Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fish and Chips - the British Tradition

Fish and Chips were a normal staple in my life while growing up in England.   We'd visit this little shop on High Street and pick up several orders, wrapped in newspaper which was fairly greasy.   Several hearty dashes of malt vinegar and we devoured our meal and then promptly washed our hands.

While at our local grocery store my husband spotted cod and asked the question... "can you make that too?"   "Of course I can" I said with a bit of a chuckle... and thought to myself what a great recipe post too!

Traditional Fish and Chips

  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into the desired "chips" or fries
  • peanut oil for frying EVERYTHING
  • 6 - 8 pieces of fresh cod, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 bottle Newcastle Brown Ale
  • 1/4 C club soda
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 C flour for dredging
  • salt and pepper
  • season all or crazy salt if desired for your chips
  • Malt Vinegar
  • newspaper is optional
Directions:   In a deep pot or fryer, bring the peanut oil to 375 degrees.   Fry the potatoes first, until golden brown and crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.   Drain well, dress with your favorite seasoning and place on a cookie sheet in a warmed oven (225 degrees to hold).

In a large bowl, mix flour, beer and soda together to form the batter.   Coat each piece of fish in the batter then dredge through flour and put into the hot oil.   Fry until golden brown, about 4 - 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the cod.   It's best to fry in batches and to allow the oil to come back up to 375 degrees after each batch.   Drain well on paper towels.   Plate your fish and "chips" and serve with your malt vinegar!   A nice cole slaw would be a great accompaniment.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Peach Pie

Nothing says Happy Memorial Day like pie and I had a ton of peaches so it was Peach Pie day at our house!   Topped with a dollop of ice cream it was a perfect ending to our meal and a great way to remember all who have served in the Armed Forces to protect the USA.

Peach Pie

 Double Pie Crust Ingredients:
  • 2 C flour
  • 3/4 C butter
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • 1/2 T vinegar
  • 1/4 C water
Directions:   In a large bowl sift together flour, sugar and salt.   In a food processor, cut in butter until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.   In a small bowl add egg, vinegar and water, mixing well and adding to flour mixture.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.   Divide dough in half and roll each one out to form a 12 inch circle on a lightly floured surface.   Press dough into pie plate, fill then cover with second crust.   Turn top crust under bottom one and crimp.   Make cuts or create decorative shapes with any excess dough.   Brush top with cream and sprinkle with sugar prior to baking for a gleaming and golden crust with extra crunch.

Peach filling ingredients:
  • 5 C fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1.2 C flour
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 T butter, diced
Directions:   Toss peaches with lemon juice.   In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and stir well.   Add to peaches and mix well, coated each peach slice.   Turn into pie crust and dot with butter.   Add top dough piece and follow directions above to crimp and finish top.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 50 - 55 minutes (until crust is golden brown).   Cool slightly and serve with ice cream if you want!

Friday, May 27, 2011

No Bake Peanut Butter Balls

This is a delicious and quick snack for children of ALL ages!   Emma wants to be able to make healthy snacks for her and her friends and this is one we all enjoyed.   With the start of summer right around the corner, it's important to have nutritious yet tasty snacks ready available - a grab and go - that will satisfy them.   It's too easy to grab a bag of chips.   These no bake peanut butter balls store easily in the frig and were gone in a day!

No Bake Peanut Butter Balls

  • 1 1/2 C Old fashioned rolled oats (oatmeal)
  • 1 1/2 C nonfat dry milk
  • 1 C creamy peanut butter
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 4 T butter
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 t vanilla
Directions:   Toast the oatmeal in a saute pan over medium high heat until light brown, making sure it doesn't burn.   Turn into a medium mixing bowl.   Add the dry milk, peanut butter and cocoa powder to the oatmeal and combine all the ingredients.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter.   Stir in the honey and remove from heat.   Add the vanilla, mixing well and pour over the peanut butter mixture.   Stir well to incorporate and refrigerate for 30 minutes to cool.

