Monday, November 30, 2015

Za'atar Roast Chicken with Lemon and Red Onions

Thanksgiving is behind us and at least for me, Hanukkah is ahead. There is a quick turn around time this year with Hanukkah starting next Sunday, so I spent the weekend cleaning wax off of my heavily dripped upon menorahs. I think it has been years since I've done this and I did manage to get 8 of them fairly clean. No Zoe-I didn't do all of them. I figured 8 is enough! From now on-thanks to my Illinois cousins-I will put aluminum foil at the base of each candle to avoid a waxy mess. Now why didn't someone tell me this sooner?

Next year Hanukkah doesn't begin until Christmas Eve so I know I will be more than ready. Hah! Who am I kidding? It always seems like a rush to be ready and my kids are both grown so what am I kvetching about? In either case, there is always one food that we will be eating on Hanukkah and that is latkes. I think it is the one time in my house where it is legal to fry. I could gorge on fried potato pancakes, but I always try to make a real meal, which must include more than fried foods-much to my regret!

You know that za'atar is one of my favorite seasonings so I must not let the year slip by without sharing this very simple roasted chicken. I made mine with just chicken breasts but one could easily use a spatchcocked chicken or a chicken divided into quarters. This is an easy marinade and bake. That way one can focus on frying the latkes! Sumac has a lemony, tart taste and does give the chicken a pink coloring. Combined with the red onions this chicken is very colorful.

This is another Ottolenghi special from his book, Ottolenghi. I am a fan and I know you know it. Maybe if someone reads this they will get me his latest cookbook! Hint...Hint...It is that time of year. I'd love to know your favorite cookbooks-old or new. Cookbooks are some of my favorite reads and just like one can never have too much jewelry; well for me the same can be said of cookbooks. I go often to the library to try out new ones, but then if I really like it I don't want to give them back. I usually keep checking them out over and over until they won't let me anymore. Yes. I'm that girl!

So on to the chicken. It's a good one to have in your back pocket. The spices make it something unusual which is always fun to try when company's coming. Give it a go. I don't think you will be disappointed!

Za'atar Roast Chicken with Lemons and Red Onions
Serves 4 -6 (Depends on how you cut the chicken)
Time to Make: A few hours or overnight to marinate-About 20 minutes to prep-And 45-60 minutes to bake
1 4-5 lb chicken cut as desired
2 red onions thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 T olive oil
1 1/2 t ground allspice
1 t cinnamon
1 T sumac
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3/4 c water or chicken stock
1 1/2 t salt
1 t freshly ground pepper

2 T za'atar

To Garnish: (Optional)
Pine nuts sauteed in butter
Fresh chopped parsley
Drizzle of olive oil
More za'atar and sumac

In a large zip lock bag mix chicken with onions, garlic, olive oil, spices, lemon, stock, salt and pepper, (not the za'atar).  Let marinate for a few hours or even overnight. Preheat oven to 400. Transfer the chicken and marinade to a baking sheet large enough to accommodate all of the chicken lying flat and spaced apart, skin side up. Sprinkle with za'atar and place in oven. Roast for 45-60 minutes, until the chicken is colored and cooked through.

Transfer the chicken and onions to a serving platter and finish with your chosen garnishes. I always sprinkle on more za'atar and sumac!

More to Try:
Savory Sweet Potato Latkes
Smoked Salmon with Caper Sauce and Dill
Roast Chicken with Saffron and Hazelnuts
Traditional Latkes
Parsnip Potato Latkes

Pin for the future:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Crostata and a #WholeFoodsGiveaway

Somehow Thanksgiving has come, just as it does every year. This year though, it seems to have descended upon me quite quickly. I think it was our weather. Denver has had a pretty good Fall and it just didn't seem to be getting seasonal. Today was 60 degrees and tomorrow will be about the same. Wednesday though may start to bite us in the butt, but that's OK. I'm kind of ready to start hibernation!

This year my Thanksgiving will be a bit quiet. Though I am invited to my very close friend's home, where I have celebrated many Thanksgivings, it still doesn't seem the same without being surrounded by  my kids and husband. Though I have celebrated with my parents, it was never a regular thing. So I'm a bit melancholy and even though I decorated for autumn, I'll probably start getting out the menorahs this week because Zoe will arrive next week, and I can't wait!

