Thursday, December 31, 2009

Your Potatoes

I asked Paula from to be my guest for this blog post.  Paula's husband loves to cook and she has agreed to post one of his favorite recipes. The recipe is great for entertaining a crowd or for an evening with family.

And stir some more
"Your Potatoes" is a code word in our family for " Aligot Gratin with Horseradish Cream". The dish requires all the steps above, and when it was last prepared on Christmas Day it also involved taking photos of a camera-shy cook and a not-so-shy teenaged fan.
My husband promised to "keep it simple" and to keep the workload to a minimum so that is how "your potatoes" worked their way onto the menu. Although that alone decimated the "simple idea",  the family unanimously agreed that it was worth the laborious preparation steps. Even our niece who is the dish's biggest fan, took up the ricer (That's where the "recruit" part of the task list above came in!)

The camera-shy hard at work husband grating the cheese for the gratin

The fruits of the family's labors...May not be a beauty but it tastes awesome!
Note: We may have made it less than beautiful by getting caught up in frenzied Christmas Day chatter and forgetting to rotate it to "ensure even browning"

Aligot Gratin with Horseradish Cream
Adjusted to serve  9
Recipe from: Gourmet 
3lbs. (9 medium) Yukon gold potatoes
6 garlic cloves
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
4-1/2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 1/8 cups whole milk
7 1/2 cups (1- 1/8 lbs) coarsley grated Cantal or Gruyere cheese
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons bottled drained horseradish

1. Simmer potatoes in salted water until very tender (about 40 minutes). Drain potatoes. Let the potatoes cool and then force through a ricer into a clean saucepan.
2. Mince and mash garlic cloves and salt into a paste.
3. Add the following to the potatoes:
Garlic/salt paste
4 1/2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 1/8 cups whole milk
4. Cook over moderate low heat, stirring, until fluffy and heated through, about 2 minutes.
5. Add cheese
6. Add pepper
7. Stir until cheese is melted, smooth and taffy like, about 10 minutes.
8. Preheat broiler. Transfer potato mixture into buttered baking dish and smooth the top.
9. Using a mixer beat heavy cream and then add the horseradish.
10. Spread the horseradish cream over potato mixture and broil 4-5 inches from top. Rotate mixture to ensure even browining. Takes about 2 minutes.

I encourage you to make your ricer the "implement of the day" and give this side dish a try. It goes well with any grilled or roasted meat.
It also goes well with teenagers. And that's a result that should satisfy any chef.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Split Pea and Green Pea Soup with Fresh Dill

I have been feasting since Thanksgiving. I am feeling stuffed! I need to put away the sweet treats and large meals for awhile. This split pea soup provided me with a healthy and hearty soup to enjoy on a cold day without leaving me with a feeling of over indulgence.
This soup also gets a double hit of color and flavor from both the split peas and frozen peas. The bay leaf isn't discarded in this recipe; it gets pureed along with the soup.

Split Pea and Green Pea Soup with Fresh Dill
Serves 4-6

Ham bone (leftover from Thanksgiving)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1-2 carrots chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup dried green split peas, rinsed
5-6 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed
5 tablespoons chopped dill, divided

Heat oil in a heavy large pan over medium-high heat. Add leek, carrots and bay leaf. Saute until the leek wilts, about 3-4 minutes. Add split peas and stir to coat. Add the ham bone (optional) Add the 5 cups vegetable broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until split peas are just tender, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from heat.
Transfer 1 cup soup solids, bay leaf and remaining broth to blender. Add petite peas and 4 tablespoons dill. Puree until smooth. Return puree to soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with remaining dill.


Saturday, December 26, 2009


Picadillo is a traditional Cuban dish made with ground beef, onions, green olives, green bell peppers, raisins, garlic and tomatoes, stewed together and seasoned with cloves and cinnamon. This dish can be served alone, over rice or as a stuffing mixture in empanadas. Personally, I love it over rice. Served up family style this dish can serve a crowd or just a few. This dish is economical, easy to prepare and can be made in batches for freezing for later use.

(Cuban Style Hash)
Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons canola oil
1-4" inch stick cinnamon
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, halved
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2-lbs. ground beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3/4 cups raisins
3/4 cup green pimento-stuffed olives, halved
1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained, crushed
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Heat oil in a 12" cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon stick, onions, and peppers; cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add half the ground cinnamon, oregano, cloves, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it browns, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; add raisins, olives, and tomatoes. Cook until liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Stir in remainder of ground cinnamon, almonds, and vinegar.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Chicken Stew with Biscuits

I love preparing and eating comfort food this time of year. This recipe is the ultimate in comfort food. A chicken stew, that is essentially the filling for a chicken pot pie topped with homemade buttery, flaky biscuits. I will admit this baked chicken stew takes a little work but, the results will be worth all your efforts.

Chicken Stew with Biscuits
Serves 8
Recipe from: Barefoot Contessa
For the Stew:
3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemeade
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1- 1/2 sticks) unslated butter
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups medium diced carrots (4 carrots), blanched for 2 minutes
1 10-ounce package frozen peas (2 cups)
1-1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

For the Biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and the dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10x13x2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley.

Remove the stew from the oven and arrange biscuits on the top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Mom's Orange-Cranberry Relish

This orange cranberry relish recipe that I found at George's food blog A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse was delicious. I prepared it for Thanksgiving and it was a hit with the family. They enjoyed it as a side dish with the roasted turkey. The next day, the family enjoyed it again as a spread on turkey sandwiches.  I am going to prepare this festive relish for Christmas dinner. If you are looking for a relish to serve up with your roasted meats, think of adding this one to your holiday table. Thanks George!

