Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cheers ~ Welcome 2011!

I thought long and hard about what to write for my last blog post of 2010.

It's been a difficult year for our family...for reasons too plentiful to list.  Let's just say (without even knowing what the future has in store) I look forward to starting anew and the possibility of brighter days ahead.

That's not to say it's all been bad...

As I sit here typing I am watching my children play together while my husband reads the paper. I love them. We are safe, warm and under one roof.  For that I am blessed.

I picked up running this summer and have increased what began as a fifteen minute strenuous jog... to today easily running over three and a half miles.  For that I am proud.

I started this blog in March with no idea how much it would evolve into a fulfilling, constructive hobby. I've enjoyed getting to know my fellow bloggers, seeing your food and hearing your stories. You have made me laugh, inspired me to try new things ~ but most of all ~ you have made me hungry.  For that I am grateful.

So here's to 2011 ~ may it be filled with peace, prosperity, great health and ~ but of course ~ excellent food! 


Monday, December 27, 2010

Wild Mushroom Risotto with White Truffle Oil ~ Paying it Forward!

What's better than a hot bowl of Wild Mushroom Risotto on a cold and snowy night?

A hot bowl of Wild Mushroom Risotto with a glass of red wine, two great friends and this La Tourangelle White Truffle Oil our other friends got us for Christmas!

We're thrilled to be "paying it forward"... as a little of the truffle oil goes a long way and tremendously enhances the flavor ~ of ANYTHING it touches!

Wild Mushroom Risotto
Gourmet, September 2003, Adapted from Anthony Bourdain


6 1/2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock if keeping vegetarian) , or 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (40 fl oz) and 1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 lb fresh wild mushrooms such as porcini, chanterelles, or hedgehogs, trimmed and chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice* (10 oz)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon white truffle oil* (optional) (but is it really?)
1 1/2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives


Bring stock to a simmer in a 4-quart pot and keep at a bare simmer, covered.

Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned and any liquid they give off is evaporated, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl.

Cook shallots in 2 tablespoons butter in same saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Ladle in 1 cup simmering stock and cook at a strong simmer, stirring, until absorbed. Continue simmering and adding stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring very frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking, 16 to 18 minutes. (Save leftover stock for thinning.) (Ours took 33 minutes to get the risotto perfect!)

Remove from heat and stir in remaining tablespoon butter, sautéed mushrooms, truffle oil to taste (if using), cheese, chives, and salt and pepper to taste. If desired, thin risotto with some of leftover stock.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Yesterday's Homemade Sushi

We spent the day yesterday at my sister and brother-in-law's house ~ we had such an amazing time! Here are some photos of Gabrielle's homemade sushi ...UNBELIEVABLY GREAT!  She and I just might do a video together showing the steps it takes to make the perfect roll! (Possibly coming in the new year!)

This afternoon our friends arrived and are staying with us a few days ~ wine and cheese coming up and lots of cooking to come!


Salmon...always my favorite!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa Claws and a Merry Christmas...

My sister made a bunch of these lobster ornaments a few years back. She was hosting a Lobster Bake and placed one per plate as a party favor. (She's good...I'm not gonna lie.) The crustacean is prominently displayed on our tree and always makes me smile hungry!

This ornament my parents passed down to us is one of my favorites ~ it's very old and fragile. 

I'm praying 2011 brings peace, joy and health to our family and yours...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Emeril's Snickerdoodles... and Bacon?

Today's the big day...Preschool Christmas Party 2010!

If you recall, I'm in charge of seeing it all goes off without a hitch ~thus~ short on time!  I did want to share with you however, the Snickerdoodles my husband and daughter made for gifting. Emeril's recipe is wonderful...light, crisp and perfectly balanced!

Yesterday, we took a trip to that pork farm I'm always blabbing about...the line was down the street! My daughter's teachers are getting a tin of cookies and a pound of farm fresh bacon!  I know... they're going to think I am NUTS...but I don't care...I gift awesome bacon...that's what I do!

Below you'll see the bacon all wrapped up and looking pretty!  Wish us luck!

Snickerdoodles ~from Emeril Live
yields about 2 dozen cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup shortening
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

With a handheld or standing mixer, beat together the shortening and butter. Add the 1 1/2 cups sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth.

Mix the 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll the dough, by hand, into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar. Flatten the balls into 1/2-inch thick disks, spacing them evenly on unlined cookie sheets. Bake until light brown, but still moist in the center, about 12 minutes. Cool on a rack

Monday, December 20, 2010

Grilled Lamb Chops with Garlic Rosemary and Thyme ~ Hot Off the Charcoal!

In keeping with my promise to make my posts quick and to the point this we have Grilled Lamb Chops.  Yes they're a bit of a splurge, but I simply can not resist making them during the Holiday Season!

Below, the Lamb Chops are marinating in a homemade paste of Olive Oil, Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme and Sea Salt. We prefer our lamb very flavorful and cooked over a scorching hot charcoal grill! (Marinating time varies, here 2 hrs.)

Husband cutting the Lamb Chops after he cooked them over direct high heat on the charcoal grill (2-3 minutes per side) and let them rest a few minutes to retain their juices...

After we cut the Lamb Chops, we felt the fat hadn't rendered down enough (notice the white in the photo) so we placed the chops back on the grill for just a few seconds longer! (To some, these may look perfect as I know many people prefer their lamb very rare.)

