Sunday, July 26, 2009

Caribbean Chicken Salad

If you are planning a shower or luncheon this summer, I have the perfect salad recipe for you. It is beautiful displayed on a pretty platter, or in a glass bowl, and is light and refreshing. A perfect summer dish served with fresh croissants and / or assorted mini muffins. I also have a frozen daiquiri recipe that would be perfect for the occasion.

Caribbean Chicken Salad

1 lb. orzo, cooked according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cool water, drain again
15 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
1 lb. red, seedless grapes
8 green onions, sliced thinly, including green tops
4 cups cooked chicken breasts, sliced or cubed


1/3 cup Mango Vinaigrette
1/2 cup best quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground all spice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup fresh mint, minced


2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Place cooked, drained orzo in large mixing bowl. Add mandarin oranges, grapes, onions, and chicken.
Whisk dressing ingredients together, pour over salad and gently toss. Cover and chill. Serve on platter or in glass bowl and arrange pineapple chunks and toasted almonds decoratively. Serves 6-8

Frozen Daiquiries

1 large can of Minute Maid Limeade
1 large can of water
1 1/2 large cans of white rum
2 pints ginger ale
2 drops green food coloring - optional

Combine everything but the ginger ale - then add the ginger ale slowly and combine completely.
Pour into airtight containers and freeze. When ready to serve, scoop into martini glasses and garnish with a lime slice.

Let the party begin!

Blueberry Rx

As we have just learned in the previous post: a blueberry dessert a day keeps the doctor away...right? So, in the spirit of good health, I would like to share with you another yummy blueberry recipe given to me by my friend Peggy. After taking my first bite, I could only say THANK YOU PEGGY for sharing! The crust on this divine tart is so buttery and delicious, and the combination of the cooked blueberries topped with the uncooked blueberries at the end is just... well, perfect!


Pre-heat oven to 400*

1 cup plus 2 Tbls. flour, divided
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbls. plus 2/3 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 Tbls. white vinegar
5 cups blueberries, divided
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Mix 1 cup flour, salt, and 2 Tbls. sugar in Cuisinart. Add the butter in pieces and pulse until crumbly. Sprinkle in the vinegar (dough will come together) Press onto the bottom and 1/4" up the sides of a 9" springform pan. Place 3 cups
of the blueberries on top of the crust. Mix together 2 Tbls. flour, 2/3 cup sugar, and the cinnamon. Sprinkle over the blueberries. Bake for 50 - 60 minutes until crust is golden brown, and the blueberries are bubbling. Remove from oven and spread the remaining 2 cups of blueberries over the top. Cool.. serve with ice cream.. take your first bite.. and altogether now, say "THANK YOU PEGGY"!

The Best Little Anti-Oxidant Around

We all know the beneficial health qualities of blueberries, and let's face it...aren't they cuter and more fun than broccoli? To prove it, I am going to share a fabulous blueberry pound cake recipe with you. It is everything you want a pound cake to be - rich, dense and buttery, with the added bonus of now it's good for you too!

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

For the cake:

Pre-heat oven to 350*

1/3 cup of whole milk
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 Tbls, pure vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup freshly grated lemon zest (about 5 lemons)
2 - 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, tossed with 1 1/2 tbls. flour

For the syrup

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar

In a small bowl whisk together the milk, the eggs, and the vanilla. In another bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In the mixer cream the butter with the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and the zest until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture alternately with the egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating the batter after each addition until it is just combined. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries. Spoon 1/3 of the batter into a greased and floured 10 inch bundt pan, spreading it evenly, and sprinkle 1/2 cup of the remaining blueberries over it. Spoon half the remaining batter into the pan, spreading it evenly, and sprinkle 1/2 of the remaining blueberries over it. Spoon the remaining batter into the pan, spreading it evenly, sprinkle the remaining bluberries over it. Bake in the middle of a 350* oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until golden and a tester comes out clean...don't over bake.

Make the syrup while the cake is baking: In a small saucepan combine the lemon juice and the sugar, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissloved, and remove the pan from the heat. When the cake comes out of the oven, poke the top immediately all over with a wooden skewer, and brush it with half the syrup. Let the cake cool in the pan, on a rack, for 15 minutes, invert it onto the rack, and poke it all over with the skewer. Brush the cake with the remaining syrup and let it cool completely.

This cake stands on its own, but you could gild the lily and serve it with a dollop of creme fraiche or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Puff Pastry Pizza Appetizer #1

This is a great summer appetizer, again using fresh basil and tomatoes. You can also use it to accompany a large salad for a light dinner.

Puff Pastry Pizza #1

1 large bunch of basil - save some small pretty ones for garnish
2 large sweet onions - sliced, and caramelized - season with s & p
4-6 plum tomatoes, sliced
1 wedge good quality Parmesan cheese, shaved
3 tbls. good quality olive oil
1 beaten egg white
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry

Preheat oven to 375*

Chop, chop, chop basil - saving some for garnish

In a bowl combine 3 tbls. olive oil, and chopped basil
Lightly roll out puff pastry sheets - cut each sheet into 1/4's and crimp edges. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and brush with beaten egg white.
Blot tomato slices with paper towels. Place 4 slices on each square of puff pastry.
Brush liberally with the basil / olive oil mixture
Top with some of the carmelized onions and shaved Parmesan

Bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Garnish decoratively with saved basil leaves

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Perfect Pesto

Now that summer is finally here, I am enjoying all the fresh flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs that are available at the Farmer's Markets in the area. For the last few weeks I have gotten the most amazing peonies from a vendor at the Northfield Farmer's Market where I am also a vendor selling my baked goods. These peonies are so lush and voluptuous and out of control gorgeous, they make me smile each time I look at them. They are my favorite "feel good" flower.

I have also been purchasing lovely aromatic basil and thought I would post a recipe for my favorite pesto sauce along with a simple pasta sauce recipe using fresh, roasted tomatoes.

Perfect Pesto

3 cups fresh basil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly grated, good quality Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Simple!

Roasted Tomato and Pesto Pasta

6 - 8 medium plum tomatoes
1 Tbls. good quality olive oil
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 16 oz. box penne or rigatoni
7 0z. pesto

Preheat oven to 400*

Cut tomatoes into 1/4's and remove seeds. Toss tomatoes with olive oil, pepper and salt. Roast for 20 minutes turning once.
Bring large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tbls. of Kosher salt - add penne and boil until al dente - drain - put back in pot and toss with pesto sauce and roasted tomatoes. Serve hot or room temperature. Fresh, easy and delicious!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fletcher's Favorite Cookies

O.K. one more Fletcher story...only because he had such good taste.

It was a few days before Christmas. I had spent the entire day baking. One of the things I had made were 6 dozen triple chocolate kids faves...and soon to be Fletcher's. After they had cooled, I put them in a large Rubbermaid container on my dresser, in my bedroom (don't ask...I was running out of room) uncovered, until I was sure they were completely cooled. Later that night I was folding laundry on my bed, day dreaming, and my eyes zeroed in on the container.
The EMPTY container. It took a second for this to sink in - I was tired and my brain was refusing to process this news. I ran over to the container for a better look thinking "did I put those cookies somewhere else?" Sadly, the answer was NO. Again, there wasn't a crumb in sight - not in the container, not on the dresser, not on the rug. 6 DOZEN TRIPLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES...GONE! Now, I'm sure you know, chocolate is toxic to dogs. I called my vet and he advised confining him in a room, leaving him water, and unless he started convulsing, wait and see what happens. So...we put him in the laundry room, with a bowl of water and when we woke up the next morning to check on him, nothing seemed amiss. Until I refreshed his water bowl and he started drinking. Well, I don't want to get too graphic here but let's say we had a lot of clean up to do for the next 2 days. Yes, he survived (maybe because he was 90 lbs. and I didn't kill him) and these cookies became known as Fletcher's Favorite... as my son said, trying to console me, "Mom, he really liked them, he ate them all."

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES (single recipe - makes 3 dozen)

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
3 oz. bitter sweet chocolate
6 Tbls. butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs, room temp.
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (or you can substitute same amount quartered Rollo candies...yum!)
1 cup walnuts (I don't use them - my kids hate nuts)

Preheat oven to 350* line cookie sheets with parchment paper

Melt semi-sweet and bitter- sweet chocolates with butter over low heat until smooth. Cool. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla together until fluffy (takes about 5 minutes). Add chocolate mixture, then flour mixture. Beat until blended. Stir in chips (or Rollos) and nuts (if using). Drop by tablespoonfuls on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes - the centers should still look soft. Don't over bake. Let pans cool on racks before removing cookies to racks to cool completely.

If you have a dog... guard them with your life!