Monday, February 28, 2011

White Lasagna Cupcakes

I'm posting this recipe not because it's perfect, but because it's an example of one of those experiments that I try, fail slightly, but then make better on a return visit.

I'm posting the original recipe as I served it at last December's wine dinner. But it wasn't perfect. The cupcake idea was odd. It meant that they cooked unevenly and ended up with crunchy-chewy noodles on the top. The second attempt? I used the same ingredients and techniques to make "plain ol'" lasagna. Delicious.

White Lasagna Cupcakes
From Food & Wine magazine.
Makes 8 servings.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the ramekins
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 pound fresh lasagna noodles
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup snipped chives
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
8 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, finely diced
Freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter eight 6-ounce ramekins and coat with Parmigiano; tap out the excess. Place the ramekins on a sturdy rimmed baking sheet.

In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the lasagna noodles until al dente. Drain and cool under running water. Pat dry. Using a 3 1/4-inch biscuit cutter, stamp out 24 rounds (they should fit neatly inside the ramekins).


In a large saucepan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and whisk over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Add the milk and whisk over moderate heat until the sauce is bubbling and thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg, chives, parsley and 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano. Let cool slightly, then stir in the Fontina and prosciutto. Season the filling with pepper.

Arrange 1 pasta round in the bottom of each ramekin. Spoon a scant 1/4 cup of the filling into each ramekin and top with another noodle; press to flatten slightly. Top with the remaining filling and pasta rounds. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano and cover loosely with foil.

Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes, until the filling is just bubbling. Remove the foil and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until slightly puffed and the tops and sides are golden. Let cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the lasagna cupcakes, then invert onto plates, tapping firmly to release them. Serve hot or warm.


Food/Wine Pairing: Food & Wine nails this one. Pour a buttery, rich Chardonnay as the perfect foil to the richness of the pasta dish.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip

I got this recipe along with a shipment of our favorite bubbly from Schramsberg in California. We're trying it at our Oscars shindig tomorrow night.






Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip
Makes 8 servings.

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeños
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
8 ounces crab meat, drained, shells removed
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté red pepper in olive oil until tender. Remove to a large bowl. Add next 9 ingredients and combine until smooth. Add crab meat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread in an 8 inch quiche pan or casserole dish.

Bake 30 minutes at 375° until bubbly.

Serve immediately with crackers or baguette slices.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Steak House Sliders

No reason to grill only during the summer. We all get a craving for a good burger sometime. The other night, the other half decided to fix sliders, those delicious mini-burgers that make you feel better about your diet cuz they're cute and tiny.

I decided to dress mine up with some leftover wedge salad I had from lunch. Bacon, tomato, blue cheese, iceberg. Delicious. Sprinkled it with a few Durkee fried onions to stand in for the big onion ring that some steakhouses put on top of your ribeye.

The only thing I didn't get incorporated was the creamed spinach. Hmmmm.......

And of course you better serve a big steak house Cabernet with it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cocktail of the Week: Sparkling Pear Sidecar

I've posted a couple of pear martini recipes before. And they're both good. This one is also (if a touch on the sweet side). Might be just the thing for your Oscars soiree this weekend.

Sparkling Pear Sidecar
Makes one cocktail.

2 ounces pear brandy or liqueur
1 ounce triple sec
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup
Splash of club soda

Place the first four ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass and top with the splash of club soda.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stress Less

Winter blah's got you down? Frustrated by New Year's resolution progress? Ready to send your spouse/kids/pets packing? Here are a few ways to lower your stress level...

Close all of your computer windows (you know...the ones that stress you out...bank account, e-mail, to-do list) and open up your favorite online game. Sudoku. FreeCell. PacMan. Whatever will absorb you so that you lose track of time. Repeat daily as needed.

Plant something. A growing green thing can have a positive effect on your well-being. How about a few herbs on the windowsill? A rose bush outside the kitchen window?


You think you're all alone in the world. You're not. Make a list (and write it down to prove it to yourself) of the people you could turn to for help in a crisis. You have more folks out there ready to help you emotionally, financially or just in an everyday way than you acknowledge on a daily basis.

