Sunday, October 19, 2014

Baked Sunday Mornings: Classic Shortcakes

Here in Oxnard, we have strawberries year-round!

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings challenge is for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.  But, alas, pumpkin in not one of my favorite things.  So, when I found these beautiful strawberries at the Famers' Market this morning, I decided to try one of Matt & Renato's recipes that I tore from the pages of the June edition of Better Homes and Gardens: Classic Shortcake.

Fresh from the oven & ready for berries!

Strawberry Shortcake has always been one of my favorite desserts - I used to beg mom for it instead of a birthday cake!  These shortcakes are wonderful - they're light and delicious.  They stand up to the strawberries and juice and the texture is heavenly.  Don't let the little bit of shortening deter you - they still taste buttery.  A lot of shortcakes are dense, but not these.  In fact, they were so good that John & I split a second one!  They would be equally delightful with peaches, or any other type of berry, as well.

A flower shop near our hotel in South Kensington, London

Have a lovely week!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Stuffed Pork Chops with Sauteed Spinach and Steamed Rice

A delicious autumn meal

This flavorful meal can be made quickly on a weeknight.  It's filled with the earthy aromas of autumn.  There are so many possible variations on the filling but we found this one a perfect complement to the pork.  The sauce is delicious spooned over the rice as well.  

Stuffed Pork Chops
In a medium skillet, saute:
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 apple, finely diced
1 small Onion, finely diced
6 mushrooms, finely diced
Pinch of Thyme
Salt & Pepper, to taste

When vegetables and apple begin to soften, stir in:
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs

Golden brown Pork Chops
Then moisten with 2 Tablespoons Chicken Broth.
Stir until everything sticks together, adding a bit more broth, if needed.
Remove from heat.

Cut pockets into 4 thick-cut boneless Pork Chops
Fill with as much stuffing as possible.
Sprinkle Pork Chops with Salt & Pepper.

In a large frying pan, heat 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil over medium heat,
Fry Pork Chops for 7-8 minutes per side until nicely browned.
Move Pork Chops from skillet to serving platter.

Turn heat up to high and add:
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 cup Dry White Wine
1 Tablespoon Whole Grain Mustard

Boil for about 3 minutes, whisking until fully combined.
Pour sauce over Pork Chops and serve immediately.

Sauteed Spinach
In a deep skillet with a lid, saute over medium heat:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic, minced

When garlic begins to brown, add 1 pound fresh Spinach.

Cover with lid for about 8 minutes to steam.
When spinach is wilted. add Salt & Pepper to taste and stir until coated with oil.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice over top.

Steamed Rice
Prepare one cup of rice according to package directions.

The lovely Island of Mull, Scotland

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Président Butter: Three Ways

I was delighted to receive an assortment of butter from the French company, Président: Salted Butter Bar, Spreadable Butter, and Sea Salt Butter.  Président butter is made from high quality creams in the heart of Normandy, France.  We enjoyed all three versions.  We spread it on biscuits, made Bearnaise Sauce that we served over steak, and placed slices into Sourdough Bread before heating it in the oven.  Every good cook knows that the best ingredients yield the best results - and Président butter is no exception.  It's so unlike standard American butter.

The Sea Salt butter is made in a wonderful shape of the original French molds that resemble beehives.

I love salted butter, and this one is exceptional on all manner of breads.  It melts beautifully but tastes great on room-temperature breads, too.  I imagine this butter would be lovely stirred into hot pasta with a great handful of Parmesan Cheese, as well! 

Fabulous Bearnaise Sauce - so velvety with Président butter!
This butter is an absolute must for your table!  It's as lovely melted into Sourdough Bread as it is in steamed vegetables.

Whether to complement your food, or to stir into a sauce, this butter will enhance your eating experience.  The only thing better than eating this butter would be eating it in Normandy!  It's that good.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

French Fridays with Dorie: Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun! Celery-Celery Soup and Monkfish with Double Carrots

Cream and delicious!

John and I joined French Fridays with Dorie four years ago starting with the very first recipe!  We had no idea what a wonderful journey we'd embarked upon.  From turning virtual friends into real ones to meeting Dorie and Michael in person - it's surpassed all our expectations.

As we begin this fifth year as Doristas, we have learned so many techniques, tried new flavor combinations, and refined our palates.  This week is no exception when we stirred apples into celery soup!

This week's post is a double since it was 100 degrees in Oxnard last week and no weather for soup!

The Celery-Celery Soup was wonderful!  It was so creamy with layers of flavor - celery, celery root, onion, apple, bay leaf and thyme.  It's perfect for autumn with a splash of cream stirred in.

Fresh and wonderful - how can you go wrong with bacon?

This week's recipe is for Monkfish with Double Carrots.  This light and delicious meal is easy to make.  The fish flavor really shines through.  Dorie also suggests trying this with Scallops, or Shrimp which we also think would be wonderful.  John said, "Mmmmm...bacon fish..." 

Bon Appetit!

Hollyrood House Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Scaredy-Cat Sugar Cookies

Use white Jimmies for whiskers!

My friend, Karen, loves Halloween.  Her birthday is about a month too early for a spooky party, so I made her these fun Scaredy-Cat cookies.  They were a real hit with my book club as we all laughed with black tongues & lips!

This recipe is easy to make and, best of all, the cookies keep their shape as they bake in the oven.  They're flaky and lightly sweet.  So, if you've got someone who loves sugar cookies, whip up a batch!

Be sure to keep the cookies on parchment paper as you decorate them!

Vanilla Shortbread Cookies
In a medium bowl, whisk together:
2 cups Flour
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1/4 cup Salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle beater, cream:
1 cup (2 sticks) Butter, softened
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

Once the Butter and Sugar are thoroughly blended, light, and fluffy, add 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract and mix until combined - about 1 minute.

Add Flour mixture, and mix until dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl and begins to for a ball.

On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll dough into a ball, then using the palm of your hand, press it into a disk.  Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut into desired shape.  Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Bake for 10 minutes until very lightly browned on the bottom.

Re-roll scraps and cut as many cookies as possible.

Allow cookies to cool completely before icing them.  

In a small bowl, using a fork, whisk together:
1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
A couple of drops of food coloring, if desired.

Add up to 1/4 cup cream, a little at a time until icing reaches desired consistency.

Frost cookies and decorate with sanding sugar.

Don't tell them they're cute - they think they're scary!  LOL!
Happy Birthday, Karen!

Me in London with the big black cats of Trafalgar Square

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Baked Sunday Mornings: Tunnel of Walnut Fudge Cake

The good side of the cake...

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings challenge is for Tunnel of Hazelnut Fudge Cake, but I chose to use walnuts instead.  It's not that I don't like Nutella, or Hazelnuts, it's just that I like Walnuts better.  So, when I read that the original recipe was made with walnuts, I knew it was a good choice.

Before it really slid into a molten mess...

This cake isn't complicated to make, but neither is it a typical Bundt cake.  It's meant to be have a tunnel of fudge running through it, but mine was more like a lava cake!  I had a little trouble getting it to release from the pan and it cracked, so I left the pan over the cake and let it rest longer.  One side of it looked pretty good, so I snapped a couple of photos quickly.  However, while I carried it to my brother's house in the car, it kept sliding.  By the time we had dessert, it wasn't pretty but everyone enjoyed it.  To me, it tasted like brownies - good brownies.  So, next time, I would probably just make brownies, instead.  Not a great success, but not a failure, either.

Treats in the window at Muriel's Kitchen, South Kensington, London

Thursday, September 25, 2014

French Fridays with Dorie: Vanilla Vegetable Salad

I used Vanilla Bean Paste and added a sprinkle of Parisien Bonnes Herbes in the Vinaigrette
 This week's French Fridays with Dorie challenge is for Vanilla Vegetable Salad - yes, really!  I know it sounds like an unlikely combination:  Salad Greens, Carrots, and Yellow Squash drizzled with a light, lemony vinaigrette scented with vanilla.  But, it is a lovely, summery combination that delights the palate.  The vanilla flavor is very subtle, almost an aftertaste, but it's definitely there.  I'd love to try this vinaigrette with a pear or beet salad.

Carrots and Yellow Squash ribbons cut with a vegetable peeler

I love how Dorie constantly challenges preconceived notions of what flavors work well together.  We served this salad as a starter course with warm buttered sourdough bread and our family truly enjoyed it.

Bon Appetit!

Enjoying the display cases at Harrods Food Hall
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