Tuesday, May 29, 2018

DELICIOUS CARAMELIZED ONION, BACON AND SPINACH DIP!

Serve this dip at your next BBQ!
Serve with crackers, little toasts, or julienned veg.
I started with a Cooking Light recipe I found online and then changed it up by adding the spinach, reducing the amount of onions from 7 cups to 4 cups and adding some full fat.
You'll want to use a food chopper to 
reduce tears while chopping 4 cups of onion!
Ingredients:
4 cups chopped onions
4 cups chopped spinach
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil, divided 2 and 1
4 Tbsp. chopped chives
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup Greek style plain yogurt (That is one 6 oz. container.)
6 oz. gruyere cheese, divided 4 and 2
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Salt to taste
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and drop in onions. Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally to lightly brown. Cover and reduce heat to low and caramelize onions for 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally. When the onions cook down you will have about 1 1/2 cups total.
Remove the onions from the pan and add 1 more Tbsp. olive oil. Wilt the spinach in the same pan over medium-high heat; 1-2 minutes. In a large bowl mix the caramelized onion with all other ingredients.
I cook my bacon in the oven at 400 degrees
so it gets nicely crisped without getting
bacon fat all over your stove-top.
Transfer to a glass or ceramic shallow bowl coated lightly with cooking spray. Top with 2 more oz. gruyere. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until the dip is browned and bubbly.

And here's a refreshing summer cocktail to go with your Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Bacon Dip.
To make this Cucumber Martini:
Fill a rocks or any short glass with ice. Add Effen Cucumber Vodka. Roll a thin slice of cucumber to garnish. It's that easy!
Summer is right around the corner, which means we will
be heading to Ireland! Stay tuned for some Irish flavorites!
 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

COLD SOUP FOR HOT DAYS!

It has become summery here in the beautiful southwest. I love our hot days and a bowl of cold soup makes for a light and refreshing lunch. Here are two recipes I think you will enjoy. The first I made for my new friend, Wendy Hinckle. We had such a fun afternoon eating, talking, and getting to know each other.
Thank you Wendy for coming into my life!
 
CHILLED WATERCRESS SOUP
The herb oil is on the right of the bowl. Just add a few drops
of oil and gently drag a knife through it to make a little design.
Ingredients:
2 big bunches watercress, tough stems removed
2 Tbsp. butter
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
2 medium leeks, white part only, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic
1 quart chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt/white pepper to taste
Finely chopped chives for garnish
Herb oil for garnish, optional

Homemade chicken stock has a ton of collagen from the
chicken bones, which is why it becomes gelatinous when cold.
It's also why it's so good for you!
Preparation:
Lightly chop the watercress. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add sliced leek and cook, stirring frequently, until soft; about 5 minutes. Add grated potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.

Russet potatoes have lots of starch so are perfect to help thicken this soup.
Cook until veg is soft; about 15 minutes, and then add watercress. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes to wilt watercress and meld flavors.
Cool to room temp, then puree in batches. Whisk in the cream. Taste and season with salt and pepper. I like to use white pepper as it completely blends into the soup and has a little more bite than black pepper. Chill several hours or overnight. Serve cold garnished with finely chopped chives and herb oil. I also added a chive blossom just for fun!
I love to please people with food!

TO MAKE THE HERB OIL:
Into a small blender combine 1/2 cup watercress leaves, 2 large basil leaves, a sprig of fresh sage, thyme, oregano and a few chives. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and Kosher salt and a little more white pepper. Blend until very smooth. If it is too thick add a bit more oil.

With the soup we had tomato caprese with reduced balsamic
and Sesame French bread toasts melted with Gruyere cheese.
Wendy gave me these adorable rabbit measuring spoons! They are ceramic with a beautiful gold design. Just what every RABBITT cook needs!


The next soup is one of my all-time favorite cold soups...
CLASSIC VICHYSSOISE SOUP
(CHILLED LEEK AND POTATO SOUP)

This recipe is very close to Julia Child's original, but Julia uses water instead of chicken stock, which makes the color of the soup lighter.

I plucked this image from the internet
as I forgot to take any pictures of my soup!

