Cooking With Patricia

Cooking Archives


Scallops Sautéed with Almonds & Grapes

Merry Christmas everyone!  There are many recipes out there for rib roasts, roast turkey, pork tenderloin; all of the choices that people have for that very special Christmas dinner.  Many people these days are choosing seafood, and scallops can make a very special dinner.  Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of the large scallops (more if you have some big eaters)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons any white wine (that you would drink) or use vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup fresh grapes, seedless
  • 4 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds (in a small nonstick fry pan toast till light brown)
  • For garnish & flavor:  serve with lemon wedges and chopped fresh parsley

Sauté scallops with onion in butter over medium high heat about three minutes.  Add brown sugar, mustard, wine, and grapes.  Toss until onion is tender-crisp, grapes are heated through, and all ingredients are nicely coated with the pan sauce.  Scallops should be opaque,(careful to not overcook).  When ready to serve sprinkle with toasted almonds, a lemon wedge, and a sprinkle of parsley.

Serving suggestion:  Goes well with baked stuffed potatoes.

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Carrot Pineapple Cake

Happy Hanukkah, which begins sunset December 15 through December 23.  This beautiful holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by Jewish people worldwide, observed by the lighting of candles each night in a special menorah, and eating foods fried in olive oil, such as latkes (potato pancakes), and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).

Whether celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas, you will be proud to serve this moist, delicious cake, also wholesome with the carrots, walnuts, and pineapple.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (you can also use whole grain white flour, or half wheat and half white)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (depending on how much you love nuts)
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained very well

Frosting:

  • 1 (8 ounce package) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9” x 13” baking pan.

Mix first six ingredients very well in a large bowl, using a whisk to incorporate the flour and spices, or you can sift all together.

Make a well in the center and add the sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Stir in carrots, coconut, nuts, and pineapple.

Pour into pan.  Bake for about 45 minutes.  Don’t panic, the center may sink a little.  Allow to cool for 20 minutes.  Turn out onto cake platter to finish cooling thoroughly. 

Frosting:  Cream butter and cream cheese until very smooth.  Add 2 1/2 cups of the confectioner’s sugar, and beat till creamy.  Add remainder of confectioner’s sugar if not thick enough.  Frost top and sides of cake.

Optional:  Decorate with a few crushed walnuts or red and green maraschino cherries.

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Salmon Mousse Cups

A great appetizer for that holiday get-together, Christmas open house party, or whatever the occasion.  What could be healthier than salmon and paired with cream cheese it becomes the creamiest filling for these tart crusts that are buttery and flaky.  The person that shared this recipe says she usually has to double the recipe as they disappear very fast.  This recipe makes about 2 dozen.  You will need a miniature muffin-cup pan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package cream cheese (3 ounce), softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (no substitutes is best)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1 package cream cheese (8 ounce), softened
  • 1 cup fully cooked salmon chunks (any bones and all skin removed)
  • 2 tablespoons of each; chicken broth and sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon very finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (for garnish)

For the crusts; in a small mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add flour and mix well.  Shape into 24 balls.  Press onto the bottom and up the sides of greased miniature muffin cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for 5 minutes before taking out of pan to wire rack to cool completely.

Filling:  In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese till smooth.  Add the salmon, broth, sour cream, onion, lemon ice, and salt.  Mix well.  Spoon into the shells.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Top each with a very tiny sprig of fresh dill when serving.

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Chocolate Malted Cookies

These cookies are the next best thing to an old-fashioned malted milk drink!  With the combination of the malted milk powder, chocolate syrup and chocolate chunks, it is a great cookie.

This recipe should come in handy at this time of year when you are looking for something special for that cookie swap, or church Christmas Fair, or holiday party at your child's school.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter-flavored shortening
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder (can be found in cocoa section in supermarket)
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) milk chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients; beat for 2 minutes.  Add egg.  Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in chocolate chunks and chips.  Shape into 2-inch balls; place 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12 - 14 minutes or until just golden brown.  Cool for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack.  Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies.

A note:  Thank you to a reader who let me know she tried the Cranberry Chutney (November 17) and was “Wowed” by it, saying she was surprised as to how easy and delicious it was, never having tried chutney before.  She also rated the Southwestern Cole Slaw (July 21) as “fantastic.”

Hope these comments help when you are looking to try a new recipe.

