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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Herb Roasted Pork Loin

 This is one of those perfect company entrees: You do most of the work ahead of time, it's easy, it looks impressive and tastes great. 

 Serves 8 to 12

Herb rub (double for larger roast):
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh roasemary or 2 tbsp. dried
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage or 1 tbsp. dried
2 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
2 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper

4-lb.  center-cut boneless pork loin, with thin layer of fat left intact on one side
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
White wine
1 cup chicken or beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Combine the herb-rub ingredients in a  bowl and set aside.

Prepare shallow roasting pan by brushing with the 1/2 tbsp. oil and scattering the sliced garlic over the center of the pan in a long strip to provide a bed for the roast.

Rub herb mix all over roast to give it a generous coating. Lay roast on garlic in prepared pan, fat side up. Place in center of oven and roast for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 300, pour in white wine to cover bottom of pan. Roast for 1 hour longer and test the meat. When instant-read thermometer reads 145 to 150 degrees, remove pan from oven and cover loosely with foil while you make the sauce (sauce optional). Roast longer if necessary, but don't overcook as it will dry out.

To make the pan sauce, add pan drippings and brown bits to saucepan with 1/4 cup wine and the broth. Boil till reduced by nearly half. Strain out solids and season to taste with salt and pepper..

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Holy Mole Pecans

These nuts, named for the spicy Mexican sauce that contains chocolate, were a hit with spice-loving friends at a game night. That dose of chocolate didn't hurt! They're a little rich, a little sweet and a little spicy. Watch out; they're addictive. The recipe is from Party Nuts! by Sally Sampson. I found the baking time a bit too long, so I've shortened that. Adjust for your own oven, but be sure to check them a few times so they don't burn.

1 large egg white (2 tbsp.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups raw pecan halves
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line baking pan with parchment paper.

Place egg white in a large stainless steel bowl and whip till frothy. Whip in the vanilla, then gently add the pecans and toss until completely coated with the mixture.

Place the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and toss until well combined. Add the sugar mixture to the pecans, a fourth of it at a time, and toss very gently until well coated.

Transfer the pecans to the prepared sheet and spread in a single layer. Try not to let the pecans touch each other. Bake for 20 minutes. Gently turn nuts and continue to bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until coating is lightly colored and dried out, about an hour total. Remove from oven sooner if they seem to be getting too dark.

 When you remove them from the oven, immediately loosen the nuts with a metal spatula, and let cool before serving. Store in an air-tight container.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Almonds

 I found this recipe online and tested it on friends and family over for a game night. These nuts (the almonds, not the guests!) are good, easy to prepare and keep well, but next time I'd jack up the spices a bit. I'm tempted to try this recipe with pecans just because I prefer them, but it's always nice to have a variety on hand for guests.

Sweet Pumpkin Pie Almonds

4 cups whole almonds, toasted
1 egg white
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I'll make it as least 1 tbsp. next time)
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white, sugars, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until light and foamy. Add almonds and stir well to coat.
Spread coated almonds evenly on one or two ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Allow almonds to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Almonds will keep longer if stored in the refrigerator.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Artichokes and Tomatoes Provencale

Although this dish is wonderful and comforting hot out of the oven, with grated Asiago stirred in, it's great without that extra fat. It's even good cool or at room temperature, especially with the hot summer we're having in the Midwest. We love this dish, which I adapted from 50 Ways With Vegetables by Rosemary Wadey, and eat it fairly often.

I substitute a sliced Vidalia or other sweet onion for the baby onions Wadey calls for just because I prefer them. And there's more surface to brown, which I think adds more flavor. I also leave out the olives, lemon juice and capers. I tend to  use canned tomatoes because I always have the ingredients on hand, and the dish has more of the sauce that way.

Artichoke Hearts Provencale

2 15-oz. cans artichoke  hearts, drained and halved
1 Vidalia, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 28-oz can undrained Italian plum tomatoes, or 4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped roughly, or 8 to 10 Romas, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine (a little more doesn't hurt!)
1 tbsp. sugar
12 black olives (optional)
2 tbsp. lemon juice (optional)
1 tbsp. capers (optional)
Chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish

Spray a two-quart casserole and add artichokes.

Fry the onions in the oil in a skillet until beginning to brown, stirring frequently. Transfer to casserole. Turn oven on to 350 degrees

Add garlic, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, wine and sugar to skillet and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour into casserole and toss to distribute ingredients. Cover with foil and bake 30 to 40 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Grilled Marinated Eggplant and Onions

The smoky flavor added by grilling does something wonderful to eggplant. This is my adaptation of a recipe from for Eggplant Mixed Grill. I skipped the asparagus, mushrooms and peppers just because I didn't have any; we liked it so much with just eggplant and onions that I continue to make it that way. I found doubling most of the marinade ingredients made for a tastier, moister end product. This is what I came up with:

Grilled Eggplant and Onions

4 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup fresh chopped herbs, a mix from among parsley, oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 white onions, cut into wedges (rings work, too, if you're like me and slice them out of habit)

Whisk balsamic vinegar with salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil to emulsify. Pour into large resealable plastic bag with herbs, garlic and vegetables, making sure all is coated. Add a little vinegar and olive oil if there doesn't seem to be enough marinade to coat. Seal and chill 2 hours or longer, turning the bag occasionally.

Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Using an oiled vegetable grill wok/basket or grill pan with sides, cook vegetables, turning or tossing vegetables every  10 minutes, till tender and there is some charring. This can take 30 minutes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Coffee and Cream Scone(s) with a view

Presumably the neighbors saw only one of the stupid things I did today. 

I awoke early, and could not go back to sleep. So I picked out a scone recipe and got to work,  making adjustments. I popped the pan in the oven, returning to check for doneness.

Hmmmm. I had forgotten to cut the dough into wedges so that the round, when baked, would easily break apart into individual servings. This was one giant scone.

I nibbled on a wedge and sipped milk in the sunroom as I read a novel. My husband came out to join me, scones and newspaper in hand. When he went back into the main part of the house, I continued to read.  Eventually, I gathered my things and turned the door handle. Surely he hadn't locked the door. I tried again. I tapped on the glass door. I tapped again. I yelled.  I grabbed the little mallet that goes with a small set of chimes and played an angry tune on the glass. I yelled his name again. Finally I hung my head and went outside -- in my short nightshirt -- rounding the corner to the side door, which is in full view of the neighbor's house. I rang the doorbell. And rang. And muttered. And rang. Eventually I recalled the hidden key. 

He had heard the pounding, and thought I was working on something else in the kitchen. He went to the front door when the doorbell gave a pathetic buzz. He checked the back door but by then I was scurrying to the hidden key and he still had no clue that I was outside fearing I was a spectacle.

At least there's five-eighths of a giant scone left.







 The recipe is from Cooking Light. I've included my changes: I doubled the cinnamon and decided my coffee scones need a "cream" element. I dug out half a package of vanilla-flavored chips and threw those in.

 Coffee (and Cream) Scones

2/3  cup  1% low-fat milk (I used skim)
2 1/2  tbsp. instant coffee granules
1  tsp.  vanilla extract
1  large egg, lightly beaten
2 1/4  cups  all-purpose flour
1/3  cup  sugar
2 1/2  tsp.  baking powder
3/4  tsp.  salt
1/2 tsp.  ground cinnamon
1/4  cup  chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
3  tablespoons  finely chopped walnuts (I used a scant half cup. They are good, but not necessary)
Cooking spray
2  teaspoons  1% low-fat milk (again, skim)
2  teaspoons  sugar

Combine 2/3 cup milk and the coffee granules in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Microwave at high 1 minute; stir until coffee dissolves. Let cool. Whisk in vanilla and egg. 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 4 ingredients (flour through cinnamon) in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (The flour mixture and butter can also be combined in a food processor; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.) Stir in walnuts, if using. Add milk mixture, stirring just until moist (dough will be sticky).

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface; knead lightly 4 times with floured hands. (My dough was pretty sticky; I had to reflour my hands several times to get the dough to cooperate). 

Pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cut dough into 8 to 10 wedges but do not separate. Brush the dough with 2 teaspoons milk; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar. Bake at 425° for 15 to 20 minutes* or until set and browned. Serve warm.

*It takes a bit longer for one giant scone.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuscan Bread Salad (Panzanella)

I first tried making this traditional Italian bread salad a few years ago just because I was intrigued by what I'd read about it. The dressing is tossed with the bread cubes and soaks in, so you'll want to get a bit of one in every bite.

This is my take on a recipe from 365 Great 20-Minute Recipes by Beverly Cox. I've varied the lettuce and cheeses with good results.


12 ounces or so day-old Italian, French or other good, rustic bread*
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 large yellow or orange bell pepper
3 large, ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb. to 1 lb. diced mozzarella (or use white cheddar or Asiago or a mix) at room temperature
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup slivered basil leaves**
Salad greens such as torn romaine leaves

Cut bread into rough 3/4-inch cubes and place in large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk balsamic, salt, pepper and sugar. Slowly pour in olive oil, whisking to emulsify. Pour dressing over bread and toss to mix well.

Add tomatoes, bell pepper, cheese, garlic and basil. Mix gently but thoroughly. Spoon salad over lettuce leaves on platter or large, shallow bowl.

Serves 4 to 6.

Makes a great, light summer supper. Try it with a glass of white wine.

* I've also used leftover rosemary focaccia and cornbread and been very happy with the flavor
** I have successfully subbed a little pesto mixed in with the chopped tomatoes when I had too little basil (or when my plant has basil blight as it does this year, ugh).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Asparagus Artichoke Salad with Rosemary Ham

I came up with this in an attempt to copy a wonderful salad I had at the Lost Shepherd in Powell, Ohio. The restaurant uses prosciutto, but I love the rosmarino ham found at Giant Eagle and The Andersons. It has a delightful rosemary flavor and isn't as salty or chewy as the thicker prosciutto the restaurant uses. While it makes great sandwiches, I especially like it with this combination. It can be a side salad, but my husband and I eat it as a light entree. It goes together quickly.

