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Category — Recipes

Christmas cookie time!

stamped cookies

I baked a couple dozen cookies on Friday and the kids (OK, they are adults, but they are my kids!) and I decorated them on Sunday. A beloved and time-honored Christmas tradition.

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December 22, 2014   2 Comments

en Papillote

salmon en papillote

This is the salmon and spinach recipe that I was talking about in yesterday’s post. I’ve corrected two items from the original recipe – which I enjoyed at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. The first change being the enormous amount of spinach the recipe called for. I’ve reduced it from 2-pounds to 8-ounces. If you make this dish you will be amazed to think that 2 pounds could have ever been used!

too small

The second major change was the shape and size of parchment. The original recipe called for a 10-inch circle. I’ve made Fish en Pappillote (in parchment) several times before, so I should have known better. The traditional shape is a heart, not a circle. Even if a circle is used, 10-inches is in no way large enough, as you can see from the photos above and below.

the good the bad

I’d already cut out the 16 parchment circles I needed for a cooking class, so I went ahead a struggled through by using them … along with about 60 paper clips to hold the parcels together!

I don’t mean to make it sound as though the recipes from Ballymaloe where bad. There were 14 recipes from that wonderful day of cooking and this is the only one I’ve had to correct or modify.

The thing I like best about this recipe is the fact that the parcels are steamed – not baked. Fish en Papillote is traditionally baked, I love this extra-moist alternate way of cooking so much, that I think I’ll steam instead of bake from here on out.

This is the very definition of healthy and delicious!

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December 17, 2014   No Comments

Mini Spinach Flower Tarts

I brought these pretty and tasty little morsels to a family Christmas party on Saturday night. I made a double batch so that I’d have them in my freezer for the rest of the holiday season, ready to pull out on a moments notice.

spinach flower tart

They were made out of necessity, not only the need to bring something to a party, but also the urgency to use over 2 pounds of fresh spinach that I reluctantly had in my refrigerator.

Later in the week, I’ll share a Salmon and Spinach recipe that called for 2 pounds of fresh spinach. The recipe was from my day a Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland and I was sharing it with the students in my cooking class at Les Gourmettes Cooking School here in Phoenix.

2 plus pounds

Anyhow, I was doubling the Salmon recipe to feed sixteen – so according to the recipe, I’d need 4 pounds of spinach. That’s A LOT of spinach. While shopping for the class at Costco, I realized that would have been 4 boxes of Costco baby spinach. I had not realized that each box was 1 pound until I looked, so I cut back and only bought 3 boxes. Well, I didn’t cut back enough! In the end, I did not even use 1 full box of spinach (1 pound) to make the double recipe for the cooking class.

That’s way too much leftover spinach, so this recipe was born out of the wish to not waste food.  If you would rather substitute frozen chopped spinach for the recipe, rest assured, that is perfectly fine. A 10-oz package of frozen spinach is almost the same as 1 pound fresh spinach, once the spinach is cooked.

If you want to be extra smart, like me, make a double batch and freeze for your later entertaining needs.

to freeze

To Freeze: Place the unbaked filled muffin tins in the freezer for at least 3 hours. Once frozen solid, use the tip of a paring knife to pop each mini tart out and place in a freezer quality zip-lock bag. Write on the bag, not only what they are, but also the date and baking directions (Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.)

frozen adn baked

I did a test to see if it was best to bake the frozen tarts in or out of the muffin tins. The good news – you may bake them on a baking sheet, no need to dig out the muffin tins again. In the photo above – the top two were baked on a sheet pan and the bottom two were placed back in the mini muffin tin and baked. Fantastic, they hold their shape!

One more thing…

rolled not folded

Did you know that Trader Joe’s carries puff pastry during the holiday season? Yes, they do and it’s better than the Pepperidge Farm brand that you buy at the grocery store.

PF vs TJ

It actually has real butter in it… unlike that other brand (which is still pretty good stuff) that uses only shortening. Additionally, the TJ’s puff pasty sheets are rolled, whereas the PF sheets are folded in thirds. The rolled sheets are MUCH easier to work with.

I buy not only what I’ll use in December and January but at least another 8 packages to have for the rest of the year. Super Smart!

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December 16, 2014   3 Comments

radish leaf soup

radish leaf soup

Let’s say that you want to make little tea sandwiches for a Holiday Ladies Luncheon or Open House.

You buy a few bunches of radishes for the tea sandwiches. You cut off the tops, the radish leaves, and you toss them in the trash or the compost.

Stop right there! Don’t throw them out! Make a delicious radish leaf soup instead!

This is a recipe that I made for my series of cooking classes at Les Gourmettes Cooking School and shows the good old Irish way of making the most of everything.

wash well

Be sure to wash the radish leaves well. Really really well! Radishes tend to have quite a bit of sand and dirt.

spin dry

Do ahead and spin dry, line a plastic bag with paper towels and store the radish leaves in the crisper for up to 3 days.

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December 9, 2014   No Comments

Shrimp Sliders

shrimp burgers

Yesterday, I shared Barb’s Baked Eggs with you – today I’m giving you another of her fabulous recipes! Many thanks to Barbara Fenzl for allowing me to share her Les Gourmettes cooking class recipes with the masses.