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Chicken or Turkey in Potato Baskets

This prize winning recipe for little pies with a hash-brown crust is very good; nice enough for a special lunch, easy enough for the family supper.  They are baked in individual baking dishes; 10 ounce custard cups or ramekins.  And since this is the day after Thanksgiving I thought this recipe might come in handy for some of that leftover turkey.  (You also have the option of cutting all the turkey off the bones and freezing till you are ready to use it.  Even the entire turkey carcass can be put into a plastic bag and frozen till you are ready to make your homemade turkey soup on some cold January day.)

This recipe makes 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

In a bowl combine the potatoes, butter, salt and pepper till well mixed.  Butter the baking cups and press the potato mixture into each cup, lining the bottom and sides; set aside.

In a saucepan, sauté onion in butter.  Stir in the flour, bouillon, Worcestershire, and basil.  Whisk or stir in the milk slowly, mixing well.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for about two minutes or until thickened.  Add chicken and peas.  Spoon into the prepared potato crusts.  Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

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Thanksgiving Cranberry Chutney

Actually, this is wonderful anytime, holiday or not, especially good with turkey, chicken, and pork.  Even if you are die-hard fans of cranberry sauce, as many in my family are, serve this also.  It’s because it’s homemade by you and spiced just right, that this chutney is so good.

If you do make it, E-mail me and let me know how your family liked it.

Makes about 4 cups (1/4 cup is an average serving)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12 oz. bag) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped Granny Smith apple
  • 1 cup raisins (mix dark and golden raisins, if you like)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery and 3/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for at least 30 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally.  It will take longer if you double the recipe.

Best served slightly warm or room temperature.  Keeps well in the refrigerator.

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Pasta Carbonara

I received a note from a veteran whom I will call D.C.  He asked if I could find a recipe from his past, a pasta dish with no tomatoes, but he remembered eggs and possibly ham.  He remembered having this dish at the Officer's Club at Patch Barracks, Stuttgart-Germany, when he was assigned there from 1973 - 1976.  After some research into some older Italian cookbooks, it looks like this very traditional Italian recipe could be it.  I’ve talked with him on the phone and he agrees.  He states that at Stuttgart they served it nice and hot with extra cheese and crisp bacon at the table.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces linguini or spaghetti
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup half & half or light cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup pancetta (Italian bacon) or thick-cut bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cook the pancetta over medium heat till crisp.  (If it looks like there is too much fat from the bacon, pour a little off.)

Beat the eggs with the cream and black pepper.

Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.

Add the pasta to the pancetta in the frypan, keeping hot.  Pour cream/egg mixture in and stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes (eggs get completely cooked with the hot pasta).

Add the parsley and 3/4 cup of the parmesan cheese and toss to coat well.  Stir for 2 - 3 minutes and serve with remaining grated cheese and additional crisp pancetta if desired.

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Fudgy Raspberry Torte

Makes about 10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (18 1/4 ounce) chocolate fudge cake mix
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup ground pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups cold whole milk
  • 1 package (3.9 oz.) instant chocolate fudge pudding or chocolate pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 1 1/2 cups whipped cream (or frozen whipped topping)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans for garnish
  • Fresh raspberries for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry cake mix, water, eggs, and oil; mix well.  Add ground pecans and mix until combined.  Pour into three greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Be careful to not over bake.  Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat milk and pudding mix on low speed for 2 minutes or until thickened.

In a sauce pan heat jam till melted.  Brush over top of each cake layer, using all of it.

Place one cake layer on the serving plate; spread with half of the pudding.  Repeat with next layer.  Put third cake layer on top and spread top with whipped cream.  Sprinkle with chopped pecans and decorate with fresh raspberries.  I have seen the raspberries piled in the center with the cream all around and also placed just around the edge, at the bottom of the cake on the cake plate.  Have fun decorating the way you like.

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Pumpkin Pancakes

Halloween is in just a few days.  I don’t know about the children in your family, but my kids loved Halloween nearly as much as Christmas.  They didn’t have a clue, however, that I enjoyed it as much as they did.  I usually fixed something special such as “black spider” cupcakes, beef stew baked in the pumpkin shell, and for breakfast, these pumpkin pancakes.  That was one day I had no trouble getting them to eat before school!  Because I was a working Mom, I did as much preparation the night before.  For this recipe, have all the dry ingredients measured in a mixing bowl.  In another bowl, combine milk, egg, canned pumpkin, and keep covered in the refrigerator (add oil in morning).  Makes about 10 pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Chocolate chips or raisins for decorating

In a bowl, combine flour, oats, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Combine milk, egg, pumpkin, and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.  Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot greased griddle; turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes.  Cook until second side is golden brown.  Serve with butter and cinnamon sugar mix or syrup.