The restaurant dresses the salad with a red wine vinaigrette. I do like homemade dressings, but so far I've used commercial garlic ranch or vidalia vinaigrette (Sam's Club sells a good one). A Parmesan dressing would be nice, too.

Frozen artichokes, thawed
Rosemary ham (or prosciutto)
Asiago  (or fresh Parmesan, which is what the restaurant uses), grated or shaved
Dressing of choice (garlic ranch, parmesan, vidalia, red wine vinaigrette etc.)

Cook asparagus by steaming, simmering or roasting till just tender but still a bit crisp.
Meanwhile, cut artichokes into small pieces if desired. Julienne ham. Dice tomato.

Place cooked asparagus on serving plates and sprinkle toppings over. Drizzle on dressing. 

Note: If serving a large number or heading for a potluck, you can cut the asparagus and artichoke hearts into bite-size pieces and toss everything together.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Akron's Diamond Deli Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is my favorite carrot cake. The texture and flavor are just right. A former proprietor of the popular Diamond Deli in downtown Akron shared the recipe with the Beacon Journal years ago, and I haven't tried a different recipe since. It's that good. The new owners kept the cake on the menu; otherwise, customers might have staged a mutiny.

I do often substitute applesauce for a third of the oil to cut down on fat a bit.  Sometimes I add 2 tablespoons of frozen orange juice concentrate to the frosting. But that's it for changes.

Pat's Diamond Deli Carrot Cake
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (or 1 cup plus 1/2 cup applesauce)
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
3 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3 cups shredded carrots
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Beat eggs, sugar and oil till combined. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to egg mixture. Add carrots, nuts and drained pineapple.
Bake in 9-by-13-inch pan at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes (start checking at 40), till toothpick inserted an inch from center comes out clean.Cool and frost.

Cream cheese frosting:
16 oz. cream cheese (can substitute neufchatel to lower fat), at room temp
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, at room temp
2 tsp. vanilla extract (pure preferred over imitation)
3 to 4 cups (about 1 lb). powdered sugar

Blend butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Blend in vanilla. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time till creamy and preferred consistency.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Asian Scallop Soup with Ginger, Coconut and Lime

This is a really nice, light soup for spring. I had printed this recipe from a while ago and finally decided to try it after finding a pound of sea scallops in the freezer. 

I wanted it to be more soupy than stew-like, so I added two cans of chicken broth along with additional vegetables (zucchini, baby corn and mushrooms). We like our veggies. Next time, though, I will use two cans of coconut milk and one can of broth to get a more pronounced coconut flavor. Here's a link to the original recipe:

A salad makes a good accompaniment.

Asian Scallop Soup with Ginger, Coconut and Lime

1 lb. sea scallops, halved if very large
1 (14-oz). can unsweetened coconut milk, shaken well before opening
2 (14-oz.) cans chicken broth
1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger*
1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into small strips (I skipped this because I didn't have any)
1 small can sliced baby corn
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly across
8 oz. sliced mushrooms, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
Handful chopped fresh spinach
1 tomato, diced
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice (bottled would be fine)
1 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce (nam pla)

Combine coconut milk, broth and ginger in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring just to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add vegetables except tomato. Simmer until vegetables are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add scallops and simmer until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Mix in lime juice, fish sauce and tomato. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve. Makes about four servings.

*I store peeled, sliced ginger in a jar of sherry in the fridge. That way I always have some; it keeps a long time. I've yet to encounter a problem with the little bit of sherry flavor that is added.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pistachio-Raspberry Tea Cakes (with Raspberry Buttercream)

 Whoa, extreme closeup! Sorry  about the slightly blurry image. I got the recipe for the cupcake, which in this case is closer to a muffin in consistency, from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes from 2009. She didn't say anything about frosting them, just showed them plain (granted, they are very pretty with the bright raspberries and the green  nuts). But I ask, who made her queen? The frosting recipe is from Cupcakes by Carol Pastor, and it's to die for.

I knew I had to make these for my friend Keri when I first saw the recipe while researching cupcakes for my sister's 50th (na-na-na, I told) birthday bash. Keri loooooves pistachios. 

Happily, I found a giant bag of already shelled pistachios. Because they came salted, I skipped the salt in the batter. I got 16 cupcakes out of the batter, one more than Martha. Again, na-na-na. I've noted my tweaks.

Pistachio-Raspberry Tea Cakes

Nonstick spray
1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt (skip if using the easier-to-find salted nuts like I did)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used nearly 3)
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 to 2 containers (6 ounces each) fresh raspberries
1/4 cup slivered or chopped pistachios, for sprinkling (optional, as in, I forgot)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (this was too high; try 325 to 350). Line standard  tins with paper liners; coat liners with cooking spray.