Finally...and this is one to do daily...first thing in the morning or last thing at night, think about five things you're grateful for. Drill down to details. Not just health and financial stability. But that your husband did the laundry. The cats didn't throw up today. And you had a great glass of red wine. You get the drill. Nothing better than a list like this to put things in perspective and distract from the things adding stress to your life.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Tips: The Vinegar Edition

Last week, we shared a bunch of tips related to vinegar's partner-in-fizz, baking soda. Including a great treatment for clogged drains. This week, we concentrate on vinegar on its own merits.

Have a recipe that calls for lemon juice and fresh out? Substitute 1/2 teaspoon vinegar for 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

Vinegar is a great adversary for those pesky coffee/tea stains. Swirl a little in the bottom of a mug to clean. Or heat a little vinegar and water to clean out a teakettle or coffee carafe. And, of course, clean out your automatic coffeemaker by running a vinegar and water mixture through a brewing cycle. (Just make sure to run clean water through a couple brewing cycles to rinse thoroughly.)

In the same vein, run a cup of vinegar through a cycle of your empty dishwasher to flush out soap buildup and gunk.

Deodorize your garbage disposal by feeding it with a handful of vinegar ice cubes. Rinse with cold water after grinding them up.

And did you know vinegar is a great organic weedkiller. Fill a spray bottle and spray your weeds away. (Even better is the stronger undiluted 18 percent stuff you can find some places.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Turkey Enchiladas

I was scared of this recipe at first. Lots of unusual ingredients thrown together that I don't necessarily consider enchilada filling. Color me corrected. It's delicious. Rich, tangy, cheesy goodness.

(And I'm thinking it would be a great way to use up leftover turkey at Thanksgiving time.)

Turkey Enchiladas
Makes 8 servings.

3 cups cooked cubed turkey
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cooked long grain rice
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup canned chopped green chiles
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 can (28 ounces) green enchilada sauce, divided
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided

In a large saucepan, combine first 10 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place 1/2 cup turkey mixture down center of each tortilla; top each with 1 teaspoon enchilada sauce and 1 tablespoon cheese. Roll up and place seam-side down in a greased 9 by 13 baking dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until bubbly.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chard-Stem Gratin

I posted a recipe for sauteed chard a week ago that I really enjoy. It's great, but, most of the time, I find the stems a bit much when I sauté greens. Here's a recipe that puts them to use and keeps them from going into the compost pile.

Chard-Stem Gratin
Makes 4 servings.

1 tablespoon salt
Stems from about 2 bunches of Swiss chard, trimmed of discolored ends
1 clove garlic, halved
About 1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 cup panko or fresh white bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 375°. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and chard stems. Boil until stems are tender to the bite, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Rub a medium-size shallow baking dish with the cut sides of the garlic clove halves. Butter the dish and then put in the chard stems. In a sealable plastic bag, mix bread crumbs, parmesan, and butter. Sprinkle mixture on stems. Cook until top is browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spice-Rubbed Salmon

Simple. Healthy. Delicious. This is just the recipe to keep up with those month-old resolutions.

Spice-Rubbed Salmon
Makes 2 servings.

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 portions salmon (6 ounces each), skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil

Toast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown and fragrant. 2-3 minutes. Grind spices in s spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in brown sugar and salt.

Place salmon skin-side down on a plate. Rub top of each fillet with spice mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Heat the olive oil in a small oven-proof sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place the salmon spiced side down in the pan and sear for 2 minutes. Turn the salmon over and transfer the pan to the pre-heated oven. Cook until fillet is opaque throughout, about 5-6 minutes.

Serve immediately.

(This one screams for a good Pinot Noir.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Tips: The Baking Soda Edition

There's more to that orange box of baking soda sitting in your pantry than meets the eye. Yeah...you probably know to keep a box each in your fridge and freezer to absorb odors, but how about these ideas?
Sprinkle a bit on a damp sponge and use to erase crayon, pencil and ink marks from painted surfaces.
Clogged drain? Use that chemistry set combination of baking soda and vinegar to tkae care of it. Pour 1/2 to 1 cupof baking soda down teh drain, then slowly pour 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar down. Let sit for five minutes (covered if possible) and follow it all with a gallon of boiling water.
Skip the baking soda toothpaste and go for the real thing by using a simple paste of baking soda and water to brush your teeth.
From experience, I know this one works for upset stomach or heartburn. Stir 1/2 teaspoon baking soda into 1/2 ccup water and drink it down.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Pink Cocktail for Valentine's Day

Hopefully, you're doing the smart thing and ordering delicious takeout from your favorite neighborhood joint for your romantic evening with your other half. Don't go out...always costs too much. And you shouldn't spend the evening in the kitchen. Right?

BUT...do spend enough time in the kitchen to mix up this yummy cocktail. High-octane with a balance of tart and sweet and a luscious pink the color of those little candy hearts.

V-D Cocktail
Makes two cocktails.

2 ounces vodka
1 ounce pomegranate juice
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce club soda

Combine first four ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and shake vigorously. Pour in the club soda and stir. (Don't shake...the carbonation will make things explode.)

Strain into two cocktail glasses and serve. Quote your favorite Shakespearean sonnet...

Cheeseburger Meat Loaf

An oldie, but a goodie. (Just like me.)

Here's what the other half has requested for his Valentine's Day meal.

Cheeseburger Meat Loaf
Serves 4-6.

2 eggs
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 slices stale bread, coarsely crumbled (I use Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread.)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped celery (or 1 teaspoon celery salt)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds ground sirloin
3 slices American cheese (the secret ingredient...a pocket of cheesy goodness in every slice)
1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup brown sugar

Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Add cream and beat until well-combined. Add crumbs to egg mixture. Stir in and let sit until bread becomes good and soft. Add all remaining ingredients except cheese, ketchup and brown sugar and mix well.

Place 1/2 of mixture in loaf pan and flatten until even. Lay slices of cheese on top of meat, avoiding edges of the loaf. Place remaining meat mixture on top of cheese and shape into loaf shape, sealing cheese into middle of loaf.

Bake at 350° for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine ketchup and brown sugar until brown sugar is dissolved and well-mixed. Remove meat loaf from oven and pour sauce over top. Bake for another 20-30 minutes or until done.

Let sit and rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Swiss Chard with Onions

In my mind, chard is an underappreciated green. Spinach is ubiquitous, collard/mustard greens are down-home, and kale is all the rage with the foodie set. Chard hits a sweet spot in the middle. Great texture and just enough bitterness to give flavor. And it's pretty to boot, with bright red and yellow stems.

Here's a simple way to fix it that is a great side for just about whatever you're serving. The Worcestershire adds a great depth...going to have to steal that idea for other greens and veggies. Hint: save a spoonful or two and dump into a tortilla with scrambled eggs the next morning for a great breakfast taco.

Swiss Chard with Onions
Makes four servings.

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion
8 cups torn Swiss chard (about 12 ounces)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add chard; stir-fry 10 minutes or until wilted. Stir in Worcestershire, salt, and pepper.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

More Healthy Snacks

I'm still trying (and moderately succeeding) at shedding a few pounds. A critical part of my strategy is snacking between meals. But of course a candy bar from the vending machine defeats the whole purpose.

So here are some healthier options that I have tried (or will try very soon):

  • This first one I know well...it's a great simple side dish also. Drizzle half an avocado with a teaspoon of GREAT-quality olive oil. Finish with a pinch of kosher (or even better sea) salt. Creamy and packed with all kinds of rich good-for-you fats.
  • This one you can toss together in the morning and let it marinate until snack time. Halve 3 ounces of cherry tomatoes and mix with 1 ounce crumbled low-fat feta cheese. Dress with 1 teaspoon balsamic and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. For an extra kick...a pinch of dried oregano.
  • This one is an interesting combo that is a nice alternative to my typical apple and peanut butter treat. Take 3 ounces cooked chicken and enjoy with half a Granny Smith apple and...wait for it...2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard. I'm intrigued...
  • And finally a mini-version of the stalwart tuna and white bean salad. Mix 2 ounces drained water-packed tuna with 3 tablespoons cooked white beans. Top with a simple dressing of 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Soda to Polish Your Silver

I hate polishing silver. Not only is it time-consuming, but I have always suspected that I am damaging myself and the environment using the foul-smelling commercial polishes and dips that are commonly used.

