Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Canterbury Restaurant's Coconut Bread!

Before there was Longfellow's on Rt. 9P/Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs, the big beautiful barn was home to the Canterbury Restaurant.  It was much like its successor in appearance, except that the center wooden floor of the main dining room wasn't a floor at all.  In its previous incarnation, that space was a pond, with tables situated around the perimeter and indoor trees with little lights making a beautiful, park-like setting.  It was beautiful then, and it is beautiful now.  Longfellow's has lovely nooks and little rooms as well as larger dining areas. 

One of my favorite things at the Canterbury was their coconut bread.  Every table was graced with a little loaf upon seating, and it was incredibly popular because it was so moist and delicious.  I remember the Saratogian once printed the famous recipe.  Decades have passed and today I was trying to find my recipe.  It's lost in recipe never-land, so I asked and my friend Diane came through.  The recipe that follows is the original, and if you make it, you won't lose this recipe.  You'll keep it in a safe place forever.

CANTERBURY COCONUT BREAD
thanks to Diane Hinckley Loviza

1 cup toasted coconut (spread coconut on sheet pan, toast in 350 oven 15 minutes stirring often)

1 TBS baking powder
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg well beaten
3/4 cup sugar

Mix wet ingredients with dry, stir well. Spoon into a greased/floured 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan

Bake 1 hour @ 350 or until cake tester comes out clean.
 
Image:  http://genaw.com/lowcarb/food_photos/coconut_bread_zoom.jpg

MAKE YOUR OWN PAY DAY CANDY BAR

Yesterday at lunch about four of us were ready to return to work when we just stopped in front of the candy counter.  We were chatting away when we started a conversation about our favorites -- candies, that is.  I picked up a bag of the new Coconut M&Ms, which I think are the bees knees.  My friend Mary picked up a new Three Musketeers cookie bar (like a Twix).  Carol grabbed a few Lindt truffles.  After we paid for the goodies, we started sharing among ourselves.  It was a spontaneous and fun return to childhood, in a way, for a group of 50-somethings.  I spoke of how I have had "episodes" in the past.  There was that six-month period when I just had to have a Pay Day.  For another while, only Peanut Butter Twix would do.  Almond Joy was another's favorite.  Kit Kat was popular for all of us.  I'm grateful that things have changed and no longer do I need a daily (hourly?) fix of something sweet.  Maybe it's because I am always baking, and the charm for most things sweet has faded.  Or maybe I'm getting older and the hormonal catalyst to search out sugar and fat has waned.  Not sure, but once in a while, a Coconut M&M is a wonderful thing.

Of course, all I had to do was say "Pay Day"  yesterday, and it's had me thinking.  Why can't that one be made at home?  It's pretty simple, really...a caramel nougat center surrounded by salted peanuts.  I found it. The Web site Cooks.com has a recipe that approximates the commercial goodie.  Here it is:

HOME MADE PAY DAY CANDY BARS
from Cooks.com

12 oz. peanut butter chips
3 tbsp. butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
24 oz. Fisher dry roasted peanuts
2 c. mini marshmallows

Pour 1/2 of peanuts in a buttered 9x13 inch pan. Melt chips and butter in saucepan. Blend milk, add marshmallows. Cook until marshmallows are melted, pour over peanuts and press down, top with remaining peanuts and press down again. Cut and cool. "Very good."

One Year Ago Today:  Katharine Hepburn's Famous Brownie Recipe
Image:  http://www.americansweets.co.uk/ekmps/shops/statesidecandy/images/american-hershey-s-payday-bar-4-p.jpg

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chocolate Sorbet from Ina Garten

Yep, my go-to woman for delicious desserts has hit another home run, this time with Chocolate Sorbet.  Ina Garten's name appears often in these posts, and it's because she is so basically good:  not a lot of pretentious ingredients or complicated steps, but easy-to-follow, common sense recipes that are accessible to the novice cook and interesting enough for the more experienced.  I love Ina.  People sometimes tell me that I remind them of her, and I really don't know what to say about that.  I usually respond that we have too much in common (dark hair, love to bake/cook, and are both somewhat Rubinesque!) but apparently there is something to it.  I hear it all the time.  I don't know -- you take a look at my profile photo and tell me if you see it.  I don't...  What we don't have in common:  she has a house in the Hamptons.  I don't.

Anyway, Ina and I both love sorbet, and her recipe for the chocolate variety garners her usual rave reviews.  It is creamy yet it contains no dairy.  If you don't have an ice cream maker (my daughter Katie has one, an attachment for her Kitchen Aid!), you can proceed by putting the mixture in a shallow glass or metal pan in the freezer, and give it a good scrape with a fork every few hours until it is scoopable.  The freezer version might be a bit grainier than the machine mixture, but it will be equally delicious.

CHOCOLATE SORBET
Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) with my notes added

    *  1 cup sugar
    * 1/2 cup very good cocoa powder (recommended: Pernigotti) Note:  Hershey's is fine!
    * 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    * 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    * 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
    * 2 cups water
    * 1/4 cup brewed espresso (1 shot)  Note: 1/4 cup brewed coffee is fine
    * 11/2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (recommended: Tia Maria)  Note:  liqueur keeps the sorbet from freezing too hard - vodka or kahlua would work, too.  It's just a little bit, but use something you love.

Directions

In a large saucepan, mix the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in 2 cups water and the espresso. Cook over low heat until the ingredients are dissolved. Off the heat, stir in the coffee liqueur. Transfer to plastic containers and refrigerate until very cold.

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer's directions. The sorbet will still be soft; place it in a plastic container and freeze for 1 hour or overnight, until firm enough to scoop.

Image credit: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3068/2670139706_fd6b74f967.jpg

Monday, June 28, 2010

Banana Walnut Muffins, revisted

This is a slightly revised version of my banana walnut muffin recipe.  I baked these last night and switched things up a bit.  I think you'll like them.  They are a cross between a muffin and banana bread, and there's no reason you can't put all this batter in a loaf pan.  Then you'd have nice slices to toast!  If you make it into a loaf, bake at 350 degrees for about 50-60 minutes or until it tests done.


BANANA WALNUT MUFFINS
oven - 375 degrees F
makes one dozen

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons, butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
2 ripe bananas, peeled, in chunks

3.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream butter with sugars for five minutes, scraping bowl once or twice.  Add vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add sour cream, beating until incorporated.  Add chunks of bananas, and mix until the banana is broken down and mixed in well with the rest of the ingredients.  It's OK if there are some larger pieces.

To the butter mixture, add 3.5 cups flour mixed with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Beat until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Fold in walnuts.

Spray or line muffin tin with paper liners.  Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle a few walnut pieces on top of each muffin.  If you have coarse sugar (turbinado, etc.), sprinkle a little of that too.

Bake for 20 minutes at 375 or until muffins are done (spring back when you lightly press the center) and there is no more moisture at the top. 

Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to continue cooling. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lunch at the OBI and Raspberry Oreo Cheesecake

Last week my friend Mary and I had lunch at the Olde Bryan Inn in Saratoga Springs.  We were guests of our friend Phyllis, who is retiring after 34 years teaching and administering at Skidmore.  Though she has been feted deservedly well for her many contributions, the celebration continues.  We should have been taking Phyllis out to celebrate, but this was her idea and she insisted.  Phyllis wanted to thank Mary and me for our many years working together, and we were grateful to spend the time together at one of our favorite restaurants.

The OBI has a great lunch menu, and often has dinner-like specials at half the cost.  I chose a broiled blue fish with wild rice and loved it.  Mary had a chicken salad wrap, and Phyllis ordered stuffed shrimp.  When it came time for dessert, we decided to split one, each wanting just a little bit.  We ordered raspberry oreo cheesecake, and it was perfect.  It had a chocolate cookie crust, a raspberry swirl, and little chunks of Orea cookie throughout.  It sat on a drizzle of raspberry sauce and had two little florets of whipped cream on the side.  We sat with our forks, taking a bit at a time in a round-robin kind of way like people do when they share desserts, and didn't even finish it! 

The classic combination of raspberry and chocolate is a favorite of mine, and joined by a dense, creamy cheesecake, it was a perfect ending at a lunch to mark the perfect ending of an extraordinary career.  Here's my take on the recipe, culled from my own "formula" for cheesecake with other good ideas thrown in.

RASPBERRY OREO WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

On bottom rack of oven, place a large cake or baking dish filled with hot water -- tap is fine and will heat up during the preheating process.  This creates a water bath which will help keep the cheesecake dense and moist, and will help avoid cracking.  The water bath will sit below the middle rack where the cheesecake will bake.

Spray bottom and sides with canola spray of a 9" or 10" spring form pan.  Place over a large piece (or pieces) of aluminum foil and mold foil up over sides of pan to prevent possible leaks.

Crust:
2 cups crushed oreos
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter

Combine crust ingredients together and press firmly on the bottom and partially up the sides of the spring form pan.  Place in freezer for 15 minutes while  mixing filling.

Filling:
4 8 oz. packages cream cheese
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 cups white chocolate (chips or block, chopped - as long as it is real white chocolate, like Ghiradelli)
1/2 cup milk or half and half
1 cup seedless raspberry jam, melted, divided in half
6 Oreo cookies, broken into chunks

In medium sauce pan, bring milk to a boil over a low heat and turn down to a simmer.  Add white chocolate chips and stir until completely melted.  Don't let it scorch.  Remove from heat. 

In mixer bowl, beat bream cheese and sugar just until there are no lumps (don't overbeat).  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Slowly mix in white chocolate mixture, about a half cup at a time, just so there's not too much heat added at once.  Beat for about 30 seconds to mix thoroughly.  Genlty stir in Oreo chunks to distribute evenly.

Remove crust from freezer and put half the batter in the pan.  Take 4 tablespoons of the melted raspberry jam and place spoonfuls randomly around top of batter.  Cover with remaining batter and repeat with four more tablespoons of melted jam.  Don't fill the pan more than 3/4 full.  (If you find you have extra batter, save it to make some mini cheesecakes in muffin tins later.)  With a knife, pull knife through batter (careful to avoid crust) one way and then the other to marbelize the cheesecake.

Place pan in center of middle rack in oven.  Bake for 1 hour, fifteen minutes.  Turn oven off, prop it open with a spoon to create a little gap, and leave cheesecake in the cooling oven for an hour.  Remove to rack to cool completely.  Refrigerate for at least four hours or until it is completely chilled before serving. 

When you plate the dessert, drizzle a little melted jam on each plate, garnish with a few fresh raspberries and whipped cream.

Image credit:  http://pr.ak.vresp.com/9441c5f02/longfellows.com/newsletter/images/OBIOldLogo.gif

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pork Tenderloin and Mustard Sauce

Someone I love very much is taking extra special care of herself, and therefore I am posting the occasional (this is a baking blog) healthy AND delicious recipe.  It's often hard to find something really scrumptious when you're cutting out a lot of the things you've grown to love or have just gotten used to eating for the past four or five decades!  The plan is to provide her with a nice selection of delicious recipes, food that anyone would love to have.  This recipe from Cooking Light is the first of that effort.  To pack even more of a nutritional wallop, substitute brown rice for the egg noodles, just because...but you can, of course, do anything you want.  

My goal is to post a good dozen or more recipes that she can whip up without a lot of bother (cooking isn't her favorite thing) and that will be worth whatever time and effort goes in. 

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce
from Cooking Light and myrecipes.com

"Serve quick-cooking pork tenderloin in a zesty Dijon mustard sauce over egg noodles for dinner tonight. The noodles (or brown rice) soak up the extra sauce so you don't lose any flavor. Pair with steamed asparagus or broccoli."

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 pork slices, about 3 tablespoons sauce, and about 1/2 cup noodles)

2 cups uncooked medium egg noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into 12 (1-inch-thick) slices
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

While the noodles cook, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the pork with pepper and salt. Place pork in pan; cook 5 minutes, turning once.

Combine the wine and mustard; pour into pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir cornstarch mixture into pan; bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute or until thick. Serve pork with sauce and noodles.

Nutritional information (note that I usually do NOT include this with my posts for fear of scaring you!):  CALORIES 242 (30% from fat); FAT 8g (sat 1.9g,mono 4.4g,poly 0.9g); IRON 2mg; CHOLESTEROL 89mg; CALCIUM 22mg; CARBOHYDRATE 14g; SODIUM 298mg; PROTEIN 26.5g; FIBER 1.3g
Recipe and Photo from myrecipes.com and Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2001

One Year Ago Today:  Schuyler Farms Dairy Bar

Friday, June 25, 2010

Beer Can Chicken and Guy Fieri

This recipe for Beer Can Chicken comes from Food Network's Guy Fieri (pronounced the old word way:  fee-et-ee).  Guy won one of the earliest Food Network Star competitions, and he is a natural in front of the camera, probably because he is so real, a genuine article.  Guy is the host of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (love it!).  He goes around to all these one-of-a-kind little hole-in-the-wall restaurants, finding great food and talking to loyal customers.  My favorite part of the show is when he is in the kitchen, watching the cook create a specialty dish, and then he digs in.  His happiness elicits such pride from the cook. You can't fake that enthusiasm.  He LOVES the food, but more, he loves meeting people and celebrating small restaurant businesses all over the country. 

This dish is a carnivore's delight.  It is covered in bacon so if that offends you, stop reading now.  I hesitated to include a recipe with so much decadence but really, you have to read the reviews.  I can't possible convey the outright enthusiasm for the recipe as well as these people do.  I promise healthy balance with a soon-to-be posted recipe for something black-beanish or such, but right now, forgive me, it's time to get your chicken on!

BIG BUD'S BEER CAN CHICKEN
from Guy Fieri and the Food Network

Ingredients
1 (2 to 3-pound) whole chicken
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 (12-ounce) can beer
1/2 pound bacon
Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Wash chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Mix dry ingredients in small bowl. Rub 1/2 of the ingredients on inside cavity of chicken. Gently peel skin away from chicken and rub mixture into meat of chicken. Open beer can pour out about 1/2 cup. Drop the garlic cloves into the beer can. Place chicken, open end down, over the beer can to insert the beer into the cavity. Place chicken, standing up, in large saute pan. Place 1/3 of the bacon in the top cavity of the chicken and drape the remaining 2/3 of the bacon down the outside of the chicken. Pierce the bacon to the chicken with toothpicks.

Place chicken in the oven for 10 minutes and then lower temperature to 325 degrees F and cook for another 1 hour, or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.





Photo credit and original recipe from the Food Network:  http://img.foodnetwork.com/FOOD/2007/09/07/GI0302_Big_Bud_Chicken_lg.jpg

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Graduation Cake!

It's that time of year when requests come in from family and friends for graduation cakes.  I finished two last night, or I should say, early this morning, around 2 a.m.! One was a larger sheet cake, black and white marble (white vanilla cake with a very dark chocolate ribbon running through it) and the other a moist, dark chocolate cake, both frosted in buttercream.  I had hoped to make frosting roses, but the evening's torrential rain and thunder storms brought with them a big wallop of humidity.  Bakers' saboteur that it is, the unwelcome humidity derailed plans for frosting roses (they wilt almost immediately).  So I had to settle for piped rosettes which were very pretty and not a bad second choice.  Both cakes were decorated similarly, with a border garden of blue and white swirled rosettes, sage-y green leaves, tiny white flowers, white "berries," and each finished off with a mortar board made of fondant (I do tend toward borderline overdecorating!) .

It's always challenging to have a successful baking outcome during the summer months when temperatures and humidity rise.  I once baked a wedding cake for a family friend.  It was an August wedding and when I arrived at the venue (not air-conditioned) I had to assemble the cake inside the large walk-in refrigerator! Baking cakes for someone's very special occasion is such a loaded proposition.  There is so much hinging on the cake as THE symbol of the day, and there is my own self-imposed pressure for it to be perfect.  While my cakes cannot possibly achieve perfection, what they do well is convey love, happiness, and joyful celebration.  And that's what it is all about.  Whether you are baking a few cupcakes for your little one's birthday, or attempting a grand cake for a huge party, as long as you enjoy the process and bake with your heart, it will be perfect!

Photo: it's mine

One year ago today:  Chunky Chicken Salad!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One Cake Failure = Lemon Blueberry Trifle

True confessions day.  The lemon bundt cake I made for Sue's birthday was the second cake.  The first one was a flop because I am sooo smart, I never need to look at a recipe.  No!  I miscalculated and the first lemon bundt looked more like a half-deflated lemon tire.  I added too much canola oil and short-cut the baking time by 15 very necessary minutes. A flop.

But when life gives you flat lemon bundts, make lemon trifle!  In keeping with the quick-and-easy theme, this trifle came together in minutes, literally.  Still, it made a LUSCIOUS dessert resulting in no words, nothing but "ummm," "yummm," and from little Henry, something that sounded a little bit like "more."  No apologies here for the Cool-whip/instant pudding layer, either.  Quick and easy sometimes means that convenience items are used, and once in a while, it just isn't going to kill you.  So, if you have ten minutes and a cake failure, you can make a wonderful dessert and no one will be the wiser. 

No hideously ugly cake on hand?  You can use a store-bought pound cake (you'll need two), or actually plan (!) to make a trifle and bake your own 9x13 sheet cake to cut into chunks.  Either way, it is good to realize that a confectionary ugly duckling can transform in to the most elegant of desserts.  You can switch up flavors to suit your fancy, too.  How about chocolate cake, sweet cherries, and white chocolate filling? Yellow cake, macerated strawberries, and whipped cream?  There are so many possibilities...

LEMON BLUEBERRY TRIFLE

1 failure of a cake, in this case, lemon
1 large tub of Cool Whip, thawed or nearly thawed
1 6-serving size INSTANT vanilla pudding
3 cups milk
1 pint fresh blueberries

If you have a trifle dish, use that.  If not, a rectangular glass baking dish (9x13 or so) will do nicely.

Make filling:  In large bowl, whisk very well together Cool Whip, pudding mix, and milk.  Set aside.
Cut cake into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes (approximately), just so the chunks are bite-size.

Assemble:

Spread bottom of dish with a layer of pudding mixture.
Spread half of cake over the pudding.
Sprinkle half the blueberries over cake.
Spread half of the remaining pudding over cake.
Repeat with remaining cake, blueberries, and pudding.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.
A dollop of whipped cream might be nice.

One year ago today:  one of my favorite posts, The Beach House and Shrimp Scampi

Photo credit: http://hostedmedia.reimanpub.com/TOH/Images/Photos/37/exps12386_QC10118_C37.jpg

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tasty Lemon Bundt Cake to Welcome Summer

My lovely friend Sue's birthday was yesterday.   I know she adores lemon anything so her birthday cake was a lemon bundt cake.  This fool-proof cake, so light and delicious with its citrus essence, is made from a mix.  Yes, a mix, a fact that can be gotten over when you take a bite! This recipe is found on the side of the Duncan Hines Lemon cake mix, and it is wonderful.  It is topped with my own non-mix icing, a lemon-infused glaze.  Sliced and served with berries and whipped cream, it makes a perfect summer dessert. I didn't think to take a photo, but this one, borrowed from Cooks Illustrated, looks just like the cake I delivered to my friend yesterday morning. (Thank you, CI.)  And, Happy first day of summer!!!

LEMON BUNDT CAKE
from Duncan Hines

1 Duncan Hines Lemon Cake Mix
1 package (4-serving size) instant lemon pudding
4 eggs
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Bundt pan, sprayed well with cooking spray (or buttered and floured)

In large mixer bowl, mix all ingredients together until blended well.  Beat for a couple of minutes until nice and smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in middle rack of oven for 50-60 minutes or until it tests done (either a skewer inserted comes out dry, or the top springs back when lightly pressed).

Let cool for 15 minutes.  Turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Glaze:
1 lemon for rind and juice
2 cups confectioners sugar
water

Use about 1 teaspoon of lemon rind and the juice of half the lemon (about 2 tablespoons).  Beat lemon juice, rind, and confectioners sugar with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.  Add a few drops of water at a time if you need to.  It should be thick but pourable, not thin and runny.  If it gets too thin, add more sugar, a bit at a time until it flows slowly off a spoon.  Drop spoonfuls of glaze all around the top of the cake and allow to flow down the sides.  Sprinkle the top with a little extra lemon rind.

