Monday, January 31, 2011

There is another round of snow moving into Kansas City, only this time it will be preceded by freezing rain. Ah….the joys of winter in the Midwest! The grocery store was full of people all day; this evening the shelves were empty. My refrigerator is well stocked with soup-making ingredients and I have a case of Coke Zero. I won’t starve.


Luckily, I have a 30” x 40” canvas on which a new painting is underway. With the forecast, I plan on spend all day tomorrow and Tuesday painting! I haven’t painted at home for months. I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t been very creative for the last 2 months. It is time!

The weather has forced thousands of Canada Geese to winter in Johnson County, many of which are hanging out in my neighborhood. I am in one of the last houses in Overland Park. You look out my backdoor and all you see is open fields….covered with geese. They swim and sleep on a nearby park lake and they dine in my backyard! There are times when the sky overhead is full of Vs with the lead goose forging ahead; the air full of their honking . Speaking of their honking, did you know the honk of the female is different than that of the male? Since the female is identical in appearance to the male, I suppose having a different honk makes identification easier. One last note on the goose…they live anywhere from 10 to 24 years…that is, if they avoid hunting season! The oldest known wild Canada Goose was 30 years 4 months old. I’m not sure how they know that, but that is the record. Isn't it amazing what you can find out when you “Google”?

Since I appear to be stuck on the goose, here is a Mario Batali recipe you might want to try if you have a goose breast in the freezer. I know juniper berries are not in most kitchens here in the US, but don’t skip or substitute, buy them and try them.

This goose has a definite European flair to it. The flavors are very German.

Stuffed Goose Breast with Caraway and Apples

Serves: 4 servings

1 large whole goose breast, removed from bone
4 juniper berries, smashed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
 1/4 cup olive oil plus 4 tablespoons
 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
 2 medium onions, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
 3 green apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1-inch dice
 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
 2 boiled potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
 1/2 cup bread crumbs
 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/2 cup
 1 pinch ground cloves
 1 egg
Lay breast out in a non-reactive baking pan. In a mixing bowl, stir together juniper, rosemary, olive oil and vinegar and pour over breast. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
In a 14-inch saute pan, heat remaining oil over medium heat and add onions. Cook until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add apples, caraway and cooked potatoes and cook another 10 minutes, or until apples have started to soften. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add bread crumbs, parsley, cloves, egg, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove goose from marinade, brush off and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and lay flat on cutting board, skin side down. Lay stuffing out evenly over goose and roll up like a jelly roll. Tie securely with butcher's twine and place in roasting pan. Roast in oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Remove, allow to rest 10 minutes and carve. Serve with spiced white cabbage.

Spiced White Cabbage
Serves: 4 servings
 1 head white cabbage, cut into 1/2-inch ribbons
 4 tablespoons olive oil from Garda
 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
 2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
 1-ounce speck, cut into matchsticks
 Juice of 1 lemon
Boil cabbage ribbons 20 minutes in lightly salted water. Drain and cool. In a 14-inch saute pan, heat olive oil until smoking. Add cumin, horseradish, pepper and speck and toss to coat. Add cabbage and toss again. Cook 8 to 10 minutes until soft and well-seasoned. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with sliced goose breast.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

You say Macaroon, I say Macaron!


There is this cookie called a coconut macaroon….

                                        there is also the delightful Italian Almond Macaroon…..



Italian Macaroon
 and then there is a heavenly bit of pleasure called a French Macaron.

Yes,  all 3 are cookies, but that is about all they have in common.  
The first macaroons were almond meringue cookies similar to today’s amaretti, with a crisp crust and a soft interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste (a combination of equal parts of ground blanched almonds and sugar, mixed with egg whites—today glucose or corn syrup can be substituted). The name of the cookie comes from the Italian word for paste, maccarone (mah-kah-ROW-nay), and is also the word for pasta/macaroni and dumplings.
While origins can be murky, some culinary historians claim that that macaroons can be traced to an Italian monastery—where they were modeled after the monks’ belly buttons!

Macaroons came to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II. Two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth, seeking asylum in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution (1789-1799), paid for their housing by baking and selling the macaroon cookies, and thus became known as the “Macaroon Sisters” (the French word is macaron, pronounced mah-kah-RONE).

Of course, Catherine didn’t tell me this story herself….so who knows, and today both the Italians and the French claim the cookie as their own. Both are wonderful and in my humble opinion, a hundred times better than America’s Coconut Macaroon. So, I am going to remove the coconut version from the table for today.

Colmar, France
In 2002, I experienced my first French Macaron in Colmar, France. I was immediately captivated by the luscious colors and fillings. It may well be the Queen of the versatile cookie!

Colmar is located in the Alsace region of France. Surrounded by vineyards, full of spectacular restaurants, Colmar is known as the Venice of France. Lovely canals meander through the town, making Colmar one of the world’s most beautiful cities in Europe as well as one of the most photographed. But to me….it was the sparkling glass and glistening highly polished brass of the dessert display cabinets full of beautiful French pastries in delicate pastel colors that I remember the most. I must have stood before that display for 20 minutes trying to decide which flavor and color of Macaron that I wanted. Unless you’ve experienced it, there is no way to imagine the joy of that moment! An absolutely perfect pastel yellow lemon macaron and a cup of hot tea in a beautiful porcelain tea cup, so thin you could almost see through it. The tablecloths were starched and ironed to perfection as was our server’s long apron. All together, it was a beautiful experience!


Ortigia, Sicily
As for my introduction to the Italian Macaroon, it came in 2008 in Ortigia, Sicily. We stayed in a beautiful old hotel with a 4 star rating. There, resting on my pillow each evening, was a Italian Macaroon. Throughout Sicily, we found these little cookies individually wrapped and left in our rooms to say goodnight.

So what brings all this chatter about Macaroons/Macarons? Let me tell you how I spent close to 4 hours of my day.

About 8 years ago, I became a member of Les Dames D”Escoffier, a world wide philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality. The invitation-only membership, composed of 27 individual chapters across the United States and Canada, is highly diversified and reflects the multifaceted fields of contemporary gastronomy and hospitality. We are so fortunate to have a chapter here in the Kansas City area. I thoroughly enjoyed the organization, the programs and my fellow members, until Arch was diagnosed with cancer. I found my time for organizations was limited, so I chose to take a leave of absence.


