Monday, December 29, 2014

Dark Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peels and a Whole Foods Giveaway

                                                         "Dark Chocolate Covered Orange Peels
                                            are simple to make and even easier to eat!"


The year's end is suddenly upon us and it has hit me with a vengeance; a good kind of vengeance though. The kind that says it is good to be begin again. Though we haven't had Alex's company, we have had the pleasure of Zoe's, and I certainly hope she wants to do it again. We've crammed in massages and movies and museums. She's skied and I've cooked and the refrigerator is more full than I remember it in the last year. We've celebrated Hanukkah, eaten banh mi's, chili mac and steak, and last night we had a full fledged Thanksgiving, even though the table wasn't decorated with pumpkins and gourds.

We still have New Year's to go, but she will be with friends so it looks like I'll be cooking for just my friends. I do expect though that she and the boyfriend will probably be coming back in time for dessert and whatever else might be around to stuff into their mouth's! It's been a grand visit and it isn't even close to being over. Today she is with her dad helping him choose new glass frames and I thank her for that!


It is freezing in no uncertain terms outside, so I figured it best to dream of places where citrus grows on trees. No, Whole Foods didn't tell me to say that, but they do want us to think abut citrus and it sure seems like a good thought right now. Seriously though, the stores are ripe with oranges and grapefruits and Buddha's hands. They look like mysterious ghostly hands made of giant lemon peels. Pick one up and inhale its aroma. I adore the smell of Buddha's hands!



I am not a big user of citrus because I never ever liked things like orange marmalade or lemon meringue pie. Lemon in sweet food never really did it for me, nor did orange, and after being on the grapefruit diet in high school; well, I never really liked grapefruit much after that. However I will imbibe a Salty Dog now and then, but only if the conditions are right.

One thing I do love though, is freshly squeezed orange juice. Winter often found us in Phoenix visiting my parents and way back when, one was able to find orange groves with juice stands just standing by the side of the road. My dad would pick up gallons of juice for us to drink and that was always so special. It's been awhile since I've seen an orange grove in Phoenix. I guess the orange groves have now become shopping malls and I do miss them. Blossoming orange trees are just the best.


Well, this month begins the citrus deluge in our local groceries. What a perfect thing to start a new year with! I,of course, was wanting to make a little something sweet with them, so seeing how chocolate covered orange peels were always a favorite of Manservant's, I decided they probably wouldn't be too hard to make. Every year around Passover I buy him these treats, but they seem to be getting harder and harder to find. Well, I've solved the problem. These are so easy to make as long as you can peel an orange. Please don't tell me you can't peel an orange. All right. I admit, my mom used to peel them for me. They always seemed to taste better that way.



Whole Foods has some favorite foods in the market right now. Hopefully you will still be able to find their brand of gingerbread sandwich creams. These would taste great with a slice of chocolate covered orange peels. I also can't wait to try the Madecasse  chocolate bar (made in Africa) that I splurged on. I'm taking that to the movies today to eat with my popcorn and I don't know if I'm more excited about going to the movies, or eating the chocolate bar!

Check out Whole Foods for citrus, but also be sure to check around for hidden goodies. They have lots of items that you can't find any other time of year. Take advantage now. After all, the year is quickly coming to a close. Get it while you can!



Dark Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peels
Makes about 1 cup
Time to make: About 30 minutes
Ingredients:
Peel from several large oranges, pith cut away and sliced into thin strips
1/2 c water
2 T sugar
A few tablespoons of super fine sugar (optional)
1 c dark chocolate

Directions:

Blanch peel in saucepan of boiling water for one minute. Drain and run under cool running water. Repeat the process.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Boil water and sugar in a small heavy saucepan over medium low heat, until sugar dissolves. Add peel and simmer until almost no liquid remains. Transfer peel to prepared sheet, separating into strips. Cool completely. When almost cooled, I sprinkled these with superfine sugar on one side.


When peels have cooled, melt your chocolate in a small bowl. I do this in a microwave on a low power for about one minute each time, whisking in between until chocolate is smooth. Now dip each individual peel into chocolate and carefully lay then back on the paper. Let harden in fridge and then enjoy!


