Thursday, April 30, 2009

Praline Pecan Sauce

2 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until smooth and syrupy. Serve warm. Store leftover sauce, covered, in the refrigerator.

*From Down Home with the Neelys


I betcha can't eat just one of these cookies! When you bite into this cookie, you will be in cookie heaven. The rich chocolate and crunchy macadamias, along with the tart dried cherries is scrumptious. This cookie is buttery with brown sugar goodness. From: Here


*3/4 Cup lightly packed very fresh dark brown sugar
1/2 cup quick (1-minute) oatmeal
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 large egg
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
8 ounces good quality white chocolate chunks or chips
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup dried cherries
*make sure they are fresh, I like the sunkist brand


1. Position the shelves in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Place the brown sugar, oatmeal, and granulated sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process 21/2 to 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to pulse. The oatmeal must be very finely ground.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

4. In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and corn syrup together on medium low speed, mixing until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the oatmeal - sugar mixture in three additions and beat for 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute longer. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the dry ingredients one half at a time, and mix just until blended. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate pieces, cherries and the macadamia nuts.

5. Drop 1 1/2 inch mounds of dough, about the size of a large walnut, from the tip of a tablespoon onto cookie sheets, about 3 inches apart. Scrape down the side of the bowl occasionally to ensure even distribution of the chocolate, cherries and nuts. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn a golden brown. To ensure even baking, toward the end of baking time rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. Do not over bake.

6. Remove the cookies from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes. Using a metal spatula, carefully loosen. Transfer to cooling racks. Store in an airtight container, layered between strips of wax paper. These cookies can be frozen. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The River Cottage Roast Chicken

1. Buy a 3 to 4 pound chicken. Pat it dry with paper towels---no need to wash it. (Oh, but remove the guts first, that's important. Usually the guts come in a little bag.)

* NOTE: Look for the best chicken you can at the store: organic, free-range, etc. It makes a big difference.

2. Soften 7 Tbs of butter (leave it out for an hour or two.)

3. Cut up lots of rosemary and garlic and sage together until it's fine, fine, fine. (About 3 cloves garlic, 3 branches rosemary (off the stem) and 5 to 6 leaves of sage.

4. Mash up the garlic, rosemary, and sage into the butter using a fork. Add salt and pepper too.

5. Now shmear that all over the chicken, getting it on the back side, the legs, the thighs, in the cavity, and ESPECIALLY all over and under the breast. When I say under the breast, I mean make a little flap in the breast skin using your finger and shove some of the butter under there. You'll thank me later.

6. If you're a salty person (and I definitely am) sprinkle some more salt over the chicken. Also grind some more pepper.

7. Pop into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. (I put mine in a cast iron skillet, but you can use a roasting pan.) Then lower the heat to 350 and cook another 30 to 40 minutes until it's golden brown and it smells beautiful. Finally, turn off the heat, open the oven door and leave it like that to rest for another 20 minutes (this is a technique from the book, and I think it makes good sense--so the chicken comes to temperature more gradually.)

And that's it! Look how pretty:

Easy French Toast

from "The Joy of Cooking" by Irma Rombauer
Yields 8 slices (which feeds 2 ravenous people)

2/3 cup milk or half-and-half
4 eggs
2 Tablespoons sugar or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 Tablespoon rum (I used vanilla)
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 slices white sandwich bread
Butter as needed

Ok, get ready this is complicated:

(1) Whisk everything together, except the bread and butter, in a shallow pan (I used a pie plate)--

2) Heat a skillet on medium/high heat, add 1 Tbs of butter, and as it foams up take a piece of bread, dip it on one side in the mixture, dip it on the other side, wipe off the excess egg, and drop it in the skillet; take one more piece of bread and do the same and then let that bread fry---leaving it alone for 30 seconds or so, adjusting the heat so it doesn't cook too fast.

(3) Sift confectioner's sugar over the top and serve with maple syrup.

Apple Cobler

For the apples:
1/2-3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nuteg
2 pinches ground cloves
3 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup apple cider
Juice of 1 lemon
12 cortland or other sweet tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced {I used Granny Smiths and a few Rome apples]
6 Tbs. butter, cut into small pieces

For the topping:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
10 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup rolled oats
6 Tbs. heavy cream
Vanilla ice cream

1. For the apples: preheat oven to 325. Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, honey, cider, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add apples and toss well. Put apple mixture into a large baking dish in an even layer, scatter with butter ...bake, gently stirring once or twice, until apples begin to soften and release their juices, about 30 minutes. Set apples aside to cool for 30 minutes.

