Friday, October 31, 2014

All Hallows Eve

"To Autumn" is a poem by English Romantic poet John Keats (October 31, 1795 – February,23 1821). "To Autumn" is the final work in a group of poems known as Keats "1819 Odes" published in 1820. Keats composed "To Autumn" after a walk near Winchester one autumnal evening. The work marks the end of his poetic career, as he needed to earn money and could no longer devote himself to the lifestyle of a poet. A little over a year following the publication of "To Autumn", Keats died in Rome.
To Autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinéd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barréd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

A Toast to Autumn
Vampire's Dream Drink
This drink is made from two parts cranberry juice, one part pineapple juice with a splash of grenadine.

Blood Orange Margaritas
makes a single serving
  • 1 -1/2 ounces tequila (silver or gold, based on your preference)
  • 1 ounce Grand Mariner
  • 1- 1/2 ounces simple syrup
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1- 1/2 ounces blood orange juice (about 1-2 oranges)
  • salt for the rim, lime/orange wedges for garnish
Rim the ridge of your glass with a lime wedge and dip in margarita salt.
Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Grand Marnier, simple syrup, blood orange and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds. 
Pour over ice and squeeze in lemon and orange slices.
The World According to Bella
My friends and I are all set for the big night. Are you?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Puff Pastry Appetizers

"Have you ever been out for a late autumn walk in the closing part of the afternoon and suddenly looked up to realize that the leaves have practically all gone? And the sun has set and the day gone before you knew it" 
by Hal Borland

Think beyond pigs in a blanket:Wrap something new in puff pastry. Some creative ideas  from Food Network magazine.
  • Unfold thawed frozen puff pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface. Cut into pieces just large enough to wrap around your food with a 1/2 inch overlap. Wrap, moisten the edge with water and pinch to seal. 
  • Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down. Whisk one egg with 2 TB. water. Brush egg white wash on the pastry and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden-about 20 minutes.  

Goat Cheese and Puff Pastry
Dill Pickle with Puff Pastry

Olives with Puff Pastry
Portobello Mushroom with Puff Pastry
I was unable to find the image of this idea featured in the Food Network magazine-stack three pear slices, wrap with puff pastry sheet and follow cooking directions above. 
Herbed Cheese Roasted Tomato Appetizers
recipe from

  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley 
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves 
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil 
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper 
  • 24 grape tomatoes, halved 
  • 1/2 cup creamy spreadable garlic and herb cheese 
  • 1 pkg. (9.5 ounces) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Cups, prepared according to package  
  • 24 small sprigs fresh thyme 

  • Prepare Puff Pastry Cups according to package. Remove tops.
  • Heat the oven to 400°degrees. 
  • Stir the parsley, chopped thyme, olive oil and black pepper in a medium bowl. Add the tomatoes and toss to coat. Place the tomatoes onto a baking sheet. 
  • Roast for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes start to shrivel. 
  • Spoon 1 teaspoon cheese into each pastry cup. Top each with 1 tomato. Top with the thyme sprigs.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Cook's notes: These moist cupcakes have hints of spice, apples and caramel. They are the perfect treat for your Halloween weekend. The caramel sauce may need warming in the microwave so it's easier to pour. 
Recipe adapted from Tide and Thyme and makes 18-20
Cake Ingredients:
  • 2-3/4 cups flour
  • 1 TB. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp.salt
  • 1 stick margarine and 1 stick butter (room temperature)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 TB.vanilla
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce from a jar (room temperature)
Cake Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.
  • Whisk in  a bowl flour, spices, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In another bowl cream sugar, butter and margarine.  Beat for 4 minutes until fluffy.
  • Mix in eggs one at a time and beat well.
  • Mix buttermilk and vanilla in a measuring cup and add to butter/margarine mixture. Mix well. 
  • On low speed alternate dry ingredients with wet ingredients and mix just until incorporated. 
  • With a wooden spoon add in apples, caramel sauce and mix until incorporated.
  • Divide the batter evenly filling each cupcake liner 3/4 full.
  • Bake 18-20 minutes.  
Frosting Ingredients:   
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce 
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 TB. softened butter
  • 1 tsp.vanilla
  • fat free half and half
Frosting Directions:
  • Beat all ingredients until frosting is smooth using only as much half and half as needed for correct frosting consistency.
Caramel Apple Dip