Other great foods to start the New Year:
Bacon and Egg Breakfast Salad
Green Chili Egg Souffle
Saigon Crunch Chex Mix
Mussels in White Wine
Green Posole
Portuguese Chicken Stew
Chocolate Lava Cakes

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chocolate Fudge Cookies by Candlelight


Ever since I've been back from Phoenix I've been working like a dog to get everything put away. Just like a dog who searches for the best place to bury his bone, I've been looking for the perfect place for that certain picture or piece of furniture. This is good in the sense that I love cleaning out and throwing away. I also love new arrangements of knickknacks and other common hoi polloi. I'm one of those that arranges according to the season. Please, no rolling of the eyes.

What I don't love is all the mess that this creates. Who knew that moving one piece of art would create reasons to move three more? And how does all that damn dust ever get behind those hanging paintings? And I never knew that nails could rust if they are pounded into a wall. I don't like things out of place. I need to feel a certain sense of order around me. Even in college I couldn't study unless there was a sense of neatness around me. There are a few that would say that was just an excuse; but we won't name names.

So, between getting everything put away and bringing out all of my menorahs and other important artifacts of the holidays, I am going crazy. For example, I love candles. My friends that know me well, know that my house is lit by candlelight in the winter. OK. Not to see by, but to be seen by. I love the feeling of warmth that is created when a house is lit by candles. It is this feeling that makes a house decide to become a home. I can honestly feel the thermostat rise, when all are burning.


Now one might think that finding candles is easy. Trust me on this. I am picky about my candles. I do not like scented candles. I do not like weird colors, though I do like some colors. I tend to like pure colors; not wishy washy ones. I do not like to spend a fortune on candles, so I am careful where I shop. I have good luck with tapers from Hobby Lobby. Sometimes I can find them at Cost Plus. Pier One? No. Expensive boutiques always have candles, but not always tapers. Or reasonably priced cylinders.And usually they all smell. Some good; most not. Michaels has really cheap candles, but I don't like them. They are an ungodly shade of red and just like bright red lipstick makes many a tart-well that is what the wrong shade of red candles does to a house/home. 

And what's with all this LED crap? These are not candles. They are high tech fakes. Really, have folks forgotten how to light a match? They spread no warmth; they have no wax to clean up and they always have batteries that need replacing. Using them means there are no leftover candles to start a fire with. I just want  a few blue shades of tapers. Maybe some cylinders. I don't want aqua or navy. I love Vance Kittera candles but his blue is so faint, I think it is gray. So this year, white it is. And maybe a few off white. I've already bought 18 tapers and still need at least 4 more. I've totally given up on finding pillars. I am tired of venturing out to at least 6 stores, just to find candles.

So I'm going a bit overboard, you might say; Manservant does say. He tells me just to go get expensive ones because time is money. Well, if that was the case, I'd be rich! And besides I haven't even found any of those I like. But when a girl is on a mission, failure is not an option. I've been so crazed that I showed up at the doctor's a day early. Who does that?


Well, tomorrow Salvation Army comes to pick up our STUFF. We have a lot of STUFF. It served us well and I will not be sorry to see it go. I am so not sentimental about STUFF. They, however do not take big old TV's. I've had numerous inquiries on Craig's List for said TV, but no one ever follows through. Hopefully, with all this gone, my head will clear and I will be able to focus on candles. 

In the meantime, I'm just going to offer the Salvation Army truck driver some cookies. That is if he'll take my TV. Really, these cookies are so worth it. They were a first for me. I clipped them out of the paper long ago and they are attributed to Maida Heatter; Queen of baking. I don't know what took me so long to try these. Manservant wondered the same. These are a perfect cross of fudge and brownie, but all in one perfect cookie shape. I'm not telling you they are pretty, but for anyone that loves a chewy brownie or a glorious piece of fudge, they are truly a thing of beauty.

And don't forget.They are best eaten in front of a roaring fire, with white candles to light the room. Just as candles make a house a home, well, we all know that home baked cookies do the same!


