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".

Monday, June 29, 2009

Chicken Tacos

After all the cooking and baking I've done in the last few days, I was tired. In addition to what I've posted about so far, I also made blueberry ice cream and a batch of raspberry-plum jam that I'll post about soon. No real cooking today. So, I poached a boneless, skinless chicken in water and peppercorns. A quick chop (season the chicken with lots of ground cumin), along with some diced tomato and avocado, a little salsa, a little sour cream, a quick squirt of lime, quickly fry a few corn tortillas, and dinner was done. I love tacos. I love chicken tacos. Good thing it doesn't take long to put them on the dinner table!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chicken Francaise

One of my favorite chicken dishes I order out is Chicken Francaise. I've never made it before, so, again, despite owning hundreds of cookbooks... I researched the internet. I often find successful recipes on, and the site didn't disappoint this time, either. Since I was just cooking one chicken breast, the meal went together in about 15 - 20 minutes. And it was so flavorful. Delicious -

Chicken Francaise

Yield: Makes 4 servings Active Time: 1 hr Total Time: 1 hr

4 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves (2 pounds total)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 large eggs
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus 1 whole lemon, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and gently pound chicken with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin until 1/4 inch thick.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking.

While oil is heating, stir together flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Dredge 2 pieces of chicken, 1 piece at a time, in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Lightly beat eggs in another shallow bowl. When oil is hot, dip floured chicken into beaten eggs to coat, letting excess drip off, then fry, turning over once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm, loosely covered with foil. Fry remaining chicken in same manner.

Pour off and discard oil, then wipe skillet clean and heat butter over low heat until foam subsides. Add wine, broth, and lemon juice and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 6 minutes. Stir in parsley and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and top with lemon slices.

Source: Gourmet | October 2003, Adapted from La Viola, Syosset, NY

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Artichoke Fritters

While channel surfing late-night television a few weeks ago, I came across a Food Network show featuring a couple of guys who own a catering business and had won the channel's Next Food Network Star competition. I believe the duo is known as The Hearty Boys. I've seen a few of their shows, and while I won't make all of their recipes, they do have some interesting ideas for entertaining. This is one of those interesting ideas.

The most laborious part of the recipe is chopping up the canned artichoke hearts, a couple cloves of garlic, and a few green onions. Seriously, that didn't take long at all. The "batter" came together very quickly, and they fried up in just a few minutes. I used a small disher to measure out the batter into the fryer. These only took 3 minutes to cook through in contrast to the 5 minutes the recipe suggests. I didn't make the sauce - I thought it might be a bit much for these nibbles. A little sea salt as soon as they came out of the fryer and a squeeze of lemon just before serving was all they needed. Not difficult to make, very tasty, and great as a side dish, appetizer, or snack.

By the way, a reviewer on the Food Network website did say that she reheated leftovers in a 350 F. oven the next day, and they tasted nearly as fresh as when just made. Good to know!

Artichoke Fritters

vegetable oil
1 (18-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 lemon, to squeeze over fritters
Kosher salt, to sprinkle

Lemon Cream, recipe follows, optional

Pour 3 inches of vegetable oil into a heavy bottomed pot and place over medium heat until a bread cube placed in the oil browns within 1 minute.

Coarsely chop the artichokes (or alternatively crush by hand) and put them in a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic and scallions, milk, egg, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a separate bowl and quickly mix the dry ingredients into the artichoke mix.

Drop the fritters by the heaping tablespoonful into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Work in batches until all the batter is used. Keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve. Immediately before serving, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over all and hit with a bit of kosher salt. Serve with a dollop of Lemon Cream on top, if desired.

Lemon Cream:

1 cup sour cream
1 lemon, juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source: Party Line with the Hearty Boys

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fruit Tart

With berry season in full swing, I turned to for some inspiration. I was not disappointed. With many options to choose from, I decided on this fruit tart. To preserve the fruit, I glazed it with melted apricot preserves (which unfortunately got a little gloppy - I neglected to add the liqueur/ water necessary to prevent that). My favorite brother (okay, my only brother... but he would be my favorite anyway...) stopped by after work, and I sent this home with him for his family. I love having people to bake for!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Ann of Thibeault's Table had suggested that the next time I make pizza dough, let it rise in the refrigerator for a day or two, that this would improve the flavor of the crust even more. So, I took her advice. My pizza crust is actually a French bread recipe - it's the one my mother has been using since I was a little girl: yeast, water, salt, shortening (I sometimes substitute olive oil), and flour. Well, I have to agree with Ann. I made the dough on Monday and made a calzone and a loaf of French bread today. The flavor was a little like sourdough. And the calzone's crust was nice and crisp.

