Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Gourmet - Melissa & Heidi

November 28, 2007

Thank you Heidi & Melissa for such a wonderful evening. I think we all got some great ideas and, of course, great recipes. I personally, can't wait to try them. We'll see you all in January . . . best of luck to Shelly and Lindsay.

Holiday Gourmet

Ginger Ale poured over Raspberry Ice Cubes
Cold Shrimp Cocktail in Frozen Ice Bowl
Greek Chicken Strudel
Potato Crisps with Dip
Cornucopia Salad
No Knead Bread
Pork Loin with Pomegranate and Orange Glaze
Rosemary Mashed Potatoes
Devil’s Food Cake with Chocolate Satin Frosting
Coconut Pecan Shortbread Cookies with Carmel Filling
Cinnamon Ice Cream Snow Balls with Hot Fudge Sauce
Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti

Potato Crisps with Dip

¼ C. olive oil
3 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices
1 T. kosher salt or coarse sea salt
2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
1 T. chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush a large baking pan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and place the potatoes on it in a single layer. Brush the tops of the potatoes lightly with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle lightly with the salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme. Bake 15-18 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Let the potatoes cool on the baking sheet so they stay crisp, then serve.


1 c. sour cream
1 c. mayonnaise
2 t. bon appetit (this is in the spices)
2 t. dill weed

2 t. minced onion

Mix together sour cream and mayonnaise. Add bon appetit, dill weed, and onion and mix well. (This dip is also very good with chips or raw vegetables.)

Greek Chicken Strudel

12 sheets filo pastry
Butter, melted for brushing
3 c. chicken stock
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
6 c. loosely packed chopped spinach leaves, well washed

3 T. olive oil
1 ½ c. minced green onions
1/3 c. chopped fresh dill
1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley
¾ lb. feta cheese, crumbled
5 oz. Monterey jack cheese, grated

3 eggs
½ t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 t. ground coriander
¼ t. cayenne pepper
¾ c. chopped toasted walnuts
Salt and pepper to taste

To make filling, bring enough stock to cover the chicken breasts to a boil in a wide sauté pan. Add the breasts, reduce the heat and poach, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Lift out and let cool, then shred or chop the meat.

Place the spinach with the water clinging to it in a large frying pan and stir over medium heat until wilted, about 3 minutes. Drain well and squeeze dry.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan, add the green onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Place in a bowl with the chicken, spinach, dill, parsley, feta cheese, jack cheese, eggs, nutmeg, coriander, cayenne and walnuts; stir until well combined. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees. To assemble the strudels, brush a sheet of filo with the melted butter. Place another sheet on top, brush again, repeat for 2 more layers, then place a thin row of chicken mixture along the long side. Tuck in the ends and roll up. Repeat until all the filling and filo are used up; you will have 3 strudels. Transfer to baking sheets and bake on the middle rack of the oven until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then cut into 1-inch slices crosswise with a serrated knife.

No-Knead Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting (I substitute ½ to 1 cup whole wheat flour)
¼ t. instant yeast
1 ¼ t. salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Ad 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is ok. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Cornucopia Salad

¼ c. slivered almonds
1 T. sugar
1 head ice burg lettuce
1 head romaine lettuce
1 Granny Smith apple, cut up, skin on
1 11 oz. can mandarin oranges

1 small jicama peeled and cubed
½ c. dried cranberries

Caramelize sugar over almonds. Cook on low heat until lightly browned. Clean and tear lettuce. Add almonds, apples, oranges, jicama, and cranberries. Toss with dressing.

½ t. grated orange peel
1/3 c. fresh orange juice
2 T. red wine vinegar
½ c. vegetable oil
2 T. sugar
1 T. Good Seasons dry Italian dressing mix.

Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

4-6 medium russet potatoes
2/3 c. creamy garlic chicken broth
Fresh Rosemary (1 sprig or so)
1/3 c. fat free sour cream
Salt and pepper

Skin potatoes and boil until tender. Drain water and set aside. Pour broth and rosemary in a skillet and simmer for 15 minutes. Add broth and rosemary to potatoes and mash well. Stir in sour cream and salt and pepper to taste.