Chef Carter Holton

http://www.inkkc.com/content/my-essentials-chef-carter-holton-23

                                       Here it is 6 years later, and I finally returned to the chapter.
Today I attended a class and demonstration by Chef Carter Holton, held in the beautiful kitchens of Portfolio Kitchen and Home at 8027 State Line, Kansas City, Mo. Portfolio is owned by Geri Higgins.
Chef Carter prepared literally dozens and dozens of French Macarons, all in beautiful colors and amazing flavors. Carter Holton is the pastry chef for La Fou Frog, as well as The River Club here in Kansas City and teaches for The International Culinary School at The Art Institutes International - Kansas City. He received his degree from the Culinary Institute of America, the CIA.

He started the class by preparing a dark chocolate ganache with lime zest as the filling for the lime macarons he prepared afterwards. The flavors for the day were Strawberry, Lemon Poppy Seed, Orange, Almond, Chocolate and Lavender.
With humor and authority, Carter prepared our treats. explaining his procedure as we watched carefully. Making a perfect Macaron is not the easiest thing in the world. Those small colorful pillows held together with creamy ganache are a lot of work! Most of the class attendees declared their desire to order the Macarons from Carter rather than rushing home to make their own! In all honesty, I was pretty fired up as I left Portfolio, but on returning home I had second and possibly third thoughts. I haven’t given up totally, I just need to get my ducks in a row, hopefully insuring success. I need to go shopping for perforated bottom sheet pans for baking, several more Silpats for lining those sheet pans, and a scale for measuring ingredients by grams. This making Macarons is not like throwing together a batch of chocolate chip cookies!

For now, I am not going to give you Carter’s recipe. I need to make them a few times, working with his written recipe and instructions as well as trying to incorporate the notes I made as he spoke about the procedure for making the finest macaron. So, stay tuned, I will keep you posted! In the meantime, if you have a French bakery near you, go have a cup of tea and a French Macaron; I’ll be doing the same.


While most food blogs are featuring food for Super Bowl Sunday, there are a few who are not out there with recipes for dips, chili and brisket. Now I love dip, I love chili, I love brisket….but it is refreshing to see a recipe for something else!


Take, for instance, one of my favorite blogs ,Proud Italian Cook. I don’t know the name of the proud Italian cook, but I do know I love the way she looks at food and cooking. She describes herself as “ a wife, mother, Gramma, mother-in-law, and self proclaimed "Foodie". Especially Italian foods!” She is in Real Estate in the Chicago area.
Go to her blog by clicking on http://prouditaliancook.blogspot.com/
Check out her recipe for Marsala Baked Pears posted on Wednesday the 26th. Of course I am a big fan of Marsala and I adore pears, but doesn’t that cover everyone? Check out her blog, I think you will enjoy it.

Yes, I know the guys aren’t going to be thrilled with a dessert to go with their beer and football, but once they taste these pears, they may feel you have scored a touchdown!

Marsala is a fortified wine produced in Sicily. During my trip to Sicily in 2008, I drank wine from one end of that big island to the other, but it wasn't until I tasted the Marsala that I became dedicated to learning more, tasting more, experimenting in the kitchen more! Every now and then, I Google "Marsala recipes" just for the fun of it and always enjoy some of the inventive ways to incorporate Marsala!

Okay, now for the guys and their Super Bowl food....hey, I have a lot of male readers. I must keep them happy! So, here is a warm beer cheese dip. Get out the chafing dish or fondue pot!

BEER-CHEESE DIP because you can't have a Super Bowl without Velveeta....I think it is a law


1 lb. process cheese spread loaf, cut into pieces
1/2 cup regular or non-alcoholic beer (any brand)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper sauce (make it as hot as you like)
bite-sized vegetables, bread cubes, or pretzels for dipping

Heat cheese and beer in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly, until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the red pepper sauce.
Remove mixture and place in an earthenware fondue dish, electric cooking pot, or chafing dish. Keep warm on low heat setting.
Serve with vegetables, bread, or pretzels!

If you would prefer using cheddar, try this one.

1 round pumpernickel bread (unsliced)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 c. beer
Garlic to taste (1/4 tsp.)

Mix all ingredients together except for the bread. Cut off the top of the bread, then pull out the soft center of the bread, making sure you leave the wall of the bread bowl at least an inch thick. Pour the beer/cheese mixture into the bread bowl, replace the top and wrap in foil. Bake in 400 degree oven for 30 minute. Place bread bowl in center of platter, suround with crackers and or corn chips. Place a serrated knife on platter also for cutting the bread bowl into bite sized pieces.  Dip pieces of bread in cheese.

If you prefer a cold beer cheese, mix the same ingredients in above recipe, chill and serve with chunks of the bread
  As for me....I'm going for the Marsala Pears!  Thank you Proud Italian Cook!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

During the wintertime, I find it easier to sit at the computer and research my family’s genealogy. Hours literally fly by as I search for and read every little bit of information I can find. I am always amazed over how much time and effort my Aunt Lou Emma Jones had to devote to the research. She spent years tracing the Ogg side of the family, no computer, lots of leg work. She would travel by car to many small Midwest towns seeking cemeteries, hoping to locate a missing headstone or two. Snail mail was her only link to distant possible relatives, with weeks passing by between letters.


Now, all I have to do is search through Ancestry.com. I can Google a name, a map, or an event; and then fill in the spaces in my Family Tree software. Better yet, today there are 5 or 6, maybe more, web pages with search engines, all connected to make the search more complete, more thorough. And this is world wide! Yes, I have it much easier than Aunt Lou.

The Ogg family genealogy goes back to the year 1325. They lived in Aberdeenshire on the northeast coast of Scotland. The “Foodie” in me requires that I research the foods they ate, as well as how they cooked. I’ve even developed an interest in the history of golf and the production of Scotch, and I don’t enjoy either! It is all just part of the overall picture of my ancestors.

I’ve never been enthralled with the food of Great Britain. It always seemed pretty boring to me. So, I went to the library and started reading cookbooks on the foods of Scotland, both old and new. As with any region, the menu was developed due to the food available. Northeastern Scotland, Aberdeenshire in particular, relied on fish from the sea as well as lamb and beef. Recently, as I was driving down to the studio, I passed a field of black cattle; they each had a near perfect wide band of white around their middle, much like a belt. I truly was fascinated by their stark design. I asked around and someone told me they were referred to as “Oreo cows”. When I returned home to my computer, Mr Google helped me discover they are Galloway Cattle, a Scottish breed. They are one of only a few breeds developed for the meat rather than dairy or as draft for pulling heavy loads. Their meat is excellent, lean and delicious.

