This version of Stuffed Eggplant Parmigiana takes this favorite of meat lovers and vegetarians alike to new heights. Ricotta cheese highlighted with pesto and asiago cheese is sandwiched between two slices of eggplant. The breading has more cheese added to the breadcrumbs along with some herbs.
At the shop, we would make a white sauce for the fettuccine then place the eggplant on top of it and finish it with marinara sauce. This time I have updated it by omitting the white sauce and the results are just as good for this stuffed eggplant parmigiana. Continue reading Stuffed Eggplant Parmigiana
My LA son, Eric, first alerted me to a PLT – a bacon fried pastrami, tomato and lettuce sandwich. So one day I decided to have those with my cumin honey coleslaw. What a supper, I thought – Bacon Fried Pastrami with Cumin Honey Coleslaw on the side. But as I was going along making these, I had an ah-ha moment. Ditch the lettuce and use the coleslaw on the sandwich. What a sandwich!
Make sure you grill or toast the bread on both sides as the coleslaw is somewhat wet with dressing and it will soak through if the bread is not well toasted. You also need to select a sandwich bread with a lot of body. I used Pepperidge Farm Sourdough Sandwich bread although excellent choices would be marbled rye or a dark rye bread.
While the coleslaw has a lot of ingredients for the dressing, you just toss them together and add the shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix. I would suggest you add the dressing a bit at a time since you want a wet coleslaw for the salad but not a dripping one.
Be sure to eat these over a plate with plenty of napkins. While not a dainty sandwich this Bacon Fried Pastrami with Cumin Honey Coleslaw sandwich is one of the best you’ll find.
Continue reading Bacon Fried Pastrami with Cumin Honey Coleslaw
Beinets, crullers, bomboloni and zepole are all some form of doughnut. And Americans love them! The newest form capturing the fancy of doughnut lovers is the savory doughnut. They are appearing in all the best restaurants usually stuffed. At Tony’s we stuff them with the best Gorgonzola and serve them with prosciutto and a drizzle of excellent virgin olive oil.
But savory doughnuts can be filled with any cheese that will get oozy when fried. I chose Italian Fontina for its creaminess and served it on a salad of spring greens, crispy panchetta, strawberries and dates with a lemon vinaigrette. Brie and bacon would be another great combination.
The dough couldn’t be more simple. Yeast is dissolved in warm milk. Just enough flour is added to make a loose batter which is covered and allowed to rise until doubled and very bubbly which takes about an hour. More flour, and egg, salt, sugar and a bit of butter are added to make a batter like dough which takes about another hour to rise. At this point, it is easiest to refrigerate overnight as it is an extremely soft, somewhat sticky dough to shape right away – much like brioche. Continue reading Savory Doughnuts
Whenever I am asked what a savory tart is, the Torta Rustica comes to mind first. Layers of vegetables and cheese encased in an Italian butter pastry that is easy to make and roll out without all the cautions of an American crust makes this not only good but easy. Torta Rustica simply means Rustic Tart in Italian. The spinach layer is highlighted with onions and asiago or parmesan cheese with eggs to bind it. Roasted red peppers and artichokes, both canned are layered along with provolone cheese.
The torta is from what the Italians refer to as cucina fresca, meaning room temperature. It should be served warmed but not hot. While it will freeze, it takes forever to thaw. If frozen, our recommended method for our customers was to let it thaw in the fridge for a couple of days, wrap it in foil, leaving the top somewhat open and heat it in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Continue reading Torta Rustica
If you’ve never worked with spaghetti squash, you have really missed a great no fat, low calorie fun food. ThisSpaghetti Squash Casserole features this squash as an entree instead of its usual role of side dish. The squash, when cooked, can be pulled with a fork and is identical in looks to spaghetti.
I find it impossible to cut this squash uncooked. So, I simply put it on a piece of parchment or foil that has been sprayed and bake it. After it cools a bit, I cut it, scrape out the seeds and turn it into spaghetti. The direction you cut the squash yields a different result. If the squash is cut crosswise the strands will be long just like spaghetti.
