Saturday, October 30, 2010

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder
8 servings

1/4 pound bacon, chopped
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 cups raw potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
2 carrots, shredded
2 cups water
5 6-ounce cans minced clams
4 cups milk
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme
freshly ground pepper to taste

Saute bacon and onion.  Add potatoes, thyme and water.  Cook about 15 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender.  Add flour, remaining ingredients and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes.

Reheat slowly.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup
4 servings

2 cups chopped or shredded chicken
2 quarts chicken stock
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced (seeded if you want less heat)
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 cup corn kernels, fresh if available

Tortilla chips
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 ripe avocado, roughly chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges

Place the first six ingredients in a pot and simmer for 20 minutes. 

To serve:  Place a small handful of tortilla chips in a soup bowl, add soup and garnish with cilantro and avocado, squeeze lime over the top and enjoy.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pecan Cookies

Pecan Cookies
Makes approximately 4 dozen small cookies

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup regular oatmeal
2 cups chopped pecans

Optional (use one or more of the following if you like, cutting the amount of chips in half if you use both):
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
12 ounces chocolate chips
12 ounces butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Using a mixer, beat the butter until it is light and fluffly.  Add the sugars, salt and vanilla, mix well.  Stir in the eggs.  Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and gradually add to the mixture, stirring to incorporate with the moist ingredients.  Stir in the oatmeal, pecans, and any of the optional ingredients you are using.

Drop the dough by the spoonful onto a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 9 minutes.  Allow them to cool and firm up on the pan for a couple minutes before transferring them to a baking rack to cool.  Store in airtight container.  They will stay fresh on the shelf for a few days or in the freezer for a few weeks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Brioche

Pumpkin Brioche
(adapted from Susan Spicer's "Crescent City Cooking" cookbook)

1 envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey, plus 2 tablespoons honey
1 cup pumpkin puree
5 eggs, plus 1 beaten egg
1/4 cup whole milk
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon honey in 2 tablespoons warm water.  Place the pumpkin puree in the bowl of a mixer.  Using the paddle attachment, beat 1 minute at medium speed, then add the 5 eggs, milk, and yeast mixture and beat for 1 minute.  Add the flour, the remaining 2 tablespoons honey, and salt and mix for about 5 minutes at medium speed.  Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, then beat in the cold butter, a third at a time.  Remove the bowl, cover it lightly with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until doubled in size. 
Close your hands into fists and gently punch down the dough to release air pockets and reduce its size.  Cover the dough and place it in the refrigerator to rise overnight, or at least 6 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and scoop it into a buttered 6-cup brioche mold, two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans, or individual molds (such as buttered muffin tins).  Allow the dough to rise at room temperature until doubled.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Brush the surface of the dough with the beaten egg and prick it in several places with a toothpick.  Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees F.  and continue baking until golden brown, about 20 more minutes for a large mold, or about 10 minutes for individual rolls.  Cool for 10 minutes in the molds, then invert and cool completely on a wire rack.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Sense of Home

~adapted from Tyler Florence's "The Ultimate Paella"~

2 cups chopped or shredded chicken
2 chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
1 onion, diced
1 sweet red bell pepper, sliced, save a few slices for a garnish
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
15 ounces whole tomatoes, drained and crushed
4 cups short grain Spanish rice
6 cups water, warm
generous pinch saffron threads
1/4 cup clam juice
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup sweet peas, frozen and thawed
Lemon wedges, for serving

Toss the chicken and spice mix* until evenly coated. 

Heat a small amount of oil in paella pan (or a wide shallow skillet) and heat over medium-high heat.  Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve.

In the same pan, saute the onion, pepper, and parsley.  Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat, add garlic and cook for another minute.  Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld.  Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains.  Pour in water and add a little salt, simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid.  Add the clam juice, chicken, chorizo, and saffron.  Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 10 minutes.  Add shrimp, tucking them into the rice and continue cooking until shrimp are pink and form the shape of the letter C.  When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom.

Sprinkle thawed peas around the outside of the dish and add sliced lemons and peppers as a garnish.  Lemons slices can be squeezed over individual servings just before eating.

*Spice Mix for chicken
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine ingredients in a small bowl.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Baked Apples with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries

Baked Apples with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries
2 large apples
1/3 cup brown sugar, plus 2 teaspoons
1 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon whole cloves
walnuts, chopped
dried cranberries

Slice off the very top of each apple and core it, place them in a baking dish.  Fill cored center with walnuts, cranberries and one teaspoon of brown sugar each, sprinkle the top  with cinnamon.

Mix apple cider and 1/3 cup brown sugar and pour around the apples.  Sprinkle the whole cloves in the cider around the apples.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes, until apples are soft.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Shiitake Mushrooms

Sense of Home

Spaghetti Squash with Shiitake Mushrooms

1 spaghetti squash
3.5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 fresh sage leaves, left whole
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pine nuts
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Add a little water to a baking pan and place squash cut-side down and bake for 30 minutes, or until fork-test tender.

Saute mushrooms and whole sage leaves in butter until mushrooms are almost tender, add garlic and saute for 1 minute more adding a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Shred squash with a fork and place in a bowl.  Pick out the sage leaves from the butter and mushroom sauce and pour it over the squash, add the pine nuts.  Sprinkle the dish with salt and fresh pepper.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Boost Your Immune System

It is that time of year again, cold and flu season, the germs really seem to spread once school starts.  Working in the children's department of the public library I see my share of sniffles.  Both cold and flu germs have been making their way around the staff, and I was no exception. I have spent the last couple of weeks battling a sinus infection, so that has got me thinking about how we can boost our immune systems.

I avoid taking over-the-counter medicine if I can.  "Today's Herbal Health" by Louise Tenney states "If drugs are used to suppress flu or cold symptoms, the elimination process is inhibited and toxins remain in the body...the toxic material begins to settle in the organs of the body and can eventually create what we call chronic disease, such as arthritis, diabetes, or asthma, among others."  There are times though that a prescription antibiotic is necessary, that was the position I found myself in.  Antibiotics, however, kill both the good and bad bacteria so when taking an antibiotic it is a good idea to eat yogurt, kefir, or other fermented foods since they have probiotics in them.  With that in mind, I have been drinking a lot of Spinach Blueberry Smoothies.

While most of us will end up with a cold or perhaps even the flu this winter, a strong immune system can help protect against serious symptoms.  I realized I needed to give my immune system a boost.  Below is a list of herbs and supplements that I have used and had success with in the past.
  • Echinacea will help strengthen the immune system and fight infection.  Echinacea activates white blood cells, stimulates immune function, and neutralizes harmful enzymes.  Useful for the prevention and treatment of colds and flu.
  • Astragalus boosts the immune system and fights viruses, bacteria and inflammation.  I take astragalus extract whenever I get a deep cough, it has eliminated a nasty cough within a few days.
  • Elderberry tea or syrup will help fight infections, heal and help eliminate symptoms.
  • Garlic is a natural antibiotic.  I will be using lots of garlic in my cooking.
  • Licorice Root  contains glycyrrhizin, which inhibits the growth of viruses, germs, and bacteria.  It also activates white blood cells.
  • Feverfew is used for fevers, inflammation, and pain.
  • Ginger is beneficial for colds and flu.  It helps relieve pain and nausea.  I usually have a cup of hot ginger tea every afternoon at work; it is also good for digestion.
  • Vitamin A helps heal infections.
  • Vitamin C with bioflavonoids fights infection, increases resistance, and heals capillaries.

Also, rinsing the sinus' is helpful when dealing with a cold or sinus problems, my doctor even recommended this.

This list is by no means complete, it is just what I have used and found a measure of success.  What have you used that I should add to my list?

Excerpts from "Today's Herbal Health" by Louise Tenney, M.H.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Popcorn with Browned Butter, Sage and Parmesan

Start by making popcorn the old-fashioned way, on the stove.  Set the flame to medium-high, then place a good sized pot on the burner and pour in just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, then just enough popcorn to make a single layer, cover and let cook.  Resist the urge to shake the pot too much, just a few gentle side-to-side shakes when the popcorn is popping is sufficient.  Once it has completed popping, pour out into a large bowl and place 3 tablespoons of butter in the pot, melt and brown the butter, then pour over the popcorn, sprinkle the popcorn with powdered sage and Parmesan cheese.  No salt is needed, there is enough in the Parmesan.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Green Tomato Jam

Green Tomato Jam

4 pounds green tomatoes
4 1/3 cups sugar
Juice and zest of two medium sized lemons

Rinse and dry tomatoes.  Quarter the tomatoes, removing the juice, seeds, and the white center part.  Dice the tomatoes.

In a bowl, combine tomato pieces, sugar and lemon juice and zest.  Cover and let macerate overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, pour this mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil, turn heat down to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour back into the bowl, cool and cover and refrigerate overnight.

The third day, bring the mixture to a boil, skim if necessary and continue cooking on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Check the set (jam is ready when it begins to hold shape in the spoon), cooking longer if needed.  If canning, have sterilized jars and lids ready, fill with hot jam leaving 1/4 inch of headroom in 1/2 pint jars; wipe the rim carefully with the edge of a clean towel dipped in your boiling water, cap and process in boiling-water bath for 10 minutes (remember to adjust for altitude).
This recipe can also be made and stored in the refrigerator or freezer rather than canning.