Thursday, December 17, 2009

Asparagus with Prosciutto, Egg and Parmesan Cheese

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Asparagus and eggs seem to have a special affinity, but when the asparagus is wrapped in thin slices of prosciutto, then topped with a fried or poached egg, this dish borders on the sublime. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper, then run under the broiler until the cheese is melted. The slightly salty prosciutto, melted cheese and soft cooked egg create a lovely sauce for the asparagus. This elegant small plate meal is perfect for a Sunday brunch or a quick weeknight meal.Adapted from "Solo" by Joyce Goldstein. A generous 1 serving.

Asparagus with Prosciutto, Egg and Parmesan Cheese

8 ounces fresh asparagus, tough ends removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1-2 thin slices prosciutto
1-2 eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until just tender, 5-8 minutes, depending on the thickness. Drain, refresh in ice cold water to refresh and set the color. Drain again, pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 450° F. Grease a small au gratin dish with a teaspoon of the butter.Wrap half the asparagus with the thinly sliced prosciutto. Arrange the bundles, tips facing in the same direction. Transfer to oven for about 8-10 to heat. Poach or fry the eggs. I fried my eggs until the whites had set enough for me to transfer the egg to the dish of asparagus. Remove au gratin dish from the oven. Turn on oven broiler. Top the asparagus with the poached or fried eggs. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan, freshly ground black pepper and dot with the remaining butter. Run under the broiler until cheese has melted. Take care not to over cook the eggs. Remove dish from oven with mitts. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Three Easy Tapas Dishes-Manchego Cheese and Ham Toasts, Garlic Paprika Shrimp, and Spinach with Pine Nuts and Raisins-

Print Friendly and PDF Before Joyce Goldstein ,award winning writer, food consultant and expert on foods of the Mediterranean opened Square One in San Francisco in the early 80's, there were only a few restaurants in the United States that offered authentic Spanish food. Traditional ingredients such as Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, Piquillo peppers and Marcona almonds were difficult to obtain. By improvising with the few traditional ingredients available ,Ms Goldstein added many Spanish dishes to her menu at Square One. To introduce her clientele to new Spanish dishes, she began serving, with great success, an assortment of small plates, or tapas. Tapas [TAH-pahs] are appetizers that are most often served with sherry, or other aperitfs or cocktails. Tapas can be as simple as olives, cubes of cheese and ham for appetizers, or can be as elaborate as cheese and potato omelets, stuffed peppers and meatballs in a spicy sauce to form a sumptuous meal.

The word "tapas" comes from the Spanish word, "tapar", "to cover" and its stories of origin are various. One of the most popular stories is that a slice of bread was set atop of a glass of wine or sherry to prevent contamination from dirt or to keep flies out of the libation. Other folklore credit its origin to a edict by Alfonso X, a Castilian ruler in the 1200's, commanding that all inn keepers serve tidbits of food with the wine or sherry to prevent public drunkenness. Whatever the true origin, Spanish dining adheres to the tapas tradition simply by the way they dine. The Spanish eat a progression of small meals throughout the day. The main meal is served around 2pm with small meals on either side of that meal, extending to around 11pm. Many small meals and a healthy Mediterranean diet keep the Spanish slim. Source-Tapas

These three tapas dishes can be served as part of an appetizer menu or as a meal. The Manchego Cheese and Ham Toasts require no cooking and are served with marinated Piquillo peppers and Olives. Both the Garlic Paprika Shrimp and the Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts are quick and easy to prepare.

Garlic Paprika Shrimp

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Orange slices for garnish
  1. In saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes to taste, and paprika; cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the shrimp, orange juice and sherry or white wine, stir well, raise the heat to high and saute until the shrimp turn pink and the dish is fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the orange slice. Serves 4. Wine Suggestion- a Spanish Rose.

