Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gutsy Cooks - Vichyssoise

Raymond of Your Just Dessert has chosen Vichyssoise along with Coronation Chicken Rolls for the Gutsy Cook's Club.

I experimented a little and changed the recipe up, adding to the cream and deleting celery.

 My variation:

3 cups peeled, sliced potatoes
3 cups sliced white of leak
1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock
salt to taste

(simmer the vegetables and stock for 40 to 50 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Puree the soup in the blender and then pour through a fine sieve.)

3/4 cup heavy cream
salt and white pepper to taste
2 to 3 Tablespoons of chives

(Stir in the cream.  Season to taste and chill.  Serve in chilled soup cups and decorate with minced chives.)

Fun, easy, and delicious!  Thank you for the great choice Raymond! 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

CEiMB - Waldorf Chicken Wraps

CEiMB - Waldorf Chicken Wraps Out of Ellie's So Easy cookbook
This week's host is Peggy of Pantry Revisited!

I cooked up a couple of chicken breasts on the stove and whipped these fun little sandwiches together in no time.  What an amazing combination of flavors; so light, crisp, and fresh! 

The sandwiches wouldn't stay rolled together so I had to wrap in foil to get a closed sandwich picture.  Thank you Peggy for the wonderful choice this week.  Friday lunch is ready and waiting in the refrigerator!

You can also download Ellie's recipe from my Food Network site by clicking here.

Check out the rest of the CEiMB group's write-ups by clicking here for the blog roll.  Everyone in the group is so much fun and imaginative!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Heavenly Cake Bakers - Miette's Tomboy

Post for Miette's Tomboy recipe out of Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Heavenly Cakes"  cookbook.
HCB'ers Miette Tomboy

  • A fudgy chocolate cake, all of 6-inches around, is the perfect size dessert and one of the BEST chocolate cakes I have yet baked! 
  • Buttercream frosting whipped into a light, fluffy consistency with vanilla bean paste and a touch of marachino syrup added for a light cherry flavor.

I used (2) 6-inch pans because my pan with the 3-inch high sides mysterously went into hiding.  Rose put instructions for both single and 2-pan baking times so no worries.

What an amazing little cake.  Buttercream frosting is not a favorite for me but this recipe made piping so easy.  The vanilla bean seeds added to the visual seduction of the creamy, soft frosting and the first thought coming to mind is if I have any special occasions coming up to give me a reason to share this perfect miniature cake.

The rest of the Heavenly Cake Bakers are so imaginative, so go take a peek by clicking here for the blog roll.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Menu#28: Zucchini Sticks, Creamy Tarragon Chicken accompanied by Individual, Fresh Baked Rosemary Bread Rounds

The Gutsy Cook's Club Menu #28 chosen by Raymond of Just Desserts has all the elements for a dinner you could entertain with pride. My husband has been working all week and now on the weekend trying to get lighting to work in (5) high-rises . . . by Sunday night (tonight). The Friday was horrible. He and his crew worked from 5 in the morning until midnight Friday night so work didn't restart until Saturday at noon. Saturday, I had this dinner ready for him to eat when he got home at 1 am (actually that would be early Sunday morning, right?). We are both commercial electricians by trade but Larry, over the last 20+ years, has worked into Superintendent and General Foreman, meaning he leaves when the job is done, and working because finishing the job with why systems installed did or did not work falls at his feet. As tired as he is, the best support I can give is a hot meal when he gets home. Thank you Raymond for the wonderful choice, he loved every bite!

I am finding my eye for detail and clarity is lacking when I'm tired. The chicken basking in a creme fraiche sauce with sauteed shallots, garlic, and white wine was tender and delicious. The creamy sauce was a darker brown color, because of the reduction for thickness, and a Parmesan risotto was served along side.