I just winged the filling: ricotta, sauteed onions & peppers (leftover from the fajitas I made a couple of nights ago), pepperoni, and mozzarella. A quick red sauce (thinly sliced garlic sauteed in olive oil, crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, parsley, salt & pepper, and a pinch of sugar) to serve with it, and dinner was done. I haven't made calzones in a long time, but I'll definitely be doing that more often - so easy, so good.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tarragon Popover Chicken

I really like the flavor combination of tarragon and chicken. Tarragon, especially fresh tarragon, adds such a coolness to whatever it seasons, similar to the way mint does. This recipe really does tarragon justice. After browning the chicken, pour the tarragon popover batter over the chicken. As the batter bakes, it puffs up, enveloping the chicken. The mushroom sauce is quick and easy. I opted to flavor the sauce with a little tarragon as well, just enough to give an interesting background flavor to it. I've made this dish many, many years ago when the kids were still here. This is the first time I made it in an individual-portioned size, paring down the recipe to serve one. I loved the presentation of the single serving.

Tarragon Popover Chicken

6 boneless/ skinless chicken breasts*
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs beaten

Mushroom Sauce
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, minced

Brown the chicken in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a greased 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish.

Stir together the milk, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, flour, tarragon and salt. Add the eggs, mixing well.

Pour over the chicken and bake for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees.

Mushroom sauce:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter, add the mushrooms and saute for 2 - 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms, and set aside.

In the same pan, melt the remaining butter and stir in the flour salt and pepper. Add the milk gradually. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Add the cooked mushrooms, 1 teaspoon tarragon, salt & pepper to taste, and heat through. Serve over the Tarragon Popover Chicken.

*Bone-in chicken pieces can be used in place of the boneless/ skinless chicken breasts.

Source: Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Recipes, copyright 1979

Blue Cheese Dressing

I tried Ina Garten's recipe for Blue Cheese Dressing, making a few subtle changes. Really delicious and really easy. Throw everything in the food processor, blitz, and a gorgeous, tasty salad dressing is ready in seconds.

Blue Cheese Dressing

6 ounces good Roquefort cheese, chopped, divided
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup half 'n' half
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the 4 ounces cheese, mayonnaise, half 'n' half, vinegar, tarragon, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth. Stir in the remaining 2 ounces of cheese.

Source: Adapted from Barefoot Contessa, copyright 2004

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beef Fajitas

I like fajitas, but I usually only make chicken fajitas. I came across skirt steak at the market on sale, so I thought I'd see if I could make a decent beef version. Skirt steak is the traditional beef used for fajita meat, but it can be really tough. My aunt had given me a fajita marinade many years ago. I adapted it, making few changes, and ended up marinating the meat for well over 24 hours. A little internet research indicated that how the meat is sliced can make a huge difference in how tender the meat will be. I was very happy with the outcome. The meat was juicy, flavorful, and tender. I sauteed a thinly sliced yellow pepper and sliced Vidalia onion until caramelized, made a pico de gallo, and sliced some avocado. Definitely a keeper -

Fajita Marinade

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
zest of one lemon
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Sprinkle first four ingredients over both sides of meat. Mix the soy sauce, oil, and red wine vinegar and soak the meat thoroughly in the mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more before cooking.

Grill for approximately 5 minutes on each side. Cut meat into about 5 inch pieces and slice against the grain.

Marinates 4 pounds of fajitas.

Pico de Gallo

I kind of "winged" this recipe.

2 - 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 - 2 jalapenos, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Add all ingredients. Let stand 30 minutes - 1 hour for flavors to marry.

Rhubarb Pie

As a child, I remember my parents loving rhubarb pie. I myself found it too tart for my tastes. Ever since, I've always been confounded by the anxiously awaited rhubarb season. Remembering that one's tastes change over the years... certainly mine had for other foods... and the fact that this recipe of Ann of Thibeault's Table has received rave reviews, I thought it high time to give rhubarb another shot. The photos Ann and others have posted of this recipe left me drooling and ready to become a partaker of Ann's rhubarb pie. I was not disappointed. The filling that the rhubarb is mixed into is wonderfully luscious - I figured its sweetness was the perfect foil for such a tart fruit. I was more than pleasantly surprised with the overall sweetness of the pie. I didn't find the fruit nearly as tart as I had remembered. Alas, I have become a member of those who will be anxiously awaiting rhubarb season next year.

Find the recipe for Ann's Rhubarb Pie here. My recipe for pie crust comes from my former mother-in-law. It comes out perfect every time.