2. For the topping: sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together into a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter or 2 table knives, work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal flecked with pea-size pieces of butter. Stir in oats. Add cream, stirring until just combined.

3. Increase oven temperature to 375. Scatter topping over apples in a broad band around inside edge of dish, leaving apples in center of dish exposed. Bake until topping is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream.

Strawberry Pancakes

All you do is fold in sliced up strawberries at the end--use your eye to gauge how much to add!

1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (I used 1 egg and the following egg substitute: 2 Tbs. water |1 Tbs. oil | ½ tsp. baking powder)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Sliced strawberries (about 1 cup)

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Combine eggs, sour cream, water, and vanilla in medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until moistened. Fold in sliced strawberries.

Preheat griddle skillet over medium heat; grease lightly. Pour about 1/4 cup butter onto hot griddle for each pancake. Cook until tops of pancakes are bubbly; turn and cook until browned.

Buttermilk pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

makes 8

Cook them in a cast iron skillet for a great touch!!!

The best broccoli ever

You know you've done something right with broccoli when the person you made it for describes it to someone else the next day as "better than biting into a steak." I can't take any credit. The credit goes to that formidable force in my foodie life; namely, The Barefoot Contessa.

Normally, broccoli gets squishy when you cook it. Not this broccoli; it develops an amazing brown crust in spots. Then you toss it with lemon juice, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese and you're in heaven.

Seriously, this recipe is so easy.

You preheat the oven to 425.

Take 4 to 5 pounds of broccoli (I just got two large bunches), cut into florets (but relatively big ones.) Here's the key that she doesn't mention in the recipe: dry them THOROUGHLY. That is, if you wash them. I saw an episode of Julia Child cooking with Jacques Pepin once when Pepin revealed he doesn't wash a chicken before putting it in a hot oven: "The heat kills all the germs," he said in his French accent. "If bacteria could survive that oven, it deserves to kill me." By that logic, then, I didn't wash my broccoli; I wanted it to get crispy and brown. If you're nervous, though, just wash and dry it obsessively.

Now, it's easy. Put the broccoli on a cookie sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. (She says 5 Tbs olive oil, 1 1/2 tsps kosher salt, 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, but I just eyeballed it.) Now add 4 garlic cloves that are peeled and sliced and toss them in too.

Roast in the oven 20 to 25 minutes, until "crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned."

I shook the pan around a bit as it went, but not sure that's necessary.

When it's done, take it out of the oven--and here's where it gets really good--zest a lemon over the broccoli, squeeze the lemon juice over the broccoli, add 1.5 Tbs more olive oil, 3 Tbs toasted pine nuts (I left those out), and 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. She also has you add 2 Tbs julienned fresh basil, but I left that out too.

You won't miss it: the magic combo of the crispy broccoli, the garlic, the lemon and the cheese will make this the best broccoli of your life. I guarantee it; you will go ga-ga over it. I'm so ga-ga over it that I would seriously consider a trip right now to the store just so I could make this for lunch. Broccoli for lunch? After trying this, you'll never want to eat anything else for breakfast, lunch or dinner ever again.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Good Salad

This is truly a salad I could devour on my own. If you like the taste of a subtle Sesame Oil, this is the salad for you. I've used whole wheat noodles and less sugar than the recipe calls for and still LOVE LOVE LOVE it. A good way to get your spinach in if you don't like the taste.

25 servings

3 chicken breasts - cooked, chopped
1 lb rotini or small noodle - cooked, rinsed
1 lb baby spinach
5 green onions -chopped
1 c. sugared almonds

1 c. mayo
1/2 c. sugar
3 T. sesame oil
3 T. vinegar
1/2 c. soy sauce

Sugared Almonds
2 T. butter melt in frying pan
1 c. almonds
1/3 c. sugar
cook over medium until sugar carmelizes - stir continually
spread on cookie sheet with wax paper

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sour Cream Banana Bread

I make french toast with this and top it with a caramel banana sauce. It's divine!!!

1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup chopped nuts (omit if you don't like nuts)
1/2 cup sour cream

Grease 1 large loaf pan.
Cream margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Add dry ingredients, then bananas, nuts and sour cream.
Mix well.
Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.