Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New England Sausage, Apple and Dried Cranberry Stuffing

This is my favorite dressing recipe from Bon Appetit about 14 years ago. When I make Turkey, this IS the dressing. So delicious. Apples, cranberries, sausage and fresh herbs combined with breadcrumbs and baked. Do try to use fresh herbs as it does make a big difference in the finished product. Besides, if it's a Holiday meal, it's worth the effort, don't ya think?

  • 14 ounces white bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 6 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 3 large leeks)
  • 1 pound tart green apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped celery with leaves
  • 4 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (about 4 ounces)
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1 1/3 cups (about) canned low-salt chicken broth
    Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide bread cubes between 2 large baking sheets. Bake until slightly dry, about 15 minutes. Cool completely. Sauté sausages in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling coarsely with back of spoon, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to large bowl. Pour off any drippings from skillet. Melt butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks, apples, celery and poultry seasoning to skillet; sauté until leeks soften, about 8 minutes. Mix in dried cranberries and rosemary. Add mixture to sausage, then mix in bread and parsley. Season stuffing to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Mix eggs into stuffing.

    To bake stuffing in turkey: Fill main turkey cavity with stuffing. Mix enough chicken broth into remaining stuffing to moisten (about 3/4 to 1 cup chicken broth, depending on amount of remaining stuffing). Spoon remaining stuffing into buttered baking dish. Cover with buttered aluminum foil. Bake stuffing in dish alongside turkey until heated through, about 45 minutes. Uncover stuffing and bake until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

    To bake all stuffing in pan: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 15x10x2-inch baking dish. Mix 1 1/3 cups broth into stuffing. Transfer to prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil and bake until heated through, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Stuffing on Foodista

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Apricot-Glazed Turkey with Roasted Onion and Shallot Gravy

This is a recipe for Turkey that I came across in Bon Appetit 14 years ago. I have faithfully made this my Turkey recipe ever since then. I find it foolproof, delicious, moist meat always, and the gravy is simply to die for. Check it out and you'll see what I mean.

Apricot Glaze
1 cup apricot nectar
1 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon honey

Herb Butter
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Onion Mixture
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
3 large onions (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced
6 ounces shallots (about 6 large), thinly sliced

1 21- to 22-pound turkey
1 14 1/2-ounce can (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon dried

1 14 1/2-ounce can (about) low-salt chicken broth


For Glaze:
Combine all ingredients in heavy small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened and reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes.

For Herb Butter:
Blend all ingredients in small bowl. Set aside.

For Onion Mixture:
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and shallots and sauté until very soft and light brown, about 20 minutes. (Glaze, herb butter and onion mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Bring herb butter to room temperature before continuing.)

For Turkey:
Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400° F. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Season turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Slide hand under skin of turkey breast to loosen skin. Spread half of herb butter over breast under skin. If stuffing turkey, spoon stuffing into main cavity. Place remaining herb butter in small saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted. Brush butter over outside of turkey. Tie legs together loosely to hold shape of turkey. Roast turkey 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F. Roast turkey 1 hour 30 minutes, basting occasionally with pan drippings. Tent turkey with heavy-duty foil; roast 45 minutes longer. Add onion mixture, 1 can broth, thyme and sage to pan. Roast 15 minutes. Bring glaze to simmer. Brush 1/2 cup glaze over turkey. Continue to roast turkey uncovered until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180° F. or until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with skewer, brushing occasionally with glaze and adding more broth to pan if liquid evaporates, about 40 minutes longer for unstuffed turkey (about 1 hour 10 minutes longer for stuffed turkey). Place turkey on platter, tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes. Reserve mixture in pan for gravy.

For Gravy:
Pour contents of roasting pan into strainer set over large bowl. Spoon fat from pan juices in bowl. Transfer onion mixture in strainer to blender. Add 1 cup pan juices to blender and puree until smooth, adding more pan juices and chicken broth if necessary to thin sauce to desired consistency. Transfer sauce to heavy large saucepan and bring to boil. Cook until color deepens, skimming off any foam, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve turkey with gravy.

For Herb Butter:
Blend all ingredients in small bowl. Set aside.

For Onion Mixture:
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and shallots and sauté until very soft and light brown, about 20 minutes. (Glaze, herb butter and onion mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Bring herb butter to room temperature before continuing.)