In a food processor, finely grind shelled pistachios with the sugar and salt. Add butter, vanilla and eggs; process until smooth. Add flour; pulse until just moistened and combined; do not overmix.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Gently press raspberries into batter, 4 to 6 per cupcake, and sprinkle with slivered or chopped pistachios if not frosting.

Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown, about 28 minutes (Check much earlier; mine were almost done at 20 minutes). Serve warm or at room temperature or cool to frost. After frosting, garnish with pistachio pieces and/or a fresh raspberry if desired.

Raspberry Buttercream

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter (no substitutes) at room temperature
1 1/2 tbsp. (heaping) seedless raspberry jam
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar plus more as needed
 Few drops red food coloring (optional; I've never added any since it's a pretty pink color)

In a bowl, beat the butter with about the half the sugar until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and raspberry jam and continue to beat till smooth. Beat in the rest of the sugar until fluffy.

If you are unhappy with the consistency, add jam to thin, more sugar to thicken. I tend to use more jam -- and then more sugar to compensate -- because I like a strong raspberry flavor. This is great on chocolate raspberry cupcakes, too (recipe for those to come eventually). It's also great on a spoon. No, really.

I used a 1M decorating tip and a pastry bag to frost the tea cakes. I meant to garnish them with chopped pistachios and a fresh raspberry, but forgot. Next time.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Arhat's Fast (or veggie-cashew stir-fry)

This recipe comes from Chinese Cooking Cantonese by Margaret Leeming. She notes that it's a modern version of a traditional Buddhist dish. I've modified it further to use more fresh vegetables and to make four to six servings. I also skip deep-frying the cashews. I don't think it loses anything but unneeded fat.  The sauce is wonderful and very simple. I got strange looks from my husband when I once picked up my bowl and drank the remaining sauce like soup. He then offered me his. I'm not saying what I did. But you might want to have a spoon handy for more mannerly consumption.

You could easily substitute chicken, pork or shrimp for the cashews. The shrimp could be added near the end of cooking; the chicken and pork could be cubed, mixed with a little broth, soy sauce and cornstarch, and quickly stir-fried. Set it aside and add to the recipe instead of the cashews near the end of cooking. You can use bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, as called for in the original recipe, but I used summer squash instead. and added the corn. Use whatever vegetables you prefer, but be sure to add them at the right time in the cooking process for their density. You could also serve it over rice.

As with any stir-fry, have all the ingredients prepped before you begin cooking for a smooth process.

Arhat's Fast

Preferred oil for cooking
6 to 8 slices fresh ginger root*, minced
8 scallions, chopped
2 bell peppers in two colors (I used red and orange this time)
2 cups baby-cut carrots, boiled till just starting to get tender, drained and cooled
10-12 asparagus spears, cut into inch-long pieces with tips reserved separately
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced on the diagonal (and halved if it's fat)
2 yellow squash, thinly sliced on the diagonal (and halved if it's fat)
1 can baby corn, sliced in bite-size pieces if whole)
1 1/2 to 2 cups cashews (whole looks nice, but pieces are cheaper)

Salt to taste
4 tsp. sesame oil (optional)

Seasoning sauce:
6 tbsp. soy sauce
6 tbsp. sugar
6 tbsp. rice vinegar (plain or "seasoned")
6 tbsp. water

Thickening paste:
2 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 4 tsp. water

Mix the seasoning sauce in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved and set aside. Mix thickening paste and set aside (keep the spoon in it; you'll want to stir it again right before using).

In a wok or large skillet, heat 1 tbsp. oil and stir-fy the ginger and scallions for a minute. Add the peppers and carrots and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add asparagus stems and the squash and cook another few minutes. Stir in the seasoning sauce and bring to a boil. Add baby corn, asparagus tips and cashews and cook a few minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook just till sauce thickens. Sprinkle with sesame oil (optional; I forgot this time).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Skipper's Linguine

Joe and my father love this dish. And I like it, too (a la Irish Spring soap commercial). I guess for them it's hard to go wrong with bacon, seafood and pasta. The recipe is from the '80s cookbook Better Homes and Gardens' Fish & Seafood. I've added my changes, which include using turkey bacon except on special occasions and cutting back on the butter.

It's an easy, simple recipe, and we always "mmmm" when we eat it. It's a handy pantry recipe because parsley is the only ingredient I might need to pick up.

Skipper's Linguine

6 slices bacon (regular or turkey), cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/4 cup green onion, sliced (I often sub regular chopped onion because I always have it)
2 garlic cloves, minced
6  tbsp. butter or margarine (I use no more than 3, which works fine)
2 (6 1/2 oz.) cans minced clams, undrained
1 (6 1/2 oz.) can tuna, drained
1/2 cup black olives, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, snipped
1/8 tsp. black pepper
12 oz. linguine
Shredded Parmesan 
Lemon wedges (optional)

In skillet, cook bacon till crisp and set aside (If you use turkey bacon, cook it in a little olive oil, which will pick up the bacon flavor, and use the oil in next step). Reserve 2 tbsp. drippings in skillet.

