Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Brunch!

I am simply too excited! Christmas is coming and as I write this I'm in my living room admiring my full lit Christmas tree. I bought the ingredients necessary for this weekend's festivities. I will be making my Camembert Brioche two times, yes it is that requested and if you haven't made it yet, you must. But you know what I'm excited about? I'm excited about preparing Christmas breakfast in advance without the glorious chaos one can expect not only in a big family, but on Christmas morning. Every mother makes Eggs Benedict and it is a huge labor of love. So this year I'm going to throw it all into a casserole and we're going to make it the night before, refrigerate it then toss into the oven Christmas morning kind of like the famous "Wife Saver Casserole". I haven't made it yet, but I going to give it a whirl. With champagne however, it will taste divine. I'll let you all know how it turns out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mama Mia Succulent Spaghetti and Meatballs

Oooooh, la la, these were delish. You know I'd heard that the secret to good succulent meatballs was first soaking bread in milk. I had left over bread from the lobster sliders I made the other night, and I plan on saving the rest of the left over bread for when I make sausage stuffing next week. So, soak about 2 cups of torn up bread cubes in just enough milk (1/4 cup) to soak the bread.

In a bowl add two pounds of lean hamburger, 1 pound of sausage meat, any spices you love, and a handful of chopped up onions, 2 eggs, then the milk soaked bread. I have a confession. We ran out of milk, so I used cream. Now make sure the meat mixture is completely mixed up, roll into a various assortment of balls - I did some large ones then some small ones and froze the rest of the meat for another day. Heat up a frying pan with some oil and add the meatballs and brown on each side but don't completely cook. Put browned meatballs on a baking sheet or casserole and put into a 350 degree oven for about 15 or 20 minutes more and put into homemade spaghetti sauce. Oh holy, so simple, but so yummo. Remember, the secret is the bread and milk or cream to bread mixture.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cranberry Gorgonzola Appetizer Tart

This is an amazing appie my Aunt made this weekend when the girls in my family met up for our annual Christmas luncheon. It is a recipe from Ocean Spray and worth every bite let me tell you!

1 refrigerated pie crust (from 15 ounce pack) at room temperature, 8 ounce pack of cream cheese, softened, 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, room temperature, 2 tbsp. milk, 1 large egg, lightly beaten, 2/3 cup of dried cranberries (craisins by Ocean Spray), 2 tbsp. chopped green onions, 2 tbsp. of chopped pecans.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare pie crust as directed on package for one crust baked shell using a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim excess pie crust even with the top of the pan. Bake 9-11 minutes or until light brown. Cool 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Combine cream cheese and Gorgonzola in a medium mixing bowl; beat with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Beat in milk and egg until well mixed. Gently stir in dried cranberries and green onions. Spread mixture in baked tart shell; sprinkle with pecans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until filling is set. Let stand 30 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges. If desired, garnish with additional green onions. Store covered in refrigerator.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Grilled White Cheddar and Onion Sourdough Sandwich

As I was reading this afternoon with my glass of wine, I couldn't resist, after making my husband one his own, a grilled white cheddar cheese and onion sandwich on buttered sour dough bread. It was quite simply an OH MY GOD moment. And without exaggeration, as I took a bite of my OH MY GOD grilled white cheddar and onion sandwich on buttered sourdough it began to snow. In this Hallelujah moment I became a believer without question...that somewhere up there in the heavens under the snow and the evening clouds, there lives an angel who not only loves that you eat good food, but that she smiles and/or snows every time you experience a culinary orgasm.

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Fannie's Last Supper

I picked up a book today while Christmas shopping. I simply couldn't resist. It's about food and there's a nice little historical/contemporary journalism to go with it. It's a complete and utter re-creation of "One Amazing (Christmas) Meal from Fannie Farmer's 1896 Cookbook" written by Chris Kimball who is the host of America's Test Kitchen. Imagine Lobster a l Americaine, Stuffed Goose and all the other interesting hullabaloo that goes into putting together a magnificent dinner absolutely not thrown together in 1896. And so, I put on my new Susan Boyle Christmas CD, yes, I bought Susan's CD, love it, and I've cracked my book. Should I pour a glass of wine? One really has to seize the day don't they with the madness of Christmas shopping, trimming, cooking, wrapping, and eating right? So on that note, I'm off to Carpe Diem with me, myself, and I...until of course I make dinner tonight, which I think will be an easy turkey cannelloni.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Yummy Hot German Potato Salad with Pork Roast and Pancetta Broccoli on the side

Sometimes I think I need a little spanking to wake me up from the bliss of cooking such delightful concoctions. I broke the rules, I think...if there even are any. I served pork in three freakin' dishes tonight. Does my family care? No. I did it to get my children to gobble up the veggies and try new dishes and it worked. It bloody well worked. It's been decades since I enjoyed and made a good Hot German Potato salad. In fact, making a HGPS was the very first thing I ever made together with a pot of coffee when my mom came home from work one night. It was the first of many nights, that I would indulge in the joy of making, alchemizing, stirring, peeling, and sauteing, simply for the joy it brought to moi, but of course to all of those Yesterday my mom made HGPS for our annual family/chick luncheon. Here's what she did. Never be afraid of the measurements, just add a little more of this or a little more of that:

Hot German Potato Salad

Boil six potatoes with skins on until you can prick a fork in it and it's just tender (get your mind out of the gutter). Drain and cool the potatoes. Saute up one half of a red onion and three slices of chopped up bacon in a pan until its gliseny and cooked how you like it. Be careful not to burn the onions, you only want it all to be soft and slightly brown. Then to make the vinaigrette, add 1/4 cup of canola oil with about 3 tbsp. of HONEY MUSTARD, and 1/8 cup of apple cider vinegar, or any other whitish vinegar you have on hand. Finally peel all the potatoes of their skins and slice into a dish. Add the bacon and onions, then the vinaigrette and toss ever so gently. Add some pepper and a little green garnish if you'd like.

The little Pork Roast that Could...

Mix up a marinade of 1/4 cup of orange marmalade, 1/8 cup of low sodium soy sauce, a tsp. of minced garlic, and 1/4 cup of olive oil (I love oil and you ought to see my smooth skin!). Mix up and pour 1/2 of the mixture over the roast (which is in a nice roaster with a bunch of washed button mushrooms), pour some chicken 1broth in the pan (why is there no pork bouillon?), and then put into a 350 degree oven until meat is just cooked (there can be a little pink in it). There is seriously NOTHING worse than overcooked pork. Use a meat thermometer to help you along or look on line to get cooking times. When the roast is just cooked to medium rare, take it out of the oven and put tin foil over it to rest.

Last but not least, broccoli with pancetta: Simply clean and cut up broccoli and steam either in a steamer or in the microwave until al dente (not soft but just soft with a bit of bite to it.) Toss into a frying pan, once again with a tad of garlic, a smattering of olive oil and 1/2 cup of pancetta (which is an Italian bacon).

Alright then. Pork pork and more pork. It was an evening of experimentation to get my kids to try more things. They ate ALL of the broccoli, all of the pork and their HGPS which they said was ok, but me.....I had to undo my pants because I ate so much of it tonight. Until these kids know what they're talking about in terms of good taste when it comes to HGPS, trust'll love it! XOXXOXO

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Lobster and White Cheddar Sliders

Alright everyone, these are just lovely and delicious. I invited 14 friends over to eat appetizers this weekend and I have to say, I find it overwhelmingly endearing and heart warming when I see all of my friends converge like little honey bees around my food. "when willl you be serving the brioche and Camembert?" one asks, "oh you've missed your calling as a caterer" another declares. It's true. The love is definitely felt in my food (Maya Angelous believes that people can indeed feel the energy you had while making your food and I believe it). This weekend I made a few old favorites that you can find on the blog, ie: Mushroom Wellington and Brioche and Camembert. I also served a simple and delicious new cocktail that consisted simply of 2 oz. of Limencello topped with champagne. "I reminds me of my trip to Italy this summer" my sister-in-law said. Truth be told I had a whole other cocktail in mind called, "Captain Handsome" but could not get a hold of creme de violet here in the great white north. Apparently there is an order coming in this January and you can bet your bottoms up I'll be getting me a few bottles for next season. Alright, enough about me, these appetizers are for you, enjoy!

Lobster Sliders: Here is a wonderful take on a unique and delicious slider not to mention a positively refreshing change from the original beef ones.

1 1/2 cups of lobster (I used a can of real lobster that I bought frozen, but you know, fake lobster is delicious too), 1/2 cup of Hellman's mayo, 1/2 cup of celery, 1/4 cup of shredded white cheddar (cheese is optional), 1 tbsp. of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and a tbsp. of any other herb that you might enjoy with your lobster, such as lemon pepper (just a 1/2 tsp.), tarragon, Old Bay Seasoning (1/2 tsp.), or dill (which I used for this recipe). Bread and butter. I made 12 of these sandwiches, so I used 24 pieces of bread. Per piece of bread you are going to use a glass to cut a round of bread and you can save the crusts and extra bits of bread for the stuffing you'll be making Christmas dinner! Now butter one piece of bread and put the butter side down on a baking sheet. Top with about a tbsp. of the lobster mixture, then top mixture with another piece of buttered bread and make sure the buttered side is facing up (like if you were making a grilled cheese sandwich). Do this with all of the sandwiches and line them all up on the baking sheet. Bake sandwiches in a 350 degree for about 20 minutes turning them once until the bread is nice and toasty brown on both sides and the lobster mixture is warmed through. You can serve immediately, or I had made mine early in the day, kept them in the fridge and then microwaved them for about a minute or so until they were all nice and warm again.

Now mix up the above

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Party Cooking

I dream about entertaining. I lay in bed and I imagine the colours of the flowers, the decorations, the food, the cocktail I'm going to serve. I'm bound and determined to make a cocktail this weekend called, "Captain Handsome" and it calls for creme de violette...I found some on line at a local liquor store and its like $500 a bottle. I knew I had expensive tastes, but paaaaleeeese. I'm looking for a violet flavour and have found some yummy liqueurs on line. Wish me luck. I'm planning on making my gorgeous Camembert Brioche, homemade guacamole, and two types of crostini. Certainly I won't be able to stop there....Most of my party favs are already posted. I'm serving the Camembert Brioche for the first time to this crowd however. Yummy!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Weekend Dinners - Pork Tenderloin Wellington

At this very momentino I have an enormous spaghetti squash cooking in my oven and because I'm avoiding pasta for a couple of weeks, I plan on dousing said squash with some gorgeous creamy pasta sauce and parmesano later on when my family has dinner. Last night however I cooked an interesting little Wellington, Pork Tenderloin Wellington to be exact. And though I mucho prefer Beef Tenderloin Wellington, this easy to make dinner was also quite nice. I simply BBQed two pork tenderloin seasoned with a little Montreal Steak Spice for just a little while. Overcooking pork, especially tenderloin is a no no. It will continue to cook after you take it off the BBQ and allow it to rest for about 20 minutes. I BBQed my tenderloin for about 15 minutes total on the BBQ (there should be a little pink inside). In a pan I sauteed very chopped mushrooms and onion in butter and three tbsp. of low sodium soy sauce, smeared the cooled tenderloin with pate, pressed half of the drained mushrooms and onions into the pate then I swathed the tenderloin in rolled out puffed pastry and put an egg wash all around it so that it would brown up nicely in the oven. To make the egg wash I just added one egg and a little milk in a bowl and whisked it until it was blended and using my hands put the egg all over the tenderloin and pastry. Then I cooked the Pork Wellington in the oven at 350 until the pastry was brown. I also whipped up an easy packaged gravy and added the rest of the sauteed mushrooms and onion to it. When it's time to eat, slice the Wellington, arrange on the plate and pour gravy over it. Yummo! P.S. I just reheated the Wellington and had it for lunch and it was even better the next day.

Once the pork has rested top