Ingredients:
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced (Again, I used Russets.)
6 large leeks, thoroughly rinsed and sliced; white parts only
1 quart chicken stock
Salt/white pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
Sliced chives for garnish

Preparation:
In a heavy bottomed pot, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Saute the onions until translucent; about 2 minutes. Add the leeks and saute until soft; 4-5 minutes. Add the potatoes and saute with the onions and leeks for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Cool soup to room temperature and then blend thoroughly until soup is very creamy. If it is too thick add a little more stock or water. I like this soup very thick and it gets even thicker when it cools completely as the chicken stock thickens and the russet potatoes give the soup great substance. Add the heavy cream and turn the heat back to medium and gently cook another 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cool for a few hours in the fridge or overnight. Serve garnished with chives. I also topped with a sprinkle of Truffle zest. Thanks Debby Vis for this wonderful spice. I love truffles and this tastes very authentic. Really delicious!
This fancy French soup is very easy to make!
Here's another shot nabbed from the internet,
but this is exactly as my soup looked...very thick and creamy!

ALL FOR TODAY.
THANKS FOR JOINING ME
FOR ANOTHER EPISODE OF:






Saturday, May 12, 2018

CHICKEN MADEIRA!

Rich and creamy brown Madeira Sauce makes this dish very special. Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made in Portugal's Madeira Islands--Sweet, nutty, with lovely deep flavors and undertones of dried figs.
CHICKEN MADEIRA
I found this recipe on another food blog (Natasha's Kitchen) who said she copied the recipe from The Cheesecake Factory, and it looks like many fellow food bloggers have done the same as the recipe appears on many different sites. I am probably the only person in this country who has never been to a Cheesecake Factory, but if they serve food like this I may have to try it. Natasha did say her home-made version was better...as making anything at home almost always is! I made a few tweaks in the recipe myself.
I used Paul Masson Madeira wine.
Very inexpensive and delicious flavor.


Ingredients:
1 lb. Boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise and pounded to an even 1/4" thickness
1 lb. asparagus, blanched
3/4 tsp. salt, divided; more for blanching
Black pepper to taste
3+ Tbsp. Butter, divided
2+ Tbsp. Olive Oil
16 oz. button mushrooms (I used baby portabellas.) thickly sliced
1 small yellow onion (I used one large shallot.) finely diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley finely chopped, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups Madeira wine (I used 2 generous cups.)
1 1/2 cups low sodium Beef Stock/Broth (I used 2 cups of my homemade very rich beef broth.)
1/2 cup whipping cream (I used Mexican Crema, which is very similar to heavy cream.)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preparation:
To blanch asparagus: Remove ends of stems from asparagus bottoms, which can be tough and fibrous. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Fill a medium pot with 6 cups water, bring to a boil and add 1 Tbsp. salt. Add asparagus and boil uncovered until crisp tender and bright green; no more than 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from hot water and drop into ice bath to stop the cooking.

Place a heavy oven-safe pan over medium-high heat and melt 2 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. oil. Add sliced mushrooms and cook 5 minutes until soft. Stir in diced onion (or shallot) and cook another 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic, then season with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and 2 Tbsp. parsley. Cook another couple of minutes, then remove mixture to a plate.

Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise and pound each cutlet between plastic wrap until each piece is 1/4" thick. Cut breast into serving size portions. Dry on paper towels and liberally salt and pepper both sides.
Place the same pan you sauted the mushrooms in over medium-high heat and add 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil. When foaming butter subsides add chicken breasts and saute 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden and cooked through. You may have to do this in 2 batches as you don't want to overcrowd the pan. Add more butter/olive oil if needed. Remove the chicken from the pan to same plate with mushrooms. This allows all those wonderful chicken juices to blend into the mushroom mixture!
In the same pan, add 1 1/2 cups Madeira (I added half the bottle, which is about 2 cups.) and boil until reduced by half; at least 5 minutes of vigorous boiling.
Scrape bottom of pan to deglaze as wine is cooking. Add 1 1/2 (I used 2 cups.) cups beef broth and boil until 1 cup liquid remains; about another 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add 1/2 cup cream and simmer until sauce thickens; about 2-4 additional minutes. Season with salt/pepper.

My husband, Jerry is helping by stirring the sauce as it thickens.
Once your sauce is to desired thickness, return chicken to the pan and coat both sides with this yummy sauce. Top with mushrooms, asparagus and sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Broil 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Once the cheese is browned you can turn off the broiler and leave in the oven for a few more minutes while you begin plating. Remove from the oven and garnish generously with freshly chopped parsley.
My good friend Myrna will help plate this sumptuous repast!
All plated...just waiting for parsley garnish!

Myrna's husband, Dick and my Jerry getting ready to dig in!
Try this recipe. It does involve a few steps, but most of the dish can be prepared in advance, which makes it perfect for a dinner party. I served with creamy mashed potatoes and chunky French bread for dipping into that luscious sauce!

