Saturday, August 16, 2014

Taking a Blogging Break!

After 4 1/2 years, we'll be taking a few weeks off from blogging.

We promise to be back in mid-September with new recipes and great photos!

In the meantime, thanks for your continued support.

Take good care of yourselves!

It looks like we're not the only ones who need a break!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bourbon Cherries


Makings of an Old Fashioned

John's favorite cocktail is an Old Fashioned.  A couple of years ago, when we visited the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, he found his favorite drink elevated to a whole new level with their house-made cherries.  Not only were they a far cry from the florescent Maraschino Cherries that are so widely available, they infused his drink with rich Bourbon flavor and deep burgundy color.  Since then, we've looked for a way to make them.  This recipe uses Pomegranate Juice to enhance the natural Cherry color.

Rich, natural color and flavor
Bourbon Cherries
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer:
2 cups Pomegranate Juice
1/2 cup Sugar
When sugar is dissolved and syrup is reduced by 1/3, remove from heat.

While the sauce is cooling, use a Cherry Pitter, remove the pits and stems from 2 pounds of fresh Cherries.
Fill as many clean jars as you can, stuffing them in tightly without squishing them.

Once the sauce is at room temperature, stir in 1 cup good-quality Bourbon.
Carefully pour the sauce into the prepared jars.
Tightly seal the lids and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least one week before using.

At this point, you can enjoy the cherries in cocktails, on top of desserts, or to fold into homemade ice cream - or right out of the jar!

Dorie Greenspan's Cheesecake topped with Bourbon Cherry Sauce!

Cherry Bourbon Sauce

Or, you can make amazing Cherry Bourbon Sauce!  Our nephew requested Cheesecake for his birthday, so we made this delicious sauce to go with it.

This is not an exact recipe, because it will depend upon how big your jars of Bourbon Cherries are.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, slowly heat:
1 12-ounce jar Bourbon Cherries
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Arrowroot  (note:  the sauce will look cloudy until it starts to thicken, then it will clear up)

Stir frequently until sauce thickens and easily coats the back of a spoon.
It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Serve chilled, or at room temperature.

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!

Cormorant taking a rest from fishing

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Baked Sunday Mornings: Vanilla Bean Malt Cake

I used Bourbon instead of Vanilla in the Glaze.

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings challenge is for Vanilla Bean Malt Cake.  Matt and Renato describe this as a great snacking cake, and that it is!  

Okay, so I don’t mess up baking projects very often, but when I do, I really do! Since our Baked mentors say to use a 6-cup Bundt cake pan and I don’t have one, I decided to use one that I do have for 6 1-cup mini-Bundts. Sounds logical, right? While it may be possible, mathematically, it wasn’t possible, physically! My poor little cakes over-flowed like crazy! By the time I realized it and slid a foil-lined pan onto the shelf below, them, most of the damage had been done! Fortunately, the cake that stayed where it was supposed to was delicious!  I'm sure I'll make this again, but will definitely use a regular Bundt cake pan.  My mistake aside, this cake was easy to throw together on a weeknight and is delicious enough to serve to company.

Light and delicious with the rich flavors of malt and bourbon

It tastes like yummy waffles.  Even though we served it with the glaze, I think it would be wonderful with fresh berries and whipped cream.


We took a ride on a Duffy boat today and this Sea Lion struck a pose for us on the dock!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

French Fridays with Dorie: Tuna Confit with Black Olive Tapenade and Tomato Salsa

A delicious summer meal!

This week's French Fridays with Dorie challenge is Tuna Confit with Black Olive Tapenade and Tomato Salsa.  In case you're wondering what confit is and how it works, here is an excellent article.  This recipe isn't at all difficult to make, but you have to allow enough time for the process.  

All the makings of a gourmet meal!

Luckily, we had a great piece of Ahi Tuna in our freezer that we'd purchased from the fishermen right off the Ventura II in the Ventura Harbor. After we thawed out the tuna, John sliced it into one-inch thick steaks which we immersed in olive oil infused with fresh herbs, preserved lemons, and sun-dried tomatoes.  The fish rested overnight, then spent one hour in the oven at a very low temperature.  While the tuna was in the oven, John made Purple Sticky Rice and I made a tomato-avocado salsa (sorry, Doristas, no peppers for me!).  We did take a shortcut and used store-bought tapenade.

So full of flavor and texture!

Since most of the work was done the night before, this was a perfect meal for a weeknight.  It by far surpassed my expectations.  The tuna was so moist and infused with flavor and taking bites with alternating bites of tapenade and salsa, it was so fresh and delicious!  We think the leftover tuna would be perfect for Salade Nicoise.  

One of my favorite things about belong to this group is learning new techniques.  This is one we will certainly use again.  It's just delicious!

Bon Appetit!

Ventura Harbor at twilight

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Greek-style Chicken Pasta

See all the herbs and vegetables mixed in with the chicken and cheese?

