Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cheese Buttons

This is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe for cheese straws. They are like little, cheesy biscuits, and they are delicious!

6 oz sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 C flour, plus more for board
8 Tbs butter, room temperature
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 C milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor, grate the cheese. Switch to a cutting blade and add the remaining ingredients. Pulse until combined. With the food processor still running, add just enough milk to hold the dough together.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured board, roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. With a small, round cookie cutter, or a bottle cap, cut into 1" rounds. Place about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake until golden and firm to the touch, 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tartlets

I love almost anything made with goat cheese, and these little bite sized tarts are perfect for entertaining.

3 eggs
12 oz goat cheese, at room temperature
1 large sweet onion, sliced very thin
2 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbs olive oil
2 1/2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 C cold butter
Ice water

In a medium frying pan, heat the oil and add the onions. Sautee over low heat, stirring frequently until caramelized, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the butter into the flour and salt with a pastry cutter or food processor, until the mixture is coarse, like breadcrumbs. Add just enough ice water so that the dough comes together. On a floured board, press down on the dough to flatten slightly (do not knead!), and sprinkle with half the thyme. Fold over twice and roll out into a large rectangle. Using a biscuit cutter or glass, cut into 24 3-inch rounds, and press gently into a mini cupcake pan. Pierce the bottoms of the shells with a fork, and bake for 10 minutes.

Whisk together the goat cheese, eggs, and the remaining thyme until creamy. Stir in the onions into the mixutre, and spoon into the tart shells. Bake for another 30 minutes, and serve warm. Makes 24 tartlets.


I have been making this recipe since I was about 13 years old. It comes from Maida Heatter's "Book of Great Cookies." The cookies are not super soft, but they are not the hard type either; Maida calls them "semi-soft." My mother and I like to add some fresh ginger, as well as come chopped crystallized ginger for an extra gingery cookie! The cookies in the photo were rolled in black sugar for Halloween.

2 1/4 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp powdered cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
6 oz butter
1 C dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/4 C molasses
1/2 C finely chopped crystallized ginger
Granulated sugar (to roll the cookies in)

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the brown sugar and fresh ginger and beat well. Add the egg and the molasses, and beat until the mixture is light in color. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients, scraping the bowl as you go. Fold in the crystallized ginger. Refrigerate the dough until you can handle it (as little as 15 minutes).

Pour some granulated sugar into a shallow bowl. Use a rounded tablespoon of dough for each cookie. Roll it into a ball between your hands, and then roll around in the sugar to coat. Place the balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes at 375 degrees, until they feel semi-firm to the touch. The tops should just be cracked. Transfer to racks to cool. Makes approximately 36 cookies.

Cheese Crisps

These are really good on top of a salad, and also make a crunchy, salty snack.

8 oz shredded jack cheese
8 oz shredded parmesan cheese

Combine the cheeses. Drop six small handfuls onto a baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch of space between them. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until just golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute before lifting with a spatula and placing on a paper towel to drain the oil. Repeat!

Marinated Bocconcini Skewers

I love using little bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls) in pasta salads, so when I saw Martha marinating them and serving them for parties, I got pretty excited about the idea. I altered the seasonings a little bit, and I chose to pair the cheese with cherry tomatoes, but Martha also recommends folded slices of proscuitto.

1 1/2 C bocconcini, drained
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 C olive oil
20 rosemary stems, stripped of most of the leaves
1 pint cherry tomatoes

Combine all of the above in a ziploc bag or bowl, and refigerate for at least 2 hours. Using the rosemary stems, skewer one or two mozzarella balls and tomatoes.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tomato Tarte Tatine

This recipe is adapted from "The Produce Bible," by Deborah Madison, a recent acquisition that is chock full of amazing recipes and interesting facts about all kinds of produce. Mine came out a little soggy, but I used Early Girl tomatoes, which are more watery than plum tomatoes (aka Romas). Regardless, the combination of the caramelized flavors of the tomatoes, onions, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar with the tangy goat cheese and buttery pastry was delicious!

12 plum tomatoes
4 Tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced very thin
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1 handful fresh thyme
1 C crumbled goat cheese
1 sheet puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise, and season with salt and pepper. Place them, cut side up, on a wire rack in a baking dish. Roast in the oven for 3 hours.

Heat two teaspoons of olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, and add the onions. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until caramelized (about 45 minutes). Meanwhile, in an 8 inch oven-proof frying pan, heat the remaning olive oil. Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and one tablespoon of water, and cook until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.

When the tomatoes are done, remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, in one layer in the pan with the vinegar mixture. Top with the onions, thyme, and crumbled goat cheese. Cover with the puff pastry, trim the edges, and tuck the pastry into the side of the pan around the tomatoes. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the pan, and invert onto a plate. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Roasted Winter Squash Soup

This soup is like autumn in a bowl! I like to use a variety of squashes, but you could make this with just Butternut or Acorn, if you can't find the others.