Baking soda comes to save the day.

Put your silver in a large pan with a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom. In a separate pan, boil a quart of water. When the water is boiling, add 1/4 cup baking soda (careful--it will likely foam up) and a generous pinch of salt. Pour over the silver.

Let sit a for a minute or so then drain and polish with a soft cloth.

It works quite well...

Monday, February 07, 2011

Best Baby Back Ribs

If you think ribs are only a summer-time food, think again. Yes, it's cold outside, but the secret of delicious ribs is not the grill but the oven. Low and slow...low and slow...repeat that over and over again. Then, suck it up and throw a parka on for the 10 minute finish on the grill. You'll thank me later.

And this sauce is a great one for other barbecue uses. Smoky, sweet, spicy and rich all at once.

Now, I don't know who the heck Scott Hibb is, but it would be a crime not to post the recipe under its original title...as passed on to me by a great foodie friend.



Scott Hibb's Amazing Whiskey Grilled Baby Back Ribs
Makes four servings.

2 (2 pound) slabs baby back pork ribs
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground red chile pepper (I used Chimayo chile powder.)
2 1/4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring
2 teaspoons whiskey
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dark molasses
1/2 tablespoon ground red chile pepper

Preheat oven to 300°.


Cut each full rack of ribs in half, so that you have 4 half racks. Sprinkle salt and pepper (more pepper than salt), and 1 tablespoon chili pepper over meat. Wrap each half rack in aluminum foil. Bake for 2 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions in oil for 5 minutes. Stir in water, tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, liquid smoke, whiskey, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, dark molasses, and 1/2 tablespoon ground chili pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 1 1/4 hours, uncovered, or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat, and set sauce aside.


Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.

Remove the ribs from the oven, and let stand 10 minutes. Remove the racks from the foil, and place on the grill. Grill the ribs for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Brush sauce on the ribs while they're grilling, just before you serve them (adding it too early will burn it).

Finger. Licking. Good.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A Super Bowl of Chili

Need a super bowl of something for tomorrow's Super Bowl? Can't go wrong with this one...a basic, but great chili recipe passed down from a dear friend of my grandmother's.

Pauline's Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced3 lbs ground chuck
2 pieces white sandwich bread ( I use Pepperidge Farm just because it's what Grandmother always had around.)
2 cans tomato sauce
1/4 to 3/4 cup chili powder (your favorite blend that includes cumin and garlic) to taste (Start with less and add more if you want more heat.)
2 cans kidney beans, drained

Sauté the onions and garlic for 2-3 minutes in olive oil. Add the ground chuck and brown completely. ( I use a metal spatula to chop the meat into small pieces as it browns.)

In a food processor or blender, blend together bread and tomato sauce and add to meat mixture. Stir in chili powder and kidney beans. Simmer for 1 hour.

I can't eat a bowl of this chili without Fritos and some grated cheese. You could also add chopped onion and even get exotic with sour cream or chopped cilantro.

Make sure and save your leftovers in fridge or freezer. It's even better after it's had a chance to sit a while.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is NOT a healthy recipe. But then again you don't want to keep much of a dietary score on your Super Bowl fixin's. This one fumbles when it comes to fat and should be penalized for unnecessary sodium. (Sorry...couldn't resist.)

That said, it's got great flavor. If I had a little more time to retest it and tinker a bit, I would cut back on the dressing a little and kick the chicken up to cooked white meat chicken cut in small chunks. As printed, it's a little runny and the chicken tends to get lost. I'll leave the tinkering up to you, however. (The Comments section is always open for your results...)

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Makes four cups dip.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup of your favorite "wing" hot sauce (I used Frank's.)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 cans (12.5 ounces each) white meat chicken in water, drained

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Stir until smooth. Mix in salad dressing, hot sauce, and cheese. Stir until blended. (I found a potato masher helpful for this step.) Stir in chicken.