Today, in the age of wonderful inns and restaurants, many setup in the ancient castles, the menu has become a blend of the ancient as well as the new sophisticated and rich food. Their recipes are delightful to read, full of strange names and weird spelling. Do you have any idea what a collop is? Or a stovie? How about clapshot? Actually, most of them sound like some accidental injury to a limb! I think the name that upsets me the most is skink…. which simply means soup. Somehow a bowl of skink just doesn’t do it for me! But I did discover a recipe for a soup featuring a cheese from Aberdeenshire called Strathdon Blue.

The soup is Fennel and Strathdon Blue….I don’t think I will add skink to the name. I will call the Maitre Fromager, the cheese expert, at Dean and Deluca to see if he carries Strathdon Blue. If not, maybe he can order it. I think I need to try it, I need the connection with my ancestors. Not to mention how much I love blue veined cheeses.

Here is the recipe in case you want to try it also.

Fennel and Strathdon Blue Soup


Serves 4

2 tablespoons butter
3 bulbs fennel, washed and roughly chopped
2 leeks, white part only, chopped
4 ounces of peeled and chopped potato
2 ½ cups chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup milk
4 ounces Strathdon blue cheese
2/3 cup half and half

In a large pan, melt the butter and sweat the fennel and leeks in the butter until softened; do not allow to brown.

Add the finely diced potato and mix together to coat in butter. Add the stock, bring to a boil and then simmer gently until the potatoes are soft. Season with pepper and add the milk and cheese; return to the boil then remove from the heat.

Allow to cool slightly and then blend totally. A blender will work better than a food processor.
Stir in the cream, check for seasoning, and serve. If reheating is necessary, do it gently over very low heat.

There is one other recipe I am anxious to try, very Scottish. Orange Marmalade from Aberdeenshire. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Have you ever prepared a dish that you think is possibly the most perfect thing you ever ate? Rest assured, it doesn’t happen often. Now, let me say, Prime Rib and a Porterhouse Steak are purely perfect, they stand on their own. This dish brings a combination of foods and flavors to bring you the perfect “dish”.

About 25 years ago - a “wondrous jewel of a food store” opened on Manhattan's Upper West Side. It was christened The Silver Palate. Its purpose was to prepare food as though it were cooked at home and have it ready for their thousands of customers to pick up and take home.

In November 2007, the Cookbook of the Month was The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. It is a wonderful real “go to” cookbook. Among the many recipes is Chicken Marbella.

Chicken Marbella was the first main-course dish offered at The Silver Palate, and the distinctive colors and flavors of the prunes, olives and capers have kept it a favorite for years. It's good hot or at room temperature. When prepared with small drumsticks and wings, it makes a delicious hors d'oeuvre. The overnight marinating is essential to the moistness of the finished product: the chicken keeps and even improves over several days of refrigeration; it travels well and makes excellent picnic fare.

As I said, a most perfect food….

Chicken Marbella for 12 (recipe may be halved to serve 6)

photographer unknown
4 chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each, quartered
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives, whole
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Somerset Ridge Chardonnay
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine chicken quarters, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.

With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat. It is marvelous served with Polenta, Mashed Potatoes or Rice Pilaf.

To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter. If chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juices over chicken.

Okay, back up….see that line “Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.”? Don’t skip this part, no matter what you might be thinking of chicken with brown sugar. Trust me! This dish, comprised of chicken, prunes, capers and olives is incredible.

I hope to be interviewing Jeanne Mackay of The Tasteful Olive, in downtown Overland Park, early next week. We have discussed the possibility of me designing several recipes featuring her wonderful olive oils and balsamic vinegars, maybe next week we will figure it out. Have you tried her Blood Orange Infused Olive Oil yet? Please do, it is heavenly! Check out her blog   http://www.thetastefulolive.com/blog.asp
So, stay tuned, more to come!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

When cabin fever strikes, it is best to convince yourself that life is good. Being stuck at home, snowbound, unable to shovel yourself out to rejoin civilization, isn’t all bad. After all, you can use this time to clean out closets, shred old papers, and watch endless movies on the Hallmark channel. And don’t forget, there is always the proverbial sock drawer.

I was well on my way to becoming curmudgeonly last evening, as I watched the snow piling up, blocking all hope of exiting the garage ever again. I was steadily becoming bad-tempered, disagreeable….ah yes, dare I say, PO’d?

I wasn’t even in the mood to make soup…and you know how important soup making is to me. What was I to do? Should I sit and become more disagreeable, even though there was no one here to suffer from my bad mood? Or should I find an outlet of some sort to focus on until the sun comes up and the snowplows arrive in my neighborhood?
After checking the lineup on television, I decided to settle in for the evening in my big comfy leather chair and watch Modern Family followed by Off the Map. They were a distraction for a while......until the Anaconda scene. A non-venomous snake that lives in or near water and in trees, is the largest snake in the boa family. It had wrapped itself around one of the characters and was crushing the life out of him in preparation of swallowing him whole, I suppose. Thank heavens it didn’t show that part! Anyway, all the funny parts of Modern Family were quickly forgotten….Kay Tucker hates snakes.

I desperately checked the DVR to see if there was anything I had recorded that I should watch….and there it was. The Train is a Burt Lancaster movie made in the 60s, telling the story of how the Germans tried to take all of the masterpieces of art from the museum in Paris to Berlin at the end of the war. It sounded good to me. I lit the fireplace and I knew there was one last thing….a cup of coffee with Bailey’s. I realized it would more sense to drink something warm and very French in honor of all those beautiful paintings.

That is when it hit me…. Cafè Amore! I haven’t had one in years.

One year for our anniversary, I made a traditional French dinner for Arch… Chateaubriand, a seared and roasted beef tenderloin with wine sauce. I also served chateau potatoes, or as Arch said “Ahhhhh, fried potatoes!” It was a great dinner, a fun evening and we both had our first Cafè Amore.

In one of your “good coffee cups”, pour 1 oz of Cognac, 1 oz of amaretto (an almond liqueur). Add the hot coffee, making sure you leave room to top it off with lots of whipped cream! Sprinkle shaved almonds on top of the cream.
So, last night I watched my movie, by the fire, with the snow falling softly outside my window. On the table beside me there was a beautiful steaming cup of Cafè Amore, in which I used the last of my Arch’s Cognac.

If I were to toast the event in French, I would say “A votre santé” (to your health). I would normally give my favorite Italian toast, “Cin cin”. But I just couldn’t. Even though the bad guys were the Germans, my German was no bad guy. So a simple toast of "Auf uns!" was my toast….”To Us!”


Halleluiah! They are shoveling my driveway! Life is good!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More snow is predicted for tomorrow!

 I certainly feel sorry for all the parents who will have children home….AGAIN….due to school closings! Here in Johnson County, the public schools have to be in session so many days during the school year, so it looks like all the little children will be going to class into the middle of June unless the weather clears up!

