Mom's Birthday Cake
Mom loves chocolate and creamy things so I combined them. She is also trying to stay away from gluten so this is a flour-less chocolate cake with fresh raspberries and whipped cream between the layers. I topped it with a smooth layer of chocolate ganache. Here is the cake recipe. It's Jacques Pepin's chocolate roulade cake recipe but I cut it into long rectangles instead of the roll. I have made the roulade many times but this time I imagined it this way, stacked high... I just whipped some heavy cream with vanilla and sugar ( use either confectioners sugar or granulated they both work). I thought to keep the weight of the cake from smooching out all the cream you need something solid to keep it straight and high so that's where the raspberries came in (maybe 10 raspberries in each layer spaced evenly, especially on the edges). Chocolate ganache is just heavy cream heated to just under the boil then chopped chocolate ( bittersweet is the best) added and stirred until it melts in. Depending on how thick you want it is how much the chocolate to cream ratio is...usually it's equal amount like 4 oz each for this cake.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip
This is NOT the way you would usually get it in a restaurant, it's my "healthy" version. You usually will get this loaded with cheese and mayonnaise and who knows what else is in it and what you thought was a healthy choice may not be. I chopped 3 small leeks or about 1 big fat one into 1/4 inch slices (white and light green parts only), soften in a skillet with about a Tbsp of olive oil for about 5 minutes; wash and chop a bunch of spinach and add that to the skillet with the leeks (don't worry if the spinach is still wet it needs that liquid); season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until the spinach is tender and most of the liquid is cooked away about 5-10 minutes more; add the spinach mixture to a food processor and pulse a few times; add artichokes (I added almost a whole can of drained artichokes but add as much as you like depending on the amount of spinach you have); add about 1-2 Tbsp of full fat sour cream and pulse; the consistency should be smooth but with little pieces of artichokes, not like baby food; chop some scallions and stir them in if you like and season with salt and pepper to taste. I topped it with some Panko bread crumbs moistened with a little olive oil then put it into a 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until the top looks browned. I served this with blue corn chips. I didn't miss the extra fat...
Salmon and Vegetable Salad with Creme Fraiche and Dill Dressing
I started with shiitaki mushrooms, cut them into large pieces and cooked them over high heat, season with salt and remove to a large bowl; chopped some leeks and cooked them for a minute in olive oil, add sliced fennel to the leeks and cook for a few minutes; add snow peas and cook for an additional minute, remove to the bowl with the shiitaki; sear a piece of salmon (4-or so oz per person); when it's cooked let it rest for 5 minutes and break it up into big bite sized pieces and add it to the bowl with the vegetables; I found this green at Whole Foods called Tat Soi and it says that its used in oriental cooking in stir fries and such; I put that on the bottom of the plate as the "bed" for the salmon salad; I made a little dressing for the salad by combining a couple tablespoons of creme fraiche and a bit of lemon juice, some chopped fresh dill and salt and pepper to taste; spoon some of the dressing into the bowl and toss to combine, add to the bed of greens and spoon some more dressing around...Yummy
My Famous Turkey and Mushroom Burger with Naples Potatoes
One day I made this recipe up and it has become a favorite for us and our fellow Naples Florida and Massachusetts neighbors (Lisa and John). I have blogged about this before but I'll tell ya again in case you missed it. I finely chop a package of Bella mushrooms and mince a shallot; heat a non stick skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat and add the shallots and mushrooms together; cook over med-high heat tossing so it all cooks evenly; season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme; continue to cook until the mushrooms start to turn brown but not dried out; cool the mushroom mixture then add it to 1/2 pound of dark turkey meat; season with salt and pepper and form into patties; cook through either on the grill or in a skillet; top it any way you like but here I did some caramelized onions, Boucheron cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato.
For the Naples Potatoes I call them that because I made them for the first time in Naples and our friend came to dinner that night, they have been made many times since. It's just Yukon Gold potatoes that you can peel or not and cut into bite sized pieces; boil in salted water until just about done (don't cook them too long or they will start to break apart but you want a knife to go in easily); drain and drop them onto a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat; roast at 400 degrees until browned and crispy edges which will take about 40 minutes.
Shiitaki , Baby Bella and Stilton Galette
Make or buy a pie crust and have ready while you make the filling. To make the filling chop the white and light green parts of 1 or 2 leeks depending on the size; cook in a skillet with a tsp of olive oil over medium heat just to soften then remove to a bowl; wipe out the skillet and put it back over the heat on medium high; add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and once hot add a whole bunch of sliced mushrooms ( I sliced into 1/4 inch pieces a small package of Bella mushrooms and a good cup and a half or so of Shiitaki mushrooms); cook mushrooms until they wilt down, add a pinch of salt and then allow any liquid to evaporate, this will take 5-8 minutes; remove and add to the bowl with the leeks; I added a couple Tbsp of Greek yogurt but if you have it add sour cream or creme fraiche, stir together to combine all ingredients; roll out the pastry dough and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment or a Silpat liner; put half of the mushroom filling in the center and spread it out to about 1 1/2 inches from the edges (start with a 14 inch round give or take); drop about 2-3 Tbsp of Stilton cheese (or your favorite blue cheese) in chunks on the filling; layer the rest of the filling over the cheese and top with another 2-3 Tbsp of Stilton; fold the edges of the crust over the filling leaving the filling exposed in the center; brush egg wash on the edges of the crust so it browns nicely; place in the lower third of a preheated 400 degree oven and turn the heat down to 375, cook for 45 minutes. Oh boy is this good!!