Dinner was:

  • Baked Zucchini Sticks with panko flake coating
  • Individual Loaves of Rosemary Bread (use double-acting yeast for fast rising; these bake in 20 minutes)
  • Creamy Tarragon Chicken
  • Parmesan Risotto

Zucchini Sticks
2 large zucchini sticks
1 1/2 cups Italian Panko Flakes
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Black Rose Martini

Mixology has just as many avenues as a person saying he or she loves to cook . . . or . . . bake. Throw in types of ingredients, cultures, ideas, what is new and fresh, comfort, or maybe you are just trying to catch up to the "new tastes" of last year; okay, I am getting overwhelmed trying to prove to everyone else how diverse a word can be. Is there below amateur for mixology? That is where my name would sit. I am the person debating over the latest vodka on the market. Oh, I have my favorites, Grey Goose and Skky vodka. Then the eye wanders over to the flavored vodka sections and I want one of everything (I already have more then I care to admit too). Sigh, I want to try mixing herbs with berries to make a simple syrup and add this to a vodka, martini style. Why am I letting a simple thought get so complicated?

Here in Washington, blackberries are ripe around August and September. The thorny vines are known as a weed and evasive. The berry at peek ripeness is simply wonderful! I am also the person playing catch-up with flavor fusing. Tonight, rosemary and blackberry are being seeped in a sugar syrup before straining. The drink:

Black Rose Martini

Blackberry-Rosemary Simple Syrup:

3/4 cup blackberries (keep a couple of berries for floating in the martini glass)

1/4 cup rosemary

1 cup sugar

1 cup water


Bring the blackberries, rosemary, sugar and water to a boil. Mash the berries slightly, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain out the solids and keep the syrup in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

Completing Black Rose Martini

2 parts vodka

1 part blackberry-rosemary simple syrup

1/2 part soda water


Fill shaker half full of ice. Add vodka, simple syrup and soda water, shake for 5 seconds and strain into martini glass. Float a sprig of rosemary and (1) blackberry.

A perfect mix of sweet with rosemary and slight bite of vodka.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who Doesn't Like a Twist to a Rice Krispie Treat?

I am running on the treadmill, chanting "I really do like running, I really do like running". Who am I fooling? A black, wide rubber band wrapped around two rollers with digital controls to "really" add to my other mantra: No Pain, No Gain. I am listening to good ol ROCK on my miniature IPOD in one of those stretchy arm wraps with earplugs attached to keep the beat going while imaging myself with muscles clearly visible and flexing in my legs. I deserve a sweet and gooey treat for going through all the mental dialog and personal conniving so I had better be planning something Damn well worth the sweat! (I don't care that I will be cutting myself a 3" x 3" piece and nibbling on little crumbs that fall off the knife, knowing the crumbs are so out of bounds.) Fresh, bright, sunshine yellow lemons are sitting on my counter next to perfectly ripe, reddish green mangoes. Homemade vanilla bean ice cream with Jack Daniels swirled in just after being churned to the right thickness is waiting in the freezer, all types and colors of chocolate are sitting patiently in a dark pantry and what am I craving? A sassed up rice krispie treat. We are talking loaded with crunchy peanut butter, semi-sweet chocolate, slightly crushed and salted peanuts, local clover honey, the BIG & Fluffy marshmallows, and a few rice krispies to make sure the gooey, chewy dessert fits in my rice krispie treat category. Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup honey

  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 1 cup salted peanuts

  • 3 cups Rice Krispies

  • 12 large marshmallows


  • Melt honey and crunchy peanut butter on the stove or in the microwave. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add the chocolate chips and marshmallows, stirring until melted. Add the peanuts and rice krispies, stirring until combined.

  • Spoon into a 8" x 8" pan (I did not butter my mine and had no trouble getting the treats to pop out. You can if you choose to be on the safe side.) Cut into squares.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Gutsy Cooks - Spanish Lentils and Rustic herb and cheese bread

Cynthia and Sam of Edible Adventures chose the month of April's menus for the Gutsy Cook's Club and what a great start! Spanish Lentils and a Sachertorte.

