Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cocktail of the Week: A Pimm's Cup...Of Course

Cracked open a brand-spanking-new bottle of Pimm's tonight in honor of the big royal nuptials tomorrow morning. (No, I WON'T be up early...thank goodness for DVR's.) It took me straight back to the first-time I had a Pimm's a college student on the banks of the Thames in Oxford. (No kidding.)

Do yourself a favor and transport yourself. You'll thank me when you continue drinking these throughout the long, hot summer.

Pimm's Cup

Makes one cocktail.

Pour 1 1/2 ounces into an ice-filled collins glass. Top off with sparkling lemonade. (Some people use lemon-lime soda, but I go for a close approximation of sparkling lemonade with club soda and a splash each of lemon juice and simple syrup.) If you're feeling authentically British, make sure and garnish with a cumber spear.

(Unfortunately, I had no bubbly on hand or I would have made a Pimm's Royal. Shake 1 1/2 ounces Pimm's in an ice-filled cocktail shaker to chill. Strain into a Champagne flute and top off with sparkling wine. No cucumber garnish needed for this one.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Sometimes like an idiot, I promise my other half that I'll cook "anything he wants" to thank him for (or bribe him into) something. It usually results in something complicated and time-consuming. But just as often it ends up being something delicious. Like these cinnamon rolls.

Next time you need a thank you...or a bribe..get thee to the kitchen.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls
From Saveur magazine.
Makes 8 rolls.

1 1⁄4-ounce package active dry yeast
1⁄2 teaspoon plus 1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 3⁄4 cups flour, sifted, plus more for kneading
3⁄4 teaspoon fine salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup dark brown sugar
1⁄4 cup finely chopped pecans
1⁄4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1⁄4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon fine salt
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1⁄4 cup buttermilk

Make the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a hook, combine yeast, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the sugar, and 1⁄4 cup water heated to 115°. Stir to combine and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat on low speed until thoroughly combined, 1 minute. Turn mixer off and add the flour and salt. Mix on medium speed until the dough just comes together. Turn mixer speed to high and knead dough for 4 minutes. Add the butter and continue kneading until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 1 1⁄2–2 hours, until it has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine the sugar, dark brown sugar, pecans, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, salt, and cloves in a large bowl; stir to combine. Stir in the maple syrup. Set filling aside.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a heavily floured surface. Gently knead the dough until it's no longer sticky, adding more flour as necessary, about 1 minute. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10" x 10" square. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with a rubber spatula until it's smooth and spreadable. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square; then fold square into thirds as you would fold a letter to fit it into an envelope. Take the open ends of the resulting rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square. Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll into a 10" x 20" rectangle.

Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. Brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter. Drizzle the reserved filling over the dough, leaving a 1" border at the edge farthest away from you. Lightly press the filling into the dough. Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place dough cylinder, seam side down, on a cutting board and, using a thin, sharp knife, trim off the ends; cut cylinder crosswise into 8 equal-size slices. Nestle the slices, cut sides up and evenly spaced from one another, into a buttered 9" x 13" light-colored metal baking pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours. (Alternatively, the rolls may be refrigerated overnight.)

Heat oven to 375°. Uncover the rolls. (If refrigerated, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.) Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the rolls comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Make the icing: While the rolls are baking, whisk together the sugar and buttermilk in a small bowl until smooth.

Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack; brush with remaining melted butter. Let cool for 5 minutes. Dip the tines of a fork into the icing and drizzle all over the rolls. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Homemade Beau Monde Seasoning

I ran across a brisket recipe not too long ago that called for Beau Monde seasoning. It wasn't in my pantry and I didn't see it at my corner grocery. Time for a little research.

My old pal Google helped me discover that's a spice mix used on everything from salads and vegetables to beef and pork. I also found a recipe and made my own....from things I DID have in my pantry. I've found myself reaching for it a lot. And I'll post the brisket recipe I used it in soon.)

Beau Monde Seasoning
Makes a little more than 1/2 cup.

1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon crushed bay leaf
1 tablespoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons white pepper

Mix all ingredients together and store in a tightly-lidded container.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mini Frittatas

We all know we're not supposed to skip breakfast. And you know I'm a big fan of eggy things: quiches, frittatas, you name it.

How about combining the two? An easy, delicious egg dish that's perfect to make ahead and grab for a quick bite in the morning.

