Friday, November 29, 2013

Sugar-Crusted French Toast

Sugar-Crusted French Toast
Sugar-Crusted French Toast was our assignment this week in French Fridays With Dorie.  My daughter, Becky, summed it up best - Dorie nailed it on this one.  This is the best French Toast ever.

A rich egg bread  Brioche or challah that is stale - is soaked in a rich egg custard that is flavored with vanilla extract.  Next, you cook the bread in a nonstick skillet.  Begin by melting some butter in the skillet and then sprinkle some sugar in the pan.  The bread is cooked until the slices are a rich golden brown, flip the bread and cook the other side.

When serving the French Toast be sure to sprinkle it with  some confectioner's sugar.

This is my new go to recipe for French Toast.  I loved it.

You can find this recipe on page 418 in "Around My French Table."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Creme Fraiche

Creme Fraiche
Creme Fraiche, to me, is the french cousin of our American sour cream.  It is a soured cream but it is less sour  than our sour cream.  It has many uses - you can use it hot or cold, for desserts, as a topping.  The possibilities are endless.

During the holiday time, it seems I use creme fraiche a lot.  At times, it is hard to find in our local grocery stores, so I have started making my own.  It is so easy to make, I don't know why I didn't do it sooner.

You need just two ingredients, heavy whipping cream and buttermilk or plain yogurt.  That's it.  Begin by heating the cream to about 105 degrees F.  Transfer the warm cream to a bowl and add the buttermilk or plain yogurt.   Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture sit at room temperature from 24 to 36 hours.  The cream is ready when it is thickened  - it will look like mayonnaise or thick yogurt.  The taste is slightly tangy with a nutty flavor.   It will last 10 days in the fridge.

Thickened Cream

Creme Fraiche
From Joy of Baking Blog


1 cup heavy whipping cream (cream with a 35-40% butterfat content)
1 tablespoon buttermilk or plain yogurt


1. In a medium saucepan, over low heat warm the cream to about 105 degrees F (40 degrees C).  Remove from heat, transfer the cream to a bowl, and stir in the buttermilk or plain yogurt.
2. Let this mixture sit at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until thickened (like mayonnaise or thick yogurt).  This will take anywhere from 24 to 36 hours.
3. When ready, stir the cream and then cover and place in the refrigerator until well chilled (at least 8 hours, preferably overnight).  Creme fraiche can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Makes 1 cup

Monday, November 25, 2013

Chipotle Pumpkin Spiced Pecans

Chipotle Pumpkin Spiced Pecans
These little goodies are addictive.  I  let the family sample a few and then put them away for the holidays.  If I don't they will be gone.   These are great nibblers for friends and family as they are gathering around the kitchen (or where ever they gather around) and snack on.

As these nuts are cooking, the aroma is wonderful.  You have the smell of toasted pecans mixed with the fragrance of pumpkin spice and a hint of chipotle chili.  Two cups of pecans are toasted in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Then you add butter and stir until it is melted.  Next a sugar spice mixture is added with a little water.  Cook until the mixture thickens and coats the nuts.  Then the nuts are spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cooled.  The nuts are then stored in an airtight container.

I usually make these spiced pecans ahead of time.  They can be stored up to 3 weeks in an airtight container.   These nuts also make great holiday gifts.  

Chipotle Pumpkin Spiced Pecans


1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Chipotle chili powder
2 cups pecans
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water


1. In a small bowl mix the sugar, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Kosher salt, and Chipotle chili powder.    Set side.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
3. Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the pecans and cooking stirring frequently until the nuts are toasted - about 4 -5 minutes.

4. Add the butter and stir until it melts.  Add the sugar spice mixture and the water.  Stir until the mixture thickens and coats the nuts.

5. Spread the nuts on the prepared baking sheets and separate with a fork.  Let the nuts cool completely.  Transfer to an airtight container.

Makes 2 cups

Friday, November 22, 2013

Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes
I decided to make some Potato Latkes (pancakes) the other night to go with our dinner.  Break away from the standard baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, etc.  I have a standard recipe I usually make, but I decided to shake things up a bit and use a new one.  I found a wonderful recipe that is both easy and tasty from the Smitten Kitchen Blog.

Russet potatoes are recommended in making Latkes because of their starchiness.  In this recipe, you shred one large russet potato.  You then drain the potato to remove excess moisture.  The recipe recommends using a colander or wrap the shredded potato in cheesecloth.   I used a salad spinner and it worked beautifully.   Next you combine some flour, one egg, salt and pepper together in a large bowl.  Stir in the drained potatoes until everything is combined.