If it is cut lengthwise, the strands will be shorter but I find them easier to eat and to use.
By omitting the sausage from this Spaghetti Squash Casserole, you have a great vegetarian entrée. Continue reading Spaghetti Squash Casserole
As a really picky eater when I was a child, Old Fashioned Bean Soup with Rye Bread (almost) was one meal my mother could always count on me eating. She made the best bean soup in the world and always served it with homemade bread. Mom made really good bread, but I don’t recall her making rye bread. I love rye bread and this is a not too heavy lighter rye bread that goes together really easily. I make it the day before I make the soup and refrigerate it after its first rise. Then it just has to be shaped, risen and baked so it is fresh with the soup.
It is necessary to use dry beans and not canned. The beans have to be soaked to soften them so it doesn’t take so long to cook. There are several ways to soak them. They can be covered with water, and the vinegar, which keeps gastric distress to a minimum and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, turn off the heat and let them sit for one hour, after which you make the soup. This results in a longer cooking time. A second method is the one I use. I put the dry beans in a pot and add about five or six inches of water. I do this before I go to bed and in the morning they have swelled immensely which shortens the cooking time almost in half. The beans on the left are dry and the ones on the right have been soaked overnight. You can see how much water they absorbed and how they swelled. Continue reading Old Fashioned Bean Soup with Rye Bread
These apple fritters are a speedy version of a doughnut with apples in it. The fact it is not a yeast dough makes this come together really quickly with a bowl and a whisk. I divided the batter into two bowls and used Gala apples in one and Granny Smith in the other. The testers (my husband and myself!) decided the Granny Smiths gave the most apple punch for your money. The liquid used can be milk, water or beer. I like to use beer because it gives a bit more lift to the batter. There is no perceptible taste of beer – which can be good or bad, depending upon your opinion of beer!
Nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ginger can all be used to flavor the the apple fritters. I used nutmeg because I love it, but use anything or nothing as you choose. Continue reading Apple Fritters
Easy Shrimp and Lemon Risotto is a quick version of the classic method of making risotto. I chose it for this Valentine’s day because the holiday falls on a Thursday, making it difficult to cook an elaborate meal. Since the risotto is going to be finished in the oven and the dessert I am suggesting can be done ahead of time, all you have to do is get some good bread and make a salad. You can be ready to share this special dinner in less than an hour.
Risotto is one of the most versatile dishes around. It goes from side dish to main dish with the addition of seafood or vegetables effortlessly. I know the traditional method of adding a bit of liquid at a time, but most of us don’t have the luxury of standing in front of the stove, adding and stirring for a half an hour. I know I don’t.
So I cooked it as I would any other rice I cook and it came out beautifully – creamy, cheesy with a hint of white wine. The ratio of liquid to rice is much higher – that is not a mistake in the recipe. Arborio rice is a high starch grain of Italian origin. The individual grains are shorter and fatter than any other rice and absorb a lot more liquid. This is the rice that gives risotto its creamy texture. The day I was testing this, I called my boss, Vince Bommarito, Jr. at Tony’s for the risotto talk. He said, “it is important to cook the rice through and through so the rice is completely cooked but not mushy.” I don’t think I can do any better for advice, do you? Continue reading Easy Shrimp and Lemon Risotto
Watch for next week’s post on Monday, February 11. Since Valentine’s Day is on Thursday of next week, I wanted to give you enough time to head out for ingredients and to make the dessert ahead for this quick and easy Valentine’s Dinner.
Hot Cross Buns are the harbinger of Easter and Spring. Most available during Lent, these rolls are made with fragrant spices that fill your house with an aroma that makes you want to jump in the oven with them.
The other traditional ingredient in Hot Cross Buns is raisins. A few years ago a friend of mine introduced me to “baker’s raisins” and I have used them ever since when baking. They require no soaking to plump them as do most regular raisins. That not only reduces prep time but doesn’t introduce additional liquid into your recipe which is why I love working with them. Sunsweet makes them and you might want to give them a try. There is a huge difference and I don’t think I will ever go back to regular raisins. Continue reading Hot Cross Buns
If you’ve never worked with spaghetti squash, you have really missed a great no fat, low calorie fun food. It is actually a squash, that when cooked, can be pulled with a fork and the squash is identical in looks to spaghetti. Spaghetti Squash Casserole is a perfect example.
