Month: December 2017

New Year’s Eve Decadence 2017!

New Year’s Eve, that last little bit of recklessness before the new year takes hold and we start to feel all responsible and such. Whether I am sitting around in sweatpants with friends or dressed to the nines, I love the feeling of being carefree and not thinking about what looms (back to work, resolutions) after the first.

The Eve itself is such a weird dichotomy. On one hand, I think it is overrated and amateur night.  On the other hand, I love permission to indulge in the decadence of food, drink and of course getting all glammed up.

Decadence takes many forms and it is up to you to decide what that means for you.  Maybe you want to have a pajama party and have breakfast for dinner. Maybe for you, it means eating all the rich, fatty foods you plan to give up the next morning and getting all dressed up. Or maybe it means, wearing your favorite jeans, not seeing a ton of people and having a good old-fashioned burger and fries and bathing in multiple glasses of La Marca Prosecco. It’s all up to you to decide.

Of all the New Year’s celebrations, I’ve been a part of, the one thing that has been pretty consistent is the menu. It usually includes some kind of steak, cheesy potatoes and lobster. And ALWAYS a lot of champagne. I spent many a year with close friends dining on that exact menu.  It makes me smile each time I think of those nights.

So let’s think about that champagne and lobster and how we can make it extra special for 2017-2018. You do not need me to tell you how to make a steak. Everybody has their own trade secret and potatoes are pretty simple (HINT: these days you can even buy great Scalloped Potatoes at Trader Joe’s). That leaves me with Lobster and Champagne. How should we cook them? How about lobster poached in champagne and served over linguine? Fabulous! This dish is going to be the epitome of simple elegance. Some ingredients do all the work for you.

The first rule is never to cook with champagne or wine that you wouldn’t drink.  Second is it’s ok to use champagne, sparkling wine or prosecco. They all work. And its’s okay to sample as you cook!

Lobster Poached in Champagne
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Servings
2 people
Servings
2 people
Lobster Poached in Champagne
Print Recipe
Servings
2 people
Servings
2 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Combine Champagne, shallot and salt in a deep skillet.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce to a medium-low heat and add lobster.
  3. Cover and simmer until lobster is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Remove lobster to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  5. Stir cream into Champagne reduction and bring back to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat and let cook until sauce is reduced to 1/3 cup, stir occasionally.
  7. Whisking constantly, over low heat, start adding butter, one cube at a time. Make sure that each cube is fully incorporated before adding next. The sauce should be smooth and coat the back of a spoon. See note below.
  8. Remove lobster meat from shells and cut into medallions.
  9. Place medallions over lightly buttered, cooked, linguine. Spoon sauce over lobster and noodles.
  10. Garnish with fresh tarragon or parsley, chopped. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Can use up to 1/2 cup of butter. You want to have a thick smooth consistency, so stop when you have that.

Sorry about the stock photo. I am making this for NYE and will post pictures after.

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Mark’s Cookies from Spain!

This summer I had the greatest trip to Spain with my husband. I’ve written about many parts of the trip and shared many recipes. However, it has taken me months to duplicate a most important recipe. Double Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Principal hotel. You have to understand my husband is not much of a sweet eater and chocolate would never be his first choice. So, when he asked the maître d’ if he could have some cookies to take on the airplane home, I almost fell over.

When we did finally arrive at home I made it my quest to duplicate the recipe. I wrote to the chef. I explained how my husband coveted his cookies and asked if he would share the recipe with me. While I waited for his response I played around with some other recipes. I found a few online and even tried a couple of Dorie Greenspan’s. Each time he tried them and each time the verdict was, “Not the same.”.

I was delighted when I got an email from the chef with his recipe, but it was just chocolate chip cookies.  I wrote back and explained it was the dark chocolate chip cookies and he replied right away with the adjustments to make the recipe into the dark cookies. I will say that there were still adjustments to be made. For example, Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion wasn’t an exact science, nor were weight measurements versus cup and tablespoon measurements. So again, I made many versions and they were “Not the same”.

One more try and I got it. Let me tell you that my husband really likes a crunchy cookie and it was hard to get that right without having either burnt or just dry cookies.  Remember every oven is different and every taste too.  Adjust for your oven and preference.

I hope you enjoy these as much as my husband did.  Please put your comments.  I love to hear from you.  Happy Holidays!

