Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Caramelized Pear & Taylor Fladgate 1995 Port

When you get right down to it you cannot beat a pear as a unique dessert when you peel them and marinate them in...

...some port...I got this bottle for my 40th birthday and decided ten years was long enough to age this baby...let them soak at room temp...turning them often...

Once they have turned dark from the port...plate some turbuno sugar and roll them on a baking sheet and in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or will notice the sugar and port begin to turn to candy around the bottom...

...add some ice cream or plate them with fondue and Camembert cheese like I did!

Black & White Fondue with a Whisky shooter

My Black & White Fondue consist of caramelized port pear with a black and white fondue of dark and white chocolate, and a dab of Camembert cheese.

Traditionally fondue was designed to help moisten dry bread that had sat for months in cold and harsh conditions when there was nothing else to eat. Wine was blended with cheese and then melted together over a low burning heat that created warmth and nutritious combination. The term is derived from the French verb fondre (to melt), in the past participle fondu (melted).

A touch of whisky that has hints of honey are added to this fun pot!

Gotta dress up the plate...since he is ying (white) and I am yang (dark), it works! ...and this completes my game from the other day where hints were given...

Caramel Pear Camenbert Fondue

* 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
* 4 ounces Camembert at room temperature

Caramelized Pear- take ripened pear soak in port; and roll in turbino sugar and use blow torch or bake in oven to caramelize; cut into small pieces.

Melt butter, cheese, heavy cream in fondue pot or small pan until combined; add pureed caramelized pear to mixture and serve. Serve with dipping sticks and fruit, cookies or over pear slices.

Chocolate Almond Fondue with Whisky Essence

8 oz semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 T Whisky

On a low heat or using fondue pot slowly melt ingredients; add Whisky to pot and serve with fruit, cookies, or marshmallows. Keep warm while eating.

I recommend trying small amounts at first, one batch of my white chocolate came apart from the butter and I could not get it blended once it happened...

Is it me or this resemble a nun praying at an alter? Is it a vision of the new year to come or a big hint for me...HAPPY NEW YEAR my friends!

Holy... Another fishy story

Once again on the quest for healthy eating I have decided to start New Years Eve off with a bang...a bang of a fish that is...dessert and noise makers will come later with the popping of the champagne...

Mackerels are one of the most over looked fish and we should be eating more of it today. Now is the time to enjoy delicious, healthy Spanish Mackerel. Spanish varity have darker meat and are one of the tastiest of the Mackerel family.

The Spanish Mackerels are also one of the richest sources for Omega-3 fatty acids. These are the polyunsaturated fatty acids with huge health benefits. They are easily filleted and excellent eating baked, broiled, steamed, smoked, poached, or fried.

Spanish Mackerels are members of the large family of fish that include the Tunas and other Mackerels. Although these fish vary greatly in size, they share many common characteristics including being very fast, powerful swimmers. The average size of Spanish Mackerel is from 2-3 pounds, while a weight of 9-10 pounds is considered large.

Mine was 3 1/2 pounds and I chose to purchase him whole, so that I could use the head and rest for making my own stock. Besides the fish market guys will gut it for you, and you can show off to friends by cutting it up or cooking it whole!

I like to start by cutting right behind the dorsal fin on the top to bottom and take the tail end off. It is too thin for steaks, and I will smoke that piece another day. Now cut off fins on mid bottom and cut 1 1/2 inch steaks by holding the fish with a plastic bag and with serrated knife cut from top into fish until you feel the bone, now lay it down and push knife right into the side and all the way not saw...this will tear up the meat...just make sure you use a sharp knife. I figure out how many steaks I can get and then stop right behind the head it? You will be proud of yourself for taking the time to create your King masterpiece!


Yield: 6 servings.

2 pounds Florida Spanish mackerel fillets or steaks 1 1/2 inch thick
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter, melted
2-4 tablespoons lemon juice- reserve a lemon and cut into slices for garnish
1 teaspoon grated Florida onion
1 teaspoon fresh chives per fish steak- reserve T for garnish after cooked

Melt butter, squeeze lemon juice over fillets, and then butter. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and then chive. Place cut lemon wedges over each fillet.