Cook onion and garlic in drippings until tender but NOT browned. Stir in butter/margarine till melted. Add clams and tuna, breaking tuna into chunks, along with reserved bacon, olives, parsley and pepper; heat through. Keep hot but don't let all the liquid cook away.

Meanwhile, cook linguine according to package directions; drain. Toss with hot seafood mixture and transfer to bowl for serving. Pass Parmesan so diners can top as they wish. If desired, serve with lemon wedges.
Serves 6.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Banana Oatmeal with Walnuts and Blackberries

I often play with ways to flavor oatmeal, and this one was a hit. My friend Michelle made me promise to write this down when I made it during her recent visit, after an unseasonably cold night. She claims it's as good as ice cream. 
Riiiiiight. Not as good as Graeter's or Jeni's, anyway.

Banana Oatmeal with Walnuts and Blackberries

2 cups McCann's Quick Cooking Oatmeal
4 cups skim milk (or water)
Pinch salt
2 bananas, thinly sliced
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Scant 1/4 cup vanilla sugar (or use regular granulated sugar and add 1/2 tsp. vanilla to milk)
1 cup walnuts, toasted in the oven and chopped
1 cup blackberries
Additional banana slices, as desired 

Stir together oats, milk and salt in heavy saucepan and turn heat to medium. Stir often, adding banana when cereal starts to get hot. Cook, stirring  frequently, till oats are cooked, mixture is creamy and much of banana has cooked down, nearly disappearing into the oatmeal. That should take 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in sugars and cook another minute or so, scraping bottom of pan.

Serve with walnuts, berries, additional banana and brown sugar as toppings.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cheesy Ham Poof (Cheesy Name) and Nantucket Cranberry Pie

I love everything about brunch; the time of day,  the relaxed atmosphere, the foods. Especially the food.

For Easter today, I made almost everything ahead of time or at least assembled it to bake. I turned the ovens on as soon as we got home from church, filled 'em up, and got to relax a bit with guests for a while. Here are two recipes I used.

My favorite was the Nantucket Cranberry Pie, a tried-and-true coffeecake of sorts. It's easy and really tasty. It's especially nice for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it's too good to limit it to those holidays. It's one of the reasons I stock up on cranberries in season and throw them in the freezer for use all year.

  My sister had tasted a friend's version, and when the friend neglected to share the recipe, she discovered it at If, like me, you keep vanilla sugar or citrus sugar on hand, they work well in the filling.

The "Cheesy Ham Poof" has a name that's kind of embarrassing, and I think I originally called it a "cheesy, eggy, brunchy thing." But I confessed the real name, and we had fun with that. And it's good, so who cares what it's called. The recipe is from Clifford Wright's cookbook Bake Until Bubbly. I added the potato.

Nantucket Cranberry Pie

For the Filling:

Butter, to grease the pie plate
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional, I've never added them)

For the Topping:

2 eggs
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

For the Filling: 
Place the cranberries in a buttered, 9-to-10-inch pie plate (If you really like scraping yummy stuff off pie plates later, skip that step). Toss the sugar and walnuts over the berries. 

For the Topping:
Cream the eggs and the butter with the sugar. Add the flour and almond extract to the mixture, lightly stirring 
with a fork just till combined. Spread the topping over the cranberry mixture and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, till golden and set. If desired, serve warm with whipped cream (I've never done that, and it's fine plain and at room temperature). 

Cheesy Ham Poof

 6 large eggs  
 ½ cup all-purpose flour 
1 ½ tsp. baking powder  
1 cup whole milk (I used 2% with a bloop of low-fat "half-and-half" added)
1 cup finely chopped cooked ham 
3 oz. cream cheese (neufchatel is fine), softened
2  cups shredded cheddar (sharp or mild)
1 cup cottage cheese (fat-free works fine)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter (or margarine), melted
3 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped 
1 large potato, cooked, peeled, chopped and browned (optional)
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper  

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly better a 9×9x2 inch baking casserole.*

In an electric mixer bowl, beat the eggs for 1 minute. Stir in the flour and baking powder. Beat in cream cheese and then cottage cheese. Slowly beat in the milk. Add the ham, cheddar cheese, butter, scallions parsley, paprika, salt and pepper. Continue mixing until well blended, about 3 minutes at medium speed. 

Transfer to the casserole and bake until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean and the top is golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes (start checking at 45 minutes). Serve warm. (Clifford Wright suggests in his cookbook to serve leftovers cold, cut in small squares, for an appetizer similar to the Spanish tapa called a tortilla).
*If doubling recipe, use 13-by-9 baking dish.  It takes about the same time to bake.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gooey Chocolate Cookies

These are among my favorite cookies. They are fantastic when warm from the oven (have cold milk handy), but also really good once they've cooled. They also freeze well. You can always nuke 'em for a few seconds if you want them warm, which is the only time they're actually gooey.