Mom's Orange-Cranberry Relish
makes 2-3 cups
Recipe from: A Nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse

1 pound fresh cranberries
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 sticks cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, minced
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon fresh grated orange zest

In a 2-quart saucepan, place the fresh and dried cranberries, cinnamon, ginger root, brown sugar, apple cider, and orange zest. Stir and simmer over low heat until cranberries pop-about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

To serve, transfer to a serving bowl.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Tallahassee Cooking Club, December 2009

We enjoyed hosting Cooking Club for the month of December. What a wonderful time of year to be able to host friends and enjoy a wonderful meal together. We were really hoping to entertain outside on our patio. However, the weather was too cold for our guests to be comfortable.
This month our dinner theme was Colombian. Colombian food is best described as a blend of European, with aspects of African and indigenous cuisine.
Join me, on a photo journey of a wonderful evening together discovering the cuisine of Colombia.

Appetizers of smoked chorizo and pesto

A seafood ceviche with scallops, shrimp, avocado, red onion, cilantro, orange, radish and cilantro.

A stuffed beef roll (Carne o Posta Rellena) served with roasted sweet potatoes and cassava

A side dish of sauteed asparagus with a hazelnut sauce that included garlic, olive oil vinegar and parsley. Served with lemon wedges and toasted rounds.

A meal being enjoyed by everyone!

For dessert- Dulce de leche and coconut with additional whipped cream and caramel

January's theme will be focused on New England.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Carrot-Mushroom Barley Stew

 I am taking my cue from George at A Nod Is As A Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse..... . He reminded us that the holiday season is upon us, it's time we start making a few meals that are healthy. Here is my contribution to eating healthy this holiday season.
This Carrot Mushroom Barley Stew is an easy one dish meal that is light and very satisfying. During the holidays, this stew is a perfect for a weeknight meal or lunch.

Carrot Mushroom-Barley Stew
Serves 6
Recipe from Food Network

2 cups carrot juice
10 ounces shitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved, caps sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup instant barley
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery with leaves, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups kale or mustard greens, stems removed and leaves torn
1 tablespoon grated ginger peel

1. Bring the carrot juice, 3 cups water and the mushroom stems to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the mushroom caps and barley and cook until the barley is barely toasted, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the onion, celery and rosemary to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and cook 2 more minutes.
3. Increase the heat to high and add half of the carrot juice mixture, leaving the mushroom steams in the pan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is almost absorbed, about 6 minutes.
4. Add the remaining carrot juice mixture, the kale and ginger and cook, stirring, until the barley and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then ladle stew into bowls.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Classic Martini

Just in case you have forgotten what a traditional martini tastes like.... Gin or Vodka stirred or shaken.....One drink, so many options.

Classic Martini
Serves 1
2 ounces good quality gin or vodka
1/2ounce dry vermouth

1. Place gin or vodka in a  cocktail shaker with ice.
2. Shake and pour, straining the ice, into a martini glass
3. Garnish with an olive


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pepper Steak

Our family really enjoyed Misty's recipe for pepper steak I love to cook but, I don't always have time to prepare meals during the week for my family. This recipe is perfect to make during the weekend and serve up fast during the week.

Perfectly Peppered Steak
Serves 4

Note: measurements are approximate and you should adjust to taste
1- 1-1/2lbs beef steak, cut into strips
2-3 bell peppers, any color, cut thinly into strips
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 cups beef broth
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and pepper
Onion powder
Garlic powder
1-15 oz tomatoes any style (e.g. crushed, whole, diced)
A splash of your favorite steak sauce
A splash of your favorite Worcestershire sauce
A big splash of soy sauce
1-2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2-3 tablespoons Cornstarch
Hot cooked rice or noodles

1. Slice uncooked steak into slices across the grain. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.
2. In a Dutch oven heat oil and brown meat. Remove meat wth a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.
3. Toss in sliced red onion and bell peppers. Add garlic and beef broth, steak sacue, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce, ginger and tomatoes.
4. In a small dish, Use 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with beef broth. Stir until dissolved. Add to simmering pot, to thicken the sauce. Cover and simmer 25-30 minutes.
5. Return meat to pot and simmer
If you need to kick-up the spice Misty recommends that you add a few dashes of hot sauce.
Serve over hot rice or noodles.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Colombian Style Roasted Chicken Legs

 I love the flavor of these chicken drumsticks. This dish packs a lot of flavor with minimum preparation. The meat is moist and the skin is flavorful.  A perfect dish to marinate the night before and cook the next day. Served with rice and a simple salad, you have a delicious meal, that is kid-friendly too.
This recipe is from Erica's blog where she shares her traditional Colombian food recipes that she grew up eating and enjoying with her family.

Colombian Style Roasted Chicken Legs
(Pierna de pollo Asadas a mi Estilo Colombiano)
Serves 4-6
12 chicken drumsticks with skin
1 bunch scallions
3 garlic cloves
1 medium white onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon dried ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Salt and pepper

1. In a food processor, place the scallions, garlic, onion, cilantro, thyme, vinegar, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Process to a paste.
2. Place the chicken in a ziplock bag and add the marinade and cover the chicken evenly with the marinade. Refrigerate the chicken overnight.
3. Cover a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Position oven rack in the center of the oven and turn the oven to broil.
4. Place the chicken legs on the baking sheet. Broil for about 25-30 minutes, turning the legs once during cooking or until the chicken is cooked and the drumsticks are golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes and transfer to a serving plate.