My first try at lentils and I could not believe how fast this dish can get put together, cooked, and be ready to serve. I did add a twist to mine because there was a ham bone in my freezer screaming to get used. The sachertorte was passed up for this week, sorry, but a homemade blueberry crisp needed to get finished off. I also baked a rustic Cheddar and Fontina cheese and herb bread to go with the lentil soup. Dinner was spectacular!

The recipe was changed up a bit:

3 ounces slab bacon, cubed

2 medium onions, sliced

2 medium carrots, sliced

1 cup sliced celery

1 ham bone

1 16-ounce package of lentils

1/2 t. pepper

1 t. dried thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

8 cups of hot water

salt to taste

2 T. lemon juice


In a Dutch oven (pan I am addicted to for making soups) over medium-high heat, fry bacon until lightly browned, push to side of pan.

Add onions, carrots and celery and over medium heat, cook until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add ham bone, lentils, pepper, thyme, bay leaves, hot water and 2 teaspoons salt.

Cover; simmer over low heat 1 hour or until lentils are tender. Discard bay leaves.

Remove ham bone to cutting board and cut off any meat; cut into small pieces.

Stir in meat, lemon juice and salt to taste into soup.

The blueberry crisp is partnered with homemade vanilla bean custard, bourbon, and spiced pecan ice cream. I can see the dessert should be a post all its' own =). Looking forward to next week's menu of zucchini sticks and Hungarian goulash!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Heavenly Cake Baker's - Orange-Glow Chiffon Layer Cake and Devil's Food Cake w/Midnight Ganache

The Heavenly Cake Baker Group is captivating, in-depth, enthusiastic, imaginative, and open to new ideas. We are also honest to the best of our knowledge for trials, mishaps, flub-ups, victories, and a finished product actually looking and tasting like the cake is suppose to. This last week we baked the Orange-Glow Chiffon Layer Cake using the batter recipe from the Bostini cupcake batter, only changing the flour from cake flour to unbleached, all-purpose flour and baking in a 9-inch spring form pan. I thought I was error free on this recipe and just noticed while typing this post how Rose tells us to put (2) cakes strips overlapping the entire outside surface. I used one, which could be the reason my Chiffon cake was a little more sunk in the middle then others.

We also whipped together a delicious True Orange Whipped Cream to be dolloped over the top of our Chiffon cake. The orange marmalade, strained, is such a great touch along with the orange zest.

I was in a slight hurry so put the strained syrup into the freezer to cool faster before adding to the heavy cream.

I have read in Hannah's blog, another amazing baker, about why using a flower nail works so well for even baking outside to center. This cake was my first time trying the flower nail for myself and I loved how well the small metal piece works to help equally distribute heat for even baking.

Loved the cake, and loved the true orange whipped cream! Check out the rest of the group's cakes by clicking here for the blog list to see just how talented this group is.

I also made the Devil's Food Cake with Midnight Ganache back on March 13th with the rest of the Heavenly Cake Baker's but did not have time to post so I thought I would now.

I shared a slice of this cake at work and the cherries were a HUGE hit, especially since mine soaked in the cognac for over 1 week. I actually prepared to make this cake WAY ahead, knowing I was going to have a crazy schedule.

The midnight ganache lived up to the name even though I toned down the deep chocolate flavor a little by using half milk chocolate with the dark chocolate and cocoa.

If a person is looking for a chocolate overload, look no further . . . The Devil's Food Cake w/the amazing Midnight Ganache is loaded with a deep chocolate flavor, inside and out! Everyone enjoyed the cake in small pieces because of the richness and I have people still talking about the cherries two weeks later.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Menu #26 for the Gutsy Cook's Club - Cassoulet!

