Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Short ribs and Fettucini and bacon and.....

Copy of FOOD 208
YUMMY! Even if it does take about 3 hours from start to finish! But don't panic! This is one of those things that you prepare and throw in a pot then come back occasionally to stir - and taste. I usually like to do this on a weekend when I know I will be home for the afternoon and can monitor the open flame in the kitchen. I guess this is kind of a glorified spaghetti sauce, but it is worth the effort and - as is usually the case with spaghetti sauces (and pizza) - it's even better the next day for lunch.


1 box Fettucini (yes - you can use regular spaghetti)
little Olive Oil
half a package of bacon - chopped (I suppose less of this would be fine...)
3 lbs short ribs
about 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 red onion - chopped
1 carrot - chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley
3 cloves of garlic
1 can diced tomatoes (I like to use the ones that are already seasoned)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
little rosemary - finely chopped
little dried thyme
little dried oregano
1 bay leaf
pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups beef broth
1 cup red wine
parmesan cheese


In large soup pot or dutch oven place a little olive oil and crisp the bacon. Meanwhile season the short ribs with salt and pepper on both sides and dredge in the flour. When bacon is finished remove from the pot and set aside. In the same pan brown the short ribs - 6-7 minutes each side. While browning the ribs combine the onion, carrot, parsley and garlic in a food processor and blend until finely minced. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste until completely blended.
Once the short ribs are browned remove them from the pot and deglaze with the wine. Add the tomato mixture and the fried bacon and bring to almost boiling. Add all the herbs, the bay leaf, the beef broth then the short ribs back to the pot. Bring all to a boil, then cover and turn heat to low. Simmer for an hour and a half. Remove the lid, stir and simmer for another hour to hour and fifteen minutes. Check back occasionally and give it a stir - maybe a little taste for seasoning purposes.
When all is cooked remove the meat and shred - discard any bones. Return shredded meat to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Once done add cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to the sauce - or more if it seems too thick.
Serve immediately with fresh grated parmesan cheese

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fresh Tomato Salad with Marinated Mozzarella

FOOD 107
There is really no reason for posting this other than the fact that it was super pretty...Super delicious....and anything involving cheese balls has to be fantastic...Right? I also loved that all the produce came from the farmers market trip the other day (and did I mention cheese balls?)
I quartered all the tomatoes - very thinly sliced a small yellow pepper - very thinly sliced a little red onion - halved the marinated mozzarella balls (purchased from my local grocery) very thinly sliced a slice of prosciutto (also purchased at my local grocery) tossed all that with a little olive oil and lemon and salt and pepper.
Washed the green leaf lettuce - tore into bite size pieces - tossed it with a little olive oil and lemon.
Then put it all together - added a little extra sliced prosciutto on top - then took a lovely photo
Fresh and easy.

FOOD 112
note: This was also fantastic when i tossed the lettuce with the               orange juice reduction dressing posted earlier (instead of just olive oil and lemon juice)  Did the vegetables the same as above. Yummy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pavlovas and Fresh Fruit

FOOD 131
The secret to perfect Pavlovas?  I have no idea. It's beaten egg whites. How hard could they be? I have made some that could have been handed out as weapons at a self-defense class. Others that looked like little baby piles of white.....stuff.....Then there is the day each meringue looks like a white cloud. Delicate, airy and crisp. Then melt in your mouth followed by that lingering sweetness that makes them so loved. Add some fresh fruit and homemade whipped cream. Beautiful.
Hope you try and enjoy.
4 large egg whites at room temperature (note: i find eggs are easier to separate when cold. I usually do this early and leave the egg whites in the bowl of the electric mixer - covered - for an hour or so - until they come to room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
oven to 200 (and you can do both sheets at the time in the oven)  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Beat egg whites at medium speed until frothy - about a minute. Add cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium high. Beat until egg whites are thick and look like shaving cream. Should take about another 2-3 minutes. Slowly sprinkle in 1/2 cup of sugar and the vanilla. Beat just until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the last 1/2 cup of sugar.
note:  the times listed to beat the egg whites are going to vary a great deal...depending on the temperature of the whites, the temperature of your kitchen, etc.....just keep an eye on them and watch for the descriptions given (good luck....this is where I usually botch the entire thing)
Place 6 heaping spoonfuls on each baking sheet. Then use the back of the spoon to shape out a little well on the top of each meringue pile (For these ones the sides of the meringues were almost an inch high...but you can make them thinner and flatter and take a few minutes off the baking time - I also like them all a bit imperfect but you can smooth them out and perfect this to your liking) Bake for 1 1/2 hours - meringues should look dry and firm and shiny. Then turn the oven off and leave them in there for another couple hours to slowly cool (yes - this part of the process takes forever)  Once cool you can store these in an airtight container for several days and just use whenever you need.

