Showing posts from January, 2010

Fancy Shmancy Pumpkin Pie

From the brandy pumpkin custard and hazelnut streusel to the chevre cream topping, this fancy version of pumpkin pie is full of surprises. It's a little labor intensive but the sweet, creamy and crunchy all at once flavor is worth the effort. I promise your taste buds will sing!

BRANDY PUMPKIN STREUSEL TART Make one recipe of your favorite pie crust. Roll and fit into a 9 inch tart pan or pie tin. Set in refrigerator until other ingredients are ready to assemble the tart.

Chevre Cream 1 pint heavy whipping cream 2 tablespoons chevre (soft goat cheese) 1 teaspoon honey
Just before serving whip heavy cream on high speed until fluffy. Using a whisk or electric mixer on low, add in chevre until well blended. Drizzle in the honey as you mix. Garnish each pie piece with a generous dollop on the side.
Custard 2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or fresh) 3 large eggs 1/3 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/…

Pot Roast and Politics

You might be asking what in the world pot roast has to do with politics. Well, it's no secret that I'm a progressive Democrat from Massachusetts and involved in political organizing. And I have a BUSY schedule over the next few days until Tuesday's special election to fill our U.S. Senate seat.

This pot roast recipe is a way to keep a solemn vow I made after nearly three weeks in Ohio working on John Kerry's presidential campaign. You won't catch me eating another campaign pizza if I can possibly manage a home cooked meal and still get everything done I need to do.

Now back to that election ... if you're a Massachusetts voter, I know you have lots of things to do too. Life is always a struggle to juggle. But if you take my advice and get this pot roast going in the morning, you might just save enough time to get out there and do your civic duty. And when you do I hope you'll vote for Martha Coakley, the Democrat.

1 boneless beef chuck roast…

My New Kitchen Toy

This may not look like much to get excited about to you, but for me? Let's just say that I am thrilled to have a new ravioli stamp. This new tool will give me broader horizons and more daring opportunities than my little old round ravioli press.

Don't get me wrong, little round cheese raviolis have been part of my repertoire since forever. Every year I get a personal call from one Carmino Daniele to make said little round cheese ravioli for his annual holiday office party. Anytime anyone named Carmino likes your ravioli enough to make a request -- I think it's safe to say, my ravioli and red sauce are desirable additions to the buffet table.

But tonight, I'm dreaming about big squares of tender dough stuffed with lobster and smothered with shallot cream sauce for a main course, crystallized ginger apple-filled ravioli for dessert, or a savory Mexican chicken with salsa-style topping for an appetizer. I might even try fried raviolis ... the possibilities are endless! Anyb…

Cheap Imitation or Tasty Alternative?

My first encounter with soufflé was in a nice French restaurant in, believe it or not, Lowell, Massachusetts -- a rich puff of egg and cheese served with a deliriously savory drizzle of melted herb butter. I thought soufflé-making must be the apex of culinary achievement. One that I might reach someday if I managed to win the lottery, then be accepted for a French cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu.

Then I found a recipe for individual asiago cheese bread puddings dusted with grated parmesan, and decided to give them a go one New Year’s Eve. They were puffy, delicious and easy. And they looked and tasted a lot like traditional soufflé. Not exactly the real thing but pretty darned tasty. My next experiment was to try different bread/cheese combos until I came up with just the right balance of flavor.

Pair the cheese puffs with mini-caribou meatballs (pictured), and spiced shrimp as a small plate buffet accompanied by arugula and grape tomato salad. Add a pitcher of warm sangria and invite a…

Crème Brûlée: Fit for a King

There is a bit of a tug of war about what country gets credit for coming up with crème brûlée. But Chef François Massialot, born in Limoges in 1660 and died in Paris in 1733, gives the French a leg up on perfecting the recipe, Chef Massialot prepared meals for Philippe, duke of Orleans, who was the brother of Louis XIV. He also fed the Dauphin, and other royalty. Safe to say he was quite successful.

François Massialot wrote two cookbooks: Le Cuisinier royal et bourgeois [...], first printed anonymously in 1691, and which was reprinted many times up to the middle of the eighteenth century, and a year later, the Nouvelle instruction pour les confitures, les liquers et les fruits [...], also reprinted several times in the eighteenth century.
Chef Massialot revolutionized French cookbooks by arranging his recipes alphabetically by ingredient. And he included two recipes with chocolate as an ingredient: in a sauce for duck, and in a sweet custard. Until then chocolate was consumed solely as…

Comer cuando se bebe ...

Comer cuando se bebe, bebe cuando se come:Eat when you drink, drink when youeat. That is the philosophy of tapas. Tapas is Spain's greatest food innovation with a tradition of friendship and sharing and a ritual that is integral to the Spanish lifestyle.

Tapas food is real food - fresh local ingredients presented with flair. Spain is second only to Japan in fish consumption and some of the finest fish are caught in Spain's coastal waters. Many exquisite shellfish are found along the warm Mediterranean as well.

And while Spanish food is not particularly spicy, tapas - by the small quantity served - are often used to liven up a meal with a hot flavor usually tamed with a glass of excellent Spanish beer or wine in summer or a warm sangria in cooler weather. Tapas. The Spanish version of Eat, drink and be merry!
PEPPER CURRY SHRIMP BROCHETA 18 raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (approximately 1 pound) 1/8 teaspoon curry powder 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper Dash salt 2 garlic c…

Definitely NOT Stirred!

Gin and vermouth really are the traditional ingredients for martinis. But back in the 1800s, when martinis first arrived on the scene, vermouth was a sweet red dessert drink believed to have special healing powers. It was made from a blend of juniper (a derivative of gin), orange peel, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, marjoram and brandy.

