Monday, August 30, 2010

cauliflower-cheese pie with potato crust

Cauliflower Cheese Pie with Potato Crust

Can you name a cookbook that has changed the way you cook and eat? For me, it has to be the Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen. I use the 1992 edition and I am continually fascinated by the flavors and methods she uses. I return to this cookbook often and I am never disappointed. My favorite vegetarian dishes and my favorite soups come from her cookbook. Probably my favorite dips and sauces also...... enjoy!
Here's what you need:
2 medium potatoes
2-3 small onions
3 eggs
2 C grated cheddar
1 medium cauliflower
1/4 C milk
olive oil, thyme, basil, salt, pepper
Here's what you do:
grate the potato, 1 onion and 1 C cheese in a food processor and mix together along with an egg white. Oil a pie plate and use your fingers to shape mixture into a crust...... it will work, trust me.

Bake 400 degrees for 30 minutes. (then turn the oven down to 350 degrees)

In the meantime, chop the cauliflower and onion in small pieces. Saute in a small amount of oil until deliciously golden. I also add bits of water to help the cauliflower soften. This process will take 20 minutes or so.

Add the garlic toward the end and also the seasonings. (1/4 t thyme and 1/2 t basil)
When the crust is done and the cauliflower is soft, mix the 2 remaining eggs, 1/4 C milk and 1 C cheese in a bowl. Add the cauliflower mixture and stir well.

Pour cauliflower mixture in the crust and bake for 30 minutes or so at 350 degrees. Allow to cool for a bit before cutting.

I've changed the method a little from the original recipe - I think my way is a bit less complicated than the original and equally as good.

This is perfect with a garden salad or a grilled chicken breast.

Friday, August 27, 2010

irish soda bread with golden raisins

Irish Soda Bread with Golden Raisins

The finished product you get from this recipe is delicious! Toasted and drizzled with honey.... it's out of this world! You only need about an hour to make this bread from start to finish, but it's much better if you let it sit a while before slicing.
Here's what you need:
2 C flour (I always use unbleached)
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (this comes in a jar, already toasted)
1 t baking soda (make sure it's fresh)
1/2 t salt
1/2 stick butter, very cold and cut in small cubes
1 C golden raisins - these are more tangy than regular raisins and perfect in this bread
1 C buttermilk OR plain yogurt (I used yogurt today)
Here's what you do:
Mix the dry ingredients.
Add the cold, cubed butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the dry mixture starts to look more like clumps of sand. Keep going until the butter is evenly incorporated into the flour mixture.
Toss in the raisins and then add the buttermilk or yogurt.
Stir with a wooden spoon. I always have trouble getting all the dry part fully incorporated into the wet.... I end up leaving a bit of flour in the bowl.
Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead for only 1 minute - I find I have to add flour to the board during this part --the dough is soft and kinda wet.

Place dough on a floured baking sheet.

Cut a shallow X across the top of the loaf.

Bake for 35 minutes at 400 degrees.
This recipe is from a very old Gourmet Magazine. The note in the article says the recipe comes from County Cork in Ireland, so it must be pretty authentic. Try it and let me know what you think. It's one of my son's favorite breads toasted for breakfast. I go through a box of golden raisins often and I think you will too!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

orzo with shrimp, feta and dill

Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Dill
This was the perfect take-along-meal to our son's band concert last week. It was very hot that day and this salad was refreshing and easy to make at the last minute. Don't you love the take-out containers? You can find them at those food supply stores. The only problem is you have to purchase what seems like hundreds at a time..... I'm slowly working my way through my stash. I got this idea from the Barefoot Contessa show on Food Network. That's Ina Garten's show for those of you who don't know - her food and ideas are often in sync with mine. In fact, this is her recipe! Must give her total credit here!

Here's what you need:
1 pound orzo
1 fresh lemon, 1/4 C olive oil, pepper, salt (all to taste, all for the dressing)
lots of fresh parsley (mine came from my garden)
1-2 t dill (of course, Ina uses fresh....dried is fine)
raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
minced scallions, white and green parts - to taste
diced seedless cucumber
1/2 C small diced red onion - or to taste
3/4 pound good Greek feta cheese, cut in big cubes
Here's what you do:
cook the orzo according to the package
make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper together
pour it over the warm orzo (that's the secret method.... warm orzo)
Add the remaining ingredients, being extra careful not to break up the feta....
Please continue reading for Ina Garten's method for roasting shrimp. It is the perfect way to cook shrimp.