Place in baking dish. (When I make things like this, I put into a couple smaller dishes, so I can replenish the snack table with a hot second batch when the first is gone.)

Bake 20 minutes, until heated through.

Serve with celery sticks and thick-cut potato chips for dipping.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year! Shrimp Toast and Cold Sesame Noodles

We'll be celebrating the ringing in of the Year of the Rabbit with these two dishes that are favorites of mine when I'm in New York having my obligatory Chinese food meals. Unfortunately, I've not found many places here in Texas that prepare them. No worries....I make them myself.

Cold Sesame Noodles
Recipe courtesy Andrea Immer.
WARNING: This recipe makes A LOT! Think about halving it, or be ready for lots of wonderful leftovers.

1 lb. spaghetti (or vermicelli)
3 T soy sauce
2 T rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 T packed packed brown sugar
1/2 cup smooth unsweetened peanut butter (or crunchy if you want the texture)
2 T toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly and toss sauce with cooled cooked pasta. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

I garnish with chopped green onions and a little grated carrot. If you'd like, add some slices of simply poached chicken breast or a couple of cooked shrimp on top.

Shrimp Toast
Adapted from The Ultimate Shrimp Book.

1/2 cup Japanese panko bread crumbs (or plain dry bread crumbs)
8 cups plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 pound small uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 egg white
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
4 slices dense white bread (a la Pepperidge Farm), crusts removed

Heat 8 cups of oil in large saucepan or electric deep fryer. (I love my deep fryer. Get one if you don't have one.)

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, shrimp, egg white, ginger, soy sauce, and garlic in food processor. Process until a smooth paste is formed.

Divide paste among four slices of bread and spread evenly to edges. Cut each slice diagonally into four triangles.

Dip each triangle, shrimp side down, into bread crumbs. Press bread crumbs in gently so they adhere to toasts.

Fry in hot oil until golden brown, about two minutes each side, turning once or twice.

Remove toasts and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

These are great with duck sauce or a little hot Chinese mustard.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Mushroom Puffs

Looking for a chic hors d'oeuvres recipe for your upcoming Oscars party? Life Should Be Beautiful again saves the day...

Mushroom Puffs
Makes about 24 puffs.

1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot (about 1 small)
1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 or 2 cloves)
1/3 pound button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 pound chilled puff pastry
1 egg
1/4 cup heavy cream

Melt butter with olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring. Add mushrooms and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms stop giving off liquid and start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add soy sauce and cook just until liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400°. On a floured work surface and with a floured rolling pin, roll pastry sheet out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut pastry into rounds with a buttered and floured 2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter with fluted edges and arrange rounds 1/2 inches apart on 2 baking sheets.

Press the middle of each round with your finger to make a depression, leaving a 1/4-inch-wide rim. Poke each center once with a fork and top with a scant teaspoon of mushroom filling. Whisk egg and cream together and set aside.

Bake pastries until golden brown and beginning to puff, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and lower heat to 350°.

With the end of a small funnel, carefully punch down centers of pastries while spooning about 1/2 teaspoon egg-cream mixture through funnel (to help guide the liquid) and into pastry (spoon in more if the pastry will accept it without overflowing). Bake pastries another 10 to 15 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Tuesday Tips: Perfect Roasting Techniques

Here are a few ideas to help you end up with the perfect piece of browned, but tender roast pork, chicken or beef.
  • Always preheat the oven. Twenty minutes at least. That gives the meat the dry blast of heat equivalent to searing a steak on the grill.
  • Bring your meat or poultry to room temperature before roasting. You want it to be cooking not warming when it first goes in. That means an hour for a whole chicken and 2 hours for large cuts of meat. Go ahead and season the meat and use the time for the seasoning to penetrate.
  • Roast meat on a rack so it doesn't sit in its own juices. That's called braising.
  • You should know this from grilling steaks, but let roasted meat and poultry rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. This lets the juices redistribute rather than leak out with the first cut. Large roasts over 3 pounds should stand for 20 minutes. And don't be afraid of it...let your Thanksgiving turkey rest for half an hour.