Another week has ramped up to demonstrate menu #26 of The Gutsy Cook's Club:
Roasted Beet and Feta Salad



Dessert: Baked Pears in Marsala

We are all cooking/baking from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible by Victoria Blashford-Snell. Monica of Sweet Bites (mastermind behind the Gutsy Cook's Club) has received permission from Victoria for each host to present the recipe in his or her blog as well. If you would like to read a brilliant write-up of this delicious, savory and sweet menu, please go to The Gutsy Cook's Club Announcements segment. You will not be disappointed! Monica has posted great ideas, antidotes, and history behind the meal. I chose a light salad and dessert because the dinner is hearty and deserves colorful, bright, fresh vegetables and fruit to compliment a heavy main course. Cassoulet has enamored me since I read about the dish in Julia Child's first French cookbook published and I have only made the dish once before (not Julia's recipe but another's). The dish took 3 days total. Victoria's cassoulet took me (1) day and my only alterations were using chicken legs instead of duck; duck legs would have required an hours drive; and andouille sausage filled with chicken, feta cheese, and herbs. We loved every bite; extremely filling. The roasted beet salad was picked out of a fascination for any recipe that compliments beets. Beets are a healthy root vegetable and gorgeous for plating purposes (definitely messy as well). The dressing used to toss the salad together has great flavor and depth with just a hint of sweet from the honey. The pear dessert was chosen for simplicity, color, and plating. I chose to serve ladyfingers on the side, soaking up the Marsala sauce, waiting to be used as a scoop for the slightly sweetened whipped cream. The pears were light with a tinge of cinnamon and Marsala flavor. We enjoyed all three segments of the menu and I could see myself making each dish again.


2 cups dried Great Northern Beans

1 T. olive oil

8 Italian pork sausages

9 oz. pancetta, diced

2 onions, finely chopped

1 carrot, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 duck legs

1 sprig of thyme

1 bay leaf

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 T. tomato paste

3 1/2 cups hot water

one 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes

1 cup white wine

2 cups bread crumbs

1 garlic clove, minced

1 T. chopped parsley


1) Place the beans in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1-inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand 2-3 hours. Drain.

2) Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook for 7-8 minutes, until browned. Transfer to a plate. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, until browned. Transfer to the sausages. Add the onions and carrot and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Set aside for 1 minute.

3) Preheat the oven 425 degrees F. Prick the duck skin all over with a fork and put on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer the duck tothe sausages and reserve 2 Tablespoons of the fat in the pan, Reduce the oven temp to 275 degrees F.

4) In a large flameproof casserole, layer half the beans, the onions and carrot, sausages, pancetta, duck legs, thyme, and bay leaves, followed by the remaining beans.

5) Dissolve the tomato paste in the hot water, then stir in the tomatoes and their juices and the wine. Pour over the beans. Cover and bake for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and uncover. The cassoulet should be thick, but moist. Taste and season with salt and pepper and add a little hot water, if needed. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour more.

6) To make the topping, mix the bread crumbs and garlic. Heat the reserved duck fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the crumbs and cook, stirring often, about 7 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stir in the parsley. Remove the cassoulet from the oven and stir. Sprinkle the bread crumb topping over in a thick, even layer, and serve hot.

Roasted Beet and Feta Salad


6 small beets, scrubbed but unpeeled

2 T. olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 red onion, thinly sliced

4 oz. arugula

4 oz. feta cheese, cubed

2 T. chopped mint

For the Dressing

1 T. balsamic vinegar

1 T. Dijon mustard

1 t. honey

3 T. olive oil


1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the beets in a roasting pan. Add 1/2 cup water and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Roast about 1 3/4 hours, or until tender.

2) Uncover the beets and let cool. Peel and dice the beets.