I find it impossible to cut this squash uncooked. So, I simply put it on a piece of parchment or foil that has been sprayed and bake it. After it cools a bit, I cut it, scrape out the seeds and turn it into spaghetti. The direction you cut the squash yields a different result. If the squash is cut crosswise, the strands will be long just like spaghetti.
If it is cut lengthwise, the strands will be shorter but I find them easier to eat and to use.
By omitting the sausage, you have a great vegetarian entrée or side dish.
Spaghetti Squash Casserole
1 spaghetti squash about 2 1/4 pounds
1 pound Italian Sausage
1 – 14 1/2 ounce can petit diced tomatoes, well drained
1 – 2/3 ounce package fresh basil, finely cut
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced about 1/3 inch thick
6 ounces sliced provolone
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray. Place the whole squash on the pan and roast for about one and one half hours until soft. Set it aside to cool.
Spray a 2 quart casserole and set aside.
Cook the Italian sausage, breaking it into bite size clumps until browned and completely cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Cut the squash lengthwise and discard the seeds. With a fork, scrape out the spaghetti squash into a large bowl. Add the fresh basil, salt and pepper; mix well.
Layer the squash mixture in the bottom of the casserole. Top with the sausage and arrange the provolone cheese to cover. Cover the cheese with tomato slices. Set aside.
Cheesey Crumb topping
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup sharp asiago or parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
Combine the first five ingredients and mix well. Drizzle olive oil over and stir with a fork to coat the crumbs. Top the casserole with the crumbs. Drizzle remaining olive oil over the crumbs.
Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until hot through and the cheese has melted.
Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Soup is a thick, robust soup perfect for a winter’s evening. I don’t think I could ever have enough recipes for soup. There’s something soothing about putting a bunch of ingredients in a pot and watch as it turns into a meal. Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Soup is a perfect example. Soup can be clear, thin, thick, loaded with ingredients, have none and every country has their favorite.
This soup features brown rice which is the whole grain minus the inedible outer husk. It has a chewy texture and a more pronounced flavor than white rice that has had its husk, bran and germ removed. It takes about twice as long to cook as white rice but is well worth it. Continue reading Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Soup
Russian Rye Bread is a very dense, flavorful, peasant bread. It is great toasted slathered with butter as it comes from the toaster.
If not using a scale, the flour should be stirred in its container. Dip the measuring cup into the flour to overflowing and sweep it off with the back of a knife.
This recipe calls for dark molasses, but do not use blackstrap molasses as it is too strong.
Here are some additional notes. Use a paddle to mix – not the dough hook. Because the dough is so heavy and thick, the hook just goes around in circles and doesn’t pick up the flour easily. I switched back and forth and decided the paddle was the best for this recipe. The finished dough will be somewhat tacky and that it as it should be. This is not the “smooth as a babies bottom” type of dough. It is rustic and bumpy due to the caraway seeds and the coarseness of the rye and whole wheat flours. Continue reading Russian Rye Bread
OK, so we’ve all been trying to be good after the holidays. I get that. But there is only so long I can go without a sweets fix such as this Walnut Streusel Coffeecake. Well, actually I’ve already tested a couple of new cookie recipes for the Holiday season 2013! I know, we have hardly gotten over 2012 holidays but they use an ingredient I can only get during the holidays. This Walnut Streusel Coffeecake is an east treat that is quick to make. It stays moist in case of leftovers – which is highly doubtful and freezes beautifully. So make it and eat it or make it ahead, freeze it then wrap well in foil. Leave it in the foil wrap, but open the top a bit to allow the steam to escape and pop into a 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes until thawed and heated through.