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
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Servings
3 dozen
Servings
3 dozen
Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
Print Recipe
Servings
3 dozen
Servings
3 dozen
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In an electric mixer, with paddle attachment, cream together butter and both sugars.
  4. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
  5. Beat until well mixed.
  6. Gradually add flour and mix util "dry".
  7. Stir in dark chocolate.
  8. Fold in white and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  9. Scoop onto ungreased baking sheet. Leave them kind of roundish for best texture.
  10. Bake at 350° for 13-16 minutes.
Recipe Notes

 

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DONUTS!!!!

Every year at Hanukkah we eat an abundance of fried foods.  We say we do this to commemorate the miracle of the oil.  Hmmm… I think it is a just a great excuse to eat all the yummy fried foods we try so hard to avoid throughout the year. I mean who wouldn’t want to eat fried latkes, fried doughnuts and anything else fried?

Having said that, the jelly donuts we usually get at our local shop are a little too big, too oily and too filled with artificial jelly. So, this year I am making a version of my own. My recipe will be based on an Italian donut called Zeppole. Since they are more donut hole sized, it’s easier to say yes to the kids and to my waistline.  Because we are making them at home, I can fill them with not only, better quality jam or jelly (think Bonne Marman), but I can also fill them with anything I want, like Nutella.  I can also dip them in chocolate or sprinkle them with sugar and/or cinnamon. They are super easy too!

The trick to making sure they are not doughy on the inside or overdone on the outside is your oil temperature.  You can use a candy thermometer for a little insurance. You want to keep the oil at 375°.  Be sure to check the temperature especially between batches and keep your batches small. After making these, I honestly recommend a deep fryer that you can set the temperature. It can be difficult to manage the temperature as you are trying to scoop dough and then fry, too. Sprinkle them with sugar or cinnamon when they first come out of the oil.  This way it sticks to the donuts.

I use a pastry bag to fill the donuts. The easiest way to do this is, once they are cool enough to handle, make an X in the top that goes almost all the way through. Then use a plain tip and pastry bag to squeeze in your desired filling, just don’t go crazy.

They look so pretty stacked on a festive plate and sprinkled with a fine dusting of powdered sugar.

Happy Hanukkah!

Zeppole
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Servings
3 3 donuts per person
Servings
3 3 donuts per person
Zeppole
Print Recipe
Servings
3 3 donuts per person
Servings
3 3 donuts per person
Ingredients
Servings: 3 donuts per person
Instructions
  1. In a heavy saucepan combine the sugar, butter, salt and water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Take pan off heat and gradually stir in flour.
  3. Put pan over a low heat and stir until it forms a ball. This really varies in time, but typically about 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer dough to a medium bowl and then using a hand mixer, beat in eggs one at a time. Be sure to completely incorporate each egg, before adding the next.
  5. Beat until batter it is thick and smooth.
  6. At this point you can fry immediately or cover and refrigerate, overnight.
  7. Pour enough oil into a large pan, I used a dutch oven, to give you a depth of about 2 inches. This is a lot of oil. You can save the oil for another cooking purpose. I'm going to use mine to fry latkes.
  8. Bring oil to a temp of 375°, using a candy or fry thermometer. It is REALLY important to maintain the 375° temperature. Your donuts will be brown on the outside and doughy on the inside if not.
  9. I use a small ice cream scoop but you can use tablespooons to form balls and then drop carefully into oil.
  10. Using a "spider" strainer, turn them once or twice so they cook evenly. They should cook in about 5 minutes.
  11. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with powdered sugar or a cinnamon/sugar mix, while they are still hot. This will make the sugar stick.
  12. You can serve as is or you serve with dipping sauces like chocolate or caramel.
  13. If you want to fill them, make an X with a small knife that goes almost all the way through. Using a round tip and pastry bag, slightly fill each donut, once they are cool. I used Nutella and strawberry jam.
Recipe Notes

 

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Holiday Menu Planning and Hanukkah

This is such a great time of year.  Most of us are in full blown holiday mode, however you celebrate. I love to entertain as much as possible and some years that is more than others.  This year I am hosting two family Hanukkahs and hope to have lots of nights with friends just hanging out.