Pork Loin with Pomegranate and Orange Glaze

Serves 6
Pomegranate syrup is available in specialty markets. Marinate the pork in the spice paste overnight for fullest flavor.

1 boneless pork loin, about 3 lbs. tied for roasting

Spice Paste:
2 t. minced garlic
2 T. hot Dijon mustard
Finely grated zest of 1 orange

1/3 c. fresh orange juice
2 T. grated, peeled fresh ginger
2 T. pomegranate syrup
2 T. soy sauce

Basting Sauce:
1/3 c. fresh orange juice
3 T. honey
3 T. pomegranate syrup
2 T. soy sauce

Place the pork in a glass or plastic dish. To make the spice paste, in a bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, orange zest, and juice, ginger, pomegranate syrup, and soy sauce. Rub onto the meat, cover and marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Mix all ingredients for basting sauce. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the marinated pork loin in a roasting pan and roast, brushing often with the basting sauce, until nicely glazed, about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 140 degrees for medium.

Devil’s Food Cake with Chocolate Satin Frosting

5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
12 T. unsalted butter, softened

1 ¾ c. firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 T. pure vanilla extract
1 ½ c. sour cream
1 ½ c. boiling water
1 recipe Mrs. Milman’s Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans and set aside. Place the chocolate in a double boiler and melt over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts. (Do not let the chocolate cool too much or it will harden. If this happens, place the pan back on the heat for a few minutes.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a separate bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter mixture, and beating well after each addition. Beat until well blended. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate and stir by hand to mix.

Add the flour to the mixture, alternating with the sour cream, to the egg- butter mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are moist and blended. Do not over-mix. Stir in the boiling water and mix until well blended (the batter will be fairly liquid and runny). Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until the cakes are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Remove from the pans and continue to cool on a baking rack.

Once the cakes have cooled completely, use a serrated knife to slice of the top rounded portion of each cake to make a flat, even surface. Discard the trimmings. Place one of the layers cut side down on a cake plate. Top with about one-third of the frosting and spread evenly over the top of the cake. Place the other layer on top, cut side down. Top with the remaining frosting and spread over the top and sides of cake.

Mrs. Milman’s Chocolate Frosting


Makes 6 cups.

  • 24 ounces semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup


1. Put chocolate and cream into a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat; stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until thick, 30 to 35 minutes. Rem ove from heat. Stir in corn syrup. Transfer to a large, wide metal bowl. Refrigerate until frosting is cool enough to spread, about 2 hours, checking and stirring every 15 minutes. Use immediately.

Cinnamon Ice Cream Snowballs
With Hot Fudge Sauce

1 quart good quality vanilla ice cream, softened
1 t. ground cinnamon
sweetened coconut

Mix together softened ice cream and cinnamon. Form the ice cream into 2-4 inch balls (depending on the serving size you want). As you form each ball, place them individually onto a square of wax paper and wrap paper around ball to hold its shape. Freeze ice cream balls until hardened. When ready to serve, unwrap each ball and roll in coconut. Drizzle hot fudge over snow ball! (Peppermint stick ice cream is also fun to use.)

Hot Fudge Sauce:

6 oz. chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
6 T. water

Heat all ingredients slowly in a sauce pan until chocolate is melted. Do not boil. Serve immediately.

Coconut Pecan Shortbread Cookies
With Caramel Filling

Bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes
½ c. sweetened coconut
½ c. pecans chopped

Cookie Dough:

1 c. unsalted butter at room temperature
½ c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
½ t. salt

Cream together sugar and butter. Mix in by hand vanilla, flour, and salt. Add pecans and coconut once cooled. Chill dough for 45 minutes. Flour surface and roll dough into ¼ inch thickness. Cut into desired shape. Chill dough again for 15 minutes. Bake 10-15 minutes at 350.

(I did 2 star shapes. On half of them I did a small hole in the middle.)