Use chocolate chips or raisins to make smiley faces.

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Cajun Chicken Pasta

This recipe was obtained by a person traveling through Tallahassee, Florida.  Stopping to eat at a restaurant in The Ramada Inn North, she ordered this dish.  Liking it so much, she requested the recipe, and the food manager was happy to share it, saying that this was overwhelmingly popular since it had been put on the menu.  It’s definitely worth trying, also because it is really quick to cook; including the food prep, this can be cooked and on the table in 20 - 30 minutes which is great on a busy evening.  Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 8 slices each, green and red peppers
  • 4 large fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon of each; dried basil, lemon-pepper seasoning, salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of each; garlic powder, black pepper
  • 4 - 5 ounces linguine, cooked and drained
  • Grated parmesan cheese, optional

Place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a bowl or plastic bag; shake to coat.  In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté chicken in butter or oil till tender, about 5 - 7 minutes.  Add peppers, mushrooms, and onion; cook and stir 2 - 3 minutes.  Reduce heat.  Add cream and seasonings; heat through.  Add linguine and toss; heat through.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

This is a cookie recipe to save for those cookie swaps coming up, holiday parties, etc.  Try it now to see if you want to put it in your cookie recipe collection.  Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Two 10 ounce jars small maraschino cherries (or cut in half if large ones)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate bits
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

In a large bowl stir flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In large mixer bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed till creamy.  Add sugar and beat on low speed till fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla, beat well.  Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, beating on low speed till well blended.  Shape dough into one-inch balls, place two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Press down center of each ball with thumb.  Drain cherries, save juice.  Press small cherry into center of each cookie.

Frosting:

In a small heavy saucepan melt chocolate pieces and condensed milk over low heat stirring often.  Stir in 4 teaspoons reserved cherry juice.  Spoon about 1 teaspoon frosting over each cherry, covering the cherry.  (If you need to thin frosting a little, add additional cherry juice 1 teaspoon at a time.)  

Bake 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool on rack.

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Beer-Braised Beef Brisket with Winter Vegetables

Oktoberfest, an authentic German celebration enjoyed by many in a lot of cities in America, anywhere from September 15 to October 15.  October 8 is the Oktoberfest being held in Harvard Square in Boston.  Their Web site says to “come and celebrate autumn and the eclectic atmosphere of Harvard Square.”  Any Oktoberfest promises music, dancing, and great food.  This one promises traditional Bavarian/German food as well as cuisine from many fine restaurants around Harvard Square.

This week I thought I would share a recipe that is a traditional Bavarian dish that is very hearty for this time of year.  Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pound piece beef brisket (point cut, also called second cut)
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 3 Spanish onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper as needed.  (Note: you may substitute fresh for any of the above dried spices.)
  • 4 (12 ounce) beers, lager-style
  • 1/2 large turnip or rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse brisket, pat dry, season with salt & pepper.

In a Dutch oven, with a tight fitting lid, cook bacon, stirring till crispy.  Remove bacon to drain on paper towel, pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.  Get bacon fat hot, but not smoking, and brown the brisket on all sides.  Transfer to a platter.  Add onions, cook till golden brown.  Add tomato paste, cook, and stir about 1 minute.  Add chopped bacon, brisket, and beer and bring to a boil.  Add all the spices.  Cover and place in the oven for 2 hours.  Add the vegetables and continue cooking for about 45 minutes longer or until the vegetables are soft.  Transfer all to a platter to keep warm.

If you wish to make a great gravy, boil the juice in the pan till it’s reduced to about 3 cups.  Make a paste of 2 tablespoons unsalted soft butter and 2 tablespoons flour.  Whisk this into the meat juices a little at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Simmer sauce for about 3 minutes till thick.  Season as needed with salt and pepper.  Slice meat against the grain to serve. 

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Hot Chunky-Apple Sundaes

This is my favorite time of year, for many reasons, one of the most fun being the days we went apple picking.  When my boys were young, every year we went to the orchard.  They would pick their own bag, have fun playing in the leaves, and always pick out a treat in the orchard's store.  One thing they always looked forward to was making something good with “their apples that they picked.”  Usually that was apple pancakes for breakfast, or this hot chunky apple sauce over vanilla ice cream for supper that night.  We all loved that aroma of cinnamon and apples cooking. 