The recipe is from Food Network Kitchens; it was a featured Christmas cookie a few years back.  I use the double boiler method to melt the chocolate and butter. I usually leave out the dried cherries for a pure chocolate experience. Enjoy!

Super Gooey Chocolate Drops

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate*, chopped
4 oz.semisweet chocolate*, chopped
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp.pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder, such as Hershey's or Scharffen Berger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
11 oz. (1 bag) semisweet chocolate chunks or large chips
1 cup dried cherries (optional)

Position racks in the lower and upper third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. (If you don't have 3 pans, simply cool the pan between batches.)
Put the butter and the unsweetened and semisweet chocolates in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 75 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir and heat again until melted, up to 2 minutes more. (Alternatively, put the chocolates and butter in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.)
Stir the light brown and granulated sugars and vanilla into the chocolate mixture with a wooden spoon. This should cool the mixture enough to be able to add the eggs in the next step.

Add the eggs and buttermilk and beat vigorously until thick and glossy.
In another bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, cinnamon and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks and dried cherries, if using.
Drop the batter in heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets; a small ice cream or cookie dough scoop is ideal. Space the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are set but soft and fudgy on the inside, 12 to 15 minutes. I always check early, at 8 or 9 minutes, because I hate overbaked cookies.

Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Store cookies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to a week. They freeze well.

*Note: You can also use all or part bittersweet chocolate with great results.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Orange-Glazed Pecans








These pecans are packed with flavor and are great for snacks or tossing into a salad (perhaps with dried cranberries, bacon, goat cheese and cornbread croutons). The recipe is from Southern Living magazine. They're quicker and easier to make than many flavored nuts, which in my book just adds to their appeal.

Orange-Glazed Pecans

5  cups  pecan halves
1/2  cup  frozen orange juice concentrate, undiluted
1 1/2  cups  sugar
1/4  tsp. cinnamon
Bake pecans on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes or until toasted. Watch 'em; nuts burn easily. 

Bring juice concentrate, sugar and cinnamon to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in toasted pecans.

Spread pecans onto an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Let sit until dry. Break apart if necessary and store in airtight container. You won't have to worry about how long they keep (which is a while). They'll disappear quickly.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Split Pea Soup and Spinach Feta Bread

 This bread and soup make a wonderful combination, and not just visually. I've been making the split pea soup for years, based on the recipe in The New Basics by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso. I was saddened last year when Lukins died; she was a big influence on me and many other cooks, and I was hoping for more cookbooks from her. The bread recipe is from Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand by Beatrice Ojakangas. It's a nice cookbook because it gives instructions for making the breads by hand, with a mixer or food processor or bread machine. I like to use the bread machine to mix it, then shape it myself and bake it in the oven. Those are the instructions I've provided.

Split Pea and Ham Soup

1 lb. dried green split peas
5 c. canned or homemade chicken broth
5 c. water
1 meaty ham bone or two smoked ham hocks
2 ribs celery, leaves included, diced
3 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, divided use
1/2 tsp. crumbled dried tarragon leaves
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter or margarine (or use butter-flavored spray)
1 c. diced carrots
1 c. diced onion
1 large potato, diced
1 leek, white part only, rinsed and sliced
1 c. slivered fresh spinach leaves
2 tbsp. dry sherry
1/2 tsp. black or white pepper

Rinse peas in strainer and combine them with broth and water in large soup pot. Bring to a boil.

Add ham bone/hocks, celery, 1 tbsp. of the parsley and tarragon. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add carrots, onion and leek. Cook till vegetables are wilted, 10 minutes. Add them to the soup pot along with the spinach. Simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes.

Remove soup from heat. Remove ham bone and shred the meat from the bone, discarding bone and excess fat. Return meat to soup.

Add sherry, pepper and rest of parsley. Heat through and serve immediately.

Note: I sometimes top the soup with good croutons and shaved Asiago cheese.

Spinach-Feta Whole Wheat Bread

1 c. water
2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 tsp. whole wheat flour
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1 c. coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1 egg, beaten (optional glaze)

Pour the room temperature water into the bread machine pan. Add remaining ingredients except the 2 tsp. of whole wheat flour, feta and spinach, in the order listed. Make an indentation in the center of the dry ingredients and add yeast.

Select Dough setting and press start. If the dough is wet and sticky, add a little more flour, 1 tbsp. at a time, until dough is smooth yet soft to the touch. If the dough is not soft but very firm, add 1 tsp. of water at a time until dough is smooth yet soft to the touch.

At the end of the Dough cycle, toss the 2 tsp. remaining flour with the feta. Remove dough to floured board and knead in the cheese and spinach by hand.

