Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gougeres, Cranberry Almond Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette, Boeuf a la Mode, and Red Velvet Cake

When I made these lovely cheese puffs for the first "French Fridays with Dorie," I froze some.  They stored and baked really well.  We served them with the salad course.

Cranberry Almond Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
This is a reprise of the salad we made for John's big birthday bash.  It has wonderful autumn flavors of cranberries, almonds, and feta cheese.

Salad
1 bag Fresh Spring Greens (we used the 50/50 mix, but any of these would be good)
1/2 Cup toasted, sliced Almonds
1  Cup Craisins
1 4-ounce Package crumbled Feta Cheese

Raspberry Vinaigrette
In a jar with a lid, place:
1 Cup Olive Oil

Screw lid on tight, and shake until well-blended.

Pour over salad and toss until coated. This salad should be made and dressed as close to the time it's going to be eaten as possible so it doesn't wilt or get soggy.  This recipe makes enough for 2 salads, so just use half of it.

Boeuf a la Mode
This is a fantastic pot roast recipe from Dorie Greenspan's newest cookbook,
"Around my French Table."  It's tender and full of flavor.



You have to plan ahead because the meat is marinated overnight in a bottle of red wine with herbs and vegetables, but it is so worth it!  We took a $7 piece of meat and turned it into a fantastic meal.  We modified the recipe slightly by adding potatoes, onions, and carrots to the dutch oven for the last 45 minutes of cooking.
Red Velvet Cake
My bother and sister-in-law brought this amazing Red Velvet Cake from our favorite bakery, The Bread Basket!

Bon Appetit!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake - French Fridays with Dorie Recipe

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is this lovely cake.  One of the most important things I've learned from Dorie's cookbooks is to let natural flavors shine through.  This cake allows you to taste the apples - not cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger - but apples!

This cake was super easy to make.  It's the perfect thing to make for brunch, or a last-minute dessert.  The biggest problem with this cake was that I couldn't stop eating it!  It's lovely, custardy and imbued with vanilla.  The apples are a bit crispy which creates a nice contrast. 

C'est magnifique!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli


My First Holy Communion in Naples, Italy
  I was 9 years-old when I moved to Naples.  It was a colorful, chaotic, noisy, beautiful place.  I loved everything about it - the people, the beaches, and the food!  It was there that I began to appreciate the flavor of really fresh food.  Pasta e Fagioli (Beans) is a hearty soup that is wonderfully comforting on a chilly autumn evening.  Imbued with the taste of ham, garlic, and tomatoes, and the textures of pasta, beans, and broth, it brings back memories of my childhood!  You may also hear this soup pronounced "Pasta Fah-jool" or "Fah-zool" from different Italian dialects.

Pasta e Fagioli
I've searched for a recipe for Pasta e Fagioli that tastes like it was made in Naples for a long time.  (Sure, the Olive Garden version is good, but it's not the way I remember having it in Italy.)  I came across this recipe for Hunter's Minestrone from Tyler Florence that had a lot of the same elements, so I modified it to make one of my Neopolitan favorites. ***Sigh*** I found it at last!

In Dutch Oven, simmer for 15 minutes:
2 Quarts Ham Stock

1 Clove Garlic, cut in half horizontally (Don't worry about the skin, you'll strain it later.)

While the broth is simmering, bring 2 Quarts of water to boil in a large sauce pan.
Add:
1 tsp Salt
1/2 pound Small Pasta (I used Ditalini)
Cook until slightly under-done as they will continue to cook when added to the soup.
Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is boiling, add to a food processor fitted with a sharp blade:
2 Carrots, Peeled and cut in 2 - 3 " pieces
2 ribs Celery cut in 2 - 3" pieces
1 medium Onion, quartered
Mince finely.
 
Strain the Broth and set aside.

In the Dutch Oven, saute:
1/4 cup olive oil
Minced Vegetables
Cook until softened.

Stir in:
1 pound Ham, cubed
1 (28-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon Bouquet Garni
3 15-ounce cans Cannellini Beans (or White Kidney Beans), drained and rinsed

Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
( I didn't add any additional Salt)
Reserved Broth

Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
Stir in pasta and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Top with shredded Parmesan Cheese and serve with bread.

Buon Appetito!


Grapes at Roblar Winery in Santa Ynez, CA
 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ham Steaks, Roasted Acorn Squash, Wild Rice, and Pumpkin Bread!

It seems that autumn has arrived in Southern California - it's even been raining!  This is a quick, comforting meal filled with some of the most luscious flavors of the season.

Ham Steaks
Nothing could be easier than heating a nice ham steak in a skillet.  It doesn't need anything extra - unless, of course, you like a little mustard on the side.  Having lived in England, my husband prefers Colman's.

Wild Rice
We used Rice Select Royal Blend, Quick Cooking - just follow package directions.

Roasted Acorn Squash
I recently joined Pasolivo's Press Club which means that twice a year I get a surprise shipment filled with wonderful products from their olive farm - complete with recipes.  The October shipment included Tangerine Olive Oil, and the recipe was for roasted squash which sounded wonderful, so we decided to try it.  The citrus flavor was amazing, but we both thought they would have been better with a sprinkling of brown sugar, too.
 Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Cut an Acorn Squash in half length-wise.
Rub cut edges with Tangerine Olive Oil, and place each half on the baking sheet cut-side down.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Turn squash halves over.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Drizzle with Tangerine Olive Oil and Honey.
Return to the oven for 10 more minutes.

 Pumpkin Bread and Muffins
Yes, I made these with fresh pumpkin!  I used Marcel Desaulniers' recipe in The Trellis Restaurant Cookbook.  If you ever visit Williamsburg, VA, I highly recommend eating at The Trellis Restaurant!  And, definitely save room for dessert - he specializes in out-of-this-world chocolate creations! 


 
I added toasted Pecans, Hazelnuts, and Dates - neither John nor I really like cooked raisins, so dates are a wonderful alternative in baked goods.






Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
When you scoop out the pumpkin, place the seeds in a collander, remove all the pulp and membrane, and rinse them.  Soak them in salt water while the bread is baking, then increase the temperature to 400 degrees.  Bake them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 20 minutes - stirring after 10 minutes.  Cool & enjoy!

Happy Autumn!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hachis Parmentier and Garden Beans - French Fridays with Dorie Recipe

Hachis Parmentier 
This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is this wonderfully comforting meat pie topped with fluffy, cheesy mashed potatoes.  It's easy to make and hits the spot on a cool autumn evening.

I opted for the Bonne Idee version and sauteed a finely diced carrot, 1/2 white onion and 2 ribs of celery with the garlic.  I added fresh parsley and lemon thyme from my garden.  The blend of flavors with the sausage and broth (of course, I used Penzeys Beef Soup Base) was rich and flavorful.

Garden Beans
We grew these colorful beans from seed!  I steamed them, sprinkled them with salt, and added a dollop of butter.  They were the perfect complement to this hearty dish.



Bon Appetit!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chocolate Nutella Cookies


When I was a kid in Rome, it was always a treat to be invited in for an after-school snack by my Italian friends because it was usually Nutella spread on crusty bread.  Since I live in California now, I ocassionally enjoy Nutella on Sourdough bread, and it always brings back memories.  I recently found myself unable to resist purchasing a twin-pack of 26.5-ounce jars at Costco.



 I've never cooked with Nutella, but found this recipe from fellow-blogger, Garrett McCord of Vanilla Garlic, while I was looking for a quick dessert to take to my brother's house for dinner, so I decided to try it. 

Needless to say, they were wonderful & my sister-in-law declared this recipe to be a "Keeper."  The flavor and texture were just great - so chocolatey, soft, and chewy!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mom's Apple Cake



This recipe comes from fellow-blogger, Smitten Kitchen.  She explains the cake's history and how she solicited the recipe from her mom.  This cake is moist and delicious - and will fill your house with the amazing scents of cinnamon & apples!

It's a wonderful, comforting autumn cake.  Although the recipe calls for MacIntosh Appes, I used Gala  because I had them on-hand.  I made it for my friend, Jeanie's birthday, and everyone enjoyed it!

Happy Birthday, Jeanie!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Banana Bread and Muffins


This Banana Bread is so moist - the secret ingredient is Sour Cream!  The batter works well for muffins and bread.  For muffins, bake for 25 minutes; for bread, bake for 50 minutes.

I sprinkled the tops with Cinnamon Sugar and Walnuts and Pecans.  Placing the nuts on top allows them to get toasted which enhances their flavor - and makes them crunchy.

Enjoy!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Best Shredded Beef Burritos


This recipe comes from my favorite fellow-blogger, Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice.  She is so talented; not just at blending flavors, her photography is beautiful as well.

We made two modifications to her recipe and used Chuck Roast instead of Flank Steak, and made burritos instead of tacos.  We live in Southern CA, and eat Mexican food all the time, and, I have to say this recipe is the BEST!  We put everything in the Crock Pot, then were out all day.  When we returned home, we were greeted by the most amazing aromas!  The combination of flavors in this dish is unbeatable! 
We served it with all the trimmings:
Salsa
Guacomole
Shredded Cabbage
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
Flour Tortillas, warmed in the oven
Refried Beans


Enjoy!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Gerard's Mustard Tart (French Fridays with Dorie Recipe), Steak Cobb Salad, and Kahlua Brownies

Gerard's Mustard Tart
The "French Fridays with Dorie" recipe this week is this light, flavorful tart scented with mustard and rosemary.  I was a little apprehensive about making this tart because as much as a Francophile as I am, I'm not a big fan of mustard.  But, it was really great.  We talked about serving it at our next wine-tasting party.






Steak Cobb Salad

This is one of our favorite ways to eat leftover steak.
Line a plate with a mix of leafy greens, then arrange the other ingredients on top:
Hard-boiled Egg
Roma (Plum) Tomatoes, seeded and diced
Gorgonzola Cheese
Bacon
Avocado

Late Harvest Zinfandel Vinaigrette
2/3 cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1/4 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1/4 teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
Pinch of Salt
Place all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid, screw lid on tightly, and shake vigorously.

This recipe comes from fellow-blogger, Recipe Girl.  It always turns out perfectly.  I've made it with Chambord as well - it was equally delicious!

Enjoy!

Nasturtiums blooming in our garden


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Linguine with Marinara Sauce and Meatballs, Rolls, and Apple Crisp


Linguine with Marinara Sauce and Meatballs
This recipe comes from Cuisine at Home's "Perfect Pasta" cookbook.  The meatballs are so tender and flavorful, and cooking them this way infuses the sauce with great flavors from the meat.  We used the last of the first planting of our home-grown tomatoes in this sauce.  We have seedlings that are doing very well, so hope to have more tomatoes in a few weeks.
Rolls
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, these rolls from Sister Schubert are wonderful.  We dirzzled them with Olive Oil and sprinkled them with freshly ground Garilc Salt.

Apple Crisp 
This was a spur-of-the-moment dessert made from leftover apple tart filling and Streusel Topping that I had frozen from the individual Fold-over Apple Pies I made last week.  I baked them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, and topped them with Vanilla Ice Cream.
Enjoy!

Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, CA


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