Spinach with Pine Nuts and Raisins


  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1-2 tablespoons for nuts, optional
  • 1 small onion, chopped onion, or 3 ounces Serrano ham, minced
  • 2 pounds spinach, tough stems removed and rinsed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. In a bowl, combine the raisins with hot water to cover and set aside to plump for 30 minutes.
  2. In a small dry frying pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until fragrant and golden, 3-5 minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool. Or, if you prefer to saute the pine nuts in the olive oil, heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the nuts, saute until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon and cool.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion and ham, if using, and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and translucent or the ham is lightly colored, about 10 minutes for the onion and 5 minutes for the ham. Add the spinach with just the rinsing water clinging to its leaves and cook, turning and stirring constantly with tongs until just wilted, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Drain the raisins and add to the pan along with the pine nuts. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm. Serves 4-6. Wine suggestion-a Spanish Verdejo or a Voignier or Riesling.
Recipes adapted from "Tapas, Sensational Small Plates From Spain" by Joyce Goldstein.

Hosted by Burro e Zucchero, the culinary journey of the countries of the European Union continues with a delicious Spanish Paella to kick off our tour of Spain.

 Bullfighting Museum-Ronda, Spain

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cafe Volcano Cookies

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I've just added these cookies to my repertoire of "must bake" cookies for the holidays. They are easy, crispy , light as a feather and oh so
-flavorful. The addition of the instant espresso make these cookies perfect to serve with espresso or as an accompaniment to Affogato al Caffe. Thanks to Macduff of TheLonelySidecar for choosing these light as air espresso nut cookies. The recipe is on her blog or on page 153 of "Baking From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan. Also, check out the Tuesdays with Dorie website to see more variations of this fabulous little cookie.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


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If you only make two kinds of cookies this holiday season; one should be the Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies and the other, these Sablés. Both will guarantee rave reviews. Thanks to Barbara of BungalowBarbara for her choice for this edition of TWD. You can find the recipe on Barbara's blog.

Frustrated that I couldn't find the sparkling decorators sugar in several grocery stores, I used Turbinado sugar to grace the chilled roll of cookie dough before slicing it into rounds to bake. When I bake these again for the grandchildren at Christmas, I will use the colorful sprinkles that flood the decorating section of the grocery store. But for this baking session, I wanted the cookies to look as elegant as its name.

Until next time--

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Citrus-Chile Marinated Shrimp

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Marinated and pan-seared shrimp can be made quickly when there's no time to cook. I buy raw shrimp in season, place them in one pound increments in heavy duty reclosable plastic bags, then submerge them in water to cover. The task can be simplified by placing the one gallon freezer bag in an 8 cup measuring cup, add the shrimp and cover with water. Press out the air before sealing the bag. Freezing the shrimp in this manner keeps them from getting freezer burn and keeps the shells from drying out.

Orange and lime juices along with their zest allow the citrus flavors to come through in the tangy, slightly picante marinade. Two chile powders, ancho and chipotle, along with the sweet taste of cinnamon refine the flavors. This marinade keeps for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator and is also good with other grilled, pan-seared or broiled seafood. Recipe adapted from "Solo" by Joyce Goldstein.

Citrus Chile Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced jalapeno, fresh or pickled
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of chipotle chile powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients including the salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together.
For the Shrimp
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails left on
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • For Garnish-lime slices and chopped cilantro
  1. Pour marinade over shrimp, reserving some of the marinade for basting. Refrigerate no longer than 1 hour. Drain and pat dry.
  2. In a frying pan, heat oil, add shrimp to the pan, turning a few times, until they are browned and pink in color, about 4 minutes total. Add reserved marinade, toss to coat. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with lime slices. Serves 2-4.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging#211 Round-up

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This is my third time hosting Weekend Herb Blogging which is in its fourth year and going strong with so many participants who submit tantalizing recipes, great food photos and in the process teach WHB's readers about the variety of plants and herbs; how they grow, their use in culinary or medicinal means and sometimes, a history lesson. Many food bloggers know how WHB came to be, but for those who are new to this event, read all about it here.

