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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hazelnut Squares

I just finished making these from the December issue of Bon Apppetit, page 122, called Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Caramel Squares. Only mine are drizzled, not dipped. They were not difficult at all to make and are delicious!

The only special equipment you need is a candy thermometer to make the caramel layer. You combine butter, sugar, honey, orange peel and cream and cook till it reaches 230 degrees.

You make the cookie crust (forgot to take a picture of this), then make the caramel sauce, adding chopped hazelnuts, spread mixture over cooked cookie crust and bake another 10 minutes.

And viola!

Add to a festive Holiday plate and you're ready to go. Here's the recipe:

Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Caramel Squares

The Crust:
2 cups flour
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/3 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into cubes

Mix in food processor till consistency of meal. Press into 13X9X2 metal pan, lined with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

The Caramel:
2/3 cup sugar
6 tbsp heavy whipping cream
2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
6 tbsp butter
1/3 cup orange blossom honey
1/4 chopped candied orange peel (I did not use this)
5 ounces hazelnuts

Mix all ingredients excepts hazelnuts in heavy saucepan. Boil till reaches 230 degrees, about 6 minutes. Add nuts and spread immediately onto cookie crust. Bake another 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool about 15 minutes before cutting into squares.

The Chocolate:
Melt 8 oz bittersweet chocolate in bowl over simmering water. Dip corner of cut cookie into chocolate, or drizzle with chocolate.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brussels Sprouts

I really like Brussels Sprouts! My husband, not so much. But, recently I found Brussels Sprouts still on the stalk --- $3.99 at the Dekalb Farmers market---so of course I had to buy it because it looked so cool! This would make a great centerpiece (if you have the right device to hold it up). I called on my Facebook friends for recipes and my neighbor Joe Bickley had a great recipe.

I made it last night and it was great! And the colors will make for a beautiful addition to the Holiday table. I used some of the pine nuts I've been saving that I brought back from Paris.

Here's the recipe:

1 lb Brussels Sprouts
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp peanut oil
1/4 pine nuts, toasted
1/4 golden raisins, plumped in warm water
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt/pepper to taste

Slice Brussels sprouts and saute in butter and oil, seasoning with a little salt. Saute for 8-10 minutes, til tender. Add remaining ingredients and toss.

I served them with pork sauteed with apples, prunes, and mustard.

Thanks, Joe!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Leftover Turkey

Thanksgiving has come and gone and we still have a ton of leftovers. One of my clients also had leftovers and asked me if I could come up with a way to use leftover turkey. I suggested Turkey Pot Pies and I included that in yesterday's cookdate for them.

Here's how I did it:

3 carrots - sliced
1 white potato - large dice
1 onion - chopped
3 stalks celery - chopped
1 cup frozen green peas
2 cups chopped leftover turkey - large dice
3 tbsp flour
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper to season
1 tbsp fresh thyme

Blanch carrots for 4 minutes. Blanch peas for 1 minute. Cook potato till tender in water used to blanch. Saute onion and celery till tender. Add blanched carros, peas, potatoes and turkey. Stir in flour, cooking about 1 minute. Stir in wine till smooth. Add chicken broth, simmer till sauce is thickened. Add half and half. Season with salt, pepper and thyme.Roll out pastry dough large enough to cover insides of crock completely (you can use frozen pie crust too). Fill with turkey pot pie filling. Roll dough to make top. Seal and slit for venting. Cook at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, till dough is browned.

I'll be making these for us too since we have turkey leftovers still. I made stock over the weekend and have 5 quarts in the freezer now. I hate to waste food! Hopefully we'll get through our leftovers by the end of the week. I might be ready for a hamburger!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Finger Limes

Last week, I visited my son who lives in Los Angeles. My first stop after landing was the Farmer's Market at the 3rd Street Promenade. It was Wednesday, the market day, and I headed straight there. When I lived in Los Angeles, this was one of my favorite things to do and one of my favorite markets there.

I happened upon something I had never heard of: Finger Limes. The vendor let me sample one and I had to have it! They were selling the carton for $10 each or you could buy the limes 2 for $1. I bought four.

Later that night, Alex had a friend over and I cooked dinner for the three of us, sauteed red snapper and vegetables from the market. We "played" with the limes as a topping for our fish.

Finger limes originate from Australia and are now being grown in California. They're shaped like a small pickle. When you slice them open, squeeze from the bottom, and out comes this citrus caviar! When it's in your mouth, it pops like citrus pop rocks! So much fun and delicious and so exciting finding a new food! It was really good with the fish and added to our dinner conversation.

We had a great visit and it was also good to be back at one of my favorite markets on a beautiful day in Los Angeles.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another Lake Weekend

Last weekend, my husband and I (and our dog Haven) were able to spend another relaxing weekend at Lake Burton. Last time we were there it was summer and the lake was very active. This time, there was hardly anyone there, very few boats on the water, and it was very quiet. So relaxing!