Caramel Filling:

2/3 c. sugar
3 T. water
¼ c. heavy cream
2 T. butter

In a large skillet pan over medium high heat dissolve the sugar in water. Let it come to an amber color flavored syrup stirring every once in a while. Whisk in heavy cream and butter it will bubble. Transfer to stainless steel bowl and let cool. Drizzle ½ t. caramel over cookie and place another one on top. Can also drizzle stripes over the cookie.

(Note: I cheated and bought some caramel!)

Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti

2 c. flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
2 eggs
¾ c. sugar
½ c. butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ t. grated orange zest
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
1 c. coarsely chopped pistachio nuts, toasted
½ c. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In another large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light in color and thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted butter, orange zest, and vanilla and almond extracts on low speed until blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the pistachio nuts and cranberries. The dough will be soft and sticky.

Scoop out half of the dough onto one half of the prepared baking sheet, and form it into a log 10 inches long. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the logs 3 inches apart. Press the logs gently to make them 3 inches wide. With damp fingertips, gently smooth the surface of the logs.

Bake the logs until they are crisp and golden on the outside, 20-25 minutes. The centers will be soft. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Let the logs cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.

With a wide spatula, transfer the logs to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut each log crosswise on the diagonal into slices ¾ inch apart, on the baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake until the cookies are crisp and brown on the outside, 17-22 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. The interiors of the cookies become crisp as they cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Witches Brew - Crystal & Sunny - Oct. 2007

Witch's Brew! (Sunny & Crystal)

We hope that you all had as much fun as we did. You were a crazy group of witch's. This is going to be so much fun. Here are the recipes:

Baked Brie with Apples & Cranberries

½ cup chopped Granny Smith apple

¼ cup sliced almonds

¼ cup dried cranberries (Craisens)

1 T. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 T. butter (melted)

1, 8 oz. disc of Brie (I shaved the rind stuff off of it, but you can leave it on)

1 baguette, sliced

Combine apple, almonds, cranberries, brown sugar and cinnamon together. Pour melted butter over the top and mix in. Slice Brie in half. Place rind side of Brie down in baking dish. Place ½ of the mixture on top of the Brie. Place other half of Brie on top of the mixture, rind end up. Pour remaining mixture on top of Brie. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 – 15 minutes (I did about 18 min.); until Brie is melted. Spread the baked Brie mixture on a baguette slice. Wow! So good!

Vegetable Pot Pie

(As found in the Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook)

12 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)

2 cups sliced yellow onions (2 onions)

1 fennel bulb, top and core removed, thinly sliced crosswise

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 ½ cups good chicken stock

Pinch of saffron threads (We found these in the grocery store in the spice section, but they can be hard to find. They are very expensive, but you only use a tiny bit and we determined that it really is worth it.)

1 ½ tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbsp. heavy cream

1 ½ cups large diced potatoes (1/2 pound)

1 ½ cups asparagus tips

1 ½ cups peeled, ¾ “ diced carrots (4 carrots)

1 ½ cups peeled, ¾ “ diced butternut squash

1 ½ cups frozen small whole onions (1/2 lb.)

½ cup minced flat-leaf parsley


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

¼ lb. cold unsalted butter, diced

½ - ¾ cup ice water

1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water for egg wash

Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and sauté until translucent, 10 – 15 minutes. Add the flour, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, saffron, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream and season to taste. The sauce should be highly seasoned.

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Lift out with a sieve. Add the asparagus, carrots and squash to the pot and cook in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain well. Add the potatoes, mixed vegetables, onions and parsley to the sauce and mix well.

For the pastry: Mix the flour salt, an baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Divide the filling equally among 4 oven proof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8” circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to ½ “ larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the sides, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Honey Butter

1 stick butter

2 T powdered sugar

½ cup honey

Whip ingredients together with hand mixer until desired consistency.