For Turkey:
Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400° F. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Season turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Slide hand under skin of turkey breast to loosen skin. Spread half of herb butter over breast under skin. If stuffing turkey, spoon stuffing into main cavity. Place remaining herb butter in small saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted. Brush butter over outside of turkey.
Tie legs together loosely to hold shape of turkey. Roast turkey 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F. Roast turkey 1 hour 30 minutes, basting occasionally with pan drippings. Tent turkey with heavy-duty foil; roast 45 minutes longer. Add onion mixture, 1 can broth, thyme and sage to pan. Roast 15 minutes. Bring glaze to simmer. Brush 1/2 cup glaze over turkey. Continue to roast turkey uncovered until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180° F. or until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with skewer, brushing occasionally with glaze and adding more broth to pan if liquid evaporates, about 40 minutes longer for unstuffed turkey (about 1 hour 10 minutes longer for stuffed turkey). Place turkey on platter, tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes. Reserve mixture in pan for gravy.

For Gravy:
Pour contents of roasting pan into strainer set over large bowl. Spoon fat from pan juices in bowl. Transfer onion mixture in strainer to blender.

Add 1 cup pan juices to blender and puree until smooth, adding more pan juices and chicken broth if necessary to thin sauce to desired consistency. Transfer sauce to heavy large saucepan and bring to boil. Cook until color deepens, skimming off any foam, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve turkey with gravy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Oatmeal Molasses Bread (Cold Rise Method)

One of my favorite things for breakfast at work is toasted homemade bread. I hadn't done any in a while so I looked to see if I had enough ingredients to whip up a loaf. I did, so I did.

One of the things I've been experimenting with is what's called a cold or cool rise. One can mix bread dough, and refrigerate it and even freeze it, and bring it to room temperature and it'll come out just fine. I've always used that as a time convenience or storage method more than anything else.

Come to find out though, there is a specific method or reason for this also. Turns out that when the dough is refrigerated for a period of time, the yeast slows down and the bread doesn't rise much of course, but the bacterias and the rising agents don't!  So the taste of the bread continues to evolve and become more complex. And it's true!  I really enjoyed the taste of this bread. You should try the cold rise yourself and see.

Also, I found out that dough is SO much easier to shape when it's cold. So you just take it out of the refrigerator the next day, shape in loaves or rolls or whatever, place in the baking vessel, and leave it alone until it returns to room temperature and rises and doubles in size. So easy.


1 package dry active yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg beaten
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warmed milk
3 - 5 cups flour  bread flour (added in 1/2 cup increments)
1 cup oatmeal (I used quick oats but regular will work fine also)
1/3 cup molasses

In a mixer bowl, mix yeast with brown sugar. Combine milk and melted butter together, test to make sure it is not too warm (I should warm to the touch but not hot, about 110 degrees) Add to yeast/sugar, stir, and let rest for 15 minutes. If mixture foams, it is proofed and you're good to go.

Add oatmeal, molasses and beaten egg and mix well. Add 2 cups flour, salt and begin mixing, adding flour in 1/2 cup increments until a sticky dough ball forms.

Scrape out onto lightly floured board, sprinkle with flour over the top, and knead briefly for a couple of minutes.

Place into greased bowl, turn over, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight, not to exceed 24 hours.

Remove from bowl onto lightly floured board, punch down and shape into loaf shape. Place in the center of bread pan, and place in a warm area. (I usually heat the oven to 200 degrees briefly, turn off the heat, and just place the bread in there)

Leave the bread alone until it has come to room temperature and risen to twice it's size.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, and then bake in 5 minute increments until the top is browned, and sounds hollow when tapped with your finger.

Let cool before removing from bread pan.

Enjoy plain or toasted. It's delicious toasted though, gotta tell ya.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waffle Cookies

Surfing through tons of recipes as I sometimes do, I came across an unusual cookie I hadn't seen before. Naturally, I just had to make them.

It's a lighter dough that you bake in a waffle iron! They came out very well, and were a hit at work.

On the one hand you can only bake 4 at a time, but they bake very quickly, just like a waffle does. Check them out.

Adapted from Culinary in the Desert. 

Ingredients and Method:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks butter, softened
4  eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons milk

In a bowl, melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave in 30 second bursts until both are melted. (The butter will melt first) Stir and check chocolate after each burst.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the melted butter and chocolate with the sugar until well blended. Add the eggs, salt, vanilla, cinnamon and cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. Add the flour and mix well.

Preheat a waffle iron. Lightly spray with cooking spray. I found that I didn't have to have to add any more oil to the iron.