FOOD 143

Whatever fruit you have will be great. I picked up fresh peaches and strawberries at the farmers market the day prior so that is what I used. I think the ratio of fruit to sugar is about 1 cup fruit=1 teaspoon sugar. But this is up to you. You might like it sweeter, or no sugar at all.  After cutting up the fruit, gently mix in the sugar (or not) then let the bowl sit for a bit until there is some juice in the bottom.
I prefer the homemade because it is not as sweet. But of course the family LOVES Cool Whip. Use whichever is handy. For the homemade - 1 cup very cold Heavy Whipping Cream + 1 tablespoon sugar (taste it at this point - you might want to add a little more sugar) Whip until thick and shiny and firm peaks. Keep chilled until ready to use.
note:  I usually use regular granulated sugar. I have heard many only use powdered sugar. Use whichever you prefer.
Place meringue shell on a small plate. Cover the top with whipped cream and make a little dent for the fruit. Add fruit and serve.

FOOD 141

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spinach Frittata

Copy of FOOD 098
The best thing about a Frittata? I can throw whatever vegetables or leftover meats I have into a little dish, toss in some beaten eggs, cheese, bake it, then call it a Frittata! Easy, filling and very little mess. You can pre-cook the spinach and onions or not (I did saute them together in the above photo) But it will be delicious either way. This recipe is perfect for two servings - serve with a lovely salad and dinner is done.
6 eggs
2 cups and an extra handful baby spinach
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese (sharp white cheddar also very yummy)
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped ham (or whatever meat you have - or skip this ingredient all together)
1/4 cup milk (I always have 2% in the house so that is what I used)
salt and pepper
Oven to 400
If you want to cook the spinach and onions first - in a small skillet heat a tablespoon of olive oil - add onions and cook until softened (about 3 minutes) add spinach and cook just until wilted. Season with salt and pepper, mix - then leave it all in the pan.
Whisk together the eggs, cheese, milk, a little salt (for me this is 2 turns of the salt grinder) and a pinch of pepper. Add spinach mixture to egg mixture. Mix well then divide evenly between 2 oven safe bowls or medium sized ramekins. Can add a bit more grated cheese to top.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown on top

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fresh Peach Dumplings

FOOD 094
These fresh peaches were fantastic all by themselves! I figured they could only get better with sugar and pastry right? The inside mix looked like I was making a crisp, and apparently tasted great since my daughter was trying to eat it by the spoonful! The second time I made this I learned the trick was to get it all assembled faster then she could eat it.
A little bit of work (although I cheated again and used store bought puff pastry) but definitely worth the effort. Make sure the peaches are very firm. The mix can be easily doubled, made ahead of time and refrigerated for a couple of days. This way half the work is done and ready for you to make a few whenever needed. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Yummy!
By the way, the photo makes this dumpling look gigantic! It's not. Maybe 3x4 base after baking. Perfect single serving.
2 sheets puff pastry - thawed but very cold
4 large peaches
1 egg beaten with a splash of water
juice from 2 lemons
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
additional 1/4 cup sugar for sprinkling on top - set aside (and you do not have to use all of it)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter - chilled
handful of very finely ground walnuts (I usually do this in the Cuisinart)
Oven to 375
Juice the two lemons in large bowl and set aside
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil - you will need to blanch the whole peaches. While waiting for water to boil combine the cinnamon, nutmeg, 1/3 cup sugar, brown sugar, flour and nuts. With a pastry blender mix in the cold butter until it looks like chunky sand (sorry - terrible description I know)
Roll out the chilled puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to about 1/8 inch thickness. It needs to be about a 16x16 square. You will need to cut 4 large squares from each sheet. Place pieces on parchment lined baking sheet and put back in the refrigerator till ready to fill.
Hopefully the water is boiling now. Drop the WHOLE peaches into the boiling water for 15 seconds. Remove and peel - the skins should slide right off. Halve the peaches, remove pits and put in lemon juice then into the cinnamon mix.
Grab your baking sheet. Place a spoonful of cinnamon mix in the center of each piece of pastry, then a peach half (cut side down) then sprinkle more mix on top - I do a sort of assembly line with the pastry sheets and peaches to make sure I evenly distribute and use all the mix. Paint the edges of the pastry with the remaining lemon juice. Start folding up your dumpling - one corner to the top of the peach - then next corner - etc...I also use the lemon juice to kind of seal up the folded edges. Dumplings back to parchment lined baking sheet. Paint them well with the beaten egg/water mix. Sprinkle all over with sugar. Prick a few holes around the top to let steam escape. Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is browned and crispy. Let cool 10 - 15 minutes before serving (don't forget the ice cream)

FOOD 095

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fresh Lemon Cake

FOOD 091
I think the scent of fresh lemons is one of my favorites. Whether baking, adding to fresh pasta or even in soap, it is always lovely. This cake has a lot of steps - I seem to need and use every measuring cup I own - but is worth it in the end. Tart and sweet all at the same time. But not heavy and overpowering with lemon taste. Always a great aroma in the kitchen and always a hit at whatever party it attends.