Shredded Potatoes In My Salad Spinner
You are now ready to fry the pancakes.  Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet.  Drop by teaspoonful the potato mixture and flatten them with the back of the spoon.  Fry until they are golden brown, flip and repeat with the other side.  Drain the pancakes on paper towels.

Latkes are best served warm.    You can serve them with Creme Fraiche or applesauce if you desire.

Potato Pancakes [Latkes]


1 large  russet baking potato (1 pound), peeled
1 small onion (4 ounces), peeled
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying


In a food processor or on a box grater, coarsely shred the potato and onion. For longer strands, lay the potato sideways in the chute of your food processor. Transfer to a colander or wrap in a cheesecloth sling, and squeeze as dry as possible. Let stand for 2 minutes, then squeeze dry again.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, egg, salt and pepper together. Stir in the potato onion mixture until all pieces are evenly coated.

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until shimmering. Drop packed teaspoons of the potato mixture into the skillet and flatten them with the back of a spoon. Cook the latkes over moderately high heat until the edges are golden, about 1 1/2 minutes; flip and cook until golden on the bottom, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.

Makes 12 pancakes

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Maple Pudding

Maple Pudding
Maple a wonderful fall flavor.  To me, it is right up there with pumpkins and apples.  Usually when I think of using maple syrup it usually is on pancakes, waffles, in hot cider, french toast, etc.  I never thought of it used as a main ingredient in pudding.

I found a recipe for Maple Pudding in Good Housekeeping magazine that is super easy to make.  Start by whisking together some milk, and cornstarch until they are smooth.  Then you heat up some milk, maple syrup, butter, vanilla extract and salt until the mixture begins to boil.  The recipe instructed to stir occasionally, but I stirred continuously.  I didn't want the milk to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Next the heat is reduced to a simmer and you whisk in the cornstarch mixture.  The pudding is cooked until the mixture thickens.  Pour the pudding into 6 parfait or other serving dishes, cover with plastic wrap against the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until cold.

I served the pudding with a gingersnap cookie but a nice dollop of whipped cream would do nicely.  This pudding has a deep rich maple flavor which is  perfect  for the holidays.   The family enjoyed this dessert.  The rich maple flavor hit the spot and it was so easy to make.

Maple Pudding
Good Housekeeping Magazine


2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup whole milk and cornstarch until smooth.  In a 3-quart saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups whole milk, maple syrup, butter, vanilla extract, and salt to boiling on high, stirring occasionally (I stirred constantly).

Cornstarch and Milk
Milk, Maple Syrup, Butter, Vanilla Extract, Salt

2. Reduce heat to simmer.  Whisk in cornstarch mixture; cook until mixture thickens whisking constantly.
3. Transfer to 6 parfait glasses (or other serving dish) cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.

Pudding Covered With Plastic Wrap
Makes 6 servings

Monday, November 18, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut Squash soup is a favorite of mine.  I love the velvety texture and the satisfying flavor it has.  The color of the soup is beautiful.  It reminds me of fall.   I usually make it for Thanksgiving but have started making it more often.  It is really very easy to make and doesn't require a lot of time.  This particular recipe has an extra subtle kick to it by using a tablespoon of chopped jalapeno.  Another ingredient  that kicks up the flavor is cumin.  

To make this soup you cut up about 2 pounds of butternut squash or buy some that has already been cubed.  This is what I do.  It is a time saver.    In a large pot you heat some peanut oil and cook some chopped onions  until they begin to brown. Then toss in some chopped garlic.  Next,  add the carrots,  cumin, salt, and pepper.  Cook for about a minute and then add the squash, jalapeno pepper, and some chicken stock.  You then cook the soup for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  The soup is then pureed either with an immersion blender or a stand blender.  If you are using a stand blender let the soup cool for awhile.  Return the soup to the stove and reheat.  Add the cream and adjust seasoning if necessary.  You can garnish the soup with pumpkin seeds or creme fraiche.

This is a terrific soup for the holidays:)

Butternut Squash Soup
Emeril Lagasse


1 Butternut squash, about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon finely minced jalapeno pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pumpkin Seeds for garnish
Creme Fraiche for garnish


1. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Peel the squash and cut into 1 inch pieces.
2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
3. Add the carrot, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 1 minute and then add the squash, jalapeno pepper, and chicken stock.
4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
5. Remove from the heat and puree the soup using an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender or food processor.  Puree until smooth.
6. Return to the heat, add the cream and adjust the seasonings.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds or creme fraiche.  Serve.