If your waffle iron has a pattern of 4 waffles place a large tablespoon of batter in the middle of each square. My iron has a pattern of 2 waffles so I placed a tablespoon at the top  and bottom of one square and repeated with the other.

Close cover and cook for approximately 1 1/2 - 2 minutes until they are done. Remove to wire rack and let cool completely.

When they have cooled, mix together the cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan and stir and cook over low heat until melted and blended. Pour glaze onto a plate, and dip each of the waffle cookies gently into the glaze, just trying to cover on the very tops.   Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, serve and enjoy. These are delicious with cold milk, of course. Duh!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Curried Lentil Soup

Here's a soup I think you'll enjoy.What kicked this off is some Curried Butternut Squash soup I had for lunch from a bakery close by my work.  It was so good and I'm not normally a curry person, but I am now. Especially after making this Curried Lentil Soup. The taste of the soup is intriguing. At first it's just the delicious flavor of the lentils, broth and spice blend, which then gives way to the curry flavor and finishes with a touch of heat from the cayenne. Give it a try, it's delicious. Adapted from Epicurious.

3 cups lentils, soaked in water overnight, and rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, washed, trimmed, and chopped
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with puree
3 chicken bouillon cubes mixed with one cup water
5 cups water
a pinch of cayenne pepper (or two)
1 tablespoon salt (more to season to taste when soup is done)
2 teaspoons pepper (more to season to taste when soup is done)

I made this in a Pressure Cooker, but if you want to make it conventionally on a stovetop, follow the instructions, and just cook over medium heat for 45 minutes until lentils are soft.

Pour olive oil into cooker over medium heat. Saute onions, carrots, and celery for approximately 10 minutes until onions soften. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 3 minutes. Add curry powder, stir, and add bouillon liquid, and 5 additional cups of water and tomatoes. Stir in lentils and salt and pepper.

Turn heat to high, cover, lock and add thermostat. Bring up to pressure. When cooker begins to steam constantly, turn heat down to medium, and cook at pressure for an additional 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and let de-pressurize normally. When cooled down, uncover, add pinch of cayenne, stir, and taste. Add salt, pepper, in small increments, stir and taste again until it tastes how you want it.

Serve in bowls with a touch of sour cream and parsley for garnish.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Every once in a while, ya just get a hankering for something, ya know? Last weekend, I just HAD to have some Cinnamon Bread, homemade of course. So I made some. I usually don't follow recipes when making bread because I know how to adjust ingredients to affect the outcome of what I want. But in my reading recipes anyway, I came across one that sounded different and good. And trust me, it WAS. Just ask Amanda at work who really enjoyed it. Further, toasted and a little butter? Nothing else is as good.

Thanks to (of all places) About.com for a great bread recipe.I adapted it to use a "cold rise". A cold rise is when the dough is allowed to rise slowly overnight in a refrigerator and then brought to room temperature before shaping, rising again, and baking. A cold rise or cool rise slows the yeast activity thereby allowing a longer and more flavorful taste to develop.  No only that, the "crumb" on this bread was exquisitely fine.  Do try. It's easy.

Igredients and Method:

2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon shortening
1 cup boiling water
1 cup evaporated milk
1 package active dry yeast (Do not use quick acting yeast)
6 cups (approximately) flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
8 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup milk

In a mixer or bowl, add the sugar and the shortening. Pour the boiling water in and stir until shortening melts. Stir in the evaporated milk to cool down the liquid and let it sit until the liquids are slightly more than lukewarm. Add the yeast, stir, and let sit for 15 minutes. If it is foamy then the yeast is "proofed" and you're good to go.

Add the flour, and the salt and mix in one cup increments until a sticky dough ball is formed.

Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured board. Sprinkle liberally with flour and knead for about 4 minutes, until it is smooth and all flour is incorporated.

Grease a bowl or other container, place dough ball into bowl and turn over so that top has a light covering of the oil.

Cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator overnight.

Remove from refrigerator onto a lightly floured board. Punch dough down, and knead several times and let sit for a couple of hours so it can come to room temperature.

Divide dough in half. Roll one half into rectangle about10 x 8 inches. Brush with milk. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle half over the rectangle. Starting with a long side, roll bread up like a jelly roll. Pinch the ends completely shut and place seam side down in a bread pan. (Make sure you seal it or the sugar will melt and run out, as mine did, lol)

Repeat with the second dough ball.

Cover with a towel in a warm place (I use a warm oven with the temperature off) and let rise until doubled.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes until golden brown. The bread is done when tapped on the top and it sounds "hollow".