Of course, when the schools are closed because of snow days, the studio is definitely not on my schedule. There is so much work to be done and I want to start a new painting….maybe next week.
Since it will be snowing all day tomorrow, I am going to bake bread again. It is my favorite thing to do on a snowy day. Daughter Betsy wants to make German Pretzels, so that is probably what we will do. I may also make some Schiacciata – a classic Tuscan Flatbread. If I had been on the ball (which doesn’t happen often) I would have gone to my favorite deli and stocked up on German sausages and some great Havarti, my favorite cheese. Werner’s Specialty Foods in Mission, Kansas is a great source for handmade traditional sausages. Dave and Judy Miller, the owners, carry many hard to find European foods, and David’s brats are highly respected! Here are some email addresses for them in case you want to check on the availability of certain items. wernerswurst@hotmail.com wernerswurst@yahoo.com and dmiller167@kc.rr.com.

Werner’s is located in Mission, Kansas on Johnson Drive. Just walking in the door is a treat….the aromas are incredible. Sure wish I had some of their Havarti to pop into a Pretzel roll!
Check out their webpage http://www.wernerswurst.com there you will find their address and phone number as well as menus, specialty items, catering info, etc. If you go around lunch, you can treat yourself to a schnitzel sandwich! If I were you, I’d have them put a slice of Havarti on it!

Back to the pretzels….I’ve mentioned German pretzels several times in the 2 years I’ve been writing my blog, but I have never given you a recipe. There is a reason for that. True German pretzels are dipped in a lye solution before baking, and I just can’t encourage you to do that. But, I can encourage you to visit any one of the dozens of web pages featuring recipes for the authentic as well as some featuring a baking soda bath for your pretzels. I can only suggest you Google German Pretzel recipes and do a little reading. I will tell you this, my favorite is a King Arthur Flour recipe which you will find here http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/classic-pretzels-recipe Yes, I do order the non-diastatic malt powder from King Arthur, and it makes all of the difference in the world.
I should also tell you that when you Google the pretzels, there are several web pages with step by step instructions on shaping and dipping your pretzels, complete with photographs. It would be a good thing to read them first.
One other tip….when you go to Werner’s, buy some Black Forest ham, sliced fairly thin. Open up a warm freshly baked pretzel, add a little butter and tuck that Black Forest ham and a little Havarti or Swiss cheese in it and get yourself a glass of Riesling wine or a cold beer and prepare to feel like you are living the good life!

A big pot of soup is on everyone’s mind this time of year. I have shared so many of my favorites over the last 2 years, but I think I have another one for you.
Here is a soup that is a perfect companion for a pretzel. Simply skip the slices of bread, grate the cheese and sprinkle on top of each serving of soup, then dip your pretzel in the soup! YUM! Hope you enjoy it!

Riesling Cheese Soup

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onions
1 cup diced cauliflower
2 potatoes, cut into 1/2"cubes
1/2 cup carrots, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup Somerset Ridge Vineyard Riesling Wine
4 cups chicken stock
4 ounces Canadian bacon, diced
5 ounces Gouda cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil on medium-high heat in a 1.5-quart saucepan. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add cauliflower, carrots and potato; sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and bring to a boil. In a small skillet, heat the butter. Add the Canadian bacon and sauté until lightly browned. Add bacon to soup. Reduce heat to low and cover, simmering until vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes). Pour soup into four individual flameproof crocks or bowls. Top each portion with one-quarter of the cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese is bubbly. Serve immediately with German Pretzels.

With the forecast, I’d better start looking for the next soup I will share with you. Spring is NOT just around the corner!
For you dear sweet loved ones enjoying the warmth and sunshine in Palm Springs,
I don't have a recipe for you, but please enjoy your weather!
Kiss Rudy for me!


Monday, January 17, 2011

The world has definitely left me behind…..where have I been? This weekend I watched 2 programs that I haven’t seen in years. Saturday night I watched the Miss America pageant and Sunday evening I watched the Golden Globes.
Let me start with Miss America. My, oh my, how things have changed! It is not that the young women appeared to be less than lady-like; they just did not give the appearance of elegance. Beautiful, of course, but not Miss America quality! And what was with the bikinis? Last time I saw the pageant, it was one piece swimsuits! And the evening gowns…remember when the stage had to be twice to three times wider because of all the gowns? Now they are skintight, split up to the upper thigh! And did they name a Miss Congeniality and I missed it? And when did the pageant move to Vegas?
As for the result of the pageant, I would have chosen Miss Hawaii; at least her hair looked well groomed. The new Miss America is Miss Nebraska, who looked like she was wearing a really bad wig that had slipped too far forward on her head. I will probably not watch it again for sometime, possibly never again.

Now, for the Golden Globes. I truly have no idea when I saw the last one. I immediately texted my daughter asking who the emcee was! Never heard of him….sorry, still don’t know who he is, but he was very funny. I particularly enjoyed his introduction of Bruce Willis….introduced him as Ashton Kutcher’s father! He may have gone a little too far by saying the waiters had all been hauled off by the immigration guys. The audience sort of gave a nervous groan.
I was delighted to see some of the older stars, and I do know some of the younger stars, I think. I love movies, so I actually had seen some of the movies that were nominated.

                                               But I still don’t know who Ricky Gervais is!

Strangely enough, while I was trying to remember when I last watched a Golden Globes show, something made me remember a great bowl of Hot and Sour Soup. Don’t ask me what….I don’t have a clue. Maybe I was just hungry. More than likely it was because my mind wandered back to the Chinese cookbook I was reading earier. Anyway, I do love the combination of flavors of Hot and Sour.
Truthfully, it is the only way I have ever liked tofu….and actually, in this soup, I love tofu! I don’t keep all of the ingredients on hand, my pantry definitely leans toward Italy, not China! So a trip to the grocery store is necessary. Fortunately we have several excellent oriental markets, a new international market, and Whole Foods. So the ingredients are no problem.

