Savor the Moment

I like sweets and I love chocolate. I prefer foods where the ingredients list includes sugar, in large quantities. However, sometimes the moment requires other ingredients. Sometimes the bounty of the garden needs to be included in foods, savory foods and you know… they aren’t bad, not bad at all. I made a variety of test veggie savory pastries for our upcoming party. (Sadly, this time of year, very little came from my garden.)

I used, in various combinations, olives, roasted red peppers, asparagus, tomato, several herbs and gorgonzola, ¬†cream, and parmesan cheeses. For these tart shells I used my standard tart recipe formed using small deep tart molds. Once the pastries were assembled I broiled them just long enough to melt, or at least soften the cheese. I apologize for not having a photo of the finished pastries. They… disappeared somehow after they were removed from the oven. Odd.

Asparagus and cream cheese pastry: Steamed asparagus was marinated in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, chives, parsley and tarragon then drained and patted dry. ¬†Softened cream cheese coated the bottom of the shell, about 1/4″ thick, salt and pepper to taste and cut spears of asparagus laid across the top.

Olive and roasted red pepper pastry: A layer of crumbed gorgonzola cheese covered the bottom of the shell. A large olive was placed in the middle of the shell, on top of the cheese. A roasted red pepper was sliced lengthwise to about 1/2″ wide and wrapped around the olive.

Tomato and cheese pastry: Fill the bottom of the shell with a 1/4″ thick layer of shredded parmesan cheese. Place a thin slice of cherry tomato on top of the cheese, coat with a little more parmesan cheese and top with a piece of fresh basil. (From my garden ūüôā )

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Party Tarty

In preparation of our family dinner in a week, and in celebration of receiving my new tart pan I made a “practice” berry tart. It consists of a tart shell, using the same recipe as used before, creme patisserie, as before and strawberries and blue berries. I did make the creme pat a bit firmer (doubled the corn starch) to assure it will cut properly (like a pumpkin pie) and support the weight of the berries.

To keep the bottom of the tart from becoming soggy (no one likes a soggy bottom), paint it with a thin coat of melted butter and refrigerate until it has set (about 15 min.)  I also brushed the entire tart with melted apple jelly to give it that extra shine. The finished tart can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. The baked, unfilled tart shell can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for 2-3 months.

completed-tart

 

Baked Almost Donuts

About mid-morning yesterday I realized the banana I had for breakfast several hours earlier was not going to sustain me¬†until lunch. Suddenly I had a donut craving. IMG_1145Remembering that I had a mini-donut baking pan I searched AllRecipes for a baked donut recipe, assuming it would be healthier (and easier) than frying. I chose a recipe for “Donut Muffins” and planned on baking them in my donut baking pan. I started assembling all the pans and ingredients but couldn’t find the ^#&%#* donut baking pan.

Finally I realized the recipe directions were inaccurate. I should have planned 15 minutes for preparation and 15 minutes for baking and 20 minutes to find the¬†^#&%#* donut baking pan. Ultimately I had to settle and use mini-cupcake pans. Also, the recipe says it makes 24 servings. In my humble opinion this recipe makes 24 delicious mini-muffins which are one serving, unless there are two people home, when it could then, under duress, be 2 servings. I strongly suggest not making these if there are more than 2 people home, there won’t be enough. You could always double up the recipe, if you really wanted to.

 Donut Muffins

24 Servings, Prep Time: 15 Minutes, Cook Time: 15 Minutes, Time to find the ^#&%#* donut baking pan: 20 min

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat convection oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Search every cupboard, drawer and cabinet for the ^#&%#* donut baking pan.
  3. Failing to find it, grease and flour 24 mini-muffin cups.
  4. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup margarine, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, then mix in the baking powder and flour until just combined. Fill the prepared mini muffin cups about half full.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops are lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. While muffins are baking, place 1/4 cup of melted margarine in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of sugar with the cinnamon. Remove muffins from their cups, dip each muffin in the melted margarine, and roll in the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Let cool slightly and serve.

Tropical Get-a-way Dinner

Neil is here for a visit!! We live in a resort area and sometimes we drive down A1A through Ft. Lauderdale beach, just to remind ourselves of this fact. The Bahamas are just about the same distance from us as Orlando. Did I mention that Neil is here? We invited the Fink and her Folks over for dinner to welcome Neil home (he is here for a visit) and I decided to make it a Tropical Bogandanza!! One of the fruits found throughout the tropics are mangoes so it seemed like a good idea to make a mango themed dinner.

We started with baked brie and mango chutney wraps appetizers, followed by a 100% home grown garden salad and the main course of: mango steak; my famous rosemary roasted potatoes; tomato-pepper-green bean (home grown) casserole (I have to hide the green vegetable so Fran will eat them) and personalized chocolate souffle’s for dessert. (PS, Neil is home for a visit.)

The baked brie and mango chutney is very easy, once you have some chutney. Wait… you don’t BUY chutney, do you? No, I didn’t think so. Winners never cheat and cheaters never win. Fist make the mango chutney:

MANGO CHUTNEY

INGREDIENTS:  (makes about 2 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 small red hot chile peppers, seeded¬†and chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 large onions, chopped
  • 1/8 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons raisins
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, chopped
  • 2/3 cup sliced, semi-ripe¬†mangoes

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large saucepan combine vinegar, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, chile peppers and salt. Bring to a boil; boil covered for 1/2 hour.
  2. Stir in onions, garlic, golden raisins, raisins and ginger and boil covered for another 1/2 hour.
  3. Stir in mangoes, keep heat high enough to reduce some of the liquid (about another 1/2 hour.)

BAKED BRIE
INGREDIENTS  (makes about 20 pieces)

  • phyllo dough, thawed
  • melted butter
  • 1 (8 ounce) round Brie cheese
  • 1/4 cup mango chutney

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut the phyllo dough into about 3″ squares and stack 5 sheets, coating with a thin layer of butter
  2. place equal amounts (about 1/4 tsp) of brie and chutney in the center
  3. wet the edges with water and fold into an interesting shape. (I like making them look like turkish taffy candies)
  4. broil on low until the tops are brown. (4 minutes in my oven…don’t burn the brie!)

MANGO STEAK
I made a marinade from mangoes, apples, honeydew and spices. The steak (I used a nice sirloin, but most any good cut would work fine) was marinaded for 3 hours before grilling. When finished it was cut into strips, the width of each determining the serving size, but assume a 6-8oz portion for each person. The steak was placed cut side (red side) up between two rows of honeydew, veggie casserole and roasted potatoes to the side. Neil is here for a visit!!

INGREDIENTS (this amount serves six)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced apple
  • 1/2 cup diced honeydew
  • 1/2 cup diced mango
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless steaks (again, I used sirloin)

DIRECTIONS 

  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the oil, apple, honeydew, mango, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt, hot pepper sauce to taste and ground black pepper.
  2. Heat for about 5 minutes to get warm. Place the steak in a shallow nonporous dish. Cover with the marinade and refrigerate, covered, for at least 3 hours. Flip steak over halfway through marinating.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate.
  4. Grill steak for 10 minutes per side, dousing with remaining marinade, if desired. Steak is done when internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).

TOMATO-PEPPER-GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
In a small skillet heat a couple of tbsp of EVO, add skinned, cubed tomatoes, slided and diced peppers. Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste. After the tomatoes cook and reduce add the green beans and simmer for 15- 20 min, until the beans are tender.

FAMOUS ROASTED ROSEMARY POTATOES
Cut wedges of red potatoes¬†and put in a plastic bag.¬†Add some EVO (enough to coat the amount of potatoes, fresh rosemary (from my garden) some fresh chives (from my garden, hehehehehe) and salt and pepper to taste. I use Kosher or sea salt here. I don’t know why except I like the big grains of salt. Roast at 350 deg for 20 min and if¬†necessary¬†to brown nicely broil for 3 minutes at the end.

CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE
see previous posting at Except Parfaits, perhaps the bestest dessert there is

Neil is here for a visit!!

You Know How to Whistle, Don’t You?

It’s early October and if I were only 42 years younger, I would be back at school.

But I’m not and its football season, time for tailgating, beer and hot wings. Ok, we gave up our Dolphins tickets (good decision this year) and we are not tailgating any more. HOWEVER, I make these grilled buffalo wings that will knock your socks off. (I personally don’t wear them often, mostly sandals and I am not old enough to wear socks and sandals.)

Ingredients:

  • 8 small drumsticks (single serving)
  • 1 cup Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1/2 can of Coke (I use Coke Zero as I am so health¬†conscious)
  • Cayenne and black pepper to taste (more than 1/4 teaspoon is a lot, I use about 1/2 teaspoon of each.)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce.
Warm the sauce (I used the extra burner to the left, but then move it to part of the grill. The burner is too hot and it boils constantly causing the sauce to thicken too much.) Soak the wings in the sauce for 10 min, then grill on low for 10 min. Repeat 5 cycles (I CANNOT stand underdone chicken. 90+ min is fine with me.)
If you want your wings milder add more soda and don’t put the wings back into the sauce when you take them from the BBQ the last time. If you like them HOT put them back in the sauce as you bring them inside.
Choose your¬†home-brew/wings pairing (for me it was a Big Honkin’ Stout, bottled May 28, 2011 and wings.)
Now, after the last wing your beer should be gone. At this point you may want to form your lips as if you were going to whistle, instead, breathe in, then relax and exhale, Repeat for a while, you will be fine.