2 medium Sweet Dumpling squashes
2 medium Butternut squashes
1 medium Sugar pumpkin (plus four to serve in)
2 large carrots, chopped
4 small parsnips, chopped
1/4 C butter, softened
1/4 C brown sugar
1 onion, sliced
4 5 cloves of garlic, halved
8 C chicken stock
2 C white wine
1/2 C half and half
Salt and pepper
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp sage
2 Tbs chopped chives
Creme fraiche

Cut the squashes in half and remove the seeds. Place cut-side up in two roasting pans, and fill the cavities with the butter and brown sugar. Rub a little butter on the cut flesh of the squash as well. Surround the squashes with the garlic, onions, parsnips, carrots, and sage. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Pour a half cup of wine and a half cup of stock over each of the pans, and cover with foil. Bake for about a 45 minutes at 400 degrees, or until the vegetables and squash are soft.

Scoop the flesh out of the squashes and discard the skins. Put the flesh in a large pot with the rest of the vegetables and the remaining liquids. Add the allspice, and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree in a blender (or with a hand-held blender) and serve with a spoonful of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chives.

Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Pears & Port Wine Sauce

I made this one up, so the proportions might not be very precise, but use your judgement, and you will be fine!

4 pork chops
1 C cornbread crumbs (see cornbread recipe below)
1/4 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh thyme
3 Tbs olive oil
1/4 lb thinly sliced proscuitto
4 small pears, cut into wedges
1 C port or red wine
2 Tbs butter

Cut a pocket in each pork chop with a sharp knife. Mix together 1 Tbs olive oil with the cornbread crumbs, garlic, onion, and thyme, and stuff the mixture into each chop (you could also add half a pear, finely diced, for a little sweetness). Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with pepper, wrap with proscuitto, and place in a skillet over high heat just to crisp each side. Add the pears to the pan and drizzle half the port over them. Move to the oven, and bake at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the meat and pears to a serving platter. Return the skillet to the stove top, add the butter and let melt. Add the wine and reduce until a sauce is formed. Pour over the pears and meat.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


This is a really delicious cornbread recipe that is also healthy. You can add whole eggs and butter instead of oil if you want to fatten it up a bit. Serve with hearty chili or at breakfast, or bake it a little longer, and crumble it up to make a fantastic Thanksgiving stuffing!

1 C yellow cornmeal
1 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
14 oz creamed corn (canned)
1/2 C buttermilk
2 large egg whites
2 tsp corn oil

Mix all ingredients and pour into a square baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Allow to cool before cutting and serving.


This is one of my mom's recipes that I always crave on cold days. It's easy to make and freezes really well, so go ahead and make a big pot so you can have leftovers later on.

2 1/2 lbs ground beef or turkey
44 oz canned kidney beans
2 large onions, diced
8 1/2 C chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1 C diced bell peppers
4 cloves garlic, crushed and quartered
Chili powder
Salt and Pepper
1/4 C brown sugar

Brown the beef with the onions and garlic in a large pot. Add the remaining ingredients, except sugar, and simmer for about an hour, stirring frequently. Taste for seasoning, and add more spices if necessary. If too thin, add some tomato paste. I like to add a little sugar as well.

Serve with sharp cheddar cheese and cornbread.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lamb and Couscous

This recipe is somewhere between the Greek lamb and rice my mother used to make, and an Afghani dish with lamb, yogurt and rice. I like to serve it with couscous, but rice would work just as well.

1 lb ground lamb
1 C peas (frozen is fine)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 large onion, diced
4 cardamom pods
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper

Yogurt sauce:
1 1/2 C Greek yogurt
1 tomato, diced
1 Tbs finely chopped mint leaves
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper

In a large pan, sautee the onions and garlic with the fennel and cardamom. Add the meat and spices, cook through, adding the peas halfway. Remove the cardamom pods before serving.

For the yogurt sauce, combine all ingredients.

Serve over couscous with the yogurt sauce on top.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Peppadew" Peppers

These are sweet, spicy peppers that I like to use in pasta, on sandwiches, in salads, cocktails (see below), or just to snack on. Don't discard the brine when you open a jar- it's great for dressings!

4 C small red peppers
3 C cider vinegar
3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tbs olive oil

Remove the tops from the peppers and scrape out the seeds. In a frying pan over high heat, "blister" the skin of the peppers. Allow to cool and then remove the skin. In a large pot, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil, then add the peppers and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch at the top of the jar. Top with 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil and seal in a canner.

For a cocktail recipe using these peppers, click here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hopple Popple (Split Pea Soup)

When I was a kid, my mom travelled a lot for business, and she would sometimes leave my dad and I with a pot of split pea soup to eat. My dad would serve it to me with cut up hot dogs in it, and he called it "Hopple Popple." Now that I'm all grown up, I still like hot dogs in my pea soup, but you could just as easily add ham, or just leave the meat out all together.

1 lb dried split peas
1 C chopped carrots
1 C diced potatoes
1 C chopped celery
8 C chicken or vegetable stock
1 small onion, diced
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper

Cook the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, or until all the vegetables are very soft. Puree in a blender or food processor. Serve with sliced hot dogs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sauteed Delicata Squash with Greek Yogurt

Delicata squash is one of the few winter squashes with an edible skin. It can be baked and mashed, like an acorn or butternut squash, but I like it sliced thin, sauteed in butter, and served with creamy Greek yogurt. Yum!