And that leads into this crostata. I've been making this for years and it is a fall favorite. I don't think I've ever served it for Thanksgiving, though it is a perfect dessert for it. Toasted pecans and cranberries are perfect to round out a great holiday meal and this isn't too rich for a finale! It is easy to put together and to make ahead.

Though one can make a walnut crust dough, which I admit I did, to be honest I like this better with a traditional pie crust. The original recipe called for the walnut pie crust but I found it quite thick and I don't think the flavors of the crostata filling shined through. Why am I telling you this? I'm telling you, because this is perfect with a premade crust. I've always done that in the past and why I changed it up, I don't know!

Where might you find a great premade crust? I know you know the answer to this! Yes, Whole Foods sells Immaculate pie crusts in the refrigerator section. The beauty of this crostata is in its simplicity. So keep it simple, OK? The filling requires heavy cream and I buy a large container so I can whip some up for the topping. I added some maple syrup to it which was perfect for this! I also topped it with some sugared cranberries and a few maple glazed pecans.

Needless to say Manservant was happy to take a few slices for the road. I feel for him this trip. He is actually going around the world. He is going first to Dubai, and though I've heard awesome things about it, I am sure glad to be here in my warm and cozy home. Then it is back to Korea, and then finally home, where Zoe and I will be waiting. I'm thankful for that!

Needless to say, I'll be keeping it easy this year. I hope you do too. Save some time by filling in with the great food that Whole Foods has to offer. Now is the time to spend with family.Trust me-I know.

Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Crostata
Serves 4-6
Time to make: About 15 minutes active - 2 hours and 10 minutes chilling - 30 minutes bake time
1 prepared pie crust (I buy them rolled in the box)
1 c heavy cream
1/4 c sugar plus 1 T for top of crostata
1 c dried cranberries
1 1/2 c toasted walnuts or pecans plus 2 T chopped for top of crostata
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla or maple extract
Heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, stir and dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil then adjust the heat and allow to simmer for 6 minutes.Remove from heat and add the cranberries,nuts, cinnamon and extract. Stir to combine.

Line a 9" pie pan with plastic wrap. Transfer the filling to the pie pan, spreading the mixture to the edges. Chill until ready to assemble.

When mixture is chilled, preheat oven to 375. Roll out the dough according to package directions and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Invert the chilled cranberry and nut mixture onto the pie crust. Fold up edges of pie dough around the filling, leaving a 4" window of filling. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk an egg yolk. Brush over the crostata. Sprinkle with nuts, then sprinkle with 1 T of sugar. Place crostata while still on parchment onto a baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

More to Try:

To Pin for Later:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Turkey and Sweet Potato Enchiladas with Chipotle Sauce and the Enchilada Cookbook

It isn't often I get to sit down and peruse cookbooks to my hearts content. Sometimes I feel like I'm reading in sound bites, so to speak. Being surrounded by many great blogger recipes, countless pinterest creations and too many to count food magazines, sometimes means not getting enough of my favorite reads. You see, I love to read cookbooks. To me a cookbook is worth its weight in gold if I can find just one recipe that is worthy of cooking on a daily basis.

I love the story behind cookbooks. I love knowing about what goes into the thought behind the recipe and whether it is traditional or new, creative or classic. I want to know the history behind something and I want to know about the ingredients I'll be using. I love reading about  my favorite foods and that doesn't just include dessert! Recently I received a  new cookbook specializing in enchiladas. It is written by a team from San Antonio; Cappy Lawton who owns three restaurants in San Antonio and Chris Waters Dunn- a former songwriter turned culinary honors student from the Culinary Institute. Together these two have turned out quite a book.

Reviewing Enchiladas-Aztec to Tex Mex, was a no brainer for me! With a Texan husband and both of us confirmed Mexican food lovers, this was a simple send it to me now. It arrived two days later and I've been perusing it ever since. To tell you the truth it wasn't just the subject that caught my eye, it was also the cover. Mexican tiles, fabrics and folk art are some of my faves and the cover of this book with its tile styled book jacket makes me wish my kitchen walls were covered in this!