Connie's Pie Crust
(Note: double recipe for the rhubarb pie.)

1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup cold butter
pinch of salt
1/4 cup ice water

Pulse flour with shortening, butter, and salt in a food processor until mixture is mealy. Slowly add ice water until dough forms a ball. Remove from processor and quickly form into a disc. Chill for 30 minutes. Roll out crust for pie.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Breaded Pork Chops

Another easy meal: breaded pork chops. I make them the way my mother taught me. I rub a little oil (canola or olive oil) all over the chop, then coat in seasoned bread crumbs. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 F. My chops were rather thick, so I baked them for just short of an hour. They were delicious! I served couscous on the side, mixed with currants, pistachios, and orange zest. Sprinkle chopped mint over the couscous at serving time. Easy!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chicken with Marsala Sauce

Tonight was another quick and easy and over-the-top-with-flavor dinner! I wanted to make Chicken Marsala but had no mushrooms on hand. So I decided on just chicken with Marsala sauce, not a true chicken Marsala. And in about 15 - 20 minutes I had an amazing dinner. I love mashed potatoes with Chicken Marsala instead of pasta, so I cubed a Yukon gold potato and boiled it. While the potato was cooking, I pounded a boneless/skinless chicken breast to an even thickness, dredged it in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, and browned it in a little olive oil in a small skillet. When the chicken was browned on both sides, I removed it to a plate and kept it warm, poured in about 1/3 cup of dry Marsala wine, and reduced it by half. While the Marsala was reducing, I mashed the potatoes with a little butter, milk, salt and pepper. I then added in about 1/4 cup chicken broth to the reduced Marsala, let it all reduce a little more, and seasoned the sauce with salt and pepper. I plated the chicken over the mashed potatoes, then drizzled the sauce over it. Sprinkled chopped parsley over, and dinner was served.

By the way, the swelling has finally gone down on my foot! Yay! The toes have finally stopped feeling numb, the fingers on my left hand are okay, and I am going to try to be a bit more cognizant of my surroundings when I walk from now on! I think I dodged a bullet! *whew*

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sirloin Strip with Chimichurri

My klutziness reared its ugly head this morning. I tripped over something, went flying, and now my left foot is a little swollen (toes are tingly... that can't be good), and three of the fingers on my left hand are a bit achy. Oy. What a goof. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway, for blogsakes), I won't be doing any cooking today. Good thing I had a wonderful meal last night!!

I love chimichurri sauce. It's flavorful without overpowering whatever it's added to. I especially adore it over steaks. Last night I used it to top a petite sirloin strip that I grilled briefly (4 -5 minutes on each side). I also sliced a rather large Yukon gold potato, tossed the slices with some of the chimichurri, and grilled them, as well, until they were golden and tender. Oven-roasted asparagus rounded out the meal. Delicious!


4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine garlic, jalapeno and lime in a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar and olive oil. Stir in parsley and cilantro. Add salt, cover and let stand 2 hours to allow the flavors to marry.

Source: Tyler Florence

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Banana Bread

I've been trying to be better about eating more servings of fruit per day, especially now that summer is providing us with great fruit options at the Farmers Market! However, I always seem to bring home a lot more than I can keep up with, and as a result, I had a couple of bananas on their "last legs". What to do, what to do... I did a little internet research and found this recipe for banana bread that was a little different than most. The reviews that came with this recipe were great, and mine is no different! The flavor was wonderful as was the texture. This will be my go-to banana bread recipe from now on!

Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread
Prep: 15 min., Bake: 1 hr., Cool: 40 min. Warm bread is yummy, but to get perfect slices, let bread cool 30 minutes, and cut with a serrated or electric knife.

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (1 1/4 pounds unpeeled bananas, about 4 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in bananas, pecans, and vanilla. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8- x 4-inch loafpans.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and sides pull away from pan, shielding with aluminum foil last 15 minutes to prevent browning, if necessary. Cool bread in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks before slicing.

Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Muffins: To bake muffins, spoon batter evenly into 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Makes 24 muffins. Prep: 15 min., Bake: 25 min.

Orange-Pecan-Topped Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread: Prepare bread batter as directed, and spoon into desired pans. Sprinkle 1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans evenly over batter in pans. Bake as directed. Cool bread or muffins in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Stir together 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, and 1 teaspoon grated orange rind until blended. Drizzle evenly over warm bread or muffins, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks.

