Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spiced wine to wind down the old year

Whether you gather with celebrating hordes, a few good friends or yourself and a significant other, New Year's Eve is a special night. A combination of nostalgia and sadness for the year that's ending and elation over the new, fresh and promising one arriving in its wake.

Something to warm the cockles of your heart is definitely called for and we suggest this spiced wine recipe from our e-friends Ashley and Jason Bartner at La Tavola Marche, Italy.

Spiced Wine

1 liter red wine
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
a few cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
a bit of nutmeg
1 lemon peel grated (or 1/2 lemon, 1/2 orange peel)

Bring wine, spices and grated peel to a low boil. Add sugar and stir over a low flame until dissolved. Filter or strain and serve warm.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ho Ho Ho

May whatever you celebrate this time of year be glorious and may the new year bring us all peace, health, happiness and many new destinations with memorable flavors plus a return visit to one or two old favorites.

Happy holidays and trails!


Monday, December 21, 2009

A is for Awesome Apple Pie from Euphemia Haye

Euphemia Haye on Longboat Key is memorable on all counts - " the stuff dreams are made of" according to the New York Times, one of America's 200 most romantic restaurants (Dining by Candlelight), among the top 1 percent in the nation (Zagat and, once again, a Golden Spoon Hall of Fame award from Florida Trend magazine.

Obviously, Chef/Proprietor Raymond Arpke and wife D'Arcy have cooked and cobbled together a memorable, destination-worthy restaurant, but for my money and laurels, Euphemia Haye's upstairs dessert bar is the answer to a sweet tooth's prayer. Never have I  seen such delectable desserts or had such a hard time choosing just one. Portions are huge so you can share, but it's common to see diners jealously guarding their selections from curious table mates.

The Apple Walnut Crumble Pie is Chef Ray's signature offering and star of his cookbook, You don't have to be crazy, but it helps! Recipes and Rantings of a madman.

Here's the recipe to tide you over until you can visit in person.

Apple Walnut Crumble Pie  

One 10-inch pie shell
2 cups cake flour
1/4 cup shortening or lard
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup ice water
Put cake flour, butter and salt in a stainless steel bowl. Cut the shortening and butter into flour until it all has a mealy consistency. Add ice water and mix with your fingers to form a dough. Form into a ball, flatten with your hands and place on a well-floured flat surface. Flour the top of the dough well and roll out into about a 13-14-inch round. Place the dough into a floured 10-inch pie pan and flute the edges.

Crumble Topping
11/2 lb. soft butter
1/2 lb sugar
1 lb cake flour
vanilla to taste
Combine all ingredients in a mixer with the paddle in place and mix at low speed until "crumbles" form. Cool and reserve.

Apple walnut filling
12 cups (3 pounds) of 1/-inch apple slices
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 dash each ground nutmeg, clove, ginger and allspice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 TBS flour
Place prepared apples in a non-reactive bowl and sprinkle walnuts, spices and sugar over the top. Toss apple mixture and mix well. Add flour and toss well. Let mixture rest for 10 minutes. Toss well again. Mound the apple mixture in the pie shell. Top with crumble so they are completely covered. Bake at 350 degrees for 70-80 minutes until baked through and browned evenly. If crumble topping is browning too fast, cover with foil until almost done.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Red Velvet Cake - as colorful as the season

Red Velvet cakes are the pride of many a Southern cook's Christmas bounty. It's  hard to imagine any other dessert that matches the Christmas decor as well.

Nancy Hamilton in Fort Myers, FL, shared this signature version from the popular and equally colorful Captiva Island restaurant, The Bubble Room. (If you doubt that, check out their website, www.bubbleroomrestaurant.com.)

The Bubble Room Restaurant Red Velvet Cake

3 3/4 cup self-rising flour
2 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cocoa
2 1/4 cup Sterling oil
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
3 oz. red food coloring

Mix all ingredients together and pour into three (3) 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

16 oz. cream cheese
12 oz butter
2 boxes 4X sugar
3 cups pecans

Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth then add sugar and mix. When ready, add pecans.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lighter chef, lighter fare

At the age of 10, Steven Jamison was a whiz at making cheesecakes; a few years later he was selling them. By 2007, he realized his profession and his passion - cooking - was killing him . After three months of fad diets, he reformed his life and eating styles.

Today the former Floridian, executive chef at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, prepares health-conscious, locally sourced "Southern Evolution" fare. An internship at Disney's EPCOT added worldwide influences and the result is in the menus for the hotel's two restaurants, banquets and conventions.

Here's a recipe Chef Jamison shared with us.