Over this, our Thanksgiving week in the United States, I have received some fabulous dishes and photos from all over the world. Thanks to everyone! Without further ado-

First off, Graziana from erbeincucina(Cooking with Herbs) in Italy celebrates cooking Thanksgiving dinner with a special tea brewed from some of the same herbs and fruits that make up the holiday dishes.Apple Tea with Thanksgiving Herbs is a lovely brew of sliced apples,green tea leaves, rosemary, sage and thyme.

Home grown spring onions and sprouting broccoli in an easy tofu Thai curry sauce served over cauliflower "rice" comes from Mangocheeks in Scotland who blogs at allotment2kitchen. We learn that the grated cauliflower cooks quickly and an excellent low carbohydrate, healthy substitute for rice.

From Goa in India, renowned for its lovely beaches and seafood, Sugar Plum Fairy at vanillastrawberryspringfields cooks up a colorful Squids in Lemon Butter Sauce.The squids are marinated briefly, then cooked in butter and oil resulting in a velvety sauce. Red peppers add a nice touch at the end.

I wish I had seen Winnie's Sweet Potato Indian Pudding before I planned my desserts for Thanksgiving. This dense, spicy and flavorful dessert is based on the American colonist's version of the British "hasty pudding". But the colonists used cornmeal, once known as Indian meal-thus the name, Indian Pudding. Winnie blogs from healthygreenkitchen and, just recently hosted WHB#210 .

Another lovely fall dish, a Pan-fried Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage comes from Saveur who contributes to the thetastespace. Sage and pumpkin, cooked for the first time by Saveur, marry well in this Italian specialty.

Marillyn, who blogs from paradisal Costa Rica at justmakingnoise brings us Eggplant Artichoke Heart Galettes, a delicious pan-fried vegetable cake seasoned with garlic, chili, rosemary and goat cheese. Marillyn will be the lovely host for WHB#212.

Inspired by his pomegranate and pistachio couscous salad, Kevin from closetcooking brings us this tantalizing Mediterranean salad- Pomegranate Tabbouleh Salad. This vivid main dish salad has traditional tabbouleh ingredients, but becomes unique when dressed with a pomegranate vinaigrette and the pomegranate's scarlet (seeds)arils.

Cinzia, from cindystar enjoys baking her Pumpkin Buttons , not only for her afternoon cup of tea, but gives them as gifts at Christmas time. Rolled in powdered sugar after baking, these cookies remind me of the Mexican wedding cookies, but with the lovely delicate flavor and color of pumpkin.

Yeoh Cheng Huann at eatliverecipes prepares for us a highy nutritious Lotus Root with Black Fungus Stir Fry, an appetizer recipe he got from his Mum's vegetarian cookbook. Huann gives us some excellent tips on how to clean and store the lotus root before using it in a dish.

Haalo, of cookalmostanything and the excellent manager of WHB revamps the French classic, Aioli, with garlic which has been cold smoked using a mix of fruit and nut woods. Her Smoked Garlic Aioli must smell as lovely as it looks. You can find smoked garlic in the USA here.

Kalyn of kalyn'skitchen, creator of the Weekend Herb Blogging event, prepares two versions of her Turkey and Pinto Bean White Chili. One recipe utilizes the leftover Thanksgiving turkey and the other uses ground turkey. Cilantro, both dried and fresh, as well as other Mexican herbs are showcased in this warming turkey chili.

Red, green and yellow bell peppers add color and a healthy dose of Vitamin C to Marisa's Tri-Colore Pepper and Lentil Salad.Blogging from thecreativepot in South Africa, Marisa suggests this salad will make your meatless meals definitely POP! I love the feta cheese crumbles on top of the salad.

Given a cookie by a friend who asked her to figure out how they were made, Brii of briibloginenglishrenamed the cookie, iris'sembraces, for her mother-in-law.Brii uses very fine olive oil from Brenzone territory, the largest in the Verona province along Lake Garda, near Valsorda,her home.

