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Super Easy Hard Boiled Eggs

You’ve most likely seen or heard tons of ways to cook the perfect hard boiled egg. Some are easy some not so much. This one, my tried and true version, makes it so easy everyone can get the perfect egg, whether it’s one or a dozen.

Place egg(s) in a high sided pot large enough to hold them all in a single layer. Fill pot with just enough water to cover by two inches. Set a timer for 20 minutes and put on stove with the heat turned to high. As soon as water starts to bubble reduce to medium. Immediately after the 20 minutes has ended carefully drain the water from the pot and then bounce the eggs in the pot to slightly crack them, fill pot with ice cold water.

By cracking the eggs in the pot it allows the cold water to get under the shell making them easy to remove. That’s it. Done.

German Style Potato Salad

Every once in a while I dig into my past with thoughts of things I haven’t made in some time. Today was one of those days. I had some leftover cooked potatoes which I decided to use for a breakfast plate which reminded me of one of my favorite potato salads. As I have been known to remake old favorites I think this effort is well worth a try.

There are two things that made sense to change, one is the type of potato the other how they are cooked. Back in the day I used good ole red potatoes which I boiled for use in the salad, this time I chose to steam some Yukon Gold for this recipe. Steaming provides a great texture and retains some of the moisture normally lost when they are boiled.

You will need:

Potatoes — one pound small to medium sized Yukon Gold
Bacon — quarter pound, thick cut, diced. Try to get bacon that has a lot of fat since you will need the rendering for the sauce.
Vinegar — two or three TBSP
Sugar — two or three TBSP, white. You might need more to adjust the taste.
Pepper — fresh ground, to taste.

Whether you use a steam basket or colander over a pot really doesn’t matter just be sure that you steam the potatoes in a single layer if there isn’t enough room you can steam them in batches. You can tell that they are done when a sharp knife goes into the flesh easily.

While the potatoes steam put the bacon into a sauce pot large enough to hold it and the vinegar with room to spare. Cook the bacon until crisp, remove it from the fat with a slotted spoon, reserve. Add one TBSP of sugar to the hot fat stirring to combine, carefully add one TBSP of vinegar then repeat with the remaining sugar and vinegar tasting as you go along to get the sweet/sour combination you desire. Keep the sauce warm while you carefully remove the skin from the cooked potatoes, dice them into about 1/2″ cubes. Place them into a bowl with the cooked bacon and then dress with the bacon/vinegar/sugar mixture. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Chickpeas(Garbanzo Beans) & Onions

Over the holiday I had a conversation with my son-in-law about some of the foods my mom, may she rest in peace, prepared for our Christmas Eve dinner. If I’m not mistaken it consisted of 13 courses, all meatless and each served individually in a specific order. Some are simple with one or two steps some not so easy. I’ll try to recreate most if not all of them here so come back often to check them out.

You will need:

Chickpeas — 1 16 oz can
Onion — 1 large Walla Walla or Vidalia – diced
Butter — 1 stick – unsalted
Sea Salt or Kosher Salt — to taste
Pepper — fresh ground to taste.

In a sauce pot large enough to hold both ingredients slowly melt the butter over medium low heat (do not let the butter brown), when it is completely melted and the onion and boil until the onion is completely softened. Meanwhile in another sauce pot add the entire can of chickpeas, liquid included, and bring up to heat. Once the onion/butter mixture is ready drain the chickpeas and add to the butter stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine and serve.

Quick and easy. Enjoy!

Crab Puffs

On occasion I find a great item through networking, a while ago I had the opportunity to get a sample of Miller’s Select Special White Crab Meat and promised my contact that as soon as had come up with something using his product I would publish the recipe and let him know. This holiday season was the perfect opportunity to try it out on friends and it got rave reviews. I think that, although there is some effort needed to make this one, your guest will appreciate your work.

The base for this recipe is Pâte à Choux which, contrary to popular belief, is rather simple to make.