But on to the food. I've never counted the number of enchiladas I've eaten, but my favorite involves lots of cheese and red and green chile or as New Mexicans say, Christmas style. Yes, I'm drawn to New Mexican style Mexican food, but I'm also not one to turn down Tex Mex. And traditional Mexican? Well, you can't go wrong there. This book has a huge, gigantic, enormous amount of recipes to choose from and the recipes are divided into categories based on the main ingredient. The sauces are killer and I love the description of ingredients and the basics on making tortillas and rice and beans. One could look at this as an introductory cookbook to enchiladas but it holds so much for those that have already been introduced.

The book reviews the various types of chiles and other Mexican ingredients. Mexican cheeses and lard vs. oil are other discussions. Fundamentals such as making your own tortillas and making beans and rice, and even chorizo, is all in here. Chilies. Yes, you knew they wouldn't forget those. Ingredients galore are in here. Now if only someone could find me some huitlacoche, I'd be a happy camper. Love the stuff, but have only had it in restaurants. (If you don't know what it is, I guess you'll just have to buy the book!) Then it is on to the recipes. Pork, beef, poultry, seafood and dairy, vegetable and Tex Mex are all covered to the extent that I counted over 53 different types of enchiladas.

One sauce that I'd never heard of contains eggs and chilies and reminds me of a Mexican Hollandaise. There are enchiladas with duck confit and then there are the favorites such as enchiladas suizas and enchiladas rojas.  And then there is another sauce with peanuts that caught my eye. There are mole type sauces and even a recipe for Tex Mex brisket and ancho chile gravy. My mouth is watering as I write! The only thing I can think of to miss in this book is the lack of more photos. I love what they have, and there are a lot, but I would have really loved more!

I decided to take a chicken enchilada recipe and make it with turkey, given that the turkey holiday is right around the corner. I also took their sweet potato enchilada and added some sweet potatoes to the turkey. The possibilities in this book are endless! Choosing the enchilada sauce was hard work because there are so may to choose from, but I ended up with a chipotle sauce because I love the smoky heat of chipotles.  Combine the turkey and sweet potatoes with a chipotle red enchilada sauce and you have not only a healthy dish staring you in the face, you also have a perfect way to use Thanksgiving leftovers. With so many combinations,  I could make a different type of enchilada each week for the rest of my life. Well, let's not figure that out! And if anyone knows where I can score some huitlacoche, please let me know!

Need a gift for someone? This would be perfect! Kind of like gettin' the Whole Enchilada!

Turkey and Sweet Potato Enchiladas with Chipotle Red Sauce
Makes: About 12 (2-3 per serving)
Time To Make: Using leftovers this should take about 30 minutes to assemble
1 lb leftover turkey, light or dark, shredded, or fresh turkey or chicken poached
4 t kosher salt (if poaching)
1 medium white onion peeled and quartered (if poaching)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (if poaching)
8 peppercorns (if poaching)

2 baked sweet potatos, sliced into about 24 pieces

Chipotle Sauce:
2 1/2 lbs Roma tomatoes
2 T oil
1.2 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 t minced garlic
2 large chipotles en adobo, minced (These are a staple in my kitchen. You can find them in a can in the Mexican food aisle. Once opened they keep almost forever in a sealed container in your fridge.)
Kosher salt to taste
1/2 c crema Mexicana or sour cream
1/2 lb anejo cheese or feta crumbled
Chopped Green Onion ( about 4)

12 corn tortillas

If you want to poach turkey or chicken, start by filling a deep pot with three quarts of water, Add salt, onion and garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, lower heat slightly, cover and let boil for about 15 minutes to infuse the water with seasoning. Add chicken or turkey pieces and allow the liquid to return to a boil. Immediately adjust heat to a simmer and cook until poultry is cooked. Dark meat may take longer than light meat. As the pieces are done, remove them from the pot, moisten with broth and allow to cool. When cool, shred into small pieces, discarding the skin and bones. Sprinkle with a little more broth and refrigerate if not using right away. (I used my leftover broth in split pea soup yesterday!)

