Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dinner with Julia - A Christmas Present to Myself

Monday Morning Post

In case you're wondering why my Monday morning posts are showing up on Thursday or Saturday or the following week, it's because my blog host(Blogspot.com) seems to be having trouble and I can't always get on to blog. I thought this was just a loading blip but I researched it a little this AM and found that it's a common problem they're working on.

So, I'll keep plugging away until they fix it. I'll blog when I can, but I'll still strive for Monday morning.

I bought myself a Christmas present of the Julie & Julia DVD and have been watching it non stop since then. It is by far one of my favorite movies!

The movie encouraged me to get out my old copy of Julia'a Mastering the Art of French Cooking which I bought many years ago - some where around 1970 or so.

It's still in pristine condition because I never cooked anything from it. Oh, I skimmed the pages when I got it, only to decide (wrongly) that the recipes were too difficult and too time consuming to prepare.

Now, some 40 years later, I actually started to read the book and discovered that the recipes are purpose-ly long because Julia wanted to explain in detail what you need to do to have the dish come out perfectly. (Is this how people treat my recipes & cook books? They don't really read them and make the recipes in a hap-hazzard way? Oh, my.)

Anyway, I followed Julia's instructions about not skipping steps or doing things differently - even though I thought I knew better.

Well, my dears, just like in the movie, I stood over my pots of simmering stew and fluffy bowls of gossimer icings, spoon in hand and sighed, yum, over and over again.

Oh, the complexity of flavors. It was art for the palate. I am so in love with her cooking!

Yesterday, I made Coq au Vin and Orange Frosted Sponge Cake. It took me the whole day but when dinner time rolled around, it was food for the gods.

I wanted to lick the plate clean.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Great Holiday Cookie Check Up

Monday Morning Post

Cookies not coming out like they used to?

The problem isn't you, it's your ingredients!

1. Always use name brand butter.
Store brands and no brand butter can vary widely in the amount of water it contains. Water makes cookies spread. Name brands are consistent.

2. Never bake with margarine.
Margarine is not reliable. Even if your recipe calls for margarine, they'll turn out better with butter.

3. Use name brand flour.
Like butter, store brand and no brand flour is inconsistent. Their protein contents can vary widely resulting in a whole lot of problems from tough cookies to dough that's impossible to roll. Find a name brand you like and stick with that.

4. Check your sugar.
Always use 100%, regular grind sugar without any additives. No dextrose. No superfine grind. Read the labels, even it's a brand you've used for years.


Q. I want to cut a cookie recipe in half but it only calls for 1 egg.

How do I measure 1/2 an egg?

A. The average large or extra large egg measures about 4 tablespoons.

When you only need 1/2 an egg crack the egg into a bowl and whisk it well.

Measure 2 tablespoons for your recipe.

Save the remaining 2 tablespoons for another recipe or add it to your compost pile.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Hors d'oeuvres Workshop 2009

Monday Morning Post

It was snowing outside but it was toasty warm inside as we got into the kitchen and whipped up batches of easy, elegant and oh, so yummy holiday hors d'oeuvres.

We made dozens of gooey treats and the group went home with even more recipes to try out at their own holiday parties.

Here's the high lights:
Crab Cocktail Spread
Chilled Turkey Breast with White Wine and Mustard Sauce
Bubbling Brie with Cashews and Caramel
Pineapple Rum Sausages
Merry, Cherry Tomatoes
Mini Ruben's
Brie with Ported Cranberries

We sampled wine and pumpkin nog. Class participants were happy to take home the leftovers!

From Fast & Fabulous Holiday Hors d'oeuvres Workshop at Cheesecake Farms

Pumpkin Nog
No alcohol in the very healthy holiday drink but no one will ever know!

Makes 1 quart nog

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 large piece fresh ginger (about 1 1/2 inches long - peeled and sliced into thirds)
1 quart milk, light cream , half & half or combination (soy or coconut milk is OK)

In a small pot, whisk water, sugar, spice & ginger together. Cover. Bring to a boil on high. Remove cover. Cook, whisking, until sugar dissolves - about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool. Remove ginger and discard. Chill.

At serving time, combine with milk or cream.


Want more recipes and ideas?
Couldn't Make The Workshop?

Get all 16 hors d'oeuvre recipes from the workshop for just $6.95 at http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

6 scrumptious punch, nog, wassail & liquor recipes
4 easy desserts for a crowd recipes
How to Choose and Serve A Good Wine
Party Time!
(Tips to make your party memorable for the guests and easy on you)

That's 26 recipes plus
How to Choose and Serve A Good Wine and Party Time!

Your party will be a smash!