One woman's foray into cooking for herself, for her family, and for her friends. It's not always picture-perfect, sometimes a little messy,
but it's always delicious. Join me in exploring new recipes, savoring the "résultats" and learning from the "erreurs".


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tablescape Thursday... in Black & White

I went for another streamlined look for TT this week. I love a black & white palate and found white tulips (my ultimate blossom of choice) to complement the tablescape:


You can see the new little doggie door my son-in-law installed for me when he and my daughter and grand-munchkin were visiting from New York a couple of weeks ago. I love it and the pups are finally getting the hang of using it. Yay!




The flatware pattern is Arctic - I purchased it on sale from Pottery Barn a year or so ago. I love the look and heft of it.



The napkin rings were purchased on eBay. Don't you love that site?!



I don't recall the make of the table linens, but I do remember purchasing them from Bed Bath & Beyond a few years ago. My son gave me the wine glasses several years ago. I love them, too. I think the long stems give them a real look of elegance!


And the tulips. *sigh* They just make me happy. I purchased them from Target for $20 for the whole bunch. Color me happy!!


Thanks so much to Susan of Between Naps on the Porch for hosting Tablescape Thursdays. Check out her blog to take a peek at everyone else's incredible TT creations!






Tuesday, April 28, 2009

French Bread

Does anything beat fresh bread?? The feel of the dough in my hands, magically expanding in just a couple of hours, then transformed into the perfect loaf... golden brown and crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. And that aroma... There is nothing so comforting as the smell of baking bread wafting through the house. It evokes wonderful childhood memories of busy days in the kitchen on cold, wintery snow days. Warm bread slathered with soft butter or sopping up spaghetti sauce... Does anything beat fresh bread??

French Bread

3-1/2 cups bread flour
1 packet yeast (2-1/2 teaspoons)
2-1/4 teaspoons salt
1-1/3 cups cold water, plus additional 1/3 cup cold water

Place the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of the food process. Pulse to mix. Add 1-1/3 cups of water and process until the dough comes together. If the dough doesn't form a ball, add a little of the extra water. Process for about 60 seconds, turn off machine and let dough rest for 5 minutes.

Turn on the machine again and rotate the dough about 30 times under the cover, and then remove it to a lightly floured work surface. it should be fairly smooth and quite firm.

Let the dough rest for 2 minutes and then knead roughly and vigourously. The final dough should not stick to your hands as you knead (although it will stick if you pinch and hold a piece); it should be smooth and elastic and, when you hold it up between your hands and stretch it down, it should hold together smoothly.

Preliminary rise - 40 to 60 minutes at around 75°F. Place the dough into a clean dry bowl, (do not grease the bowl), cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place free from drafts. (Note the French do not grease the bowl because they believe the dough needs a seat to push up from.) This first rise is sufficient when the dough has definitely started to rise and is about 1-1/2 times its original volume.

Deflating:

Turn the dough onto your lightly floured work surface roughly and firmly pat and push it out into a 14-inch rectangle. Fold one of the long sides over toward the middle, and the other long side over to cover it, making a 3 layer cushion. Repeat the operation. This important step redistributes the yeast throughout the dough, for a strong second rise. Return the dough smooth side up the bowl; cover with plastic wrap and again set to rise.

Final rise in the bowl - about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or longer. The bread should be 2-1/2 to 3 times its original bulk. It is the amount of rise that is important here, not the timing.

To shape:
Cut the dough in half. Set one piece aside and cover with a towel. On a lightly floured work surface pat the dough into a 14-inch rectangle, squaring it up as evenly as you can. Fold the rectangle of dough in half lengthwise and using the heel of your hand, firmly press the edges together where they meet. Seal well. Pound the dough flat. Now repeat - patting the dough out again and folding it over and sealing the edges. Pinch the edges well and Rotate the dough so that the sealed edge in on the bottom. Repeat with second piece of dough.

Cover with plastic wrap or loosely with a towel and let rise to more than double again at about 75°f.

Place baking stone in oven and preheat oven to 500 F. Slash three long cuts into the loaves and place on the hot stone. Immediately toss a number of ice cubes on to the bottom on the oven to create steam. Bake until bread is golden and has an interior temp of 200°F. Takes about 20 - 30 minutes.