Toasted Coconut-Topped Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread: Prepare and bake bread or muffins in desired pans. While bread is baking, stir together 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, and 1/4 cup milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut; 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans; and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Remove baked bread or muffins from oven, and immediately spread tops with coconut mixture. Broil 5 1/2 inches from heat 2 to 3 minutes or just until topping starts to lightly brown. Cool in pans on wire racks 20 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks before slicing.

Cinnamon Crisp-Topped Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread: Prepare bread batter as directed, and spoon into desired pans. Stir together 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar; 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans; 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour; 1 tablespoon melted butter; and 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter. Bake and cool as directed.

Peanut Butter Streusel-Topped Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread: Prepare bread batter as directed, and spoon into desired pans. Combine 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in 1/4 cup butter and 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter in pans. Bake and cool as directed.

Yield: Makes 2 loaves

Source: Southern Living, JANUARY 2005

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Salt- and Pepper-Pork Tenderloin

One of the easiest and (in my opinion) most delicious meals to put on the table in about 45 minutes is this pork tenderloin dish. Make a quick rub and put it all over the tenderloin and let it sit for 15 minutes. A quick sear on all sides (about 6 minutes) and about 20 - 25 minutes in the oven to finish it off is all it takes for tons of flavor. While the pork rests, pour some red wine into the pan the pork cooked in and reduce by half, then whisk in a pat of butter to add some body to the sauce. Delicious. Smashed red potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts (trim sprouts, spread on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt & pepper, and roast in 400 F. oven for 30 - 40 minutes - drizzle with balsamic vinegar when done cooking), and voila!, dinner good enough for company is done!

Salt- and Pepper-Pork Tenderloin

2 teaspoons crushed black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 large clove of garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

12-ounce pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine the pepper, salt, rosemary and garlic and rub over pork tenderloin. Let rest for at least 15 minutes.

Heat olive oil in oven-proof skillet. Add tenderloin and sear on all sides (about 6 minutes altogether).

Put pan in oven and continue to cook pork for additional 20 - 25 minutes. Remove from oven and move pork to cutting board to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Place pan over medium heat on stove and pour 1 cup of red wine or chicken broth/ stock into pan. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of butter. Serve over meat.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Darling Baker's Tea Party

The Darling Bakers are hosting a tea party this weekend. I invited my sister-in-law and my niece for high tea. It was all very "lady-like". My sister-in-law, Amy, doesn't mind trying new recipes - I love cooking for her! I made a few old standbys and tried a few new things, too.

We started the meal with soup shooters: three different soups in 2-ounce glasses. All of these recipes were new to me, but all turned out delicious. We had Broccoli Bisque, Gazpacho, and Corn Soup. All were surprisingly easy and quick to make. The Broccoli Bisque was full of fresh broccoli flavor, tempered with leeks and just enough potato to really smooth out the flavor. The Gazpacho was the best gazpacho recipe I've ever had - bright and fresh-tasting. The Corn Soup was as sweet as mid-summer corn on the cob! Delicious!

We also had individual shrimp cocktails. I bought "easy-peel" shrimp to save a little time - they were already headed and deveined. I only had to boil them for a couple of minutes (I add a few black peppercorns, black mustard seeds, and nigella seeds to the boil), then move them to an ice bath to stop the cooking and keep them tender. The sauce is an easy recipe of ketchup (or chili sauce), prepared horseradish, Worcestershire, fresh lemon juice, and a dash of cayenne.

I decided to make individual cheese balls. Cheese balls are kind of a retro thing - there was always a cheese ball for people to nibble on when my mother had people over for dinner! I changed it up just a little by making little ones for each person, placing them on paper grape leaves, and putting a little spreader and crackers on each plate. It was a hit!

My other standby recipe is for chicken puffs, miniature profiteroles filled with chicken salad. I change up my chicken salad all the time. This time I minced some roasted red bell pepper for the salad, which turned it kind of pink - something I knew my niece would love!

We enjoyed Celestial Seasons' Tangerine-Orange Zinger iced tea with lunch. It was fruity and pretty - perfect with our meal.

For dessert, we had mini fruit tarts. This is the first time I've ever made them, but they were not as difficult or as time-consuming as I thought they might be. I used a Martha Stewart recipe for the pate sucre and for the pastry cream. The raspberries were just the right amount of tart-sweet and the blueberries were juicy and sweet, just right to top these little 4-bite morsels.

With our desserts, we had Twinings Lady Grey tea, a lighter, more floral version of Earl Grey. It was the first time we'd tried that tea - it was really delicious and Amy proclaimed it her favorite hot tea.

It was a wonderful tea party! I really love cooking for my family and friends, and this was no exception!