Chocolate Fudge Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen
Time to make: About 15 minutes
Time to eat: about 2 seconds
Time to bake: About 7 minutes

Ingredients:
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips or a mixture of bittersweet and semisweet
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla extract
1 T bourbon (optional)
1/2 t salt
1 c flour
2 1/4 c toasted pecans, broken into large pieces
Maldon Salt flakes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt chocolate and butter on low setting, in 1 minute intervals in microwave, stirring at each interval with wooden spoon, until fully melted. Stir until smooth. Stir in condensed milk, vanilla and bourbon. Stir in flour and toasted pecans.

Using a rounded teaspoonful, place dough on parchment or Silpat lined sheets.  Sprinkle with salt, if you'd like. Bake 7 minutes. These will look glossy and wet and totally unbaked. Don't worry. Let them cool completely. Transfer to wire rack until bottom is dry. I keep them sealed in a giant Zip-Lock and they have tasted great for 5 days. Give some to your Salvation Army truck driver in hopes he will take your TV.

More December Food:
Gingerbread Waffles
Liege Waffles
Not My Mamas Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken, Artichoke, Mushroom Casserole
Spritz Cookies
Shortbread Cookie Cut Outs

British Scones
Chocolate Krantz Cake or Babka
Double Chocolate Mocha Macadamia Bark
Browned Butter Cream Cheese Apricot Rugelach
Soft Chocolate Crackles with Mint M and M's
World Peace Cookies
Latke 1 or Latke 2
Sweet Potato Latkes
Sweet Family Favorites



  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Maple Glazed Maple Walnut Scones


One of the fun things about writing a blog is reading other blogs. I really don't have enough time to read as many as I'd like, because there are so many good ones out there. Yes, many people are just looking for THE recipe, but after awhile if one reads a blog you get to feel like you know someone. You get a feel for their tastes and what they like to cook or what they have fun doing. One starts to feel connected, which explains why I never get to read as many as I want. It takes me a long time just to read the ones I follow regularly. I always try to share a bit of my life on my blog because I think that makes it seem more interesting, but if you are just coming for the recipe, that's OK, too. Of course, I also write because one day I hope my kids will be reading these bits and pieces and sharing them with their kids! (Well, that is if they ever have kids!)

Many people think that one has to invent their own recipe to post it, but I really don't agree with this. I think a good recipe is like a great painting. Share it with the world and the world will be a better place. Not everyone has the time to search for a good recipe, so I look at blogging as a way to help others out. Just like I've always believed that getting 2-3 good recipes out of a cookbook is worth it, I also believe that finding a blogger because I like what they post, is worth it too. Cookbooks are my friend in the kitchen, just as bloggers have become my friends also. I love to see the creativity, the photos and the personality of the blogger in what I read.




There are so many recipes out there that it is hard to sort through them all. If I can find a blogger or a book that helps make it easier, than that is good news for me. Once I discovered Pinterest, I started pinning lots of recipes that I hope to try one day. Just like all the great books, I want to read in my lifetime, there are many outstanding recipes I hope to cook. Pinterest is one way I keep track and gain many new ideas. Follow me if you want and see what I like. I'm not a huge pinner, but it has become my own bulletin board, so to speak!


Last year I found this recipe for maple scones on "The View from Great Island". I pinned it to save and bake because I love maple and I love scones. I used to order the maple scones from Starbuck's, but I really don't frequent there anymore, and besides they were always just OK. If I remember correctly, they were kind of dry and dense and crumbly, in a messy kind of way.




Well, thanks goodness for Sue! Sue's maple scones are everything I would want in a scone. They are moist, but not too moist. They are light, but not too light. And they are easy to make. The glaze is incredible and the toasted walnuts give these scones a fabulous texture! Plus they taste unbearably good. These are huge and it is hard to stop with just one.


These were a hit in my home around Thanksgiving and since Manservant and I were the only ones home, that means I ate them all! Dangerous stuff,these scones. I did manage to stick a few in the freezer for when Zoe comes home. Now I can't wait for Sunday morning! Give them a try and go visit Sue. She has a fun blog and posts a variety of creative things. Plus, her photos are like WAY better than mine!