To make the sauce:
Preheat oven to 350. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast, turning occasionally until the skins begin to burst and the tomatoes are soft. This may take about 25 minutes. The place under a broiler for about 5 minutes to blacken the skin in spots. Let cool for a few minutes.

Place the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, but not brown, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and chipotles and cook for another minute.

Place the onion mixture and tomatoes in a blender and puree until smooth. Add salt to taste. The directions did say to puree, but I did not do this. My sauce was a bit thick so I added a little chicken broth to thin it. If using right away, pour back into the saucepan, cover and keep warm over medium low heat.

I warmed my tortillas wrapped in a moist paper towel in a microwave for about 20 seconds. The traditional way is to quickly fry them in about 1/2" of oil over medium high heat so that tortillas soften. Drain and use. I buy my tortillas from a small Mexican grocery nearby and they are very fresh. I do not worry about them cracking when rolling and so I save the calories and use the micro!

Make sure all your ingredients are ready and near. Fill the lower third of the tortillas with about 2 T of  warm turkey, a few sweet potato slices and roll up. Place on a serving plate in a single layer, cover with enchilada sauce, spread on some crema Mexicana and sprinkle with cheese and green onion. Serve and eat immediately. (If necessary, keep rolled enchiladas covered with chipotle sauce and cheese, covered with foil  and keep warm in the oven, set at about 275.) When ready to serve, drizzle or spread with the crema and garnish with green onion.

More to Try:
Red Chile and a Breakfast Sandwich
Migas: Scrambled Eggs with Tortilla Chips and Chorizo
Tacos or Nachos Al Pastor
Shitake Stuffed Hatch Green Chile Enchiladas

Pin to try Later:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Turkey, Cranberry and Sweet Potato Pie

This year my Thanksgiving table is looking empty. Really empty. Alex , we all know, is in China, probably eating roast duck or chicken and Zoe will be in New York, I presume eating turkey. She is coming to visit in December but couldn't make it for turkey day. And Manservant? Well, Manservant I think will be in Sweden or it could be Dubai. He didn't try to be gone, but to be home for Zoe, he kind of has to be. He is also missing our anniversary, but we aren't so big on anniversaries, well at least we haven't been in a long time. Sometimes I kind of miss the olden days!

So that leaves me to man the fort. I do have invitations so I certainly won't go hungry, but I love Thanksgiving. I love smoking a turkey and I love it when everyone is home. I love the hustle and bustle of cooking and baking and the craziness of a full house. I love the chill in the air and the aroma of turkey smoke permeating our home. Alas, that is not to be this year, but it doesn't mean there won't be turkey. I'm sure we will do something when the daughter arrives.

Last year I made this savoury turkey pie and I never published it. I'm kind of embarrassed about it showing up this year, but the truth is that it is a perfect dish for turkey day. Containing turkey sausage and breast of turkey and cranberries and sweet potatoes all in a crust, not only saves a lot of side dishes to make, if you so choose, it looks pretty, too! However in looking at this turkey pie I must say that one thing I am grateful for (you do do that for Thanksgiving, don't you?)  is that over the last year, I think my photos have improved a bit. And from 4 years ago, I think they have improved a lot. I'm still not there yet, but at least I'm getting closer!

Yeah, I know these aren't the best photos, but I guarantee that this is a great dish. It really is quite striking when you cut into it and we all know people are easily awed by food! Gravy would top this perfectly, but a cranberry mustard would taste great on it also. I would serve it with extra cranberries and maybe a green salad. This makes a perfect Thanksgiving for a crowd, if you don't feel like cooking an entire bird. The best part is that this is easy to make. Really easy. I promise!

Ignore my photos and get on this. It is a keeper and would even make a superb New Year supper. This is a crowd pleaser and I certainly hope you have one.

Turkey, Cranberry and Sweet Potato Pie
Makes 1 8 or 9" Spring Form Pan
Serves 8
Time to Make: About 45 minutes to make and 2 hours to bake
2 lbs of your favorite ground sausage (I found a sage sausage and used that)
1 lb boneless turkey breasts, thinly sliced and pounded between 2 sheets of wax paper, flattened to the thickness of about 1/8"
1 c fresh cranberries
1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced thin

4 c of flour
1 t salt
2/3 c solid vegetable shortening
1/3 c milk
1/3 c water or chicken stock (If it is salty, decrease your salt a tad.)
1 t of crumbled sage or your favorite dried herb to flavor crust (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Put flour and salt and herb if using, in a large bowl. Heat the shortening in a pot with the milk and water or stock until just beginning to boil. Take pot off heat and cool slightly. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir the liquid into the flour until a very stiff dough is formed. (It will be stiff!) Transfer to a work surface and knead until smooth. Cut off 1/3 of the dough for the top of the pie. Wrap in plastic wrap and keep warm. Roll out the large piece of dough and line the base and sides of a well greased 8" spring form pan. Work with the dough while it is still warm or it will crack as it cools.

Spread 1/2 of the sausage into the base of the pan on top of the pastry, pressing it well into the edges. Place slices of thinly sliced sweet potato over sausage. Cover with 1/2 of the turkey slices. Now top with your cranberries. Next is the rest of the sliced turkey. Add the rest of the sliced sweet potatoes. And last but not least, the rest of the sausage.

Roll out the reserved dough for the top of the pie. Tuck in and make this look decorative. You will probably be better than me at this! Seal edges with beaten egg. Make sure to poke holes so this baby can steam a bit. Bake for 2 hours. Cover if it gets too gold. Let cool a bit on a wire rack and you are ready to eat. Note that this pie can also be served cold. Pie will shrink away from the crust. This can be filled with aspic, but I did not do this. We reheated leftovers quite well in the microwave and they can also be wrapped in foil an reheated in the oven.

(Adapted from The Book of Christmas)

More to Try:
The Ultimate Hot Brown Sandwich
Fresh Cranberry and Apple Salad
Frozen Cranberry Salad
Triple Cherry Chocolate Skillet Pie
Pecan Nut Bars
Maple Pecan Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Caramelized Candied Oranges and Cranberries

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Everything Bagel Bombs are THE Bomb!

Well. There is no other way to say it. These bagel bombs are the bomb! Bursting with an inner explosion of scallion cream cheese delight, is the perfect way to start any day. Or perhaps at happy hour, when something is needed to soak up the liquid libations! I made these a few years ago and knew they would reappear some day. Happy hour with some new bloggers seemed the perfect occasion. I made sure to have leftovers because Manservant flew home the next day. After a bombshell trip he thought these were the bomb, too!

Bagel Bombs are another great invention from Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar fame. I finally broke down and bought her book and am so happy I did. Yes, these were a hit and so so easy to pop into one's pie hole. Or should I say bagel hole? They are easy to make and even though the instructions may seem lengthy, the truth is they really don't take that long to make. This is a yeast dough for beginners, I promise. Just do exactly as it says.

There are a myriad of ideas I have for these. Think of the possibilities. Cinnamon sugar bagel bombs. Jalapeno bagel bombs. Raisin and brown sugar bagel bombs. Dill bagel bombs. I know you get the picture. Change the topping and the cream cheese inner bomb and well, bomb's away! By the way. I love this everything seasoning mixture on, like everything! It is perfect on scrambled eggs and sprinkled on a sandwich. Makes for some interesting quesadillas, too!

I can't really tell you if they were the hit of our happy hour, but I did hear lots of oohs and aahs. I reheated them in the oven, so that the aroma of a bagel shop prevailed. And it does help that when you bite into them that the cream cheese is warm and oozing and way beyond comforting. I've also zapped them in the micro for about 20 seconds with great results. I think they would be perfect for Thanksgiving morning. In the past we've always done cinnamon rolls, but I think a change from something sweet might be in order. Save the sweets for later!

The inner sanctum of a bagel bomb is quite delicious. It is where the inner goodness happens. It is the explosion waiting to erupt. And erupt it does. It is the signal that your bomb is baked through and ready to remove from your oven. Watch for it. Let it cool for a brief moment. Then pop that bomb into your pie hole and you'll know this wasn't a bomb. It was THE bomb!

Bagel Bombs
Time To Make: About 60 minutes active time (Read carefully before starting)
Mother Dough:
3 1/2 c flour
1 T kosher salt
1/2 packet or 1 1/8 t active dry yeast
1 3/4 c water at room temperature
flavorless oil for greasing the bowl
Stir together the flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. You can use the dough hook like a spoon. Continue stirring by hand as you add the water, mixing for 1 minute, until the mixture has come together like a shaggy mess.

Now using the dough hook attached to the mixer, mix the dough on the lowest speed for 3 minutes. Turn off and make sure that you have fully incorporated the flour. Then knead for 4 more minutes on the lowest speed. The dough should look like a wet ball and should bounce back softly when prodded with your finger.

Brush a large bowl with oil and dump the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof at room temperature for 45 minutes. The dough is now ready to be used. The dough can also be stored in an airtight container at least 2 x its size, in the fridge for up to three days. Let it come to room temperature for 30-45 minutes before using.

Scallion Cream Cheese Plugs (I double to make 16 bombs)
7 oz cream cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 t sugar
1/2 t kosher salt
1 T bacon grease (optional)
1 3/4 oz bacon, cooked until crunchy. Chop into small pieces if using and reserve the bacon grease for above.
Put the cream cheese in a bowl of a stand mixer. Cream it on medium speed. Pour in the reserved bacon fat if using. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chopped bacon, if using, scallions, sugar and salt. Briefly incorporate.
Scoop the cream cheese onto a quarter sheet pan into 8 even lumps. Freeze until rock hard, about 1-3 hours. Once they are frozen they are ready to be used. You can also put them in an airtight container and keep them frozen for up to 1 month.

Everything Bagel Mix (I double this to make enough for 16 bombs and some leftover)
3/4 t kosher salt
1 T white sesame seeds
2 t black sesame seeds
2 t poppy seeds
1 T dried onions
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
Mix together all ingredients in an airtight container. This mix will last a long time. I use leftovers on scrambled eggs!

Bagel Bombs  (This will make 8, but I double the cream cheese plugs and the seasoning to make 16 bombs.)
1/2 recipe of the Mother Dough
1 recipe of the cream cheese plugs
1 egg
1/2 t water
1 recipe of the everything seasoning
Heat the oven to 325. Punch down and flatten dough on a lightly floured counter top. (Christina says to do this on a dry counter top, but I had better success after lightly flouring.) Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and stretch into a mini pizza shape, about 3 inches wide. Put a frozen cream cheese round in the center of each dough circle. Bring up the edges of each dough circle and pinch to seal so that the cream cheese plug is completely contained. Then gently roll the ball between the palms of your hands to ensure that the bomb has a nice round shape. Place bombs 4 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Whisk the egg and water together and brush each dough bomb with a generous egg wash. Sprinkle a heavy coating of the everything bagel mix all over the bagel bombs except for the bottoms.

Bake the bombs for about 30 minutes or until they become golden brown and some start to leak cream cheese through the top. Mine never turned totally golden, though they did explode. You want this to happen! These are best served warm out of the oven or rewarmed. I also flash them in the micro for about 20 seconds and Manservant is very happy. Store in an airtight container but I don't think that will be necessary. These disappear fast!

Other great breakfast ideas:
Migas Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo and Tortilla Chips
Pumpkin Brown Sugar Muffins
Gingerbread Waffles
Maple Glazed Walnut Scones
Simple Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

Monday, November 9, 2015

Roasted Carrot Dip with Hazelnut and Raisin Topping and They Don't Have This in China

Roasted carrot dip was the hit of the happy hour and the bagel bombs-well, they were the bomb. Last week I had a few ladies over for happy hour. That's what happens when Manservant is gone for a long time. I get bored and need to channel my energy and so I decided to invite over a few bloggers that I've never met before, with one exception. Truthfully this could have been a disastrous experience, after all I've heard it said that bloggers can be competitive and petty. Well, I'm not in that group and either were these ladies! We had a great time and I hope we do it again soon.

I kind of went overboard with food. When Manservant is gone I don't cook very often, so lots of things sounded good to me. And knowing Manservant would be arriving the next day I knew he would be happy with any leftovers. Yes, Manservant was gone for three weeks, not counting the two night hiatus to change his clothes and get fresh ones; thanks to Mrs. How I Cook. He ended up having a fun time with Alex OdieSan and took so many photos that I will never get to see. Yes, he lost his phone which didn't bode well for communicating. Seems the cab driver left a bit too quickly.

In any case he regaled me with stories about my boy and how proud he is of him and how well he seems to have settled in. His Chinese is great, (like he would know) and he is an expert on street food and of course, wine. His roommates are smart and good kids, and he has a red couch in his living room and a purple one in his bedroom in front of the 10 foot window, and he found the couch on Craig's List. After walking up six flights of stairs he learned our son lives in the penthouse. But I already knew that. Everyone knows him wherever he goes and though I probably might not think that he lived in a great neighborhood, he assured me he does and that he actually has a very good address, though the water pressure isn't the best.

They had a great time getting their skin exfoliated and massaged and had a 16 course meal with Manservant's former business partner, who Alex was able to speak with just fine. They each had lots of new shirts made, but especially Alex, who said all he needed was a white one. Manservant asked how many he had and he replied none, which led to about 12 additional shirts and the story about Manservant locating his past tailor in a giant building, that Alex thought he would be permanently lost in. After getting off the elevator, the long  thought to be lost tailor, spied my husband walking down the hall and recognized him after 7 years and then she finally got to meet the boy she had made a prom tux for so many years ago! So now you know what I know and maybe soon I will get some photos from Alex's camera.

And back to food... I made a great cracked pepper, warm onion dip with semi homemade French onion potato chips and this roasted carrot dip, that I loved. We also had wine. You did know that, right? And I baked bagel bombs and Earl Grey chocolate chip cookies. Karen brought smoked salmon that she smoked and Diane brought a wide assortment of home made jams. And we all brought lots of conversation. A good time was had by all! Check out their links down below.

Carrots may sound weird as an appetizer, but they have been showing up on a lot of restaurant menus lately. Roasted carrots become sweet and earthy and oh so good. They are perfect as a side dish and as leftovers, made a great topping on my sumac chicken. The hazelnut raisin topping is superb and lush. Try them and impress your friends. I served them with za'atar pizza that I buy at a small restaurant called Amira. I order 4 at a time and then cut them into pieces and freeze them. I adore these, so if you live in Denver put this Lebanese place on your radar screen.

Roasted Carrot Dip Platter
From: Sunset
Serves: 6-8 as an appetizer
1 lb medium carrots (I used all colors) Peel and slice on the diagonal 1/4" thick and 2-3" long
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t sumac
zest from 1/2 a lemon
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground cumin

2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1/4 c golden raisins
1/2 c coarsely chopped hazelnuts
1 t chopped fresh thyme, divided

1 1/2 c plain whole milk Greek yogurt or labneh or even hummus
1 T chopped Italian parsley
Za'atar pitas for serving or toasted plain pitas-no worries here!

Preheat oven to 450. In a large bowl, combine, 1/2 t salt, 1 t sumac, lemon zest, coriander, cumin and oil. Add carrots and toss to coat. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast carrots, stirring once, until browned at edges, about 15-18 minutes. I kept mine in a little longer because I like them really crisp. Let cool.

Cook butter in a medium frying pan over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until browned, about 5-8 minutes. It will sputter and then get quiet. This is how you kind of know it is about browned. Add raisins, nuts, 1/2 t thyme and 1/2 t sumac, Cook while stirring, until raisins puff, about 45-60 seconds. Let cool.

If using yogurt or labneh, combine in a small bowl with 1/4 t salt and remaining 1/2 t of thyme. I substituted more za'atar to taste. This is up to you! Spread on a platter. Now toss carrots and nuts and parsley together. Arrange over yogurt or hummus mixture. Serve with pita chips. Salt to taste.

More to Try:
5 Simple One Bite Appetizers
Buttery Garlic Parmesan Potato Chips
Saigon Crunch Chex Mix
Onion Dip
Cranberry Chipotle Wonton Cups

Other Blogger Links:
Cooking on the Ranch
Savoury Table
The Spice Train
Canning and Cooking at Home

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Maple Pudding Chomeur or I Couldn't Help Myself

I couldn't help myself. It was the Wall Street Journal that put me over the top. And no it wasn't the news I was reading. It was this recipe. I have had this recipe in my head for years. I kid you not. I tore out a recipe for this decadent maple cake pudding years ago from Bon Appetit. I've always meant to try it, but have never gotten around to it. Years ago I couldn't afford maple syrup AND heavy cream, but thank goodness times have changed. And back then I'm not sure I would have even found maple syrup.

So it was Sunday and Manservant's quick weekend was coming to an end. It hadn't been a great one. He had two days of weekend work after countless days of labor, and the weekend just added to it. I was cranky, after all after Korea he was going to see Alex and I am always left manning the fort. I was totally bitchy, not without reason mind you, and he was trying to focus. But not on me! So pretending to take pity on him, but really for my own personal pleasure, I decided it was time to drown my sorrow in this pudding cake.

Not a bad move on my part. Drowning in heavy cream and maple is a perfect way to die of pleasure. A bit sticky mind you, but a totally acceptable part of anyone's last meal. Now I can't tell you what the real maple pudding chomeur tastes like, since I don't recall ever being in Canada. Well yes, there was one time. And it was in Montreal where this "poor man's pudding" comes from. (Not that I'm sure that anyone poor could afford it.) I was in Montreal as a child for the world expo. My one and only memory of that trip is watching my 4 year old brother's face as we boarded the train to take us to the expo, and the door slammed shut before he was on. My parents without any success were seen trying to pry the door open with their fingers, but that would be like trying to extract your fingers from the sticky goodness of this pudding.

As we escaped the city on the way to expo glory, my brother stood on an extremely crowded platform without his parents. After several more stops we arrived at the expo and finally my brother appeared. Some kind folks had seen my parent's mistake and swiftly escorted my shocked brother to the expo. It seems that that is where everyone was heading to from this particular platform. Yes. That is my memory of Canada.Though we laugh at this now, I much rather would have a memory of eating this glorious pudding!

This would be a perfect dessert for turkey day. This would be a perfect dessert for any day. My friend Monique just made one, which is a bit different than this one from the WSJ, by way of Food 52, so check hers out, too. She is the real deal, takes way better photos than I do, and I am just an imposter-at least when it comes to traditional Canadian foods. I halved this recipe and added pumpkin pie spice. I also roasted some apples which were superb with this. It is traditional to serve this topped with whipped cream or ice cream. I decided to keep this healthy with the addition of apples. LOL! And being the kind person that I am, I brought the extra three servings to my neighbors. Truly I didn't want to drown my sorrows when Manservant left the next morning...but I could have!

Maple Pudding Chomeur (Found in the WSJ)
Serves 10 - but I halved this
Time To Make: About 20 minutes to prepare, 2.5 hours to chill, 20 minutes to bake, 1 minute to devour
1 1/3 sticks butter
1 c sugar
2 eggs
2 1/3 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t Pumpkin Pie Spice (optional and to taste)
2 c maple syrup
2 c heavy cream
3 apples to roast (optional) I used Honey Crisps and Granny Smiths
Ice Cream or Whipped Cream to serve (optional)
Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamed and smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add flour and baking powder and pumpkin pie spice if using. Stir until incorporated. Chill batter at least two hours and up to 24.
An hour before serving, preheat oven to 450. Bring maple syrup and heavy cream to boil in a large saucepan. Divide the chilled batter among 10 small, 1 cup ramekins. I used coffee cups for a few but make sure yours are able to be baked in. Pour maple cream over batter, stopping about 1 1/2 inches from the top. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until tops are bubbling and caramelized, 20 minutes. Serve immediately with ice cream, whipped cream, or apples!

Optional: To roast apples: Butter a baking dish. Slice apples int large wedges. Place in baking dish and sprinkle with a bit of pumpkin pie spice if using. Save a  little bit of the heavy cream mixture and toss this with the apples, too. Roast along with pudding until apples reach desired doneness.

More to Try:
Brown Sugar Spice Cake with Caramel Glaze
Gingerbread Pear Upside Down Skillet Cake
Hot Fudge Cake
Brown Sugar Scotch Pudding

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