You can glaze the loaves after they cool if you want, but they really don't need it in my opinion. The evaporated milk yields a rich dough and the sugar cinnamon swirl is sufficient.

Serve warm, or for a special treat, toast it and add a touch of butter.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pressure Cooker Pot Roast

If you've been reading my blog, you know I'm about Pressure Cooking now. I'm just loving it. It still blows my mind how fast things will cook and yet the taste is still what you are searching for.

Have you ever slow-cooked Spaghetti sauce for instance for hours? You know delicious it is, the flavors so well blended together, the velvety sauce? Ya know? TEN minutes in a slow cooker!

But today, we are tackling an American Sunday Staple. Pot Roast.

For a pot roast we generally use a cheaper cut of meat, which then requires a longer cooking time (hours) in order to break down the meat and have it become tender. It's ok, because we usually add potatoes and carrots and cook them right along with it, so it all comes out tender with a form of gravy already made. Delicious.

In a pressure cooker? 45 minutes! And some of the best gravy I bet you've had. Check it out.

Ingredients and Method:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3 lb chuck roast
1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped (I like chunks of onions in my gravy)
1 package brown gravy mix
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 package italian dressing mix
1 can beef broth
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 beef bouillon cube
salt and pepper to taste
12 small red potatoes, halved
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves

Turn heat under Pressure Cooker to medium and add olive oil. Sprinkle roast on all sides with salt and pepper. Place into cooker and brown all over, about 10 minutes per side.

Add onion, gravy mix, ranch dressing mix and italian mix , beef broth, paprika, worcestershire sauce, garlic, and beef bouillon cube all over the roast in the cooker. The pressure cooker will distribute everything just fine.

Turn heat to high, let liquids come to a boil, and then seal the pressure cooker. Wait until a steady stream of steam is being emitted, and immediately turn to medium low, and begin timing 30 minutes from this point.

After 30 minutes of a steady stream of steam from the cooker, remove from heat and run cold water over the cooker until pressure recedes. Open cooker, and add bay leaves, carrots and potatoes to the liquid surrounding the roast.

Place cooker back on stove and bring to high heat and a boil. Seal cooker with cover, wait until it's emitting a steady stream of steam, turn to medium low and time for 15 more minutes to continue cooking the roast and cooking the carrots and potatoes perfectly.

After 15 minutes, remove from heat, and let cool down naturally. Remove cover.

If the "gravy" is not to your liking or too thin, remove the roast and vegetables, and stir in 2 tablespoons corn starch dissolved in 4 tablespoons water, and stir in over medium heat until gravy thickens....

Let roast rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes, and slice and serve with potatoes, carrots and gravy.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cauliflower Swiss Cheese Soup

There's a bakery here in Seattle close by my work called Macrina's Bakery. They offer a wide selection of all types of breads, sandwiches, rolls, pizza and desserts and pastries.

One of the things I discovered though, for lunch is their soup.  Their soups are so, so good. Last week I had a bowl of Cauliflower Swiss Cheese soup that was delicious.

I cobbled together a recipe and made it and it came out surprisingly close to the one I had at Macrina's. Give it a try if you're looking for a hearty, cheesy soup to warm you up.

Coming soon, I hope, is two more soups I tried there. One is Beet and Apple soup and the other is Curried Butternut Squash soup.  Both were just delicious.

This recipe is done in a pressure cooker, my newest toy. But you can prepare in a standard pot. Just adjust the cooking time until the cauliflower is very tender so it and the other ingredients will blend well.

1 sweet onion, chopped
2 peeled and sliced carrots
2 sliced celery stalks
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chicken broth
1 package frozen cauliflower
1 cup milk
pinch of red pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In pressure cooker over medium heat, add olive oil and saute onions until they begin to soften and turn translucent. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes more. Add celery, cauliflower, carrots, chicken broth, thyme, and red pepper.

Turn heat to high, seal pressure cooker, and wait until it comes to 15 p.s.i. (When the steam vents continually) Turn down to medium to low (just so steam gently vents) and time for 12 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool down slowly. Remove cover and using a hand blender, or a regular blender, blend until all vegetables are liquefied.

Return to stove and turn heat to low, and add one cup of milk and swiss cheese. Cook, stirring until milk is incorporated and cheese is fully melted.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with parsley and enjoy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sweet Potato Carrot Soup

Allright! It's officially Autumn. I know because I live in Seattle, WA and it's freaking raining on me like 4 times a day.

But, I have to admit, a lot of the time, I don't really mind the rain. I like waking up, and it's still dark, and raining outside, and the sounds lull me back to sleep.

Ever walked through a gentle rain? Like mist? It's refreshing.

And the cool snap in the air? I like it.

Know the other thing I like this time of year. SOUP! Hearty, tasty soups.

I've posted Crockpot Yankee Beef Stew, Crockpot Split Pea Soup, Black Bean Pumpkin Soup, etc. and I personally believe they are all post-worthy.

But this soup I made today, adapted from the ubiquitous All Recipes, is the best ever!

And here's why, Pressure Cooker. Yup, made this soup in FIFTEEN minutes! Let it cool, dollop of sour cream, and it was soooo good. And the beauty of the pressure cooker, (as I'm learning to use one, see my earlier posts) is that it cooks with steam instead of heated ambient air, or convection heat so it not only cooks faster, but retains nutrients, and flavors and spices, and blends just like it was cooked for hours. I'm amazed.

Do you like thick, nutty, naturally sweet soups, with a tang, and a slightly unidentifiable delicious taste to it, and a bit of a bite? The kind you remember having eaten?

Then make this soup. I'm not joking. It's that good. And if you don't believe me, read the ingredients.... Yeah, kind of intriguing..... Allright, I'll stop, here ya go....

Ingredients and Method:

2 tablespoons butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (rounded)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (rounded)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (rounded)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (rounded)
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 14 oz can chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, and chopped into chunks
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
salt and pepper
sour cream for garnish and finish
parsley for garnish

Melt butter over medium heat in pressure cooker and saute onions until they soften. Add all
the spices and saute with onions until they warm and release their fragrance. Add broth, water, sweet potatoes and carrots.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Turn heat up to medium high and bring to a boil, cover and seal pressure cooker and wait for cooker to come up to pressure. (i.e. steady venting of steam from valve)

Turn down to medium low and begin timing for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let it cool until pressure is totally reduced.

Process in batches in food processor or hand blender.

Taste and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with spoonful of sour cream and parsley for garnish.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can use a slow cooker. Saute onions and spices in a pan as directed above. Add to slow cooker with balance of ingredients. Cook on low for 6 - 7 hours until vegetables are very tender. The rest of the instructions remain the same.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Popcorn Ice Cream

I know. Dull picture. There are some things you just can't photograph well. And this is one of them. Popcorn Ice Cream. Who EVER heard of Popcorn Ice Cream. I certainly hadn't. But here's what happened.

The internet food group/ad group I belong to is Food Buzz. They had a "Community Dinner" affair in my town of Seattle and invited me to go. It was wonderful. Gourmet dinner at Spring Hill restaurant. Turns out, the restaurant was SIX blocks from my house. Who knew? I've driven by it a hundred times probably. Anyway,

I met food bloggers from area, drank wine with every course, had some wonderful great inspirational food, and then came dessert.

The dessert was a layered peanut butter and chocolate brownie, but coupled with a scoop of, you got it, Popcorn Ice Cream!

I was skeptical, just as YOU are right now reading this, but listen, it was INCREDIBLY GOOD! It was creamy ice cream, but with an explosion of salty and buttery popcorn in every bite!

I was blown away.

So, I searched the internet, found a recipe, (at Hungry Like The Duck) made it at home this weekend, and it was just as good if not better. You have to try this. No, I'm NOT joking, try THIS!

Oh, and for those of you who say, well I don't have an ice cream machine, it doesn't matter. I don't either. I just froze it fully in dishes and it was fine. The ice cream machine gives it a lighter texture and "airyness" but, just let it sit for ten minutes before you eat it, let it soften, and it's great. Besides, why pay $40.00 for a machine you'll use twice a year for a couple of years, and then move, and it never get's unpacked?? LOL

Here's my thought, whip up some homemade Popcorn Ice Cream in the morning, let it freeze all day, then rent the kids and/or family a movie, and serve this..... and blow THEM away too.

Oh, and best of all, it's soooooo easy! Here's all you do....

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 quarts salted, buttered, popped popcorn
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sea salt for sprinkling

Beat eggs and sugar together until well combined. Pour into large kettle. Add milk, cream and salt. Turn heat to low.

Meanwhile pop one bag of microwave buttered popcorn. Open bag, pour entire contents into ice cream mixture, and stir to combine.

Turn heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn off heat, and let the popcorn steep in the ice cream mixture for one hour.

