Thursday, September 23, 2010


I wasn't a picky child. I completely credit this fact to my mother's cooking. Mom wasn't a fancy cook. My mother cooked seasonally for the most part. There was never any question as to whether we were to eat our dinner and there was really nothing that I didn't want to ...with the exception of eggs...but that wasn't her fault. During the late summer months, the dinner table was graced with the bounty of the garden. Sometimes dinner would be sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and corn on the cob. Whatever the dish, the star would be the days beautiful harvest.
This recipe is one of my childhood favorites...Shrimp cocktail stuffed tomatoes.
Last week I featured a simple home made cocktail sauce. This simple recipe is another use for that recipe. as a matter of fact, this recipe is so doesn't have much of a recipe. Served with warm crusty bread, this dish makes a refreshing light supper or a fabulous luncheon dish.

6 large tomatoes
4 cups iceberg lettuce, sliced thinly
1 pound bay shrimp
1/2 cup scallions, finely sliced
1/2 cup celery, finely sliced
1 recipe cocktail sauce

Gently remove the top of the tomato and scoop out the pulp. Pulp can be reserved for a pasta sauce later. Fill the tomato half way with the lettuce. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Spoon the shrimp cocktail into the tomatoes. serve with warm crusty bread.

1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, or to taste
3 scallions
1 celery stalk
Combine the ketchup, lemon juice, celery, scallion, and horseradish to taste.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

greek pasta salad

Do not....Cough...cough '''... I repeat.... do not get too close to....cough' your screen... sputter...''' did I catch this awful cold? I am on day six of this baby and still don't think I have hit the mid point. I don't often get sick...this must be my reward for that. And why is it that when I am so busy....abnormally so, that I catch a cold?
But as I sit here complaining about my pitiful self, I tuned into the news to find that the homes of many of my dear friends and old neighbors homes are at risk of fire. 1250 homes evacuated, 40-50 mph winds whipping the flames across the dry mountain side. 3 homes lost already. Hang in there Herriman...our prayers are with you that the winds change and the flames are subdued. I am done complaining about my cold now...sorry.

I the meantime I leave you with this simple and fantastic recipe for a pasta salad.
printable version
½ cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
Handful basil, chopped
¼ cup thinly sliced onion
2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
¼ cup Parmesan
1 box pasta, cooked
1 cup olive oil
Zest and juice of a lemon
3 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 cups red wine vinegar

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl. In a blender, combine all ingredients except the oil. Slowly emulsify in the oil. Drizzle over the pasta salad.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oh my gosh, I am having a week...I know it's only Tuesday...but Wednesday is just a few hours away.....AAAGH! So, would you be terribly upset with me if I just leave you with a simple and delicious recipe tonight without sticking around to chat? I just want you to know I am thinking of you and I love you so!
Alright now...with that said, I'm outta here. If I'm not back soon, call the authorities....they'll probably already have me in custody...I'm just sayin'
printable version

About 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled
4 cloves garlic, mashed
5 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
10-12 skewers

Soak skewers in water for twenty minutes. Skewer 5-6 shrimp per stick. Place in a baking dish and sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Preheat grill to medium heat. Grill shrimp for four minutes on each side.


1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, or to taste
3 scallions
1 celery stalk

Combine the ketchup, lemon juice, celery, scallion, and horseradish to taste.

Friday, September 10, 2010

little taste of summer

The days of Autumn are quickly setting upon us and I am kind of sad to be bidding summer adieu. Maybe because summer was very late this year. I love fall and winter. I love the food, but I am hoping the weather man will announce that we will be having an unseasonably warm fall this year. But, in the meantime, I will finish whipping up all my favorite summertime delights.
Who doesn't love a great bowl of ice cream? Maybe the lactose intolerant I guess, but me....I cannot resist. If you haven't figured out, I am kind of a rule person. And not unlike many of my other particulars, ice cream has a few.
Rule # 1 No ice in my ice cream...It just ruins the deal for me. Ice crystals mean something went wrong in my opinion.
Rule # 2 Only "good" ingredients in my ice cream...There are so few ingredients, that if a mediocre ingredient is used you can easily tell.
Rule # 3 Creamy custardy...Creamy custardy...need I say more?
Rule # 4 If you serve vanilla, it has to have little vanilla bean seeds in it...don't bother me otherwise.
Rule # 5 No store bought sauces!

This is a basic vanilla bean ice cream. It is a cooked custard style recipe. I like a good Mexican vanilla but in this case, I used my own homemade bourbon vanilla. Although it stands alone just fine on its own, a great clean tasting sauce buts it over the top. In the picture, I made a blueberry and raspberry sauce (raspberry made exactly the same as the blueberry).

printable version

2 pints blueberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Juice and zest of a lemon
Combine the blueberries and sugar in a large heavy saucepan. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Add the juice and zest. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate.

printable version

4 cups half and half
2 cups whipped cream
8 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped and pod
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a heavy saucepan, scald half and half, cream, and vanilla bean. In another bowl, beat eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. Temper the hot mixture into the eggs and then return the mixture to the saucepan and cook stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes. Mixture should coat the back of a spoon thickly. Add the vanilla and cool completely.
Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit's instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. Once the ice cream reaches a soft serve consistency, spoon the mixture into a lidded container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

burger that deserves a blue ribbon

I love a great burger. There are a few rules for any burger to qualify to be a great burger.
Rule # 1 Must use good standard over the counter ground beef.
Rule #2 Must be cooked to order...if rule one isn't followed, this rule is near impossible. If I want a medium rare burger, than darn it use good enough meat to cook me a medium rare burger. One of my pet peeves is when a restaurant serves me a discus because they use poor quality beef.
Rule # 3 Must have a fabulous sauce...with the exception of mustard and ketchup (which I love on a super yummy all-American burger.
Rule #4 Real Velveeta or craft slices...give me a muenster or pepper jack please.
Rule # 5 If the bun isn't good...don't even bother serving me a burger.

So, I offer up to you this burger...The Blue Ribbon Burger served with a Bourbon Barbecue sauce.
Rule #1 (X) ground sirloin
Rule # 2 (X) medium rare
Rule # 3 (X) Bourbon sauce
Rule # 4 (X) Blue cheese
Rule # 5 (X) garlic toast

I serve this one open faced on a thick slice of toasted garlic bread with a crisped slice of prosciutto to compliment the burger.
If you don't absolutely love blue cheese, you might enjoy pepper jack cheese (cut into tiny cubes) instead.
What are your rules of a great burger?

printable version

3 lbs ground sirloin
4 ounces blue cheese
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ cup green onions, minced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 egg, beaten

In a large bowl, combine ingredients together well. Form into 10 large patties and place on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat grill to high heat. Place the patties on grill and reduce heat to medium heat(350 degrees). Grill for five minutes each side. Let rest for 3-4 minutes.

printable version

2 cups tomato ketchup
½ cup bourbon
2 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons mustard
1 Tablespoon ginger
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
3 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¼ cup dried onion
1 Tablespoon dried garlic
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne

Combine all of the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and simmer for an hour, or until mixture begins to thicken.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Banana Cream Pie

I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend...sorry, I have been off the radar for a week, I was at a horse show. I'll make it up to you this week with a few extra posts.
The following recipe is probably the most requested recipe in my arsenal. It is an amazing Banana Cream Pie with a super yummy coconut crust. But the real clincher is the bruleed bananas on top. I like to serve it with caramel and chocolate sauce (because it's not decadent enough on its own).

printable version

½ cup corn starch
16 oz sweet and condensed milk
2 ½ c water
8 egg yolks
½ stick butter
1 T vanilla
Sugar to sprinkle
2 cups of whipping cream, whipped

In a bowl dissolve the starch in water. Then mix in well the milk. Over medium heat in a heavy sauce pan bring the mixture to a boil (stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. If you use anything else it will burn to the bottom.) Temper the milk mixture into the egg yolks. Add the tempered egg yolks into the milk, and stir until bubbly. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour into a bowl. Add the butter cubed and the vanilla and mix until smooth(a hand held mixer works great for this) Cover with plastic wrap to cool.
Fold the whipped cream into the custard. Just before serving fold fresh cut bananas into the pudding. Spoon into the shell and top with sliced bananas. Sprinkle the top with sugar and then brulee the top.


In a cuisinart combine:
3 cups AP flour
1 ½ cups sweetened coconut
1 ¼ tsp. salt
Mix until blended. Then add:
2 ½ sticks cold and cubed unsalted butter
pulse until the mixture is coarse textured.
Add up to :
½ cup ice water
Add to the above mix until the mixture comes together.
Press into tart molds and blind bake. Blind baking with weights for about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and bake for another 5-8 minutes.

What does to bake blind mean?

Blind baking is another term for pre-baking, and it refers to a pie or tart crust that you partially or completely bake before it is filled. This is done in many cases to help keep the crust from becoming soggy from a wet fruit filling, or so that you have a cooked crust if you are filling the pie with something already cooked, such as a custard.

Generally to pre-bake a crust, you roll it out and put it in the pan. To keep the bottom from puffing and the sides from falling, you should line the crust with parchment paper or a large coffee filter, and fill it with beans or rice. There are special pie weights on the market, and some people might encourage you to line the crust with foil, but Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Pie & Pastry Bible, says you should use neither. The foil keeps the crust from beathing, she says, and the weights are simply too heavy, often producing a "cardboard-y" crust.

Make sure to gently push the beans or rice up against the sides of the parchment or coffee filter, to keep the sides of the crust from collapsing in the heat of the oven. Place the crust in a hot oven (say, 425°F; 220°C), which will help set the flour in the sides before the fat starts to soften, and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and liner from the crust, prick the bottom with the tines of a fork to allow steam to escape, and return the crust to the oven.

If you are prebaking the crust, it may only need another 5 minutes in the oven, until it is a very light brown. If you want to fully bake the crust, it may need 10 to 20 minutes more baking until it is done. You may also have to prick the bottom again if it gets uppity.

**Blind baking information gathered at
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