Shape the mixture into balls and place onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Serve plain or have fun rolling the peanut butter balls through crushed nuts, cocoa powder, chocolate jimmies or any other fun topping.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Follow and be rewarded; my early summer give-away!

I love William Sonoma - from their kitchen towels and spatulas to their mixing bowls and cookbooks.   Just stepping inside my local store gives me a feeling of exhilaration.   I want my followers to have that same feeling so it's time for my early summer give-away!

Follow my blog - it's that easy!   One lucky follower, whether current or new, will be chosen as the $100 Williams Sonoma Gift Card winner.   This contest will end on June 19th and the lucky winner announced on Monday, June 20th.

Tell your friends, tweet it out, share on Facebook and follow my blog... it's that easy!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In the kitchen with Emma - healthy afternoon snack.

My 8 year old daughter Emma loves to cook.   She has taken numerous culinary classes, has her own knife and a great recipe collection.   She told me she's the only girl at school who takes mozzarella and tomatoes in her lunch.   She reads labels and refuses to drink flavored milk at school because "it has too much sugar".   She wanted to share her favorite after school snack as it's easy, tasty and good for you.   If I'd let her, she would sell these instead of cupcakes at a bake sale!

Caprese Salad on a Stick

  • wooden skewers
  • grape tomaotes
  • small mozzarella balls
  • baby spinach leaves
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:   Give birth to the funniest girl in the world... oh wait... haha... not those directions! 

Thread skewers with a grape tomato, spinach leaf, then mozzarella ball, filling it up.

Once you've done as many as you want, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 

Emma will lovingly serve you if you're at our house and will clean up as well.  

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Decadent Chocolate Pie

Rich and creamy is the best way to describe this delicious Chocolate Pie.   I made two versions, one in a large spring-form pan, the other as tartlets.   No matter which was you shape the crust, this will always be a hit!
Decadent Chocolate Pie

  • 1 1/2 C crushed chocolate cookies, either Oreo's or try Thin Mints for a twist on the taste
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 1 T instant Espresso
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 C dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 2 T butter, cubes
Directions:   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   If using Oreo's, remove center filling and crush in a food processor.   Add melted butter and mix well.   Press cookie mixture into the bottom of your chosen pan and bake for 8 - 10 minutes.   Cool. 

In a large pot, add cream, sugar and flour, whisking well, over medium heat.   Before it gets too hot, add beaten eggs and whisk well so it doesn't scramble as it heats up to cook.   Stirring continually, cook for 15 minutes then remove from heat. 

Add chocolate and stir as it melts then add vanilla and stir to incorporate.   Finally, add the cubes of butter, mix well and pour into cooled cookie crust.   Refrigerate for an hour before serving to fully set.

Let stand at room temperature for 10 - 15 minutes before serving.   You can top with a dollop of whipped cream, fruit or mint.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Seared Scallops with Spicy Aioli Sauce

A spicy sauce with quick sauted carrots, jasmine rice and seared scallops - what's not to like about this dish?  I needed to come up with a quick dinner and I pulled these ingredients together.  I used the 90 second microwave style Jasmine Rice which was great and costs less than $3.00 a package.   Quick and easy... add this to your list of  "I must try".

Seared Scallops with Spicy Aioli Sauce

  •  4 carrots, peeled and cut into long quarters
  • 15 scallops, washed and patted dry
  • sesame oil
  • Jasmine Rice
  • green onions, finely sliced
  • soy sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • Spicy Aioli Sauce (recipe below)
Directions:   In a small pan, saute carrots in sesame oil until slightly cooked but still crunchy.   Remove and hold to plate.   Make sure you scallops are very dry before searing or the oil will pop and potentially burn you.   In a large pan, add enough sesame oil to cover the bottom and bring to a medium-high heat.   Add the scallops, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.   You are looking to form a nice crust on the bottom of each scallop, then flip over and do the same on the other side.   As the scallops are cooking - follow the heating instructions on the Jasmine Rice package.