All my stainless steel appliances including bread box, toaster and coffee pot are gleaming and look brand new as a result of using a little olive oil on a soft paper towel. I just rubbed the olive oil on paper towel and buffed the surfaces of the appliances. So this got me to thinking perhaps there are other uses for olive oil besides cooking that I may have overlooked. Indeed there are from home improvement hacks to beauty tricks.
1. Silence a squeaky door.
Lubricate a sticky hinge or creaky knob with a few drops of oil to quiet an irritating noise without harsh chemicals or a toolbox.

2. Free a stuck zipper.
If your jacket’s zipper pull just won’t budge, try rubbing the teeth with a cotton swab dipped in olive oil. It should help ease it back on track.

3. Moisturize your body.
Packed with good fats and nutrients, a little bit of olive oil soothes crusty cuticles, relieves dry skin, fights frizzy hair, and can even fill in for shaving cream in a pinch.

4. Return rain boots’ luster.
If your rubber wellies get chalky after a few wears, rub them with olive oil to erase the white marks. Avoid getting oil on the soles, though; it may cause you to slip next time you put them on.

5. Remove eye makeup.
Swipe your lids with a cotton pad dipped in a bit of oil to free your face of mascara and eyeliner.

6. Shine a stainless steel sink.
A light coating will make your sink gleam again, and prevent future water spots from showing up.

7. Make a great skin scrub.
Plan a DIY spa day by mixing inexpensive olive oil, sugar, and lemon zest to create a sweet-smelling exfoliator (save the pricier, tastier oil for drizzling over steak or crostini).

8. Remove paint from hair.
If your home-improvement weekend leaves your head matching your freshly painted wall, use olive oil to ease the color out of your strands.

This link gives 12 unexpected beauty uses with olive oil

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cranberries Part Two and some Halloween Treats

Cranberry-Dried Cherry Sauce
Cook's notes: This sweet and tart sauce is the perfect accompaniment for turkey, chicken or pork instead of the canned.

  • 1-12 oz. frozen container cran/raspberry juice thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 2 TB. cornstarch
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • juice from 1/2 of an orange
  • 1/2 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 package dried tart cherries
  • 1-12 oz. bag fresh cranberries(produce department)
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine like Merlot or Cabernet
  • Mix cornstarch and water. Add cran/raspberry juice, sugar and cinnamon sticks.
  • Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add dried cherries, allspice, orange juice, zest and cook two minutes.
  • Add in fresh cranberries and cook until berries pop about 7 minutes.
  • Transfer to a bowl and stir in wine.
  • Cool and chill overnight.
  • To serve remove cinnamon sticks.
Cranberry Streusel Coffee Cake
recipe adapted from Midwest Livng

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp.cinnamon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter 
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
Streusel Topping:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 TB. packed brown sugar
  • 2 TB butter
Streusel Topping: In a small bowl, combine all-purpose flour, packed brown sugar and ground cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  • Rinse cranberries in cold water; drain. Coarsely chop cranberries. Combine cranberries and 2 tablespoons of the sugar; set aside. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the remaining sugar, the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in center.
  • In a small bowl, combine egg, milk and lemon peel. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Using a fork, stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy and thick). Fold in cranberry mixture. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle Streusel Topping over batter in pan.
  • Bake in 375 degrees about 25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool slightly; serve warm. Makes 9 servings.
If you go to GOOGLE type in- images of Halloween treats- a plethora of ideas will pop up to help you with party planning.
Muddy Ghosts
Cut ghosts from 6 inch tortillas. Spread with melted butter or a margarine spread and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until slightly puffed and crisp. You can use cookie cutters for the bats and the ghosts. Kitchen shears work well to cut the bats and a sharp knife to cut two ghosts at a time.
Mummy Brats
  • 6 precooked brats or hot dogs
  • 1 can crescent rolls or crescent dough sheet
  • Mustard for eyes
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Unroll crescent dough. If using crescent rolls, press dough together to remove perforations.
  • Cut dough lengthwise into sixths.
  • Wipe excess moisture off brats or hot dogs. Place one end of dough strip on one end of brat and fold slightly to make a pocket that covers the end of the meat.
  • Wrap dough around the brat, overlapping slightly. Let dough stretch as you work with it. Skip about half an inch of the brat at the “head” and tuck the end of the dough under the brat.
  • Place each finished mummy on ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 15- 20 minutes until mummies are golden brown and the bottom is just beginning to become a darker brown.
  • Add mustard dots for eyes. Serve hot.
Spiders on a log

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cranberries: Part One

This bag packs a powerful punch of flavors.

Only three major fruits are native to North America: the cranberry, blueberry and Concord grape. Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries. When cranberries are ripe they can bounce. Cranberries are versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes from appetizers, drinks, sauces, main dishes, vegetables, breads and desserts. 
Recipe from Pam Anderson
Baked Camembert with Cranberry-Orange Relish
  • 1 bag (12 oz) fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Finely grated zest and juice from 1 large orange
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3 oz box), thawed
  • 1 wheel Camembert cheese (about 4 inches in diameter), top rind sliced off
  • Bring cranberries, sugar, and orange juice to a full simmer in a medium skillet or a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Simmer for 1 minute. Cover, turn off heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in orange zest, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
  • Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Roll puff pastry on a lightly floured surface along the fold lines to 12 inches long. Cut out two 6-inch rounds. Lay one pastry round on a baking sheet and set cheese wheel on it, cut side up. Top with remaining puff pastry and crimp around perimeter of cheese to seal.
  • Bake until pastry is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes and serve, letting each person slice a wedge of the pastry encased cheese and top with cranberry sauce.
Roasted Beets with Cranberries and Glazed Pecans  
  • 1 cup  cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 TB. sugar
  • 3 TB. balsamic vinegar or Pomegranate Balsamic 
  • 3 TB olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 1 lb. sliced cooked beets
  • 1/2 cup glazed pecans
  • 1 cup sliced red onions
  • crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese
  • mixed greens
  • option adding tangerine segments to the salad
  • Scrub beets and wrap in foil. Place in a 375°F oven and roast for 1 hour. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then slice. Mix with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well.
  • Cook cranberries with water and sugar over medium heat till berries pop about 7 minutes.
  • Whisk in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Toss with beets, onions and pecans. Mix in greens and top with cheese.
Option-use Cranberry Vinaigrette recipe instead of the balsamic vinegar and olive oil 
Cranberry Vinaigrette
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp.Dijon mustard
  • 3 TB. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Place all ingredients in a high speed blender; process until smooth and creamy.
Cranberry Sonnet
by Nancy Ness 
The waves roll on and gulls above soar high,
Lone foghorns chanting Cape Cod's solitude.
The dunes at rest beneath the autumn sky
Envelop peaceful beaches once imbued.
Bright foliage adorns the countryside,
Surrounding sundried bogs of cranberries.
This summer tourists' verdant welcome tide
Now boasts majestic hues of burgundies.
Synthetic lakes spew forth from each bog's moat
Releasing berries for the harvest day,
And buoyant crimson carpets lie afloat
In just abeyance being scooped away
To conjure up a sauce with Ocean Spray
And have with turkey for Thanksgiving Day.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Brussel Sprouts

This is the road we walk everyday to the mailbox. Bella knows the route and leads the way. It is one mile one way. Bella is more than eager to take the walk since she has been getting mail several times a week lately from her secret admirer. Sometimes the lo-cal peanut butter flavor snacks make it through the postal system intact and other times there are only crumbs.   But she doesn't care.

Today I 'prayed' no one would pass me by on the road as I walked back to my house. 
It was rather comical me carrying this very large stalk of Brussels sprouts my neighbor gave me. When I inquired if she had extra I never dreamed I'd get a whole stalk. Since I never knew anyone who grew Brussel sprouts much less knew what they even looked like on a stalk it was one of those aha moments. 
Now they need to be cooked.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cranberries with Barley
Serves 2 recipe from

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, tips cut off, discolored leaves removed and sliced in half (smaller sprouts are better than large sprouts)
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2/3 cup fresh cranberries (or 1/3 cup dried cranberries)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or goat cheese
  •  1/3 cup freshly toasted pecans
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked barley
  • 1 TB. maple syrup, or more to taste
  • 1 TB.balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
  • Set a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat on the stove. Let it heat up for two to three minutes. It should be so hot that a few drops of water sizzle and quickly disappear after contact.
  • In a medium sized bowl, toss the prepared Brussels sprouts with olive oil and salt. Toss well, so that the sprouts are evenly coated in a thin layer of oil.
  • Once the pan is hot, dump the sprouts into the pan and quickly rearrange them so the flat sides are face down. Let them cook for two minutes.
  • Toss the fresh cranberries into the pan and transfer the pan to your broiler. The pan will be heavy and hot so use oven mitts and be careful! Let the Brussels broil for about three minutes. Check the sprouts for doneness—their tops should be a little browned and the bottoms caramelized. How long you should leave them in there depends on your preferences and your oven. The cranberries should have started popping by now; set the hot pan on your stove top for a couple of minutes while you reheat the barley.
  • Toss the warm barley, sprouts, cranberries, cheese and pecans in a bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. Season with salt.
 Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Apples and Bacon
Cook's notes: Pancetta can be substituted for bacon. Recipe adapted from BHG
  • 12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved or quartered
  • 2 sweet cooking apples, such as Gala or Fuji, cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 ounces finely chopped pancetta or 5 slices of bacon cooked and diced
  • 3 TB. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 TB.balsamic vinegar or Black Cherry or Chocolate Balsamic 
  • 1 TB. honey
  • 2 tsp.Dijon-style mustard
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with parchment paper; set aside. 
  • In a large bowl combine Brussels sprouts, apples, onion, pancetta or cooked bacon, oil, salt, dry mustard and pepper. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking pan.
  • Roast, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until sprouts are tender, stirring once.
  • In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, honey, and Dijon mustard. Drizzle vinegar mixture over sprout mixture; toss gently to coat.
  • Return to oven for 4 minutes. Serve immediately.
I thought these bread cones had lots of possibilities and easy to make using refrigerated dough. Make cone shape out of tin foil and wrap breadstrips around. Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds. Bake according to package directions. One idea is to fill with chicken or shrimp sald.  
Making cone molds:
  • All you need is some manila paper or any semi-hard paper. Cut into rectangles and roll them up into cones, you can then staple them to maintain the conical shape. Then cut up a piece of foil and wrap it around the cone to prevent the paper from burning in the oven. Tuck the foil from the top opening of the cone to hold it in place, but you don't have to line the inside of the paper cones, just the outsides.
  • You can then re-use these cone-molds a couple of times, you will just need to change out the foils and use new ones for the next batch.
  • Before baking using them, you will need to grease the molds preferably with butter to make sure your bread strips does not stick to the molds.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Seasonal Plate and Two Book Reviews

And now I am adding two more-could not resist! 
and so begins this story...
It’s something I call an invisible thread. It is, as the old Chinese proverb tells us, a thing that connects two people who are destined to meet, regardless of time and place and circumstance. Some legends call it the red string of fate, others the thread of destiny.

"Excuse me, lady, do you have any spare change?"

This was the first thing he said to me, on 56th Street in New York City, right around the corner from Broadway, on a sunny September day.

And when I heard him, I didn't really hear him. His words were part of the clatter, like a car horn or someone yelling from a cab. They were, you could say, just noise - the kind of nuisance New Yorkers learn to tune out. So I walked right by him, as if he wasn't there.

