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Showing posts from July, 2014

Basic Vinaigrette

Since we were talking about liquors over the past few days, I thought we could move on to liquids of another sort.  Everyone always likes my vinaigrette and will often ask for my recipe.  I really don't have a recipe.  It's another one of those - you have to taste it. Here's the basics:

If I'm using fresh herbs:

1T fresh thyme
2t oregano
6-8 basil leaves
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1T honey
1/2 c oil

Place the herbs in a 1 cup measuring cup.  Add vinegar and honey. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking.  Tear basil leaves and stir in to vinaigrette. Taste, Taste, Taste.

You want to tear the basil leaves so they don't get brown.  You have to add them last - otherwise they get stuck in the whisk. I will use various combinations of fresh herbs usually tarragon, oregano, basil, thyme.

If you are using dried herbs, just reduce the amounts. I usually use dried in the winter or if I'm just too lazy to go outside in the summer and pick them. You can also u…

Mr. Boston

Since we were discussing cocktails, I thought I would discuss Mr. Boston. The Sous Chef has his father's Mr. Boston and then the girls one year for Christmas got him the new version.  They are different enough that you need to keep both of them. We had once thought about working our way through the book but then decided that probably wasn't a good idea.  We have found some really tasty treats though.

Here is one of them:

Banana Foster (from New Mr. Boston)

2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 oz spiced rum
1/2 oz banana liqueur
1 medium banana

Combine ingredients in blender.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a large glass and sprinkle with cinnamon

I guess there is one improvement with the new Mr. Boston - the index is a bit better. In the old version, you cannot look up the drink by name. You can only look it up by liquor - which doesn't really help you out if you don't know what is in say a grasshopper and just want to know.

For his birthday, I got the Sous Che…

Aruba Cocktails

We just got back from Aruba (see you didn't even know I left did you?). The food there is just absolutely delicious.  We ate at a Belgium place, Italian, and French.  We really did absolutely nothing and it was wonderful.  The Sous Chef wanted to take a surf lesson but "surf wasn't up." We were going to go to the natural pool but it was a four-hour tour and we didn't want to commit ourselves so we just went to the beach.  I read 4 books - doesn't sound too impressive until I tell you that one was a 600 pager. The Sous Chef was also asked if he wanted his hair braided - he declined. But we did spend some time sampling the different cocktails...

First I had to have the obligatory Malibu and Coke
Then I tried a Caribbean Sunrise - Malibu, Melon Liqueur, OJ & Cranberry

Then it was a Fudge Brownie Martini. I don't really know why they called it a martini as there was no gin in it but it was very chocolately.  Baileys, Chambord, Cocoa Liqueur, and chocola…

Port & Balsamic London Broil

First I had to get the Sous Chef to part with some port wine (no easy feat). There's no need to use really great port or really great balsamic here. So it actually was easy to get the Sous Chef to part with some of the cheap port. With this recipe you cook the marinade down to make a sauce for the meat afterward - I like that you do that.  I used beef shoulder London Broil and it was quite tasty.  After pulling the meat out of the marinade, I used the Jacard to help prevent shrinkage and it help to keep the meat tender. (I won't go on espousing again about the Jacard - just go out and get one already!).

 Port & Balsamic London Broil (Adapted from Cooking Pleasures)

1/3 c port wine
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1t Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T fresh thyme
1 1/2 lb London Broil
2 T chopped shallot
1 T butter

Whisk together port, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, thyme, and salt/pepper. Marinate steak for at least 2 hours up to 8 hours.  Turn once…

Having a Clear Out

My Mom's friend was clearing out again. This time here is what I got this time around:

Doing a preliminary reconnaissance, I've found some pretty interesting recipes. I love browsing through old cookbooks. They sometimes speak to another time.  One of the books had a price of $2.95. Where can you buy a cookbook for that now??!