Chef Fit Chicken, Corn and Black Bean Tacos

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 ears of corn (corn cut from the cob)
1 16-oz can black beans
1 bunch cilantro (chopped fine)
1 bunch scallion (chopped fine)
2 heads butter lettuce
1 red onion
2 limes
1 can chipotle pepper in adobo
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 16 oz can chicken stock
6 roma tomatoes (ripe)
2 avocados
1 oz olive oil
To Taste – Salt and Pepper

The Chicken:
In a mixing bowl marinate the chicken breast for one hour with adobo sauce and one minced chipotle pepper, 2 cloves garlic, juice of half a lime, salt and pepper.
On a low grill cook chicken to a internal temperature of 1650 F, brushing with the marinade half way through cooking.
Allow the chicken to rest five minutes before cutting.
Dice into small cubes and hold warm until served.

The Salsa:
Coat four roma tomatoes, two cloves garlic and half a red onion with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Place on a sheet pan and roast in a 500 F oven until the tomatoes begin to char.
Place ingredients from the sheet pan along with two chipotle peppers, juice of half a lime, half of the cilantro and half of the scallion in a blender and blend until pureed
Add blanched corn and store in a bowl until ready to serve.

The Black Beans:
In a sauce pot slowly simmer one can black beans, one can chicken stock, two diced roma tomatoes and one quarter red onion diced.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the liquid has reduced till almost dry remove from the heat and put aside.

The Avocado:
Dice the avocado into a bowl and mix with the juice of half a lime, one quarter red onion finely diced and the rest of the cilantro and scallions.
Store in bowl with the avocado seed.

To Serve
Wash and remove eight outer leaves from the butter lettuce.
In each leaf put 2 ounces of black beans, 2 ounces grilled chicken, one tablespoon of avocado mixture and one tablespoon salsa.

Serves 4.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Woodside Mansion Brunch Specialties

 Is the cost of Christmas giving you the entertaining Bah humbugs? Reconsider your timing. It's less expensive to entertain at midday than at dinner time.

Garth Woodside Mansion in Hannibal, MO, was home to childhood friends of Mark Twain, that fast-quipping, quintessential American whose birth 175 years ago and death 100 years ago we will celebrate in 2010.

Today it's a bed and breakfast praised for its fabulous food, filled with Twain memorabilia and voted by Bed & Breakfast Travelers 4th best in the U. S. and No 1 in Missouri two years in a row.

"With everyone watching budgets these days a great way to entertain on a less costly basis is to serve a Brunch," said frequent traveler Mary Jane Kolassa who has shared recipes made famous by this venerable Victorian Inn.

Chili Rellenos Quiche

10 eggs, beaten                                        
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 (4-ounce cans) chopped green chilies         
1 pint cottage cheese
4 cups grated Cheddar or Jack Cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the ingredients together in the order they are listed here. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes clean.  Yield: 10-12 servings.

Garth Mansion’s Famous Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chip Streusel

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips               2/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans                                   1 TBS organic cinnamon

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour                              1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 tsp EACH: baking soda and powder             3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature       1 large egg
1 1/3 cups very ripe bananas (about 3 large)      3 tablespoons buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan.
Stir chocolate chips, brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon in small bowl until well blended; this is your streusel, set aside.
Sift all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into medium bowl.
Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter and egg in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in bananas and the buttermilk. Add dry ingredients and blend well.
Spread half of batter in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with half of streusel. Repeat with remaining batter and streusel. Bake coffee cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool coffee cake in pan on rack.

Garth Granola

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

6 cups old fashioned rolled oatmeal              1 cup raw, chopped, pecans
3/4 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds          1/2 cup raw, sesame seeds
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ                          1/2 tsp salt

Mix together & set aside.

Mix next and add to dry:     
3/4 cup safflower oil                                      1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup honey (or real maple syrup)               1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark brown sugar                              1/2 tsp lecithin

Mix all together and bake, stirring every 15 minutes, for two hours. During the last 15 minutes add 1/2 cup chopped dates and when all finished add 1 cup or more raisins.  Turn it when it is cooling.  Store in plastic bags or airtight container.  Optional: Add some cinnamon or maybe some coconut.

   Vanilla Cranberry Muffins or Coffee Cake

1/4 cup dry instant vanilla pudding mix                1  cup white sugar
3/4 cup water                                                        1/4 cup butter
1 cup fresh cranberries                                          1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract                                               1- 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder                                   1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 TBS butter or margarine, melted                          3 TBS white sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In medium saucepan, combine pudding mix, sugar and water. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Add butter and cranberries, stirring occasionally, until butter melts and cranberries pop. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.  Stir in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add to cranberry mixture; stir to blend. Place in greased 8x4-inch pan or muffin tin, smoothing top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until coffee cake/muffins test done.  Cool 15 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely.

Topping: Brush top of loaf/muffins with melted butter; sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.