Monday, November 14, 2011

Ever - So Da Bread

With the holidays quickly approaching I love to have fresh bread available when family and friends pop in for lunch or a late night sandwich. This soda bread recipe is easy, flavorful and yeast-less. Its aroma is wonderful and will make your home smell warm and cozy this holiday season.

Soda Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
This recipe is for one extra large loaf baked on a large floured baking sheet or for two loaves baked in two 8" by 4" greased loaf pans.

4 1/2 cups flour
4 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1 1/2 tsps. baking soda
1 1/2 tsps. salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups buttermilk
3 egg, lightly beaten
4 tblsp. butter, melted

In a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in the sugar. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk, eggs and cooled butter. Stir until well blended but not sticky. If using a baking sheet, turn onto a well-floured board and shape until round, about 2 inches high. Then place on a floured baking sheet. You can score the top of the bread if you like. If using two loaf pans, lightly grease them and just pour in the batter until half way full. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool in baking sheet or pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes then remove from pans and place bread on a wire rack until cool.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Taste of Summer in New York


New York is always a great place for delicious culinary adventures. This past week I feasted at Rothchild's in Brooklyn, The Shake Shack in Madison Square Park and Beecher's in Flatiron.

Rothchild's

Rothchild's is a sultry little New Orleans style restaurant with big flavor. The traditional eggs benedict were the best I've had anywhere and their signature eggs benedict in artichokes are simply luscious. Its a great place for a heavenly lunch or a late night dinner and well worth the subway ride from Manhattan.


Shake Shack

The Shake Shack in Madison Square Park is a great place to indulge in quality hamburgers and chicken hot dogs grilled to perfection. Their toppings are always fresh and almost unlimited, giving you the opportunity to create one of your own culinary masterpieces. The park provides a wonderful place in the city to relax, view some cutting edge art and enjoy a satisfying lunch.


Beecher's

Beecher's at E. 20th and Broadway in Flatiron is a cheese lover's paradise. You can sit on a milk can at their counter, watch cheese being made and indulge on some of the best mac' and cheese around. I enjoyed Beecher's for its earthy atmosphere and snob-less delicious comfort food. Its a great new addition to the tastes of summer in New York.






Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quiche and Tell


During my last trip to France I spent a glorious day at Giverny exploring Claude Monet's house and gardens. Since I am an avid gardener the impressionistic landscapes were my primary focus. Stepping out of Monet's house and ambling along the garden path was like walking through the Garden of Eden. The bursting colors of the flowers and their heavenly aromas were breathtaking. After many hours of experiencing this feast for the eyes, I naturally began to feel hungry and searched for a place to experience a feast of another kind...

I dined at the Ancien Hotel Baudy on Rue Claude Monet and had the most wonderful quiche lorraine tart. I used to love to make this quiche years ago when it first became popular in the United States. I promised myself to make quiche lorraine again once I arrived home and it has become my favorite thing to bake this summer. I usually double the recipe and make two tarts so that I can freeze one to heat up another time when unexpected family and friends pop in for brunch or supper. It is great for a light change when the summer grill needs a rest.

Here is my favorite easy recipe for quiche lorraine. All you need to do is make some couscous with pine nuts and dried cherries, toss a fresh garden salad on the side, and voila.... you have a delicious feast worthy of Claude Monet!






Quiche Lorraine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
8" pie pan

Quiche pastry (If you are in a hurry you can use a thawed frozen pie shell instead of making your own)
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 lb. butter
4 egg yolks (save one egg white)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. salt
ice cold milk

Place the flour in a large bowl making a well in the center. Put the butter, egg yolks, Parmesan cheese and salt in the well. With your fingers work all the ingredients in the center into a smooth paste then work in the flour. Add a bit of ice cold milk to make the dough gather more easily. Shape dough into a ball and roll out on a floured surface until about 10" round. Line the 8" pie pan with the dough. Prick the bottom and sides of the quiche pastry with a fork. Brush on a little unbeaten egg white on the bottom then fill and bake as per recipe's directions.

Custard
4 egg yolks
1 cup whipping cream
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Blend all the ingredients together and set aside.

Quiche Lorraine
1 lb. bacon
1/2 lb. Gruyere cheese
prepared custard
prepared 8" quiche shell

Fry bacon until crisp (I do mine in the microwave) drain and cut into 2" pieces. Slice the Gruyere cheese and fill the prepared shell with overlapping pieces of bacon and cheese. Pour in the custard and bake for 35 minutes.









Friday, June 10, 2011

Appetizing Asia

Dim Sum...Yum Yum!

My team of culinary adventurers just returned from China and Hong Kong with sumptuous pictures of the fabulous exotic cuisine that they found. Stroll with me down Beijing's bustling Night Food Market to see what unusual delectables the vendors are offering. Much of the food is grilled, but I think you will see that China's barbecue menu is very different from the ones we are used to serving in the United States. Creativity is a must when you have to feed over a billion people. Next time you are not sure what to make for that special summer dinner party, remember that almost anything looks good on a skewer as long as its cooked on a grill!