3) Whisk the vinegar, mustard, and honey together in a small bowl, then whisk in the oil. Combine the beets, onions, and dressing in a bowl and toss. Sprinkle the arugula, feta, and mint over the top. Toss gently, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Baked Pears in Marsala


6 firm, ripe pears, such as Bosc, peeled, halved, and cored

1 cup dry Marsala

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 t. vanilla extract

one 3-inch cinnamon stick

1 cup heavy cream

2 T. confectioner's sugar


1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place the pears in an ovenproof dish, cut side up, and sprinkle with the Marsala, sugar, and vanilla, then pour in 1 cup of water. Tuck in the cinnamon stick.

2) Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes, basting occasionally, until tender.

3) Meanwhile, in a chilled bowl whip the cream, gradually adding the confectioner's sugar until firm peaks form. Serve the pears warm (or cool to room temperature and refrigerate until chilled), in their syrup, with the whipped cream.

What a whirlwind of a month. Thank you for letting me host the menus for the month of March. What a great experience this was!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gutsy Cooks Club - Menu 25 - An Asian Inspired Dinner

The Gutsy Cook's Club is at week 25, hence menu #25, and an Asian theme. Cooking out of Victoria Blashford-Snell's cookbook, The Illustrated Kitchen Bible, each of the Gutsy group members take turns assembling menus for each week from the recipes presented in a 544 page collection of recipes from around the world.

This weeks Menu:

Sesame Shrimp Toasts found on page 50;

Thai Noodle Stir-fry found on page 200; and

Sweet and Sour Chicken found on page 303. With permission retrieved by Monica of the blog SweetBites (creator of the Gutsy Cook's Club), I will be posting the recipes below.

Before I continue with posting the recipes, I would like to add that I actually followed each recipe down to the tablespoons and only altered ingredients when adding more soy sauce and fish sauce. I am notorious for playing with recipes and changing them to my own tastes but this time I wanted to see if the recipes chosen pulled their own weight in flavor. To my surprise, we enjoyed each one immensely. My intent is not to sound negative about Victoria's cookbook but some recipes in the past seem to be bashful in the seasoning/flavor department.

Our menu starts with an Appetizer, the Sesame Shrimp Toasts.

9 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 scallions, roughly chopped
one 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and shredded (I used fresh ginger puree)
1 t. soy sauce (I used 1 T.)
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 t. Asian sesame oil (I used 1 1/2 t.)
1 large egg white, beaten
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper (I was pepper happy and used about 1 t.)
3 large slices firm white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed (I used 4 slices)
2 T. sesame seeds (I used toasted sesame seeds)
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
fresh cilantro, to garnish

Prepare ahead: The toasts can be prepared to the end of step 2 up to 4 hours in advance, ready to be fried just before serving.

1) Combine the shrimp and scallions, white and green parts in a food processor and process until they form a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the ginger, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil. and enough egg white to bind the mixture together. Season with the pepper.

2) Spread the bread thickly with the shrimp paste. Cut each slice into four triangles. Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly over the top.

3) Pour enough oil into a deep-fryer or skillet to come halfway up the sides, and heat to 350 degrees F (180 C). In batches, add the toasts, shrimp sides down, and deep-fry for 2 minutes, until the shrimp paste is puffed. Carefully turn them over and deep-fry until the toasts are crisp and golden brown.

4) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the toasts to paper towels and drain briefly. Serve hot, garnished with coriander.

Note: Good with sweet chili sauce and chilled sake or a cold beer.

Next, Thai Noodle Stir-fry:

6 oz. cellophane (mung bean) noodles
3 T. peanut or vegetable oil
3 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 onion, sliced
4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 lemongrass stalk, peeled and bottom part minced (I used ground, dried lemon stalk)
1 t. peeled and finely grated fresh ginger (I used pureed ginger)
1 fresh hot Thai red chile, seeded and minced
1 head of bok choy, shredded
2 T. soy sauce (I used 3 T.)
1 T. Asian fish sauce (I used 1 1/2 T.)
1 t. sweet chili sauce (I used 1 T.)

1) Soak the noodles in a bowl of very hot water about 10 minutes, until softened. Drain well and rinse under cold running water. Cut into manageable lengths with kitchen scissors.

2) Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a wok over high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry about 3 minutes. or until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate.

3) Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 Tablespoon oil. Add the onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, lemongrass, ginger, and chili, and stir-fry about 2 minutes, or until the bell pepper softens.

4) Add the bok choy and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until wilted. Return the chicken to the pan and add the noodles. Pour in the soy sauce, fish sauce, and sweet chili sauce, and toss everything together over the heat for 2-3 minutes, or until piping hot. Serve hot.

Last, Sweet and Sour Chicken:
For the Batter:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
1 cup lager beer

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 T. soy sauce
3 T. rice vinegar
2 T. ketchup
1 T. honey
one 3/4" piece fresh ginger, peeled and shredded (I used fresh ginger puree)
1 t. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. cold water (I used 2 t. cornstarch in 2 T. cold water)

4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 T. unsalted cashew nuts or whole blanched almonds
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
8 scallions, cut into 1 inch lengths
1/2 cup cubed fresh or drained canned pineapple

Prepare ahead: Steps 1 and 2 can be completed several hours in advance.

1) To make the batter, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add 1/2 cup of the beer, and whisk, gradually adding the remaining beer. Let stand for 30 minutes.

2) To make the sauce, stir the stock, soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, honey, and ginger in a small saucepan over low heat until the honey is melted. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until just thickened. Set aside.

3) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (95 C). Fill a wok halfway with oil. Heat to 350 degrees F. (180 C.). Place the flour in a bowl. In batches, toss the chicken in the flour, then coat in the batter and add to the hot oil. Deep-fry about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with paper towels and keep warm in the oven.

4) Pour all but 2 T. oil from the wok and return to high heat. Add the cashews and sit-fry for 30 seconds. Transfer to the baking sheet. Add the red pepper to the oil and stir-fry 2 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add scallions and pineapple and stir-fry for 1 minute.

5) Pour the sauce into the wok, add the chicken and stir until coated. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with cashews, and serve hot.

Check out the rest of the Gutsy Cook's Club members dishes by clicking here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gutsy Cooks Club - Sunday Dinner

I have such fond memories of Sunday dinners growing up. My Mom is an amazing cook/baker and an inspiration. Granted, I think we compete on who has the most cookbooks BUT I have her beat, hands-down,on printed out recipes organized and put into binders for when I have no idea what to make for dinner, dessert, side dishes, breakfasts, etc. I am dying to go to Arizona just so I can mark up a few of her cookbooks, which Mom would probably not mind as long as we were making food together.

I get to host the Gutsy Cooks Club for the whole month of March and this week's menu (menu 24) was picked with Sundays in mind. The recipes are chosen from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible by Victoria Blashford-Snell. I chose Ficelles (long and skinny baguettes), Irish stew and a French Apple tart.

The Irish stew was modified by adding more herbs (sweet basil, 4 branches of fresh thyme, and a little rosemary) along with using pork tenderloin instead of lamb shoulder (I forgot to buy the lamb). Monica over at Sweetbites created the Gutsy Cooks Club and has the recipes posted for the Irish stew and the Ficelles on her blog. I will post the French Apple Tart recipe below.