Maple Glazed Maple Walnut Scones (Adapted from The View From Great Island)

Makes 12
Time to make: About 40 minutes and 20 minutes for baking
Ingredients:
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c oats
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/3 c sugar
1/4 c brown or maple sugar (I used brown)
1 stick cold butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
2/3 c buttermilk
2 T maple syrup
1 t real maple extract (Target has this and it is good)
1 c toasted walnuts

Glaze:

1 largish cup of powdered sugar
2 T maple syrup
1/2 t maple extract
A few tablespoons of milk or cream

Directions: 

Using a food processor, place flour, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugars into bowl of processor. Pulse to combine. While motor is running, drop in chunks of cold butter. Now throw in the toasted, but cooled walnuts, and briefly pulse. In a measuring cup, lightly beat the egg, then add the maple syrup and extracts. Then add enough cold buttermilk to bring the liquid to one cup. With motor running, pour the liquid slowly into the bowl of the processor until mixture starts to form a wet, moist ball.

On a well floured counter, scrape out the wet dough and bring together with floured hands into a large round or square, flouring both sides well. Divide in two and using your hands pat each into a 6-8" disc. These should be thick. Cut each round into 6 triangles. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat and chill dough for about 20 minutes.


Preheat oven to 400. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes until scones are lightly browned and firm on top.


While scones are baking, prepare glaze. Combine powdered sugar, maple extract and syrup and mix together with a whisk. Stir in 1 T of milk or cream at a time, until glaze is of a drizzling or spreadable consistency. Let scones cool and drizzle away! Garnish with a few extra walnuts if you'd like.


Please Pin and Share!



More December Food:

Gingerbread Waffles
Liege Waffles
Not My Mamas Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken, Artichoke, Mushroom Casserole
Spritz Cookies
Shortbread Cookie Cut Outs

British Scones
Chocolate Krantz Cake or Babka
Double Chocolate Mocha Macadamia Bark
Browned Butter Cream Cheese Apricot Rugelach
Soft Chocolate Crackles with Mint M and M's
World Peace Cookies
Latke 1 or Latke 2
Sweet Potato Latkes

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chicken Soup Chicken (Just What the Doctor Ordered!)

"Chicken Soup Chicken is just what the doctor ordered!"


After a road trip filled with all varieties of junk food, I was ready for some comfort food. Junk food isn't my forte, though I must say that Manservant did enjoy his McDonald's and Sonic burgers along the way. I had a few French fries, but even those don't hold the appeal for me that they used to many years ago. And of course you all know we didn't have pie, so peanut M and M's took its place. We did keep a container of hummus next to us, to round things out a bit!

Well, Tuesday morning found me without dog food which means I had to go get some at the organic pet food store. My dog eats food that costs more than what I eat. In her defense though, it has meant that she was able to go off of expensive allergy pills and though she still scratches, she doesn't scratch as much. We adopted her 4 years ago and had no idea she came with so much tsurris. (Yiddish for problems.) She is blind in one eye and going blind in another and she is only 7 1/2 years old. I am guessing she came from a puppy mill, but I have no idea. What one does for love!



But back to the grocery. I picked up a chicken and decided to make what I'm calling Chicken Soup Chicken. I didn't feel like soup, but I felt like the flavors of soup. I had on hand some parsnips, carrots and celeriac, so besides the chicken I picked up a leek. Dinner was looking good. I've been so busy with reorganizing and finding a spot for all my new things that I got this ready to put in the oven at dinner time. I love meals like that.



So judge for yourself. My chicken turned out to be soothing and just what the doctor ordered to take away Manservant's taste of McDonald's. This isn't a roast chicken and the veggies aren't roasted, but are soft and soothing.The juice from the chicken glorifies the veggies and has all the flavor of chicken soup, but on a plate and not in a bowl.

And now to confession time. I wrote this post last week. Well, part of this post. I had planned on writing most every day last week and look what happened.  I spent my week unpacking, rearranging and now have a garage of furniture and other items to give away. Life has been getting in the way of this blog! Salvation Army arrives on Friday to hopefully give me a space to park, as it is the snowy season. And it did snow last night. I like a garage that is used as a garage, not as a used furniture store!

