Friday, September 28, 2012

Endives, Apples, and Grapes

Endives, Apples, and Grapes
This week in French Friday's With Dorie we made "Endives, Apples, and Grapes."  This was a very simply, yet very delicious dish. As the recipe title suggests, the  main ingredients are endives, apples, and grapes.  You cook the endives, apples, and grapes slowly in butter with rosemary sprigs until they are soft and caramelized.  That  is it.  You are ready to serve the dish.
This dish was delicious.  The grapes were my favorite.  They were so sweet and extremely tasty. I really enjoyed this recipe.    This is one recipe I will be making again and again.  You can find this recipe on page 338 in "Around My French Table."

Slowly Cooking 


Ready to Eat

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pepperoni Pasta Bake

Pepperoni Pasta Bake
Pasta Bakes are a favorite of mine and my family.  I love them because they are so easy and quick to make.  Perfect for those days when I am running from place to place.   Add a salad, bread and you have a meal.   Whenever I am serving  Pepperoni Pasta Bake, I don't need to call the family twice for dinner.   They come running. It is one of their favorites for dinner.  My youngest believes it is Pepperoni Pizza in pasta form.
The sauce, cheese and pepperoni do add the great taste of pizza topping flavor to the pasta.
To start making the pasta bake you stir together cooked penne pasta, your favorite spaghetti sauce, red pepper flakes,  pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese.  Pour the mixture into a prepared baking dish, top with more cheese and bake for about 30 minutes.  Take out of the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes and serve.  Your dinner is ready to enjoy:)

Pepperoni Pasta Bake
Quartered Pepperoni Slices

1-1/2 cups dry penne pasta
2-1/2 cups spaghetti sauce
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 cup quartered sliced pepperoni (cut slices into quarters)
1 1/2-cups mozzarella cheese, divided
Cooking Spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl stir the spaghetti sauce with the red pepper flakes.
3. Add pasta and stir well. Then add pepperoni and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and stir until well mixed

Pasta with Spaghetti Sauce and Red Pepper Flakes

Pasta with Sauce, Cheese, and Pepperoni

4. Spray lightly an 8x8 inch-baking dish. Pour pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup mozzarella cheese over the pasta.

5. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 10 minutes longer or until bubbly.
6. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes approximately 4 servings


Monday, September 24, 2012

Candied Ginger

Candied Ginger
I was going to bake and I needed some Candied Ginger.  I rushed out to the store to get some.  When I was searching for it at tin the Spice area, I was shocked when I saw how much a little jar cost.  No way am I going to pay that!  I did a quick search on my smart phone -  a wonderful invention and did a search for a Candied Ginger recipe.  Found one:)  I purchased the ingredient - ginger root.  Went home and began to make the recipe.
Making your own Candied Ginger is extremely easy and it takes only three ingredients -ginger root, sugar and water.  Start by peeling the ginger root.  I used a spoon to peel mine - an idea I got from "Cook's Illustrated" website.    Then you slice the ginger root very thin.  I used my mandoline, which has been getting a lot of use lately.  Boil the ginger root in water until it is tender. Drain, and cook with sugar and ginger cooking liquid until the sugar begins to recrystallize.  Spread the ginger root on a wire rack to cool completely. When dried store in an airtight container.  That is all there is to  it.  You now have about a pound of Candied Ginger to use in your cooking and/or baking.
Note: I saved my cooking liquid and made a ginger syrup out of it for future cooking projects. Also, save the sugar that drops beneath the cooling rack.

Candied Ginger
From Alton Brown


Nonstick spray
1 pound fresh ginger root
5 cups water
Approximately 1 pound granulated sugar


1. Spray a cooling rack with nonstick spray and set it in a half sheet pan lined with parchment.
2. Peel the ginger root and slice into 1/8-inch thick slices using a mandoline.  Place into a 4-quart saucepan with the water and set over medium-high heat.  Cover and cook for 35 minutes or until the ginger is tender.

3. Transfer the ginger to a colander to drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.  Weigh the ginger and measure out an equal amount of sugar.

4. Return the ginger and 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid to the pan and add the sugar.  Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

5. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar syrup looks dry, has almost evaporated and begins to recrystallize, approximately 20 minutes.
Add caption
6. Transfer the ginger immediately to the cooling rack and spread to separate the individual pieces.  Once completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Makes about 1 pound

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chicken Basquaise

Chicken Basquaise
Chicken Basquaise is chicken and peppers.   Red Peppers, green peppers and mild chile peppers.  Add some onions, tomatoes, garlic, and seasonings and you have prepared your piperade.  Next comes the chicken.  Dorie  stated to use 8 pieces of chicken with the skin on.  I used skinless chicken breasts so they did not brown as nicely as the picture in the cookbook. The chicken and the piperade are then simmered gently for 40 minutes.  The chicken is served with plain white rice.