So my menu planning and baking has begun. First up, Hanukkah; In addition to traditional latkes, I know for sure I am trying a latke recipe I found on The Nosher for “everything” latkes. They sound incredible. I’m sure I’ll make brisket and some sort alternative for those that don’t eat red meat.

You have to have lots of sweets. After all we are celebrating the sweetness of victory and the miracle of the oil. This year, I am making an Orange Olive Oil cake that has been in my repertoire for a while but has never made it to my Hanukkah table. It’s actually the perfect Hanukkah cake.  It is made with olive oil and the better the quality the more olive oil taste you will get.  I love using a “New” olive oil. It like the Beaujolais Nouveau of olive oil.  It has a sweet taste at the front and a peppery finish. It works so well in this cake.

I’ll keep you posted as I my menu expands. I’d love to hear from you about what you’re serving!

On a side note, I was really struggling what to get for all the people that help take care of my home and life. You know the gal that keeps my eyebrows looking good and the gardener that keeps my house looking beautiful.  I always give a gift card but try to find something personal too.  This year I am trying a recipe for homemade, stamped peppermints.  Here’s the link Homemade Stamped Peppermints but I will let you know how mine come out.

I hope you all have a great holiday season!

 
Orange Olive Oil Cake
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Orange Olive Oil Cake
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Oil a 9" springform pan
  3. In a medium bowl combine almond meal, flour and baking powder.
  4. In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat eggs until frothy.
  5. Slowly add the sugar and beat until light and thickened.
  6. Slowly add flour mixture, then zest, juice and olive oil, until just combined. Do not overwork.
  7. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake 50-60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.
  8. Garnish with orange slices, mint leaves and a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.
Recipe Notes

 

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You Don’t Know What You Got ’til its Gone!

 

I am so happy to be back. It’s been a crazy few weeks and I hope you missed me as much as I missed you. In the famous words, and sage advice, of Joni Mitchell; “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”  Boy did they resonate with me over the last few weeks! Some software on my computer caught a virus and my computer had to be wiped clean. Gone! With a huge leap of faith, I hit erase and then called upon my cloud storage to be restored. There are no words for that fear.

What would any chef do without a computer to write recipes? Well for me I started thinking about a chili mix I use to use that was discontinued years ago. Gone! So, I took out the old pencil and journal and start cooking. The mix was from a direct sell company called Tastefully Simple. They sold food items like sauces, bread mixes, and soup mixes. They had a great White Chili Mix! It was pretty simple just add ground turkey, water and simmer for 30 minutes and you have a great meal.  I added corn to make it my own. Now, I was bound and determined to make that recipe again. I’ve been craving it for 8 years.

I started by sautéing up some chopped onion and garlic. I added a pound of ground turkey and dividing this mixture into four pans.  I didn’t want to waste all of the turkey. I then just started adding things I knew were in chili but wouldn’t change the color. I chopped up some green chilies and added some rinsed cannellini beans into all four pans. Then I started experimenting with the spices.

It was a little like Goldilocks. The first pan had too much cumin and was too smoky. The second pan was too sour, with too much oregano. The third pan was too sweet because of the brown sugar. But the fourth pan was just right. I took the sugar out, adjusted the seasoning and spices and added a teaspoon of cinnamon. SO GOOD!

By the time I had the perfect recipe, my computer was back online and I could sit down to the comfort of fabulous chili, a recipe recreated and all of my documents and pictures back where they belong. Taking a step back in time to pencil and journal as well as the terrific chili was very comforting but I sure am glad to have my computer and favorite chili back. Be sure to serve with some warm cornbread and a cold beer

White Turkey Chili
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Servings
6 hearty bowls
Servings
6 hearty bowls
White Turkey Chili
Print Recipe
Servings
6 hearty bowls
Servings
6 hearty bowls
Ingredients
Servings: hearty bowls
Instructions
  1. Saute onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes
  2. Add turkey and continue to cook until just brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chilies and spices and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add 2 cans of beans and broth and bring to a boil. In the meantime, puree the thrid can of beans and add to chili to thicken. Bring back to a boil and then reduce to simmer.
  5. Adjust seaasoning.
  6. Add corn and simmer until heated through reduced to desired thickness.
  7. Serve hot with assorted toppings like avocado, cheese and sour cream.
Recipe Notes

 

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