We stopped at the market on the way and bought fresh vegetables and apples for the weekend. There was a pumpkin there called "Marina di Chioggia", a green pumpkin that said would be good for ravioli and gnocchi.

I did not buy it, just wasn't in the mood for investing the time to make either. But it seemed interesting.

There were about 10 varieties of apples. We bought about 5 different kinds and enjoyed them all weekend. I also used them to make apple tarts later in the week.

They also had cranberry beans, one of my favorites. These have a beautiful red and white outer shell, and when you cook them, they taste a lot like pinto beans, only like fresh pinto beans. I cooked them the way I've recently discovered, with a bunch of sage and lots of garlic. They were delicious!

We had a great time and it was nice to get away for a Fall weekend.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trying New Recipes

I've tried several new recipes this week and am happy with all of them.

First, there was a recipe in last month's Cooking Light for Peanut Butter Banana Bread. I had several bananas that needed to be used and this recipe sounded good. It was!

Next, I was looking through one of Patricia Wells' cookbooks and came across a recipe for white beans. It called for a whole bunch of sage, I happened to have fresh sage and a pack of dried navy beans, so I made it. I think this was my favorite from this week's cooking. I soaked the beans for a couple of hours, then simmered them for about 3 hours in chicken broth with 10 cloves of garlic, the sage and two bay leaves. The beans had a very homey taste. I had some pork in the freezer so I cooked that in the oven and we had the beans, pork and homemade cornbread. It was good!

Next, I was in the mood to try "poaching". I bought boneless/skinless chicken breasts and used aromatics I had on hand. I poached the chicken in water, white wine, sliced lemons, thyme, salt, pepper. When it was done, I sliced it and served over noodles with poached asparagus and a baguette. It was very good!

Yesterday, I made lemon tarts. I had a lot of lemons that needed to be used. I had bought ready-made tart shells (I know!) and used a recipe I found on epicurious. It has been really hot here the last couple of days and they were very refreshing.

Next, I'm going to go experiment with making an appetizer using puff pastry and a goat cheese/herb mixture. I'll take this to book club tonight.

Then, I'm done experimenting for the week. We're going to Lake Burton for the weekend and hopefully I'll be able to just "throw something on the grill" and be done with it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Paris Markets

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Paris was the street markets. I could have just curled up and stayed there all the time. One day, I'll go there and shop every day and cook a great meal every day from food just purchased at the markets in Paris. I wish I was there right now, planning a meal, shopping for the food, and coming back to my apartment there and preparing an awesome meal. Ahhhhhh...

I have a lot of pictures of food at the markets, but here are highlights. I went to a market street called Rue Mouffetard and another called Marche Montorgueil. Both were awesome with separate vendors for fish, bread, cheese, wine, meat, and on and on. It was heaven.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. I could just cry, it was such heaven. I was drooling. Did I say this made me very happy?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Le Cordon Bleu Paris

Last week, I had the great opportunity to cook for a day at
Le Cordon Bleu Paris! We prepared three chicken recipes, Poulet En Papillote A La Saugle Et Au Citron, Fricassee De Poulet A L'Estragon, and Poulet Facon Sate. All three were delicious.

When I arrived, I checked in and we had breakfast of croissants and coffee. We were then taken upstairs to our cooking room for the day....we cooked in the classroom dedicated to Julia Child!

Our chef, Marc Thivet, spoke in French the whole time but there was an interpretor. We started with the 1st dish, Chicken with sage and lemon en papillote. Then moved on to the Chicken fricassee with tarragon sauce. We started with a whole chicken, cut it into pieces and got busy. The chicken was labeled Loue, the region it came from. Fresh chicken, free-range, never sealed in plastic!

Once we had two dishes completed, we were treated to lunch.....what a spread! Terrines, pates, cheese galore, wine, bread....It was really good and a treat.

The third recipe we made was Satay style chicken. We were given all the food we had made to take home with us. We had also made a lovely potato dish and the chef had made a vinaigrette dressing to go with salad greens, also given to us to take with us. Since "home" was a hotel room, I had some of the food for dinner that night in the hotel cafe and shared with the young man working the desk. He said it tasted like his grandmother's cooking. I took that as a compliment. The rest I shared with the hotel staff working the next day.

If you want any of the recipes, just email me at dinnerathome@bellsouth.net

What a great day!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Back From Paris

I just spent ten awesome days in Paris. I had never been before, I went by myself, spent the whole time exploring Paris except for one day-trip to Claude Monet's home and gardens.

Soon I will share highlights and pictures, including cooking at
Le Cordon Bleu Paris, the many miles of walking, eating in bistros, awesome street markets. For now, I must prepare for a client cook day tomorrow, back to reality. Stay tuned!