But then - and I'm not sure why I did this - I came back.

I came back and I looked at him, and I realized he was just a boy. Earlier, out of the corner of my eye, I had noticed he was young. But now, looking at him, I saw that he was a child - tiny body, sticks for arms, big round eyes. He wore a burgundy sweater that was smudged and frayed and ratty burgundy sweatpants to match. He had scuffed white sneakers with untied laces, and his fingernails were dirty. But his eyes were bright and there was a general sweetness about him. He was, I would soon learn, eleven years old.

He stretched his palm toward me, and he asked again, "Excuse me, lady, do you have any spare change? I am hungry."

What I said in response may have surprised him, but it really shocked me.

"If you're hungry," I said, "I'll take you to McDonald's and buy you lunch."

"Can I have a cheeseburger?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"How about a Big Mac?"

"That's okay, too."

"How about a Diet Coke?"

"Yes, that's okay."

"Well, how about a thick chocolate shake and French fries?"

I told him he could have anything he wanted. And then I asked if I could join him for lunch.

He thought about it for a second.

"Sure," he finally said.

We had lunch together that day, at McDonald's.

And after that, we got together every Monday. For the next 150 Mondays.

His name is Maurice, and he changed my life.

Thus begins a life changing adventure not only in Maurice's life, but also in Laura Schroff's as well. How one day when you make a small step towards doing something different in your routine, it will alter your life and take you on a different path that will make you a better person than you ever dreamed.

This is the story about how an advertising sales executive and an 11 year old panhandler change each other’s lives. It is an inspirational and compelling story. The author and Maurice have maintained that friendship for over 25 years. They are pictured below. 

"The Boys in the Boat" is the well-researched tale of the University of Washington rowing crew that captured a gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Author Brown cleverly ties together a wide net of coaching problems, family issues, myriad rowing technicalities, and timely political hot points to name a few. Readers will definitely learn how a serious crew is put together. The author also shines a sometimes critical light on the Nazi rise to power of the early 1930s. There was no escaping the intrusion of politics in this particular Olympiad, since the Nazi hierarchy carefully planned the Games as a major propaganda ploy. 

Parallel developments in Europe provided a good counterpoint and context for understanding the complexity of thought and behavior of the time. The story also parallels the life and politics of the US unfolding at this time.

Like the book "Seabiscuit" this book transcends the subject of "rowing". It transports you to another place and time. The story is told through the eyes of Joe Rantz, a remarkable man who overcame much adversity to be sitting in that shell on the Langer See in 1936. The descriptions of the characters allow you to get to know who they were, how they got to where they were, and what happened in their early lives that lead them there. This is a book about overcoming obstacles and winning against odds. The writing is superb.
Seasonal Plate-Autumn Sides 
Cook's notes: These are the recipes submitted for the week of October 27th for Pilot newspaper. 
Some of the recipes were previously posted on Ever Ready so I gave the links to them.  
Cranberry-Orange Wild Rice Muffins
Cauliflower Gratin
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets 
  • 1-1/2 TB. each Dijon-style mustard, olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil and melted butter 
  • ¾ cup heavy cream at room temperature mixed with 2 TB. flour 
  • 1 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs 
  • ¾ - 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese 
  • 1 tsp. each parsley and thyme 
  • 1-1/2 tsp. orange zest 
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds 
  • Bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add cauliflower, reduce heat cook 5 minutes and drain. 
  • Grease a 2-quart baking dish. In a bowl combine olive oil, mustard and toss with drained cauliflower, add to baking dish. Mix cream and flour, pour over cauliflower. 
  • Mix panko crumbs, cheese, spices and orange zest, sprinkle over top of cauliflower, drizzle with butter. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes 
  • Sprinkle cauliflower dish with the almonds the last 10 minutes of baking time. 
Honey Sage Sweet Potatoes and Pears

Friday, October 24, 2014

Boston Cuisine Part 2

Boston North End Fish Market

You do not need to fly to Boston for swordfish. Grab some swordfish next time you're in the grocery store. The high omega-3 fat content makes it a heart-healthy option.
Swordfish is made for the grill. It is always sold as steaks, and the meat is so firm and, well, meaty, that many non-fish eaters will gladly eat sword. This texture also helps prevent the steaks from falling apart on the grill, a huge plus. But swordfish steaks can be baked in the oven as in the following recipe.

Rinsing the steaks under cool, running water removes juices from the swordfish that makes the meat taste slightly fishier. A marinade will tenderize the swordfish meat and infuse it with flavor. Fresh lemon or orange juice makes an ideal base for a marinade. For added flavor, minced garlic, grated ginger, fresh rosemary, tarragon and ground black pepper work well. Swordfish needs to be refrigerated while submerged in the marinade, but not for more than two hours.
I picked this recipe to try so I could use a bit of the Vermont maple syrup I recently bought.
Maple-Balsamic Glazed Swordfish Steaks
Marinating can take 30 minutes minimum or up to 2 hours maximum.
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 (6 to 8 oz.) each swordfish steaks, each about 1 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoon olive oil or Blood orange Olive Oil
  • 1 TB. parsley
  • 2 lemon slices
  • juice from one half lemon
1. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, syrup, and soy sauce. Simmer over low heat until mixture is slightly syrupy and reduced by one-third, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes. If marinade gets too thick reheat.

2. Place swordfish steaks in a resealable plastic bag. Pour the cooled balsamic-maple mixture into the bag, turn to coat fish, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 4oo degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with vegetable cooking spray.
5. Remove swordfish from marinade, reserving marinade in a small saucepan.Place steaks on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle generously on both sides with pepper. Brush both sides with olive oil, sprinkle with parsley and juice from lemon. Place lemon slices on top of the swordfish steaks.
6. Bake the swordfish for 20 minutes or until just cooked through (fish should flake easily with a fork).
7. While fish cooks, heat saucepan with marinade over high heat and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.
8. Drizzle the simmered reserved marinade over the fish. Serve immediately..
Recipe adapted from Fresh Magazine March, April 2010

Many communities have cakes whose recipes are passed around and around. The confections in New England typically contain blueberries or apples. Of all the beautiful fruits and vegetables grown in this region during the short farming season, nothing says New England fall better than a local apple. And while everyone can agree on the pleasure of biting into a crisp, freshly picked fruit, the consensus stops there. Some like them sweet, others tart, some prefer only whole fruits, others head to the kitchen for simple, comforting savory dishes and confections. 
Try this Apple Crumb Cake. The recipe comes from food editor, Jean Kressy at Boston Globe
Apple Crumb Cake
makes one 9-inch cake
Ingredients Crumbs:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
Directions Crumbs:
  • In a bowl, combine the flour, granulated and brown sugars, and butter.
  • With your fingers or 2 blunt knives, cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles crumbs. Add the walnuts and toss well.
Ingredients Apples:
  • 2 large baking apples, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice 
Directions Apples:
  • In a bowl, combine the apples, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and apple pie spice. nutmeg.
Ingredients Cake:
  • 1- 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Confectioners’ sugar (for sprinkling)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle the pan with flour and tap out the excess.
  • In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to blend them.
  • Beat the butter and granulated sugar until well blended on medium speed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
  • With the mixer set on its lowest speed, blend in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Spread about 2/3 of the batter in the pan. Arrange the apple mixture on top. Drop the remaining batter over the apples and spread with a spatula. Some fruit will not be covered; that’s OK. Sprinkle the crumbs on top.
  • Bake the cake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into wedges. 
This past week has been a very brief overview of some culinary delights that can be found in the New England region.  Perhaps you found a recipe or two to try that captures the flavors of fall.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New England Cuisine and Boston Part One

Cuisine in Boston is similar to the rest of New England cuisine, in that it has a large emphasis on seafood and dairy products. Its best-known dishes are New England clam chowder, fish and chips, lobster, steamed and fried clams, Parker House rolls,
Boston Cream pie 
Boston cream doughnuts,Boston Brown Bread,cranberries, pizza, Boston Baked Beans and corn muffins.
Boston has many restaurants, including those serving various ethnic cuisines. The Union Oyster House is the oldest operating restaurant in the United States. Quincy Market part of Faneuil Hall Marketplace has a variety of restaurants and food shops. See photo below.
Nearby Cheers is a popular dining spot where 'everybody knows your name'. 
Boston's Chinatown has a variety of Asian restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores and Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Thai restaurants in the neighborhood.
The North End has a variety of Italian restaurants, pizzerias, and bakeries and is well known as Boston's "Little Italy."
Boston has a tradition of holding a weekly open-air Farmers market known locally as Haymarket. 
Haymarket caters mainly to selling fresh fruit and vegetable produce, though meats can also be purchased in local establishments. In addition to so-called "winter farmers markets", other more seasonal farmer's markets are held in locations around Boston and its suburbs. Boston has over 27 open air farmers markets and a handful of active winter markets.
Hard apple cider was the most popular drink in Colonial America, as it was typically safer to drink than water.  Three top brands recommended are Angry Orchard, Strongbow and Woodchuck. Since it is alcoholic hard cider is found at liquor stores. Hard apple cider has refreshing complexity with its strong apple sweetness and a crisp clean flavor. It is perfect for glazing root vegetables.   
Non-alcoholic sparkling or regular cider can be substituted for hard apple cider but reduce the sugar to 1 tablespoon in the following recipe. 
Cider-Glazed Root Vegetables

Cook's notes: Why this recipe works...
For a seasonal vegetable recipe that produces vegetables with a lightly sweetened glaze, cut the carrots slightly smaller than the other vegetables for even cooking. By  caramelizing the vegetables in butter and deglazing with hard cider, a glaze is created that tastes bright and flavorful. A final addition of diced Granny Smith apple and minced tarragon completed the dish. Other suggested root vegetables that work well for this recipe include: sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, celery root and beets.
recipe from Cook's Country October/November 2014
  • 4 TB butter
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 oz. parsnips, peeled and cut 3/4-inch pieces
  • 12 oz. turnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 3 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-1/2 cups hard cider
  • 3 TB. sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces,unpeeled
  • 2 TB fresh tarragon, thyme or rosemary
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots, parsnips, turnips, and shallots and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add cider, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining 3 tablespoons butter and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until vegetables are just tender, 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Uncover, increase heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are fully tender, about 13 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in apple and continue to cook until cider is syrupy and apple is just tender, about 2 minutes longer. Off heat, stir in tarragon and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish and pour any remaining glaze over vegetables. 

Boston Baked Beans
Although traditionally cooked in an oven, Boston baked beans lend themselves perfectly to slow cookers.
Baked beans is a dish containing beans, sometimes baked but, despite the name, usually stewed, in a sauce. American Boston baked beans use a sauce prepared with molasses and salt pork, the popularity of which has led to the city being nicknamed "Beantown".  Beans in a tomato and brown sugar, sugar or corn syrup sauce are a widely available type throughout the US. Canada's Quebec's style beans often use maple syrup.
  • 1 lb. dried navy beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 lb. dried small red beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 3 c. water
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 c. celery, finely diced
  • 1 c. onion, finely diced
  • 1 c. ketchup
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp. molasses
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 TB. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • In a large bowl, combine beans and 4 qt water (you can do two bowls, with 2 qt. of water in each). Add the salt and soak at least 8 hours or overnight. 
  • Drain well and pour into slow cooker. Add 3 c. water. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or until beans are tender. 
  • In a medium sauté pan cook bacon until just about crispy. Dry on paper towel. Drain most of the grease, reserving about a tablespoon.. 
  • Add celery and onion and cook until translucent. Add bacon, celery and onion to the slow cooker. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire, and honey. Mix well and add seasonings and vinegar. 
  • Pour into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook an additional 30 minutes to heat throughout.
  • Serve with cornbread.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...