Makes 4 servings

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chestnut-Pear Soup

Chestnut-Pear Soup
This week for "French Fridays With Dorie" our assignment was Chestnut-Pear Soup.  I was so excited to make this soup.  I love chestnuts and combining them with pears - I couldn't wait to taste the combination. What can I say?  The soup wasn't bad but it wasn't that great in my book.   It was bland - there's no other way to say it.  I don't understand why - the soup had enough onions, celery, and rosemary to give it a flavor boost.

Dorie stated in the recipe to serve the soup really hot and season it with salt and pepper.  It didn't matter how hot the soup was or how much salt and pepper I put in, it just did not hit the spot for me.

This recipe can be found on page 82 in "Around My French Table.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

Spiced Pumpkin Bread
An intoxicating fall aroma filled the house as this bread was baking.  Not only did this bread smell wonderful it tasted wonderful.  It was moist,  had just the right "crunch" in the crust,  and very flavorful.  The spices in the bread brought out the pumpkin flavor.  This is a quick bread that is easy to make.

Start by combing the sugar and vegetable oil in a large bowl.  Next you mix in the eggs and pumpkin.  In another large bowl, you whisk together the flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder.  Then stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour and spice mixture.  You may add walnuts to the bread batter if you wish.  I did.  I like nuts in my quick breads.  Next you pour the batter into two buttered and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.  Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Cool the bread completely before serving.

This bread freezes well. You can save it for  holiday time or just enjoy with your family at a later date:)

Spiced Pumpkin Bread
From Bon Appetit - November 1995

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
2. Beat sugar and oil in a large bowl to blend.  Mix in eggs and pumpkin.  Set aside.
3. Whisk flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder together in another large bowl.
4. Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions.  Mix in walnuts, if desired.
5. Divide batter equally between the prepared pans.  Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes.
6.  Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes.  Using a sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves.  Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

Makes 2 loaves

Monday, November 11, 2013

Holiday Cobbler With Cinnamon Ice Cream

Holiday Cobbler
Cobblers are one of my favorite desserts.  I love the delicious fruit combinations and the no roll "crust."  You just need to drop or pinch the dough on top of the fruit and bake.  Dessert is ready.  If you wish, you can add a scoop of ice cream to make it extra yummy.

Today's recipe I found in the November 2013 issue of  "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine.   This cobbler is made with a combination of fresh and dried fruits.  The cobbler is baked in a 10-inch cast iron or other oven-going skillet.  Yeah, less clean up.  The recipe also has an alternative version if you want to bake your cobbler in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.   You combine fresh plums and cranberries with dried red cherries.  To the fruits you add some sugar and flour.  Cook until the mixture is bubbly.   Remove from heat and begin preparing the topping.

For the topping you whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cream of tartar.  Cut in some butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  You add some milk and stir just until the dough is moistened.  You pinch off portions of the dough and gently flatten the dough with your hands.  Place on top of the cobbler.   Then lightly brush the dough with some milk and sprinkle some brown sugar on top.

Place the cobbler in a 375 degree F oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  The cobbler with be bubbly and the topping a nice golden brown.  Remove the cobbler from the oven and let cool about 30 minutes before serving.

Serve the cobbler with Cinnamon ice cream.  If you can't find any Cinnamon ice cream  Vanilla Bean is just as good.  Delicious.  This is one of my family's favorites.  The fruit combinations are sweet with just a hint of tartness from the cranberries.  I loved the texture and flavor of the topping.  This recipe is a keeper and  will be on our Holiday Table.

Holiday Cobbler With Cinnamon Ice Cream
From Better Homes and Gardens


1 1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup dried red cherries
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 pounds large plums, pitted and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup regular or quick-cooking rolled oats
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream or tartar
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk plus additional for brushing
Purchased Cinnamon ice cream

1. In a 10-inch cast-iron or other oven-going skillet combine cranberries, cherries, and water.  Stir in the granulated sugar and the 3 tablespoons flour. Cook and stir over medium heat until hot and bubbly.  Stir in plums.  Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl combine the 1 1/2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cream of tartar.  Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Make a well in center of flour mixture.  Add milk all at once.  Using a fork, stir just until moistened.  Gently fold and press dough against the side of the bowl with your hands until it comes together.
3. Lightly flatten small portions of dough with your hands; lay atop filling in skillet.  Brush dough lightly with milk; sprinkle with additional brown sugar.