Some of the cookbooks are real clunkers, Velveeta and canned soups are not really my thing. Some are quaint using terms such as oleo or dated by using margarine or vague -"use 2 tall cans."

There are a few books that have southern recipes and I really am unsure what chess cookies are - in my mind they are little black and white squared cookies, but since there is no chocolate I'm assuming that is not what they are.  There is also chess cake and chess pie. Difficult to believe I've never heard of a type of dessert! There was a Four-Minute Brownie recipe that bakes for 30 minutes. I think I'll pass on the Kool-Aid pie, as well as the…

Mojito Chicken Breasts

Since I'm already a big Mojito fan (coconut or otherwise), why not make Mojito chicken? This recipe has been sitting around since 2004 - 10 years! It was definitely worth the wait.

Mojito Chicken Breasts (Adapted from BonAppetit)

3/4 c fresh lime juice and zest from limes
1/2 c light rum
1/2 c mint
1/4 c parsley
4 T sugar
1 T olive oil
1.5 lb boneless chicken breast (pounded thin)

Whisk fist 6 ingredients together in a shallow bowl.  Place thinned chicken breasts in bowl. Cover and marinate for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.  Turning once or twice.

Remove chicken from marinade.  Discard Marinade.  Oil grill and grill chicken about 10 minutes around 350 or until done.

These really came out beautiful. The Sous Chef is quite good with the grill (better than me but don't tell him I told you that). They don't taste too minty or too rumy - just right.

Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake


Remember way back to last week when I had that disaster flag cake and I had two extra layers of red cake that I stowed away in the freezer - well here's what I did with it:
Not too shabby huh?

Here the cake recipe (adapted from Art & Soul of Baking)

1 1/2 sticks of butter
3/4 c sugar
3 eggs
1 T vanilla
2 c sifted cake flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/3 c buttermilk
30 drops red food coloring (optional)

Grease and line 2 9" round baking pans with parchment paper rounds (or use silpat). Cream butter and sugar together. Meanwhile in a small bowl whisk together cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs to creamed butter one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Add vanilla.  Add 1/3 of the flour, then 1/2 of the buttermilk, 1/3 of flour, remainder of buttermilk and then remainder of flour.  Mixing well after each addition.  Add 30 drops of red food coloring. Pour batter into pans and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.  Alternatively you can make one …

Three-Grain Salad

This is another great summer salad.  The only bad part is that you are cooking the grains for nearly an hour and boy does that heat up your kitchen! I found this in my recipe file - another one patiently waiting to be tried (I'm sure some of those recipes are not too patiently waiting - some have been in there a long time).

I'm not even sure where I got this one from. I photocopied it so I guess I borrowed the book from someone. I have a few other recipes that look similar. If you know the book, please let me know so that I can give credit. It is a spiral-bound book - if that helps at all?

Three-Grain Salad
(Adapted from some recipe book??)

5 1/2 c water
1 c wheat berries
1/3 c brown rice
1/2 c hulled or pearl barley
1/3 c dried cranberries
1/4 c diced carrot
1/4 c diced celery (peeled before diced)
1 medium apple, unpeeled chopped
parsley, chopped

1/3 c sugar
1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c white balsamic vinegar
2 t Worcestershire sauce
2 T shallots
2 cloves, garlic

Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I was poking around the freezer and found some bone-in chicken breasts in there that needed to be used.  I poked around the refrigerator to see what else would go with nicely with the chicken and here's what I came up with:

Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breasts

1lb bone-in chicken breasts (skin on)
4 oz goat cheese
1 T fresh tarragon
1 T preserved lemons (or lemon zest)

Gently work the skin off the chicken breast so that a pocket forms.  Set aside.  Mix goat cheese with tarragon, preserved lemon, salt and pepper. 

Distribute the goat cheese mixture evenly among the chicken breast.

Season tops of chicken breast with salt and pepper.

A little dab of olive oil wouldn't hurt either. Brush grill with paper towel dipped in canola oil. Grill on indirect heat at 350 for about 25-30 minutes (depending on size of breasts).