Strain popcorn and ice cream mixture through cheesecloth into a bowl. Enclose the top of the cheesecloth with your hands and squeeze thoroughly to capture as much ice cream mixture as you can.

If you have an ice cream machine, follow the instructions for that. If you don't have an ice cream maker, just pour into appropriate sized dishes, sprinkle with a fair coating of sea salt and freeze thoroughly.

Remove from refrigerator, let defrost for 15 minutes and serve. Try to fight the urge to rent a movie.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs in 10 minutes and it tastes like it was slow cooked for hours. I'm not joking.

A deep, tangy and robust taste, sauce as smooth as butter, and the most tender meatballs one can make I think.

You can slow cook this same recipe for hours and if you do. Save half the sauteed onions and half the spices to be added during the last hour of cooking. Slow cooking tends to flatten the taste of spices and such and reserving half and adding late in the cooking cycle will "brighten" the taste once more.

That being said. Use a Pressure Cooker. I admit I just bought one and am learning to use it myself, but this recipe came out so good, I would recommend you have to try the pressure method. It may very well be the only way you make spaghetti sauce from now on.

Ingredients and Method:

1/2 package frozen italian meatballs (I found a full package to be too many)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 14 1/2 oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
2 8 0z cans tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1 large sweet onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon basil
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Pour olive oil into pressure cooker, and bring to medium heat. Saute diced onions until they soften and start to become translucent. Add garlic and continue to saute for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the balance of the ingredients to the cooker. Tomatoes, paste, sauces, wine, spices, and brown sugar. Pour the meatballs right in. Even frozen will work fine.

Turn the heat up, uncovered, and stir until the sauce begins to bubble vigorously. Place the top on the cooker and seal, still on high heat. Leave on high until it begins to steam continuously, then immediately turn to medium low, just enough to have a constant gentle flow of steam escaping for the cooker.

Begin timing the 10 minutes once you turn the heat down as explained above. When the time has elapsed, quick cool the pressure cooker by running it under cold water.

Uncover, and what I like to do is, is turn on a gentle low heat, and let the sauce bubble gently while I prepare the pasta, and bread, and salad or whatever you are serving it with. It's done, but a little gentle further cooking never hurt a spaghetti sauce.

Ladle spaghetti sauce and meatballs over freshly cooked pasta and top with Parmesan cheese, or my current favorite, Parmesan Reggiano.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Currant Oatmeal Scones

Do you like scones? I sure do, and every time I make them, I think, "Why don't I make scones more often?"

I particularly like this recipe because it contains oatmeal which makes for a nice hearty and tasty crumb. With only a bit over 1/3 cup sugar, it's just slightly sweet too. It's also the perfect recipe for you to put in whatever fruit you might like, such as raisins, currants, cranberries, raspberries, etc.

Adapted from Joy the Baker website. Thanks Joy. Great scone recipe!

1 egg
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold butter
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/3 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup currants
Brown sugar for dusting

In a mixing bowl beat eggs together with sugar then mix in buttermilk. In a separate bowl cut in the butter into the flour. Use a pastry cutter, or your fingers until the flour and butter are the size of pebbles.

Add the oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Mix in the flour/butter mixture until incorporated. No need to overmix. Fold in the currants or whatever fruit you are adding.

Place parchment paper on cookie sheet and use an ice cream scoop to drop balls of Scone dough onto sheet about 2 inches apart. Dust with a coating of brown sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool a bit and serve slightly warmed or at room temperature.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pressure Cooker Rice Pudding

So I went and bought a Pressure Cooker. I've never cooked with one so I'll be playing around with it and trying different things which you'll see blogged in the upcoming weeks.

Here it is. Presto 8-Quart Triple Clad Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker.

The very first thing I made was Old Fashioned Rice pudding. I remember eating Rice Pudding as a child, usually prepared by my Grandmother on her old cast iron stove, and cooked all night long. Then served warm, with a bit of melting butter and sprinkled with cinnamon. Creamy and delicious.

Guess what? I cooked rice pudding in the Pressure Cooker in EIGHT minutes and it was so, so good! Creamy and delicious, and "just like Grandma's"

I spooned it into bowls and dusted some of the bowls with cinnamon and the rest with nutmeg.

So if you've got a pressure cooker gathering dust somewhere, break it out, dust it off and try making this easy recipe. You won't be disappointed. (Recipe is from the Presto pressure cooker cookbook)

1 T Butter
1 cup long grain white rice
1/3 cup plus two tablespoons sugar
1 cup water
2 cups milk
1/2 t salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup cream or evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter in cooker and pour rice in and cover totally with butter.