Lastly, my contribution to this event is a Pomegranate Sangria sweetened with a homemade pomegranate syrup instead of the traditional sugar syrup which adds an intense pomegranate flavor.

Again, thanks to everyone for submitting posts to this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging. Marillyn from justmakingnoise is host for WHB#212.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #211-Pomegranate Sangria with Homemade Pomegranate Syrup

Print Friendly and PDF I am happy to be hosting Weekend Herb Blogging #211 managed byHaalo of Cook Almost Anything and created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This pomegranate sangria is my contribution to the event.
Just recently, a case of 100% pomegranate from the kind folks at PomWonderful arrived on my doorstep. I have had a great time drinking it, making pomegranate molasses, pumpkin french toast with pomegranate maple syrup(here), a pomegranate syrup that I used to make this sangria, plus a meat marinade made with pomegranate molasses, honey and red wine.
A refreshing punch for any occasion, Sangria consists of a red wine, typically a Rioja and an assortment of seasonal fruits mixed together and served over ice. Popular in Europe for hundreds of years, Sangria made its American debut in 1964 at the World's Fair in New York. Since then, it has evolved and sometimes includes brandy, rum, gin and other spirits. Sangria Blanco is made with white wine with compatible fruits such as the kiwi, peaches, or mangos. When making Sangria, use a quality red or white wine, one you would be happy to drink by itself. For best results, let the mixture of wine and other ingredients sit in the refrigerator several hours and preferably overnight for the flavors to meld. Add the fruit just before serving.

Using the pomegranate syrup in this sangria adds more depth and a tantalizing pomegranate flavor than when using the traditional simple syrup. Cointreau is the preferred liqueur, but the less expensive Triple Sec can be a substitute. Red grapes, pomegranate seeds, orange, lemon and lime slices are added just before serving.

Pomegranate Sangria

2-3 oranges, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup Cointreau, or Triple Sec
1/4-1/3 cup pomegranate syrup (recipe follows)
1-750 ml bottle zinfandel or your favorite red wine
For garnish, lemon, lime and orange slices; red grapes, pomegranate seeds to top

In a large pitcher, mix together citrus juices, Cointreau and the pomegranate syrup. Stir in the wine. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Before serving, add citrus slices and grapes to the pitcher. Pour sangria in tall glasses over ice and garnish with pomegranate seeds and additional grapes.

Pomegranate Syrup

4 cups 100% Pomegranate juice from POM
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon. Stir until sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally, until mixture is the consistency of syrup, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a covered jar and refrigerate up to 1 month.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging Host-#211

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Hi Everyone,
This week from November 23-29th, I will be the host for Weekend Herb Blogging #211. The rules are here and the history behind this popular blog event can be found here. Email me by-November 29

3pm Sunday - Utah Time
10pm Sunday - London Time
11pm Sunday - Rome Time
9am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) DS Time

Looking forward to seeing your posts!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Queso Fundido with Roasted Poblano Vinaigrette

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The Spanish word, Queso fundido-[KAY-soh fuhn-DEE-doh], literally translates as melted cheese, traditionally, Chihuahua cheese. But this all time favorite appetizer at Bobby flay's Mesa Grill restaurant in New York features two very different types of cheese; a satiny, smooth Mozzarella for the queso fundido mixture, and a tangy goat cheese sliced into rounds for the topping. A tantalizing roasted poblano vinaigrette flavored with honey and red wine vinegar is then drizzled over the queso fundido before baking. Served with lots of blue corn tortillas, this is one appetizer that will keep your guests asking for more. For a more robust dish, add crumbled, cooked chorizo to the basic cheese mixture before adding the toppings. Recipe from "Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Cookbook" by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson. Serves 4.

How to Make Queso Fundido with Roasted Poblano Vinaigrette


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 8 slices
Roasted Poblano Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Blue Corn tortillas, for dipping

Preheat the broiler.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened, stirring to keep from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
Remove from heat and stir in the grated Monterey Jack cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Scrape the mixture into two 4-inch shallow cast iron pans or one 8-inch cast iron pan.Place the rounds of goat cheese over the top. Place the pan under the broiler and broil until the goat cheese is golden brown on top.
Remove from the oven, drizzle with the Roasted Poblano Vinaigrette and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Serve with chips for dipping.