Hot and Sour Soup
6 dried Chinese black fungus
6 dried wood ear, black, cloud, straw, or shiitake mushrooms, or one bunch of fresh enoki mushrooms
5 dried lily buds
One can of bamboo shoots
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of white vinegar or rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
4 cups of chicken broth
1/2 block of firm tofu, diced into small cubes
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
3 scallions, diced
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of finely ground white pepper (do not substitute with black pepper!)
1/4 teaspoon of chili oil (optional)
Cilantro (optional)

Pour boiling water over the mushrooms until the mushrooms are covered and allow them to soak for 20 minutes, turning the mushrooms over occasionally. It may not seem like a lot but they will grow quite a bit. After soaking remove any woody ends with a knife. Cut mushrooms into strips. Reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid and mix with the cornstarch. (If using fresh enoki mushrooms set aside as they do not need to soak).
Pour boiling water over the lily buds until covered and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Cut the buds crosswise then tear them up into a few bunches.
Mix the vinegars and soy sauce together and set aside. Open the can of bamboo shoots, drain well, and cut the shoots lengthwise into strips.
Place the chicken broth into a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the tofu, mushrooms, lily buds, bamboo shoots, vinegar mixture, and cornstarch mixture. Mix and bring back to a boil. Once it comes to a boil remove from heat. While stirring the soup slowly pour the egg into the broth in a small steam while stirring the soup allowing the egg to instantly cook and feather into the soup.

I just did a little proof reading of this blog....I am indeed rather strange....from Miss America to Chinese Hot and Sour with a moment wondering about a British performer.
I may need to take a day or two off.....
While I'm getting some rest, check out this video my friend Dave sent me. Everything you need to know about making French croisants! Enjoy!   http://www.wimp.com/howcroissants

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Charcutepalooza!

Judy Witts Francini
What a word! Charcutepalooza!  As you know, I am a big fan of pork, even though I did take a nasty tumble because of it.  I still think it is terrific, so when I catch a blog featuring meat, I am all over it. I want each of you to visit my friend's blog and read about the festival in Tuscany that is all about meat. It is called....you guessed it....Charcutepalooza! Go to http://www.divinacucina-blog.com/  and check it out. Judy Witts Francini was my guide while I was in Sicily for 2 weeks. She is the guide of all guides. What she doesn't know about Italy and food you simply don't need to know!
While you are visiting her blog, Over a Tuscan Stove, click on the "TV" tab and watch the video of Judy with
Gary Rhodes of " Rhodes Across Italy" which was filmed for the BBC. Judy gave him a tour of the Florence Central Market. I am so jealous!
If you are going to travel to Italy, contact Judy....trust me, she will show you the real Italy! As with our own country, food has played a major role in Italy's history. If you want to know more, visit http://ezinearticles.com/?The-History-Of-Italian-Food&id=701161 for a history on Italian food. But of course, there is nothing like first hand experience. Travel to Italy and call upon Judy to guide you! Her contact information is available on her blog.

While you are reading her blog, go to search and enter The Secrets of Sugo -Tuscan Ragu.  You will be delighted with Judy's recipe for sauce.

This is a recipe I pulled from a Food and Wine magazine. I've served it to family, to guests. Most have asked for seconds, many have requested the recipe. Yes, there are more than a few ingredients, but darn....it is good! For the luscious meat sauce, Chef Gerard Craft braises pork with apples and honey, which adds some unexpected sweetness. Another surprise: He finishes the pasta with a sprinkling of smoked salt.


Photo: Anna Williams
 Smoky Pork Pappardelle
One 2-pound piece of boneless pork shoulder
Smoked sea salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into 1-inch dice
1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch dice
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch dice
1 celery rib, cut into 1-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 cup Somerset Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay Wine
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/3 cup Champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound pappardelle
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 300°. Season the pork with 1 1/2 tablespoons of smoked salt. In a medium, enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Add the pork and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned on all sides, 15 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate.

Add the apple, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and thyme to the casserole and cook over moderate heat until beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it deepens in color, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken stock, vinegar and honey and bring to a simmer. Add the pork, cover and transfer the casserole to the oven. Braise the pork for about 3 hours, turning once halfway through, until very tender.
Transfer the pork to a plate. Strain the sauce into a large bowl, gently pressing on the solids. Pour the sauce back into the pot. Using 2 forks, shred the pork; discard any large pieces of fat. Transfer the shredded pork to the sauce and stir in the mascarpone. Season the sauce with smoked salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pappardelle until al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer to the casserole with the sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce and the parsley over moderate heat until well coated, about 1 minute. Transfer the pasta to warm bowls. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with smoked salt and serve.
The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days
Want to know which Somerset Ridge wine I prefer with this?  Oktoberfest was always my choice, but now that Dennis has released his new Reisling, I can't resist pairing it with this pork dish....perfection! The experts at Food and Wine suggest a red, and of course, I do love Ruby Red,Flyboy Red and our Cabernet Franc Reserve. But for some reason, with this particular dish, I prefer the lighter German style wines.
Hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Good Old Days

There is such a wonderful feeling of home and family when you open your door and walk in to find the aroma of good home cooking wafting through the house. Somehow, it fills us with a peaceful joy…like all is good in your life.


I remember when I was in high school, returning from church on Sunday School, to find either fried chicken or pot roast just about ready to be put on the table. Both of my parents were great cooks. My Mom’s fried chicken is one of my fondest memories. For the life of me, I have never been able to perfect the art of frying chicken! Mine isn’t bad….it just isn’t Mom’s.

Most nights we would have meatloaf, liver and onions, pork chops, etc. Just regular home cooking. As we finished eating, my Dad would push his chair back from the table and say “Okay GE and Westinghouse, it’s time to do the dishes. My sister Ann and I would spend the next half hour washing the dishes, finishing just in time to join the family in front of the television to enjoy programs such as The Milton Berle Show with stars such as Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, Eddie Cantor, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Abbott and Costello, Alan Young, Red Skelton, Red Buttons, Jackie Gleason, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, and countless more. We watched I Love Lucy, Gunsmoke, Dragnet, and so many more. Such fun!

After about 30 minutes, my Dad would say, “Katie (that is what he called me) I think it is time for dessert.” Off to the kitchen I would go to create some ooey-gooey concoction. My Dad did love dessert!

Today, we not only don’t have variety television shows like we had in the 50s, but we don’t have Mom home cooking all day. Harriet Nelson and June Cleaver are long gone, and so are many of those home cooked meals. Now days, Moms rush home from work, drive kids to practices or lessons and try to get by the store to “pick up something” for dinner. Gee, our lifestyles sure have changed! And it is kind of hard to make the house smell wonderful when you open that bag of burgers from McDonalds! May I suggest the following? They may take a little time, but with slow cookers, it can be done!


photo by about,com/southernfood
 Slow Cooker Braised Short Ribs
4 beef short ribs (4 to 6)
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups apple juice
1 cup beef broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed (1 to 1 1/2)
Toss short ribs in a food storage bag or paper bag with the flour, paprika, chili powder, salt, and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Sear the ribs on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer ribs to the slow cooker. In the same skillet, heat the apple juice and beef broth; pour over the ribs and add chopped onion. Cover and cook on LOW heat for 6 hours. Add the pearl onions and continue
cooking for 3 to 5 hours longer. Serve with Cornbread Casserole and a green salad.

