Sunday, February 05, 2017

Pork Cassoulet and Chocolate Almond Orange Cake aka French Soul Food

It's snowing here in beautiful British Columbia and I am cozied up with a few people watching the Super Bowl.  While I have some good appies (chicken wings, scallops and bacon) roasting away in the oven to stay within the bounds of a traditional Super Bowl fare, I am also cooking our family Sunday dinner.  I defrosted a pork roast and had lots of brown lentils so I am slow cooking a pork cassoulet in the crock pot, accompanied with Yorkshire puddings and Nigella Lawson's recipe for almond flour and orange chocolate cake.  Of course this is perfect for those who are gluten free and it is seriously sublime.  Rather than using regular olive oil in the recipe however, I make sure I have orange flavored olive oil for this cake which you can get at most Italian delis and all those cool olive oil and vinegar specialty stores popping up.  Here's to some delicious French Soul Food!

Get your slow cooker organized
a Pork Roast
Fav spices, I chose fennel and some Montreal Steak Spice (because it was closest in the pantry and my back was too sore to reach for something else!)
olive oil
1 1/2 cups of brown lentils
4 large carrots peeled and chopped how you like them
2 onions sliced
4 garlic cloves
6 celery chopped
maple syrup
chicken broth

Season your pork roast with your favorite spices and sear in a pan or pot with olive oil along with the onions adding the garlic in a little later so it doesn't burn.

Once your pork is seared, pop it into your slow cooker with onions and garlic, add carrots, celery and lentils.  Pour in enough chicken broth to cover half of the pork.  Drizzle with some maple syrup about 1/4 cup. 

I then put my slow cooker on high to cook the veggies for about three hours, then to low and slow so that all the veggies and the lentils would absorb all the juices from the chicken broth and pork.  Let me tell you one and all - this is DELICIOUS!

Total cooking time will be 7 hours, but of course, it may not even take that long depending on the size of your roast.  Just baby it and taste a little here and there to see how it is going.  Slow cookers are the best.

Almond Flour Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cake

Now for the cake.  This recipe is so easy and absolutely fabulous.  The orange adds a special touch and of course the almond flour and the chocolate make it decadent. 

In a mixture or with your mixer spoon, combine three eggs, 2/3 cup orange flavored olive oil (don't panic if you've not the orange flavored, use regular olive oil), 1 cup of sugar.  Mix until primrose

coloured and thick.  In a cup mix 6 tbsp. of cocoa, 2 tsp. of vanilla and 1/2 cup of boiling water and add to the primrose mix.  Let stir for a bit, then add 1 1/2 cup of almond flour, 1 tsp. baking soda and continue mixing. 

Pour into a greased cake pan or spring form pan and bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes....or even a little more if you like.  The cake will be a tiny bit pudding like.  XO

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tom's Margaritas

Really, there isn't anything more special about these than most recipes, but this is the recipe from my hubby's 15 year old self. 

A relative sent an email to us today asking for the Margarita recipe my hubby used to make for all the adults in Kelowna when he was about 14-15 years old. Some of us from "the old days" got early bartending skills when our relatives sent us into the kitchen to fetch them a drink by pouring "two fingers" of whatever booze in a glass with some mix. Here is my husband's recipe for those fabulous Margaritas from days gone by:
1 ounce of tequila
1 ounce of triple sec...
1/2 ounce of lime cordial
Put in a blender. (This is for one serving)

Pour into prepared salted rimmed glasses
Stir with your finger

Maya Angelou's Caramel Cake

I love the late Maya Angelou's poetry, her  rich inspirational real stories as well as the way she transformed her pain into purpose.  She was also a fantastic cook.  Here is a recipe for her Caramel Cake, a cake I can only describe as being a replica of my family's favourite from The (old) Sperling Bakery - a cake that we all loved until our neighborhood bakery closed down.  It was so exciting to find a recipe that tastes just like it!

Serves 8

8 tbs. (1 stick of butter), 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1/4 cup Caramel Syrup (recipe follows), 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 cup milk, 2 large eggs, Caramel Frosting (recipe follows).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2-8 inch layer cake pans with greased wax paper.  In large mixing bowl, beat butter, and add 1 cup sugar gradually until light and fluffy.  Beat in syrup.  In medium mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture, alternating with milk.  In separate medium mixing bowl, beat eggs about 3 minutes, until foamy.  Add remaining sugar, and beat until there is a fine spongy foam.  Stir into cake batter until blended.  Divide batter between cake pans.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  Remove pans from oven.  Test to make sure cake is done with toothpick.  If not return to oven for 10 more minutes.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto rack, and remove wax paper.  Let cakes cool to room temp before frosting.  To assemble:  Centre one cooled cake layer on cake plate.  Cover top and sides with generous helping of frosting.  Place second layer evenly on frosted layer.  Repeat frosting procedure.  Cool in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Caramel Syrup:  Heat 1 cup white sugar in heavy skillet over low heat and stir constantly until melted to a brown liquid.  When it bubbles, remove from heat and slowly add boiling water, stirring constantly.  Pour into container and cool.
Caramel Frosting:  Brown 6 tbsp. butter in heavy pot over medium heat-be vigilant or it will burn.  Allow butter to cool.  In large mixing bowl, add 8 ounce pack confectioners' sugar, 4 tbsp. heavy cream, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and a pinch of salt and beat until smooth.  If frosting is too stiff, add tbsp. of half and half or full cream to thin.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Valerie Bertinelli's Seriously Good Sausage Bites

I love Valerie Bertinelli and her cooking show.  I got this recipe and gave it a try.  Let me just warn you, they are very addictive but WOW, they are a great little hors d'oeuvre with a glass of wine and good company.  Not many people would give them a second look at these appetizers because they are far from fancy....but everyone will love them! 

Cooking spray, 10 ounces of bulk hot Italian sausage (I used about large sausages), 3 cups of self-rising flour, 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, 1 tbsp. Tabasco sauce, 1 1/4 cups grated Cheddar cheese.

Put the oven to 400 and arrange the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.  Coat 2 baking sheets with the cooking spray.  Cook the sausage in a medium skillet over medium high heat, breaking it up with a spoon, until cooked through and no pink remains.  Using a slotted spoon transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Combine flour and butter in food processor or with pie dough cutter (or fingers).  Drizzle in buttermilk and Tabasco and pulse just until dough comes together.  Turn the dough out into a large bowl and fold in the sausage and cheese.  Using two spoons, shape the dough into walnut-size balls and drop onto the baking sheets.

Bake, switching and rotating the pans halfway through baking, until golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to remove and transfer to a platter.  Bake the remaining sausage bites in the same matter.  Yum!!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Black Truffle Salt

OK, this was just too easy and of course, you have all probably tried this recipe already.  But if my family devoured these babies and the pan was left completely empty, then you know that this simple side kick was delicious.  The secret of course is to cook the Brussel sprouts in the oven until the leaves are crispy.  Some might even turn a tinge black.  But inside these gorgeous little morsels is a centre of complete and luscious creaminess.  Oh my God, they are good.

Turn the oven on to 350.  Then pile as many Brussel sprouts as you wish (mine was half a large bag) into a roasting pan.  Drizzle with a few tbsp. of olive oil, sprinkle about 1 tbsp. of garlic powder over all and then a tsp. of black truffle salt.  Obviously, if you are roasting less vegetable, adjust your seasonings.  Toss the Brussel sprouts so that the olive oil and seasoning is all over, then pop into the oven and wave goodbye for about one hour or until the Brussels are good and crisp.  Sweet and nutty deliciousness.  I am making more tonight.  And as if you didn't already know, Brussel Sprouts are seriously healthy too.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Here's to 2017~Happy New Year!!

Well, it certainly is great to be back.  I've noticed over the last several years I've not posted all that much, though I've never stopped cooking!  I am however looking forward to posting some of my new and favourite recipes and to filling up 2017 with lots of delicious dishes here at Succulent Sage.  I've also set some goals around food as well....such as teaching my two boys how to cook lots of our favourite family recipes and having monthly Sunday dinners with friends and family.  So today, in addition to posting some new recipes, I'm going to start by posting my favourite things from 2016.  Shall we begin?

Favourite Cookbooks of 2016:  Dining at Delmonico's the story of America's oldest restaurant (had dinner here with my family in Manhattan December 2016), Buvette, the pleasure of good food by Jody Williams, Jamie Oliver's Christmas Cookbook (love the make ahead gravy recipe), Better on Toast by Jill Donenfeld (my fav is wine marinated mushrooms with Boursin on toast), Valerie Bertinelli's One Dish at a Time (her Sausage Balls are delicious), Ina Garten's Cooking for Jeffrey, Anthony Bourdain's Appetites and Tracy Pollan's, The Pollan Family Table (Amazing Paprika Shrimp recipe).

Favourite Food Magazines:  The British Magazines, Olive and Delicious, Food & Wine, Saveur, Cooking Light and Chatelaine!

Favourite Kitchen Things:  My Le Creuset soup pot, Cuisipro gravy fat separator, Veggetti a spiral vegetable cutter for low carb eating (so you pretend that zucchini noodles are like real pasta noodles!) and from The Pike Place Market in Seattle, another beautiful addition to my Polish Pottery collection, a gorgeous salad bowl.

Favourite New Recipes:  I will post!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fountain of Youth Martini - From The Leopard at Des Artistes In Manhattan

Last year my family and I spent the most glorious New Years Eve Dinner just on the edge of Central Park at the most beautiful Italian restaurant, The Leopard at Des Artistes in Manhattan.  Before our dinner we enjoyed cocktails up at the bar and I absolutely loved The Fountain of Youth martini I had.  I e-mailed the restaurant to tell them what a great time we had and asked for the recipe.  So here you go and by the way!  Happy New Year!!  XO

Here below is the recipe for our Fountain of Youth cocktails
1/4 Grey Goose Pear
1/2 St. Germain
(Shake them well together with ice and pour in a Martini glass) then
Finish with Prosecco and garnish with fresh mint.
I hope that will help you
Enjoy Cheers!!
Thank you again and we all hope to see you very soon back in New York at The Leopard.
Warm regards
Alessandro Giardiello
Leopard at des Artistes
1W 67th street

Monday, March 14, 2016

Best Ever Cinnamon Buns (Soft Texture)

You've got to love a good bun and when that bun just so happens to be a soft pillowy cinnamon bun with cream cheese frosting, I might just say, I have seriously found the bun of my dreams.   For quite some time I've been looking for a recipe that made soft buns, like the ones you buy in the bakery.  Well, finally, I found the secret and it would appear that 1 package of vanilla pudding added to the dough of this recipe will guarantee, soft cinnamon buns.  I use my bread machine, but will add the recipe also for if you make the buns the old fashioned way.  You will love!!!

Dough:  1/4 cup warm water, 1 cup milk, at room temp, 1 egg, well beaten, 4 tbsp. unsalted butter softened, 1 tbsp. granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 package of instant vanilla pudding mix, 1 tbsp. yeast.

Filling:  1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon, 4 tbsp. unsalted butter softened.

Frosting:  8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, 4 ounces cream cheese, softened, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tbsp. milk.

To make the dough, add dough ingredients in the order that your bread machine specifies.  Normally it is liquid in first, egg, flour ingredients, butter around the pan and then make a well or sprinkle yeast over top.  ***If you don't have a bread machine, dissolve 2 1/4 tsp. or 1 envelope of active dry yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water.  After it activates, stir in the remaining ingredients, then cover the bowl and let the dough rise, covered, for about 45 minutes or until almost doubled in volume.  Follow the instructions above to finish the cinnamon buns. 

Once dough is ready-Freddy, lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out to a rectangle approximately 18X30 inches. 

To make the filling and assemble, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Spread softened butter over the dough, making sure it is soft enough to be spread evenly.  Sprinkle the sugar and the cinnamon mixture over the butter. 

Starting with one of the long ends, roll the dough up into a log.  Using regular sewing thread, cut pieces off the log at 2 1/2 inch intervals by slipping the thread under the log as it lies on the work surface, then pulling the two ends of the thread together so that it cuts through the dough.  You should have 12 rolls.

Grease two 9 by 9 inch baking pans and place the rolls 2 inches apart.  Cover each pan with a clean kitchen towel and let the rolls rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.  The edges of the rolls should stick to one another and the sides of the pans.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake rolls in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. 

While the rolls are baking, make the frosting.  Cream the butter and the cream cheese until well blended.  Add the vanilla extract and cinnamon. 

Stir in 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and blend it in well.  Continue to add the remaining 1 cup sugar in 1/2 cup intervals.

Add the milk to adjust the consistency.  You may need to add more if the mixture is too thick to spread.

Spread a portion of the frosting on each cinnamon roll as it comes out of the oven.