I have never made a layered stew before and after making this one, I am excited to try different variations because we really enjoyed how well the stew turned out. The Ficelles fresh out of the oven had a wonderful aroma and were perfect still warm with butter slathered on, served with dinner.
The apple tart recipe was changed to individual miniature tarts and I added about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon between all 4 tarts. Dorie Greenspan's recipe of sweet pastry dough in her cookbook Baking From My Home to Yours worked perfectly as the base of these cute little tarts.
French Apple Tart
1 refrigerated pie dough round for 9-inch pie
3 T. butter
1 lb 10 oz. McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2/3 c. sugar
2 T. Calvados or brandy
grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3 T. apricot preserves, warmed and strained.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Fit the pie dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, fitting it tightly into the corners, and trim the excess dough. Prick the dough with a fork. Line with wax paper and fill with baking beans. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until the dough looks set. Remove the paper and beans and bake until lightly browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the McIntosh apples and cover tightly with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until broken down into a chunky sauce.
Strain through a coarse sieve into a bowl, then return to the saucepan. Stir in all but 1 Tablespoon of the sugar, the Calvados, and lemon zest. Cook and stir over medium heat about 5 minutes, until quite thick.
Spoon the applesauce into the tart shell. Arrange the Granny Smith slices in concentric circles over the applesauce. Brush with the lemon juice and sprinkle with the reserved sugar.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the apple slices are golden and tender. Brush the top with the warm apricot preserves. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan. Serve warm or cold. Good with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.

The dinner turned out beautifully! Check out the rest of the Gutsy Cooks to see each of the variations!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Craving Ellie in My Belly: Aromatic Beef Stew with Butternut Squash

CEiMB is Aromatic Beef Stew with Butternut Squash over whole wheat coucous. Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table is the host and a wonderful blogging friend! Kayte, I have never been a squash person and this stew changed my whole outlook on the vegetable. Squash is a vegetable isn't it?

I couldn't find just whole wheat couscous but there is a brand called Far East putting out a product called whole wheat couscous with roasted garlic and olive oil. The couscous package took all of 10 minutes from start-to-finish to assemble.

A definite repeat recipe! Go to Kayte's blog and give her a high five for picking out this recipe (Ellie Krieger too since this is her recipe from the cookbook So Easy) then get into your kitchen and try it for yourself! I bet you absolutely LOVE IT! The recipe can be found here.

Check out the rest of the CEiMB bloggers for each and every variation along with phenomenal photos.

Monday, March 7, 2011

HCB-Decadent Raspberry/Chocolate Genoise AND TWD's Corniest Corn Muffins

If pictures say a thousand words then this blog better start talking. I spent 3 days doing this cake in sections so I could fit it in and TAH DAHHHH . . . Here it is! Heavenly Cake Bakers has baked yet another fabulous concoctions, of light and airy chocolate cake, cocoa syrup, raspberry puree, and a chocolate/raspberry ganache. Boy, are there a kitchen sink FULL of dishes.

Further down the post is Tuesdays with Dorie - Corniest Corn Muffins chosen by this week's host (drum roll please) Jill of My Next Life.

Since I am in a hurry, the pictures will have to do the talking.

Below we have eggs whipped into a frenzy, filled full of air.

I was worried when I added the chocolate ganache to the whipped eggs but the process worked; never have I made a cake with all of 4 ingredients and had this fluffy result.

The raspberry/chocolate ganache has both dark and white chocolate grated to fine chunks.

Heavy cream and raspberry puree with the raspberry syrup previously cooked down from 1/2 cup to 2 Tablespoons is heated to a boil.

The syrup is poured onto the chocolate chunks while the processor whizzes along, making this delectable ganache.

The raspberry/chocolate ganache is chilled to thicken and cocoa syrup is coated on to layers that have been previously split into two, creating a 4 layer cake.

The result is a light, airy, moist chocolate/raspberry flavored cake. I did not find the raspberry as dominate a flavor as I was expecting. Still, a delicious and VERY charming cake to present and eat. Next week, we have another chocolate cake to present for the HCB'ers.

Now on to our host Jill and the TWD group. Corniest corn muffins!

I added fresh chopped thyme and sweet basil to the dry ingredients and lots of corn overall. More like 1 1/2 cups instead of the 1 cup called for. The muffins were served with a beef/butternut squash stew. Results: Absolutely Delicious and a Winner!
The only negative? Mine did not bake up as high and pretty as Dories but whose complaining?

Thank you Jill for hosting and check out the other TWD'ers muffins to see all the variations one recipe can present!