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Showing posts from April, 2014

Pepita Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms

I'm sure you are all much relieved that this is the last Easter Brunch entries. These were quite easy to prepare and different than regular stuffed mushrooms - there are no breadcrumbs to be found in there!

Pepita Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms (adapted from Cooking Light)

20 cremini or white mushrooms, stems removed
2 T olive oil
6 T pepitas - toasted
1 c parsley
1 c cilantro
2 oz parmesan cheese
zest of 1 orange
2 T fresh orange juice
1 clove garlic minced
2 T olive oil
hot pepper flakes to taste

Heat a large skillet and add a little olive oil.   Place mushrooms in stem side up.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  You will start to see a little liquid gathering in the caps.  Flip over and cook another 5 minutes or so.  Place stem side down on paper towels to drain.
Place 4 T of peptias and the remaining ingredients, except olive oil, into a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are chopped.  With food processor running, drizzle in olive oil. Taste - adjust seasoning.  Fill each…

Oatmeal Clafoutis

This is another standard fare item for Easter Brunch.  Usually I mix all the dry ingredients together the night before so it's all ready to go the next day.  It's really different - sort of like a bowl of oatmeal with lots of good stuff mixed in but in a bar format.

Oatmeal Clafoutis (adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini)

2 1/4 c quick oats (2 3/4 c old fashioned)
2/3 c brown sugar
3/4 c raisins, currants, dried cranberries or a mixture of all
1 t cinnamon
1 t salt
1 pear peeled and sliced
1 apple peeled and sliced
1 banana sliced
3 1/3 c milk
2 eggs
1 t vanilla

Lightly grease a 13x9 pan. Combine dry ingredients. Spread in the 13x9 pan. In a bowl mix the milk, eggs and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients. If you are using the old fashioned oats, you can refrigerate this for a few hours to allow the oats to plump).  Arrange apple, pear, and banana over the oats.  Bake 55-60 minutes at 350.  Cut into squares.

You can just use apples or pears.  Sometimes the fruit sort of floats…

Tomato Eggplant Terrine

This looked like such a pretty dish to serve for Easter Brunch. They didn't have any heirloom tomatoes, as the recipe recommends, so I used just regular tomatoes.

Tomato & Eggplant Terrine (Adapted from Cooking Light)

4 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 c water
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium leek, chopped
1 medium tomato, quartered
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
12 (1/4-inch-thick) slices medium eggplant
1 1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 T fresh thyme, divided
1 Tchopped fresh chives, divided
Fresh basil leaves

Place eggplant slices on baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes and turn over. Bake another 10 minutes. Set aside to cool

Meanwhile, place tomato slices on paper towel. Sprinkle a little salt over each slice and cover with paper towels. let stand 15 minutes.

Place water in saucepan, add leek and tomato.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook for until boili…

Chicken Pasta Salad

I've been making this pasta salad so long I don't even know where I got it from originally. It's a little different than your regular old pasta salad as it has a citrus dressing. It was a nice addition to the Brunch table.

Chicken & Bow Tie Pasta Salad

1lb cooked farfalle pasta
2 c cooked chicken, shredded
1 1/2 c red seedless grapes, halved
1 c celery, cut on the diagonal
1 c grape tomatoes, halved (optional)
1/3 c red onion, minced

zest of 1 orange
1/3 c fresh orange juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
1 T rice wine vinegar
3 T olive oil
pinch of sugar may be necessary

In a large bowl combine all of the salad ingredients.  In a small bowl whisk together all the dressing ingredients.  Taste and add additional sugar if necessary. Pour over salad.

I made this the day before.  I found it needed additional dressing the next day - the pasta had absorbed all the dressing so it was a little dry. But once the additional dre…

Pear Tart

Yup - still working on the Easter Brunch dishes-don't worry there's only a few more. This is such a great quick recipe to make. I've used fresh pears but I've also used jarred pears (Trader Joe's carries them). It's such a no-fuss recipe.  You just press the dough into the pan and put the pears on top.  It is also a nice dessert to bring to someone's house.  It travels well and looks like you went to a lot of trouble.

Pear Tart (Adapted from Real Simple)

1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons
1 t vanilla
1 egg
1 c flour
1/4 t baking powder
2 to 3 bosc pears, peeled, halve and cored
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 c apricot jam
1 T lemon juice

Butter a tart pan (14" rectangular, 10" round, whatever you have).  Cream butter and sugar together until mixed well. Add egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix flour and baking powder together. Mix into butter mixture slowly.  Dough is very soft.  

Push dough into pan with…

Spinach Pie

This was the first time I made this and I was a little nervous that it might not come out. I found it on this website and immediately knew I had to make it for Easter Brunch. What really intrigued me was that instead of using water or milk in the dough, it uses white wine as the liquid. I made it Sunday morning so that was a little added pressure. But I worried needlessly - it was a breeze. I would definitely consider making it a day ahead next time and just re-warming it.