Source: Ann (Thibeault's Table)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Shortbread

I'm not a big fan of crisp shortbread. But I love this shortbread. No crunch factor but totally rich and buttery. I've had this recipe for over 30 years - a few of my friends and I started making it a long, long time ago. I have no idea who found the recipe first, but we all fell in love with it. Simple and 'luscious'. Now how many times have you ever heard shortbread described as 'luscious'?? Perfect with coffee or a cup of tea. Perfect. I promise!

Shortbread

1 pound of butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sugar
5 - 6 cups of unbleached flour

Cream the butter with the extracts. Gradually add the sugar and the flour. When the climate is dry, I generally only need 5 cups of flour. It was raining most of the day today and it took all 6 cups of flour to come together.

Pat/roll the dough out to a rectangle on an ungreased cookies sheet, 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick. Prick the top of the dough with a fork. Bake at 350 F for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the edges barely turn golden. Slice the dough while still warm, but leave on the cookie sheet until thoroughly cooled.

Berries with Mascarpone and Meringue

I love the fruits of summer. It's a little early for the fruit crops to be in full swing just yet, but I picked up some nice strawberries and blackberries at the store, along with some kiwis at a really great price. This recipe calls for mascarpone 'lightened' up with a little whipped cream ('lightened' being a relative term here!) and flavored with a little cinnamon, dolloped over the fruit, then topped with crushed meringue cookies. The mascarpone mixture is great over most any fruit. Really delicious!

Berries with Mascarpone and Meringue

1 (10-ounce) container fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1-1/4 cups fresh raspberries
1-1/4 cups fresh blackberries
2/3 cup fresh blueberries
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup whipping cream
pinch ground cinnamon
4 meringue cookies, coarsely crumbled

Toss the berries, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Let stand until juices form, tossing occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl to loosen. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, and pinch of cinnamon in another large bowl to soft peaks. Fold 1/4 of the cream into the mascarpone cheese to lighten. Fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Using a slotted spoon, divide the berries among plates. Spoon the mascarpone cheese atop the berries. Sprinkle the meringue cookies over top. Drizzle the berry juices around the dessert and serve immediately.


Source: Giada De Laurentiis

Shrimp Tapas

This has got to be one of my all-time favorite quick meals! It's another one of Ann's (Thibeault's Table) recipes... what can I say? The girl's got a ton of great recipes! ;-) It's easy and unbelievably delicious. And takes no time at all. Make sure you have chunks of good bread to sop up the broth. Pour yourself a glass of white wine and you'll have heaven at your fingertips!

Spanish Tapa - Garlic Shrimp

6 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt
2 tablespoons minced parsley
Italian or French Bread cut into cubes

Heat the oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large, shallow pan. When the garlic just begins to turn golden, add the shrimp and cook over high heat for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the broth and lemon juice.

Pour into a large earthenware bowl and sprinkle with salt and parsley. Serve immediately.

Goes great with a nice dry white wine, dry sherry, or Martini


Source: Ann (Thibeault's Table)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beef Tacos

The other night, I was in the mood for something simple. Fortunately, I had taken some ground chuck out of the freezer. I didn't want a burger or meatloaf... but tacos sounded good! I had all the fixin's in the fridge: lettuce, cheese (I used pepper jack this time), tomatoes, black olives, salsa, sour cream, tomatoes, and tortillas. Perfect! I browned the meat in a skillet and seasoned the meat with a little chili powder, grated onion, minced garlic, oregano, salt & pepper. I also added a little water and let the meat simmer in the spices for several minutes. I fried up some corn tortillas in a little hot oil, about 20 seconds on each side, and blotted them on paper toweling before filling. Not something I have every week, but they sure hit the spot that night!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lemon Coolers


Remember Sunshine Lemon Coolers? I used to love those cookies! Tiny little melt-in-your-mouth lemony cookies covered in lemony powdered sugar. Pure summertime! Keebler bought out Sunshine and no longer makes these little gems, but I happened to come across this "copycat" recipe on the 'net one day. I finally made the cookies this week, and they're wonderful! I made a few changes to the recipe, with notes to make a couple of additional changes the next time I make them... and I will definitely make these again!

Lemon Coolers
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening (I used butter)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon water (next time, I will use fresh lemon juice instead of water)
(I also added 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to the dough)
Lemon Powdered Sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
rounded 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened Kool-Aid lemonade drink mix (next time, I will try 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together sugars, butter, egg, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Add the flour, baking powder and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Add 1 tablespoon of water (or lemon juice) and continue mixing until dough forms a ball.

Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls and flatten slightly onto a lightly greased cookie sheet (I used parchment-lined baking sheets). Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until cookies are light brown.

As cookies bake, combine 1 cup powdered sugar with the lemonade drink mix (or 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, or both) in a large plastic bag and shake thoroughly to mix. When the cookies are removed from the oven and while they are hot, add 4 or 5at a time to the bag and shake it until the cookies are well coated. Repeat with the remaining cookies.


Makes 50 to 56 cookies (I got 4 dozen out of this recipe)








Roasted Pepper Salad

This is an adaptation of a dish I saw Giada deLaurentiis make on her show one day. I think she adds chopped kalamata olives, but I love lots of capers and toasted pine nuts in my version. It's wonderful to use bell peppers of different colors - I used red and yellow here. (I wouldn't use green bell pepper - I don't think it would be sweet enough.) You can roast them on a baking pan in a hot oven, turning them occasionally with a pair of tongs to make sure they get blackened on all sides. Or cook them all on a grill. I have a gas stove and often roast them right on the burners. Whichever option you choose, roast about 5 or 6 peppers. Once blackened, put them in a paper bag, close, and set aside to cool. Once cool, peel and seed the peppers, and thinly slice. Add 1 - 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 -2 tablespoons chopped basil, 2 - 3 tablespoons of capers, 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, salt & pepper, all to taste. Add about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and stir. Serve over crostini.

I had made homemade Italian bread and sliced the loaf thinly on an angle. Drizzle sliced bread with olive oil and toast under the broiler. Yum!

Eggs Benedict

I'm still having computer issues, but I have pockets of "onlineage". I can finally start catching up on some of my meals of the last week. One particular morning, I woke up to a beautiful morning. I wanted something 'sunny' and not heavy. So I lightened up Eggs Benedict by layering a beautiful beefsteak tomato instead of ham beneath the poached eggs. I make a blender Hollandaise that's easy and delicious. It was a great start to my day!

Hollandaise Sauce

3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup butter

Add egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and hot pepper sauce to blender. Blend about 5 seconds.

In small saucepan melt butter until very hot and bubblying (or melt in microwave, microwaving until very hot and bubbly). With blender (containing egg yolk mixture) running, pour in bubbling butter in steady stream. Partially shield with lid to prevent butter spattering. Blend until thickened, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately.


Source: Cooking with a Food Processor (General Electric Company), copyright 1978

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What's Happening

I've been having computer issues for the past week or so but had an opportunity to get online for a few minutes. My computer issues should be fixed within the next day or so - I have much to share with you! Thanks for all of your wonderful comments!! They are greatly appreciated! I'll be back online soon... See you then!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala

One of my favorite restaurants in town is India Palace. I love their samosas, their naan, their lassis. The one dish I almost always get is their Chicken Tikka Masala. It's delicious. But I've been on the lookout for a recipe to make this dish at home. I found one that I thought would be good and decided to give it a try today. I marinated the chicken this afternoon. In the meantime, Ann (Thibeault's Table) sent me her recipe for chapati. Let me tell you... to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how good the meal turned out would be an understatement! I like this even better than India Palace's dish!! It has a little bit of a bite to it, just enough to make the dish a little more interesting. And the chapati was actually fun to make. In an effort to save my knees (ha!), I moved a counter stool into the kitchen between the island and the stove and was able to cook in comfort. I have plenty of leftovers (one of the few things I really like leftover), and I also have another recipe good enough for company. Ask me how happy I am!!

Chicken Tikka Masala

1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 cup plain white yogurt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger root, grated
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons paprika
10 cardamom pods, cracked lightly
2 tablespoons honey
1.5 teaspoons salt
20 grinds fresh black pepper
3 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 (6-ounces) can tomato paste
1 cup heavy cream

For the rice:
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
8-10 whole cardamom pods
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter

Cut the raw chicken into cubes. In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, paprika, cardamom, honey, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken and mix thoroughly. Cover and let marinate for 1 hour or up to overnight.

Make the rice: In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, water, salt, and cardamom and bring to a boil. Add the rice, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let simmer for 16-20 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is fluffy.

In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until transluscent. Stir in the curry powder and tomato paste and mix well. Add the cream to the mixture and stir until smooth and the color is uniform. Slide in the chicken and all of the marinade, stir well, and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the mixture has thickened. Serve over the rice.


Source: Dave Lieberman

**********

Chapati

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
salt
1 cup warm water
extra flour for dusting rolling surface

Note: Recipe can be adjusted. Just keep the ratio of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour at 2 : 1. (ie. 1 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup all purpose.)
.
Place flour in food processor and add salt. Mix well. Slowly add warm water and process until flour forms a soft dough. Knead in the machine for 50 to 60 seconds. Wrap in plastic and let the
dough rest for at least 30 minutes.

Knead dough again and divide into equal size balls , approximately 20 to 24 depending on size.
Dust with flour and cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying out. Roll each ball into a thin 7- to 8-inch circle.

Heat heavy frying pan and place chapati on pan and bake until small brown spots appear. Flip over, being careful not to puncture. Cook on flip side and then remove and place directly on to the gas flame. Bread will puff up. If you don't have a gas burner then skip this process. Butter chapatis, roll and wrap in a clean tea towel and place in low oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining breads.

Servings: 8

Source: Ann Thibeault (Thibeault's Table)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Shrimp & Avocado Salad

Today was Round 2 of my viscosupplementation injections in both knees. I spent the afternoon on Aleve, with my feet up, and ice packs on my knees. They're still achy (and sore at the injection sites), so I wanted something good but easy to make for dinner. One of my favorite salads comes from Ann at Thibeault's Table, ironic because Ann is not much on salads!! But this salad is a winner in anyone's book. Pretty salad greens, layered with shrimp and avocado, topped with a mayonnaise dressing. Delicious. Thank you, Ann!!

Chilled Shrimp Appetizer

24 large prawns/shrimp
2 avocados, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped chives
6 leaves of Boston or butter lettuce

Dressing
1 cup of mayonnaise (homemade or Hellman’s)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small fresh red chili, finely chopped (Ann's note: "Sometimes I use just hot red pepper flakes and sometimes I roast a fresh red pepper, finely chop and add to the dressing along with the hot red pepper flakes")
1 clove of minced garlic

Peel and devein shrimp, leaving on tail shell. Cook. Cool and refrigerate.

Make Dressing by mixing all of the ingredients together.

To serve, place one leaf of lettuce on each plate. Place the shrimp on plate and place one slice of avocado between each shrimp. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with chopped chives.

My notes: I put a little salt over the garlic and make a paste of it before adding to the dressing. I usually use the red pepper flakes. I also add a pinch of saffron, mix well, and let the dressing sit for at least an hour before using.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Shrimp & Snap Pea Salad with Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette

As the weather starts to warm up, I'm starting to look for recipes more suitable for those evenings when the last thing on my mind is anything that will "stick to my ribs" or "warm me through and through." One of my favorites is this main course salad containing some of my favorite flavors. The shrimp, the fruit, the lightness of the vinaigrette... it speaks of warm evenings and fireflies. Well, maybe it's a little early in the season for that, but I'm always in the mood for this dish!

Shrimp & Snap Pea Salad with Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as a main course

1-1/2 pounds large shrimp (about 32-36 per pound)
2 cups snap peas (about 1/2 pound, trimmed)
3 green onions, trimmed and minced

Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 - 5 dashes hot sauce

Garnishes
1/2 cup diced mango
1/2 cup chopped peanuts or cashews
lime wedges

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook 3 - 4 minutes, until they turn pink. Drain, run under cold water, peel and devein.

Meanwhile, bring another pot of salted water to a boil, drop in snap peas and boil, uncovered, 2 - 3 minutes, until just tender and still bright green. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water to stop the cooking.

To make vinaigrette: Whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, ginger, and hot sauce in a small bowl until well-combined.

Put shrimp, snap peas, and green onions in a large bowl, add vinaigrette, and toss well. Divide the mixture among 4 plates and garnish each serving with the diced mango, chopped nuts, and lime wedges.


Source: The Beach House Cookbook, copyright 2005

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Finally Getting on the Bandwagon... Cupcakes!

After admiring the photos of so many of my blogger friends' beautiful cupcakes, I've been wanting to try my own hand at making them for awhile now, and today was the perfect day to give it a shot. The kids were gone all day visiting with friends and attending a couples baby shower this evening for another one of their friends. So, I did a little internet research to decide which recipe to make and came across a delicious-looking recipe at a wonderful blog called Sugar Plum Musings. The recipe was for Almond Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling. I loved the idea of them having a filling. My little cakes sank a bit in the middle - my guess is that my baking powder was probably not as fresh as it should be. I'll definitely get new b.p. for my next baking session. I'm happy with the way they turned out, and I'm ready to try some more! I'd like to try my hand at covering them with fondant... but for now, I'm revelling in these pretty little things!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Foodie Friday - Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Or in this instance, cherry pie!

The family is coming over for dinner tonight. My son-in-law requested manicotti. You've seen that already - that's old hat! His preference for dessert, however, was cherry pie. Now I don't make many pies. And I don't think I've ever made a cherry pie before. So I cheated a bit... and used canned cherry pie filling. I did, however, make my own crust.

After making the crust, I poured in the filling, dotted the top of that with a few pats of butter, and then topped that with pastry leaves I cut out of another piece of dough using a little leaf cutter. I brushed the leaves with an egg wash and sprinkled them liberally with sugar. It smells heavenly!! My dear son-in-law pronounced it 'very pretty', and is being very good by waiting until after dinner to dig in! Next challenge: making my own cherry pie filling!!

Thanks to Michael of Designs by Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday. Check out her beautiful blog. You'll find lots of food and design ideas, and I'm sure she will make you smile! You'll also find a lot of other participants with amazing dishes to share. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tablescape Thursday

This is my first post for Tablescape Thursday, hosted by Susan of Between Naps on the Porch. I love looking at everyone's entries for TT. You will be amazed at the beautiful and creative tablesettings all the participants come up with - check them out!!

I went with a very spring-like colored tablecloth and matching napkins and cream-colored dishes. I love the colors:







Dishes and rooster centerpiece by Lenox.
Tablecloth and napkins by Ralph Lauren.
Glassware by Williams-Sonoma.
Flatware by... Target!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Snack in Style - Artichoke Spread

I'm a bit laid up for a day or two - I had viscosupplementation injections in both knees this morning. I'm keeping my feet up and icing my knees to help with the "discomfort" (don't you love when doctors call it that??). But in an attempt not to be a slacker-blogger, I decided to pull something from my personal "archives". The first time I had this artichoke spread was last summer. It whizzes up easily in the food processor and is a wonderful combination of flavors. It makes a great hors d'ourve or anytime snack. This time, I rounded out the plate with tomatoes, basil, mini bocconcini, and olives seasoned with a little fresh, minced rosemary, crushed garlic, extra virgin olive oil and grated orange zest. A glass of Riesling complemented my little dinner perfectly!

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Spread with French Bread Crostini

1 can artichoke hearts, well drained
1 pound mild soft goat cheese, such as Montrachet
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 roasted red bell pepper or pimiento
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
French Bread Crostini, recipe follows

In a food processor, add the artichoke hearts, goat cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, roasted bell pepper, parsley, chives, basil, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper and process until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Place in a nonreactive bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 2 days in advance. Serve with French Bread Crostini.

French Bread Crostini:
1 (18-inch) loaf French baguette or ficelle
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325°F.Cut bread into 1/4-inch round or oval slices and place on 1 large or 2 small baking sheets. Brush 1 side of each slice lightly with the olive oil, and lightly season with the salt and pepper. Bake until crisp and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool before serving. Yield: 20 to 30 crostinis

Source: Emeril LaGasse

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pucker Up!

I was never a fan of lemon bars until I came across Ina Garten's recipe. The Barefoot Contessa calls for real lemon juice and the zest. I make sure to only get the yellow part of the lemon peel and leave the white, bitter pith behind. That makes a world of difference. I also love the shortbread crust - I think it really balances out the tartness of the lemon. They're so easy and so good!!