Bake at 350 degrees F, for 20 to 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

I take the pan and deglaze with some white wine and reduce; add bit more butter, garnish with a wee bit more chives and you have yourself a sauce!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Something Is Fishy

Somebody in my house has decided to finally go after his high cholesterol like a shark on a feeding I decided to make a tuna tartare, but instead of raw...I left the tuna in the lime juice a few minutes longer and it is more like a Ceviche...not sure if the Yellow Fin was Sushimi, the fish department was indecisive.

After a year of hounding him to cut back on all the juice, PB&J sandwiches, and in between snacks of raisins and snacks he probably has hidden in his desk at work, he listened and now I am portioning meals, serving more fish, even less high fat meats, measuring out 5 to 6 ounces of juice, more greens, and having four smaller meals a day. Not to mention he agreed to visit the gym with me.

If you do not mind getting your fingers messy you can make your own wasabi chips out of egg roll wrappers and wasabi powder to use with the Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare I made us for dinner.

Wasabi Chips

Cut egg roll wrappers into quarters, moisten paper towel and cover. Wet your fingers with olive oil, in my case Cilantro Grapeseed Oil, and rub them down. Sprinkle your favorite seasoning like I did- Wasabi Powder; then place them on a sheet pan covered in parchment paper and into a 350 degree oven. Watch them...

Just add a side of avocado and extra spinach salad and you have got yourself a healthy low fat meal...plate shows 4 ounces of fish...

Tuna Tartare

1 lb of Sushimi Grade Tuna Steak- cut into small pieces (against grain and then with)
1/4 Cup Pico de Gallo (diced tomato, onion, green/red peppers, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice)
2 T Soy Sauce
2 T Sesame Seeds
2 T Olive Oil
2 T Lime Juice & a scant of lime zest

Blend well in plastic or ceramic bowl, cover and refrigerate

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sprouted Moong/Muung Beans

Need to get your fiber on? ...or add some 'Raw' food to your diet and cut back on eating beef and other fatty foods? Try sprouting some beans and adding them to your salads...

If you do not own a sprouter you do not have to go out and buy one...soak a few cups of beans over some wax paper on the bottom of a pan or plate...spread them out, and cover with plastic for another day...

...and guess what happens...they are 'live' food...anything that can still sprout like potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, and most beans that are exposed to dark and cool conditions will sprout something...they are edible...and if you cook them below 110 degrees on low heat it is considered 'Raw'...a healthy diet...

Hubby and I are looking to get back to my healthier way of I am introducing this to family and Texas Caviar Salsa would eat these in a salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, or any other 'Raw' ingredients, and a little Red Wine Vinegar to dress...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Texas Caviar- New Year's Tradition

Know any Texans that remind you that if you do not eat these babies on New Years Eve your year is shot like trying to hide a coon in heat?

Well, it is a Southern thang...and I love'em...cannot help it! ...and with three days till the count down...I need all the luck I can get for all of us!

HISTORY: The "good luck" traditions of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day are recorded in the Babylonian Talmud (compiled ~500 CE), Horayot 12A: "Abaye [d. 339 CE] said, now that you have established that good-luck symbols avail, you should make it a habit to see Qara (bottle gourd), Rubiya (black-eyed peas, Arabic (Lubiya), Kartei (leeks), Silka (either beets or spinach), and Tamrei (dates) on your table on the New Year."

They are also known as cowpeas, blackeyed's, frijole caritas, and are grown in the south because they love the low frost season, and sandy loam soil. Black-eyed peas are an excellent source of calcium (211mg in a 1 cup serving), folate (209mcg), and vitamin A (1,305 IU) among other nutrients. There is also a south american version, but they are a much bigger pod.

A fun and easy way to eat them is taking a can and adding diced tomatoes with chilies, and then a few flat Italian green beans. This is a healthy snack for lunch or dinner!

Texas Caviar

1 1/2 cups black eyed peas- soak in water over night, and then clean
4 pieces of bacon (use portabellos to make a vegetarian version)
2 T garlic powder
1 T paprika
salt and pepper to taste

-Cook until tender

Add 1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies
diced onion
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
half cup frozen corn- thawed

My twist on this...sprouted Munng beans added for extra fiber and protein! ...I will explain this in the next post...

-Combine and serve room temp with chips for dipping,

Or serve warm as a soup by adding stock, and add a very small portion of meat balls...both my hubby and I are trying to slim down, so the menu is too...