2 sticks butter (room temperature)
2 cups sugar for the cake
3/4 cup sugar for syrup
4 large eggs (room temperature)
1/4 cup grated lemon zest (5 to 8 lemons - save these - you will need the juice)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice for the cake
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice for the syrup
3/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Oven to 350

Prepare the baking pans - 2 - 9inch rounds if you have(or 1 - 9inch round and 1 9inch square which is what I have) Grease and flour well or use a non-stick spray
Break the eggs into a measuring cup (or some other cup like container) Set aside. Zest and juice the lemons according to needed measurements. Pour the buttermilk into another measuring cup then add 1/4 cup lemon juice and vanilla - stir and set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and the 2 cups sugar in the electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until white and fluffy - maybe 5 minutes on medium speed.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Add the lemon zest. Stop and scrape the sides of the mixer bowl with a rubber spatula and scrape the zest off the paddle. Mix another 30 seconds then turn mixer to low and add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately. Mix just until incorporated. Divide evenly between the pans and bake 40 minutes - check with a toothpick or cake tester - bake additional time as needed. Mine are usually done at 40 minutes but I know my oven runs a bit hot.

Cook 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice over low heat stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.

When the cakes are done cool for 10 minutes, cover with a plate then flip over. Cake should fall right out. I usually flip the cake again so the 'pretty' side is on the top (you can use another plate or like me, just use my left hand covered with an oven mitt then slide it back onto the original plate - and yes - there were several disasters the first few times - I learned the 10 minute cooling time is crucial)
Spoon lemon sugar syrup over cakes then allow to cool
Can keep covered with saran wrap at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.

FOOD 090

Friday, September 3, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad w/Orange Juice reduction dressing

FOOD 028
The bounty of the Farmers Markets! I try to always find bunches of fresh beets, butter leaf lettuce (the family favorite) yummy cheeses and whatever else looks pretty and shiny in the early morning light. This salad can be a bit time consuming to prepare because of roasting and washing and slicing and watching orange juice boil...but worth it! Once the beets and dressing are ready there will be plenty for several salads and assembly will be quick going forward.


1 bunch fresh beets (see note below) *
1 head butter leaf lettuce (arugula and spinach good also)
a little goat cheese (or whatever mild flavor cheese you prefer)
olive oil
Orange Juice Reduction Dressing (recipe follows)

OJ Dressing:   
Pour 4 cups of orange juice into a medium/large sized saucepan (save yourself the time and purchase the orange juice at your local grocery) Bring to a boil at medium high setting then leave it alone. It needs to boil down to about 1 cup of liquid - this part takes FOREVER! When ready it will be rather dark.                   FOOD 054
Don't worry - after a little soaking and light scrubbing the pot looks good as new.                                      
Turn off heat. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain liquid into a small saucepan - add the juice from 1/2 fresh lemon (save the other half for later) add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Back to stove on medium high heat - bring liquid to boil and let reduce until "light syrup" consistency (you should have about a half cup of liquid). Turn off heat. Strain again into a bowl or measuring cup big enough to add olive oil and work with a whisk. Let cool for a few minutes. Add 1/2 a cup of good olive oil - the juice from the other half of the  lemon - salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Taste. Dressing should be tart - but if too strong for you add more olive oil. Salt and pepper if needed. Let cool completely.
I now pour this into a canning jar with those nifty seals and lids. That way when I need to dress the salad I can just give it all a good shaking then drizzle on my salad.

* HOW I PREPARE FRESH BEETS                                                                                                    
FOOD 064
They look like this when I get them. Lovely aren't they?  Wash and dry. Cut off leafy parts and stems. Completely cover a baking pan - or baking sheet - in foil. Place beets in - drizzle with olive oil - sprinkle with bit of salt - completely cover entire pan with beets in foil - roast in 350 oven for hour to hour and a half depending on size of beets. These were about the size of baseballs - I roasted them for an hour and twenty minutes. Out of oven - leave covered and let cool about half hour. Peel and set aside until ready to use.                                              
FOOD 047
Slice or cube the beets when you are ready. Cover and refrigerate leftover.

If you did all this in the same afternoon you have probably ordered a pizza by now!  If not, grab a big bowl, add washed and dried lettuce (I prefer Butter leaf for this) add sliced beets, drizzle with OJ dressing, sprinkle with goat cheese then sit down and relax and eat!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fried eggs and rice

FOOD 052 simple and quick (and probably a little silly for a food blog) dishes go - this is one of my favorites. Maybe because I love eggs. Maybe because my mom used to make it for me after school. Most likely because the smell of it all together takes me back to childhood and being in my mothers kitchen. 
Now I make it for my daughter which makes me love it even more.

quick and you go...

You will need:

hot cooked rice
2 or 3 eggs (I like 3 :  2 to mix into the rice - 1 for on top)
vegetable oil
toasted sesame seeds
soy sauce (low sodium or regular depending on what you prefer)


Make sure skillet is hot - medium high.  Add vegetable oil (2 to 3 turns around the pan).  Add 1 or 2 eggs. Let fry for couple minutes until edges are brown and crispy, then turn the heat down until yolk is cooked to your liking. Meanwhile assemble rice, sesame seeds and soy sauce in your favorite bowl.  When egg(s) are ready remove from pan and add to rice mixture. Turn heat back up on stove. Fry last egg. While waiting for your last egg sort of chop and mix the rice mixture - add more soy sauce if needed. Cover with last fried egg.