Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cupcakes By Melissa

The other night we celebrated Tessie's birthday!  She turned two.  We went on a lovely walk during the evening to let her enjoy the nice summer like weather in spring and to pick out her birthday cupcake(s).  She knew it was her special day and she made sure everyone else around in the cupcake store and on the street knew she was special.  Bo joined in -- funny how dogs and animals can sense so much!  It's all about our energy! 

We've got another birthday to celebrate tomorrow!  Wait - actually it's today.  I'm up so late tonight - didn't even realize.  Jim had to work on a brief or something legal so I decided to watch a movie.  I watched the Romantics.   A couple of good songs from the movie.  Brutal Heart - take a listen.  A friend invited me to the private screening of Mirror Mirror last week.  It comes out March 30th.  I liked the costumes. It was a different role than we've seen Julia Roberts play.

Better go get my birthday boy and get to bed.  Sweet dreams to all.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fun At Riverside

Coq Au Vin

4 slices of Bacon
4 cloves of garlic peeled and diced 

1/2 can of tomato paste
1 whole chicken
1 cup of pearl onions
1/2 onion
1 cup of mushrooms cut
1 cup of carrots cut
2 cups of chicken broth
Olive Oil spray
1 tbs butter or olive oil

 Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, lay the chicken out and sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, add chicken and brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add the carrots, chopped onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the red wine, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Then add paste and chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. In the same pan use a tbs of butter or olive oil and add the pearl frozen onions and mushrooms and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Colorful Spring Treat

  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp/4 1/2oz/125g confectioners' sugar
  • generous 1 1/3 cups/125g/4 1/2oz ground almonds
  • 1 1/2oz/40g egg whites
  • 2 tbsp water
  • generous 1/2cup/4oz/110g superfine sugar
  • 2oz/50g egg whites
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Shredded coconut, for sprinkling (optional)
  • 2/3 cup/5floz/150ml heavy or whipped cream, whipped 
  • Pastry bag fitted with a 1/2in (1cm) tip

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the confectioners' sugar, ground almonds, and 1 1/2oz (40g) egg whites together in a large bowl and mix to a paste.

Put the water and superfine sugar in a small pan and heat gently to melt the sugar, then turn up the heat and boil it until the mixture starts to go syrupy and thickens. I don't use a thermometer but it would read 239 degrees F (115 degrees C).

Whisk the remaining egg whites in a small bowl until medium-stiff peaks form, then pour in the sugar, syrup, whisking until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny.

For colored macarons, add a few drops of food coloring. Tip this meringue mixture into the almond paste mixture and stir gently until the becomes stiff and shiny again.

Spoon into the pastry bag. Pipe a little mixture under each corner of the parchment paper to stop it sliding around. With the bag held vertically, pipe 1 1/2in (4cm) flat circles onto the lined sheet, about 34 in (2cm) apart, twisting the bag after each one. The mixture should be quite loose to give a smooth finish. The piping will leave a small "tip" on each circle so, when they're all piped, give the sheet 2 to 3 slams on a flat surface to flatten them.
At this stage, sprinkle with shredded coconut if you want. Let stand for 30 minutes to form a skin, then bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes with the door slightly ajar, until firm. Remove from the oven, then lift the paper off the baking sheet and let the macarons cool on the paper.

When cool, sandwich the macarons together with whipped cream. They can be kept for a couple of days, if they hang around that long.
From: Simply Baking, Cooking Network

Suprise Visit

My dad flew in for dinner with us last Friday.  So sweet - enjoyed every moment!

Salad Dressings

Honey Vin Dressing Ingredients – all recipes

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
 Whisk balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

Honey Vin - Alton Brown

  • 5 tablespoons medium body honey
  • 3 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Serve as a dressing or a dip.  Serves 4 – 6.

Apple Cider Vin Dressing
3 tbs Apple cider vin
1/3 cup Olive oil
2 tbs Dijon mustard
Pepper to taste
1 tbs Honey or maple syrup
Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Large salad for 2.

Chicken Marbella

Any combination of split breast and leg quarters can be used in this recipe.

1/3 cup pitted green olives, rinsed
1/3 cup pitted prunes
3 tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbs capers, rinsed
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Pinch red pepper flakes

2 1/2 – 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on split chicken breast and/or leg quarters, trimmed
Kosher salt and pepper
2 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup pitted green olives, rinsed and havled
1 tbs capers, rinsed
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup pitted prunes, chopped coarse
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tbs minced fresh parsley

For The Paste:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.  Pulse all ingredients in food processor until finely chopped, about ten 1 second pulses.  Scrape down bowl and continue to process until mostly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.  Transfer to bowl.  (Paste can be refrigerated up to 24 hours)

For The Chicken:
Pat Chicken dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle chicken pieces with 1 1/2 tsp salt and season with pepper.

Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium high heat until just smoking.  Add chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving it until well browned, 5 to 8 minutes.  Transfer chicken to large plate.  Drain off all but 1 tsp fat from skillet and return to medium low heat.

Add 1/3 cup paste to skillet and cook, siring constantly, until fragrant and fond forms on pan bottom, 1 to 32 minutes.  Stir in broth, wine, olives, capers, and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits.  Return chicken to pan, skin side up (skin should be above surface of liquid), and roast uncovered for 15 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven and use back of spoon to spread reaming paste over chicken pieces; sprinkle prunes around chicken.  Continue to roast until paste begins to brown, breast register 160 degrees, and leg quarters 175 degrees 7 to 12 mins longer.

Transfer chicken to serving platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil.  Remove bay leaves from sauce and whisk in butter, vinegar, and 1 tbs parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour sauce around chicken, sprinkle with remaining 1 tbs parsley and serve.


Lamb Sliders

What You Need:
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. minced yellow onion
12 oz. ground lamb
4 oz. ground pork
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. each finely chopped parsley,
mint, and dill
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1⁄2 tsp. ground coriander
1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 scallion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,
to taste
1⁄3 cup crumbled feta cheese
10 leaves baby arugula
8 black olives in oil, drained, pitted,
   and roughly chopped
8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  and roughly chopped
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 hamburger buns, toasted

1. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in an 8" skillet over high heat. Add onions; cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer onions to a plate; let cool. In a bowl, mix onions, lamb, pork, mustard, herbs, spices, garlic, scallions, and salt and pepper. Form meat into two 1"-thick patties; set aside.

2. Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or heat a gas grill to medium-high (or heat a tablespoon of canola oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat). Grill burgers, flipping once, until browned and cooked to desired doneness, about 10 minutes for medium rare. In a small bowl, combine feta, arugula, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes; toss with the remaining oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Place each burger on the bottom half of a bun and top each with the vegetables and bun top.

Borrowed Fun Ideas

I saw this on a friends blog and thought it was fun!

Note: keep out of tile grout sealer and on hard surface like 
the tub because it's hard to clean the grout and in some cases stains it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Friend's Visit

My dear friend Steve was in town recently - we had a lovely lunch together.  I was so glad to reconnect with him.  We studied together at Reading University in Reading, England.  He is as the British say, "A love!"

Happy St. Patty's Day

An Oldie But A Goodie And.....

An Old NYC establishment that is as good if not better than when it started......

Master Brothers Chocolate is soon to be an NY establishment over in Brooklyn.....