Drunken Barley Gnocchi (vegetarian/GF)

One of my favorite recipes using barley is Beef-Barley I decided to play with this idea by adding barley to some mashed potatoes and make fluffy pillows of gnocchi that resembles beef...first in pan shallots, portobellas, greens, stock and some of my new Japanese Yamazaki Single Malt Scotch to deglaze, and cook gnocchi.
I also made little 1/2 inch meatballs from some chorizo I had left in the freezer, but decided you could not see the field for the cows...they looked just alike...

2 1/2 lbs of boiled...riced or flaked potatoes (cooked night before)
All Scant-1 cup Quinoa flour, 1 cup barley flour
1 cup ground toasted barley (this is a long process but worth it)
2 eggs
1 T garlic powder
1 T Parsley

-blend together in mound and then roll out on cutting board; adding flour as needed

Barley is available in health food stores as a bulk purchase in the form of flour or whole grain versions. I used the flour version, but also toasted some and then ground it in the food processor. There needed to be a dense texture to this gnocchi.

What really makes hulled barley stand out is it's impressive nutritional profile. The more you learn about barley nutrition, the more excited you'll get about this fun grain.

First of all, barley is chocked full of fiber, but you wouldn't know it due to its delightfull texture when cooked. It's also very high in selenium, which protects your cells from free-radical damage and also aids your thyroid in producing the thyroid hormone necessary for your good health.

You can freeze it...let it sit out for a few hours to dry, and then dust it with more flour and layer in an airtight container.

I love Whiskey...and I love my Whisky!

Many of my female friends have not cared for my taste in alcoholic beverages. I almost always here about their friends or relatives who appreciate it as much as I do. This chef likes a good glass of wine with dinner, but rarely do we sit around and just have a glass without some kind of food to taste with it. On the other hand an inexpensive whisky late in the evening mixed with cold water while unwinding for the night sounds good to me.

Now when it comes to the $$$ stuff...I like it neat...two cubes of ice...and a splash, and I said a Splash...of water, and send my bill to another table...

I seldom drink a glass of room temp single malt whiskey or whisky (Irish or US made brands spell it without the 'E', as the Japanese) blend with out dropping a few cubes of ice into the liquid gold drink like those hard core shot slammers out there! I started off drinking in my early thirties with a Chivas Regal on the rocks...working my way up from there. Education taught me that Scotland makers and connoisseurs encourage this technique of adding some ice and water a little at a time gives you the variance in taste...

Suntory Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky- The first taste was so smooth that I immediately started thinking about what kinds of dishes I could create with this beautiful honey, peaty, earthy laced beverage...a story that begins with three rivers that all feed into a united place where waters are pure...Yamazaki was created...

I totally got lost in the video on the website...Japan’s legendary Suntory YAMAZAKI Single Malt Whisky is the masterpiece of fresh air, pure water, and four simple ingredients: the finest malted barley, water, special yeast strains, and noble oak casks...and it goes on and on...

Barley...this ingredient used in making whiskies has been one of my favorite things in soups and many other dishes since I was, I believe I will make a few dishes leading up to New Years Eve that will reflect this ingredient, the whisky, and others from my beloved birth place...Texas...

New Years...New Stuff...

I am back from a very restful and fun four days with hubby and his family. I admit I did not want to go...I just wanted to stay home, cook and clean a bit and enjoy some time to myself...he insisted I come and be at his side...I am happy I did, because new inspiration is coming down like the snow...

The day before we left I ventured into a local wine shop off Harrison in Princeton, Cool Vines, to buy my mother-in-law a couple bottles of unique Riesling...well...usually I have my own twist to the story, and ended up with a unique bottle of Whiskey to add to my 'Taste Journals'. I think in a former life I was a Madame, who drank Whiskey, smoked cigars, and, not call me Ms. Kitty...

Do you like playing board games? Well let's play a Blog game I am making up...well a little help from Mr. DoggyBloggy (he does it lots)...and play 'CookAppeal Clue'...this is where the player gets three clues of what is to come for the days leading up to New Year's Eve! *applaud* & *excitement*...*disappointment* no prize...but the next blog will give a few more inspirational fingers...

Clue #1

What is this used for on a dining table...'Youuuu light up my liiiiife...'

Clue #2

What is an ingredient in this dish that might help you sleep?

Oh, and you already have another clue on just did not know it yet!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I made Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas for a party yesterday, and saved a few things to make this- chicken, broth, sour cream cheese sauce, a few veggies, crisp tortilla strips and cheese for a nice soothing comfort food. My month of being a working chef is done and I am tired, so until I staff a party this Saturday my feet are going up (after I clean the kitchen)...Merry Christmas everybody from my cocina to yours!