Ingredients:  Makes about 5 cups of topping

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 10 - 11cups sliced peeled apples
  • Crushed gingersnaps or caramel topping – optional

In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar, juices, and cinnamon to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for about 5 minutes.  Add apples and return to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer until apples are soft (about 20 minutes).

Serve warm over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Sprinkle with crushed gingersnaps or a dollop of caramel topping, if desired.

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Baked Halibut with Mushrooms

The evening of September 22 is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  This holiday celebrates the creation of the world and is a time for reflection and self evaluation.  It is a very Holy Day in the Jewish tradition.  For those of you celebrating, have a very happy holiday.

Some interesting facts are that fish is very often served, along with apples, honey, pomegranates, and beets.  Apples and honey are commonly used together, meaning “may we be sent a sweet and fruitful year."  Serving pomegranates mean "may the year be rich with blessings as this fruit is rich with seeds.”

This recipe serves 8.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons stick margarine
  • 4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into thin matchsticks, well-washed and dried.
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 8 halibut fillets, about one-inch thick
  • 2 pounds oyster mushrooms, halved if large
  • Chopped chives and extra virgin olive oil (for garnish when serving)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add leeks, shallots, garlic and 1/8 teaspoon each; salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until leeks and shallots are translucent, just a few minutes.  Spread into two 13 x 9 inch baking dishes, dividing evenly.  Top with fish; season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat, add half of mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Raise heat to medium-high; cook and stir till tender, about 5 minutes.  Scatter mushrooms over fish.  Repeat with the remaining oil and mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Bake until fish is cooked through, about 18 - 20 minutes.  Transfer to a serving platter or to plates.  Sprinkle with chopped chives and a drizzle of olive oil.

This is wonderful served with a fresh beet salad, which is simply cooked beets cut into wedges, and tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.

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Ginger Chicken Stir Fry

One thing that I like about a stir fry is that you can control the amount of meat you put in.  I like to have it more veggies than meat, so I probably use a quarter chicken, pork, or beef strips, and three-quarters vegetables.  It's also optional if you want to serve it over rice or egg noodles, or the way it is.  Most kids love stir fry meals so it's a good way to get them to eat vegetables, just use more of the veggies that they like.  But if the sauce is tasty, they might even try vegetables that have not been favorites.  If you have a wok, than absolutely use it.  Otherwise, use a large skillet.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons peeled minced gingerroot (leftover gingerroot keeps well in a ziploc bag in the freezer)
  • 8 chicken breast halves, skinned and boned
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup each; thinly sliced zucchini, small broccoli flowerets, green or red pepper strips
  • 3 green onions cut in 2 inch pieces
  • 1 (8 ounce can) drained water chestnuts
  • 1 (6 ounce) package frozen snow pea pods, thawed (use fresh if you can get them, cook till crisp-tender)

Combine first six ingredients in a small bowl; stir well and set aside.

Cut chicken into 1/2 inch strips.  Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil around top of preheated wok, coating sides; heat wok to medium high for 2 minutes.  Add chicken and garlic and stir fry four minutes.  Remove chicken from wok and set aside.  Pour remaining oil into wok.  Add celery and next five ingredients, and stir fry 3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Add reserved chicken broth mixture, chicken, and snow peas; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened.  Makes about six servings.

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Old Fashioned Plum Cake

My grandmother, her mother, and many women of the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, used fruit a lot.  At that time many had an apple and/or pear tree on their property, most always growing strawberries and rhubarb, and most every year in late August the whole family would go blueberry and blackberry picking.  Remember there was a lot more woods and country than now.  Fresh fruit was also more affordable, and plums were always on the grocer's fruit stand at this time of year.  Plum cake and strudel were popular ways to use plums.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened (1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 15 purple plums, halved and pitted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottom and sides of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large mixing bowl beat together butter, sugar, and lemon zest at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  At low speed, beat flour mixture into butter mixture.  Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly.  Arrange plum halves, skin-sides up, on top of batter, pressing in just a little.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Mix together sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over top of cake.  Bake till golden brown, 1 hour.  Cool slightly before removing sides of pan.  Good served slightly warm.

This looks so pretty on a paper lace doily on the cake plate.

Note:  If you want to make this and plums are not in season, substitute one can (30 oz.) plums that have been drained very well.

This also freezes well.  When defrosted, reheat in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes.