Blizzard Ham and Cheese Panini
During the blizzard of 2013 I had stocked the frig with lots of things to get us through the 2-3 days we'd be trapped in our house ( I was hoping we wouldn't lose electricity and thankfully we didn't). This is a Hogie bun I got at Whole Foods and its got ham, american cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato pressed in a panini press and served with Salt and Pepper Kettle brand Krinkle Cut chips.
Blizzard Burrata Cheese with Tomato and Basil Salad
If you haven't tried Burrata Cheese you must! It's a very soft cream filled mozzarella ball that explodes with yum! I chopped a tomato with fresh basil, olive oil a bit of sherry vinegar and salt and pepper. I served a couple slices of sourdough bread along side and it was a delicious first course.
Blizzard Flank Steak
As I said above I got ingredients for the blizzard and some things without knowing exactly what I would do with them. I got this flank steak, tomatoes, Kalamata olives among other things. The next morning I happened to be flipping through a Bon Appitit magazine from June 2012 and this recipe was on one of the pages..."grilled flatiron steaks with tomatoes and tapenade"... so I had to make it, here it is. I used a cast iron skillet because of the blizzard and it was really good.
Red Bliss Potato Salad with Onion and Red Peppers
Boil the potatoes whole until tender and set aside to cool for a second. Meanwhile heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and toss in sliced onion and slice red pepper (about 1/2 of each). Cook for a couple minutes to soften over medium high heat; lower the heat and add about 2 Tbsp of mustard, 2 or 3 Tbsp of Sherry vinegar, about a tablespoon of honey, whisk in a little more olive oil, salt an pepper; taste for seasoning; slice the potatoes and layer in a serving dish with the onion and pepper mixture; season each layer with salt and pepper and fresh basil.
Blizzard Chicken Wings
I got some chicken wings and tossed them in a bowl with a mixture of soy sauce, mustard, honey, 2-3 garlic cloves chopped small and a thumb sized piece of ginger chopped small; Toss to coat and heat a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven until the oven is up to temperature; Drop the chicken on the hot pan in one layer and cook tossing once or twice during cooking for 45 minutes. The sauce was sour cream with a dollop of Dijon mustard a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper and crumble in some blue cheese.
Blizzard Coconut and Banana Smoothies
I have been making smoothies in the morning for breakfast and lately I put in a spoon of coconut oil. It's amazing how much coconut flavor comes from a tablespoon of the oil so I had the idea of making my banana ice cream with the addition of the coconut oil for flavor. I mixed almond milk (just enough to get the blender going) with frozen banana slices (maybe 1-2 bananas depending how much your making), a couple tablespoons of coconut oil, vanilla and blend. It was supposed to be ice cream but I had to add more almond milk and it came out like a smoothie. I toasted some coconut flakes to garnish the top. It tastes sinful but its not!!!
Jeanne's Almond Crust Tart with Creme Patissiere
I saw someone making their pie crust one day on a wooden cutting board using a pastry scraper as the "pastry blender". I made a small amount of pie crust the regular way but on the board with flour, butter, salt, sugar and heavy cream instead of ice water ( I was making just enough for 2 small desserts and it worked out perfectly and it was easy and delicious. I thought later on that I should try this same idea but with almond flour so I did and it worked perfectly, with a nice nutty and buttery flavor and no white flour and only a pinch of sugar per dessert. I made a larger amount to bring to a friends and it was enough for 6- 3 1/2 inch mini tart pans; I mixed 1 1/2 cups almond flour on the board with a pinch of fleur de sel, 1/2 Tbsp of sugar, 6 Tablespoons of cold butter, chop with pastry scraper until the butter and the flour start to come together and you can see the butter brakes down into small bits and it looks like rocky sand, sprinkle in a tablespoon at a time some heavy cream mixing it with the pastry scraper, when you can squeeze together a small about and it just holds together it's done. Press into mini tart pans and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the edges start to brown. I made a pastry cream by whisking in a bowl 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, 4 tsp corn starch, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla; heat 1 cup of half and half just to a boil and pour it into the egg mixture while whisking and then pour the mixture back into the saucepan and whisk over medium heat and bring it to a boil to thicken, remove to a bowl to cool or at least 15 minutes or chill until ready, fill the cooled almond crust with cooled pastry cream and top with sliced strawberries.