So onward. Needing some comfort during this holiday season? Try this chicken. It is quick and simple and good. 



Chicken Soup Chicken
Serves 4-6
Active Time: About 25 minutes
Ingredients:
1 T oil
1 bone in chicken, cut into 4 quarters, however sometimes I cut the breast in two since they are so big and discard the backbone
2 peeled parsnips, cut into 8 pieces
2 washed leeks cut into 8 pieces using only lower parts
1/2 celeriac root, cut into big chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
1/4 c softened butter
1 t dill, thyme, garlic powder
1/2 t fresh ground pepper
1 t coarse salt
Bay leaves

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425.
Using a large cast iron skillet, rub one tablespoon of oil on bottom and sides of skillet.Prepare vegetables and place on bottom of skillet. Now take your seasonings and mix with softened butter. Using your hands schmear this butter under the skin of the chicken. Then schmear the rest on top. (And a schmear is much better than a smear, don't you know?) Now take these chicken pieces and place on top of vegetables. And if you feel like it, which you should, sprinkle more seasoning on top. I believe that seasoning is the spice of life! Be a liberal even if you are a conservative, at least when it comes to seasoning! Place bay leaves through out chicken.

Place in preheated oven and bake for about 40-50 minutes. Check your breast meat at the 30 minute mark. Pull it from oven, if needed, as white meat cooks faster. If you'd like a crispier skin, place chicken under broiler before serving. I ate mine unbroiled! Be sure to baste with pan juices throughout cooking process. This keeps the chicken nice and moist. And use those same pan juices as gravy when it comes to serving. I served this over buttered noodles, but rice or mashed potatoes would be great, too!



More December Food:
Gingerbread Waffles
Liege Waffles
Not My Mamas Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken, Artichoke, Mushroom Casserole
Spritz Cookies
Shortbread Cookie Cut Outs

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holy Moly! The Ultimate Katharine Hepburn Brownie


Holy Moly! I've deserted you again. But I'm back; at least for awhile. Phoenix called and wanted everything removed so they could actually park in a garage again. That is what a garage is for, according to some people. So back to Phoenix  I went and this time with Manservant. And this time he really was. A Manservant, I mean. We finally rented a U Haul to transfer some of their belongings to other worthy homes, such as my brother's and mine. And in all fairness this only took about a month since they settled, so I think we did it pretty quick.



This did involve going into four different storage areas plus the said garage, so coordination was required and I'm happy to say all went smoothly even though my parents didn't know where their stuff was being stored. Luckily someone did! IDR moving was great and if you are ever in the Phoenix area and need a mover, they are spectacular. They moved my parents and they helped pack our U Haul, which I was sure wouldn't hold everything; but it did.



We arrived back in Denver by way of Santa Fe, which is one of my favorite places in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. Always stop in Santa Fe whenever you can. It has been way too long since I've been there.


 Before arriving there we traversed New Mexico and stopped in Pie Town. We had just seen this two cafe town featured on a CBS news morning show which declared that there were always pies in Pie Town.



Clearly CBS news didn't get their facts straight. There were no pies in Pie Town on Friday. We drove an extra 40 minutes to discover this. We even Googled before we went.

After saving my appetite for pies, I was greatly disappointed. Both cafes were closed. CLOSED! So now I am really in the mood for baking a pie. For 300 miles we were discussing what flavor of pie we would get. What a bummer. Holy Moly. But right next to Pie Town were these windmills. I have no idea what they were doing. But they were cool. 



And then we discovered this VLA (Very Large Array) telescope site that Manservant says is for listening to see if there are really signs of life in the outer universe. I am sure they heard us talking about the lack of pies in Pie Town, though.



So, Holy Moly. I now have a garage of stuff. I feel like a kid in a candy store. We brought home a king size mattress set that had only been used in their guest house, which means that we were probably the only ones that slept on it. So yesterday we moved out our mattress of at least 27 years (kind of gross, huh?) and put on this one and I slept like a baby last night. My back feels so much better. And a word to the wise. It is not fun being 5' tall and moving two sets of mattresses with a Manservant who is 10" taller. But we did it. What a team!