Lightly grease a baking sheet or cover it with parchment paper. Shape dough into fat, round loaf. Place loaf, smooth side up, onto baking sheet. Cover and let rise till almost doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To glaze, brush loaf with beaten egg. Bake 35 to 45 minutes (start checking at 30 minutes), until loaf sounds hollow when tapped and a wooden skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean and dry. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Crab Chowder

 This chowder is tasty and creamy without being too guilt-inducing. I  made a few changes to a recipe from Fresh and Simple Quick-Simmering Soups from Better Homes and Gardens. (I like the whole Fresh and Simple series, which includes Pasta Pronto, 5 O'Clock Grill and Super Suppers).

I added the potato, extra crab(I like to use 10 to 12 ounces rather than 6), sherry and sub part of the milk with fat-free "half and half."  We usually eat it with a crusty bread and a salad.

Crab Chowder
6 to 12 oz. crabmeat, preferably high-quality canned from seafood counter
1 medium zucchini, cut into julienne
1 medium sweet bell pepper (your choice color; i like red, yellow or orange), chopped or julienned
1 large potato, diced (skin on or off, your choice)
2 tbsp. margarine or butter
2 tbsp. flour
4 cups milk (I like to sub half with fat-free or low-fat "half and half")
2 tbsp. sliced green onion
1/2 tsp. bouquet garni seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 3-oz. package cream cheese or neufchatel, cut up
2 tbsp. sherry
2 tsp. snipped fresh thyme
Fresh thyme springs for garnish (optional)

In a medium saucepan cook zucchini, sweet pepper and potato in hot margarine or butter until crisp-tender. Add green onion and cook another minute. Stir in the flour. Add the milk, half and half, bouquet garni, salt and pepper. 

Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Add the cream cheese, sherry and thyme. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Stir in crabmeat and heat through. 

If desired, garnish each serving with additional thyme.

Serves 4.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Apple-Cheddar Soup

This is a 2007 Better Homes and Gardens recipe that I found filed among my 8 or 10 notebooks of recipes I gathered from the Internet, magazines and library cookbooks. It's a handy way to use any leftover cider, but it's also worth buying it just for this recipe. I make a few changes, such as adding more thyme -- one of my favorite herbs and a great perennial -- and cooking the soup a bit longer before adding the flour-milk mixture. I also doubled it so we could enjoy it for a few days; it tastes even better the second day and we like soup as a main course. I've incorporated my changes. I don't remember what I served with this; I'm catching up on posts I meant to make earlier. I'm guessing salad and bread, though.

Apple-Cheddar Soup

1  cup finely chopped onion
2  tbsp. butter
4  medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups apple cider
1 heaping tbsp. snipped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1  tsp. salt
Dash cayenne pepper
2  medium cooking apples, peeled, coarsely chopped
1  cup milk
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
8  oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  Fresh apple slices
  Green Peppercorns (optional; Joe's not crazy about pepper, so I skipped it)


1. In large saucepan cook onion in hot butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in potatoes, cider, thyme, salt, and cayenne pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Add chopped apple; simmer, covered, 5 minutes or until potatoes are tender. In small bowl combine milk and flour; stir into soup. Cook and stir until bubbly. Slowly add cheese, whisking until cheese is melted.
2. Divide soup among serving dishes; top with apple slices and peppercorns. Makes 4 to 6 side-dish servings

Nutrition Facts

Calories 352, Total Fat (g) 16, Saturated Fat (g) 10, Monounsaturated Fat (g) 4, Polyunsaturated Fat (g) 1,
Cholesterol (mg) 48, Sodium (mg) 527, Carbohydrate (g) 32, Total Sugar (g) 10, Fiber (g) 4,
Protein (g) 12, Vitamin A (DV%) 0, Vitamin C (DV%) 31, Calcium (DV%) 27, Iron (DV%) 9,
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Baked Pork Chops with Parmesan-Sage Crust


I love these pork chops. I used a fantastic Bon Appetit recipe from; the chops come out tender and moist.

If you have the patience to make smaller bread crumbs than I do, your chops will look a little smoother and less rustic. One review of this recipe on the Web site says halving the bread-crumb mixture makes enough for the crust, but I like to really pack on the crust mixture because it's so tasty. I add more lemon zest and fresh sage, which I've incorporated into the ingredients.

I  recommend starting with one egg. If it's not enough, go with the second egg.

Baked Pork Chops with Parmesan-Sage Crust

1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs made from crustless French or other good bread
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage or 2 tbsp. fresh, chopped sage
Grated peel from 1 lemon, with none of the white pith
1 to 2 large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 center-cut pork loin chops (each about 1 inch thick, boneless is fine)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges (optional)
Orange wedges (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Mix breadcrumbs, cheese, sage and lemon peel in pie dish. Whisk eggs in a bowl or a second pie plate to blend. Place flour on plate; season generously with salt and pepper.

Coat pork chops on both sides with flour; shake off excess. Dip chops into eggs, then coat on both sides with breadcrumb mixture. Let rest 5 minutes.