Serves 4.

Cornbread Casserole
1 can whole kernel corn (15 to 16 oz.)
1 can cream style corn (15 to 16 oz.)
1 stick butter, melted
1 Jiffy corn bread mix, dry
1 pkg. sour cream (8 oz.)
Mix together in casserole. Bake 1 hour at 375 degrees.



photo by sex, food and rock and roll
 Sloppy Joe on Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits
3 tbsp olive oil
1 lg onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 1/2 lb ground beef
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can 28oz whole tomatoes in juice
1/2 c ketchup
2 tbsp molasses (not blackstrap)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 tsp hot sauce, or to taste
Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 stick butter
6 oz extra-sharp cheddar, coarsely-grated
3 tbsp parmesan, finely-grated
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 1/3 c well-shaken buttermilk


Heat oil in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion, celery, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add beef and sauté, stirring occasionally and breaking up large lumps with a wooden spoon, until meat is no longer pink. Stir in salt and pepper.
Purée tomatoes with juice, ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce in a blender until smooth. Add to beef and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve on top of cheddar buttermilk biscuits.

Biscuit directions:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Butter 1 large baking sheet.
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheeses and scallions with a wooden spoon, then add buttermilk and stir until just combined.
Drop dough in 8 equal mounds about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool to warm, about 10 minutes, then cut in half horizontally.

Hope your home smells heavenly very soon!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This morning it is 5 degrees. You know what that means,,,,SOUP!  I am going to make a pot of soup, using a recipe I haven’t made in approximately 6, maybe 7 years. I have been craving German Goulash Soup. It is a delightfully spiced soup with beef, potatoes and mushrooms in a rich paprika broth. And if you are in a  baking mood, whip together some German Pretzels to split, heat and spread with some sweet creamery butter and tuck in a piece of Swiss cheese. It truly is a perfect combination!
Hope you enjoy it.

German Goulash Soup serves 12

5 pounds - beef (cut in small cubes)
1 stick butter
3 large onions (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
6 tablespoons paprika (Up to 8 tablespoons, depending on your taste)
salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
9 tablespoons tomato paste
3 bay leaves
9 cups water
6 cups beef broth
1 1/2 cups Somerset Ridge Vineyard Ruby Red wine
12 medium potatoes (cubed)
24 ounces sliced mushrooms

1. Brown the meat in oil or butter.
2. Add the onions and garlic and fry until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the paprika, bay leaf, caraway seeds, water, and broth.
4. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours
5. Add the potatoes and simmer for an additional 1 hour
6. Add the sliced mushrooms and simmer for 20 minutes (during really bad weather when I don't want to get out, I have been known to add several large cans of sliced mushrooms, liquid and all, instead of fresh. Just needs to be heated through for a few minutes)
7. Stir in the tomato paste and red wine. Simmer over very low heat for 20 minutes.
8. Salt and pepper to taste.
9. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Schein appétit!
Classic German Pretzels

1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups room-temperature water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast or 2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 cups 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons non-diastatic malt powder , available at www.kingarthurflour.com
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (2 1/2 to 3)

1. Mix the sugar, water and yeast; stir to dissolve. (If you're using instant
yeast, skip this step, simply combining all of the ingredients at once.) Add
the white wheat flour, malt, salt, and enough unbleached flour to make a
soft (but not sticky) dough. Knead well, place in a bowl, and let rise till
doubled.
2. Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a log, and shape the logs into pretzels. In a large pot, boil together 6 cups of water and 2 tablespoons baking soda. Put 4 pretzels at a time into the boiling water, and cook for 1 minute. Transfer boiled pretzels to a lightly greased baking sheet.
3. When all the pretzels have been cooked, paint them with an egg glaze (1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water) and sprinkle with salt or seeds (if desired), then bake in a preheated 450°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the pretzels are well-browned. Yield: 16 soft, chewy pretzels.

I suppose with a German soup and German pretzels, I should share a German dessert. Is there a dessert from Germany that is better known than Apple Strudel? I've made the strudel dough that you roll and stretch until you can see through it, but it is very time consiming. I used to have a neighbor, Erika, who was from Germany. She taught me how to make strudel. 3 hours later, we had apple strudel. Using sheets of phyllo dough from your grocers freezer section makes life much easier. How does it compare? Honestly, I prefer the homemade, but when you are baking the pretzels too, the dough is just too time consuming 
I found this recipe on http://www.kitchendaily.com/. It is so much easier than the authentic strudel recipe I have used for years.


Apple Strudel

1/2 cup raisins
2 pounds mixed gala and granny smith apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced and coarsely chopped, about 7 cups
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup graham crackers crushed
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
12 14- by 9-inch sheets phyllo dough
confectioners' sugar for dusting
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 375F with rack in middle.
Soak raisins in hot water until slightly softened, about 1 hour or overnight. Drain raisins and stir together with apples, walnuts, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir together remaining sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
On a work surface arrange an 18-inch-long-piece of wax paper with a long side facing you, cover it with 1 sheet of the phyllo, and brush the phyllo lightly with some of melted butter then lightly sprinkle with sugar mixture and graham cracker crumbs. Layer 5 more sheets of phyllo over the first sheet in the same manner, brushing each sheet lightly with some of the melted butter, then sprinkling with sugar mixture and graham cracker crumbs. Mound half the apple mixture (about 3 3/4 cups) evenly along the long side facing you, leaving a 2-inch border at each end. Using the wax paper as a guide and rolling away from you, roll up the strudel gently but tightly and, with the seam side down (ends will be open; stuff any fallen pieces of apple back into strudel).
Carefully transfer strudel to a lightly buttered jelly-roll pan. Make another strudel with the remaining ingredients in same manner and transfer it to the jelly-roll pan 2-inches leaving a 2-inch space between strudels. Brush strudels with some of the remaining melted butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. (You may have some remaining cinnamon-sugar and graham cracker crumbs.)
Bake strudels until golden, 35 to 45 minutes, and gently loosen with a spatula, then cool to warm in pan, about 30 minutes. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut strudels and dust with confectioners' sugar. Transfer to plates and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

Lass uns essen!  That means "Let's eat!"

Monday, January 10, 2011

The silence of a snowy morning…..

Something awakened me around 5am. I was lying there, listening, wondering what it was. Slowly I began to realize it was the absence of sound that woke me. I knew immediately that everything was covered with snow.
They have been predicting snow for days, giving us fair warning, time to go to the grocery store. From the lack of sounds, I knew the snow had arrived. It became obvious my drive down to my studio in Paola was no longer part of my day. Now what do I do……..

