Wednesday, May 30, 2012

{Comfort} = Mac and Cheese

I just had a "hankering" for some Mac and Cheese and thought it was all American perfect for our Memorial Day celebration with the neighbors.  Who doesn't like Mac and Cheese, especially the homemade version topped with a cheese and bread crumb mixture.   You can easily vary the types of cheeses and tailor this for even picky eaters.

Homemade Mac and Cheese

  • 1 lb macaroni, cooked al dente (about 7 minutes)
  • 1/2 C pasta water
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 lb New York Cheddar, grated
  • 8 oz. Fontina, grated
  • 8 oz. Gruyere, grated
  • 6 oz. Parmesan, grated
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 2 t fresh grated nutmeg
  • cracked pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 C panko crumbs
  • 1 C Cheddar Cheese, finely grated
Directions:   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook macaroni al dente, about 7 minutes.   Drain and transfer pasta to a casserole dish.   Reserve 1/2 C pasta water for sauce.   In same saucepan and using 1/2 C pasta water, add 3 T flour, stirring all lumps out for about 5 minutes.    Then add the milk, grated cheeses and nutmeg.   Bring to a simmer, melting the cheese.   Add the salt and pepper, mixing well, then pour over the macaroni, making sure it coats everything.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan and toss the bread crumbs to coat, then mix with the cheese and top the casserole.   Bake in oven for about 25 minutes until hot in center.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Grandpa Thompson's Texas Sheet Cake

In celebrating Memorial Day Weekend, our cul-de-sac is getting together for a block party tonight.  To make things simple, one of the neighbors ordered a bunch of pizza's and then everyone is bringing a few items to share.   Besides making my homemade Mac and Cheese, which I'll feature later... I'm making my Grandfather's Texas Sheet Cake.

I have had this recipe in 1982 and you can tell how worn and well-used it is by the condition of the recipe card.  My grandfather, Dale Thompson Sr., was a well known baker and his nick name was Pie Baker.  He'd get up at 3:30 a.m. when we'd visit and make all sorts of delicious recipes from oven baked Quail, homemade biscuits, pies and this wonderful sheet cake.   All the cousins would devour it in a day.

My Grandfather was in the Navy and served during WW II.   He was a business man who owned his own Plumbing Company, Thompson Plumbing.   My grandparents bought their dream home in 1955 in Lawton, Oklahoma and my darling grandmother, Virginia, still lives {yes, in the same house}.   It's been 3 years since we last visited, but the house looked and smelled the same as I remember when I was younger.

This is a tried and true recipe that you cannot beat.   Enjoy it as much as I enjoy making it, in honor of my Grandpa.

Grandpa Thompson's Texas Sheet Cake

  • 1 C butter
  • 4 T cocoa powder
  • 1 C water
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1 t vanilla
Directions:   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, cocoa and water and bring to a boil.  In a separate bowl, mix together the cinnamon, chili powder, soda, salt, sugar and flour.   Add the butter mixture, stirring well, then add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla.  Mix well and pour into a greased and floured sheet pan.   Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Icing Ingredients:
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 4 T cocoa
  • 6 T half and half
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 lb box confectioners sugar
  • 1 C chopped Texas pecans
Combine butter, cocoa, half and half and vanilla in a saucepan, and heat until butter is melted.   Add confectioners sugar and chopped pecans. Mix well and spread over cooled cake.   Cut into individual servings and place on a large platter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chocolate Cab Cupcakes

As a 1st Anniversary gift to my friend Rod Williams and his beautiful wife, Shelley Mac, I created a signature cupcake using their favorite flavors - dark chocolate and Cabernet Sauvignon.   Rod and Shelley are musicians and one of Shelley's songs Take Me Back is my summer anthem!   Check out her Reverbnation page.

I made a dozen, but sent Rod home with a box of 9 as hey, I had to try one and of course, Emma and my husband had to be tasters also.   They're really good - with a gooey dark chocolate center and a not too sweet dark chocolate buttercream with a cab reduction instead of vanilla.   Paired with their favorite Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, I'm certain they had a wonderful celebration.

Try these decadent cupcakes when you need a special dessert and pair it with your favorite Cab!

Mac-Williams Chocolate Cab Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 C special dark cocoa
  • 1/2 C canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t Ancho Chili Powder
  • 1 C Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 special dark chocolate bar
Directions:   Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with papers.   Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.   Add the oil, eggs, chili powder and cab and blend with a mixer.   Using a 1 inch ice cream scoop, place 1 scoop in each paper.   Add 1 piece of dark chocolate, then add another scoop of batter.

Place in oven and bake for 18 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.

Chocolate Cab Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1/2 C vegetable shortening
  • 6 oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 C confectioners sugar
  • 1 C special dark cocoa
  • 2 T Cab Reduction {see note below}
Directions:   Blend shortening and butter together until fluffy and add confectioners sugar and cocoa.   Mix to combine then add the Cab Reduction and blend well.   If the frosting is too thick, add a hint of vanilla or cream to thin it out.   Place in pastry bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes and serve.