You will need:

Flour — 1 cup
Water &151; 1 cup
Butter, unsalted — 1 stick
Eggs — 1 cup
Flaked Crab Meat — 6 oz as mentioned above I use Miller’s Select due to the fine flake they provide
Paprika — 2 tsp
Pepper — 1 tsp (white pepper works best here however black will do just fine)
Sea Salt

Place water and butter in a sauce pot, just large enough to hold the liquid, bring to a low boil, once the butter is melted add the entire cup of flour at one time then with a wooden spoon, for some reason metal spoons won’t work as well. Beat the combination continually until a mass is formed and it starts to dry out. Place the flour mass into a food processor and pulse a few times to break it up and cool a little. Turn the processor on to full then through the feed tube slowly pour in the egg making sure it is combined each time before you add more, set aside.

Place the flaked crab in a bowl, if it is not a fine flake break up any large pieces, toss the crab with the paprika and pepper. Fold the crab mixture into the choux base. Form the mixture into balls using a melon baller dipped in oil, this will allow the mixture to crop easily onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, space them about one inch apart as they will puff up when baked. Place the sheet into a preheated 400° oven baked until golden brown. Enjoy!

Apple/Pecan Pie

I’ve prepared many a pie in my life but was never really satisfied with the outcome. Most of the time my dissatisfaction was due to the crust, I’ve used many different recipes and have even used store bought varieties. I happened to be watching an old, very old, you know the old black and white version, of a Julie Child show. In it she made a pie crust that I though to try and use. I’ve made only one change to her recipe and it was using frozen butter instead of just chilled butter, I’m not sure how much of a difference it made from her version but the final result was, fantastic.

You will need:

For the crust:

Flour — 1½ Cups all purpose flour
Butter, unsalted — ½ cup (one stick)frozen
Water — ⅓ Cup (ice cold water)
Vegetable Shortening — 3 TBSP (I used Crisco)
Sugar — 3 TBSP
Salt (table – non iodized) — Pinch

For the Filling:

Apples — 5 medium to large, use a variety such as Gala, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Macintosh, try to use 1 of each.
Sugar — 1 TBSP
Maple Syrup — ¼ use the real stuff not pancake syrup.
Pecans — ¼ cup, chopped.
Salt — pinch of non-iodized table.
Cinnamon — 1 TBSP
Balsamic Vinegar &#151 1 TBSP
Butter — 4 TBSP

Start with the dough, in a food processor add all of the dry ingredients. Cut frozen butter in half length wise, cut the two pieces in half length wise then cut into half inch pieces add to dry ingredients along with the shortening. Pulse the ingredients to combine them, you want to watch this step, you want to see what looks like pea sized chunks scattered throughout the dough. Turn the machine on to full speed and add the water slowly through the feed tube run until the dough forms into a large mass. Remove from the machine, form into a ball, flatten the ball into a disk then wrap in plastic film. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.

Now the filling. Peel and core all of the apples, cut into 8 pieces each, put cold water into a bowl large enough to hold all of the apples then add the vinegar and stir to combine, add the apples making sure they are all covered by the water mixture.

In a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the apples in one layer add the butter and maple syrup, when the butter melts add all of the apples and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Add enough water just to about half way up the apple mixture. Bring to a rapid boil, turn the heat to simmer, cover and cook until the apples soften, about 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue to cook the apples until all or most of the liquid has evaporated. Continue cooking until the apples start to caramelize. Remove from heat, place into a bowl and let cool completely. Once the apple mixture is completely cool add the pecan pieces.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, with the dough still wrapped use a rolling pin to pound the disk to a thickness that will be easy enough to roll. No need to be gentle here as the dough will be very stiff and can take the pounding. Lightly flour countertop, remove the dough from the plastic wrap and roll out to approximately a 10″ circle. Lightly spray a pie pan with baking spray or coat the pan with oil or butter. Lay the dough over the pan and lightly press it in with about ½” overlapping the rim. Fold the dough under itself to form an edge, crimp the dough to seal. With the tines of a fork dock the entire bottom of the dough. Place a piece of aluminum foil over the dough and fill with pie weights or beans. Place the pie shell in a preheated 400° F oven, bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, remove weights and foil, fill with the apple mixture and return to oven, reduce the heat to 350° F and finish baking, it should take another 15 to 20 minutes.