Yes, you read correctly. Martinis were sweet and rosy colored! It wasn't until the 20th century rolled around that the idea of more savory martinis, garnished with olives and tiny onions, became a cocktail staple.
The 21st century martini menu features gin, vodka, rum and even tequila based cocktails. There are apple-tinis, lemon drops, chocola-tinis and even peppermin-tinis, to name a few. My closest friends know that I am fond of new-fangled, fruity martinis that mix up in pretty colors. And that I enjoy creating my own yummy concoctions. You might enjoy my latest experiment in mixology ... the Cinnapeach-tini.
CINNAPEACH-TINI 3 ounces peach brand…

Chunky & Dark: New Twist for an Old Favorite

I know, I know ... Christmas is over and my Christmas swap cookies are long gone. But there was one traditional gem that nobody made this year. It just didn't set right with me not to have a few peanut blossoms on that cookie tray.

So I broke down, prowling the candy aisle at Stop & Shop for Hershey Kisses this morning. Horror of horrors, the shelf was bare of the milk chocolate kind. But the holiday wrapped dark chocolate variety was half price. I decided to go with the flow and try something new and I am very glad that I did. Mmm... mmm... good!

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup chunky peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt
1 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup granular (brownulated) brown sugar (raw crystallized sugar works well too)
24 dark chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut …

Ready for Summer?

The holidays are over. Winter doldrums will soon turn into cabin fever: but it doesn’t have to be so depressing.

Serve up some easy oven baked fried chicken picnic-style in your living room. Turn up the thermostat a few degrees and spread a quilt on the floor. Rent last summer's blockbuster movie. And don't forget to bake a batch of brownies!

Summer won’t feel so far away… at least for a couple of hours.

OVEN BAKED SUMMER FRIED CHICKEN One 3 pound chicken, skin on, cut up 1 cup milk 1 cup biscuit mix 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1/4 teaspoon chili powder 1/4 teaspoon salt olive oil or butter flavor cooking spray
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix dry ingredients in a one gallon size plastic baggie. Shake well. Pour milk into a medium bowl. One piece at a time, dip chicken in milk then coat with flour mix by shaking each piece individually in the baggie. Place each coated chicken piece in a shallow baking pan in a single layer.
Lightly spray the top of the coated c…

A Perfect Sunday Supper

Nearly everyone has a favorite pot roast recipe. Pot roast begs for inspiration from the cook, roasted red peppers can be a delightful addition. Try mushrooms or whole green beans for a different twist.

Choosing the spices can be daunting, bay leaf or thyme, coriander or clove? Some recipes call for tomatoes, others for a brown gravy base. I even saw a barbecue style pot roast recipe recently; not to mention the cut of beef. There’s brisket, chuck, rump roast, to name a few.

Over thirty plus years of home cooking successes and disasters, I’ve tried many different pot roast recipes but always go back to page 127 of the Silver Palate Cookbook for the best and simplest example of “A perfect Sunday supper.” I follow the recipe closely though not exactly -- you might like my slightly fiddled with version. Starting with the basics is a good start but no excuse for boring – add your own special flair!

3 pound boneless chuck roast
1 teaspoon fresh coarsely ground black pepper

More From Memere's Kitchen

I promised Memere's brown bread recipe and I always try to keep my promises. Tomorrow I'll toast up a few slices of yummy steam-baked molasses loaf for breakfast with scrambled eggs.

Add a pot of butter rum flavored decaf made in the French press to sip on while reading the newspaper at the table and Sunday morning doesn't get much better! And I'll be saving the coffee can for the next time I mix up this brown bread recipe -- I have a feeling it won't be long.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup raisins, optional

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, soda, and salt. Add oats and cornmeal. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the dry mixture into a small mixing bowl. Stir molasses, butter, vinegar and milk into the dry ingredients. Mix raisins wit…

Memere's Potato Bake

I've been thinking a lot about the Canadian half of my family this week. An invitation from my cousin Herve and his wife for their daughter's wedding came in the mail, my cousin Jim, a good guy with a bad problem, died suddenly two days before Christmas, and I saw my cousin Lisa and her family at Mass over the holidays.

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are more vivid memories than Christmas for me. My Canadian immigrant grandparents doled out little gifts on New Year's Day as was their tradition. Lipstick or pretty soaps for the girls, Matchbook cars for the boys and a dollar for the older kids. When I think about it now, several dozen grandchildren meant a big expense at a dollar each back in the 1950s and 60s. The family was big, the laughter loud and the food delicious!

MEMERE'S POTATO BAKE (POMME DE TERRE AU GRATIN) 2 pounds all-purpose white potatoes (5-6 medium size potatoes) 1 cup milk 1 cup light cream 1 tablespoon butter 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
Butter a…

A French Canadian Tradition

When I was little, we spent every New Year’s Eve with my dad’s family. That meant huge pots of maple baked beans, ham and au gratin potatoes to feed the houseful of aunts, uncles, first and second cousins … and a few neighbors too.

But my favorite memory came a day later, when a quieter bunch (dare I say, hung over from the shots and beers?) of hungry family members started the afternoon with steaming bowls of Memere’s amazing soupe aux pois and homemade brown bread with raisins steam-baked in coffee cans – a true taste of old Quebec.

I’ve adapted her bountiful measurements to a more manageable eight servings for the soup. Tune in over the weekend for the bread recipe!

1 pound dried yellow peas (split or whole)
8 cups water
1 ham bone
1 small shallot, finely grated
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup fresh parsley (1 tablespoon if dried)
1 small bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Wash and sort peas. Soak in cold water overnight. Drain peas and place …