 I stumbled upon this Cab and love it!
Cab Reduction:

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, reduce 1 C of your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon until it renders about 2 T.   Cool and use in the frosting.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 Sausage and Opera Festival, Elgin GIVE AWAY!

I have 2 VIP tickets to the 2012 Sausage and Opera Festival in Elgin on Saturday, May 26th.   These tickets include front row seating during the 2 hour FAVA performance and includes 2 meals!   FAVA is the Franco-American Vocal Academy set with a beautiful chamber orchestra.

How do you win them???

Follow The Four Points Foodie on FB or become a follower of the website and leave me a comment.   Already a follower???  Share my FB page with your friends and family.

Tickets will be at will-call for pick up!


The City of Elgin Welcomes Specialty Sausage and Sounds from Franco-American Vocal Academy


WHEN:            2012 Sausage and Opera Festival
Saturday, May 26
 WHERE:          Elgin Depot Square
310 North Main Street at Depot Street
Elgin, Texas 78621

WHAT:            Music and flavor collide at the 2012 Sausage and Opera Festival. The City of Elgin welcomes lovely sounds and tasty bites through a unique evening festival. Opera singers from the Franco-American Vocal Academy along with a chamber orchestra will serenade festivalgoers in a memorable two-hour performance. The group will perform La Perichole, Offenbach, which is sung and acted in a combination of French-English and Spanish. To satisfy the palates of guests, a plethora of famed Elgin sausage will be on site including a special “opera sausage” created exclusively for this year’s event.

                        With the 2012 Sausage and Opera Festival come a number of story ideas:

                        Memorial Day Recipes: Just days before Memorial Day, the 2012 Sausage and Opera Festival will show off the best barbeque in Texas. Interview festival participant and Southside Market Chef Bryan Bracewell on secrets to perfect grilling for Memorial Day guests.

                        Profile A Fava Student: Deemed “especially likeable and pleasing” by the Boston Globe, American lyric baritone DeMar Austin Neal IV consistently delights audiences at home and abroad on both the operatic stage and in concert halls. Interview Neal to find out what a day in the life of an opera singer contains. For more information on DeMar Austin Neal IV, visit

                   Why Sausage and Music: Beginning as a joke when asked by friends why they moved to Elgin, FAVA Founders William Lewis and Frederique Added’s answer of “to start a sausage and opera festival” became a reality.  The two incredibly accomplished, classically trained singers moved to the “Sausage Capitol” after a stay in Austin. Find out why/how the two combined their passion for the arts with the city’s love for sausage and how the festival benefits up and coming talent.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Columbus Peppered Salame Eggs Benedict

Adding a twist on the traditional Eggs Benedict, I used Columbus Uncured Peppered Salame instead of Canadian Bacon.   The change resulted in amazing flavors and textures and it married well with the Hollandaise sauce and chives.   Pick this one up at your local grocery store and enjoy!

Peppered Salame Eggs Benedict

Hollandaise Ingredients:
  • 1 C butter, unsalted and melted
  • 1 1/2 T water
  • 1 1/2 T lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks
  • salt

Directions:   In a small pan, melt the butter and set aside, cooling a bit.  In a double boiler, add water, lemon juice and egg yolks.   Whisk for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy.   Remove from heat and slowly add melted butter, whisking as you pour a slow stream.   Once all the butter has been incorporated, set aside.

Poached Eggs Ingredients:
  • water to fill saute pan about 2 inches
  • 1/2 C white vinegar
  • fresh eggs
In a large saute pan add water and 1/2 C white vinegar and bring to a simmer.   Poach eggs until done to YOUR likeness.

Additional Ingredients:
  • English Muffins
  • Columbus Peppered Salame
  • chives, minced

Toast English Muffins and slice the Columbus Peppered Salame on the diagonal, very thin.   Mince fresh chives for the garnish.

To assemble:   Start with a toasted English Muffin, layered with the sliced Peppered Salame, then add the poached eggs, top with Hollandaise and garnish with chives.  Serve and devour!

Stuffed Jalapeno's with Columbus Salame

I normally use Italian Sausage in my Stuffed Jalapeno's but after getting a care package from Columbus Salame I knew I wanted to try their Chorizo Salame in my yummy "poppers".  

 Made with paprika, fresh garlic and a precise blend of other spices, Chorizo Casero (Homemade Style Chorizo) is one of a kind and since they dry cure the pork to perfection, we can enjoy in our favorite dishes or sliced right off the stick.

Columbus Chorizo Salame Stuffed Jalapeno's

  • 10 jalapeno peppers, cut in half and seeded
  • 1, 10 oz pkg Chorizo Salame, diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 med. shallot, minced
  • 1 pk cream cheese
  • 1 T fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/3 C cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/3 C fontina cheese, grated
  • pepper
  • jalapeno bacon, cut in half
  • toothpicks
Directions:   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Lay a wire rack into a baking sheet and set aside.   In a medium bowl, place cream cheese and set aside.   Dice Chorizo Salame and add to the bowl.

In a saute pan, cook shallots in olive oil until translucent.   Add to cream cheese mixture,  then add minced thyme and grated cheeses.   Stir to mix well and add pepper to taste.