Add the sugar, milk, water and salt.

Pressure cook for 8 - 9 minutes at 15 p.s.i. Don't begin timing  minutes until the cooker is fully up to pressure and constantly emitting a gentle stream of steam.

In a bowl mix 1 egg with 1/4 cup cream or evaporated milk and 1/2 t vanilla.

Temper egg mixture by adding a bit of the hot rice mixture and stirring. Repeat several times at least. Then mix the egg mixture into the pot and cook (uncovered) until it just begins to bubble a bit.

Let cool slightly and dust with cinnamon or nutmeg. A touch of whipped cream would be perfect.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Slow Cooker Cuban Pork Shoulder (Pulled Pork)

Pulled Pork! Who doesn't like a pulled pork sandwich with Barbeque Sauce, or perhaps also some coleslaw? (North Carolina Style) I've even made pulled pork enchiladas which were out of this world.

But let's face it, it's a hassle to make right? Lot of work? Pain in the butt? (no pun intended)

NOPE! It's really easy. That's what a SLOW COOKER is for.....!

And to boot, this recipe is absolutely delicious! And it's interesting in that you can just make the pork, and serve it with whatever sauce you like, OR, take the drippings from pan, add a few ingredients, reduce the sauce and bake it into the pulled pork. I did this, and amazingly, ate the pork just that way, with no additional sauce, it's THAT good.

Give it a try. You'll thank me. Well, some of you will thank me. Most will make it, enjoy it, and never tell me. But that's ok. I'll know anyway.

Adapted from: Foodie with Family.

5 - 6 pound pork shoulder (Bone-in is tastier)
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
8 peeled cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice

Pour the olive oil into the slow cooker and spread around evenly.

Place the pork shoulder, fat side up, into the slow cooker. Toss in the peeled garlic cloves.

Sprinkle the roast with the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, and cumin. Pour the lime juice and broth around the roast, and pour or spoon the frozen orange juice concentrate onto the top of the roast.

Cook on high for 1 1/2 hours, turn heat down to low and let cook for 12 hours. Check the pork and make sure it is pull-apart tender. Turn off cooker and let cool down and then place to roast in the refrigerator to chill all night long. If your cooker doesn't have the stoneware insert, just place the roast in a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Reserve all the liquids.

The next day, remove from refrigerator, place on cutting board, and remove all the exposed chilled fat from the pork and discard. (And the bone if bone-in)

The meat will be easy to pull apart. Use your fingers or two forks and completely separate the pork. At this time you can also chop it with a knife to make more concise pieces.

Now, it's Decision time...... you are done, and could now use the pork in sandwiches, slather with sauce(s), cook in enchilada's or whatever.....

Or, take the next step...... which is to do the following: (Check it out, it's kinda cool)

Drain the reserved pan juices through a strainer or cheesecloth and pour the liquids into a sauce pan.

Add two tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until sauce is reduced by 75%

Place pork in a 9 x 13 casserole dish and pour the reduction sauce all over the pork. Cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I found the pork to taste SOOOO good with this baked in marinade that I didn't even use any other sauce when eating it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Warm Strawberry Crumb Cake

At the market today and saw some fresh Strawberries. With fall on the way, I thought it'd be nice to have a little end of summer fruit dessert. I wanted something different and found a great recipe at Food and Wine for Strawberry Crumb Cake. Quick, and easy and delicious. Great way to say goodbye to summer.

Additionally, the cake batter and crumb topping would work wonderfully with most any type of fruit, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, etc.

You can use a lesser quantity of fruit, but it will not have the "juice" content of a larger quantity. Your preference.

Ingredients and Method:

3 pounds fresh straberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2½ tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2½ tablespoons of water
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk

Crumb Topping:
½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

In a bowl, add strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla seeds, and cornstarch mixture and mix well. Let sit for 45 - 60 minutes until the strawberries "juice".

In another bowl mix the topping together. Use your fingers or dough cutter until you have small lumps.

In a mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each time. Add the vanilla and buttermilk and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and beat well.

Pour the fruit into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread the cake mix over the top and smooth over the entire filling, covering it completely. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour until golden brown.

Let cool and serve. It microwaves well as a leftover and loves the addition of a little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Buttermilk English Muffins

Who knew? Seriously, who knew? Who knew English Muffins were this easy to make at home?
And who knew they were this good?

OK, maybe all of you knew, but I sure didn't. I made them, and have been enjoying them for breakfast all week long. Check it out.