Mini Frittatas
Makes 24 mini frittatas.

Cooking spray
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped ham (about 2 ounces)
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 large egg whites
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add ham; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool 5 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add ham mixture, stirring with a whisk. Spoon mixture into 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until set.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Taxtime Cocktail of the Week: Maker's Mark Elderflower Collins

If you're like me, you're thankful for the couple of extra days to finish your taxes. But, hopefully, you're not TOO much like me. I owe. Sigh.

One (ok...maybe a couple) of these tasty cocktails will take some of the edge off though. As a collins drinker of all kinds, I'm adding it to my repertoire.

(By the way, if you don't have elderflower liqueur, you can leave it out. But it DOES add a nice herbal undernote...)

Maker's Mark Elderflower Collins
Makes one cocktail.

1 1/2 ounces Maker's Mark (or another high-quality Bourbon)
3/4 ounce elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Club soda

Mix the first four ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Strain into an ice-filled collins glass and top with club soda.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chili-Garlic Glazed Salmon

Here's another delicious (and easy) recipe using all those Asian ingredients I have in the pantry. I used the glaze on salmon as suggested, but I would bet it's wonderful on other kinds of fish, shrimp, chicken or even as a sauce for veggies. Love that kind of versatility....

Chili-Garlic Glazed Salmon
Adapted from
Makes 2 servings.

3 tablespoons chili sauce with garlic
3 tablespoons minced green onions (about 3 green onions)
2 tablespoons low-sugar orange marmalade
1/2 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; brush chili sauce mixture over fillets. Place fillets, skin sides down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake fish 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tuna and White Bean Salad

I have a few cans of white beans in my pantry. Why? Because all those "things you MUST have in your pantry" lists say I should. I don't use them very often though.

Might just use them a lot MORE often if I find more recipes like this. I've been making a batch of this yummy salad about weekly. Great lunch, yummy snack, and even a healthy breakfast in a pinch.

Tuna and White Bean Salad
Makes 4 servings.
Adapted from Cooking Light.

20 asparagus spears
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 (15-ounce) can organic white beans, rinsed and drained
2 (5-ounce) cans solid white tuna packed in olive oil, drained and broken into chunks.

Snap off tough ends of asparagus spears. Steam asparagus, covered, for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Cut into 1 inch pieces.

Combine capers and the next 7 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Place dressing, asparagus, tuna, cherry tomatoes, and beans in a small bowl; toss gently to combine.

Serve chilled.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


How do I know?

This beautiful iris in our front yard..the first of the season.

Stay tuned for many more....

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Making Vegetable Stock

Still on the healthy diet kick here...and seeing/feeling results. So I jump start things periodically to keep the momentum.

One strategy is Meatless Monday. Piece of whole wheat toast and some fruit for breakfast. Big salad for lunch. Veggies for dinner...maybe a piece of steamed salmon if I'm hungry. And fruit and veggie snacks throughout the day.

Once snack I'll have is a little homemade vegetable stock in a coffee mug and warmed in the microwave. Goes down easily and gets me a serving or tow of vegetables and all the concomitant good stuff like vitamins and minerals.

Plus it's good to have around anyway. Add a few chunks of veggie and you have soup. Use it to cook your rice or couscous and you've got even more flavor in the dish.

Anyway, here's how you do it....

First off, brown your vegetables for added complexity of taste. Heat a little olive oil in the stockpot and throw in a small onion, chopped. Cook until onion begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add in a couple of stalks of celery and a couple of carrots that you've cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Throw in a pinch of garlic pepper and cook, stirring every now and then, until the veggies are tender and very lightly browned.

Pour in 8 or so cups water. (You want the vegetables to be covered by an inch or so of water.) And add several sprigs of your favorites herbs. Parsley, basil, thyme and cilantro are all fair game. Throw in a dried bay leaf if you have one. And I love a small handful of whole peppercorns in there. Adjust to your taste....

Bring the whole thing to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and let it go for 45-50 minutes.

Strain through a fine sieve and store. It's good in the fridge for 3-4 days and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Potato, Scallion and Goat Cheese Quiche

Egg dishes are an easy go-to solution on our homefront. Whether quiche (with crust) or frittata(sans crust), it's easy to add whatever veggies and other treats you have on hand. Plus they make great leftovers for breakfast or a light lunch over the next couple of days.