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Linguine with Corn & Zucchini

The butter and sugar corn is still flourishing in the gardens and on the farm stands.  The zucchini has been late this year but is now coming in well.  With this cooler weather, pair it up for a quick and easy pasta supper.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large ears of corn, cooked for 5 minutes in water, cooled and kernels scraped off cob; set aside
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Several fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 box linguine

Heat oil in nonstick fry pan and sauté onion until soft and just beginning to brown; add zucchini and oregano.  If using dried basil add now.  Stir from time to time, cooking till zucchini softens slightly.  Add corn and heat through.  Keep on low.  Cook linguine according to package instructions, and drain well.  While pasta is cooking, beat ricotta with buttermilk in a blender till smooth.

Remove vegetables from heat and spoon into serving bowl.  Stir in ricotta mixture.  Add hot linguine, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.  Add fresh basil at this time.  Serve immediately.

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Creamy Peach Dessert

Look for fresh peaches this time of year.  They are at their best when you let them fully ripen till they are soft and juicy.  They make this dessert delicious and special.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 package (3 oz.) cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 medium-sized ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

Topping:

  • 2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup half & half cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a mixing bowl, beat the milk, butter, and egg.  Combine the flour, pudding mix, baking powder, and salt; add to milk mixture.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan.  Top with peaches.

In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and the cream.  Drop by tablespoonfuls over peaches.  Combine the cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 - 60 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Cool on wire rack for 1 hour.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting.  This makes about 9 servings.

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Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed With a Gorgonzola/Pistachio Filling

This past week the second annual gathering of the staff of the Area News Group was held with beautiful weather, good company, and great food.

Among the delicious food there was this appetizer which got many "thumbs up.”  I'll be honest and say that for a crowd this can be very time consuming to make.  A serving is 2 - 3 cherry tomatoes, so that meant making quite a few.  So I wouldn't suggest this for a large gathering; but it would be very easy to do for 6 - 8 people.

This recipe would serve 8 - 12 people (2 - 3 each).

Filling ingredients:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ounce crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Pinch salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
  • 24 cherry tomatoes (picking out the largest you can find)

The tomatoes sit better on the stem end, so cut off the bottoms.  Using a very small melon baller hollow out tomatoes discarding the seeds.  Invert the tomatoes onto paper towels to drain.

Make filling by blending all the ingredients except for the pistachios.  Mix till well blended but not totally smooth.  Add pistachios.

Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then spoon mixture into a large pastry bag (without any tip), or use a large Ziploc® bag, cutting off one of the bottom corners, careful to not cut too big an opening.  Pipe into tomatoes.  Refrigerate till serving.

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Tomato-Onion Phyllo Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 7 sheets phyllo dough (18” x 14”)
  • 7 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion
  • About 9 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Brush a 15" x 10" x 1" baking pan with some of the melted butter.  Lay a sheet of phyllo in pan, folding edge in to fit.  Keep remaining dough covered with waxed paper to avoid drying out.  Brush dough with butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese.  Repeat this process with five more layers, folding edges in for each layer to fit.

Top with remaining dough, folding edges in to fit; brush with remaining butter.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese; arrange onion and tomatoes over the cheese.  Sprinkle with oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and more parmesan cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Fresh garden tomatoes are coming in now, and this is a perfect way to use them.  I did not plant a garden this year, but am lucky to have a farm stand 15 minutes away to take advantage of locally grown vegetables.  As a matter of fact, I was there yesterday and they had an abundance of fresh-picked plum tomatoes.

Growing up on a farm, this is part of summer for me.  We would take a salt shaker down to the gardens and pick a ripe tomato and eat it right there.  It was warm from the sun, and the flavor can't be beat.  (It’s advisable not to refrigerate fresh picked tomatoes, if at all possible.)

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Light & Fruity Jello Dessert

    I've had this recipe for years now, and only this past week decided to give it a try, mostly because I was looking for something sugar-free and light on the calories.  It turned out to be a cool and refreshing dessert, a hit this past week with the hot weather.

4 - 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup diet lemon-lime soda
  • 1 small package mixed fruit sugar-free Jello
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups light whipped topping
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 medium peach, ripe, peeled, and chopped

In a saucepan, bring soda to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in Jello until dissolved.  Add applesauce.  Chill until thickened and partially set.  Stir in nutmeg and vanilla.  Transfer to a serving bowl.  Fold in whipped topping and peaches.  Cover and refrigerate until firm.

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Lime Sherbet Punch & Strawberry Mint Punch

The summer always means several parties or get-togethers; whether a bridal or baby shower, or birthday or anniversary party, or a barbecue.  One way to make it special and "bring it up a notch," is to serve a summer punch.  If you don't have a punchbowl, use any large bowl and your soup ladle.