This is so easy to make I have not included how-to photos. Although this is perfect for breakfast or brunch, if you keep on tucked away in the freezer, you can have it anytime. Continue reading Walnut Streusel Coffeecake
Hungarian Goulash and Creamy Polenta with Asiago and Roasted Red Peppers is the perfect dish for a really cold winter night. It’s made even easier by cooking it in the oven where constant attention is not needed. Hungarian cooking is highlighted by the use of sweet paprika and Hungarian Goulash is one of those dishes where every household has its own version.
I limit my veggies to carrots and peas and use white wine and caraway seeds to deepen the flavor. Long, slow cooking in the oven develops a deep mahogany stew and brings out all the flavors of the beef and caraway.
Adding sour cream to a hot sauce causes it to curdle. However, by mixing flour into the sour cream before adding it to the hot sauce prevents any separation and adds a touch of creaminess.
While Hungarian Goulash is usually served over egg noodles, I am serving it over a really creamy Polenta highlighted with asiago cheese and roasted red peppers. Maybe not traditional but it sure is tasty!
Hungarian Goulash and creamy polenta with asiago and roasted red peppers is perfect for a cold night but good anytime of the year. Continue reading Hungarian Goulash and Creamy Polenta with Asiago and Roasted Red Peppers
I have given myself permission to go on vacation for a week so there will be no regular post Thursday. If you don’t know me, this is a big deal for me but the last six weeks have been very hectic and I need a little time to recoup!
There are changes coming in 2013 and I hope you will like them. I am still working through the timetable to introduce a new blog – ”Pastries Like a Pro” which will follow the writing of the upcoming books and general pastry making. Pastry is my strong suit and what I love the most so it seems natural to go in that direction. I hope all of you will join me. I will continue The Ardent Cook for a while longer. Stay tuned and by all means, let me know what you think.
If you haven’t signed up for the European Tarts newsletter, please go to www.europeantarts.com.
Also, I would appreciate it very much if you would like www.facebook.com/EuropeanTarts. Marketing is going to be the real challenge with this book and this will help.
Look for Hungarian Goulash and Creamy Polenta with Asiago and Roasted Red Peppers January 10th – after my short vacation.
I will be signing my book at Kitchen Conservatory this Sunday from 12:00 to 2:00.
Would love to see you there.
Before getting on with this week’s post, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of you wonderful readers a happy and safe holiday season and the best new year ever! Thank you for being a part of my life and sharing my joy of food with you.
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Port Wine Sauce is the start of this simple dinner fit for company. So much so that this is our Christmas dinner along with Orange Ginger Green beans, roasted red potatoes, brioche rolls and finishing with individual banana caramel tarts topped with rum pastry cream and crushed pralines.
This reduction sauce can be made days ahead of time. Its complex flavors are perfect with the simply roasted meat. The green beans can be blanched, shocked and stored in the fridge several hours ahead of time. Sear the tenderloin just before the guests arrive and your ready to enjoy your own party. The New Red Potatoes are simply cut in half, splashed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Roasted until golden and crispy, this is the ideal accompaniment to this dinner.
One last note. When I had the retail store, people always asked how we got our pork so tender and juicy. By roasting the meat to 145 degrees and letting it rest, it will slightly pink when cut. That is how it should be. Overcooking pork is no longer necessary.
This dinner serves 4.
Continue reading Pork Tenderloin with Port Wine Sauce
With the holidays here, parties are everywhere and so are crudite platters. How easy is it to pile veggies on a tray and fill the center in with a bowl of dip. How about updating that favorite of all appetizers by making individual crudite shot? The old and the new combine to keep a really good appetizer but update it for the 21st century. It also solves the problem of double dipping. I love the dip on the end of the celery or carrot stick but then I’m left with the naked veggie. Do I hope no one is looking and dip in again – better not take the chance. Ditch the remainder of the veggie? No, just munch it up and go for a shorter veggie. I used carrots, red and yellow pepper strips, cucumbers, green beans, grape tomatoes and cauliflower. I blanched the cauliflower slightly but the remainder of the vegetables are raw. I used a goat cheese pesto dip in the bottom of the containers. It is easiest to pipe the dip in the bottom of the glass. Just put the dip in a small freezer bag, clip off the tip and pipe in the dip. It keeps the dip from hitting the sides of the glass if you drop it in from a spoon. No piping skills needed here. Crudite Shots what fun! Continue reading Crudite Shots
These Lemon Raspberry Muffins are really easy requiring two bowls, a whisk and muffin tins and they freeze beautifully. This recipe makes twelve regular size or six Texas size muffins. For a quick hostess gift or a pick me up for someone down with a cold, grab a tin, pack these up and you’re ready to give these Lemon Raspberry Muffins.