Peel, devein, clean shrimp and dry them off with a paper towel.
Place them on a baking sheet, drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Roast for 5-6 minutes at 400 degrees - do not over bake- you don't want them chewy.

I think this salad is best served at room temperature. If you have to refrigerate it before serving, bring it up to room temp before eating. It gets better the next day because the dressing soaks in.
Hope you enjoy this one!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


If you have a garden full of basil and if you have a food processor, then this is the sauce for you! Very versatile, pesto can be used on pasta, pizza, chicken, garlic toast, etc. At my house, we only use it on pasta with lots of great Parmesan cheese. This recipe comes from a cookbook called "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan. I am going to admit that I no longer have that cookbook (but wish I did!) I only have two pages that I tore out of the huge book before I gave it away...... sad, I know. I kept the recipe for homemade pasta and I kept the recipe for this pesto. I guess if there were two recipes to keep from classic Italian cooking, these would be the ones.....

Here's what you need:
2 C tightly packed fresh basil - wash and dry it carefully. I use my salad spinner.
1/2 C good olive oil
3 T pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 t salt

Here's what you do:
While the blade of your food processor is running, drop the garlic in and it will chop into very fine pieces. This is a really great method! In the picture above, you can see the garlic in the bowl of my processor under all the basil and it's the perfect size. I did not have to chop any of it...
Add the basil, pine nuts, salt and olive oil.
Run the machine and scrape down after a bit.
That's it!
If you are going to serve it right away, add 1/2 C good Parmesan cheese and 3T softened butter. If you sometimes add the hot salty water that your pasta has boiled in, please do not do it for pesto because your beautiful green sauce will turn an unpleasant brown.....

Do plan to eat it right away or freeze it so it stays this vibrant color - beautiful, really.
You can easily freeze pesto without the butter and cheese.
My freezer now has these five lovely bundles of pesto, ready for a quick winter pasta dinner. Very satisfying!

Monday, August 16, 2010

lemon-lime frozen dessert

Lemon-Lime Frozen Dessert
I love ice cream in all its varieties. I must have inherited it from my dad (are you reading this, Dad?) The great thing about ice cream is that is can be simple enough for a child's birthday party, or fancy enough for a sit down dinner party. This recipe is somewhere in between. I made it for a business lunch I had last week and it got rave reviews.
Recipe comes from Taste of Home Magazine. I tweaked it only a bit by adding more lemon juice .

Here’s what you need:
A foil lined 9X5 in loaf pan – I’ll tell you now that this wasn’t really big enough for all the creamy goodness, but for me it was not a problem because I simply put the excess ‘white’ layer in the sherbet tub with the excess sherbet. (Chef’s treat I think this is called.) It would be fun to experiment with all kinds of shapes of containers – it unmolded beautifully.
2 C lime sherbet – you can see I softened mine for a bit in the microwave and then whisked it so it had no lumps or chunks.
8 oz whipped cream cheese. I used Philadelphia brand because off-brand cream cheese is one ingredient that I have found is never equal to the real stuff. I think next time I will try fat free… why not?
1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
¾ C lemon juice
8 oz fat-free Cool Whip- softened

Here’s what you do:
Pour the softened sherbet in the pan and re-freeze for about 10 minutes.
Beat the cream cheese and sweetened milk with a mixer until light and then add the lemon juice
Fold in the Cool Whip – careful to get all the lumps….
Pour the ‘white’ layer over the ‘green’ layer
To unmold, I carefully ran lukewarm water over the sides of the loaf pan and inverted the whole thing on a big plate. The foil peeled off beautifully!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

christmas in august

Christmas in August
Last month I was reunited with old high school girlfriends and we spent a very pleasant day shopping in Saugatuck, Michigan. What a charming and interesting town - very pretty, right on Lake Michigan. We had a light lunch and then broke into groups to wander through the town - most of my friends were interested in finding clothing and jewelery. There are many fabulous art galleries to be seen there as well. My focus, typical me, was on the spice store and the kitchenware store.

Upon entering Spice Merchants ( I was pleasantly greeted with the wonderful aroma of so many scents.... warm, spicy, sweet, flowery..... I limited myself to only a small purchase: Hot Curry Powder and Tandoori Seasoning. I'm looking forward to experimenting with the Tandoori spice as a dry rub on chicken.

At The Butler Pantry ( ) I had my spending downfall..... Couldn't resist the cutest red bowl with handles... small, square, fluted edges.... I'm sure you will see it on the blog soon.

I also fell in love with the cutting boards pictured above - I bought 6 of them! What a perfect size! They are Epicurean brand ( and the blurb on the packaging says they are made from eco-friendly paper! Can that be true? Very cool. The cutting board is very solid, perfect size, dishwasher safe and really great all around. I felt like I had hit the jackpot. Then last week I saw that they had them for sale at my local grocery store. Look for them in your town!

What do you do with so many cutting boards? Give them as Christmas gifts of course! Mom, sisters, sisters-in-law, friends: you can expect to see more of these in December! Act surprised!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

apple and havarti quesadilla

Apple and Havarti Quesadilla
These are really unusual and extremely delicious! The combination of the apple, the red pepper and the sugar create a sweet taste. I have no idea where I got the recipe, but I've been making them for years. Usually I make them on Thanksgiving when we need one more hearty appetizer before the turkey comes out of the oven. Today, I made them as a side dish for a salad dinner. Can't stop snacking!
Here's what you need:
1 Granny Smith apple - no substitutions here
1/3 C chopped red pepper
3 green onions, chopped
3 T butter - no substitutions here either
1/8 t cayenne pepper - this is pretty hot, so don't add any more than 1/8 t
2 t cider vinegar - no substitutions
1 clove garlic
1 t brown sugar
4 oz Havarti cheese - be sure it's not the dill type.... plain, regular Havarti
2-3 large flour tortillas
Here's what you do:
Peel and thinly slice the apple, chop the pepper and onion. Sauté slowly in a bit of butter until nice and soft.
Add the salt, cayenne, vinegar, garlic (I always use a garlic press so no one bites into a large piece of garlic) and brown sugar. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Your kitchen will smell great - sweet, tart, spicy....

Spoon the apple mixture on 1/2 of the tortillas and then cover lightly with shredded Havarti. Fold over the tortilla to form the quesadilla.

Brown them in a clean pan in a bit more butter.... I like mine nice and brown. Allow them to cool before cutting them into wedges.

I know these sound unusual, but that's what makes them great! Try them and let me know what you think!

Monday, August 9, 2010

cowboy cookies

Cowboy Cookies
'The Mother of all Cookies'
(printable recipe)

We love cookies around here. I probably make cookies every week, all year long. In the fall and winter, I freeze them in baggies so they are ready to drop into a sack lunch. They are also easy to grab for a quick after school snack. This is a recipe I return to often - they really are the Mother of all Cookies! This makes about 35-40, 4 inch cookies. It takes a long time to bake them, so don't start unless you have a few hours. Please remember to scoop them out in 1/4 C amount and only place 5 cookies on a sheet. They're huge.

Another hint - remove them with a metal spatula.

Here's what you need - it's a crazy amount of ingredients! So worth it though...
3 C flour
1T baking soda
1T baking powder
1T cinnamon
1t salt
3 sticks butter (I always use butter. I never substitute with anything else in all my baking.)
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1 1/2 C light brown sugar
3 eggs
1T vanilla
3C chocolate chips
3C old-fashioned oats
2C coconut
2C chopped pecans

I seriously recommend using a standing mixer - I can't imagine mixing all this by hand, but you could try it in batches.....
Here's what you do:
Cream butter and sugars.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add this dry mixture in small batches to butter mixture.
Keep using a spatula to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the mixer.

Mix all the 'add ins' (chips, coconut, oatmeal and nuts) and add them in small batches to the dough.

Be patient, they will eventually mix in. Keep using the spatula, a knife and your hands to keep it all under control.

Bake in 1/4 C amounts. I actually use a 1/4 C measure and scrape the dough out with a knife. Being accurate here is better than estimating.
Place only 5 cookies on an ungreased sheet.

Bake for about 17 minutes at 350 degrees. You have to watch them closely toward the end. I like to take the baking sheet out of the oven toward the end of the 17 minutes and bang it on the counter to help flatten the dough......

Makes about 35-40 - 4" cookies.

I jotted this recipe down while watching TV years ago.... Laura Bush was being interviewed and she said these were her husband's favorite cookie. They certainly are 'Texas' sized!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

blueberry pound cake

Blueberry Pound Cake

Pound cake has to be the most satisfying of cakes. It is dense. It is rich. It is sweet. And it is ridiculously buttery. I think original (and maybe current) recipes are made with a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of flour - hence the name....
I use a recipe that has much less of all that at no cost to the flavor. You will need a bundt pan that's in pretty good shape if you want it to come out nicely. The best product I have found for preparing a cake that you want to unmold is Pam for Baking. It works great! I think there is flour in the spray along with the oil..... I've never had that frustrating moment when your cake splits in two because half of it is sticking in the pan if I use that product.

Here's what you need:
1 C butter
3 C sugar (today I used only 2 C and it was fine)
6 eggs
3 C flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 C sour cream (today I used fat free - seems great to me! Why not cut a few calories?)
2 t lemon extract
2-3 C blueberries
Here's what you do:
Mix the butter and the sugar for a full 5 minutes. See how light and fluffy it gets?
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
Add the lemon extract.

Add 3/4 of the flour, soda and salt mixture.
Add the sour cream.

Mix the remaining flour with the blueberries and gently fold them in to the batter. Gently. Pour batter into a greased bundt pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 325 degrees. Today I made mine in small decorative molds and they turned out very pretty. I had to watch them closely toward the end. My small pans were done in about 50 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Turn it out with great confidence! Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Pound cakes will serve up to 20 people - they are very rich. You can serve them with fresh fruit or even toast slices of the cake.

Monday, August 2, 2010

pizza burger

Pizza Burger

The actual name of this burger is the 'Barack Obama Pizza Burger.' It was published in a Food Network magazine right next to the 'John McCain Chicken Queso Burger.' I posted the chicken queso burger yesterday, in case you missed it - have to give equal time to 'both sides of the aisle' as they say! Whatever your politics - try both recipes because they are equally good! We have been making both burgers in our house for about a year - depends on our mood - beef or chicken.... There is a bit of prep work to these burgers, so be sure to plan for that.

Here's what you need for these burgers:
great buns
1 stick butter
1 head garlic
fresh parsley
ground beef (enough for nice large patties. I like to use ground round, but of course ground chuck would be excellent too)
marinara sauce (jarred is fine)
lots of fresh mozzarella cheese (in the picture above we used regular mozzarella, but fresh is much better)
fresh basil leaves - a definitive taste to these burgers and one which must not be overlooked.

Here's what to do for the buns (the secret ingredient in this burger):

Roast a head of garlic by removing the outer paper, slicing off the top just a bit to expose the cloves, drizzling with a tiny bit of olive oil, placing the entire thing in foil and baking for 45 minutes at 350.
When it's done, you should be able to squeeze the garlic out into a bowl. Mix it with about 1 stick of butter, 2 T chopped parsley, 1 t champagne vinegar and salt.
Smear this garlic butter on both halves of the buns - these you will grill and toast to perfection.

Grill the meat to medium rare. After you have flipped them, add about 2 T marinara sauce on top of the burger and then place on slices of mozzarella.

Cover the grill, watch the buns, melt the cheese....
Serve with more marinara sauce and fresh basil.

These really taste like pizza! There's no need for mustard, ketchup, pickles or the other standard burger condiments. These stand on their own just as is.

I wonder which you will make first? The John McCain Chicken Queso Burger or the Barack Obama Pizza burger?

I also wonder which other politician will get a burger named for him or her?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

chicken queso burger

Chicken Queso Burger
I found this recipe in the Food Network Magazine a few years ago - its real name is the 'John McCain Chicken Queso Burger.' On the facing page of the magazine was printed the 'Barack Obama Pizza Burger.' So of course, we had to try them both and have a burger cook off right here at home! I'll post the pizza burger later this week - it's really good too!
Here's what you need:
1 T olive oil
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t adobo powder
(this is an all purpose Latin seasoning, probably not commonly found in the regular supermarkets. I buy mine in small, local Hispanic stores...... you could probably skip it, but do try to look for it - I also use it in my Ropa Vieja marinade....)

boneless, skinless chicken breasts
(I slice mine width-wise to make them thinner.... Don't like that thick meat in a single bite....)

pepper jack cheese, sliced
fresh tomato salsa
good rolls

Here's what you do:
marinate the chicken in the zest and juice of the citrus fruit, the spices and the oil for a couple hours
grill the chicken on a medium flame
when it's almost done on the 2nd side, put a tablespoon of salsa on the chicken and then put the pepper jack on top to melt...... this was a really nice method. I would never have thought of putting the salsa under the cheese, but it works!

I toasted the buns and served the 'burger' with avocado, tomato slices and lots more fresh salsa.
A little cilantro would be great too!