Roasted Poblano Vinaigrette


2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped (instructions follow)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste.Combine the poblanos, 2 tablespoons cold water, the vinegar, garlic, honey, canola oil, and salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Can be made up to 8 hours ahead and refrigerated.

To Roast the Poblanos
To roast the poblanos-wash and dry the peppers. Using a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil, coat the peppers well. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a preheated 375 degree F. oven and roast for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven, place in a paper bag for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the steam to loosen the skins. Cut the peppers in half, peel, seed and cut into strips.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake

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Britney of thenittybritty chose this great holiday bundt cake which epitomizes the colors, flavors and aromas of autumn. This bundt style cake has the requisite pumpkin, cranberries,apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger-all the ingredients of the season rolled into one dessert. This cake would be perfect for a coffee morning or as an additional dessert for Thanksgiving dinner. Check out Britney's blog for the recipe or, better still, buy Dorie Greenspan's book, "Baking From My Home to Yours".

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fresh Corn Soup with Roasted Corn Guacamole

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Fresh or frozen corn works well in this very intensely flavored corn soup topped with a roasted corn guacamole tinged with heat from diced jalapenos. Diced red onion, garlic, cilantro and the zest and juice from limes complete this easy soup perfect for any season. Original recipe here.

Roasted Corn Guacamole
  • Kernels from 3 ears fresh corn, or 2 cups frozen corn, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, finely grated zest and juice
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, pitted and chopped

  • Kernels from 5 ears fresh corn, or 3 cups frozen corn, defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed and chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • Cilantro sprigs, to garnish

Roast the Corn for the Guacamole
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Put the corn kernels on the baking sheet and toss with the oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste. Spread the corn out evenly on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, until the corn turns a golden brown. It may seem that you have left the corn in the oven for too long, but you want the corn to caramelize and get a little crunchy. Remove the corn from the oven and set aside.

Prepare the Corn for the Soup
Put the kernels (fresh or frozen and defrosted) in a blender.

Combine the oil and the garlic in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the blender and puree until smooth. (You may need to pulse or stir the corn mixture in order to achieve a smooth consistency, but do not add any more liquid.)

Simmer the Soup
Pour the corn puree into the soup pot and place over medium heat. Stir constantly for a few minutes, until the soup begins to thicken. Slowly whisk or stir in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

Finish the Roasted Corn Guacamole
In a bowl, combine the roasted corn, red onion, cilantro, lime zest and juice, and jalapeño. Gently stir in the avocado. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve and Garnish
Ladle the soup into soup bowls. Place a generous spoonful of the guacamole in the center of each bowl. Garnish with a small sprig of cilantro placed in the center of each.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eggs Scrambled with Roasted Red Peppers

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This rustic Italian dish, a mixture of creamy scrambled eggs with sauteed roasted red peppers and garlic is perfect for breakfast, a light lunch or an easy Sunday night supper. Roast your own peppers or use a good brand of fire roasted red peppers. For sandwiches, broil or grill slices of crusty Italian or Rosemary Raisin Bread. Serves 2-3, but the recipe is easily doubled. Adapted from "Italy in Small Bites" by Carol Field.


  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted, or 2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry and cut into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 large eggs
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley, optional
  • 4-6 slices country-style Italian bread, or rosemary raisin bread
  1. Heat oil in a heavy skillet. Saute the peppers and garlic over medium-low heat until soft, but not mushy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and salt.
  2. Add the eggs to the pan and scramble them until they are creamy and set.
  3. For the sandwiches, grill or broil the bread. Arrange the scrambled egg mixture between the slices allowing the flavors to imbue the crusty bread.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sugar-Topped Pomegranate Molasses Spice Cookies

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I'm having house guests this coming weekend, so the cookies chosen by Pamela of Cookies with the Boys would be perfect for the picnic I'm planning. Since they freeze well, I could make them ahead of time.