Melt butter with oil in heavy large, nonstick, ovenproof skillet* over medium-high heat. Add pork chops to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet with pork to oven.

Bake until breading is crisp on the outside and meat thermometer inserted into pork registers 150°F, about 20 minutes (less if chops are thinner). The chops will continue to cook a little after removed from the heat.

Transfer pork chops to plates. Garnish with lemon and orange wedges, if desired, and serve. 

*If you don't have an ovenproof, nonstick skillet, use your favorite large skillet and transfer cooked chops to casserole dish to bake.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Orange Shortbread

This is one of my all-time favorite cookies; they're buttery and richly orange-flavored. I make them every Christmas, and as I was devour.... er, tasting them this season, I wondered why I only make them at Christmas. Maybe it's all the "tasting" I do. . . Once I added miniature chocolate chips to the batter; the cookies were delicious, but the chocolate isn't really necessary. (I don't say that very often!)

The recipe is from Nantucket Open House by Sarah Leah Chase. It's one of my favorite cookbooks, along with her Cold-Weather Cooking.


2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter (no substitutions), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1/2 tsp. orange oil or extract (my addition)
Pinch salt
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat in zest and orange oil or extract. Gradually beat in flour and salt to make a fairly stiff dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll out the dough a half-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out with cookie cutter(s) of choice. I use a small (2-inch) gingerbread girl cutter, because I like them with the chocolate shortbread boys I make.

Place cookies on prepared baking sheets. Beat the egg with water in a small bowl, and brush lightly over cookies. If you run out, make more egg-water mixture. (The original recipe called for 2 eggs and 2 tbsp. water, but I found I always had some left.) You can, of course, skip this step, though it does make for an even prettier cookie.

Bake until just golden 10 to 15 minutes. I check mine starting at 10 minutes, than add a minute at a time till they are perfect. Let cookies cool, then store in airtight containers. Makes about 60 cookies.

These freeze very well; I like to make them up to a month before Christmas.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Tortellini Tomato Spinach Soup

This hearty soup is very easy and goes together quickly. Oh, and it's tasty.

The recipe is from, the Food Network site, though I have made a few changes (increasing tomatoes, for example).

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion (about half a small onion)
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cans chicken broth (fat-free is fine)
1 28-oz,. can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped or crushed with spoon (or you can use a can of crushed tomatoes if you don't want chunks)
1 (9-oz.) package fresh tortellini (any kind you like; I prefer cheese or spinach-cheese)
5 to 10 oz. fresh spinach* or 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
Parmesan, freshly grated
Salt and pepper

In a 3-quart soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onions, adding garlic after a few minutes. Stir often till translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes, turn heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and spinach**; when it boils again, turn heat down so it just bubbles. This keeps tortellini intact. When tender, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with Parmesan.

Serves 4 as an entree, 6 to 8 as appetizer.

*I indicate a range because it depends on your preference, and because it's fine if you decide to make this on the fly and only have a 5-oz. package.

**You can also cheat and put a block of frozen spinach in with broth and tomatoes. It will just take longer to come to boil.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Noodles in Broth, or Pho

I can't believe it's been two months since I've posted. But then, I shopped and baked and crafted, a lot. I hope to find more time to blog this year.

I've eaten variations of this soup in restaurants (the best story involving my husband and jambonneau  in Paris) and decided to try it at home. It was a happy experiment. Here is my version, loosely based on a cookbook recipe. It's very forgiving as far as substitutions and amounts. It's also fast, once ingredients are ready, as well as easy, filling and healthful. (In an "emergency," you can cook 3 packages of ramen noodles with two of the enclosed seasoning packets for the Chinese noodles in plain broth.) I like to load it with vegetables.

Joe uses a spoon and a fork. I use a spoon and chopsticks and add a dash of hot chili oil to my bowl. Yum. You can also have soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil on hand as condiments.


Noodle seasonings
1 tsp. peanut or other oil
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce

12 oz. fresh Chinese egg noodles, about 1/8 inch thick (I've substituted lesser amount of dried -- or even vermicelli -- with no problem)
1 carton Trader Joe's soy-ginger broth*
Additional chicken or beef broth to make how much broth you want
1 cup sliced bok choy or spinach
1 cup sliced mushrooms and/or julienned snow peas
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks or very thinly sliced
1 bundle green onions, thinly sliced

Any combination of cooked chicken, beef, shrimp, ham, duck, or even better, char siu (Chinese barbecued pork from local restaurant) in separate bowls.


In a large bowl, mix noodle seasonings and set aside.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain in colander, rinse under cool water and toss with the seasonings in the bowl.

Bring the broth to a boil. Add the vegetables and cook for several minutes. Ladle into bowls. Add desired amount of noodles and toppings to individual servings.

Note: If you have leftovers, store noodles separately from broth, or they will absorb much of the liquid.

* Sadly, Trader Joe's no longer sells this broth, so just add some ginger and soy to your broth to suit your tastebuds.