Spicy Aioli Sauce:
  • 1 C mayonnaise
  • 2 T Sriracha Sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:   Mix everything together and taste... adding more hot sauce if desired.   Place in refrigerator until ready to plate.

To Plate:   Place the Aioli Sauce on the bottom of each plate in a decorative fashion.   Add the sauted carrots then top with Jasmine Rice.  Next add the seared scallops, top with scallions and a drizzle of soy sauce.  Serve!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Irish Cheddar Cheese Ball

Since my oldest daughter Lindsey is moving to Dublin this month, we wanted to honor her with a big farewell party.   I decided to throw an Irish Farewell Shindig for her and the menu was... well... Celtic!   Made an Irish Cheddar Cheese Ball as part of the appetizers and it got rave reviews from everyone, so I had to share it.

Irish Cheddar Cheese Ball

  • 1 block cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 C. Irish Cheddar Cheese, cubed
  • 1 1/2 C. white Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 C Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh chives, minced
Directions:   In a large food processor, mix cream cheese, cubed cheddar, and shallots together until incorporated.   Add whiskey and salt and pepper and continue to mix until semi smooth.   Transfer to a large bowl.   Add additional grated cheddar cheese to whiskey cheese mix, stirring well and taste, adding more whiskey or salt and pepper if needed.   Cover with Saran Wrap and chill for at least an hour.   Roll cheese mixture into a ball and then roll through minced chives, so that the ball is coated.

Serve with toast or crackers.   Store left overs in the refrigerator, wrapped in Saran Wrap.

Caramelized Three Onion Jam

I've seen a lot of hype lately about Onion Jam.   Recently several food bloggers have posted their versions, in addition to some of the big name Chefs like Nigella Lawson.  As I was menu planning for a Royal Wedding catering event, I knew I wanted to incorporate this somehow so into the kitchen I went.   This stuff is seriously good and is a beautiful accompaniment to so many items.   I found myself putting it on bread, crackers, pate toast, lamb, roast chicken and hamburgers.   You must try this!

After my successful and entertaining "A Royal Tasting and Feast", I received a jar of Balsamic Onion Spread as a thank you gift.   It's very similar to my recipe, except I don't use balsamic vinegar.   Try different variations, experiment and above all, have fun in your kitchen!

Caramelized Three Onion Jam

  • 3 large sweet onions, rough chopped
  • 3 large red onions, rough chopped
  • 3 large shallots, rough chopped
  • 2 T butter
  • 3 T honey
  • salt
Directions:   In a heavy pot over medium heat, melt butter and add all the onions and shallots.   Turn heat to low and slowly and carefully caramelize until deliciously dark brown and sweet.  It takes me upwards of two hours and I'm close by, stirring and making sure nothing is burning as that will result in a bitter taste.

Once onion mixture has caramelized and reduced (amazing at how little product you end up with), add salt to taste and finish with the honey, stirring well to incorporate.   Either serve once it has cooled or store in a jar in the refrigerator.   It's a great garnish or create an appetizer like I did with the pate or on a slice of tomato or my Caramelized Onion Bruschetta.   Add it to a turkey panini... it is so versatile!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Avocado's ARE for Breakfast!

Received a beautiful box of Avocado's from Mexico the other day, courtesy of Lewis and Neale Inc., a leading communications agency devoted exclusively to the marketing of food and beverages out of New York.   I was asked to come up with a few breakfast recipes and I said "sure" enthusiastically.   I love avocado's and adding them into a breakfast recipe was so much fun.   Hope you try at least on of these!

Avocado's ARE for Breakfast!


Bacon and Cheese Omelet with Avocado

  • 6 eggs, whisked
  • 4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 1 C cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • limes
  • salt and pepper
  • Spicy Yogurt Sauce
Directions:   In a small bowl, whisk eggs well.   In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat.   Ladle 1/3 of the egg into the pan and rotate the pan, making sure the egg is evenly across the bottom.   Cook until no raw egg is visible.