The dish wasn't bad but not one of my favorites.  I was hoping the chicken would have more flavor than it did.  Perhaps it was because I  used skinless chicken breasts.  I may try the recipe again.

This recipe can be found on pages 210-211 in "Around My French Table."

Red and Green Peppers


Cooking the Piperade

Chicken Basquaise

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

Fall will soon be here.  The leaves are beginning to turn and the air is crisp.  One of my fall traditions is the baking of Pumpkin Bread.   Instead of making my old recipes, I thought I would try the new recipe I found in the latest issue of "Cook's Illustrated."  
This recipe is slightly more complex than your typical quick bread recipe.  For starters, you cook the canned pumpkin with  spices until it is reduced to 1 1/2 cups.  Cream cheese, sugar, eggs and buttermilk are incorporated into the cooked  pumpkin mixture. You then  fold in your typical flour mixture into the cooked pumpkin.  Fold in some toasted walnuts and the batter is ready for the baking pans.    A wonderful streusel topping is sprinkled over the bread before baking.  
The result is a bread that is  moist and has a very rich pumpkin flavor - a plus for me.  The walnuts and the streusel added sweetness, texture,  and crunch to the bread.  
The bread was enjoyed by everyone.  The spouse drizzled caramel sauce over his pieces -  a very tasty addition:)

Pumpkin Bread
Makes 2 loaves
From "Cook's Illustrated"
Note:  Preferred loaf pan measures 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches; if using a 9 by 5 loaf pan, start checking for doneness five minutes early.

5 tablespoons packed (2 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 (15 ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces
4 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped fine

1. FOR THE TOPPING: Using fingers, mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined and topping resembles wet sand; set aside.

2. FOR THE BREAD:  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans.  Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in a bowl.
3. Combine pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook mixture, stirring constantly until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove pot from heat; stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and cream cheese until combined.  Let mixture stand for 5 minutes.  Whisk until no visible pieces of cream cheese remain and mixture in homogeneous.

Dry Ingredients

Cooking Pumpkin and Spices

4. Whisk together eggs and buttermilk.  Add egg mixture to pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine.  Fold flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until combined (some small lumps of flour are OK).  Fold walnuts into batter.  Scrape batter into prepared pans.  Sprinkle topping evenly over top of each loaf.  Bake until skewer inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.  Let breads cool in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes.  Remove breads from pans and let cool for at least 1 1/2 hours.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Eggs and Buttermilk


Ready For Oven


Pumpkin Bread

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Mexico State Fair

My Favorite MMMM
Almost every year, the family goes to the State Fair.  It is one of our  Fall Traditions.  We like looking at the animals, enjoying the food, taking in the various exhibits, and watching the various shows- Pig Races, Tiger Show, Horse events, etc.
The kids looks forward to the cotton candy and I cannot resist the Caramel Apples.  We munch on our goodies as we are touring the various exhibit halls. I always enjoy looking at the  Canned Goods, Baked Goods,  Quilts, and other handicrafts.  I keep telling my husband whenever we retire, we need a farm with chickens, sheep and a large area with good soil where I can grow things.   This year,  I was so engrossed on hearing about various plants used as dye for yarn I forgot to take any pictures. Add to the above list, a spinning wheel and a loom.
Below are some pictures of this year's  New Mexico State Fair visit:)

Sounds Interesting

Red Chile Kettle Corn Isn't Bad

Making of the Cotton Candy

I  Had To Get In a Chicken Picture


Beautiful Sunflowers
Very Interesting


Canned Goods
The Great Pumpkin

NM State Cookie
More Canned Goods

Waiting To Be Judged

More Fair  Food

Tim's Second Favorite Fair Food

Friday, September 14, 2012

Spice-Poached Apples or Pears

Spice-Poached Pear
I loved this recipe and the family loved it, too.   This recipe is both easy and delicious.    Apples or pears , I used pears, are poached in a delicious spicy syrup. The syrup is made from honey, sugar, water, orange zest, orange juice, lemon zest, lemon juice, star anise, cinnamon, and  a vanilla bean.  You bring the syrup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.  Add your pears or apples and poach in the syrup until you can pierce the fruit with the tip of a knife.  Remove the fruit from the syrup.  Reduce the syrup and pour over the fruit.  Cool  before serving.
You can eat the fruit by itself or pair it with yogurt, cream, or rice pudding to name a few options.  I served my fruit for  dessert  with the syrup.  The fruit was very flavorful and the syrup was delightful.  As I said earlier, everyone loved this dish.  It is one I will be making  a lot in the future.
You can find this recipe on page 396 in "Around My French Table".

Poaching Syrup

Pear Halves 

Pears Poaching
Poached Pear