The only thing that I would do differently next time, is add some garlic into the spinach filling and perhaps some nutmeg? and oregano? basil? It was quite impressive looking and would be really nice to bring to somebody's house.  It would be pretty easy to transport.

Potato Torta

I've made this a few different ways - using fresh tomatoes, using canned fire-roasted tomatoes, or just plain canned tomatoes. Well and this time it turned out I used crushed fire-roasted tomatoes.  After I opened the can, I realized that they were crushed tomatoes.  I let the tomatoes strain through a sieve for about 10 minutes to get some of the extra liquid out. It's a nice side dish but you could use it as a main course also. I've made it a few times for the Easter Buffet.

Potato Torta (adapted from Cooking Light)

2lbs of potatoes cubed
3 T olive oil
1t basil
1t oregano
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 c flour
14.5 oz canned tomatoes, drained
2 clove garlic, chopped
fresh basil
1 c mozzarella, shredded

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain. Add seasonings and Parmesan cheese. Mash potatoes adding olive oil as needed to keep potatoes moist.  Add egg and flour. Mix.  Spread in greased 9" pan.  Add garlic and basil to tomatoes.…


What the heck is Bierock? It's a meat filled roll-type thingy basically.  It's almost like having a turkey burger stuffed inside of the roll-only better. These are a really nice item on the brunch buffet since you can make them ahead of time.

Bierocks (Adapted from Cooking Light)

1/4 c chopped onion
pinch of sugar
1/2 lb ground turkey
2 c finely shredded cabbage
3T Worcestershire sauce

1/4 c sugar
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 c warm water (100° to 110°)
1/2 c low-fat milk
1/4 c oil
3/4 t salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 c bread flour

In a small bowl add a few tablespoons of the sugar into the warm water.  Add the yeast and set aside for about 10-15 minutes until bubbly. In a large bowl add remaining sugar, milk, oil, salt, eggs and 3 cups of the flour. Add yeast mixture to the bowl and mix thoroughly.  Turn out onto board and knead adding flour as needed. Knead until smooth and elastic. Dough will be sticky.  Place in greased bow…

Egg Salad & Fresh Mayo

Egg salad is a simple thing to make.  You boil the eggs, smash them up, throw in some celery and onions, and add some mayonnaise.  But OH NO that would be too simple for me and it really wouldn't taste as good either.  I prefer to make my own mayonnaise and at least I know what is going into it.  It is so easy. It was a nice addition to the Brunch.


1 egg
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
variety of fresh herbs, basil, parsley, thyme, or tarragon
approx 3/4 - 1 c oil (canola or olive)

Place all the ingredients except for the oil in a food processor. Buzz until mixed.  With food processor running, drizzle oil through chute. Once you start to hear a glug, glug sound, you have added enough oil.  Taste and adjust seasoning by adding either more acid, salt, or a pinch of sugar.

I used olive oil this time for the egg salad. It gives it a little more of a greenish color but it adds a lot of flavor.  Now I know there is some ri…

French Toast

UGH - I have such a food hangover. Too much food! I guess I'll start off with one of the richer foods we had yesterday.  This is so ooey, gooey. I got this recipe from my sister-in-law's sister.  It is so totally unhealthy and probably has little nutritional value (I mean we're using potato bread here) but it is so good. Why not? It's only once a year - or maybe twice? This is one of the standard fare items for Easter Brunch.  I also like to make it for Christmas morning.  While we're opening the gifts, I just pop it into the oven.

French Toast

2 T corn syrup
1 c brown sugar
1 stick butter
12 slice potato bread
6 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg

Heat corn syrup, brown sugar and butter until syrupy.  Pour into a glass (you have to use glass) 13x9 pan.  Place 6 slices of bread over mixture, cutting slices as necessary to fit.  Top with remaining slices, alternating the pattern. In a bowl, whisk eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Whisk in mil…

Easter 2014


(check back tomorrow and the rest of the week to see all the prep)

Vegetable Bread

I've had this book Breads:  Step-by-Step Techniques for a long time.  It is such a great book. It's so old you can only buy it used.  Mine was in such bad shape that I pulled the pages out, since half were falling out, and put them in plastic sleeves and into a binder.  It has some of the best recipes in it. I think I've made almost every recipe in it.  This is one of that I go back to time and time again. It's just such a different type of bread.