Beijing's Night Food Market



Meatball Soup


Chestnuts


Dumplings


Cicadas


Scorpions


Pigeons


Fresh Fish and Crustaceans (ready to be cooked)


Noodles and Skewered Meats


Rice and Meat Steamed in Banana Leaves


Candied Fruit


Delivering Fruit to Market



Desserts


Ramen Noodle Chips (great snack for the road)


A fabulous culinary adventure was had by all!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rites of Spring - My Favorite Cake Recipe


While on a spring blogging break this past month I spent time going through all the recipes I have accumulated over the years. What treasures I found! Yummy delights from aunts, uncles, friends and colleagues filling up my very swollen recipe box. I decided to pick out the very best ones to include in a recipe book I am creating for my children to savour. This truly was the most enjoyable spring cleaning I've ever done!

I plan to share my favorite recipes on subsequent posts expanding my focus from baking to all that is culinary and tasteful. Look for featured posts about epicurean adventures from my crew of international taste travelers throughout this year.

Here is a favorite cake recipe from my cousin Sylvia for mini chiffon cakes. They are deliciously light and sophisticated. A perfect treat for spring.

Mini Chiffon Cakes

1 deep dish muffin tray (makes about 12 mini cakes)

Preheat oven to 340 degrees

1 cup plus 1 tbsp. cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
6 medium eggs separated
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
scant 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tbsp. turbinado sugar (to be used just before baking)

Sift together the flour and baking powder twice and set aside.

Combine the egg yolks, salt, vanilla, and half the sugar (about 6 tbsp.) and whisk until pale yellow. Whisk in the water and then the oil for 4 minutes. Fold in the flour mixture and whisk batter until blended (about 2 minutes).

In a large bowl combine the egg whites and sugar and beat until stiff.

With a rubber spatula gently fold in a third of the beaten egg whites into the batter until blended. Add the rest of the egg whites to the batter again gently folding until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin about 2/3 full. Sprinkle the top of the cakes with the turbinado sugar. Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. When done cool the tray inverted on a cooling rack.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"I Want What She's Having"


Every time we watch the Oscar's we reminisce about our favorite feel good movies. One of cinema's best "When Harry Met Sally" always makes us smile with its mix of delightful comedy and relationship drama. The most memorable scene in the movie takes place in New York City at Katz's Delicatessen on Houston Street, where Sally is a bit overly enthusiastic about the meal she is sharing with Harry. We visited Katz's Deli while in New York last month relishing the authentic deli atmosphere and feasting on their outrageously fabulous pastrami. We agree that Katz's is definitely getting a two thumbs up from us. So, next time your in the Big Apple and are looking for delicious food and dialogue, eat at Katz's Delicatessen. Maybe you'll be seated at Sally's table and you might hear a patron whispering to their server...I want what she's having...pastrami.



Sunday, February 6, 2011

Red Velvet Brownies


With Valentines Day right around the corner I was thinking red. Our divine Red Velvet Cake is a classic standard for Cupid's day, but what about a little twist on the norm? I love the texture of brownies, why not incorporate the two, and voila!!...Red Velvet Brownies. I topped these with our fluffy vanilla icing, but a cream cheese icing would be lovely as well, or just plain naked!
Our Valentines Day gift to you...

Red Velvet Brownies

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 oz. bottle red liquid food coloring
1 1/2 tsp.baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom & sides of 9" square pan with foil, lightly grease foil.
2. Microwave chocolate & butter in a large microwave safe bowl at high for 11/2-2 minutes or until melted & smooth. Whisk in sugar, add eggs, 1 at a time, stirring after each addition. Gently stir in flour & next 4 ingredients. Pour into prepared pan.
3. Bake at 350 for 40-48 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely.
4. Lift brownies from pan & remove foil. Frost with icing of your choice or just enjoy as they are!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Step Into The Limelight


We discovered a real gem this past week in New York City. Limelight Marketplace at 656 6th Avenue near West 20th Street is a must visit if you love independent boutique-like shops and interesting architecture. The Marketplace has something for everyone including restaurants, bakeries and retail shops all nestled in a renovated 1840s church complete with gorgeous stained glass windows and Gothic limestone columns and arches.

One of our favorite places in Limelight was the Sweet Room where we found a wonderful variety of petite shops selling chocolates, brownies, cupcakes, cakes and even whoopie pies. There was also a great little gourmet market of fresh breads, cheeses, pastas, spices and coffees. We enjoyed the fabulous crafty hatters, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, furniture and clothing boutiques. All this shopping exploration definitely brought out the foodie in us so we stopped at The Wine Bar for a yummy lunch. Highly recommended for delicious food at nice prices.

Visit Limelight Marketplace the next time you are in Manhattan. Its a delightful place to spend an afternoon shopping, eating and enjoying beautiful architecture.