Slice jalapeno's lengthwise and using a spoon, scrap out the seeds.  I like to leave the stems on for looks.  Slice the jalapeno bacon in half and lay out the toothpicks.

Using a spoon, fill each jalapeno half with the cream cheese mixture then wrap each one with 1/2 piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.   Place on wire rack in baking sheet.  Bake for 35 minutes or until the bacon is cooked and crisp.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lemon Chiffon Cake

We had everyone over for Mother's Day and even though it was my day to celebrate I still ended up in the kitchen the day before to make this amazing cake.   The lemon chiffon cake is tender while the homemade lemon curd adds a pop of tangy flavor and the Mascarpone frosting is creamy and light.   We devoured this cake up!

Lemon Chiffon Cake

Lemon Chiffon Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 C cake flour
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 C canola oil
  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 C lemon juice, fresh
  • 3 T lemon zest
  • 1/2 t cream of tartar
Directions:   Preheat oven to 325 degrees.   Lightly oil and flour 3 cake rounds and set aside.   In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.   Add the oil, egg yolks, lemon juice and zest and mix well.   In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with the cream of tartar to form stiff peaks.   Very gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter and pour evenly into the 3 cake pans.   Bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean.  Cool.

Homemade Lemon Curd {in the microwave}

  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 C lemon juice, fresh
  • 2 T lemon zest
Directions:   In a microwave safe bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together until smooth.   Slowly add the melted and cooled butter, then the lemon juice and zest, mixing well.  Put bowl into the microwave and process for 30 seconds, then stir.   Microwave for another 30 seconds, and stir.   Continue this process until the lemon curd gets thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 - 4 1/2 minutes.  You will know when it's cooked and the results are amazing!   Cool and store in a glass jar with lid in the refrigerator.

Lemon Mascarpone Frosting

  •  8 oz heavy whipping cream
  • 3 T confectioners sugar
  • 2/3 C lemon curd
  • 3, 8 oz containers Mascarpone
Directions:   In a large bowl, whip the whipping cream and confectioners sugar to stiff peaks.   In a separate bowl, combine the lemon curd and mascarpone cheese, mixing well.   Fold whipped cream into lemon mascarpone mixture and frost!

To assemble - I cut each cake layer in half.   On the first layer, add lemon curd, then frost the 2nd layer with the Lemon Mascarpone frosting and continue until the cake is put together.   Finally, frost with the remaining Lemon Mascarpone Frosting and embellish as you want.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Open Faced Italian Sandwich

Columbus Salame sent me the greatest care package yesterday, and I wanted to showcase one flavor today at lunch.   Using toasted rosemary ciabatta, I layered flavor upon flavor for an amazing open faced sandwich that you must try!

Open Faced Italian Sandwich

  • Rosemary Ciabatta bread, sliced thin and toasted
  • Provolone cheese
  • Fontina cheese
  • Columbus Toscano Salame, thinly sliced
  • arugula
  • olive oil
  • basil, julienned
  • white balsamic vinegar
  • Parmesan, shaved
  • lemon zest
  • cracked pepper
Directions:   Assembly is the key to a beautiful looking and tasting sandwich!   Thinly slice the ciabatta bread and toast lightly.   Next, layer the cheeses on the toasted bread and place under a broiler until JUST melted.  Add thinly sliced Toscano Salame from Columbus, which is their leanest.   Top with arugula, a drizzle of olive oil, thinly julienned fresh basil, a splash of white balsamic vinegar, shaved Parmesan, lemon zest and finish with a bit of cracked pepper.

This is a great lunch, but you can bring it down to hors d'oeuvre size by using toasted rounds instead of the larger bread.  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Leek Risotto

On a quiet evening, my husband and I found ourselves alone.   There were no children in the house bounding down the stairs, no phone ringing off the hook or doorbell chime asking if Emma could play.  { Total silence}  We ate dinner slowly, with candle light and a glass of wine, talking about house projects and other thoughts we hadn't been able to communicate yet.   It. Was. Pure. Bliss.   That night I made Leek Risotto and finished it with with sliced grilled chicken we had leftover from the night before.   It was an amazing meal that I had to share!

Leek Risotto

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 leeks, greens trimmed, cut in half, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 C arborio rice
  • 4 C chicken stock
  • 1/2 C cream
  • 1/3 C Parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:   Heat the chicken stock in a small pot over medium heat.   I removed the fibrous green tops from the leeks and cut them in half which makes it easier to clean the sand and grit away.   Pat dry and slice thinly.   In a saute pan, add olive oil and sliced leeks and cook over medium heat until the leeks are tender.   Remove to a small bowl and set aside.  In the same pan, saute the arborio rice for a few minutes.   When most of the rice has become white, add your first ladle of simmering chicken stock, stirring frequently until almost all of the broth has been absorbed.   Then add another ladle of broth, and keep stirring.   Do this until all the chicken stock is gone.   Remove rice from heat and add in cream and Parmesan, stirring well.   Add the leeks back into the rice and this is where I added sliced cooked chicken into the risotto.   Season with salt and pepper and serve.   This made 2 large servings which was perfect for a meal!