First, I put on a pot of beef soup bones, nothing fancy, just making stock. And now, several hours later, the house smells wonderful with the rich beefy aroma wafting throughout. A cup of steaming beef broth sounds inviting on a cold snowy day.
No, I am not going to give you a recipe for beef stock; I didn’t roast veggies to be added. I simply took out a Dutch oven, added a little olive oil and when it was hot, I added the bones with salt and pepper. That is it folks, plain and simple. When they were nice and brown (see, I don’t even think of it as “caramelized” with this simple method!), I added water and popped the covered pan in the oven.

My home smells divine! By noontime, ahhhhh, lunch!

Okay, next on my short list of things to do on this wintery day, is work on the genealogy. A third cousin of my sweet Arch sent me an email requesting any information I might have on the Tucker family. I use the Family Tree software and have a membership with Ancestry.com, but Arch was never able to give me much information on distant generations. His cousin will be given what I have, and I can send some accounts of events that Arch spoke of, but sadly, that is it. One story I am anxious to pass on to “Cuz” is of Arch’s great grandfather. He fought in the Civil War, at Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Arch had been told he died there of pneumonia and was buried in the National Cemetery at Fort Smith, Arkansas.
One day, we loaded up the car and headed south. I had visited other National Cemeteries, but you can never get over those overwhelming and contradictory feelings of grief and joy, pride and embarrassment, glory and defeat. Standing among the thousands of white grave markers of the men and women who have fought for our country makes you feel terribly insignificant. It also makes you stand tall and proud to be an American. I can think of a few “entertainers” (and I use the term loosely) and politicians (certainly not Statesmen) that I would like to drag into the National Cemetery at Fort Leavenworth and give them a good talking to. 

We found his great grandfather Private David Tucker's grave there at Ft Smith. It was in the front row of a section, tucked between two Confederate soldier’s graves. At Fort Smith, the Civil War soldiers were buried in that fashion, one Confederate, one Union, one Confederate, one Union and so forth. We also drove to the scene of the Battle at Pea Ridge, which is now a National Park. On March 7 & 8, 1862, 26,000 soldiers fought here to decide the fate of Missouri. The 4,300-acre park honors those who fought for their way of life. Pea Ridge was one of the most pivotal Civil War battles, and is the most intact Civil War battlefield in the country.

It was a large open field, flat and well manicured, and surprisingly covered by a herd of deer that morning. They were peacefully grazing, occasionally glancing towards us, and the leader of the herd keeping a watchful eye on us. Once again, silence was the theme. It was difficult to imagine the sounds of carnage that once filled that now passive park.

The snow is still coming down; it doesn’t look like I will be getting the new car out of the garage today!

Next on my list of things to do today…..pull that pot of beef out of the oven and proceed with the broth for lunch! And maybe I will bake something this afternoon…after all, the oven is already warmed up.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Do you have a true weakness for desserts? Most of us do…..whether it be cake, pie, cookies, ice cream I am pretty sure one of my favorite desserts to prepare and to eat would be Profiteroles. You know, the little brother of the Cream Puff…..more elegant, more versatile, and it is easier to fool yourself into eating a dessert…after all, it’s little!


I’ve tried dozens of recipes for Profiteroles, and this is my favorite. Tiny little crispy puffs filled with the smallest scoop of coffee ice cream, then drizzled with warm chocolate sauce. Each serving should be made up of 3 filled Profiteroles, topped with the warm chocolate sauce, and finished off with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and a tiny sprig of fresh mint. (Isn’t it wonderful we can buy fresh herbs all winter long?)

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Of course, if coffee ice cream isn’t for you, try your favorite. Just make sure it will go with the chocolate sauce with Port….trust me, you won’t want to miss the sauce!

For profiteroles:

1 quart coffee ice cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
 3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
For chocolate sauce:
 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
 7 ounce fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Somerset Ridge Tawny Port

You will need several pieces of Equipment: a small (about 1 1/2-inch) ice cream scoop; a large pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch plain tip

Make profiteroles:
Chill a small metal baking pan in freezer. Form 18 ice cream balls with scoop and freeze in chilled pan at least 1 hour (this will make serving faster).
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Butter a large baking sheet.
Bring butter, water, and salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until butter is melted. Reduce heat to medium, then add flour all at once and cook, beating with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from side of pan and forms a ball, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well with an electric mixer after each addition.
Transfer warm mixture to pastry bag and pipe 18 mounds (about 1 1/4 inches wide and 1 inch high) 1 inch apart on baking sheet.
Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes total. Prick each profiterole once with a skewer, then return to oven to dry, propping oven door slightly ajar, 3 minutes. Cool on sheet on a rack.
Make chocolate sauce:
Heat sugar in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling pan occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber.
Remove from heat, then add cream and a pinch of salt (mixture will bubble and steam). Return to heat and cook, stirring, until caramel has dissolved.
Remove from heat and add chocolate, whisking until melted, then whisk in vanilla and Port. Keep warm, covered.
Serve profiteroles: Halve profiteroles horizontally, then fill each with a ball of ice cream. Put 3 profiteroles on each plate and drizzle generously with warm chocolate sauce. Don't forget the glass of Tawny Port with your dessert!

: •Ice cream balls can be frozen up to 1 day (cover with plastic wrap after 1 hour).
•Profiteroles can be baked 1 day ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Recrisp on a baking sheet in a 375°F oven 5 minutes. Cool before filling.


Sound good? Of course, there is Crème Brulee, apple pie, bread pudding, Pavlova, chocolate cake, peach cobbler, strawberry pie, pecan pie, angel food cake with 7 minute frosting (pink frosting, please)……see, I do love desserts! And I wonder why I am a 4’cube!

It is back to the studio come tomorrow. I'm anxious to return to my new project. But I will always have time to blog....sooner or later!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

There are artisan winemakers in town who have earned time in the spotlight.

Hello Everyone, I am back....haven't been gone long, and I didn't travel very far away, but I did not have the internet available, so I felt a little isolated!
When I returned and found the latest issue of 435 Magazine in my mailbox, I was excited to see an article on Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery. Thought maybe I would share it with you.



