, and thinly sliced

Heat the peanut butter for 10 seconds in a microwave to make it easier to mix. Combine with the soy sauce, vinegar, hot red pepper oil, cayenne, half the garlic and ginger, salt and pepper. Whisk together. Whisk in the sesame oil and broth. Set aside.

Heat the canola or peanut oil in a wok or a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and add the snow peas. Stir-fry for one to two minutes, and add the scallions and remaining garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 20 seconds. Stir-fry for one to two minutes, then stir in the noodles and sauce. Toss together until the noodles are hot, and remove from the heat. Add the radishes on top.

Advance preparation: You can cook the noodles up to three days ahead. Toss them with 1 teaspoon canola oil and refrigerate. The ingredients for the sauce can be combined several hours before you make the stir-fry.

Here's the flashback, what I was shooting for...
Spicy Cold Soba Noodles
a really excellent recipe, the stir-fry was very good, a nice change, but this is our favorite! A really spicy, cold noodle dish, the one we bring to BBQ's in the summer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An old favorite...

Sloppy Joe's. Used to be the number one requested dinner when the kids were small. Goes to show you, their second favorite was Hamburger Helper Lasagna. Then I learned to cook. Somewhat. They didn't love my cream sauce phase. They aren't exactly flipping over fish. So I'm going back to an old favorite. and while Stuffed Portabello's doesn't exactly seem like the perfect accompaniment to Sloppy Joe's, they went over very well! Helps that dinner was really late and I made the mushrooms to sort of tide them over until dinner was ready. Who knew frozen french fries could take so long in the oven? Well, they were the gourmet kind, not your average Ore-Ida's. Not bad, but I like Tater Tots with my Sloppy Joe's!

The mushrooms came out delicious. Will definitely be making these again. I added some mozzarella to the mix. Another really easy, and quick recipe to add to the "definitely making again" list!

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms
(adapted) original recipe from Rachael Ray, Food Network
Printable Recipe

8 portabello mushroom caps
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing mushrooms
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained well
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/8 teaspoon
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Using a damp towel, brush mushroom caps to clean. Using a brush, coat the caps with olive oil and grill with lid down or roast in the oven about 8 minutes, turning once, until tender but still firm at center.

Squeeze the water out of the spinach using a kitchen towel. Mix spinach with the artichokes, ricotta cheese, egg yolk, grated garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and nutmeg. Add some shredded mozzarella to the mix if you like.

Remove mushroom caps from the oven.

Spoon some filling into mushroom. Sprinkle the caps with Parmigiano and cook at least about 15 minutes more in the preheated oven to until the top is browned and the filling is cooked through.

Sloppy Joe's
my own concoction
Printable Recipe

2 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup Heinz chili sauce
1/2 cup beer
1 can tomato sauce (8 ounce)
hamburger buns

Brown the meat and drain the excess fat. Stir in the tomato sauce, chili sauce, beer and Worcestershire sauce, molasses, salt and pepper. Simmer on the stove for a bit. Then serve on a hamburger bun. Measurements are not exact; the ingredients are all to taste. You can add whatever you like, we like it pretty much plain, but onions and bell peppers are a good addition. It freezes well.
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