I was multi-tasking this past Sunday; making cookies and pomegranate molasses from the juice the lovely folks at POMWonderful sent me just recently. I thought Pomegranate molasses too exotic to make at home, plus it isn't available in the high-end grocery stores that I sometimes frequent. After searching online for recipes and realizing how easy the molasses was to make at home, I was elated. Here in the United States, PomWonderful is the largest grower and processor of pomegranates, specifically the Wonderful variety. Pomegranate juice has so many health advantages that it should be considered a veritable fountain of youth. Did you know that grenadine syrup is also made from pomegranate juice? I didn't! I see some cocktails in my crystal ball!
Back to the cookies-The pomegranate molasses had cooled and looked just like the jarred molasses, except the color was a deeper red. The finished cookies had a great spice flavor which wasn't overpowered by the inclusion of the pomegranate molasses and I could discern a subtle piquant taste from the fruit. Very pleasing.

Since November is a busy month leading up to the holidays, the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group has some leeway in posting this month's picks. So check out the blogroll, it's not all cookies!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Grape and Pear Pie

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This post is not as much about the grape pear pie, which was delicious and unusual, as it is about the pie crust itself. As far as I can remember back to my early days of learning to bake pies, I have always made my own pie crust, not only because I loved making the dough and rolling it out, but I never liked the aluminum tins that the unbaked crusts came in; plus most pie fillings would overflow these meager vessels. In my mind, it was a travesty to make a homemade filling and then it end up in a tasteless crust. Now to the crux of the matter-I was in a hurry to make this pie! Setting my snobbery aside, I bought a package of rolled 9 inch pie crusts from the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

Making the pie was a snap! The refrigerated dough sat out for about 15 minutes to make it easier to handle. I wouldn't recommend the microwave method to warm the dough to room temperature due to uneven heating in some microwave units. In about 20 minutes, I had the pie in the oven. Although the baked crust was a little thick, I was impressed with the flavor. I will continue to make my own pie crusts, but when in pressed for time, I'll buy the ready made ones. From Better Homes and Gardens, recipe here. Pie needs to cool for 6 hours, then refrigerated up to 24 hours.

Grape and Pear Pie


* 2 rolled refrigerated unbaked pie crusts
* 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
* 1 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
* 5 cups seedless red or black grapes
* 2 medium red pears, cored and sliced (2 cups)
* 1 egg white


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare Pastry for Double Crust Pie. For filling, in a large bowl stir together brown sugar, flour, melted butter, and orange peel. Add grapes and pears; toss.

2. On lightly floured surface, slightly flatten 1 ball of pastry. Roll dough from center to edges into 12-inch circle. Wrap pastry around rolling pin; unroll in 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate, being careful not to stretch. Trim even with rim of pie plate. Pour filling into pastry. Roll remaining dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Cut slits in pastry to allow steam to escape. Place pastry on filling; trim to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold top pastry edge under bottom pastry. Crimp edge as desired. Place on baking sheet.

3. In small bowl combine egg white with 1 tablespoon water. Brush top of pie with egg white mixture. Cover edge of pie with foil. Bake 35 minutes; remove foil. Bake 35 to 40 minutes more or until top of pastry is golden and steam is escaping from slits in top crust. Remove from oven. Cool 6 hours. Store, loosely covered, in refrigerator up to 24 hours. Makes 8 servings.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Photographing a Ghost

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You can photograph your own ghost with these tips from Photojojo. Have fun and Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte

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The rain played havoc with my photography today. I should have finished the cherry fudge brownie torte yesterday, but was out of town visiting my sister. Yesterday was beautiful; today is dark, dreary and pouring rain. Now that the time will be changing soon, I must begin using my lighting equipment that I bought awhile back. I threw open all the shutters, pulled out reflector boards and mirrors to get the photos for this Tuesdays with Dorie edition chosen by April of short+rose who has the recipe on her blog.
I halved the recipe and used 4 x 1-3/4-inch springform pans that I bought at Michaels. Not wanting to search for mascarpone, I made the faux version suggested by Rachelle of Mommy, I'm Hungry. It tastes pretty good; in fact, I could have ditched the cake and eaten the faux mascarpone! This is a great cake for guests as it can be made a day ahead. Check out the TWD blogroll to see what lovely cakes our Dorie bakers have come up with.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Daring Cooks -Vietnamese Shrimp Pho, Plus Brandied Fig, Chocolate and Sugared Walnut Stuffed Wontons

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Our October Daring Cooks challenge comes from Jaden of Steamy Kitchen fame whose exciting first cookbook is due to hit the shelves mid October; however the Daring Cooks get a chance to make two of her recipes which will be included in her cookbook. The first one is Vietnamese Pho, a concoction of noodles in a spirited broth with choice of meat, seafood or vegetables, then garnished with loads of fresh accompaniments, such as cilantro, red onions, lime and a hot sauce. The second challenge, a delicious and decadent chocolate wonton. While the challenge required we make the pho broth exactly as the recipe states, especially the seasoning; choosing the meat, seafood or vegetable/vegan was a personal consideration. Especially thrilling was the opportunity to be creative with the wonton fillings and shapes. However, it was imperative that the wonton remain a dessert.

From the Daring Cooks October Challenge

Vietnamese Pho
For my Vietnamese Shrimp Pho, I followed the directions below except when the broth was completed, I used fresh, peeled and deveined shrimp which I stir-fried first before adding to the Pho.

1. Variation; chicken, beef, pork, seafood or vegetarian/vegan.

2. There is no variation allowed with regard to seasoning. You must use the spices listed in the recipe and they must be toasted. (Only leeway here is if you cannot use the spices for health/dietary reasons.) *Note: Use same spices as listed in the chicken Pho recipe for pork, seafood and vegetarian/vegan variations. The beef variation lists it’s unique spices in the recipe.


• Frying pan
• Large stockpot
• Tongs
• Strainer, sieve or colander
• Bowls for serving

Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions

Servings: Makes 4 servings


For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice


1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

Brandied Fig, Chocolate and Sugared Walnut Stuffed Wontons
My dessert wontons are a brandied dried fig, grated chocolate and sugared walnut concoction.
Figs are one of my all time favorite fruits and perfect for a Fall dessert. Most often I use dried figs as they are readily available. Keeping Jaden's chocolate theme, I used Scharffenberger dark chocolate and I had on hand sugared walnuts that I had made recently.

Ingredients for the Brandied Fig, Chocolate and Sugared Walnut Wontons

Makes 12 filled wontons

  • 1-5-6 oz package dried figs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 oz grated dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup sugared walnuts or toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • Bowl of water
  • Pastry brush
  • Oil for Frying
How to Make the Stuffed Wontons
  1. In a small saucepan, add water and figs. Cook over medium heat until the water evaporates, taking care not to burn the figs. Remove pan from heat, add 3 tablespoons brandy. Stand clear of pot and set the figs aflame. When the flames die down, transfer figs to a bowl. Let cool
  2. Add the grated chocolate and sugared or toasted walnuts. Combine well.
  3. On a clean, dry work surface, lay one wonton wrapper down. Place a scant tablespoon of the fig mixture in the middle of the wonton wrapper. Brush s small amount of water on the edges of the wrapper. Place a second wonton wrapper over the filling so the shape resembles a star. Place on parchment paper. Repeat process until all wonton wrappers are filled. Refrigerate covered with plastic wrap until ready to fry.
  4. In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2-3 inches of oil.
  5. Heat the oil to 350° F.
  6. Gently slide one or two wontons in the hot oil.
  7. Fry for 1 minute, then flip and fry until both sides are golden brown and crisp.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sugared walnut.
Gadget by The Blog Doctor.