This particular quiche is inspired by a frittata recipe from Martha Stewart. But once you master the technique of quiche, you won't need a recipe. Just slice and dice, mix with the eggs and bake away.

Potato, Scallion and Goat Cheese Quiche
Makes one 9-inch quiche.

1 single pie crust
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 baby Yukon Gold or red potato, peeled and sliced thinly
8 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
4 scallions, sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 cup soft crumbled goat cheese(If you're feeling bold, I'm betting blue cheese would be quite tasty as a substitute.)

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place the pie crust in a 9-inch pie plan and blind bake for 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the potato and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just golden (Don't let them get too brown....they'll add an unpleasant bitter taste to your final product.), about 4-6 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs, milk, scallions, thyme and cayenne in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir the slightly cooled potato mixture into the egg mixture. Stir in the crumbled goat cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the center is set.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Tuna Ceviche with Avocado, Jalapeno and Cilantro

The original plan for the beautiful piece of tuna was to sear it Asian-style. That's a normal route tuna takes in our kitchen.

But inspired by a beautiful spring day and a Rick Bayless cookbook, here's what we had instead.

Tuna Ceviche with Avocado, Jalapeño and Cilantro
Makes 2-4 servings.

1 cup fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro (or parsley if you're averse to cilantro)
1 jalapeño, stemmed and roughly chopped

1 to 1 ¼ pounds sashimi-grade bone-less, skinless tuna (salmon and snapper are also options), cut into ½-inch cube
1 ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin, and cut into ¼-inch cubes

In a blender or food processor, combine the lime juice, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño and 1 scant teaspoon salt. Process until smooth.

Scoop the fish into a large bowl. Pour the lime marinade over it and let it “cook” in the lime juice to suit your own taste: you can eat it right away (Peruvian-style) if you like raw fish, or let it “cook” for an hour or 2 if you like it more well-done. (I "cooked" ours for 15 minutes.)

Pour off half of the marinating liquid and set aside. Toss the avocado with the fish, then taste and season with additional salt if you think necessary.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Corn Souffle

I will freely admit that this is not the best corn souffle/pudding that I've ever tried. But it's straight-ahead and quite simple to make. So try it.

(In the meantime, I'm looking for the folder that has the recipe that includes Jiffy cornbread mix and green chiles. When I find it, it's yours.)

Corn Souffle

Makes 8-10 servings.

1 can (15.25 ounces) whole kernel corn
2 cans (15.25 ounces) cream style corn
2 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 sleeve saltine or butter crackers, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°.

Empty cans of corn into a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and add milk. Combine milk/egg mixture with corn. Add sugar. Add crushed crackers and season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Mix until combine and place in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.

Bake for 45 minutes until set.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Dreaming of Tomatoes....And This Tomato Sandwich

It's not quite time for me to visit Farmer Lemley's stand at the Dallas Farmers Market for the first delicious ripe red tomatoes of the season. That doesn't mean I'm not dreaming of and salivating over them already.

I ran across this recipe recently for a very different kind of tomato sandwich than the one I'm used to...this one calls for pumpernickel bread slathered with butter and then topped with tomato slices. Finishing touch is a sprinkle of kosher salt.


Sunday, April 03, 2011

Kale Chips

I've seen this recipe off and on for a couple years now, but wasn't ever sure it would actually work.

Well...faced with half a head of kale that was going to go bad, I decided to take a chance.

Pretty delicious actually. (However, I'll ignore the smoked paprika that the recipe calls for. Made it taste a little A little garlic pepper and salt will fit the bill perfectly.)

There a very interesting, crunchy snack.

Baked Kale Chips
Makes about 8 cups.

Remove the center ribs and stems from a large bunch of kale and tear the leaves into 3-inch pieces.

Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic pepper and a pinch of kosher salt.

Spread on two rimmed baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake at 350° until browned around the edges and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.

Friday, April 01, 2011

An End of the Week Haiku

Yes, it's April Fool's Day, but rather than post a silly recipe or an ironic decorating tip, we're going a different way.

April 1 just happens to be the beginning of Poetry Month, so here's a haiku for you to ponder.

A beautiful life
Must be cherished and looked at
As blessing and gift.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!