1 Delicata squash
1/4 tsp cinnamon
5 cardamom pods
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs butter
3 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 C plain Greek yogurt

Cut the squash into quarters, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Slice the squash as thinly as possible. In a medium skillet, melt the butter. Add the squash, cardamom, and cinnamon, and sautee until tender. Remove from heat and discard the cardamom podds. Stir in the salt and sugar, and serve with a dollop of yogurt.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Chicken Pot Pie

This pot pie is not really made in a pot, but I love the idea of having your whole meal in one dish. You have your veggies, your chicken, and your starch in each bite! And you can make pot pie with basic ingredients that you probably have on hand. Today I had the chicken, peas, and onions in the freezer, the broccoli and herbs in the refrigerator, and the potatoes, butter, flour, and broth in the pantry, so the only thing I had to shop for was carrots! I am not a mushroom lover, but it would be very easy to add them, or just about any other vegetable. I would not recommend anything with an overwhelming flavor, though, such as brussel sprouts or bell peppers, or anything too watery, like tomatoes. But it's a perfect recipe for those wintery root vegetables, and I can't think of a more comforting dinner on a cold day.

2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 C peas
1 C chopped carrots
1 C pearl onions
1 C broccoli, chopped into small pieces
1 C potatoes, diced
2 Tbs rosemary, chopped fine
1 tsp thyme
2 C butter (keep 1 1/2 C very cold)
3 C flour
Salt and pepper
2-3 C chicken broth

Start by chopping your potatoes and steam them until just cooked and drain. Meanwhile, cut the carrots and broccoli. Dredge the chicken pieces in a little flour, and brown them with a little oil or butter in a medium-sized pot. Remove the chicken and add 1/2 C more butter to the pot. Once the butter is melted, add a cup of flour and stir to make a roux. Gradually add broth until a thick sauce forms. Season with half the rosemary, the thyme, and salt and pepper. Stir in the chicken and vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut the remaining 1 1/2 C butter into two cups of flour until the mixture is coarse, like breadcrumbs. Add just enough ice water so that the dough comes together. On a floured board, divide the dough into two sections. Press down on one section to flatten slightly, and sprinkle with the half the remaining rosemary. Fold over and roll out to fit your pie pan. Pour the chicken and vegetable mixture into the crust. Repeat above to make a second crust, and lay over the top of the pie. Crimp the edges with your fingers, and use a fork to vent the top.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook for another 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

* You could also make four small pies, instead of a large one!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Pineapple Salsa

I made this to go with fish tacos, but I think it would also be great with pulled pork.

2 C pineapple, finely diced
1 habanero pepper, chopped as fine as you can get it
1 serrano pepper, also chopped very fine
1/4 large onion, finely diced
1 Tbs finely chopped cilantro
1 Tbs finely chopped mint
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tres Leches/ White Russian Cake

In our household we are big fans of Tres Leches cake, and also bowling. So for Eric's birthday, my friend Kara and I decided to modify the traditional recipe by adding Kahlua as an ode to his hero, The Dude. This is the original, basic Tres Leches recipe that we used (after testing two others). If you want to try the White Russian version, substitute Kahlua for the rum, and also add some to the whipped cream for a bonus! This cake gets better and better the longer it sits, so make sure to save some for leftovers.

One recipe of yellow cake (we tried two from scratch but ended up liking the Duncan Hines cake mix best!)
1 12 oz can of evaporated milk
1 14 oz can condensed milk
1 C half and half
3/4 C white rum
2 C whipping cream
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Bake the cake and let cool. Mix together the evaporated milk, condensed milk, half and half, and rum, and pour over the cake. Cover and let soak in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, until all the liquid is absorbed. Before serving, whip the cream with the vanilla and sugar and spread over the top of the cake. Serve with strawberries. Yum!

Chilean Sea Bass with Fried Plantains and Rice

2 Chilean sea bass filets
2 ripe plantains (not completely black)
1 C rice
2 limes
1/4 C olive oil
1/2 C canola or peanut oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 fingers of ginger
1 Tbs dried basil
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 tsp dried chili flakes
Salt and pepper

Grate the garlic and ginger into a bowl and mix with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the zest and juice of one lime. Set aside.

Boil 1 1/2 C water for the rice. Once boiling, add the rice, basil, garlic powder, and chili flakes. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Let cook for 15 minutes, and then allow to sit covered for 5 minutes. Before serving, stir in the juice of the second lime.

Season the sea bass filets with pepper and salt and place on a sheet of foil on a baking pan. Pour the lime and ginger mixture over them and fold the foil up around the sides to keep the liquid from spilling out. Bake for about 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, slice the plantains on a diagonal, about 1/4 inch thick. In a large pan, heat the canola oil until it begins to smoke. Drop the plantains into the oil so that they form a single layer in the pan and cook till golden brown on both sides, flipping halfway. Remove them from the oil and place on a paper towel to drain. While still hot, toss with a little salt.