435 Insider Header

Somerset Ridge, Uncorked


Step aside for a moment, cocktail revolution. There are artisan winemakers in town who have earned time in the spotlight. And though it may be surprising to some that in the Heartland—where prior to prohibition 87 percent of the country’s wine was produced—quality wines are catching the attention of seasoned and discerning palates.
Dennis and Cindy Reynolds, owners of Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery, aren’t strangers to the steady stream of accolades they receive for their award-winning wines. The petite vineyard—located on a postage-stamp size chunk of land 25 minutes outside Johnson County, near Louisburg—is one of a handful of Kansas wineries helping to put the Sunflower State on the lucrative wine map and turning heads along the way.
But the couple—he a former attorney, she a corporate executive and now both are stewards of the good earth—particularly covet their vineyard’s most recent accomplishment in the lofty wine world.
The prestigious Jefferson Cup Invitational, the only competition that honors the best of the best among wineries from all of America’s wine regions, gave a nod in late November to Somerset Ridge’s Oktoberfest 2009. The wine won the judges’ affection in the category of non-vinifera white wine—vines which flourish in the more extreme climates in the center portion of the United States. In addition to their top-tier showing, Somerset Ridge won medals for five other wines in the stringent competition: Traminette and Citron won American Examples of Greatness (equivalent to a gold), while Ruby Red, Chardonel and Ambrosia won Medals of American Merit (on par with a silver).
The 11th Annual Jefferson Cup Invitational, which had wines from 21 states and distributed top honors to wines from six states, is a different sort of wine competition. Founded and directed by local wine guru Doug Frost, MS, MW—one of only three individuals in the world to have achieved the titles of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine—the competition is based on the democratic philosophies of its namesake, Thomas Jefferson. The judging panel is comprised of industry luminaries.
“What we are doing is following Mr. Jefferson’s example and allowing every quality wine-producing region in America a place at our table,” says Frost. “While many may know him from his well-chronicled political role, most Americans have no idea just how influential Jefferson was in the way we eat and drink and live today. To call Mr. Jefferson ahead of his time where food and wine are concerned is the ultimate understatement. He was growing grapes that did not really come into vogue in this country until 20 years ago.”
And like Mr. Jefferson, the Reynolds became trailblazers when they took 45 bucolic acres in Kansas and turned the land into an upstart boutique winery. Licensed in 2001, Somerset Ridge has 8,000 vines on the far western edge of the Ozark shelf with softly rolling hills that gather mist in the early morning and are dappled with sunlight in the afternoon—dream topography for prolific grape growing.
“Our operation is not unlike the jewel-box vineyards found in California and regions of Europe that produce millions of bottles of wine each year,” says Cindy.
Indeed, Somerset Ridge is a lovely and hard-working vineyard, producing more than 5,000 cases of award-winning, handcrafted wines including European-style reds, an off-dry German-style white, a traditional port and a late-harvest white dessert wine, that continues to impress connoisseurs in Kansas, Missouri, California and across the U.S. “With the efficient use of our relatively small acreage we’re able to produce a lot of wine,” says Dennis.
Four of the top spots in the Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition went to three eastern Kansas wineries, including Blue Jacket Crossing, Holy-Field and Somerset Ridge.
Cheers, Somerset Ridge. Winners take all.

I am a very proud Mom!


The vines at Somerset Ridge are in a deep sleep right now, and after checking the weather forcast, they may slip into a coma! I get the shivers when I hear the temperatures....and of course, I start thinking SOUP!
Coming in out of the cold and sitting down to a cup or bowl of steaming hot soup is such a treat, and as far as I am concerned, an absolute necessity!
Many ears ago, there use to be a restaurant called Baby Doe's. I looked like an old mining company in the mountains. It was perched up on a hill over looking the river bottom area. The only problem with the restaurant was it apparently was slipping down that hill! People were definitely disappointed to see the place close, but better that than tumbling down the hillside full of people dining!
One of Baby Doe's big winners on the menu was the Cheese Soup with Beer. I seem to have an abundance of milk in the fridge, so this is going to be my dinner!



Baby Doe's Cheese Soup with Beer



2 quarts milk
1 1/2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 tablespoon salt 6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
12 fluid ounces dark beer
1 (16 ounce) jar processed cheese sauce
Directions:
1. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the milk, bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and salt. Bring close to a boil.
2. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water and add to the soup, stirring well. Add the beer and the cheese sauce, reduce heat to low and mix well. Allow to heat through before serving.

Now, it is back to the studio.....the paint is calling me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I receive many blogs via email, just as you do mine. It is amazing how many of them are focusing on cleaning your house! You know, like Top 10 things to do first thing in the morning.  I may not be the best housekeeper in the world, but isn't it natural to make your bed when you wake up? Why does this have to be on a morning checklist? And don't you usually put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher rather than stacking them in the sink? Okay, maybe I've stacked them a few times, but gosh, the dishwasher is right there!

What I really need is a plan for keeping my garage clean. How can it get so dirty, so fast? The location of my garage, the way it is placed (one of 3 garages on a "t" shaped driveway shared with 2 other condos) the wind blows leaves, trash, snow, etc., it swirls around and around, and ends up plastered against my garage door. Then I come bopping home, push the garage door opener as I am coming down the street, and BAM! Every leaf and piece of trash in a 2 mile radius blows straight into my garage! And, as I said, if it is snowing...it all drifts into a huge mound right in front of my garage. Next time, my garage is going to face south!

So, why am I worried about my dirty garage? I have a brand new, shiny black, perfectly clean car. I'd like for it to stay that way....fat chance, but I hate for it to get dirty sitting in my garage! I feel a very cold day of garage cleaning in my future.

Today, I spent the day cleaning up and arranging my new studio space. I think I am going to love it! Now, if only I can paint there. More important....if only I paint! I get so busy making sure things look a certain way, that things are organized a certain way....sun to my back, pallette to my right, paints separated by colors (all reds in one container, blues in another, etc.) music turned on and up, fresh Coke Zero with a lot of ice, a new roll of paper towels near by, etc. I could go on and on....in fact, I do go on and on, until I've run out of time and have to delay starting another painting. Get the picture? I can delay like a pro!

I have a recipe for you that I should have given you before the holidays, but I forgot. This is a perfect nibble to have with a glass of wine or your martini. Hope you enjoy it!


(so simple....so wonderful!)

1 pound cold asiago cheese
chopped pine nuts
chopped fresh sage

Shred 1 pound cold asiago cheese.
Place 6   1 tablespoon-size mounds of cheese about 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle each mound with 1/4 teaspoon each chopped pine nuts and sage. Bake at 425 degrees until the cheese is golden and the edges are slightly crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove each crisp with a thin spatula and gently curl around a rolling pin, then cool on a rack.
Repeat to make about 24 crisps.
Pine Nut Cheese Crisps, Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine

Cheers!


Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Floral

Floral
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker