Friday, December 31, 2010

Six Classic Cocktails-Week Three-The Old Fashioned

Print Friendly and PDF Photobucket Still celebrating the holidays? Tonight is a big one-grand parties with lots of delicious food and drink. I can't wait!  In the spirit of the coming New Year, Thirsty Thursday is posting on New Years Eve.For auld lang syne-a venerable cocktail-the nostalgic Old Fashioned.

The Old Fashioned is not for the faint at heart. It is pure alcohol with a minuscule addition of sugar in the form of a sugar cube or  simple syrup and a few dashes of bitters. Not a true cocktail as most believe, but actually a short highball, according to the late  David Embury, author of "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks". Embury takes a no nonsense approach to the Old Fashioned, one of the six  basic cocktails he says that all hosts need to know how to mix in in order to be a successful home bartender. In the past two Thirsty  Thursdays editions, I have showcased the Manhattan and the Jack Rose.

 According to Embury, water should never be added to the drink and it's only place would be to dissolve the sugar, then quickly poured off. Simple syrup is the preferred sweetener, cutting the time down from the twenty minutes it takes to make an old fashioned with a sugar cube, to about two minutes. Garnishes for the old fashioned are a single maraschino cherry and a twist of lemon peel. Excessive garnishes are unnecessary and would only bastardize the old fashioned. However, for a slightly sweeter drink, try adding a teaspoonful of juice from the maraschino cherries or a splash of Cointreau. Photobucket

Old fashioned's and other classic cocktails have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity with the showing of the AMC series Mad Men. In the opening scene, Don Draper, founding partner for Sterling Cooper Draper Price, the fictional 1960's ad agency in the series, orders an old fashioned while seated at a bar. While Draper's preference is Canadian Club, an old fashioned can be made with other liquors besides traditional bourbon or rye whiskey. Scotch, rum, brandy or even applejack can be used . If using rum, orange bitters are substituted or used in addition to the angostura bitters.

 Old Fashioned Deluxe

1-2 teaspoons simple syrup
1-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 ounce whiskey, plus more to complete the drink
2 large cubes of cracked ice
Twist of lemon and a maraschino cherry

In each highball glass, pour in the simple syrup and add the desired amount of Angostura bitters. Stir with a spoon to mix. Add 1 ounce whiskey and stir again. Add cracked ice. Add additional whiskey to taste; stir again. Decorate with lemon peel and maraschino cherry on a cocktail spear.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Split Level Pudding with Spiced Pecans-Tuesdays with Dorie-Rewind

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PhotobucketNext Tuesday will be a new year of posting for the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group, but for this last tuesday of 2010, a rewind is in order. That is, our baking group is allowed to post a completed recipe a second time. It took me only a short time to decide to make the Split Level Pudding, a total disaster when I made them back in October of 2009. The pudding was a liquid mess even after the prescribed four hours of chilling.  Now that I look back, I think the culprit was old cornstarch or maybe the kitchen gremlins.

This time, the puddings were a success.I served them in delicate antique cups and saucers that my mother must have found in a flea market years ago, stuck them in the china cabinet and forgot about them. My sister and I found them while clearing out my mother's house after she passed away.

The puddings have a surprise layer of chocolate ganache nestled in the bottom of the cup. Adding crunch are pecans baked in a cardamom, allspice and clove sugar mixture lending an exotic touch to the puddings.

Split Level Puddings

For the Chocolate Layer

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream

For the Vanilla Layer

2-1/4 cups whole milk
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
2-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Spiced pecans for garnish-recipe follows

Have six ramekins or pudding cups, each holding 4-6 ounces, (1/2-3/4 cup), at hand.

To make the Chocolate Layer
Put the chocolate in a 1-or 2-cup glass measuring cup. Bring the heavy cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds, then gently stir to blend. Divide the chocolate ganache among the cups and set aside.

To Make the Vanilla Layer
Bring 2 cups of the milk and 3 tablespoons of the sugar to a boil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.

While the milk is heating, put the cornstarch and salt into a food processor and whir to blend. Turn them out onto a piece of wax paper, put the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and the egg yolks into the processor and blend for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup milk and pulse just to mix, then add the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to blend.

With the machine running, very slowly pour in the hot milk mixture. Process for a few seconds, then pour everything back into the saucepan. Whisk without stopping over medium heat-making sure to get into the edges of the pan-until the pudding thickens and a couple of bubbles burble up to the surface and pop (about 2 minutes). You don't want the pudding to boil, but you do want it to thicken, so lower the heat, if necessary.

Scrape the pudding back into the processor and pulse a couple of times. Add the butter and vanilla and pulse until everything is evenly blended.

Pour the pudding into the cups-depending on how warm the ganache in the bottom of the cups was, you might find that it runs up the sides of the cups and forms a lacy circle around it. It will be pretty, if it does; if not, the chocolate will be a surprise. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the puddings to create an airtight seal and prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Recipe from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.


Spiced Pecans

1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
3 cups whole pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a medium bowl, beat egg white with water until frothy.  Add pecans and mix until moistened.
In a small bowl, mix together salt, sugar and spices.  Add to bowl and mix well. Spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake about 30 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes. Take care not to overcook and burn the nuts. Adapted from Allrecipes.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Six Classic Cocktails-Week Two-The Jack Rose

Print Friendly and PDF Photobucket While reading David Embury's timeless cocktail guide, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, first published in 1948, I was intrigued by the name of one of his six classic cocktails-the Jack Rose.  Upon further reading, I found several clashing renditions regarding the origin of the Jack Rose cocktail.   Was it named for a rose called a "jacquemint", a bald gambler and crook named Jack Rose or a bartender in New Jersey named Joseph Rose? Most likely the "jack" came from the applejack brandy and the "rose" from the grenadine; both, plus lemon or lime juice are ingredients in the Jack Rose cocktail.  Jake Barnes, the narrator of Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" ordered a jack rose in a Paris bar while awaiting the arrival of Lady Brett Ashley. Source. Laird's Applejack is the spirit of choice when making the jack rose. Distilled since 1780 in New Jersey, Laird's Applejack is a truly American spirit. Supplied by the Laird family, George Washington served it to his troops and was given the recipe for the applejack. PhotobucketIf you like daiquiris, margaritas and any other drink in the sweet sour family of cocktails, you'll love the Jack Rose cocktail. Similar to a sidecar, but slightly less boozy, this cheerful rosy pink libation will brighten up the gloom of a cold and dark winter day. Lemon juice is the traditional citrus of choice, but lime juice can be substituted. I'm more of a lime juice person, so I made mine with lime juice. If you like a sweeter drink, increase the grenadine.

Jack Rose 
2 ounces applejack, or apple brandy, Calvados or apple eau-de vie 
1 teaspoon grenadine
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

Shake vigorously with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with lime or lemon peel. Makes one drink.


Please do not use images or text without my permission.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Apple Yogurt Cake with Fig Glaze

Print Friendly and PDF Nearly every morning, I have yogurt with whatever fresh fruit I have on hand. Usually I add some ginger honey or a small amount of jam or jelly just to sweeten it up a bit. Lately, my favorite combination has been chopped apples topped with the yogurt and a dollop of fig preserves. When I saw that the apple coconut family cake was chosen for this TWD edition by Amber of CobbleDuMonde, I thought my favorite breakfast combo would be lovely incorporated  into a cake. I didn't add the coconut, but in retrospect, it wouldn't have altered the flavors, but would have been delicious, also. Here is the recipe with substitutions in parentheses.
Apple Coconut Family Cake

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 (1/2) teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
3 apples, peeled and cored
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup, plus 2 teaspoons sugar (1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar)
6 tablespoons flavorless oil (3 tablespoons flavorless oil plus 3 tablespoons fig preserves)
1 tablespoon dark rum (2 tablespoons vanilla rum)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (omit)
1/2 cup apple jelly for glaze(1 cup fig preserves, pressed through a sieve)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet line with parchment or a silicone mat. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda,
cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

Cut two of the apples into dice and set aside. Cut the 3rd apple from blossom to stem into thin slices, about 1/4-inch.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together with the 1/2 cup sugar for one minutes. Add the oil, fig preserves and vanilla rum. Fold in the flour mixture and the diced apples. Scrape the batter into the springform pan and jiggle a bit to even out batter.  Arrange the sliced apples in an attractive pattern like th sunburst pattern and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.Bake 45-50 minutes until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the springform pan to a cooling rack and let cool 20 minutes.

Warm fig preserves over low heat until liquid. Add a splash of water. Glaze apple cake with the fig preserves. Serves 8.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Six Classic Cocktails-Week One-The Manhattan

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According to David Embury, author of the classic cocktail book, "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks", there are six basic, or classic cocktails-the Manhattan, the Martini, the Sidecar, the Daiquiri, the Old Fashioned and, one I have never heard of called the Jack Rose. Embury had no ties to the liquor business and was a well-respected attorney in a Manhattan law firm, but had an intense curiosity regarding the food and drink industry. His book is casual and witty in tone, but a meticulous investigation into the fine art of the cocktail. The six classic cocktails is just one chapter among the seventeen chapters in Embury's book. Over the next six weeks of Thirsty Thursday, I will feature each classic cocktail. First comes the Manhattan, a heady, amber colored cocktail garnished with the traditional maraschino cherry, introduced to me by my son-in-law, Doug who could be a first class bartender if he so desired. He's witty like Embury, but also is very knowledgeable and proficient in the art of the cocktail.

As with many classic cocktails, legends abound regarding the origin of the Manhattan. Prevailing history suggests that the cocktail originated at the Manhattan Club in New York in early 1870's at a banquet hosted by Jenny Jerome, better known as Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston Churchill. The banquet was in honor of Samuel Tilden, the democratic candidate for President in the highly disputed election of 1876. However, some say that Lady Churchill was, in fact, attending Winston's christening during that time so couldn't have possibly been the host. Another myth suggests that the cocktail was named the Manhattan after the river whose waters were brown. Still another says the Manhattan was invented in the 1860's by a bartender named Black at a bar near Houston Street.

The original Manhattan cocktail was a meld of American whiskey (probably Rye, which is traditional), Italian sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters. Today, ingredients vary as do techniques, possibly depending upon the creativity of the bartender. Here is Doug's Manhattan-

2 ounces Crown Royal whiskey
2 ounces red vermouth
4 dashes Angostura bitters
4 dashes Orange bitters
A splash of maraschino cherry juice, to taste
Garnish-maraschino cherries

In a cocktail glass, combine whiskey, vermouth, Angostura bitters, orange bitters and a splash of maraschino cherry juice, if desired. Add ice, shake and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry. Serves 2.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Translucent Maple Tuiles with Honey Walnut Orange Drizzled Panna Cotta

Print Friendly and PDF Translucent Maple TuilesWalnut Orange Honey Drizzled Panna Cotta with Translucent Maple Tules

A "tuile" is a very thin lacy cookie normally baked, then while warm, molded around a shape such as a rolling pin or a dowel. When the tuile has cooled, it retains this shape. French for "tile", the tuile when placed in rows bears resemblance to the ancient clay roof tiles used in China and the Middle East around 10,000 BC. Although ancient, the tuile is better known in its French parentage . If you have visited Paris, you may have seen the Tuileries Gardens, the site of the Tuileries Palace built by Catherine de' Medici after the death of Henry 11 of France. So named for the tile kilns that previously occupied the site.  Source.

Traditionally made with egg whites, flour , white sugar and butter,  this adaptation from "Baking From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan omits the egg whites, substitutes brown sugar for the white,  adds maple syrup while decreasing the amount of flour. This results in a translucent caramelized cookie with a lovely lacy pattern. This elegant cookie was chosen by Hindy aka Clivia of Bubie's Little Baker for this TWD edition. The recipe can be found on her blog or from Dorie's book.

Never willing to leave well enough alone, I decided to serve my French translucent maple tuiles with an Italian panna cotta drizzled with a honey walnut orange topping. A panna cotta is a very simple concoction of cream, sugar, vanilla or other flavorings and gelatin and can be put together in a short time.
The addition of sour cream adds a tangy flavor, perfect with the sweet honey topping.

Panna Cotta 

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
3 cups whipping cream or a combination of half and half and whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or pure vanilla flavoring
1 cup sour cream

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Let stand 5 minutes. In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat,warm the cream or combination of half and half and cream, sugar, salt and vanilla. Take care not to boil the cream. Stir in the gelatin until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat and let sit about 5 minutes.

Place the sour cream in a bowl. Whisk in the warm cream a little at a time until smooth. Rinse 8 (2/3 cup) ramekins or vessel of choice with cold water. Fill each 3/4 full with cream. Refrigerate 4-24 hours. To unmold, wrap the molds in hot towels and turn out in a dessert dish.  The panna cotta can also be served unmolded. Drizzle with  the honey walnut orange topping and serve with the tuiles. Recipe adapted from  
The Splendid Table by Lynne Rosetto Casper.

Honey Walnut Orange Topping

1 cup mild honey-I used ginger honey
1-1/2 strips of zest from 1 whole orange
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts

In a small saucepan, bring honey and orange zest to a low boil. Reduce heat and cook over a very low boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in walnuts. Cool to room temperature. Recipe adapted from California Walnuts.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Blue Cornmeal Pizza Topped with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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Still playing around with ways to use blue cornmeal, I was inspired to develop a recipe for a Southwestern pizza with the blue cornmeal incorporated in the pizza crust. Aesthetically speaking, I wasn't sure how a blue pizza crust would go over in my family of die-hard pizza aficionados, but luckily, they are used to my experimentation in the kitchen. This pizza was a hit! A very earthy pizza which reminds me so much of the Southwest flavors I love.

Using the basic ratio dough for bread from Michael Rhulman's book, "Ratio-The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking", I substituted blue cornmeal for part of the flour in the recipe, then threw in a teaspoon of minced chipotles en adobo to add a tiny bit of heat to the pizza dough. "Ratio" should be in everyone's library of must have cookbooks. Rhulman's theory is simple.When you know a culinary ratio, a proportion of one part to another, such as the bread dough from which my blue cornmeal pizza dough is made from, you are able to make many variations. Basically, you are working with parts.  Bread  dough is 5 parts flour and 3 parts water. To ensure accurate measuring, a digital scale that measures in ounces and grams up to 5 pounds with a "tare"or zero button is essential. Rhulman's book, "Ratio" is available not only in hardback and paperback, but has a Kindle edition and an app for a Smartphone.

A simple tomatillo sauce, roasted along with red onions, jalapeno peppers, garlic and onion to bring out its complex flavors, serves as a base for the toppings of jack cheese, halved cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of dried oregano. Diced avocado  scattered over the pizza after baking perfect this rustic Mexican style pizza. Roasted tomatillo salsa recipe here. Michael Ruhlman's  homemade pizza here.

After making this dough several times, I have reduced the amount of blue cornmeal that I used in the original recipe. The pizza was a bit too "earthy". Here is the amended recipe based on the master recipe (recipe follows pizza dough) for bread dough in "Ratio". The dough is easily made in the bread machine.

Blue Cornmeal Pizza Dough

1-1/2 cups water-12 ounces
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon bread machine yeast
3 cups bread flour-14 ounces
1/2 cup blue cornmeal-3 ounces
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal-3 ounces
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon minced canned Chipotles en Adobo, or to taste

According to manufacturer's for your bread machine, add the ingredients to the pan. Process on the dough cycle. Regarding the chipotles, I usually knead them in after removing the dough from the bread machine pan or during the last knead cycle on the bread machine. Most bread machines have the modes broken down into total time and the duration of each cycle. While dough is being processed, prepare roasted tomatillo sauce. Preheat a baking stone in a 450° oven for at least 30 minutes.When dough cycle is complete, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide into desired number of balls. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Roll out dough into a thin circle. Place on a peel which has been dusted with cornmeal. Spread salsa over the dough. Sprinkle with shredded jack cheese, halved cherry tomatoes and dried oregano. Slide pizza onto baking stone in oven. Bake 15-20 minutes or until cheese had melted and pizza is bubbly. Remove from oven.  Repeat process with remaining pizza dough.To serve, garnish with diced avocados and cilantro.    Makes two large or 4 small pizzas.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

8 ounces fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and halved
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
Salt, to taste

In a non-stick saucepan over medium high heat, place the tomatillos, cut side down, the garlic, jalapeno peppers, and red onion. When browned, about 3 minutes, turn everything over and roast the other side. When browned, remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a food processor to cool. Add cilantro and blend to a coarse puree. Add salt to taste. If mixture is too thick, add a few tablespoons water. Set aside while rolling out pizza dough.

1/3 to 1/2 cup shredded jack cheese
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
Dried oregano
Diced avocado

Master Bread Dough From "Ratio"
20 ounces flour
12 ounces water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Process dough either by bread machine or conventional method.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cranberry Orange Galette

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Another cranberry dessert! But that's okay, because I can never make all these luscious fall desserts for my Thanksgiving dinner. Speaking of a groaning board-my table would be tipping over on the dessert side.  A French galette is an Italian crostata, a free form tart made a with traditional pie crust dough and  baked on a cookie sheet rather than in a pie pan. The tart can be flat like a pizza with sliced fruit on top or if the filling is juicy, the dough is folded over the filling.

Fresh tart cranberries, dried sweet cherries and ginger meld with orange zest with juice, brown sugar and orange marmalade to make a delectable fall dessert. I love the rustic look of this galette, perfect for showing off fresh fruits and berries.  The four family members who bake at  Celestial Confections chose Dorie Greenspan's Cranberry Lime Galette for this edition of TWD. The recipe can be found on their blog or from "Baking From My Home to Yours", a classic baking book. My copy is stained, tattered,  and most pages are scribbled with copious notes and tips, but it's my "go to" book for baking.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cider Baked Seckel Pears With Rice Pudding

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Cider Baked Pears With Rice Pudding

Bathed in sweetened pear cider enhanced with cinnamon and a touch of bay, then baked until tender and caramelized, transforms the diminutive Seckel pear into a tantalizing accompaniment to this creamy classic rice pudding. It is not necessary to peel or core the pears and for more of a homey feel, leave the stems intact. Prepare the rice pudding first to allow the mixture to thicken and cool.

Perhaps a hybrid of Asian and European pears, the Seckel pear, often called a "sugar pear",is one of the smallest and sweetest pears cultivated. Homage is given to the Pennsylvania farmer who is believed to have discovered the pear around 1820.

Russet colored with brownish yellow and green shades, the tiny Seckel pear is a short plump pear with a grainy texture and a sweet spicy flavor. Perfect for canning and pickling, this bite size pear is also a lovely garnish for salads, cheese plates and sandwiches. Source.

Cider Baked Seckel Pears with Rice Pudding

For the Pears

6 Seckel pears
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/4 cups pear or apple cider
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons light brown muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons turbinado or demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Halve the pears and place in a small roasting pan. In a saucepan, melt the butter and cook until it turns a light brown. Add the cinnamon and pour over the pears in the roasting pan. Turn the pears to coat and arrange the pears cut side up. Pour over the pear or apple cider. Place the bay leaves on top and sprinkle over the sugars.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until pears are tender and caramelized. Baste with the cider occasionally while baking. Remove from oven when done. Keep pears warm. Place the syrup in medium saucepan and reduce by half. Pour over pears when serving the rice pudding.

For the Rice Pudding

2-1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup short or long grain rice
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, optional

In a medium saucepan, place the rice in a pan and add the milk, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until rice is tender, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When rice is tender, remove from heat and add the vanilla extract and nutmeg, if using. Return to heat and cook 5-10 more minutes, until creamy. The pudding can be served warm or cold.  . Makes 6 servings with the baked pears.

To Serve
Stir the rice to loosen it. If desired add a few tablespoons heavy cream to the rice. Place a generous scoop of rice pudding in a serving dish. Top with two pear halves and drizzle with reduced syrup. Remove bay leaves or add as a garnish. Do not eat the bay leaf. Sprinkle some freshly grated nutmeg over rice, if desired.

Other Seckel pear recipes- CookEatShare,
Seckel Pear Tart- thekitchn
Watercress, Seckel Pear and Brie Salad- FoodBlogga

*****This is my entry into Weekend Herb Blogging #259 hosted by Susan of thewellseasonedcook.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Washington Apple Martini-Thirsty Thursday

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Keeping in the fall spirit with apples as the theme, this Thirsty Thursday features an apple martini, a lovely crimson colored libation served in a cocktail glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar.   Comprised of German apple schnapps, Canadian whiskey and cranberry juice, this apple martini would be a nice addition to your cocktail repertoire.

Washington Apple Martini

1 jigger (1- 1/2 ounces) apple schnapps
1 jigger (1- 1/2 ounces) Canadian whiskey
1 jigger (1-1/2 ounces) cranberry juice

Rub the rim of a martini glass with a lime slice. In a shallow plate containing cinnamon sugar, dip rim in to coat edges of glass. Chill glass while preparing the apple martini.

In a cocktail shaker filled with crushed ice, add apple schnapps, whiskey and cranberry juice. Shake well and strain into a cinnamon sugar rimmed martini glass. Makes 1 cocktail.

Cinnamon sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar

Combine cinnamon and sugar. Use small amount for rimming glass. Store in covered container. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Check out Rossella's Persimmon Milkshake  another Thirsty Thursday beverage.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake-Tuesdays with Dorie

Print Friendly and PDF Cranberry  Shortbread Cake

Fresh cranberry season is upon us, but the season is short, so buying several packages of cranberries to freeze is prudent. Then you can make this divine shortbread cake filled with a orange flavored cranberry jam that's super easy to prepare. The fresh cranberry jam can be made up to 2 weeks ahead and the shortbread cake dough can be refrigerated overnight. If you are not a cranberry fan, caramelized apples, applesauce, apple butter or your favorite fruit preserve sub in beautifully.

Cranberries play a prominent and historical role at Thanksgiving in the USA. Calling the red berries, "sassamanash", the North American Indians possibly introduced the cranberries to the starving colonists in Massachusetts who incorporated the berry into the feast of Thanksgiving, a celebration of survival. Cranberries are primarily grown in cooler climates in the USA and Canada. The berries are harvested in the fall, usually late September or early October when they turn crimson red. Although the fields are flooded to harvest the cranberries, they aren't grown in water, but are kept very wet by irrigation. Source. When I think of cranberries, I always think of a Martha Stewart show I saw years ago showing the "doyenne of domesticity" wading around the cranberry bogs enlightening her viewers on the harvesting of cranberries.

Jessica of Singleton in the Kitchen chose this seasonally appropriate recipe for the baking group. With all the great desserts out there for Thanksgiving, it has become quite a task making a choice for the big feast day! Jessica has this cranberry shortbread cake recipe on her blog or if you have "Baking From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan, look on page 208-209.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux

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Roast chicken for les paresseux or roast chicken for the lazy cook, however, I think if the cook is truly lazy, the rotisserie chicken at the grocery store  would be the chicken to buy. This roast chicken for les paresseux is by far the better tasting chicken to dine on. Stuffed with a half head of garlic and some rosemary, thyme and oregano makes this roast chicken sublime. The chicken oven roasts atop thick slices of bread which come out flavorful and crisp when the chicken is fully cooked. Carrots, potatoes and whole shallots are added after the chicken has roasted for 45 minutes. The aroma wafting from my oven had my little Yorkie hanging around the kitchen hoping a piece of this delicious bird would accidentally fall on the floor.

The recipe comes from "Around My French Table", the newest book in the line of award winning cookbooks by Dorie Greenspan. French Fridays with Dorie is a group dedicated to cooking their way through this cookbook loaded with simple, homey French food that Dorie has collected over the many years she has lived in France. Studded not only with delicious recipes, but stories of the friends she's made and tips on the French culinary customs. If you would like to become a member of FFWD, check out the website. The group is pretty laid back, so give it a go.

Apple Sangria-Thirsty Thursday

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Fall is a lovely time to visit the mountain areas of North Carolina. While visiting the grandchildren for Halloween weekend, we took a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to picnic and enjoy the beautiful foliage. Along the way, we stopped at an apple orchard just over the border into Virginia. Visions of riding with the children on a hayride picking apples were dashed when the owner informed us that the season was short due to the summer heat, but we could still buy apples there. Along with the Mitsu, also known as the Crispin apple, we bought the Spartan variety, another good all-purpose apple; crimson in color, sometimes even deep purple. The Spartan is a fragrant apple with a good balance of sweet to tart flavor. Perfect for baking,using raw and a favorite among apple cider pressers. A member of the McIntosh family of apples, the Spartan is a cross between a McIntosh and a Newtown Pippin apple, a famous Colonial apple developed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The lighter, greenish yellow tinge of the Newtown Pippin is visible in the blush of the Spartan.

Knee deep in apples, I used some to make this Apple Sangria, a nice Fall version of this popular summer libation. Redolent with  spices, honey, fresh ginger, citrus and chopped Spartan apples, this red wine based sangria will become a party favorite.

Apple Sangria

3 cups chopped Spartan apples
1/4 cup ginger honey
1/2 cup apple schnapps
3-4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 slices fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4" pieces
1 large orange, quartered
1 lime, quartered
1 bottle, (750 ml.) Syrah or red wine of choice
1/4-1/2 cup club soda, or tonic water, chilled

For Garnish-slices of fresh lime, orange and Spartan apples. Optional-lemon balm sprigs

Combine first nine ingredients in a large measuring cup; combine well. Refrigerate until very cold, about 4 hours. Strain wine mixture through a sieve discarding solids. Pour about 2/3 cup sangria over ice in each glass; top with 1 tablespoon club soda. Garnish with citrus slices, apple slices and optional lemon balm sprig.  Makes 4-6 servings. Original recipe-Cooking Light

Monday, November 01, 2010

DMBLGiT: October 2010 Winners!!

Print Friendly and PDF A big thanks to all the participants of the October, 2010  Does My Blog Look Good in This (DMBLGiT) and a special thanks to the judges- Asha, Denise, Nicole and Susan for their expertise. Without further ado---Here are the winners of the October 2010 DMBLGiT!

First Place Winner
 Vania of Our Family Favorite Recipes
Pina Colada Puding
A tie for 2nd Place-
Laurent of AngleterreGod Saves the Eton Mess
Tika of  CemplangCemplungkaloKaloBinhunh-Mung Bean Pudding

Third Place Winner
Kris of Bake in Paris-Decorated Sugar Cookies

Edibility Winner
Snjezana of  Dalmacija Down UnderAsparagus with Poached Egg and Hollandaise Sauce-
Originality Winner
Jenn of Jenn's Cuisine -Copycat PF Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Aesthetics Winner
Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings -Mango Stir Fry
Host award goes to -

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen-Eggplant and Fig Caponata

Host for November- Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen.

For those of you who have entered into the competition or  have won a DMBLGit award in the past, I encourage you to volunteer to be a host or a judge for this event. Being a judge has been a great experience, plus has honed my skills in seeing, not only a photograph, but how the photograph is lighted-its composition and how drool worthy it is. I'm very proud of the judges and couldn't have picked a better panel for this event.  Contact Andrew for more information.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Poor Man's Black Velvet Drink-Thirsty Thursday

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Our jet lag hadn't worn off before we were up at 4 am BST time to catch the first flight of the day out of Bournemouth, England to fly to Dublin for a fast 2 days hoping to take in as much sightseeing as possible. In our hotel by 8:30am, we treated ourselves to a full Irish breakfast which probably saved our lives as we were completely knackered. Taking advantage of the Dublin City "hop on, hop off bus tour",  we hit all the high spots of Dublin and even had a chance to do some shopping at one of the local Irish products store. Most memorable was the famous Temple Bar section of Dublin and the Guinness Storehouse self-guided tour of the Guinness brewery ending on the seventh floor Gravity bar for a complimentary pint of Guinness beer. The panoramic view of the city is fantastic!

Now I love a cold beer and I can drink a Guinness occasionally, but a lighter option is preferable. A Black Velvet is a beer cocktail using Guinness Stout beer and champagne created by a bartender in 1861 to mourn the passing of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's Prince Consort. Tradition suggests the  glass is poured with half of the Guinness stout  and the champagne is poured over a spoon to create two layers.  A poor man's Black Velvet, however, consists of hard apple cider instead of the champagne. Because the density of the layers differs from the champagne, the cider is poured in the glass first, followed by the Guinness poured over a spoon to create the layers.  Try this version with your next Guinness.

Poor Man's Black Velvet

In a beer glass, pour Guinness Stout to fill half the glass. Pour cider into glass over the back of a spoon to make the two layers. Serve immediately. Makes one drink.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hachis Parmentier-French Fridays with Dorie

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The equivalent of the English cottage or shepherd's pie, hachis parmentier is prepared much the same, but instead of using minced beef or lamb, chunks of boneless beef are boiled with aromatics, drained, chopped, then combined with a saute of spicy or sweet sausage and tomato paste. This moist filling is placed in a casserole dish with a top layer of mashed potatoes, Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. The casserole comes out of the oven golden brown and bubbling. On my visits to England, I always order the cottage pie if it is on the menu. Most often, the flavor varies along with the choice of meat. Just recently, I had a cottage pie made with lamb and minced beef-do you call that a Shepherd's Cottage Pie? It seems the pie can be whatever you want it to be. Instead of boiling the beef, I cooked mine in the slow cooker with less water than the recipe called for. By the way, if you would like the recipe, I suggest you buy the book, "Around My French Table" by Dorie Greenspan. Exciting French recipes gathered over the years by Dorie, not haute cuisine, but delicious comfort food you would serve your family and friends.

An easier version of the pie made with ground or minced beef is posted on the sidebar. I imagine it's just as good and less work. If you are interested in joining the French Fridays with Dorie group, you can find more information here. It's a fairly loose group with no requirements for joining except buying the book.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hot Apple Ginger Tea-Thirsty Thursday

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To celebrate National Apple Month which fittingly coincides with Fall festivals, apple picking at nearby orchards and Halloween, this Thirsty Thursday features a hot apple tea redolent with fresh ginger, cinnamon, cloves and the added zing of lemon juice. Apples are the new superfruit,  equal to two other superfruits, blueberries and pomegranates, according to a survey done by Supermarket Guru. Apples are available year round, rich in antioxidants, especially when the peel is eaten, a great source of fiber and may even improve brain health which could possibly delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The health benefits are endless! Apparently the old adage-an apple a day keeps the doctor away-has some merit, after all. Ginger also has numerous health benefits; motion sickness prevention, colon cancer prevention, cold and flu prevention, migraine relief and more.

This hot ginger apple tea is cooked in a slow cooker, a perfect way to keep the beverage hot, and serves 8-10. Remove the spice bag and tea bags when the cycle is complete. If your slow cooker has a warm cycle, the tea will stay hot for several hours.

Hot Ginger Apple Tea

1 lemon, peel removed and juiced,
1/3 cup fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 quart organic 100% apple juice or apple cider
1 quart water
6 tea bags
Lemon slices for garnish
Ginger honey to sweeten

Chill lemon juice until needed. Place lemon peel,ginger, broken cinnamon sticks and cloves in a spice bag and secure.

In a 3-1/2 or 4 quart slow cooker, combine the spice bag, apple juice and water. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 to 6 hours or high heat for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. When cycle is complete, remove and discard spice bag. Add tea bags, (draping strings over the side of the slow cooker and securing with the lid) and chilled lemon juice to slow cooker. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing gently to remove excess liquid; discard bags. Garnish with lemon slices and sweeten with ginger honey, if desired.

For more Thirsty Thursday posts-
Rasentin from Rossella of ma che ti sei mangiato.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DMBLGIT Judges Annnoucement

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October 2010
I'm thrilled that these very talented bloggers and photographers have accepted my invitation to judge the October edition DMBLGIT.  I appreciate the time and effort that each judge is giving to this very special food and drink photographic event. The entries are rolling in-thanks for participating!  The gallery link is here, so take a look for yourself. Remember the deadline is Monday, October 25, 2010-any time zone as long as it is still Monday. Without further ado-The Judges!  Please take a look at the work of these talented individuals-you will be impressed!

"Susan Wolfe (The Well-Seasoned Cook) is a freelance photographer and writer specializing in the culinary arts. Her work has appeared on the Desserts Magazine, Apartment Therapy - The Kitchn, and S. Pellegrino websites, as well as other publications. A regular contributor to Tastespotting and Foodgawker, her photography is also available commercially through Getty Images. When Susan is not cooking and baking in her tiny globally inspired galley kitchen, she can be found shooting for two upcoming books to be published by Harper Collins.  Susan has cooked, baked, written, and photographed for The Well-Seasoned Cook since March 2007.  She is the creator of the popular, long-running monthly event, My Legume Love Affair, and has been a previous host and judge for DMBLGIT? Susan lives in the New York City area."

Asha Pagdiwalla of Fork Spoon Knife-
"Two years back, I swapped out of the world of high finance to that of the high heat of the oven, traded in the excel sheets and complex models for the precision science of baking and art of flavors and moved from penning creative investment ideas to creative culinary experiments. My quest to satiate my voracious appetite takes me on a culinary journey across countries as I try, test, repeat, experiment and master techniques along the way. I am most comfortable swishing around a little of this and a bit of that, while crossing my fingers (secretly!), waiting for the magic to happen. So far, it has worked and it's been much fun sharing these experiences on my blog!!:) My work and photography can also be viewed at Facebook and Flickr."

Denise and Laudalino of Chez Us-
"Denise is a foodie who's first thought each morning is about what she'll be cooking that day. Laudalino is not a foodie; he's an eater and aspiring home chef. They met when he was a starving climber and bachelor who longed for his mother's good Portuguese cooking. She cooked, he ate and eight years later, he still prefers her food to any restaurant fare. Follow their culinary capers in their 20-square foot urbacn kitchen at their blog, Chez Us."

Nicole Young of Nicolesy-
"Nicole Young is a full-time photographer and author living in the Salt Lake Valley, Utah. She specializes in commercial photography and licenses many of her images through iStockphoto. Nicole is an accredited Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) in Photoshop CS4 and is a "Help Desk Specialist with the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. She is the author of the book Canon 7D: From Snapshots to Great Shots published by Peachpit Press."

Gadget by The Blog Doctor.