THANKS AGAIN FOR TUNING IN
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Sunday, April 29, 2018

OLD BANANAS!

When your bananas get this ripe, you may think...banana bread or banana muffins. I found a recipe online for Banana Cake, which was really delicious.
You will need 3 bananas for this recipe. My third
was added to morning 'smoothie' before
I had a chance to take its picture!
 
BANANA CAKE
I served the Banana Cake with French
Vanilla ice cream and shaved chocolate.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. butter for greasing pan
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups white flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 Tbsp. Half and Half (or milk)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally grease a 9x13 inch pan with 1 Tbsp. of butter. Peel and mash bananas and set aside. In a large bowl add vegetable oil and slowly add sugar beating after each addition on low with a hand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat until slightly fluffy. Set aside. Combine all dry ingredients, including chocolate chips and nuts if you are using, in one bowl stirring until well combined. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mix. Continue beating. Next, add the 2 Tbsp. of cream or milk. Pour mixture into greased 9x13 inch pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. I think this cake would also be excellent topped with a cream cheese frosting mixed with 1 cup of coconut.
I froze half of this cake and my husband likes to eat it frozen directly from the freezer. He says it tastes like a banana brownie!

ALL FOR TODAY...UNTIL NEXT TIME
KEEP ON LOVING GENEROUSLY AND ENJOYING EACH AND EVERY MOMENT TO THE FULLEST!

When I'm not in the kitchen I LOVE to play golf.
Here we are last Sunday with good friends Diana and Dennis Makes.
Always an exciting adventure with those two fun-loving people! 
 
 
 





Saturday, April 21, 2018

SOME LIKE IT HOT!...

AND some like it cold. One of the many things I like about spring is one day hot; one day chilly. Here are two soups to fit both days. First, a cold Ginger-Infused Sweet Potato Coconut soup. I make a lot of soups using coconut milk rather than cream. The coconut flavor is subtle and adds just as much creaminess as heavy cream.

GINGER-INFUSED SWEET POTATO
COCONUT SOUP
WITH BOURBON CREAM AND MAPLE PECANS
Ingredients:
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 shallot, diced
2" knob fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
4 cups rich chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
Sprig of fresh sage
Salt/Pepper to taste
Notice the chicken stock has turned to gelatin...
that means lots of goodies and lots of flavor!
Preparation:
Add potatoes, shallot, ginger root and fresh sage to a large soup pot. Cover with 4 cups rich chicken broth. Add salt/pepper. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer 45-50 minutes until potatoes are very tender.
Remove sage. Let cool slightly and stir in coconut milk. Blend until soup is very smooth and silky. Add either more water or broth until you have a good consistency. I wanted this soup to be thick so didn't add any additional liquid to the soup. Chill and serve with Bourbon Cream and Maple candied pecans. You can also serve this soup hot, but I think it is more interesting as a cold soup.

TO MAKE BOURBON CREAM:
Add 1 Tbsp. bourbon to 1/3 cup heavy cream. I used Mexican Crema, which is a little lighter than heavy cream with a delicious flavor. Season with a dash of salt and white pepper.
TO MAKE MAPLE CANDIED PECANS:
Heat 1 Tbsp. butter in a small skillet until bubbling. Add 3/4 cup chopped pecans and 1 Tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup. Stir until nuts are coated.
My friend Diana Makes ready to dig in to soup and salad!
I served the soup with Baby Arugula Salad. To the arugula I added Blue Cheese, sliced Baby Beets and more of the Maple Candied pecans. I dressed the salad with a (store-bought) ginger dressing.

On those spring days when it feels more like February here is a soup to warm your soul. It is hearty, rustic and has a wonderful old world feel. I got this recipe from my friend Debby Vis. As with all soups take lots of liberties to put  your 'stamp' on it! I think it would be delicious with rabbit instead of chicken and will try that next time.

ITALIAN STEW 
 

Ingredients:
1 lb. hot Italian Sausage, cut into 1" chunks
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Chicken legs and thighs (I used 4 of each.)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups rich chicken broth
1 bottle white wine (Deb used 2 bottles and it was delicious!)
12 small red potatoes left whole
4 carrots, roughly chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, chopped (I used baby portabellas.)
2 zucchini, sliced
Broccoli, crowns removed, stems chopped
1 cups parsley divided; 1/2 to cook down and 1/2 fresh  to garnish
1 can cannellini or other bean, rinsed and drained
Salt/Pepper
Hot Pepper flakes
 

Preparation:
In a large skillet brown the sausage in 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Remove from pan. Liberally salt and pepper chicken. Brown chicken pieces in same pan. Add meat and all veg except broccoli crowns to a large soup pot. Cover with 4 cups chicken stock and 1 bottle of vino. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add cannellini beans, broccoli crowns and taste for seasoning. Cook another 15 minutes. Serve with the last 1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley and parmesan cheese.

You may also add greens, such as spinach, escarole, kale and any type of bean.

That's all for today...I only have 2 more radiation treatments and then will be CANCER FREE! My hair is slowly growing back and I am looking forward to life returning to normal!
Even the cook gets to enjoy a martini on a Friday night!
 
TUNE IN AGAIN SOON FOR
ANOTHER EPISODE OF:
 


Friday, March 30, 2018

CLASSIC BEEF WELLINGTON!

I posted a Beef Wellington recipe a few years ago, (http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=beef+wellington) but in that recipe took a few shortcuts. This is the "real-deal" and I think one that Gordon Ramsey would approve of. You may think judging by the last few posts that all I cook is beef. Not true, but I try to post the more interesting recipes and lately those seem to involve beef.

CLASSIC BEEF WELLINGTON
This recipe does involve quite a few steps, but is not difficult and completely worth it!

Ingredients:
1 lb. beef tenderloin fillet
Salt/Pepper
Olive Oil for searing-about 2 Tbsp.
1 lb. mushrooms (I used baby portabellas and white buttons mixed.)
1 clove garlic, minced (for the duxelles)
2 Tbsp. shallots, minced (for the duxelles)
4 thin slices of Proscuitto
2 Tbsp. mustard (I used my favorite: Maille Dijon*.)
7 oz. puff pastry (I used frozen. Defrost completely before using.)
2 egg yolks, beaten

*The Maille brand originated in Marseilles, France in 1723. It was sold to the multi-national consumer goods company, Unilever in 2000, but I still love the mustard. Wish I could've tried it before it was sold and now mass produced.

Preparation:
Season fillets liberally with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet until it is nearly smoking. Sear fillets on all sides until just browned.

Remove the fillet from the pan. Let cool and then brush all sides with the mustard.
TO PREPARE THE DUXELLES: Chop the mushrooms, add minced garlic and shallots and put them in a blender. I used my mini-max, which is a great chopper. Puree until the mixture becomes a paste. Add a dash of salt.

Heat a frying pan on medium high and add the mushroom mixture. Stir the mixture allowing the moisture to be released from the mushrooms.
This is what it looks like when it first goes in the pan.
 
And this is how the consistency changes once moisture begins to release.
When the moisture has been released from the mushrooms remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap. Place the prosciutto on the plastic wrap so the pieces overlap. Spread the mushroom duxelles on the prosciutto.

Place the beef in the middle, roll the prosciutto around the beef using the plastic wrap to create a tight barrel. Start by folding the 2 ends around the beef and then roll the longer pieces up and around. The plastic allows you to tighten your roll.
Even though this has been a few steps up to this point, now you can let this beef chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes or for up to a few hours so this nearly qualifies as a "do-ahead" meal preparation.

When you're ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface roll out puff pastry to a size that will fit around each beef fillet. I erred on the side of way too much pastry as I didn't want to be short. Better to cut it to fit than not have enough pastry. Generously brush the pastry with the beaten egg yolks.

Unwrap the beef fillet and place in the middle of the puff pastry. Fold the pastry around the fillet trying to minimize overlapping pastry as that will not cook through. The pastry is quite forgiving and you can almost stretch it to make a completely sealed roll without much overlap. Cut away any excess pastry and avoid making pastry any more than 2 layers thick.

Place the pastry wrapped fillet on a baking sheet and cover with more egg yolk. Gently score the top of each fillet being careful not to go all the way through the pastry. Sprinkle the tops with course sea salt.

Now we're finally ready to bake. Place in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Pastry should be golden brown and if using a meat thermometer it should read 125-130. I took mine out at 125 as both my husband and I like our beef on the rare side. Plus it does continue cooking even after removing from the oven.
Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. I prefer to serve in 2 large pieces, but you can also  cut into 1inch thick slices.

All for today. This is Easter weekend and I want to wish each of you a happy, blessed and beautiful holiday. No cooking for me this year. I will be the happy guest of my good friends Francine and Jim Manspeaker.
I am simply bringing the rolls!
 
HAPPY EASTER!
 
MUCH LOVE!
 
Tune in again soon for another episode of:




Easter 2014 Jer and me preparing grilled coconut shrimp.