Autumn Salad with Cumin-Toasted Pumpkin Seeds


4 tsp. sherry wine vinegar or red wine vinegar

¾ tsp. ground cumin

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp. salt


2 medium heads of red leaf lettuce, torn (about 12 cups)

3 medium seedless tangerines, peeled and sectioned

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 medium avocados, halved, seeded, peeled and chunked

8 Tbsp. cumin-toasted pumpkin seeds (see recipe below)

Dressing: Whisk vinegar and cumin. Gradually whisk in olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Add salt and pepper. (We didn’t love this dressing, so we used a store-bought dressing.)

Add lettuce, tangerines, onion, avocados and 6 Tbsp. of pumpkin seeds to bowl. Toss lightly to coat with dressing. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately with a good balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Makes 8-10 servings.

Cumin-Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds or shelled sunflower seeds (easiest to buy them at the store)

2 tsp. cooking oil

½ tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. salt

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. If using seeds straight from a pumpkin, rinse pumpkin seeds in water until pulp and strings are washed, drain.

  2. Spread seeds on a parchment paper, lined, 8x8x2” baking pan. Bake, uncovered for 1 hour. Remove parchment paper. Add oil, cumin and salt – stir to coat.

  3. Bake uncovered, 10-15 more minutes (or until toasted), stirring once. Transfer seeds to paper towels to cool. Makes about 1 cup.

Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

(As found in the Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook)

5 lbs. McIntosh or Macoun apples (or another kind that is in season)

Grated zest of 1 orange

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. fleshly squeezed orange juice

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

For the Topping:

½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup light brown sugar, packed

½ tsp. kosher salt

1 cup oatmeal

½ pound cold, unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 14 x 2” oval baking dish.

Peel, core and cut the apples into large wedges. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar and spices. Pour into the dish.

To make the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt oatmeal and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.

Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for one hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm.

Pumpkin Caramels

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
1 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin or apple pie spice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree, room temperature
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Special equipment: Candy thermometer

Line an 8 by 4 inch loaf pan with waxed paper or aluminum foil. Brush the sides, but not the bottom lightly with butter and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds in the bottom.

Whisk the maple syrup, brown sugar, cream, corn syrup, pie spice, lemon juice, and salt together in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan. Brush down the sides on the saucepan with water to remove every grain of sugar. Set the candy thermometer into the sugar. Cook the mixture over medium heat, without stirring, until the mixture reaches the firm ball stage, 248 degrees F, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Carefully stir in the pumpkin puree. Return to the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the caramel reaches the soft ball stage, 240 degrees F, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Pour the caramel over the pumpkin seeds in the prepared pan. Smooth to an even layer. Cool to room temperature.

When fully cooled peel from the waxed paper or foil and cut into 24 (1-inch) squares. Wrap individually in parchment or waxed paper and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Cook’s Note: We found that it is much easier to cut these with 2 people!

Mulled Cranberry Drink

Yields: 24, half-cup servings

1 12 oz. pkg. fresh cranberries

8 cups water

1 ½ cups sugar

2 T. grated orange peel

Cinnamon sticks

12 whole cloves

4 cups orange juice

1 cup lemon juice

Thin lemon slices

Combine cranberries, water, sugar, orange peel, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a large pan and cook until cranberries are soft, about 15 min. Strain. Add juices. Do not boil, but keep warm until ready to serve. Float thin lemon slices in each cup.

Green Witch's Brew
Yields: 12-16 servings

1 (6 oz.) package lime gelatin
2 cups boiling water
3 cups chilled pineapple juice
1 (2 liter) bottle chilled ginger ale or lemon-lime soda

Pour gelatin mix into large bowl. Slowly stir in the boiling water. Stir at least 2 minutes, until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the pineapple juice. Let cool to room temperature. Add the ginger ale (or lemon-lime soda), stir gently to mix.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Here is the schedule we decided on. Please remember when your month is and send out an email about a month in advance so we can "save the date".

October 25: Crystal & Sunny (Crystal's House)
November 28: Heidi & Melissa (Melissa's House)
January: Shelly & Lindsay
March: Reggie & Ashley
May: Amber & Michelle
June or July: Judith & Holly