Kids Having Fun Baking!

I had a banana cake and cookie challenge to accomplish and while at the health food store saw this mix designed for kids, so I said sounds good and found it to be fun!

Box has all you need for a cup cake party for birthdays or other celebrations...

Directions on the back make it really easy to understand for the kids...

...and I even used the butter cream frosting recipe on the back of the box...Yummy!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Flip'n out over Banana

First of all I want to say a big Texas 'Thank You' to Christine, aka: Mistress of Cakes for giving me an award and being one of her three picks of the month. She and her friend Alexis said that I was humorous and that they enjoyed reading my blog. I also throw out a big *smooch* to them and all of you who put of with my wacky sense of humor that is laced with my culinary let's get down to the flour, eggs, and the big banana...

This is for you Mistress...I took your recipe and made it my own memory...well the camera was not so kind, but I was in banana heaven...banana cake filled with a butter cream mousse...not the bright fake yellow Dolly Madison version, but organic!

...and for you Alexis, aka:Running Away? I'll help you pack blogger...she suggested...ta da...banana cookies...once again the camera was not so kind...but they were moist...if I had only waited until they flat, but so good...

...and another for my creative right brain that continually says "never make the normal kind of recipe" I added garam masala to this batch...oh yeah!

I apologize for the ugly but 'tasty' cookie site...if only Keebler had sent over a few of their elves to help me...My hubby said thumbs up to the garam masala!

Okay, I took this a bit further to make up for the cookies and made some cup cakes...somebody needs to come over and help me eat these...I might not feel well in the morning...

Enchiladas- Tejas Style

I took the original pan to a party today, and all that was left was reminents in the fridge of its I created little mini's for you too see...

Texas Tex-Mex restaurants have many toppings for enchiladas, and the most famous being Cheese Enchiladas with Chili Con Carne. My favorite was always a sour cream cheese sauce that was poured over the top of a corn tortilla filled with shredded cooked chicken. Then one day I discovered Salsa Verde was a nice addition...another blog...Ranchero sauce is mostly what is offered on top of enchiladas where I live today...

This was an easy dish to throw together (a day ahead if needed) for dinner, and with leftovers for another day when my kids were little. Visiting my son (I promise to stop talking about this one day) I decided to see if any of the restaurants there or up North had my childhood version...No, and they had never heard of it either???

Cheese Enchiladas

Corn Tortillas (large package)- tear them into halves for putting up against the sides of the pan as you go around, and one for the middle...layer this and the rest!
Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese- 2 lbs if you like cheese
Sauted Onions- Mix with cheese

Chili Con Carne- Topping

Basically it is just your favorite chili recipe, and mine was simple this time...grass feed beef from a whole foods market...brown, and add one can of diced organic tomatoes with chilies.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

1 lb of chicken- take all ingredients and stew until falls apart
1 can of organic diced tomatoes with chilies (I also used 1/2 diced with adobo)
2 Cups of chicken stock


shredded chicken
sour cream (optional)
spoon chicken broth mixture over each layer to moisten
repeat; until last layer...spread sour cream and sprinkle cheese and cover with foil

Bake 375 degrees for 25 minutes (just heated through)

Sour Cream Sauce

1 cup sour cream
1 cup cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup soup from chicken

Over low heat mix until well blended, adding more cream if too thick or reverse.

If you want to have fun and notice my chicken portion is made with one of my new cookie cutters...and is in the shape of a snowflake!

NOTE: According to US Nutritional facts and the Surgeon General we over indulge when we eat, and this might really be pretty close to what portion size we should be eating at meals...would this be enough for you?

I know I would go back for another...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Treats

I brought home some new cookie cutters from my recent trip and decided to try them out...

I figured if I did not use them in baking they would be pretty hanging from the tree!

My mother used to left over pie crust and make us these Shortening Bread cookies...mine have maple syrup and brown sugar filling with maple icing on the outside...

This is that Kitchen Conservation I talk about...when you need something for dinner tonight, but have a party to attend tomorrow...turn it around and get creative...

Chipotle Sweet Potato Pie Bites with maple icing on top...sweet but they got a kick!

My friend Gen today sent me home with these beauties...Sugar Cookies...YUM! Thanks girlie, and I look forward to more game day dinners with you four!