Barb made shrimp sliders in class, I made shrimp burgers, with the same recipe and bigger buns, at home. My family went crazy for them!

take out center

One super-smart thing Barb does with her sliders – she cuts out the center section of the King’s Hawaiian rolls, making them a more manageable size. When you eat it, you get less bun in each bite and more shrimp.

2 thirds

She saved all the center portions of the buns from all six of her classes and used them in her Thanksgiving stuffing. See, I told you she was super-smart!

kings

King’s makes hamburger buns too, so I used the buns in place of the rolls, changing the sliders to burgers. Either way … Delish!

2 sizes

Note: I was feeding a crowd, so I doubled the recipe and made 12 burgers out of 2 pounds of shrimp. The recipe, as written, would have made 6 burgers and makes 12 sliders. Don’t let the photos vs. the recipe quantities confuse you.

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December 4, 2014   2 Comments

Barb’s Baked Eggs

fresh tomatillos

Barbara Fenzl made the most delicious egg dish for her classes at Les Gourmettes this semester. One of my favorite egg dishes ever – and I love eggs, so that’s saying something!

husk and wash

I made it on Thanksgiving morning. We usually don’t have a big breakfast on turkey day because we generally eat the big feast in the early afternoon. Dave and the kids have the tradition of taking a long hike in the morning to leave me doing what I do best – in peace and quite. Since we weren’t planning to eat dinner until 6:00, I figured that a nice breakfast would be perfect when they returned from their hike.

baked eggs 2 dishes

Before I say that it was perfect, I will admit that I severely undercooked the eggs, so it wasn’t all that it should have been. I used a different type of dish to bake the eggs in than Barb used, and it made a world of difference. My casserole was too deep and the eggs didn’t cook as well as they did in Barb’s shallow flat au gratin dish.

Barb found her individual porcelain au gratin/casserole dishes at Standard Restaurant Supply at 2922 E McDowell Road in Phoenix, they cost $2.50 each. And I found my Le Creuset mini cocottes, which are not great for this egg dish but are adorable and amazing for French onion soup – at Sur La Table. They cost considerably more but did not do the job this time!

One change I made in Barb’s recipe was to replace the 1/2 cup green chilies plus 1 cup water she used with 1 cup of the Trader Joe’s Hatch Valley Salsa (that I love so much) plus 1/2 water.

Since I’ve had it both ways, I can honestly say the difference is taste is minimal, so if you have the salsa on hand, use it!

An unplanned and unexpected side benefit for me was that I was only making 5 servings of this for breakfast but the sauce makes enough for 8 servings. I used the leftover green chile sauce in my Turkey Enchiladas with my leftover Thanksgiving bird!

So Good!!! This is going to be my “go to” enchilada sauce from here on out. [Read more →]


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December 3, 2014   3 Comments

Barb’s Apple Tart with Jalapeno

table

The tart recipe I’m sharing with you today is Barb Fenzl’s recipe and it was the delectable dessert she brought to our Fall Picnic. 

green pumpkin soup bowl

Before I get to the recipe, which I will be making for Thanksgiving, I’ll share with you a few photos of my Thanksgiving table, which I set yesterday.

orange pumpkin soup bowl

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November 25, 2014   3 Comments

Thanksgiving side (or appetizer!)

IMG_6792

Are you still looking for an outstanding Thanksgiving side dish? Maybe something to bring to a dinner you’ve been invited to?

Are you looking for something that everyone will proclaim was the best side dish of the big meal?

I have it for you!

fresh horseradish

Not only does this make a great green bean side dish  – the fresh horseradish sauce is also fabulous served over blanched broccoli or asparagus …. and it makes an excellent light dip for crudites too!

Versatile!  That’s what it is… oh, so versatile and delicious.

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November 24, 2014   2 Comments

wrapped chicken & pear sandwiches

patio menu

The recipe for this second Fall Picnic sandwich is written differently then how I actually made it.

I’m giving you the recipe for the sandwich at its best. I changed it for the picnic by using chipotle mayonnaise and a cilantro dressing instead of plain mayonnaise and balsamic vinaigrette because I was already using balsamic vinegar on the first sandwich.

It is far better with the balsamic than it was with the cilantro.

wrapped sandwiches

For extra flair and fun, I wrapped and tied the center of the sandwiches with parchment and twine.

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November 21, 2014   No Comments

picnic sandwiches

sandwiches under the domes

The main course for the Fall Picnic was two types of sandwiches, the first, a pressed sandwich, the recipe is here today. The second, a chicken sandwich … I’ll post tomorrow.

pressed Italian sandwiches

Pressed Italian Sandwiches

  • 4 ciabatta rolls, cut in half horizontally
  • 1/2 cup black or green olive tapenade
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin slices Genoa salami
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • 8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 roasted red, yellow or orange bell peppers, sliced
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves

tapenade

Spread bottom half of each ciabatta roll with tapenade.

dressing

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil and mustard and season with salt and pepper Drizzle the cut side of top half of each roll with the dressing.

meat layers

Arrange salami on top of tapenade, followed by the prosciutto.

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November 20, 2014   1 Comment