Ready for the Oven
4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. (If necessary, cover with foil during last 10 minutes to prevent over browning.) Let cool 30 minutes before serving. Serve with Cinnamon ice cream.

Makes 8 servings

For a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate
Prepare filling in a large saucepan; transfer to pie plate.  Continue as directed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Compote de Pommes Two Ways

Compote de Pommes Two Ways
This week for French Friday With Dorie, the group  made "Compote de Pommes Two Ways."   Compote de Pommes is basically applesauce.  Dorie's version is easy to make and extremely delicious.

Start by peeling, coring, (you can skip this step if you have a food mill), and cutting the apples into chunks.  Place the apples in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add water and brown sugar.  Cook until the apples are soft.  You will be able to crush them with the back of a spoon.  If your apples get too dry you can add more water as you cook.  Once the apples are cooked you run them through a food mill or strainer.   If you want chunky applesauce leave it as is.   Taste the sauce and add some more sugar if needed.  Next, add some vanilla extract to the Compote de Pommes. I served mine with a dollop of creme fraiche.

The second version is a thicker and jammier sauce.  You strain the compote and return the compote to the sauce pan.  Cook it over the lowest heat and stir  until you have a thick spreadable mixture.  Or if you wish you can put the pan in a 250 degree F oven and bake until the compote is thick.

The family enjoyed this recipe.  I loved what the vanilla extract did for the sauce.  It gave it  an extra flavor boost.

This recipe can be found on pages 392-393 in "Around My French Table."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hurry-Up-And-Wait Roast Chicken

Best Roast Chicken Ever

I am running late again for my French Friday's With Dorie group.  Last Friday, our assignment was Hurry-Up-And-Wait Roast Chicken.  I finally got around to making it.  

I hesitate to make roast chicken because it usually turns out dry.  That is not the case with this chicken.  It is very moist and flavorful.  The secret is turning the chicken as you are baking it. First, the chicken is baked on one side and then turned to  cook on the other side.  You then place the chicken on its' back to cook.  The total time in cooking is approximately 60 minutes in a very hot oven - 450 degrees F.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, take it out of the oven and transfer the chicken, breast side down to a platter.  You then lift the chicken's tail in the air and slide a bowl under it and balance the chicken so it is resting at an angle. This was easier said than done for me.  The chicken did not want to rest at an angle.  Finally, it cooperated.  It lost some skin in the process.  Oh well.   The chicken is loosely covered with foil and you let it rest for 10 minutes.

The bird is ready to serve.  I served my chicken with some roasted veggies.  The meal was delicious and enjoyed by all.  I just had a little slice of breast left and the veggies went fast.

You can find this delicious recipe on pages 202-203 in "Around My French Table."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bacon Fest

Bacon Fest
This past Saturday, Albuquerque held the Southwest Bacon Fest.   Being Bacon Lovers the kids and I could not wait to go.  You could smell the bacon as you walked up.  I could not believe all the bacon goodies they had everything from Bacon Donuts to Bacon Caramel apples.  We had a great time going around looking and sampling various goodies.  Below are some of our  favorites.

I tried one of these goodies and it was great

Our Favorite - Bacon Caramel Apple

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Chai Mix

Pumpkin Spice Chai
Settling down in the evening with a hot drink and reading a good book or knitting is one of my favorite things to do.  I like to enjoy the flavors of the season.  Recently, I made some  Pumpkin Spice Chai mix. A delicious warm drink that is spiced with pumpkin pie spices and other spices that gives chai is delicious and satisfying taste.

In a large bowl I mixed together some unsweetened tea, sugar, non fat dry milk, non-dairy creamers, pumpkin pie spice, and some other spices.  After the ingredients were mixed together, I put the chai mix into a food processor and processed it until it had a powdery consistency.  I store my mix in an airtight container.

When ready to use, I usually add 2 tablespoons of the mix to a mug of hot water.  For an extra creamy chai, you can use hot milk.

Pumpkin Spice Chai Mix


1 1/2 cups  unsweetened tea
2 cups sugar
1 cup non fat dry milk
1 cup non-dairy  creamer
1 cup Pumpkin Spice non-dairy creamer
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


1. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Process the chai mix in batches in a food processor until the mix is a powdery consistency.

3. Add 2 tablespoons (more or less to taste)  of chai mix to a mug of hot water.
4. Store Chai mix in an airtight container.

Makes approximately 6 1/2 cups of mix