Here the Lamb Chops are off the grill the second time. When we bit into the chops, they were filled with beautiful herbaceous flavor and medium rare in the center! For us...PERFECT!

We enjoyed the Lamb Chops over top piping hot Parmesan Polenta - that one of these days I promise I will photograph and post! It's just that once the polenta is finished ~ all creamy, warm and delicious ~ the camera seems down right frivolous!

I hope if anything this post serves as inspiration!  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes ~ Worth Every Penny!

This time of year I like to keep special ingredients around in case of impromptu holiday gatherings! It paid off last after a busy day of shopping...our friends came over for dinner!

A pound of jumbo lump crab meat waiting patiently in my just a few simple steps...was transformed into 10 medium sized crab cakes! 

I'd say a decadent dinner for four adults ~ makes buying jumbo lump ~ worth every single penny!  Enjoy!

Carefully folding the mixture together ensures a HUGE chunk of crab meat in each and every bite!

A simple cocktail sauce made from ketchup, horseradish and freshly squeezed lemon is the perfect accompaniment...

I used crushed oyster crackers in this recipe instead of bread crumbs...

Click here for a true crab story from my earlier blogging days
Simple Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

1 pound Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
1/4 cup celery, finely diced
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon parsley, finely diced
2 teaspoons Grey Poupon Mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tsp+ OLD BAY
1/4 cup mayonnaise
12 oyster crackers crushed (saltine crackers could be used too)
1 egg lightly beaten
Panko Bread Crumbs for coating
Oil +1 Tablespoon butter for frying


Preheat oven to 325.

Place all ingredients (except last two) in a large bowl and carefully fold together until just incorporated. Form 10 crab cakes, again being careful not to compromise the integrity of the lump meat.

Pour Panko crumbs on a dish and then roll crab cakes in the Panko, covering entire cake.

Heat oil and butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Saute the crab cakes until lightly browned on all sides. Set crab cakes aside on paper towel.

Once all have been browned, place the crab cakes in a pan and place in the oven to finish cooking through about, 10-12 minutes.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chocolate Toasts with Sea Salt and Olive Oil ~ Lazy Man's Dessert

Further proof that I do not have quite the same patience nor baking acumen that so many of you possess - these Chocolate Toasts with Sea Salt and Olive Oil are definitely a, "Lazy Man's Dessert!"

My sister (not she who makes "witty" comments on my blog, but the other) shared this snack with me a few years back. She served the Chocolate Toasts as part of a spread for a neighborhood Wine and Cheese. 

I appreciate any treat that takes simple, fine ingredients and puts them together in a somewhat unusual fashion!  Have fun with these delightful toasts ~ and enjoy!

Here I used a semi-sweet Bakers Chocolate, but obviously the higher quality the chocolate the better!

Shaving the chocolate with a knife...because who doesn't enjoy shaving chocolate?

Baguette slices brushed with extra virgin olive oil and lightly toasted in 350 degree oven (do not over toast here, just 2-3 minutes)...

Mixed together 2/1 ratio of chili powder and cinnamon respectively (*this step is optional)...

Place some chocolate on top of lightly toasted baguette slice, sprinkle with touch of spice mixture and sea salt. Drizzle with your favorite extra virgin olive oil. Place in oven for 4-5 minutes or until chocolate is just soft. (Add MORE chocolate than I did here!!!!)

Out of the oven. Let chocolate set a minute or two.

Take a bite and enjoy...with a glass of red perhaps!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Corn Tortilla Cannoli ~ Caught Fraternizing

First, to the Cannoli purists out there (and I know there are many)...please don't all of you come after me with a club!  It's just that I often find myself with leftover corn tortillas sitting idle in my fridge. 

On this particular tortillas were nestled up beside an unopened tub of sweet and creamy Mascarpone Cheese.

When I caught the two fraternizing...this is what I did...

Corn tortillas...

Corn tortilla soaking in mixture of egg, cream, vanilla extract and cinnamon...

Corn tortilla cooking over medium-high heat on buttered cast iron skillet...

Off the stove...

Sprinkled with a bit of Brown Sugar while still warm...

Handful of almonds (pistachios would be nice too)...

Look out...

Little guys never had a chance...

Mixture of mascarpone & cream cheese (ricotta would be nice), touch of vanilla extract, spoonful of fig spread from previous post and some crushed almonds ~ mix to taste.

(About 3-4 tablespoons)

Cheese mixture placed on cooled tortilla and sprinkled with more almonds...

Rolled seam side down...

Carefully cut on a bias with a sharp paring knife...

While nothing compares to the light, crisp, flaky shell of the Classic Italian Cannoli...this Corn Tortilla version is absolutely DELICIOUS!  Easy to bite into...creamy, crunchy, sweet (but not overly so) in the center!

Alas...I dipped the ends in almonds...but they're BEGGING for some chocolate!

A perfect treat for breakfast, tea time, coffee or dessert!  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hearty Beef Stew ~ Simple Inspiration

We did not follow a recipe, but had all the necessary components to make a delicious Beef Stew!

Chuck Beef...



Fresh Pearl Onions...


Quartered Potatoes...

Plus... diced tomatoes, beef stock, bay leaf, garlic and thyme...

salt, pepper, parsley and a delicious crusty bread.

all cooked down together yielded "Heaven in a Bowl"......after a somewhat challenging day.

Chances have some of these ingredients too!

Dinner Deconstructed.  (*Started new side tab: Dinner Deconstructed)