In the center, add the cheese and crumbled bacon then fold in tri-fold fashion, bringing in the right third then the left third of the omelet.   Plate and garnish the entire omelet with sliced avocados topped with my Spicy Yogurt Sauce (recipe below).   Add a bit of salt and plenty of pepper and serve!

Spicy Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 C Greek Yogurt
  • 1 T Ancho Chile powder
  • 1 T Cumin
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Directions:   Mix the above ingredients together and serve over the omelet.


Breakfast in the Clouds
Grits, Eggs, Shrimp and Avocado

  • 1 C grits
  • 2 C chicken stock
  • 1 C half and half
  • 1/2 C Monterrey jack cheese, grated
  • 6 eggs, whisked
  • 4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 16 large gulf shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 avocado from Mexico, mashed
  • 1 t cajun spice
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4 T hot sauce
  • 1/2 C amber beer
  • 4 oz butter, cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions: In a small saucepan, combine chicken stock and half and half and bring to a simmer, adding the grits, stirring continuously.   Cook for 12 minutes, remove from heat and add cheese.   Stir well and hold.  In a large fry pan, fry bacon until crisp then crumble, set aside.  Season shrimp with cajun spice.   In the same fry pan and using the bacon drippings, saute the shrimp until cooked through.   Hold the shrimp in a bowl.   De-glaze shrimp/bacon pan with the juice of the lemon. then add the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and beer.   Simmer and reduce to 1/2.   Remove from heat and add butter to finish sauce, whisk together.

In a separate pan, scramble eggs to your liking!   In a small bowl, de-seed avocado and mash, seasoning with salt and pepper.

To assemble - start with a thin layer of grits, topped with the scrambled eggs, then the mashed avocado.   Add shrimp and finish with sauce spooned over.   Top with crumbled bacon then dive into the cloud!

Avocado Protein Shake
  • 1 C crushed ice
  • 1 C skim milk
  • 3 T whey protein powder (I use Vanilla flavored)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 T peanut butter
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 t vanilla extract
Directions:   Combine all the ingredients into a blender and process until mixed and smooth.   Drink immediately!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Strawberry Stuffed Cream Puffs

For our Easter meal, I made Strawberry Stuffed Cream Puffs drizzled with Ghirardelli Ganache. They were a hit... and I witnessed my Mother eating the ganache right out of the bowl. Seriously good!

Strawberry Stuffed Cream Puffs with Ganache

  • 1 C water
  • 8 T butter
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 1 C flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 C + 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 4 T confectioners sugar
  • vanilla bean
  • 6 oz Ghirardelli Chocolate 72%
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced.
Combine water and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.   Stir in salt and sugar.   Remove from heat and add the flour, stirring until smooth.   Place back on the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until a smooth mass forms and the bottom of the pan is coated with a thin film.   Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and let it cool slightly.   Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the batter until very smooth.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.   Line baking sheet with parchment paper.   Spoon mounds onto the baking sheet, 2 inches wide and about 2 inches apart.   Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temp to 375 degrees and continue baking until the puffs are golden, for about 20 minutes more.   Lower the oven temp once more to 325 degrees and bake until the puffs are firm, about 8 minutes more.   Remove from oven and cool puffs.   Use immediately or store in an airtight container.

Split open a vanilla bean and scrap the seeds out.   In a mixing bowl, add the 2 C heavy whipped cream, 4 T confectioners sugar and vanilla bean seeds and mix on high, forming stiff peaks.   Set aside.   Wash and slice the strawberries.

In a small saucepan, add the 1 C heavy cream and the vanilla bean pod and bring to a simmer.   In a bowl, break the chocolate into pieces.   Pour the simmering heavy cream over the chocolate, remove the vanilla bean pod and stir well until smooth.

To assemble - split the puff in half, add a scoop of the whipped cream, top with sliced strawberries and put the puff top back on.   Drizzle with the chocolate ganache and serve!