Cracked Wheat and Nectarine Salad

Well it's definitely hot. It's so hot you don't feel like eating (shocking I know) but that's what salads are for. This one just requires boiling 1 cup of water - not so bad. Plus it's healthy it has Cracked Baby Cracked* Wheat in it. 

Cracked Wheat and Nectarine Salad (adapted from Cooking Light)

1 c uncooked bulgar (cracked wheat)
1 c boiling water
1 1/2 c thinly sliced nectarines (about 3)
1/2 c sliced green onions (or minced shallot)
1/4 c fresh parsley
3 T olive oil
3 T white balsamic vinegar
1/4 c pistachios (rough chop)

Combine bulgar and 1 cup of boiling water. Cover with plastic wrap or tight sealing lid and let stand 30-40 minutes. 

Stir in nectarines and remaining ingredients.  Toss well. Sprinkle nuts on top.

If I'm using this as a main summer meal, I add some crumbled goat cheese. I didn't have the green onions so I used shallots instead. Chives would be a nice substitute too (but we didn't plant chives this year because we …

Hidden Flag

I saw this cake and knew immediately that I needed to make this cake for the 4th. Little did I realize that this was going to be one of those recipes that from start to finish is just frustrating to say the least. So sit down with a nice cup of tea and read my tales of woe - it's going to be a long one....

Last Saturday: While this was definitely a complicated cake that required a little bit of advanced planning, I apparently made it even worse.  The recipe says to make 5 layers-2 yellow, 2 red, and 1 blue.  But the recipe is for 1 layer so I went in search of a recipe that made 2 layers so that it would be easier. But the recipe I chose was a little deceiving in that it said in one place that it made 1 layer and then called for 2 cake tiers. I apparently did not read it carefully enough. As I was pouring the batter into the two pans, it looked a little skimpy. Well it also cooked in less time - duh! Big clue there. And of course, I had decided to make the red layers first. So now …

Smokey Corn on the Cob en le papier d'aluminium

HAPPY 4th of JULY!!
Now I had planned on doing this fantabulous cake to bring to my Aunt and Uncle's for today but what a disaster. It looks like a regular cake and then when you cut it, it looks like a flag. How cool is that?? Not very it turns out. Well I will post the long sad story about that tomorrow. Instead, I'll give you something that is also appropriate for the 4th - what goes better with that barbecued chicken, hamburger, and hot dog but corn on the cob!

Smokey corn on the cob en le papier d'aluminium- Yeah I know I've used that line before. But when you have a good thing going with aluminum foil, it's difficult to resist. Sometimes I don't feel like doing corn on the cob in the husks. It is tasty, but the whole soaking so the husks don't burn is too much sometimes. I've come up with this solution.

Smokey Corn on the Cob

4 corn on the cob
4T butter
smokey paprika

Tear off 4 pieces of aluminum foil. Cut 1/2T of butter into thin pi…

Pesto in a Flash

Now that the basil is starting to take off in the garden, it's pesto time. Pesto is such a great summer dish - the only bad part is boiling the pasta. It heats the kitchen up so much. But it's well worth it. You will notice that there really is not a strict recipe here (your are very observant). It's a matter of putting the ingredients together and tasting.

Pesto in a Flash

1/4 c pine nuts*
2 glove garlic - rough chop
about 1 c fresh basil
about 1/4 c fresh parsley
about 1 c Parmesan or Romano cheese grated
Olive Oil

Lightly toast pine nuts in a skillet. Remove from pan and let cool. Place a small amount of olive oil in pan and cook garlic until fragrant. Remove from pan and let cool.  Place basil, parsley, pine, and pine nuts in food processor. Pulse until rough chopped.  Add cheese and pulse.  Pour about 1/4-1/2 c olive oil into food processor and pulse. Taste. Add salt and pepper and additional olive oil to loosen to the desired consistency.

I know many re…