Fruit has a tendency to stick to paper liners but spraying the liners solves that problem. Other fruits can be substituted for the raspberries. It is easier to fold frozen berries into the batter as they don’t break up as much and they don’t discolor the batter as does Continue reading Lemon Raspberry Muffins
If you got a notification that the Lemon Raspberry Muffins were this week, I apologize. They will be here next week as I wanted to announce the of the book is here.
It took longer than having a baby and was definitely as much a concern as a teenager, but I am so glad to tell you all that it’s here – European Tarts, Divinely Doable Desserts with Little or No Baking”.
Just go to see the blog filled with how-to photos as they are for this one. And remember, if you have any questions or suggestions, I am an email away and happy to help.
The book is available on Amazon.com, Kitchen Conservatory and Left Bank Books (both stores).
Tony’s hosted the Book Launch party on Sunday and it was so much fun. Almost all of the written media in St. Louis attended along with others instrumental in helping with the book. The surprise of the day was when my son Dirk drove down from Chicago. Shortly after that, my LA son, Eric, flew in to help celebrate the book and our anniversary. I was dumbstruck (well actually, Joe Bonwich said he wish he had a video of me seeing the boys when they first came in. Everyone seemed to feel what I felt and some had tears in their eyes.
I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than knowing your children truly love you and they are happy for your success and proud of you.
Truly memories for the ages.
I became intrigued with the Hot Brown, an open face sandwich after seeing them on the food network.com show “Throwdown with Bobby Flay”. I had seen mention of them before but not really been interested. I think the Hot Brown story was as intriguing as the sandwich. I also thought it is a great way to serve leftover Turkey from Thanksgiving. See if you agree.
It seems in the 1920′s the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky drew over 1,200 guests each evening for dining and dancing. Certainly an enviable number then or now for any hotel. They obviously danced well into the night and early morning. Bear in mind – no TV, no internet few movies and apparently no early morning work hours, but lots of dining, dancing and conversation. It seems at the end of these marathon evenings breakfast was a must. The traditional breakfast of eggs and ham was on the wane so Chef Fred Schmidt created an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a mornay sauce served hot. And so was born The Hot Brown. Chef Schmidt, being no dummy, based this on Welsh Rarebit. Continue reading The Hot Brown
When I had the retail shop we offered Brined Turkey with All Purpose Gravy every Thanksgiving. We offered 12 pound or 14 pound turkeys and they had to be pre-ordered. What a production that was! We had a special 55 gallon plastic trash can that was bought new and stored each year just for the purpose of brining the turkeys. The can would be scrubbed and sanitized each year. Next the turkeys would be cleaned and washed. One by one into the can they went.
The recipe for the brine came from Cooking Light magazine but I don’t know what year. I still get that magazine, although I had cut out a lot of others for lack of reading time. I admire them for the change they made years back when they realized a tablespoon of cream or a pat of butter would not undo a person and would often add so much to the flavor and mouth feel of the recipe. They also are still the only magazine I know that publishes weights for baking recipes. Anyway, I sound like a commercial for them, but it’s a great magazine as far as I am concerned.
Brining meats adds moisture, flavor and a much better end product. It is perfect for turkeys or turkey breasts as they can be rather dry after roasting, especially if it isn’t pumped up with liquids before hand, which product I discourage. The original recipe calls for skinning the turkey breast but I leave it on as an additional safeguard to keeping it moist. The breast will be roasted standing up. It will brown considerably if it isn’t lightly covered with foil due to the honey and brown sugar. The brine is very straight forward, using thyme, honey, brown sugar a lot of salt and pepper plus water. We made huge batches of brine and submerged the turkeys under it for a day. After removing them, they were patted dry, the skin was oiled and they were placed in disposable roaster pans to be taken home and roasted – instructions included. People who had never roasted a turkey were elated (if they followed the instructions that were enclosed) and came back year after year for the turkeys they could roast on Thanksgiving day. Continue reading Brined Turkey with All Purpose Gravy
I have absolutely no idea how this Savory Apple Chutney Bread Pudding came about. I am not even a chutney nut. But I love bread puddings – sweet or savory. See the Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding for a really special sweet version. Hmmm, I thought I had posted my favorite Chocolate Bread Pudding with Kahlua Cream Anglaise, but to my surprise found I have taught it but not blogged it. Next year!
In my ongoing effort this November to give you new choices for Thanksgiving, this bread pudding fits right in. The apple chutney, with it’s red peppers, cider vinegar, brown sugar and ginger is a little sweet and has a nice bite to it from the cinnamon, red pepper flakes, mustard and nutmeg. The chutney itself would be good as a side dish for pork also. I use Granny Smith apples for their lack of sweetness and coupled it with brown sugar cinnamon bagels. I like the bagels because they absorb a good amount of liquid without falling apart. The result is a little sweet and a little tangy. The chutney can be made a week ahead ready to assemble for the final dish. Continue reading Savory Apple Chutney Bread Pudding
This Sweet Potato and Pineapple Salad is an unusual combination of fruit and vegetable and is the perfect accompaniment to chicken, turkey and pork. Roasting the potatoes and pineapple bring out sweetness and flavor. The sweet potato is the large edible root belonging to the morning-glory family. It is native to the tropical areas of the Americas. There are many varieties of sweet potatoes but the two grown commercially are the large pale sweet potato whose skin is thin and the flesh is pale with the flesh being dry and crumbly. The second variety is the Garnet sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing. Yams are a different species and rarely found or grown in the States Look for Garnet sweet potatoes if they are marked. They are generally more slender, smooth skinned and more red in color. The flesh is sweet, orange and great for baking or mashing. I found them marked as Garnet sweet potatoes in one of the grocery stores the other day.
The pecans add crunch and the raisins sweetness to the salad.
The dressing is a combination of sweet and tart with a bit of heat from the ginger. White balsamic vinegar is a boon to salads as it doesn’t discolor the salad as does the dark.
Sweet Potato and Pineapple Salad is a great change up salad for Thanksgiving although we eat it anytime of the year. Continue reading Sweet Potato and Pineapple Salad
European Tarts – Divinely Doable Desserts with Little or No Baking will be released on December 1st – just in time for the holidays. So start making a list of anyone you ever knew that likes to cook/bake/eat. For an advance peek at the blog, go to www.europeantarts.com,
This is a unique concept in cookbook publishing. While this book is fantastic for anyone interested in baking, the blog that accompanies it makes it almost foolproof for anyone. The blog holds a lot of how to photographs, just like this blog, to assist anyone who needs additional help or just wants to see how I do something. So please do visit it to see what I mean.
European Tarts has been an unbelievable journey from start to finish. My birthday is Saturday and I couldn’t imagine my life being any better. Three weeks later, I will be married for 50 years. Mike, my two sons, their life partners, and two grandsons add up to much to be grateful for. Add to that this book, TV, being a pastry chef for Tony’s and blogging. Wow! Who knew?
I want to thank all of you who visit each week or just occasionally for your support. Your comments brighten my life and I enjoy knowing what you like, or don’t, and what you think. As a child, my parents were beside themselves because I just hated eating (they should see me now!). What a turn of events to have made food my life. I think what I learned early on was never to be to sure of what I did or didn’t like. Life has a way of changing your perspective on almost anything if you keep an open mind. It is a challenge at my age to keep up with what is current, especially in publishing and the internet.
Someone gave me a sweatshirt I still own and love. On the front it says, “God put me on earth to do a certain number of things. Right now, I am so far behind, I will never die.” While the sentiment is true – I’m having the time of my life!