Lemon Bars

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.


Source: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, copyright 1999

Friday, April 3, 2009

Foodie Friday - Frittata!

Happy Foodie Friday!! Thanks, as always, to Gollum's sponsored Foodie Friday. If you haven't yet had the opportunity to visit Michael's (Gollum) website, Designs by Gollum, please do. You will be amazed at her talent for design and humor. Thank you Michael for hosting. What fun!

I've been sick all week. Though I've managed to come up with quick and easy meals for dinner most nights, I was still pressed to come up with another easy meal for tonight. Ann of Thibeault's Table made a frittata one day this week which inspired me to make one for dinner. I love potato and onion frittatas, but I only had sweet potatoes in the bin. Well... I was up for an experiment. So I sliced some sweet potato pretty thin and started sauteeing them. I added in some sliced onion til they were soft and sweet, then poured in the eggs. Once the eggs were set up, I put the pan under the broiler for about 5 minutes. So good! Much more flavor than a white potato. I will definitely do that again!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sweet Lemonade Award


Ann from Thibeault's Table was kind enough to nominate me for the "Sweet Lemonade Award". This is the first blog award I've been nominated for, and I appreciate Ann's generosity! Here are the rules for sending it along and sharing the love:

1. Put the logo on your blog post.

2. Nominate at least 5 blogs that show great attitude and/or gratitude.

3. Be sure to put a link to your nominees.

4. Let them know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you've received the award.

So, in keeping with the spirit of the award I would like to nominate five more wonderful women of blogdom who display great attitudes and that I have come to appreciate. I have and continue to learn much from these women.

Cathy (Wives with Knives): As I am fairly new to the world of blogs, most of my blog friendships are recent. I've come to know Cathy a bit from her wonderful recipes, beautiful photos, and the great sense she projects of being so grounded. I love that! And, most of all, I truly respect her.

Michael (Designs by Gollum): Michael is a multi-talented woman whose sense of humor and creativity constantly intrigues me. She crafts beautiful tablescapes as well as she crafts her well-written novels. Michael is a woman of great style, and I'm totally fascinated by her!

Evi (Life's Journey): One look at the title bar of Evi's blog, and you can't help but smile! Her gorgeous baby girl, Sara, is often at the center of many of her beautiful photographs. She's another one with a great sense of style and a heart of gold.

Dragana (Prijatno!): I love Dragana's recipes, wonderful pictures, and the way she incorporates her international background into her posts. She is definitely a great read!!

Sol (Memories in the Baking): I've known Sol for a little while now. She has an unbelievably amazing artistic talent. She's also funny as hell. Seriously, she's one of the wittiest people I've met (virtually, that is). Check out her blog. Once you pick your bottom jaw up off the floor, let her know what you think!

Thanks again to all of these wonderful women for the charm and inspiration they provide through their blogs. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Shepherd's Pie... In Reverse

Well, my friends, there's a good chance I have strep throat. My throat has been awful today and my friend, Ann (of Thibeault's Table), has made me promise to call the doctor in the morning if I don't wake up any better. So today was a day of comfort foods... things that were easy on the throat. This afternoon I sipped on soup made with orzo and rich homemade chicken stock I keep stored in the freezer. For dinner, I had taken some ground chuck out of the freezer, and Ann again came to my rescue and suggested reverse shepherd's pie... ground chuck browned with some chopped onion, minced garlic, and whatever vegetables I could come up with. I seasoned the mixture with Worcestershire, a little tomato paste, beef broth, and thyme, simmering it for about 45 minutes. About 10 minutes before it finished simmering, I mixed a little soft butter with some Wondra flour to thicken up the mixture. In the meantime, I cooked peeled potatoes until they were tender, then mixed them with some butter and milk, seasoning them with salt and pepper. Once they cooled down just a little, I put them in a bag with a star tip and piped them into a small baking dish/pan, and then baked it in the oven at about 450 F. for about 20 - 25 minutes, until the potatoes browned up a little. Once the potatoes were done, I spooned the meat mixture into the potato 'crust'. Whoa - this was so good. Perfect comfort food (of which I seem to be in dire need of lately...). Leftovers for tomorrow, too. Love that!
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