The recipes:

Broccoli Bisque With Gremolata Garnish
Autumn 2008

By: Lucy Waverman

"Broccoli soup is much more tasty than you might give it credit for. It is full flavoured and interesting."

2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 head broccoli, cut into florets, stem peeled and roughly chopped, about 4½ cups (1.125 L)
½ cup (125 mL) peeled and chopped Yukon Gold potatoes
4 cups (1 L) chicken stock
¼ cup (50 mL) whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

¼ cup (50 mL) finely chopped parsley
1 tsp (5 mL) finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp (25 mL) grated lemon rind

1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté for 3 minutes or until limp. Add broccoli and sauté another minute. Add potatoes and toss together. Pour in stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until broccoli and potatoes are very tender.

2. Using a hand blender, process vegetables until smooth. Add cream, bring to boil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes to amalgamate flavours.

3. Combine parsley, garlic and lemon rind in a mini chop or food processor. Process until well combined. Dot on top of soup before serving.

Serves 6




Prep Time: 1 hr 0 min

Inactive Prep Time: 0 min

Cook Time: 0 min

Level: 0

Serves: 3 quarts, 6 to 8 servings

  • 2 pounds, about 10 Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2-cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the soup. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until almost pureed, leaving a little texture. Season with salt and pepper. Return to bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Prepare topping mixture. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients until well blended. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed. To serve: Ladle 10 to 12 ounces into chilled soup plates. On a large serving spoon, place 1/4 cup of the topping mixture, top with 2 shrimp, and garnish with a sprig of cilantro. Carefully place in the center of the plate of soup. Place a wedge of lime on the rim of the plate.

Topping mixture:

1/4 cup red bell pepper, cored, seeded, trimmed, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, trimmed, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup red onion, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup red and yellow pear tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


12 to 16 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, butterflied, poached, and chilled
6 to 8 sprigs fresh cilantro
6 to 8 wedges lime

Source: Wolfgang Puck's "Pizza, Pasta and More!", copyright 2000

Shrimp and Corn Bisque
(I omitted the shrimp this time.)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, very finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups fish stock (I used chicken stock this time since I omitted the shrimp.)
1 cup milk
1 cup peeled cooked small shrimps, deveined if necessary
1-1/2 cups corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill or thyme (I used basil as that was what I had on hand - it was wonderful!)
hot pepper sauce (I omitted)
1/2 cup light cream
sprigs of fresh dill, to garnish (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pan. Add the onion and cook over a low heat for 8 - 10 minutes until softened but not browned.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pan. Add the flour and cook for 1 - 2 minutes, stirring. Stir in the stock and milk, bring to a boil and cook for 5 - 6 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Cut each shrimp into 2 or 3 pieces and add to the cooked onion with the corn and fresh herb(s). Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside.
4. Add the sauce mixture to the shrimp and corn mixture, and mix well.
5. Remove 3 cups of the soup and puree in a blender or food processor (I used an immersion blender and pureed the whole batch.) Return the puree to the rest of the soup in the pan and stir well. Season with salt and hot pepper sauce to taste.
6. Add the cream and stir to blend. Heat the soup almost to boiling point, stirring frequently.
7. Divide into individual soup bowls and serve hot. Garnish with sprigs of dill.

Source: 400 Best Ever Soups, copyright 2005, 2006


Brenda's Cheese Ball

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room tempreature

8-ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained well

1/4 cup minced red bell pepper

2 tablespoons minced onion

seasoning salt

Mix all ingredients well, seasoning to taste. Roll in chopped pecans.



1/2 cup water

1/4 cup butter

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Bring water, butter and salt to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir with wooden spoon over low heat until mixture forms a ball and pulls away from sides of pan, 1 - 2 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in eggs, one at a time.

Spoon or pipe tablespoon full of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon of water) or cream. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and pierce sides of profiteroles with tip of knife to release steam (this keeps the profiteroles crispier than if not pierced). When cool fill with sweet or savory fillings.


Pate Sucre
Makes one 11-to 12-inch or two 8-to 9-inch or two 14-by-4-inch crusts

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup ice water

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and sugar. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 to 20 seconds.
  2. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks; add ice water. With machine running, add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.


Pastry Cream
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved

Pinch of salt

4 large egg yolks

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  1. Bring milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Whisk egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Whisking, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Slowly add remaining milk mixture until incorporated. Pour mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking, until it begins to bubble in center and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; discard vanilla bean.
  3. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter; beat on medium speed until butter has melted and mixture has cooled, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Just before using, beat on low speed or whisk by hand until smooth.



Thank you again to the Jain and The Darling Bakers for scheduling another fun event!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin