Monthly Archives: May 2014

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We continue to be fighting cold weather and the flu here on the east coast. So my call to action is comfort food for strength. I think a hearty soup is the perfect answer.  I used the ham bone I had in the freezer from Christmas , I embarked on making a lentil soup that uses some of my favorite flavors, such as rosemary, thyme, red chili flakes, garlic and some dry sherry. It’s my mother’s lentil soup kicked up a few times for more flavor. I love adding just a touch of heat to the soup with the red chili flakes, and the sherry is purely for medicinal purposes! Lentils are considered a power food, it helps lower cholesterol, helps lower the risk of heart disease and it’s filled with antioxidants. So fortify your family with this delicious and warming soup.

From by the bay wishing you nourishing food memories!
Maryann

Lentil Soup

Serves 4-6


Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups sweet onions finely chopped

2 tablespoons garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

2 quarts chicken stock

1 ham bone with some meat on bone

1 pound umbrian lentils 

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup dry sherry


Directions

In a stock pot heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté the onions until soften. Add garlic and red chili flakes and saute another minute. Add rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. Sauté until fragrant about one minute. Add the stock and ham bone.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat , cover and simmer for approximately 1 hour. Remove the ham bone, chop the meat from the bone and add back into the soup along with the lentils, salt and pepper and simmer covered another hour. Add sherry and simmer another ten minutes. Remove from heat and serve. 

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Super Bowl Sunday is upon us and nothing is more traditional than making a great chili. What makes this chili recipe special is it’s pretty easy to make and it has really big flavor from combining hot italian sausage along with your ground meat. I suggest ground beef brisket here but regular ground beef works just as well. I do suggest that you get a beef with a slightly higher fat content ( 20%) for flavor. The added flavor is worth the extra step of pouring off any fat you might have after browning the meat. If you prefer your chili less spicy, get regular italian sausage meat and cut in half the amount of red pepper flakes and cayenne. Using the basil and the cannellini beans in this recipe really makes for a lighter taste! Hope you team wins the Super Bowl!
From by the bay wishing you winning Super Bowl food memories!
Maryann
Spicy Beef Brisket and Sausage Chili
Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds hot italian sausage, with casings removed
3 pounds ground beef brisket ( or ground beef , 80% lean)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 – 26.46 ounces chopped tomatoes with liquid ( use no sodium added)
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 bay leave
1 cup strong black coffee
2 – 15 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Directions
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a very large heavy bottomed pot and brown the sausage meat. Transfer the meat to a bowl using a slotted spoon. In the same pot add the ground meat and brown. Remove the browned meat with slotted spoon into the bowl with the sausage meat and set aside. Pour off any liquid and/or fat from the pot. Place pot and remaining olive oil on medium heat and once the oil is hot saute the onions and garlic until softened but not brown, approximately 10 minutes. Add the pepper flakes, cumin and cayenne and saute 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Add the tomatoes, bay leave, salt, pepper, coffee and the reserved meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally. Add the cannellini beans ( strained and rinsed) and simmer another 1/2 hour. Serve warm with fresh basil on top.
Chili can be served with :
Sour Cream
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Diced Tomato
Tortilla chips
Guacamole – here is the link to my favorite recipe

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I love lazy winter weekend mornings, when you just want to sit in with a cup of coffee and read the newspaper over breakfast. Home made granola is a terrific breakfast for such mornings. It fills the house with a welcoming aroma and you can make enough granola to last through the week. It’s perfect for topping your yogurt and or fruit. This crunchy granola is easy to make and delicious to eat……it takes about 5 minutes to get the ingredients mixed together and into the oven. There is nothing like a little effort with big results!
From by the bay, wishing you sweet and crunchy food memories!
Maryann

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Dried Cherry, Coconut and Chinese Five Spice Granola


3 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 1/2 cups pepita (pumpkin) seeds, unsalted
1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chinese five spice powder
4 tablespoons orange blossom honey
½ cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup shredded coconut

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine all ingredients except the dried fruit into a mixing bowl, combine well. On a parchment lined sheet spread ingredients in 1 layer. Bake for 50 minutes until brown stirring every ten minutes until mixture is browned. Remove from oven and cool granola. Once cooled add dried cherries and coconut. Mix well. Keep in airtight container. It should keep about one week.


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Well, it was bound to happen. Temperatures just plunged here on the East Coast and when the wind whips across the bay, it is bone chilling! When the weather turns that cold, I find making a nice braise that spends a few hours in the oven the ultimate comfort food. I love making braises through out the winter and one of the most rewarding is this slow red wine braise for beef short ribs. Beef short ribs are one of the most delicious and flavorful cuts of meat. It takes some love and time to bring the best out of this cut in preparation.  First, the ribs are bathed in a brine for a few hours to  add flavor and keep the meat tender while it slowly braises in the oven in a bath of red wine and beef stock with some lovely herbs and vegetables. The final step is a splash of red wine vinegar to balance against the richness of the meat.  The result is a beautiful, complex marriage of flavors. I know this sounds a little theatrical but the results are show worthy!

From by the bay wishing you lovely slow braised food memories!
Maryann

 


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Beef Short Rib Braised in Red Wine

Serves 4-6


For Brine

1 tablespoon pink peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup coarse sea salt

6 cups water


For Braise

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds beef short ribs

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

2 cups leeks, chopped in rings using the white and light green parts only

1 cup fennel, chopped ( remove fronds, stem and core) 

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups beef stock

1 bottle dry red wine

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


Directions

In a large stock pot add the ingredients for the brine and bring to a boil, dissolving the sugar and salt. Cool completely then add the beef short ribs , cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and remove meat from the brine pat dry and let come to room temperature , before proceeding with making the braise. Mix flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a sealed plastic bag. Add beef  short ribs into the bag and coat with the flour mixture. In a large Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté the floured beef short ribs until browned. Remove browned meat into a bowl and place to the side. Add remaining olive oil to a pan and sauté the leeks and fennel until both start to soften. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute a minute . Add the fennel seeds, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. Sauté until fragrant about one minute. Add the tomatoe paste. Deglaze with the wine and stock . Add light brown sugar , salt and pepper and then add the meat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat , cover and simmer until very tender but meat still on the bone, approximately 3 hours. Skim any fat from the sauce and then  add one tablespoon red wine vinegar and simmer another ten minutes. Remove from heat and serve with soft polenta or mashed potatoes.

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Well the holidays are officially done and I would venture to guess that just like me , you are probably looking at various leftovers when you stare into your refrigerator. As I looked at the carton still half filled with eggnog, I considered several different uses and landed on making some pudding. This was a quick and delicious way to use what was left and give new life to the holiday eggnog!

From by the bay wishing you rich and creamy food memories!
Maryann
Eggnog Pudding
Serves 4
Ingredients
2 cups eggnog ( if you don’t have 2 cups of leftover eggnog , use milk to get 2 cups of liquid)
1/2 cup fine granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
optional: nutmeg to sprinkle on top of the pudding
Directions
In a small bowl mix 1/4 cup milk and cornstarch. Mix well until smooth and set aside. Place into a saucepan eggnog and sugar on medium heat and bring liquid to a simmer to dissolve the sugar. Add the cornstarch mixture and continue to whisk until the mixture starts to thicken, it will have the consistency of soft pudding and start to bubble at the edges. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and continue to whisk to keep the pudding smooth. Pour into 4 serving dishes. Cover the top of each pudding with plastic wrap to prevent from forming a skin on top, pressing wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding. Place into the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours before serving. Sprinkle with nutmeg when serving.

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I was looking to make something special for New Year’s Eve and decided to adapt my German Wine Cookie recipe by using champagne in place of the wine. I cut the cookies into the shape of champagne corks and decorated them with a little edible glitz. I love the result and you will too! The recipe is super simple, so give it a try,
From by the bay wishing everyone a wonderful 2013 and a New Year filled with joyous food memories with your friends and family!
Maryann


Ingredients For Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup fine granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup dry champagne
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups  all-purpose flour

Ingredients For  Icing

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
plus sprinkles or decorative sugar 

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla and champagne. Add 2 1/2 cups flour and mix well. Dough will be stiff. If not sprinkle a little more flour in and mix well. Roll out dough, on well-floured pastry sheet, to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutter.  I prefer to use a champagne cork cookie cutter. Bake on a non-stick cookie sheet for 10 minute, until bottoms just start to brown. Once cookies have cooled, make icing by combining above ingredients. Frost cookies and  top with decorative sugar and or sprinkles, Let icing harden on cookies by sitting on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. 

 

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Well, we are well into the holidays season and still a few parties to go from now until New Year’s.  I thought I would share my all time favorite crowd pleasing appetizer recipe . Variations of this recipe abound but if you have never tried it , you definitely should. It’s easy to make and assemble in advance for a party, which is a plus in book for any party recipe.

From by the bay wishing you happy holiday food memories!

Maryann

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Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Provolone

24 pieces


Ingredients

24 pitted Medjool dates

12 slices bacon

2 ounces provolone cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the bacon slices in half with a scissor. Cut the provolone cheese into 24 small sticks approximately 1” x 1 ¼”. Place cheese into the date. Wrap date with a ½ slice of bacon and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and turn the dates over and bake for 15 more minutes until the bacon is crispy. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Variations

You can make these with other sharp cheeses such as Manchego, Parmesan or Soft Gorgonzola.

 

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One of my guilty pleasures is subscribing to the mouth watering daily menu of Thomas Keller’s amazing restaurant in Napa Valley- “Ad Hoc”. Not too long ago Pepita Brittle was on the menu and I knew I needed to make it. While searching the internet I found the Smitten Kitchen Blog for Pepita Brittle. It was inspired by the same Tom Colicchio recipe I adapted last fall for my Thanksgiving and Christmas peanut brittle. Below is my version of pepita brittle and it is fantastic.  This is one of the best brittle recipes and I have tried many.  The recipe always works and it doesn’t need a candy thermometer. I found that brittle is not only a great addition to your dessert table but it also makes for a wonderful holiday gift. But be forewarned this brittle is highly addictive.

From by the bay wishing you sweet holidays!
Maryann

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Pepita Brittle

Adapted from “Craft of Cooking” by Tom Colicchio and Smitten Kitchen Blog from 11/1/2008

Makes one 12 x 16 – inch pan


Canola -oil spray

2 cups sugar

1/4 pound unsalted butter

6 tablespoons corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 pound  or 1 1/2 cup shelled raw unroasted pepitas ( pumpkin seeds)

1 1/2 tablespoons Maldon sea salt 


Directions

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with Canola oil. Take a large non-stick pot and add sugar, butter, corn syrup and 1 1/3 cups water. Place on high heat melting sugar until the caramel turns amber color, stir occasionally as this is cooking. This might take awhile, it will thicken as it boils before it finally turns amber. At this point add the baking soda and salt, then remove from heat and add the pepitas. Stirring well, then quickly pour onto the baking sheet and spread out evening with a spatula. An alternate method for a smoother brittle is slide the parchment paper out of the baking pan and onto a smooth counter top. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and use a rolling in, to smooth the brittle and roll it out thin. Once the brittle is rolled out you can remove the top sheet of parchment paper and  let the brittle cool and then break into pieces. If you can resist eating this , store in an air tight container.

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This is the perfect Christmas breakfast. Let me specify that I do not use the word perfect lightly!!!! This breakfast is inspired by two of my favorite cooks, Nigella Lawson and Ina Garten, so how perfect is that! Last Christmas as I settled in with some cookbooks on a snowy night, I reread one of my favorite books from Nigella Lawson, “Feast – Food To Celebrate”. Tucked away in the book was a recipe within a recipe for cranberry jam and I just had to make it! Now, I always had a fear of making jam of any kind. My first reason was a fear of using pectin My second reason was another fear, the fear of canning. I would worry that I wouldn’t seal the jars properly. Nigella’s cranberry jam is so easy that my fears just faded away and the results were delicious! Cranberries are filled naturally with pectin, so making this jam is almost as easy as boiling water. I decided to just refrigerate the jam the way I do cranberry sauce and that decision saved the whole stress about sealing the jars properly. I made this jam last Christmas morning and it disappeared as quickly as Santa did up the chimney. I did have the perfect accompaniment to the jam that morning Irish Soda Bread without the raisins. I use Ina Garten’s recipe because , why fool around with perfection. The only change I made is one that I always do , I switch the raisins to dried cranberries. This switch is a result of the fact that my sister Nancy hates raisins and she loves dried cranberries. I have to tell you that once I switched, there was no going back. You need to try this bread. Nothing beats the combination of warm cranberry soda bread topped with cranberry jam. It screams Christmas, holidays and that something really special is going on. Enjoy – tis’ the season!
From by the bay, wishing you very cranberry food memories!
Maryann

Cranberry Soda Bread
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Irish Soda Bread from “Barefoot Contessa At Home” published in 2006.

Ingredients
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.



Cranberry Jam

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Cranberry Jam  from “Feast Food To Celebrate Life ” published in 2004

Ingredients 
12 ounces fresh cranberries 
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

Directions
Put a film of water in the bottom of a large saucepan and add the cranberries and sugar. Stir patiently over a low heat to dissolve the sugar; this will take a little while. Turn up the heat and boil the pan rapidly until setting point is reached, about 7 minutes. (Alternatively it will have reached a jam-like consistency.)
Pour the jam into a sterilized jar (s) and seal immediately or keep in the refrigerator for 1 week. 
Makes approximately 4 cups.