Tuesday, May 31, 2011


So yesterday we went to the park, both dogs in tow. We had burgers on the grill, homemade coleslaw, caprese skewers, corn on the cob and a really spectacular red, white and blue jello mold.

The skewers are alot of fun, I just marinate some mozzarella in a little olive oil, salt, chopped fresh oregano and pepper and then thread the cubes with a cherry tomato and a basil leaf on toothpicks, fun to eat and really yummy. For easy corn on the grill I parboil it first, coat it with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper and then wrap in foil. Just heat it up on the grill while you do the burgers. The coleslaw we favor these days has a light dressing, about 2 Tbs lite mayo, 1 Tbs lite sour cream, 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar and a tsp of celery seed...

The jello mold was alot of fun, I used white cranberry juice (4 cups) 1/2 cup sugar, 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin. (Soften gelatin in 1/2 cup juice, then heat remaining juice and sugar to boiling, remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin until completely dissolved) Then I placed 2 cups of cut up strawberries in the bottom of a fancy 8 cup mold I had coated with cooking spray and poured 2 cups of the jello mixture on top and let set in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour. Then I added 2 cups of blueberries to the remaining jello mixture and gently spooned that on top of the strawberries. Chilled the whole thing overnight, dipped in hot water and unmolded. Served with whipped cream

Monday, May 30, 2011

More Memorial Day Fare

OK, So I didn't post last night - and I really meant to. I would like to record my dinners for 30 days straight. Anyway, I made a German potato salad, with bacon so its always a hit...I firmly believe that bacon makes everything better. Some simple steamed brocolli and of course the smoked chicken. I had brined the chicken overnight, so I rinsed off the brine and patted the chicken halves dry, then made a simple dry rub and rubbed them, under the skin as well - then smoked them for about 4 hours, really good...Then for dessert I did a red, white and blue mix of berries and puff pastry stars with real whipped cream ...which my daughter loved!

Berries with puff pastry stars

  • 2 cups strawberries, cut up
  • 2 cups blueberries, cut up
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 Tbs sugar crystals (or plain sugar)

Combine berries and sugar, stir and let sit 15 mins.
Whip chilled cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters add 2 Tbs sugar and vanilla.
Cut out stars from puff pastry rolled to about 1/8" thick. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake about 10 mins, remove from sheet to wire rack brush lightly with water and sprinkle with sugar. Place berries in pretty serving bowls, add a dollop of whipped cream and a star or two.

German Potato Salad

  • 2.5 lbs red skinned potatoes
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 Tbs white vinegar
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • salt and pepper

Cook potatoes with skins on in boiling salted water to cover until tender but not mushy. Drain, cool a little and chop into 1" chunks. Peel first if you want. Saute bacon, drain on paper towels and crumble into small pieces. Pour off all but 2 Tbs bacon fat, in remaining hot fat saute onion, celery and bell pepper until onion is soft. Add vinegar, sugar, paprika and salt and pepper - cook and stir briefly, return bacon to pan. Pour dressing over potatoes in a pretty bowl and toss gently to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend...cooking and a resolution

OK, I am back, and this time I am going to seriously try to a least record what I cook daily for the next 30 days.

Today is Saturday, so I'll start here (and not mention much the timpano I just made the other day, the wonderful panna cottas with a raspberry sauce, and so much more...)

Today I made dinner with a spring theme. I did a classic white risotto and it was fabulous, making me and my family wonder why I don't make this simple dish more often. I paired it with a salad of watermelon, feta and baby arugula dressed with a citrus ginger dressing and also some green beans with almonds toasted in butter. For dessert I made a blueberry pie with a twist! I covered it with butter cookie stars in 2 different sizes...

It was a lovely meal and not all that hard to put together. Then I made a quick brine for a chicken which I will smoke tomorrow and serve with some caprese skewers and corn on the cob and a simple salad. Oh, I also made a fruit salad encased in jello - but with unflavored gelatin and juice, I used strawberries and blueberries and attempted to layer it in a pretty mold. I'll see if I can actually unmold it tomorrow.


Basic White Risotto
(this is a great dish on its on and the basis for so many other risotto's)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1 finely chopped shallot if you have one, or not
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 stalk celery finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup carnaroli rice
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 Tbs additional butter

Heat olive oil and butter in a cast iron skillet. Saute onion, shallot and garlic over low heat for about 10 mins until soft but not at all browned. Stir in rice and coat each grain with oil. Add wine and stir until mostly evaporated. Add 1/2 cup hot stock and stir until almost all incorporated, continue until all stock is used and rice is creamy, stir firm but not hard. remove from heat and stir in parsley, cheese and additional butter. Serve immediately (risotto does not hold well)

Blueberry Pie with Star cut outs

  • Pie crust
  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup instant (minute) tapioca
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup very cold butter cut in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1-2 Tbs ice cold water

Preheat over to 400 F. Mix berries with tapioca, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. Let sit 15 mins. Pour into crust and dot top with butter. Bake in 400 over for about 1 hour, use foil to cover edges if they start to brown too much. Let pie cool completely on wire rack.

Combine flour, sugar and a touch of salt in food processor. Cut in butter. Add water and process until dough forms a ball. Shape into a flattened circle and refrigerate 1 hour. Roll out on lightly floured surface and cut out stars in two sizes, 2 inches and 1 inch. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for about 1o mins or until edges start to turn golden. Cool on wire rack. Randomly arrange stars on top of cooled pie.

Watermelon, feta and Arugula Salad

Cut 1/8 of a seedless watermelon into 1 inch chunks. Combine with 8-12 oz of crumbled feta and about 6 cups of baby arugula. Mix 1/2 cup orange juice with 1 Tbs lemon juice and 1 tsp ginger juice. add 1 tbs honey. Using a whisk or shaking in a jar with a lid add 1/2 cup olive oil. Pour about half dressing over salad. Serve remainder on the side.