2 1/4 cups flour
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shortening or butter (room temperature)
1 cup buttermilk (slightly heated)
cornmeal for sprinkling

In a bowl, add heated buttermilk, shortening or butter, sugar, and dry yeast. Stir and let sit for 20 minutes to make sure yeast proofs and the mixture puffs up.

Add flour, salt and mix with dough hook until well incorporated and a sticky ball of dough is formed. Add more flour in 1/4 cup increments if necessary, but you want a pretty sticky dough.

Scrape dough out onto a floured board or surface, sprinkle with flour, and knead BRIEFLY. We want the traditional nooks and crannies in the finished product, and the more you knead, the finer the "crumb" will be.

Drop dough into a greased bowl, turn over, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm area (I use a slightly warmed oven, just turn the temp to 350 for 45 seconds and turn off) for at least one hour.

After it's risen, scrape out onto the same floured surface, do NOT punch down. Knead once or twice and shape or roll into rectangle about one inch thick.

Using biscuit cutter, or a knife to form into 4 inch squared, cut and shape into rounds.

Spread cornmeal over parchment paper, or a board, or whatever. Place the cut and shaped circles of dough onto the cornmeal. Dust the tops liberally with cornmeal also. Top with plastic wrap, and let rise for another hour.
Heat a dry griddle or skillet to medium heat, carefully place a few dough rounds onto the skillet and brown on each side, about 5 - 9 minutes per side.

Remove and let cool for 20 minutes before tearing into one, and slathering it with butter and jelly.
Note: Don't use a knife to cut open the muffin. Use a fork, worked around it in a circle to maintain the holes and internal texture in the muffin.


One more thing, I was reading other recipes for English Muffins and this one site suggested, cut open the muffin, spread one side with peanut butter, add a slice of fresh tomato, and top with the remaining half of the muffin. I have NEVER heard of this, but am tempted to try it. If YOU do, let me know....thanks.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you noticed bacon showing up in odd places lately? I mean, for years and years, bacon showed up beside some eggs in a breakfast, sometimes in a waffle or a pancake, and occasionally added to some kind of green bean dish. But that's about it in my recollection.

Now, however, it seems to be showing up everywhere. Check out the 3rd photo down at Voodoo Donuts. It's a huge maple bar covered with freshly cooked bacon slices! And people rave about it.

Or how about a fried breakfast served in a "dish" made out of cooked bacon? Click here.

Or maybe, bacon cupcakes, or chocolate covered bacon, bacon baklava, bacon pie, bacon candy or bacon fried bananas? See them and more here.

Anyway, being the cutting-edge kind of guy I am, I decided to jump on the bandwagon when I came across a recipe for bacon chocolate chip cookies. Yeah, bacon chocolate chip cookies.

And guess what? They were strangely addictive. That's all I can say. I took two dozen to work and they received rave reviews, after a moment or two of hesitation of course. So do give them a try if you want to be up on the cutting edge of bacon cooking-dom. (I made that up, can ya tell?)

Adapted from the peterandrewryan website.

Ingredients and Method:

10 slices thick cut smoked bacon
3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghiradelli)
2 1/3 cups flour

Place bacon in an ovenproof pan. I use cast iron, and if you're using a different type pan to bake the bacon, you might want to use some parchment paper to ease on cleanup.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons brown sugar over bacon and place into 350 degree oven. Turn occasionally to spread the molten brown sugar over the cooking bacon. Let get dark brown and crisp. Remove from oven and place/drain on waxed paper. The bacon will be sticky, so be careful, don't just drain on paper towels, or you'll be starting over, believe me, unless you want paper towels in your cookies. It's strange enough we have bacon, huh?

Meanwhile, cream butter and sugars in a mixing bowl until well combined.

Add salt, baking soda, and vanilla and beat well.

Mix in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.

Add flour and mix well.

Add chocolate chips, and crushed and crumbled bacon into mixture. Mix briefly until just blended.

Chill dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Now, this dough will spread during baking. (One reason we're chilling it ahead of time) So place cookies with sufficient space on cookie sheet.

Drop by tablespoonfulls onto baking sheet. To retard the spreading of the cookies further, use parchment paper.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 12 - 15 minutes. I always bake for 15 minutes because I like them browned and crisp, but go for 12 if you like them softer.

Remove from oven, let sit for 10 minutes, and remove to cooling rack.

Convince your friends they'll love them if they try them, and then revel in their adulation....lol

These really are good. But hard to explain why.