One year ago yesterday: Father's Day

Photo credit: http://www.cooksillustrated.com/images/document%5Carticle%5Cjf06_bundtcake_article.jpg

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

At Max's birthday party yesterday, his grandfather Charlie manned the grill and was in charge of other offerings as well.  He made a grilled zucchini that my brother Steven (vegetarian) raved about.  From what I observed, he cut 1/2 inch diagonal slices of zucchini, brushed both sides with olive oil, generously sprinkled garlic salt and pepper, then grilled until they had nice grill marks on both sides.  Charlie also put out a bowl of his home-made salsa that everyone was drawn to.  It was black bean with corn, avacado, and other vegetables.  I took a picture of it just to remember what's in it! 

I was intrigued so when I got home, I searched the internet.  This recipe from CDKitchen.com is similar, though it lacks avacado and tomato, meaning it is has a little less moisture/creaminess than Charlie's.   (Avacado and white vinegar give Charlie's more of a liquid base).  It has RAVE reviews (some saying it's so good they just ate it with a spoon!) so I'm sharing it with you.  Reviewers warn against changing a thing, and also insist that it MUST sit overnight in the fridge for ingredients to blend to their optimum flavor. 


 Charlie's Salsa



BLACK BEAN AND CORN SALSA
from CDKitchens.com

Ingredients:


1 (15 oz.) can black beans ( rinsed and drained)
1 cup frozen corn kernels (thawed)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice
8 small green onions - chopped ( use some of the stem also)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

** Optional **

1 small green chili chopped or have used crushed red pepper - go lightly



Directions:

Mix all the above well. Refrigerate over night to let flavors blend.

Photo and Recipe Location: http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/photos/10348/Black-Bean-and-Corn-Salsa;; http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/99/Black_Bean_and_Corn_Salsa19618.shtml

Recipe ID: 10348

Babies, Daddies, and Grandpas

Today centered around celebrating two babies' birthdays.  First was my great-nephew Max's party at Sartatoga Lake.  The party was held at Water's Edge, and to those of us who can remember, it is the location of the former Kaydeross Park.  Max's party was held beyond the pool in a grove of trees that overlooks the lake as it curves northward toward the Route 9P bridge.  It was a glorious day with cool, gentle breezes off the lake.  Kate, Bill, and I headed toward the sandy beach to let Henry test the waters.  He played with his cousins Matty and Alexis, and didn't seem to have any fear of the water.  He liked it alot (and swallowed a bit of it, I'm afraid).


Max's Cake


Max, digging in...

The unusual thing about today's parties is that I didn't bake the cakes.  A friend of Max's grandmother Nancy made an adorable Yankee-themed cake.  She baked one small "baseball" which Max got to dive into, and he went to town!

Leaving Max's party, I headed around Rt. 9P to enjoy the ride around the lake.  It was such a beautiful day I didn't mind the longer route.  I wanted to stop along the way a couple of times, but didn't because I was already running late for the next party, for my great-neice Scarlet's big first birthday bash in a lovely little neighborhood in Ballston Spa.


Scarlet's cake was baked by Lauren's friend Emily, who does incredibly artistic work.  Lauren asked Emily to replicate the design of Scarlet's favorite blanket, and you can see by the picture  here that she did an amazing job with fondant figures, hand-painted paisley design, and cut out fondant-flowers all mirroring the pretty quilt which served as the tablecloth beneath the 3-tiered confection.  The inside of the cake was brightly marbled in white with neon shades of purple, yellow, and pink.  It was a happy cake, inside and out!




Adam and Max

Rob and Scarlet

Bill and Henry

Rob and his Dad Bob's Rotisserie Contraption!
(Great pork and turkey!)

Today was a good way to spend the eve of Father's Day.  Henry got to spend time with his Grandpa Gene (uppermost left-hand photo).  Max enjoyed time with both his grandfathers, Don and Charlie.  Scarlet's two grandpas, Bill and Bob, were all together at her party.  It was just a great family day all around. 

HAPPY FATHERS' DAY TO ALL THE DADS AND GRANDPAS I know, and to my own father Alfred J. O'Farrell.  It's been 17 years and we all miss you every day. 


Photos: by me

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Black Bean Burgers with a Tropical Twist

At Sutton's Marketplace in Queensbury, just south of Lake George, my sister Ginny and I often order the black bean burger.  They serve it with sweet, grilled onions on their own grilled cheddar bread smeared with spicy mayo.  It is outrageoulsy delicious. 

I was thinking of traditional Father's Day recipes, and came across this enthusiastically reviewed black bean burger from tasteofhome.com.   I know many dads would not even consider a meatless burger, but read the reviews and consider something different, if not for Father's Day, then any other evening when you want something full of flavor that  you can feel good about, or as an additional option for your vegetarian friends who usually have to settle for everything but the entree!  This time, they can have something to sink their teeth into, too!

TROPICAL BLACK BEAN BURGER
(original recipe from tasteofhome.com)

Ingredients

    2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 medium red onion, finely chopped
    2 eggs, beaten
    1/2 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
    1/2 cup crushed baked tortilla chip scoops
    1/3 cup chopped green pepper
    1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
    1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
    4 teaspoons chopped green onion
    4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    2 teaspoons honey
    1-1/2 teaspoons orange juice
    1/2 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
    6 slices unsweetened pineapple
    6 whole wheat hamburger buns, split

In a large bowl, mash beans. Add the red onion, eggs, bread crumbs, chips, green pepper, cilantro, cumin, chili powder and pepper sauce.  Shape into six patties. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
   
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, green onion, mustard, honey, orange juice and soy sauce; refrigerate until serving. Using long-handled tongs, dip a paper towel in cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 160°.

Grill or broil pineapple slices for 2-3 minutes on each side or until heated through. Place burgers and pineapple on buns; top each with 1 rounded tablespoon of sauce. Yield: 6 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 burger equals 357 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 73 mg cholesterol, 807 mg sodium, 65 g carbohydrate, 11 g fiber, 14 g protein.

One year ago today:  GNI and Spinach Salad

Photo credit:  http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Grilled-Black-Bean-and-Pineapple-Burgers/Print
Original recipe: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Grilled-Black-Bean-and-Pineapple-Burgers

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rum Raisin Pound Cake

To celebrate her father-in-law Richard's birthday, Katie baked a rum raisin pound cake from a recipe she found on Epicurious.com. It was originally published by Bon Appetit in 1995. This is a substantial, silky, buttery cake loaded with raisins and a hint of spiced rum flavor. Katie baked the pound cake in a fancy bundt pan, shaped like a chrysanthemum, and when it was out of the pan (a little challenging given all the nooks) she poured a simple glaze over top. She served this cake with one of Richard's favorite ice creams, Stewart's butter pecan, and a spritz of whipped cream. It was, simply, wonderful.
 
Henry was giddy with happiness watching us strain to blow up balloons for the little celebration, but wasn't too thrilled when they kept popping (I think we overdid it).  Still, there were balloons aplenty and Henry was very, very happy to have a bunch of them to play with.  When it came time to sing Happy Birthday, he especially enjoyed helping his Grandpa blow out his candles. 
 
 



RUM RAISIN POUND CAKE
by Epicurious.com and Bon Appetit



  • 1 1/2 cups brown raisins
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 7 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons whipping cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Toss raisins with 2 tablespoons flour in small bowl. Combine remaining flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light. Add 1 2/3 cups sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs 2 at a time, beating after each addition until well blended. Beat in 6 tablespoons rum and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture. Fold in raisin mixture. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake until top is golden and tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes. Turn out cake onto rack and cool completely.

Stir powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon rum in bowl until smooth. Mix in cream. Spoon over cake. Let stand until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.

Photos:  by me

Recipe source: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Rum-Raisin-Pound-Cake-504#ixzz0qz1an5qh

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Strawberry Sorbet from Epicurious.com

In the 1960s my family lived on Cove Road in Huntington, Long Island.  We lived in the Halesite section of Huntington (named for Nathan Hale), not far from the harbor.  Our house was a beautiful and old yellow cape, set on grounds bordered by pine trees.  My three sisters and I shared a huge upstairs bedroom which my mother referred to as the "dormitory." We lived there when I was in junior high school, and I haven't been back since we moved to Saratoga Springs.  Years later, my sister Patsy returned to Huntington for her high school class reunion.  Curious, she drove by 8 Cove Road and reported to us that, sadly, the house had burned down!  It's hard to think of a place that was once home coming to such an end.  We didn't live there long but I do have happy memories of our time in that house.  I was in that pre-teen, teen phase, and remember calling in a pizza order for the house across the street and then laughing hysterically as my friend Polly and I watched, from my bedroom window, the confusion across the street when the delivery arrived.  I've since atoned for that mischievous deed, but there were others which I may or may not share along the way!  It is good to know that we all grow up, eventually.

Anyway, some of my earliest cooking experiments originated in that kitchen.  I remember being inspired to make my own version of sherbet, from a magazine recipe.  It didn't require an ice cream maker; you just combined ingredients and set the container in the freezer.  This recipe from Epicurious.com reminds me of that time.  I love sorbet, and no ice cream maker is required here, either. According to the recipe, "The sorbet can be processed in an ice cream maker or simply frozen in a shallow container (a 13x9-inch metal or glass baking pan works best)."

STRAWBERRY SORBET
from Epicurious.com

    *  2 cups water
    * 1 cup sugar
    * 1 quart strawberries, hulled
    * 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
    * 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Stir 2 cups water and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over high heat until sugar dissolves. Boil 5 minutes.

Working in batches, puree strawberries in food processor until smooth. Add strawberry puree and orange and lemon juices to sugar syrup; stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

Process strawberry mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions or place mixture in shallow container and freeze, stirring every hour until set, about 6 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and freeze in airtight container. If sorbet is frozen solid, place in refrigerator for 15 minutes to soften.)

One year ago today: Lake George Wedding

Recipe credit: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fresh-Strawberry-Sorbet-108471

Photo image: http://img4.sunset.com/i/2007/04/strawberry-sorbet-m.jpg

Monday, June 14, 2010

Easy Strawberry Jam from Ina Garten

The Barefoot Contessa does not steer us wrong, as evidenced by the 5-star rating reviewers gave her recipe for Easy Strawberry Jam.  It is strawberry season now in upstate New York, and Hand Melon Farm in Greenwich, New York (about a 15 minute ride east of Saratoga Springs) has an abundance of pick-your-own rows.  I love strawberry jam, but I don't want to deal with pectin or canning, though this recipe can be canned if you think it will last that long (link for canning instructions provided below).