I think you’ll enjoy this one, serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.

Maple Glazed Baby Carrots

I developed this simple recipe years ago but never put it into Let’s Eat. I am sure your guests will love it even those finicky kids.

You will need:

Baby Carrots — 1 lb bag, alternatively you can use large carrots cut diagonally into bite size pieces.
Maple Syrup — Approximately 1 cup – use the real stuff here folks not that “pancake syrup” you find in stores, it’s all high fructose corn syrup with no maple anything in it.
Butter — 5 TBSP make sure you use unsalted.
Sea Salt/Pepper — to taste.

The first step is to steam the carrots. Steam until a sharp knife goes in easily about 1/4 way through to what is called just “al dente”. You want to maintain the some of the crunch. In a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the carrots in a single layer heat the butter until just melted. Add the carrots simmer on low until the butter coats the vegetables. Add the maple syrup and simmer until the syrup reduces by half.<.p>

If you don’t have equipment to steam the carrots add enough water to the sauté pan to just above half their thickness, cover and let cook until most of the water has evaporated add the butter and maple syrup then proceed as stated above. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can do them ahead of time, keep at room temperature until you are about to serve, return to the sauté pan and heat them up.

Baked Ditalini

I had a half empty or is it half full box of ditalini sitting on the shelf where I keep all sorts of pasta extruded pastas. I decided to use it for dinner and went to the freezer where I knew I had left over sausage and mushroom ragu thinking to bake some sort of baked item and all I was missing was the cheese. I walked to my nearest grocer, not my favorite but didn’t feel like getting in the car for only a couple of items. They DO have a nice cheese department and decided to get some ricotta, parmesan, asiago and romano as all of them work well in baked goods.

When I got home I realized that after opening the container I had purchased Ricotta con Latte instead of Ricotta. I had never used it but seeing the creaminess of the cheese I thought it would work. The end result came out pretty good and I think you and especially your kids will find it well worth the effort

You will need:

Ditalini &#151 1 pound
Ricotta Con Latte — 1 16 oz container.
Sausage/Mushroom Ragu — you can substitute 1 LB ground beef or pork and tomato sauce just sauté the meat and combine with the tomato sauce.

Prepare the ditalini according to package instructions, strain but do not rinse. Return pot to heat and add the ragu or meat/tomato sauce mixture and heat until thoroughly warmed, remove from heat. Add the ricotta to the mixture and combine completely then add the pasta and combine thoroughly. Place mixture into a lightly oiled, oven proof baking dish, cover and bake for 30 minutes. I think you will enjoy the finished product.

Sausage/Mushroom Ragu

A good ragu is always a welcome addition to anyone’s repertoire. This recipe comes from my desire to use a portion of the Maitake mushrooms that I had freeze dried from the past seasons harvest. Of course if you are fortunate enough to have a fresh supple they can be used as well, additionally a good substitute would be portabella. For purpose of this recipe I’ll use the generic term mushroom(s) instead of being specific. Make a batch and then use some and freeze the rest.

You will need:

Italian Sausage — 1½ lbs bulk.
Fresh Mushrooms — ½ lb. chopped.
Shallot — 1 medium size finely diced.
Fresh Oregano — 2 TBSP
Fresh Marjoram — 2 TBSP
Olive Oil — 4 TBSP
White Wine — ¼ cup – a good Chardonnay works well
Heavy Cream — ¼ cup
Tomato — 1 26oz can diced or crushed – San Marzano Plum work best.
Sea Salt/Ground Pepper — to taste

In a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients heat two tablespoons of olive oil until it dances/shimmers. Add bulk sausage (if you can’t find bulk at your grocer purchase links and remove from casing) and using a potato masher start breaking up the meat continue sautéing until most of the pink is gone do not brown completely or the sauce will be too dry.

Remove sausage from the pan, drain and set aside. Add 1 TBSP to the sauté pan heat to shimmer then add the mushrooms. Cook until all of the moisture exuded from them is evaporated. NB: Not all mushrooms have the same moisture content for instance Maitake and Portabella have less than Button or Crimini.

Remove mushrooms fro the pan and set aside. Add 1 TBSP Olive oil and sauté the shallots until they are just translucent then add the sausage and mushroom to the pan stir to combine. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Turn heat to medium high and add the white wine, cook until the mixture is somewhat dry. Add the heavy cream, stir well to combine and cook until the mixture is somewhat dry. Add the tomatoes, stirring to combine and cook until they break apart. If you think the ragu is too dry you can add some tomato sauce but not enough to make it soupy.

Apple Pie Filing

While I call this recipe a filing it can also be used warm for a topping for a good vanilla ice cream. I was shopping at my local farmer’s market not knowing, as usual, what I was going to purchase. I came upon a stall selling fruit and spied several varieties of apples. Most recipes for pie filling tell you to use only a firm fruit such as Granny Smith however I like using varieties that break down when baked along with the firmer Granny.

This recipe will produce enough filing for one 9″ pie.

You will need:
Apples &#151 5 medium sized.
Cinnamon Stick &#151 1
Honey &#151 3 TBSP
Sea Salt &#151 1 tsp
Lemon Zest &#151 1 TBSP
Unsalted Butter &#151 3 TBSP

The biggest difference for this filling is that it is precooked prior to filing your pie shell. By pre cooking it you can control the amount of moisture exuded from the apples giving a firmer final product. Peel, core and cut apples into 6 to 8 pieces. In a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the fruit melt the butter using a medium heat setting. Add the apples, cinnamon stick, salt, honey and lemon zest. Cover the pan and let simmer for approximately 20 minutes, after 20 minutes check to see whether the apples are soft enough.

Continue cooking the apples, uncovered until all of the liquid has evaporated and the apples start to caramelize. Once you get a nice caramelization remove from heat and let cool completely. Once cooled you can use your favorite pie crust, I cheated here and used a store bought, then bake the pie until the crust is baked thoroughly. Mine took about 30 minutes.


Brussels Sprouts with Chestnut Sauce

The first time I made this recipe was for a family holiday dinner. I went through the trouble of making everything from scratch including the preparation of the chestnuts for the sauce. It was quit time consuming so I wanted to get this down to as simple a process as possible. I found that you can use canned chestnuts without losing too much of the flavor. For those of you who aren’t too excited about Brussels Sprouts try this recipe I think you might become a convert.

For the Sauce:

  • Chestnuts — ½ pound
  • Beef Broth — 2 cups
  • Garlic Clove — 1 crushed
  • Sea Salt — 1 tspn
  • Fresh Nutmeg — ¼ tspn
  • Unsalted Butter — 2 TBSP
  • For the Sprouts:

  • Brussels Sprouts — 4 Cups fresh or 2 10 ounce packages of frozen

In a sauce pot large enough to hold all of the chestnuts combine them with the beef broth and garlic then simmer until chestnuts are completely softened. By using canned chestnuts this shouldn’t take too long. Press entire contents of the sauce pot through a strainer return to pot and simmer until it thickens slightly, add nutmeg and butter and set aside.

Remove outer leaves of sprouts as these are tough and rather bitter. Cut off a little of the stem end and make a cross mark about ⅛” deep. In a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the sprouts place them along with enough water to cover by 1 inch, cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes until a knife point goes in easily. Remove all excess water from pan then add the Chestnut puree.

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