The lime sherbet punch is very refreshing on a hot summer day.  This punch recipe came from my sister who served it at our summertime family reunions, when held at her home up in the White Mountains.  It was an adult only punch made with vodka added and, believe me, was the hit of the reunion every time, along with midnight swims on the Saco River, horseshoes, and the great food.

The Strawberry Mint Punch is a non-alcoholic recipe, perfect for summer when fresh strawberries and fresh mint are in abundance, but also very festive for a Christmas Punch due to the red and green.  This punch recipe came from the "Cooking with Regis & Kathie Lee" cookbook they published in 1993 and was first prepared by Chef Francis Anthony on one of their Christmas shows.  A great tasting punch to say the least.

Lime Sherbet Punch

Three, 1/2 gallons lime sherbet (1 1/2 gallons total).  (Note:  Raspberry or orange sherbet can be substituted, but it was too sweet for me.)

One, 12 ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate

One, 2 liter bottle of Sprite®, 7-Up®, or Tom Collins mixer

A fifth of vodka ( or same amount Sprite or 7-Up)

Spoon slightly softened sherbet, in large chunks, into a large punchbowl.  Pour in thawed concentrate, soda, and vodka.  Stir slightly and very gently to mix ingredients.  This is best served immediately, before the sherbet melts too much.

Strawberry Mint Punch

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled
  • 4 quarts seltzer water
  • 1 can (6 ounce) frozen lemonade
  • 1 can (6 ounce) frozen grapefruit juice
  • 3 dashes of bitters
  • *Fresh mint and pre-made lemonade for the ice ring (optional)

*Strawberry - mint ice ring or ice cubes:  If making an ice ring, which lasts longer than ice cubes, I use my bundt pan.  Using one of the pints, put fresh whole strawberries in one layer in the bottom of the pan.  Place whole mint leaves between the strawberries.  Pour just enough lemonade in to cover the berries.  Freeze solid.  If making ice cubes, use lemonade instead of water.

Using the second pint of strawberries, place in a blender and process till pureed.

In a large punchbowl, combine the pureed strawberries with the seltzer, lemonade, grapefruit juice, and bitters.  Add the ice ring or ice cubes.  This makes about 24 servings.

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Cole Slaw Salad, Southwestern Style

6 - 8 servings

This is a deliciously different take on cole slaw; actually a meal in itself for a light lunch.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion (red or Vidalia onion)
  • 2 jalapeno chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 ounces whole kernel corn (fresh cut off of cooked cobs is the best)
  • 1/4 cup each of chopped red and green bell pepper
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) shredded white cheese (cheddar or Monterey jack)

Salad Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon each; salt, pepper

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine all dressing ingredients, blending well.  Pour over salad, toss to coat.

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Grilled Salmon with Lemon & Dill

When I think of salmon, Anchorage Airport in Alaska comes to mind.  That's when I and more than a hundred other passengers returning to our homes, checked in huge coolers, all duct-taped closed, filled with a little more than 50 pounds of frozen "Copper River Reds" king salmon, just caught that week on the Copper river.  I was in Copper Center, Alaska visiting family, who have a fishwheel on the river.  These look roughly like mini ferris wheels, used to catch the salmon as they swim each year down the river.  There are many fishwheels on the river, usually co-owned by several families.  A day's catch is anywhere's between 50-250 pounds.  Most of the days I was there it was close to 200.

I never get bored eating salmon.  I use a different marinade when grilling/broiling for different tastes.  Lemon and dill is a classic combination and one of the best for any fish.  This recipe flavors it up even a little more.  It's quick and easy.  Get it into the marinade the night before or 1 hour before.  The rule to remember when grilling fish is cook low and slow.  Enjoy!

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 salmon fillet, about 1 and 1/2 pounds

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill or 3/4 teaspoon dried dill weed

1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Marinade:

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons of each; chicken broth, vegetable oil, soy sauce, finely chopped green onions

1 small lemon, thinly sliced

Mix dry seasonings; dill, lemon-pepper, salt, and garlic powder.  Sprinkle both sides of salmon.  Place fillet in a plastic re-sealable bag or in shallow container.  Combine brown sugar, broth, oil, soy sauce, and green onions.  Pour over the salmon.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, turning once.  Drain, discard marinade.  Place salmon on low-medium heat grill, skin side down (spray grill with non-stick spray, or rub with oil).  Arrange lemon slices on top.  Cover and cook 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

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