Vegetable Bread (Adapted from Breads: Step-by-Step Techniques)

1 pkg yeast (2 1/4 t)
1/4 c warm water
2 T sugar
1/2 c warm milk
1 egg
4 T butter softened
12 oz tomato paste
1 T dried basil
1 t dried oregano
1 t nutmeg
1 t salt
approx 5 1/2 c flour

Dissolve sugar into warm water. Add yeast and set aside for about 15 minutes or until bubbly. In a bowl place the next 8 ingredients and 3 cups of flour.  Stir in yeast. Add additional flour and mix well.  Knead until soft and smooth but slightly sticky.  Place in greased bowl …

We all scream for Burnt Cinnamon Ice Cream

Well it's getting to be ice cream season (at least the weekend was). It's hard to believe after all that cold weather this winter that I would ever be interested in eating anything cold ever again. But then....I made the burnt cinnamon simple syrup and it got me to thinking...

Burnt Cinnamon Ice Cream

2 c heavy cream
2 c milk
1 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c burnt cinnamon simple syrup*

Split vanilla bean down the middle with a sharp knife. Heat heavy cream, milk, and vanilla bean in a saucepan until boiling - not a rolling boil - just bubbles at the edge.  Remove from heat. Mix 3 egg yolks with sugars in a small bowl or measuring cup.  Whisk in about 1/2 cup of the heated cream into the yolk mixture to temper the yolks. Add egg yolks mixture to the cream and heat to 160. Remove from heat. Place saucepan in ice bath to cool mixture quickly. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and mix into ice cream mixture.  Pour mixture into container and chill (leav…

Easter Brunch

I've been doing a Brunch buffet for several years now for Easter instead of a whole sit down meal.  It was always difficult to figure out what to cook for Easter until I hit upon the Brunch idea. There are a few standards but the rest I mix up a bit each year. What I like about doing Brunch is that a lot of the work is done ahead of time so it's just a matter of finishing it off or reheating. Some of the dishes actually taste better because the flavors have had time to meld together. Almost everyone can find one or two things they like. Unlike a sit down, it's very flexible for the number of people. Throw in some bagels and it will be no problem adding last minute guests. It gives me a chance to test out a few new recipes too. The only problem with this menu is refrigerator space! It takes some creative arranging.

So far this is what's on the menu this year*:

Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms (New)
Tomato Eggplant Terrine (New)
Apricot Blue Cheese Angels (New)
Egg Salad on Toma…

Butterscotch Blondies

The planets were somehow in alignment today. It was set that I had to make this recipe. First I was in the mood for a bar cookie, second my friend had just given me farm-fresh eggs, and third I had some butterscotch chips sitting doing nothing in the pantry. See doesn't need much to convince me that I needed to bake something today. I started to look through my "not-yet tried" recipes and this one leapt out at me. It's been idling since 2007.

Butterscotch Blondies (adapted from Cooking Light)

2 cup flour
2 1/2 c light brown sugar, packed
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
10 tbs butter
3 eggs
1 c butterscotch chips (or chocolate chips)

Preheat oven 350. Grease 9x13 pan. In a bowl mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. In a skillet melt butter on medium-low flame. Cook for about 6 minutes until golden brown. Let cool about 10 minutes.  Whisk the eggs into the butter. Pour butter mixture over flour mixture.  Stir until blended.  It will look like there is not enough…


When I was a kid, pierogies were something that we always made for a special occasion-at least the homemade kind. We usually made them for Christmas Eve.  I remember it always being such a project with perhaps a little bit of yelling involved. But now I don't think they are such a project (hey I make my own cheese right?). They are well worth the work. I can usually knock them out in less than an hour, as long as the mashed potatoes are cool.

Potato/Cheese Pierogi

For the dough:

2 c flour
1 egg
2 T sour cream
1 T butter
1/4 t salt
approx 1/2 c water
1/2 c cold mashed potatoes

Potato/Cheese Filling:

1 T grated onion (or shallot)
2 T butter
2 c cold mashed potato
1 c cottage cheese

Mix the ingredients for the filling and set aside.

Mix the dough ingredients and knead - do not knead too much or dough will become tough.  Divide dough in half. Cover and set aside 1/2 of dough.  Roll dough thin on a floured surface.  Cut into 2" circles using a round cookie cutter or a…

Burnt Cinnamon Simple Syrup

The NY Times Magazine section did a piece on cocktails about two weeks ago and one was calling me-Rhum Agricole Daiquiri. What attracted me here (well besides the cocktail aspect) was the Burnt Cinnamon Simple Syrup. It was easy enough to make, as are most simple syrups, but it was the potential uses.  I started thinking not only daiquiris but why not with Applejack? Apples, burnt cinnamon sounds like a winner to me. Or how about a nice hot cider, with a little rum, and the simple syrup (Guess I'll have to wait until the fall for the cider). On the non-alcohol side-why not use it to moisten a sponge cake - wouldn't that give it an interesting flavor? Or what about a burnt cinnamon ice cream?

Now first for the burning of the cinnamon - it felt a little like I was doing a cleanse to ward off evil spirits. I think that is usually done with sage but if cinnamon works too - so be it. The recipe recommended using a small creme brulee torch to burn the cinnamon sticks - like you do. …