At this time of year, we love thinking of ways to use all the fresh tomatoes in our garden.  Since we haven't had Greek food recently, we concocted this pasta dish with Greek flair.  It's full of fresh vegetables, sweetened with red wine, and topped with salty Feta Cheese.

Yummy goodness made with tomatoes from our garden

Greek-style Chicken Pasta

Cook 1-pound short Pasta, according to package directions.

While the water is boiling and the Pasta is cooking, make the sauce.
Cut a large boneless Chicken breast into 1/2 cubes.
In a large ziploc bag, toss the cubes of Chicken with 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon Greek Seasoning.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, saute 3 cups fresh Tomatoes, quartered, in 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil.
Sprinkle with a little Salt & Pepper.
When Tomatoes break down, remove from heat and process through a food mill fitted with a medium plate.
Set aside.

Rinse out the pan and return to medium heat.
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 stalks Celery, finely sliced
2 Carrots, finely diced
1 Onion, finely diced
2 Zucchini, finely diced
Salt & Pepper
1 teaspoon Greek Seasoning
Cook vegetables, stirring often, until they begin to soften.
Pour tomato sauce into vegetables and taste for seasoning.
Then stir in 1/2 cup sliced Kalamata Olives

While the vegetables are cooking, cook the Chicken in another pan.
In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, pan fry the coated chicken in 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil.
Reserve extra flour to thicken the sauce.
Once the Chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes, add the reserved flour to the pan.
Deglaze the pan with 1 cup Red Wine.
The add 1 - 2 cups Chicken Broth until sauce reaches desired consistency.
Add vegetable sauce to the pan, stirring to blend completely.

The toss sauce with cooked pasta.
Ladle into bowls and top generously with crumbled Feta Cheese.

Garden fresh with chicken and Feta cheese

If you are left craving Greek food after reading this, visit my friend, Christy's blog, Confessions of a Culinary Diva, where she reviews "It's All Greek to Me" by Debbie Matenopoulos.


We saw this octopus at the Channel Islands Harbor!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Baked Sunday Mornings: Milk Chocolate Malt Semifreddo with Chocolate Syrup

Creamy, crunch, and divine!

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings challenge is for Milk Chocolate Malt Semifreddo with Chocolate Syrup.  If you're wondering what exactly a "Semifreddo" is, Nicole Weston offers this definition on her blog, Baking Bites (Nicole is a fellow member of the Food Bloggers of Los Angeles who I met last year.).

Only the best ingredients will do!

This particular Semifreddo is a creamy dessert that is richly flavored with malt and studded with Malted Milk Balls.  Served frozen, and drizzled with chocolate sauce, it's sure to delight the palates of any ice cream lovers you know.  

I was excited to make this for my brother and niece who love malt.  The original recipe calls for making two desserts in loaf pans, but I wanted to create a more attractive display, so made ours in an old glass Jell-O ring mold.  It turned our really pretty and delicious.

So, if you're looking for a refreshing summer dessert that's rich and creamy but doesn't require an ice cream maker, this is it!  Everyone in my family just loved it!

Instead of making chocolate sauce, we drizzled ours with Fran's Dark Chocolate Sauce from Seattle which is simply divine.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cookbook Review: The Loving Kitchen

The art of sharing
I was delighted to receive a copy of LeAnn Rice's brand new cookbook, The Loving Kitchen, from her publisher,  Thomas Nelson, for review.  I'm always happy when a fellow food blogger publishes a cookbook.  It's a wonderful realization of a shared dream that inspires the rest of us.  You can meet LeAnn at her blog, LeAnn Cooks.  Grab a tall glass of iced tea and be prepared to stay awhile.  Her Southern style is so warm and welcoming that you'll feel like you're visiting a friend.

LeAnn is all about sharing with friends and family.  And her vivaciousness and hospitality jump right off the pages.  The Loving Kitchen is filled with recipes that are perfect for family.  John's family grew up going to church socials and many of LeAnn's recipes would be welcome at Church Suppers.

I grew up as a Navy Brat and we received and made many welcoming dishes over the years.  The interesting thing about growing up in the Navy is that I knew kids from all over the States and lived in many places, so grew up eating a wide variety of foods.  Although I tabbed many recipes to try, LeAnn's Cottage Herb Bread stirred a long-ago memory of yeast bread made with cottage cheese and herbs.  This bread is coated with butter, too, so it has a wonderful, crunchy crust.

Smells & tastes delicious!

The recipe is easy to follow and yields a great result.  LeAnn talks about having this bread in the oven when guests arrive because it makes the whole house smell good!  And it does!  And, the very first bite bursts with garden flavor - dill, onion, and chives.  And the great thing about it is I almost always have the ingredients on-hand.  You can find the recipe on her blog right here.

LeAnn includes a lot of Southern favorites right along side her fresh takes on traditional recipes.  This cookbook will be welcome in the home of busy cooks who love to provide comfort to others through good food.  

Bet you can't eat just one slice! 
Other recipes I've tabbed to try include:  Roasted Breakfast Potatoes and Bacon, Baked Crab Dip, and Tequila Shrimp Skewers.
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