I also have assorted boxes and some new old cookbooks.I have a new kitchen table and a few pieces of furniture. Not too much, but enough that I need to rearrange to figure out where to put it. The truth is that I love decorating!  And pillows. My Mom had tons of pillows of the "put under your head variety" filled with sweet, soft down. Now Zoe can have a new pillow when she gets home! And we have the elephant that I always wanted. The story is told that on my parents first trip to Hawaii my father carted him home by carrying him onto the plane. Imagine doing that now!


 We also have various items of artwork and they will wish they gave us more because they do not have enough wall space to put it all on, but that is now their problemo! I do now have this great piece that my mother did. Kind of reminds me of New Mexico and Colorado, and I'm not sure she knew I took it. I love it, Mom!


And last but not least-we have wine. Cases and cases of wine. So much wine that we had a wonderful 2006 Syrah with our Smashburger last night. Maybe that's why I slept so well... My mother bought wine like she buys shoes. We have 10 cases of fabulous wine that needs to be drunk now. Yes, mom was apparently quite a prolific buyer about 15 years ago. Luckily, she has great taste and now we are the proud owners of everything she couldn't drink. How we are going to drink it all is beyond me, but we will sure give it a good try. Holy Moly. 

So now here I am. I've been going crazy because this is the time for blogging. This is the time when everyone is looking for the next great recipe to feed their family during these festive holiday weeks. And I have been absent. ABSENT. And I have a lot more to do now than cook. But just like I'm going to give it a fighting chance to drink that wine, I'm going to try to give you lots of great things to eat! 


 Let's start with brownies. I have a hard time deciding between brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Brownies are great when you don't have time to wait around between baking trays of cookies. This is one of my favorite brownie recipes of all time as it is fudgy and full of chocolate. The texture is gooey and dense and totally worth going off your diet for. Oh. I forgot we don't diet over the holidays, do we? 

I load these brownies with all kinds of goodness, but they are also great just kept simple and plain. Toasted walnuts though are superb for texture and taste. Yes, these are attributed to Katharine, and I admit to loving anyone who is an alumna of my daughter's alma mater. I however, baked these long before my daughter chose Bryn Mawr to attend for college. Who knows? Maybe they subliminally pointed they way. Holy Moly. Just bake the brownies. You won't be sorry.


The Ultimate Katharine Hepburn Brownie
16-32 servings
Time to prepare: About 15 minutes Time to Bake: About 40 minutes

Ingredients:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 c sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
11/2 t vanilla
1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1-2 c toasted walnuts
1 c white chocolate chips (optional)
1 c bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)
1 c semisweet chocolate chips  (optional)
1 c raisins (optional)
1 c coconut (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325. Butter and cocoa a 13 x 9 pan. Melt chocolate with butter either in a microwave or on stove. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Stir in the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Stir in flour, salt and nuts and mix. Add other optional items at this point if you want. Spread these into prepared pan. Bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few fudgey crumbs stuck to it. Don't over bake. Let cool before cutting.

Oh, and I almost forgot. The winner of the Whole Foods giveaway for November is: Priscilla S!

Other Great December Eats:
Gingerbread Waffles
Shakshuka in Purgatory
Savory Sweet Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes
Spritz Cookies
World Peace Cookies
Chocolate Krantz Cake or Babka
Chicken Scarpariello


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Caramelized Candied Oranges and Cranberries are Simple and Good!


If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you will know that I am a big fan of St- Germain. It was served to me in a cocktail, a good four years ago, and I haven't stopped drinking it since. I love this blended with wine, champagne or prosecco and of course, in cocktails. St-Germain has a lovely, fragrant, floral taste and unlike many liquors, I think it is of the subtle variety. I often mix  cocktails with it and friends that haven't tasted it before always ask what the secret ingredient is. Yes, you can see what drew me to this recipe.

No, it wasn't the cute, brightly colored mandarins. And it wasn't the red cranberries. It was the three tablespoons of St Germain, that attracted my attention. I liked the simplicity of this recipe and I do love mandarins. My mother never bought them for us, though I do remember seeing them in the countless jello molds that graced every holiday table. My sport of the day was fishing out those tiny slices from the jello and disposing of them quickly in my mouth! For dessert, I surreptitiously took out the bottoms of the Fannie May chocolates to discover which one of those would be my prize.


