Monday, April 26, 2010

Asparagus-Parmesan Souffle

155. I am very sentimental about certain cookbooks. They remind me of special times and special meals in my life. When I was newly married, my honey and I discovered a wonderful cookbook called The Silver Palate Cookbook written by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. It was delightfully "gourmet". From the hand drawn sketches to the exotic ingredients. Back then I could only dream of what these flavors tasted like.

We read this cookbook, cover to cover and both came to love the recipe for "Asparagus-Parmesan Souffle". We bought a souffle baking dish and began to collect the ingredients. And crazy us...we made this as a side dish for company without ever testing the recipe. It turned out beautifully, not a surprise. As we found every recipe from this wonderful cookbook to be a treasure!

Have you tackled a souffle'? They are not as hard as you think. I decided this year on Easter we would make this wonderful recipe and my honey, daughter and I worked together. There are many steps and it is smart to have everything ready to go when you need it.

Here is a link to the actual recipe on line: Asparagus-Parmesan Souffle

"You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook's year. I get more excited by that than anything else."
~ Mario Batali

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Coleslaw For Barbecue

154. With summer right around the corner it's time to start pulling out your summer salad recipes and accompaniments to your grill.

This recipe for coleslaw is one of my favorite salads. I usually make this around Easter time and all through the summer. One benefit of living in New York are the diners and Jewish Deli's. As soon as you sit down, a bowl of coleslaw and pickles are placed in front of you. You could make a meal just eating these. Coleslaw is so delicious!

My recipe is from the Joy of Cooking Cookbook. This cookbook is a must in every kitchen.
The caption under the title of this recipe reads, "The tangy dressing in this slaw goes well with meat broiled or barbecued outdoors..." You are going to love this.
Coleslaw For Barbecue
Joy of Cooking Cookbook, page 97
1 cup Mayonnaise
4 chopped scallions
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Add this mixture to:
3 cups shredded cabbage
3 cups salad greens
1 thinly sliced carrot
1/2 green pepper, cut into strips
Toss salad lightly and serve.
So good! I like to use a variety of veggies. Sometimes, I replace scallions for red onion chopped fine. Or, I like to use half green cabbage and half red cabbage. Other possibilities are celery seed, dill weed or parsley to change the flavor.
And rather than slicing carrots I like to shred them.

“To remember a successful salad is generally to remember a successful dinner;
at all events, the perfect dinner necessarily includes the perfect salad.”
George Ellwanger 1848-1906

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Shrimp Mojo de Ajo

153. This recipe is fantastic!!!! As an appetizer or main dish it is a winner.
The online recipe is to the left of this post.

Prep: 20 min., Stand/Soak: 30 min., Grill: 4 min.
Yield: Makes 8 servings
24 unpeeled, large raw shrimp
1/2 cup
Mojo de Ajo
24 (6-inch) wooden skewers
Garnishes: lime wedges, fresh cilantro sprigs, coarse sea salt

Peel shrimp, leaving tails on; devein, if desired. Combine shrimp and Mojo de Ajo, tossing to coat. Let stand 30 minutes.

Mojo de Ajo

Prep: 10 min., Cook: 5 min., Cool: 5 min., Stand: 5 min. Guajillo [gwah-HEE-yoh] chiles are dried peppers with a bright tangy taste and kick of heat. Find them at grocery stores and supercenters alongside other Hispanic ingredients. Cook the chiles in hot oil for just seconds to mellow out the flavor and for easy crumbling. Don't let the 3/4 cup minced garlic scare you away. The flavor smooths out as it cooks.

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups

3/4 cup olive oil
3 whole guajillo chiles*
3/4 cup bottled minced garlic
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1. Heat oil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat to 350°. Using tongs, submerge 1 chile into oil, and cook 5 seconds; remove and drain on paper towels. Let cool 5 minutes or until completely cool. Repeat with remaining 2 chiles. Remove and discard stems. Process remaining portion of chiles in food processor 30 seconds to 1 minute or until crumbled into small flakes.

Cook garlic in hot oil in same saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes or until golden. Let stand 5 minutes.

*2. Tbsp. sweet paprika may be substituted. Omit Step 1; proceed with recipe as directed, stirring in paprika with lime juice and salt in Step 3.

Stir in chile flakes, lime juice, and salt. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 5 days. Allow mixture to come to room temperature before using.

2. Meanwhile, soak wooden skewers in water 30 minutes.

3. Remove shrimp from Mojo de Ajo, discarding marinade. Thread 1 shrimp onto each skewer.

4. Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Garnish, if desired.

"Seafood on the grill can be intimidating if you don't know what you are doing.
It's really quite easy!"
~ Kevin Steele

Monday, April 5, 2010

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

152. Ahhhh...peanut butter!!! If you live anywhere near the Amish, you know their specialties are wonderful baked goods including Peanut Butter Cream Pie. I haven't been in Amish Country in a while and I was craving this pie. So for Easter, Peanut Butter Cream Pie was part of our dessert menu.
Cream pies are very simple to construct...just a matter of a pie crust, pudding filling and whipped cream. You just need a variety of variations such as bananas, coconut, chocolate, peppermint, or lemon, to name a few.

My daughter made her fabulous pie crust, recipe here, and because I used just one crust it was necessary to weigh down the crust. I use beans which work perfectly. Although pouring them out of the bag was easier than putting them back in the bag. Let's just say, it was necessary for me to use a vacuum to pick up half of the beans. Yes, while pouring them back into the slipped and poured all over the floor...the dog got scared and ran for his life. Baking is always an adventure!

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

1 pie crust, prepare and bake in a deep pie dish, set aside and cool
1 recipe vanilla pudding, cooked box mix or homemade
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup powder sugar, extra if needed
4 cups whipped cream sweetened with powder sugar and vanilla extract, or cool whip

Bake pie crust in a deep pie dish and set aside to cool.
In a mixer place peanut butter and powder sugar. Using the whisk attachment, blend together to create a crumbly mixture. If the mixture is not crumbly, add more powder sugar till it is crumbly.
Sprinkle half of the crumbly mixture on the bottom and mound up the sides of the pie crust.
Prepare the pudding mix or make a homemade pudding. As soon as the pudding begins to boil, remove from the heat and pour gently over the peanut butter crumbs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 5 hours or over night.
Whip your heavy cream or open the cool whip containers. Spread the whipped cream over the chilled pudding layer,
mounding the cream higher in the center.
With the remaining peanut butter crumbs, sprinkle them over the top of the pie for garnish.
Then, make a pot of coffee or espresso, slice the pie and enjoy the decadent wonderfulness of peanut butter, sweet cream and the salty crust of the just have to taste this! You'll understand after your first bite.

"Man can not live by bread alone;
he must have peanut butter."
~ James A. Garfield

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Babka, Polish Easter Bread

151. Easter baking is a family tradition and one I most enjoy! This year I decided to make "Babka" which is a European bread enjoyed by many. A Babka recipe is as various as there are bakers. And every family has "The Best" Babka recipe. I found this recipe on Poland: Memories of a Polish Easter
It was wonderful reading and learning about Polish customs kept by other families.
I used my bread machine to mix the dough and it turned out beautifully. The key with using a bread machine is that you add all the liquid to the bottom of the bread pan and the salt. Then you add all the flour and other dry ingredients ending with the yeast. The dough is extravagantly wonderful to work with. And the flavor was outstanding.

Easter Babka

1-1/4 cups lukewarm milk
2 packages active dry yeast
6 tablespoons sugar
6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 egg yolks (I substituted 5 eggs)
3/4 lb plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white seedless raisins
2 tablespoons finely grated orange peel
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

(I added Rum extract)

White Icing
2 cups confecioner's sugar
1/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Pour the lukewarm milk into a small bowl and sprinkle it with the yeast and add 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar. Let the mixture stand for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir to dissolve the yeast completely. Set the bowl in a warm draft free place for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture doubles in size.

Place the 6 cups of flour and the remaining sugar and the salt in a deep mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture into the center and the egg yolks, and with a large spoon, gradually stir in the flour into the liquid ingredients. Continue to stir until well mixed, and then beat in 3/4 lbs of butter a few tablespoonfuls at a time. The dough should be firm enough to to be gathered into a medium soft ball. If you have to, stir in about 1/2 cups more of flour, but add it by the tablespoons.

Transfer the dough to a electric mixer equipped with a kneading hook and knead for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is very smooth, or knead the dough by hand for about 40 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly buttered bowl and dust the top with flour. Drape a towel over the bowl and set it aside in a draft free place for about 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size. With a pastry brush, spread the 2 tablespoons of softened butter over the bottom and the sides of a 12 inch tube pan or a turban mold. Sprinkle the butter with the remianing 1/4 cup of flour and tip the pan form side to side to spead it evenly. Remove the excess flour from the pan.

Punch the dough down and then knead the raisins, orange peel and lemon peel. Pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the buttered and floured mold, drape with a towel, and set aside for another hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Almost to the top of the mold.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake the cake in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Turn the cake out onto a cake rack and let it cool.

In a small bowl, combine the confectioners sugar, water and lemon juice, and beat with a spoon until it is smooth. Pour the icing slowly over the top of the warm cake. Allow it to run down the sides.

Let the Babka cool at room temperature before serving.

"Business underlies everything in our national life, including our spiritual life. Witness the fact that in the Lord's Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach."
~ Woodrow Wilson


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