Anyway, everything Ina Garten touches turns to culinary gold, and her recipe from the Food Network Web site is no different.  With just three ingredients (sugar, strawberries, lemon) it really can't be any simpler. 

INA GARTEN'S EASY STRAWBERRY JAM

Ingredients

    * 2 cups sugar
    * 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
    * 1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

Directions

Combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the strawberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, until the strawberries release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly. Cook until a small amount of the juice gels on a very cold plate. (I keep one in the freezer.) Pour carefully into 2 pint canning jars and either seal or keep refrigerated. Use immediately, or follow proper canning guidelines linked here.

Photo image: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/easy-strawberry-jam-recipe/index.htm

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Home-made Fudgesicles

As a kid, nothing was quite so good on a hot summer day as an icy-cold Fudgesicle.  Well, maybe one of Ralph's lemon ices, but next to that, the Fudgesicle was about the best treat.  My daughter Katie makes her own version of Popsicles for Henry.  She uses real fruit juice straight up, nothing added.  I was thinking it'd be nice to have a home-made Fudgesicle without the additives.  This recipe, from Recipezaar.com,  is by no means health food, but it is free of chemicals and other mysterious ingredients, and it would make a great treat once in a while.  If you have molds for Popsicles, give this a try.

HOME-MADE FUDGESICLES

Ingredients:


2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

In a sauce pan combine, cocoa, cornstarch, sugar. Blend well. Now add milk, cream . Cook over medium heat till thick. Remove from heat, add the chocolate chips butter and vanilla. Mix till all chocolate chips are melted and blended well. 

Pour into molds and freeze.

Photo credit: http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/object3/948/97/n93225551837_3993.jpg
Recipe from Recipezaar.com

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shrimp and Pineapple Kabobs

Except for my last night in Long Beach, we ate "in" but actually ate out -- under the stars on the terrace.  The first day I was there Meghan and I went to Vons, a local grocery store.  They had a nice selection of fish which was great because Meghan doesn't eat meat and we all love seafood.  So I bought twelve of the largest shrimp they had, raw but cleaned with shells on, and then picked up a yellow pepper, some grape tomatoes, half a fresh pineapple, and baby red onions.  Combined with fresh broccoli, a home-made sweet and sour sauce, and some confetti rice, these grilled shrimp kabobs made a beautiful meal.  We sat outdoors at a patio table, with candle light, and were all very happy with the delicious dinner before us.

SHRIMP and PINAPPLE KABOBS (makes 6)
Serves 3 (2 kabobs per person)

12 large shrimp, raw, cleaned, shells removed, tails on
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 yellow pepper, cut in chunks
Half a fresh pineapple, peeled and cut into large chunks
grape tomatoes
peeled baby red onions or wedges of red onion
Sweet and sour sauce for garnish (recipe below)

Soak wooden skewers in water for half an hour before grilling.

Toss shrimp in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and season with a bit of salt and pepper.  Let it hang out for a few minutes until you are ready to assemble the skewers.

Assemble skewers:  In whatever order you like, alternate red onion, yellow pepper, tomato, pineapple, shrimp (like a "C" on the skewer), and repeat so you have two sets of each item on each skewer.

Confetti rice:  Cook as much rice as you intend to serve -- for this recipe, enough for 4 people.  Set aside.  Grate 1 carrot and saute with 2 tablespoons chopped onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil until softened.  Add a couple tablespoons each of chopped yellow pepper, chopped pineapple.  Add salt and pepper.  Stir into cooked rice and let it heat up together for a few minutes.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup orange or pineapple juice

Stir together.  Bring to a bubbling boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Place in bowl and serve alongside rice and skewers.

Grill kabobs:  Grill 3 minutes per side until shrimp is opaque and turns pink.  Turn off heat and close cover and cook one minute longer with residual heat.

That's it!

Photo credit: http://www.lawrys.com/~/media/Images/Sites/Lawrys/RecipeDetail/Main-Dish/Chipotle-Shrimp-Pineapple-Kabobs.ashx?w=240

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Images of a Lovely Trip

Last night I returned from a too-quick trip to visit my daughter Meghan and her boyfriend Mark (and their dogs Apple and Calvin, and cat Chief) in Long Beach, California, as I've written about in the past few blogs.  I hadn't seen them since the very end of December when they packed all they owned in a mini-van (including their pets) and left for the west coast.  They arrived in Long Beach after just four days, in time for New Year's Eve.  It's been over five months since so I was very happy to see them. 

Rather than write more about the trip, in this posting I'm sharing our visit in pictures.  It was a wonderful time, and I miss my kid, so much, already.  She and Mark were such great hosts, showing me their new city and the beautiful beaches nearby.   I can't wait to go back again.  Rather than go on and on about how much I loved the whole thing, here are photos to tell the story:

Long Beach at Night

 Meghan's North Star

The Courtyard

Calvin and Apple, Fetching at Huntington Beach

 Mark and the Queen Mary

 Lunch at the Board Walk

Cute Little Tug Boat

The Aquarium of the Pacific

 Mark and Meghan

 "This was no boating accident!"

 M&M

 Star Fish!

 Sea Lions

 At Parker's Lighthouse

The Queen Mary from our Table at Parker's Light House

 Parker's Key Lime Pie (or is it a tower?)...Delicious!
(This IS a food blog, after all!)

 View from the Plane, Headed Home

Photos by Jeannie, Mark, and Meghan
Post card image: http://www.learncalifornia.org/GoDocUserFiles/2048.97-10-01.jpg

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Long Beach Royalty

Yesterday afternoon, while Meghan was at work, Mark and I visited the Queen Mary, now a luxury hotel permanently docked in Long Beach.  It's a beautiful ship with art-deco decor and elegant woodwork throughout.  One of the attractions on the ship is a Ghosts and Legends show (very Disney-esque in a Haunted Mansion kind of way) that revisits past tragedies that occurred on the ship. Special effects mimicked psychic phenomena and scared some of the spectators, though Mark and I were more amused than frightened by the dramatics.  The view of Long Beach from the deck of the Queen Mary is spectacular and Mark and I were both snapping photos from many vantage points.

Later Mark and I stopped by to see Meghan at the restaurant, and then we walked down the boardwalk and stopped for a slice of pizza.  We sat outside under an umbrella. and talked for a long time.  I so enjoyed the conversation, taking in the view of the marina and the city from our table.

We decided to eat in again last night, saving dinner out for tonight, my last night here (frown).   We grilled chicken and salmon fillets to top our big salads of romaine, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and sliced red onion.  Along side our salad we had home-made croutons of grilled slices of sourdough bread that had been brushed with olive oil on both sides and sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. 

It's been such a great visit so far.  This afternoon we're taking the dogs to the beach.  For dinner tonight, we'll sit outside on the deck of Parker's Lighthouse, overlooking the lights of the Queen Mary across the harbor.  There's something about dinner outside, twinkling white lights, and a beautiful view that makes for a memorable evening.  Add great seafood and time with Meghan and Mark, and this will be a dinner that I'll remember for a long time.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dog Day at the Beach

Yesterday Meghan and I took a 20-minute ride south of Long Beach to Huntington Beach where there's a special stretch devoted just to dogs and their owners.  It was amazing, really.  I've never seen so many dogs in one place, and they all got along beautifully.  There were dogs of every breed and many mixes, and all were so well-behaved!  Calvin (Chocolate Lab) and Apple (little Black Lab mix) were so happy to be there.

We had stopped at Whole Foods to pick up a couple of sandwiches and root beers to go, and were ready for our ocean-side picnic on a quilt that was once Meghan's blanket as a child.  To see it completely worn and battered made me smile.  It has been well-loved and now it is her beach blanket.  Its nautical stars on a navy-blue background somehow seemed fitting as we had lunch on the sandy beach.

Sunday proved to be a very popular day at the dog beach, and Calvin and Apple knew we were near before we even arrived.  We had to wait in line to park, and once out of the car, Calvin pulled Meghan in energetic enthusiasm to get down to the water.  We climbed down a rocky path and settled ourselves in a cove where the rising tide made it obvious we had to move or we'd be stuck in there on the rocks!  Further down the beach we found a wide-open space with lots of people and dogs.  Meghan had a "Chuck It," one of those tennis-ball-flinging wands that send the ball a good distance out into the ocean.  Calvin spent the entire two hours there retrieving his ball, often flipping over in the waves and searching in the foam for his ball.  Apple was happy to play defense but never actually went into the waves to get the ball.  She's nine now and is happy with a little less exertion. 

We had a really great day.  Before the beach excursion, Meghan and I walked all around downtown Long Beach, going in and out of shops and just having fun seeing the sights.  She said she hadn't yet discovered so much of Long Beach, and it was good to take a walking tour of her new town.  She and Mark moved here just before the new year.

We ended the day with a barbeque of grilled shimp kabobs (with red peppers, fresh pineapple, baby red onions, and grape tomatoes), a confetti rice and broccoli.  We had dinner out on the courtyard.  Love it.

Mark and I are off to see the Queen Mary while Meghan is working the lunch shift at Parker's Lighthouse.  It's going to be another beautiful day in Long Beach.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Long Beachin' It

After two long flights yesterday, I arrived at LAX where Mark picked me up.  The immediate presence of palm trees along the drive back to their condo filled me with happiness! 

I have to say, I enjoy traveling.  Not just visiting, but traveling.  I met two lovely older ladies on the flight from Detroit to L.A.  I had the unfortunate assignment of seat 15B, right in the middle.  Luckily, they were friendly and we chatted for most of the trip.  It could have been much worse if my seat-mates were less friendly.

I love Meghan and Mark's condo!  It's located in a building of condos with a center courtyard with colorful flowering plants.  It's just beautiful. 

Mark just left for work.  Meghan has the day off.  We're headed to Huntington Beach or Newport.  Don't know where exactly, but I'm going to love every minute.

I'll write more about my little va-ca later!  Have a great day!

Photo Credit: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_9Gsu_hMGnVk/SClHJXnd95I/AAAAAAAACn8/_OOMnb0inss/s400/scenic%2Bboardwalks%2B3