My kids loved mandarin oranges. I remember dumping them on to their high chair trays and watching them gorge themselves. It wasn't the most appetizing way to serve them, but plastic plates always ended up on the floor! (I am sure new mothers cringe at this thought.) I surmised that since those little slices were in a low sugar syrup, that they must be OK. And as they grew they discovered new ways of eating mandarins. Besides the bags and bags of them that were at every sporting event, they were also found in spinach salads with almonds and goat cheese, and Asian chicken salads and various other concotions. Yes, mandarins were always a part of our life in their own understated way.




Well, this year finds us alone at Thanksgiving. Well, not alone as we've had three requests for our presence at the big meal, and let me tell you this was no easy choice to make! However, we are without the presence of kids so I will have to eat these oranges. Their loss!  Right now Manservant is in Sweden and won't be back until Wednesday night, and so I am cooking. I will get to the cleaning, but right now, I'm having fun catching up on blogging and experimenting with new recipes.


Which leads me to this one. I really liked these jewels! They are glorious and will brighten any table and save the kids from fishing out orange slices from jello molds. I don't know. Do people still make jello molds? These keep in the fridge awhile and are also great over ice cream or in yogurt, or even on pound cake. Or you could do what I did. You could mix them into your favorite gin drink and feel great satisfaction that this simple little recipe also makes a great cocktail! So remember, don't throw away any of this very simple syrup! If you eat all the oranges, strain the syrup and keep it for a rainy day when you need a special drink to see the sun. 




Caramelized Candied Oranges with Cranberries (Bon Appetit, 2011)

Time to make: As long as it takes to peel the oranges
Serves: 10 adults or 5 hungry kids (I halved this recipe without a problem)

Ingredients:

10 large or 20 small mandarin oranges
3 c sugar
3 T St-Germain or Gran Marnier 
1 c fresh cranberries

Directions:

Peel oranges and cut off all the white pith. Bring sugar and 3 c water to boil over medium high heat to dissolve the sugar. Stir in St-Germain and oranges. Remove from heat and cover. Leave overnight. (I actually left these for 24 hours.)

Preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking pan with foil. Using a slotted spoon transfer oranges to pan.(Keep syrup in pot.) Broil until oranges are browned in spots. (I do believe you could skip this step as I think the wee little oranges would still taste good without broiling.) If you want to broil them, broil them about 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned in spots. Transfer to platter or bowl.


Place cranberries in the pot with the syrup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the berries are soft and begin to pop. Spoon cranberries over mandarins and admire their beauty! I chilled this mixture in the syrup in the refrigerator which is where they've been until I spooned them over my yogurt this morning! It is also OK to serve them right away or leave them at room temperature for a few hours and then serve.




Other November Dishes:
Pumpkin Brown Sugar Muffins
Mushroom Lover's Pastry
Smoky Pumpkin Hummus
Hot Brown Sandwich
Tamale Stuffing with Chorizo
Frozen Cranberry Salad
Fresh Cranberry and Apple Salad
Tequila Cranberry Sauce
Waldorf Salad
Brown Sugar Spice Cake with Caramel Glaze
Gingerbread Pear Upside Down Skillet Cake
Whipped Cream Biscuits
Maple Glazed Challah Rolls






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Truffled Scalloped Potatoes - A celebration!

"Truffled Scalloped Potatoes are perfect for celebrations!"


Truffled scalloped potatoes are good. I know because I just had some for breakfast. And I had some for dinner last night. And some for dinner three nights before that. With all that time with scalloped potatoes you would think I could get a good photo of them, but the light of winter just doesn't want to cooperate.

I made these good scalloped potatoes to serve to friends who had lots to celebrate. One daughter just became engaged, the other just got into college and my friend was having a birthday. But we are saving the birthday for another day; after all, kids come first! I didn't want to be in the kitchen and missing out on the celebration so a simple,do ahead meal was on my agenda. And that meal included scalloped potatoes. (But you knew that didn't you?)

And wine. Lots of good wine that kept us busy from 7 until midnight. I love nights like that. Which, of course, is another reason to make scalloped potatoes. Since you make them ahead, you don't have to worry about leaving out an ingredient, which is something to consider when you plan on drinking a lot of wine. All you have to do is cut these into squares and no one minds if the squares are crooked. Ahem!


I don't make scalloped potatoes very often but there are times they come in quite handy. They can be made ahead and reheated, but they stay warm for a long time if you cover them with foil. Which makes these scalloped and truffled potatoes a perfect dish for your Thanksgiving table. I know one has to contend with those who want the mashed variety. And the sweet variety; but honestly make this easy for yourself. Make these so you can drink the wine. AND smell the roses.

Lots of scalloped potato recipes call for heating milk. Some skinny recipes call for using chicken broth. Some call for parboiling the potatoes. Mine calls for none of this. Other than peeling and slicing the potatoes, this one is pretty easy. I use a mandoline of the cheap variety. I love it and it works well. Mine is made by Kyocera and is plastic with a ceramic blade that is easily changed to four different thicknesses with no need to set up.

So let's get to it, shall we? This recipe does call for creme fraiche which is generally found at Trader Joe's and other groceries unless a restaurant comes and buys out their stock. Don't ask me how I know. In which case creme fraiche is really easy to make. Just take 2 cups of heavy cream and stir in 2 T buttermilk. Let sit overnight covered. In the morning you should have a delightfully thick mixture that tastes better than sour cream.

Oh. Lots of little notes for this recipe. You can leave out all the truffle stuff, but since this was a celebration, I went for it. Now that didn't include buying a truffle, which would be lots of fun, but I did use truffle oil, truffle cheese and truffle salt. If I'd wanted I could have also placed a layer of sauteed mushrooms in the middle, but I don't believe in overload. Now who am I kidding?! And last but not least, this is where I buy my truffle salt.


Truffled Scalloped Potatoes (adapted from What's Cooking America?)
8-10 servings
Prep time: about 20-30 minutes
Ingredients:
8 oz English cheddar Italian truffle cheese, grated
2 1/2 lbs peeled, Yellow Finn potatoes, sliced into 1/8" slices
1 onion, sliced as above
Truffle salt and pepper
1 1/2 c creme fraiche
3 T truffle oil
1 T fresh thyme
Directions:
Grease a 10 x 7 or a 13 x 9 baking dish with oil or butter. Preheat oven to 400. 
Peel and slice potatoes and onion. Take 1/2 of potatoes and place evenly into bottom of pan. Sprinkle with truffle salt and pepper and some fresh thyme. Top with 1/2 of the creme fraiche. Spread it on. Top with 1/2 of the truffle cheese. Drizzle with 1 T of truffle oil. Top with sliced onion. 

Now take the rest of the potatoes and place evenly on top of the onion. Sprinkle with truffle salt and pepper and thyme. Top with the rest of the creme fraiche. Top with the rest of the truffle cheese. Drizzle with 1 T of truffle oil.

Place pan in oven for 30 minutes uncovered. Then reduce temperature to 350 for 30 more minutes. If potatoes start to brown too much, cover with foil. Check potatoes for doneness by sticking a knife into them. If knife inserts easily then potatoes should be cooked through. Drizzle with last tablespoon of truffle oil before serving and a little more truffle salt. If you keep this covered and are worried that the mixture needs more moisture, pour on a little extra heavy cream. It will easily be absorbed by the potatoes.

Now have a glass of wine and celebrate!

Don't forget to enter the Whole Foods Giveaway!

Other November Dishes:
Pumpkin Brown Sugar Muffins
Mushroom Lover's Pastry
Smoky Pumpkin Hummus
Hot Brown Sandwich
Tamale Stuffing with Chorizo
Frozen Cranberry Salad
Fresh Cranberry and Apple Salad
Tequila Cranberry Sauce
Waldorf Salad
Brown Sugar Spice Cake with Caramel Glaze
Gingerbread Pear Upside Down Skillet Cake
Whipped Cream Biscuits
Maple Glazed Challah Rolls