Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

12265847_779290548826_2173721953493967764_oPumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs
in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Gnocchi
2 Russet Potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup prepared Pumpkin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg

Sage Apple Chicken Meatballs
1 lb Ground Chicken
1/2 cup Sage, finely chopped
1/2 Vidalia Onion, minced
1/2 Granny Smith Onion, skinned & minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper, coarsely ground
1 Egg
Olive Oil for cooking

Spinach Vermouth Sauce
6 cups Baby Spinach
1/2 Vidalia Onion, Sliced
1/2 Granny Smith Apple, sliced
1/4 cup Vermouth
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 tsp Oregano
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper

Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  • Prepare the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash in a large bowl.
  • Incorporate the Pumpkin pulp, Spices, & Egg.
  • Start incorporating the Flour into the mixture. You may not use all the flour, or you may need more. What you are looking for is a dough forming that you can handle, and roll. It should be cohesive to itself, but not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into six parts.
  • On a floured surface, start rolling each part into a rope, about 1/2″-1″ thick in diameter.
  • Start cutting into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Think little pillows for the shape. You do not want to saw, you want to come down with your knife.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough. Set to the side.
  • Prepare the Meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands.
  • Form into 1 1/2″ balls.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the balls to the oil, but do not over crowd them.
  • Let the balls cook a minute and then roll them to a raw side. Repeat until all sides are cooked. Let cook an additional minute so that they cook through. Remove to a plate and repeat until all meatballs are completed.
  • Cook the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add all the Gnocchi. They will sink.
  • As the Gnocchi start to float, they are done, and can be ladled out.
  • Prepare the Sauce: Using the skillet that was used to cook the meatballs, deglaze with the Vermouth, and add the Butter.
  • Add the Onions and Apples, and cook till tender.
  • Add the Oregano and Crushed Red Pepper.
  • Toss in the Spinach until it wilts.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Add the Gnocchi and Meatballs and toss well.
  • Plate and garnish with shaved Parmesan.

Serves 6.

NOTES: Gnocchi are simple to make for scratch. I’ve seen many recipes that exclude the use of Potatoes, but in my opinion, it is the Potato that makes the Gnocchi.
This dish was inspired by a recipe that I found through a cooking club, but I decided to improve upon it and make it in my own way.

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Salmon and Shrimp Phad Thai – กุ้งและปลาแซลมอนแผ่นไทย

905679_779815561696_389662409841940469_oSalmon and Shrimp Phad Thai

Ingredients
1 dozen Shrimp, peeled, de-veined
1 8oz Salmon filet, skinned, de-boned, cubed
1 Leek, sliced in 1/8″ rounds
1 cup Red Cabbage, sliced
1/2 cup Carrot, diced or julienne
1 quarter’s width worth of Rice Pasta or Linguini
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Egg, beaten
2 Tbsp Ginger, minced
2 Tbsp Tamarind Paste
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 cup Bok Choy, chopped or Bean Sprouts
1/2 cup Peanuts, crushed
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
Juice of 1 Lime
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Cilantro for Garnish
Lime Wedges for Garnish
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  • If using Linguini: In a large pot bring water to a boil. Add salt for seasoning. Add the Pasta and cook till al dente, drain. Toss in olive oil and set to the side.
  • If using Rice Noodles, soak in lukewarm water for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • In a wok or wide skillet, heat the Olive Oil and add the Leek, Cabbage, and Carrots. Toss until tender.
  • Stir in the Egg.
  • Add the Garlic, Tamarind Paste, Hoisin Sauce, Fish Sauce, and Lime Juice.
  • Add the Salmon, Shrimp, Cayenne Pepper, Cumin, and Crushed Red Pepper. Toss over heat until cooked.
  • Toss in the Pasta, Peanuts, and Bok Choy/Bean Sprouts until all is well coated.
  • Add salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Plate and garnish with Cilantro and a Lime Wedge.

Makes about 4 servings

NOTES: Pad Thai ผัดไทย is a common Thai dish that means “fried Thai style”. It usually consists of rice noodles, a sweet sauce, scallions, a protein, peanuts, and bean sprouts, but can also have scallions, cabbage, and other ingredients. This version is my variation, with a little heat added in the form of Ginger and Cayenne Pepper. I also varied by using Leeks instead of Scallion and offering Bok Choy and Linguini as substitutes for ingredients.

Pot de Crème

Ingredients:
2 cups Heavy Cream
6 Egg Yolks
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate nibs
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
Water for cooking
Whipped Cream for topping

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 325°F
  • In a large bowl beat the Egg Yolks with 1 cup of Heavy Cream, Vanilla, and Sugar.
  • In a double boiler, melt the Chocolate and other 1/2 cup of Cream.
  • Slowly add the Chocolate Mixture to the Egg Yolks and mix well. Do not add all the Chocolate at once, or it may cook the Eggs!
  • Divide the Mixture into 6 Ramekins or similar oven-proof dishes. Traditionally, you could use Espresso Cups.
  • Place the filled Ramekins into a baking dish, and fill the dish with water so that the water comes up about 1 inch around the Ramekins. If you have a baking dish that has a lid, use that. Otherwise, you will need to cover the baking dish with Aluminum Foil.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the custard begins to set, but is still jiggly.
  • Remove and cool, then chill until you serve (at least 1/2 an hour).
  • Garnish with a dollop of Whipped Cream

Makes 6 Ramekin-sized servings, or 8-10 Espresso-sized servings.

NOTES: So I fell in love with this dish when I happened upon it at a French restaurant called Singe Vert in New York. I asked my chef mentor Philippe Fallait about the dish, and he said it was not as hard as people think but also very rich and that I did not want to know how many egg yolks went into it. Well after much trepidation, I finally built up the nerve to look into this dish–and this year I finally made my recipe and executed it. It was a hit with my closest friends (who are very particular and honest)–I was very excited.

So Pot de Creme is not a custard, not a pudding, and not a mousse, but is very similar to all of those. It is creamy and silky smooth, and very rich.

Festive Noodle Kugel

Ingredients:
12 oz Egg Noodles
8 oz Cream Cheese
8 oz Sour Cream
8 oz Ricotta Cheese
4 Eggs
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Mace
1/2 tsp Salt
3-4 cups Graham Crackers, crushed
1/2 – 1 cup Raisins (optional)
Water for Boiling
Pinch of Salt for Water

Directions:

  • Bring Water to a Boil and add Salt and Egg Noodles. Cook till al dente. They will cook much quicker than regular pasta, so don’t leave it unattended.
  • Drain the Noodles, and set aside.
  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • Divide the Graham Cracker crumbs and sprinkle on the bottom of a casserole dish (9″ x 13″ approximately).
  • In a large bowl combine the Dairy, Eggs, and Spices (and Raisins if using them). Mix well.
  • Fold in the Noodles.
  • Pour mixture (think scoop) into the Casserole dish, and even it out with a spatula.
  • Sprinkle with remaining Graham Cracker Crumbs.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes.

Makes 6-8 servings.

NOTES: This Central European Jewish dish is traditionally served at Hanukkah, though it can be served throughout the year as a festive pudding/custard. I first learned this dish when I found evidence that a section of my family was Ashkenazim and had converted to Catholicism in the 1800s.

Curried Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Curried Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:
1 lb ground Turkey
4 Bell Peppers, large
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Shallots, minced
3 Jalapeno Peppers, minced
1-2 Tbsp Ginger, minced
1 Tbsp Chives
1 Tbsp Cumin
2 Tbsp Curry Powder
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp ground Coriander Seed
2 tsp Salt
1 cup Chickpeas
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
1 Egg
Water for Baking
1/4 cup Greek Yogurt for garnish
Paprika for garnish

Directions

  • Preheat the Oven to 375°F
  • Fill a baking dish with water, 1 inch deep. The baking dish should ideally be able to be covered with a lid, and large enough to hold the Peppers.
  • Remove the top of the Peppers and all the inside seeds.
  • Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl and mix well by hand.
  • Divide the stuffing into the Peppers, and place them in the baking dish with the topside up.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Top with the Yogurt and sprinkle with the Paprika.

Makes 4 Peppers.

NOTES: This is a super simple but flavorful dish. Do not forget the Salt–it is important for bringing out the flavors. My first batch, I left it out and so it was hot but not flavorful–bland even with the Chickpeas. You can also add some seasoning to the Yogurt if you like–it acts as a cooling effect if the Jalapenos prove too spicy. This is an original recipe–inspired by Indian flavors. I hope you enjoy.

Sesame-Crusted Chicken with an Apricot Ginger Sauce

Sesame-Crusted Chicken with an Apricot Ginger Sauce

Ingredients:
2 skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts, butterfly-cut
1-2 cups All-Purpose Flour (for dredging)
1 Egg, beaten (for dredging)
1 Tbsp Water (for dredging)
1 Tbsp Honey (for dredging)
1 cup Sesame Seeds (for dredging)
Salt and Pepper for seasoning the Chicken
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Sauce:
1 cup dried Apricots, diced fine
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, julienne cut
1 cup Peach Schnapps
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Salt
Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Soak the Apricots in the Peach Schnapps for 1/2 an hour.
  • Set up dredging stations: 1 tray with Flour; 1 tray with Egg, Water, and Honey; and one tray for Sesame Seeds. Do not put all the Sesame Seeds in the tray, as you can always add more, but after you’ve dredged, can’t use the left overs.
  • Pat the Chicken breasts dry with a paper towel, and season with Salt and Pepper.
  • Dredge the Chicken in the Flour on both sides; then the Egg mixture on both sides; and finally the Sesame Seeds. Set to the side.
  • Turn the Oven on to 200F, and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack over the pan. Set to the side.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet, and brown the Chicken on both sides. Place the Chicken breasts on the cooling rack, and then in the Oven to keep warm.
  • In a Sauce Pan, melt 6 Tbsp of Butter.
  • Add the Garlic and Spices, and let cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the Schnapps-soaked Peaches (liquid and all) to the Pot, and stir well. Heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Plate the Chicken and cover in the Apricot Ginger Sauce.

Makes 4 Servings.

NOTES: This is a recipe I came up with to appease Michael–he loves Apricots. I’m not really a big fan, though from time to time I will eat one. It has a sort of Asian feel to it, though I personally see it as more of a Middle-Eastern flavor. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it.

Sesame-Crusted Chicken with Bok Choy Salad

Sesame-Crusted Chicken with Bok Choy Salad</span>

Ingredients
2 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless, cut in strips
1-2 cups All-Purpose Flour (for dredging)
1 Egg, beaten (for dredging)
1 Tbsp Water (for dredging)
1 Tbsp Honey (for dredging)
1 cup Sesame Seeds (for dredging)
Salt and Pepper for seasoning the Chicken
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 cups Baby Spinach
2 cups Bok Choy 白菜, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Red Onion, diced
1 cup Broccoli, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 cup Snow Peas
1 Asian  Nashi Pear ナシ, diced
Water for steaming
1/2-1 cup Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Directions:

  • Prepare pot of water and steamer for steaming/
  • Steam the Broccoli for 2 minutes, just until the color of the Broccoli turns bright green. You do not want to cook it, just steam it to make it tender and colorful. Remove and run through cold water, set to the side.
  • Set up dredging stations: 1 tray with Flour; 1 tray with Egg, Water, and Honey; and one tray for Sesame Seeds. Do not put all the Sesame Seeds in the tray, as you can always add more, but after you’ve dredged, can’t use the left overs.
  • Pat the chicken slices dry with a paper towel, and season with Salt and Pepper.
  • Dredge the Chicken in the Flour on both sides; then the Egg mixture on both sides; and finally the Sesame Seeds. Set to the side.
  • Turn the Oven on to 200F, and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack over the pan. Set to the side.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet, and brown the Chicken pieces on both sides. Place the Chicken pieces on the cooling rack, and then in the Oven to keep warm.
  • Build the Salad (make the dressing now if you have not yet done so as well). You can do this as one big bowl, or in individual bowls–it is up to you.
  • Start with a bed of Spinach.
  • Top with the all the ingredients. You may choose to do this artistically–I like to use the Snow Peas as a frame around the side of the dish. It is completely up to you.
  • Remove the Chicken from the Oven, and slice into 1″ pieces across the strips of Chicken. Place on the top of the Salad.
  • The Salad is ready to serve. You may dress it now, or leave it on the side.

Makes about 4 servings.

NOTES: This salad can serve as a side dish, but also as a main course salad. Though it has “East Asian” flare to it, I would not necessarily call it an Asian salad… maybe East Asian inspired salad with the Bok Choy (白菜), with the Sesame Ginger Dressing are the most Asian aspect of the salad. Some folks may want to add Ramen-style noodles on top. Not a fan of them, I just can’t bring myself to add them to the recipe. So if you do that, please don’t tell me. Thanks.

Chess Pie

Ingredients
1 Pâte Brisée for 9″ shell
1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp Cornmeal
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
5 eggs
2/3 cup Buttermilk

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Cream the Sugars, Butter, Corn Meal, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Extract.
  • Slowly beat in each egg.
  • Finally, beat in the Buttermilk gradually.
  • Roll out your Pâte Brisée to 1/8 inch thick, and big enough for a 9″ pie. Place in pie pan and crimp the edges as you desire.
  • Pour filling into the shell.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until it has set. The edges may brown slightly.

Makes 1 pie.

NOTES: I cannot find any definitive reason why Chess Pie is called so. Some theories say it is because it came to the Americas from Chester, England. Other theories say it comes from a pie chest (or piece of furniture for pies). All I know, is it is very common in the South, and always made with buttermilk! I highly discourage making this with cream or milk, unless you add a little of vinegar.

Apple Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1 tsp Nutmeg, ground
1 tsp Cloves, ground
1 tsp Ginger, ground
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
4 Eggs, beaten
1 cup Applesauce
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 cups Zucchini, shredded
1 cup Apples (Red Delicious), skinned, seeded, diced or shreaded
1 1/2 cups Pecans, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, sift together all Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt, and Spices. Set to the side
  • Combine the Eggs, all Sugar, Honey, Maple Syrup, Vanilla, and Apple Sauce in another bowl, and mix well.
  • Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing well. You may use a mixer for this, as the batter will be fairly thick.
  • Fold in the Apples, Zucchini, and Pecans.
  • Divide the batter into greased loaf pans (9×5).
  • Bake for 55 minutes to an hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Please let them cool for 10 minutes before removing them to wire racks to cool further.

NOTES: The first time I had zucchini bread, I was very skeptical. I mean the majority of my zucchini was sauteed with garlic, so the idea of it serving as a sweet stumped me. Still after trying it, this then 8 year old was pleasantly surprised. Zucchini bread can be used as a side item at an Autumn or Winter dinner, or with brunch or tea. I still think it is a great side for Thanksgiving, served warm with dinner, with fresh butter.

Zucchini bread apparently had its hay-day in the 1960s in the US when the idea of using Butter was on the decline, with folks instead wanting to use Oil. I, however think the use of Apple Sauce (something that seemed to happen in the 90s to replace the oil) instead of Vegetable Oil is a better fix. Apple Zucchini Bread is a quick bread, and can easily be modified into muffins, as a result.

Scaloppine di Pollo al Vino Bianco con Limone – Chicken Francaise

Chicken Francaise

Ingredients:
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs (for coating)
2 Eggs (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 Tbsp Butter
3 clove Garlic, thinly sliced vertically
1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
1 tsp Corn Starch
Juice of 2 Lemons
1 Lemon, thinly sliced horizontally
2 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped fine

Directions:

  • Set up a dredging station using three pie pans. In one pan put the Flour, in the next the Eggs (beaten with a little water), in the next the Bread Crumbs and dried Herbs.
  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the chicken in the Flour, then the Eggs, then the Bread Crumbs and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet and place on a cookie sheet in the oven on the lowest setting, just to keep it warm.
  • Remove the Oil, and wipe it clean.
  • Heat the Butter on-low medium heat
  • In a small bowl combine Broth and Corn Starch, whipping until there are no lumps.
  • Add the Garlic, Wine, Broth, Lemon Juice, and Lemon Slices to the pan.
  • Simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly so to not burn about 5 mins.
  • Place the Chicken on Serving platter and cover with the Lemon Slices and Wine Sauce and garnish with the Parsley

NOTES: I have tried to find a definitive answer as to whether or not this dish is French or Italian–since one usually sees it in Italian restaurants in America.  No one including the infamous Wikipedia seem to agree.  I would guess is that it is an Italian-American dish that is influenced by the French style of cooking with Wine and Butter.

An easy way to pound the chicken flat is to place it between two sheets of cellophane with a little bit of olive oil. Take the back of a skillet and pound flat (or use a meat mallet if too heavy).

Variations:
Chicken Marsala – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Marsala wine, Mushrooms, and Prosciutto.
Chicken Piccata – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Capers.
Chicken Scaloppine – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Cream-based lemon sauce.

Salade Niçoise à l’Américaine – Niçoise Salad (American Style)

Ingredients:
4 Tuna Fillets (about 6 oz each)
1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Sea Salt, or coarse Kosher
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
12 baby Red Pontiac Potatoes
1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper
4-6 oz Green Beans, trimmed
4 Eggs
Water for boiling
1/3-1/2 lb Butterhead Lettuce
1/2 cup Fresh Basil
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme
1/4 cup Fresh Mint
4 Plum Tomatoes, Quartered
2 Tbsp Capers
12 Niçoise Olives
4-8 Anchovies (optional)
1 cup Niçoise Vinaigrette

Directions:

  • Prepare the Tuna:
    • Heat a skillet on medium heat with 1/2 Tbsp of the Olive Oil.
    • Cut the Tuna into 2″ x 1″ strips.
    • Rub with the Salt and Pepper.
    • Place the Tuna in the pan, and sear each of the four long sides, watching the small sides to make an even searing to desired done-ness.
    • Set in the Refrigerator.
  • Place the Eggs in a pot and cover with water.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat and let sit for 12-15 minutes.
  • Remove and run under cold water, and peel the eggs; in the Refrigerator.
  • Return the Water to a boil.
  • Add the Potatoes and the Green Beans
  • Cook for 4 minutes, until the Green Beans turn bright Green.
  • Remove the Beans first, using tongs, and then the Potatoes.
  • Run both under cold water and set in the Refrigerator.
  • Give all the ingredients at least 20 minutes to cool.
  • Prepare wide bowls or salad plates for plating by dividing the Lettuce evenly.
  • Tear the Basil and Mint, and divide with the Thyme among the salad plates.
  • Quarter the Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Eggs.
  • Decoratively divide the Tomatoes, Potatoes, Eggs, and Green Beans among the salad plates. Usually this salad is deconstructed with the different items in piles next to each other on the Lettuce.
  • Slice the Tuna pieces perpendicular to the seared sides, in 1/4″ slices, and add to the Salad.
  • Add the Capers and Anchovies, and drizzle the Vinaigrette over it.

Serves 4

NOTES: Despite being what one would commonly find in most restaurants and diners in America and what Julia Child’s recipe calls Salade Niçoise, it is strikingly different from a true Salade Niçoise from Nice, France or the Côte d’Azur. Most noteworthy is the use of Blanched Potatoes and Green Beans–something not commonly used in the French namesake. Additionally, Mescaline salad would be used, and other items like Artichokes would be present. Still this is the version most Americans will know and recognize, and I find it tasty (without the Anchovies, which I have not yet come to like).  OH I should also mention that many of the French recipes  use Canned Tuna–I can only assume theirs is not “Chicken of the Sea”, though I’ve seen some marinated vacuum-sealed Tuna that may serve the purpose–and Lord know’s most diners use canned.

This salad, is often served as an Entrée, in a similar manner to the Cobb Salad.

I do have to share what Julia Child says about this sald in her book Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom:

Of all main-course salads, the Niçoise is my all-time favorite, with its fresh butter-lettuce foundation; its carefully cooked, beautifully green green beans; its colorful contrast of halved hard-boiled eggs, ripe red tomatoes, and black olives; all fortified by chunks of tunafish and freshly opened anchovies. It’s a perfect luncheon dish, to my mind, winter, summer, spring, and fall — an inspired combination that pleases everyone.

Niçoise Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1 medium Shallot, minced
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, chopped fine
2 Tbsp Fresh Basil, chopped fine
2 tsp Fresh Oregano, chopped fine
1 tsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped fine
1 tsp Capers
1 Anchovy filet
1 Egg
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Champagne Vinegar
3/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, coarsely ground

Directions:

  • Using a Mortar and Pestle, crush the Anchovy, Capers, and Shallots with the Herbs.
  • Wisk in the Egg and Dijon Mustard.
  • Add the Vinegar and Lemon Juice, and mix well.
  • Whisk in the Olive Oil.
  • When the Olive Oil is finished, taste, and add Salt and Pepper to taste.

Makes about 1 cup.

Schnitz un Knepp

Ingredients:
2-3 lb Ham, pre-cooked
2 cups dried Apple Rings
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 Egg, beaten
3 Tbsp Butter, melted
1/2-2/3 cup Milk
Water for Ham and Apples

Directions:

  • Put the Ham in a large pot, and cover with water.
  • Bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 2 1/2-3 hours until the ham is very tender.
  • Put the Apple slices in a bowl and cover with water, letting them soak the duration it takes to cook the Ham.
  • Add the Apples, the soaking Water, the Brown Sugar, and the Onions to the Ham, and bring to a boil.
  • In a large bowl combine all the dry Ingredients, Egg, and Butter. Slowly add the Milk to the batter–you may not need all 2/3 cup–you want it to be a sticky and gloppy batter, not runny.
  • Drop Tablespoon size-balls of dough into the Ham pot, and cover.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes, and then serve.

NOTES: Schnitz un Knepp is an Amish dish popular in Pennsylvania. Literally translated, it means “Slices and Buttons”. Schntiz comes from Schnitzen – slices and Knepp for button referring to the dumplings. I don’t know who the ham angered, that it didn’t make it into the name! The first time I had this was at YMCA camp in Ohio, when they took us to an Amish farm. The meal is very simple, and easy to serve to a large group of folks–and not what one gets every day in non-Amish circles. I recommend this with left-over ham after a holiday, or in the fall or winter. I’ve also seen this spelled Schnitz un Gnepp, as well as with the “un” spelled out “und”. The Amish German dialect pounces it “schnitz-un-nep”, alighting the ordinarily pronounced K/G sound right out.

Cornish Hens with Shallot-Sage-Raspberry Stuffing and Raspberry Sherry Sauce

Cornish Hen with Shallot-Sage-Raspberry Stuffing and and a Raspberry Sherry Sauce

Ingredients:
2 Cornish Hens, giblets removed, patted dry
6 slices Whole Wheat Bread
1/2 cup Raspberries
1 Shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
2 Tbsp fresh Sage, chopped fine
1 tsp fresh Thyme, crushed
2 tsp fresh Oregano, chopped fine
1 tsp fresh Parsley, chopped fine
1 Egg
1/6 cup Chicken Broth
1/6 cup Sherry
1/6 cup Berry Juice
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Raspberry Sherry Sauce (below)

Directions:

  • Preheat the Oven to 400F
  • In a medium size bowl, combine all ingredients except the Raspberry Sauce and Olive Oil; and mush together.
  • Wash the Hens, and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Stuff half of the dressing into each Hen.
  • Using cooking twine, Truss-up the Hens.
  • In a heavy skillet, on high heat, add the Olive Oil and brown each side of the Hens(about 2-4 minutes).
  • Place in a baking dish, and drizzle any Oil from the pan over the Hens.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, covered.
  • Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  • Prepare the Raspberry Sherry Sauce.
  • Plate and pour the Raspberry Sherry Sauce over each Hen.

NOTES: This recipe was an inspiration from The Legend of the Seeker, where in an episode one of the characters requests this dish! I couldn’t help but figure out a way to make it myself.

Raspberry Sherry Sauce
Ingredients:
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Sherry
1/2 cup Berry Juice
1 Shallot, diced
1 tsp Cornstarch
2 cups Raspberries
1 tsp fresh Ginger, diced
1 tsp fresh Sage, diced
1 Tbsp Butter
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In a Sauce Pan, combine the Butter, Shallot, Ginger, and a pinch of Salt, cooking until the shallot is translucent.
  • In a cup, whisk together the Cornstarch and Berry Juice.
  • Add all ingredients to the Sauce Pan, stirring on medium heat.
  • Crush the berries with your spoon as they cook.
  • Reduce to 1 cup of liquid, stirring often.

NOTES: Though this sauce is perfect for the Cornish hens, you can serve it with other meats like Duck or Quail. Some folks prefer to strain the sauce before serving using a sieve to remove the Berry seeds. I like the berry seeds, myself, but it is completely at your discretion.

Herbed Egg Salad

Ingredients:
6 Eggs, hardboiled and diced
1 small Red Onion, minced
1 large Sweet Gherkin, minced
1 tsp Capers, minced
2-3 Tbsp Greek-style Yogurt
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Basil, chopped fine
1 tsp Parsley, chopped fine
1/2 tsp Chives, chopped fine
Dash of Paprika

Directions:

  • Mix everything but the Yogurt together.
  • Slowly incorporate the Yogurt to the desired consistency.

NOTES: Egg Salad is an American dish that is commonly served as a sandwich or on on a bed of lettuce. This recipe uses Greek Yogurt rather than Mayonnaise, however if you prefer you can substitute Mayo for the Yogurt. Greek Yogurt is denser and less runny than other Yogurts.

Key Lime Pie

Persian “Key” Lime Pie

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups Sweetened Condensed Milk
4 Egg Yolks, beaten
1 cup Lime Juice
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust

Directions:

  • Combine the Sweetened Condensed Milk with the Egg Yolks in a large bowl, mixing well.
  • Slowly incorporate the Lime Juice, and mix well.
  • Pour into the Pie Crust.
  • Refrigerate for 1 hour

NOTES: This is a super easy no-bake pie that is sure to please everyone!

Most limes one finds in the grocery store are Persian limes. To make REAL Key Lime Pie, use Key Lime Juice. Key Limes are specifically from the Florida Keys and are smaller and more tart. Authentic Key Lime Pie recipes are non-bake. The condensed milk was used because of poor refrigeration options. Some folks will add a meringue to the pie, but as I hate most meringue toppings, I refuse.

The use of the highly acidic lime juice with the Condensed Milk and Egg Yolks “cooks” the pie, so no additional baking is needed.  Some folks also add some Green Dye to the pie to make it Green–but something just does not sit right with me dying a pie.

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Vegetable Oil
4 Eggs
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Carrots, Shredded
1 cup Raisins
1 cup chopped Pecans
2-3 cups Cream Cheese Frosting
Pecans for decoration

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt, Sugar, Brown Sugar, and Spices.
  • Slowly incorporate the Eggs, Vegetable Oil, and Vanilla Extract.
  • Mix in the Carrots, Raisins, and Pecans.
  • Grease 2 8″ round cake pans and coat with flour.
  • Divide the Batter between the two pans.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Remove from the pans and cool on a rack.
  • Place one cake on a plate or cake plate, and spread frosting on the top.
  • Place the second cake on top and frost the top.
  • Carefully add frosting to the side and rotate the plate to spread the frosting along the sides.
  • Decorate the top with Pecans. If you prefer you can crush the Pecans and place along the sides of the Cake.

Makes 1 cake

Quiche Lorraine

Ingredients:
Pâte Brisée for 9″ shell
6-8 strips of thick-cut Bacon, diced, cooked
4 Eggs
1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg

Directions:

  • Preheat the Oven to 375° F
  • Place the Pâte Brisée in a Spring-Foam Pan or Tart Pan or Pie Pan, and crimp the sides and edge as desired.
  • Bake for 15 minutes and remove to the side.
  • Sprinkle the Bacon pieces throughout the Pie shell.
  • In a large bowl beat the Eggs and combine with the Heavy Cream, Salt, Pepper, and Nutmeg.
  • Pour over the Bacon in the Pie shell.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes.

NOTES: Quiche Lorraine does not traditionally have Cheese, however most recipes do add Gruyère or Swiss. The addition of cheese or other ingredients connotes a different type of Quiche such as Vosgienne or Alsacienne (Cheese and Onion). Because I am someone who enjoys the fine details, below in the Variations section you will find the similar Quiches that are often all called Quiche Lorraine.

Quiche originated in the medieval German region of Lothringen or what is the modern day Alsace/Lorraine region of France. It was called Küche in the original Lorraine Franconian dialect.  French pronunciation influence changed the name to “kishe” and later quiche.

Variations:
Quiche Vosgienne – Add 1-2 cups shredded Gruyère Cheese on top after adding the custard mixture.
Quiche Alsacienne – Add 1 small diced white Onion when adding the bacon. Add 1-2 cups shredded Gruyère Cheese on top after adding the custard mixture.

Apple and Pecan Pie

Ingredients:
Pecan Pâte Brisée, divided in 2 disks
6 cups Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, sliced
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 cup chopped Pecans
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground Ginger
1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
2 Tbsp Butter, cold and cut into pieces.
1 Egg yolk
1 tsp Water
8-12 Pecan Halves for decorating

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 425° F
  • In a large bowl toss the Apples, Lemon Juice, chopped Pecans, Sugars, Flour, Salt, and Spices, coating the Apples well.
  • On a very clean, floured surface, roll out 1 of the disks of Pâte Brisée into a circle about 10″ for a 9″ Pie Pan.
  • Placing your rolling pin mid way across the crust, fold back half of the crust over the rolling pin, so as to utilize the rolling pin to move the crust over the Pie pan. Unroll and gently fit into the Pie pan. It is ok for crusts to hang over the sides.
  • Place the Apple mixture into the pie crust and dollop with the pieces of Butter
  • Repeat the rolling and placement with the second disk of Pâte Brisée, this time placing over the apple mixture in the Pie Pan.
  • Press along the edges of the two crusts to seal the dough.
  • Using a knife, trim the excess dough.
  • You may crimp the crust as you see fit.
  • Cut slits in the top of crust to allow for steam to escape.
  • Decorate with the Pecan Halves
  • In a small bowl, beat the Egg Yolk with the water.
  • Brush the Egg mixture over the crust.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to 350° F and cook for an additional 40 minutes.

NOTES: If you fear the crust may burn, after the first 15 minutes, wrap aluminum foil around the edges.

Pollo Pesto al Forno – Pesto Chicken Bake

Pesto Chicken Bake

Ingredients
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs (for coating)
2 Eggs (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
2 cups Pesto
4 Plum Tomatoes, sliced
2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350° F
  • Set up a dredging station using three pie pans. In one pan put the Flour, in the next the Eggs (beaten with a little water), in the next the Bread Crumbs
  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the chicken in the Flour, then the Eggs, then the Bread Crumbs and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet.
  • Spread the Pesto sauce over both sides of the Chicken, coating it completely.
  • Place Chicken in a baking dish, and cover with a layer of Tomato Slices followed by the shredded Mozzarella.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and begun to brown.

NOTES: The first time I ever had this, my mother had used Shake ‘n’ Bake. Though I prefer to use herbed bread crumbs, this is a quick option that also does not require the use of eggs.

Thumb Print Shortbread Cookies

Thumb Print Shortbread Cookies (variety of fillings)

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups Butter, room temperature
2 cups Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
1 tsp Vanilla
2 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt

Fillings of choice:
Jam, Chocolate kisses, Candied Fruit

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl cream the Butter and Sugar.
  • Slowly incorporate the Vanilla and Egg Yolks.
  • Add the flour 1 cup at a time to the wet ingredients. As you near the final installment, the dough can be mixed with your hands.
  • Cover with Plastic and place in Fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Remove and roll into small balls (about 1″ in diameter).
  • Place on prepared cookie sheet and indent a pocket in the middle with your thumb (or finger if your thumb is too big).
  • Place your filling in the indentation. If you are filling with chocolate kisses, you can press the ball down with the kiss rather than your thumb. The dough may break a little as you press it down, this is ok.
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the bottoms start to brown.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

NOTES: Traditionally, these treats have jam in them as a filling. If you use jam, please keep in mind it will be much hotter than the cookie when it comes out of the oven.

Fruitcake

Dedicated to my Mom and to Lucile F. Locher Mishler “Mum”, her maternal grandmother.

Traditional Fruitcake

Ingredients:
2 cups mixed Dried Fruits, minced
1 cup Rum
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Ginger
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
5 Eggs
3 Tbsp Canola Oil
1/4 cup Rum
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1 Tbsp Orange Zest
1/2 cup Pecans, chopped
1 cup Pecans, whole
1 cup Candied Red Cherries
1 cup Candied Green Cherries
1 cup Candied Pineapple

Directions:

  • Soak the minced Dried Fruits in 1 cup of Rum overnight.
  • Preheat the Oven to 300°F.
  • Sift together the Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, and Spices into a large bowl.
  • In a second bowl cream the Eggs with the Sugars.
  • Whisk in the Olive Oil and 1/4 cup Dark Rum.
  • Slowly incorporate into the Flour mixture.
  • Fold in the Dried Fruits, Zest, and 1/2 cup of crushed Pecans.
  • Grease a bunt pan well.
  • Pour mixture into the bunt pan, and lightly tap it against the counter.
  • Decorate with the Candied Fruits and whole Pecans.
  • Bake on the middle rack for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in it comes out clean.

NOTES: Fruitcake has always been one of my favorite deserts.  My mom tells me about how when she grew up her grandmother “Mum” used to make Fruitcake in early fall, and stick it in cheesecloth a tin.  Every couple weeks she’d pour Port on top of it.  By Christmas it was amazing.  I’m still nervous about keeping a cake in a tin and pouring alcohol on it for over a month…so here’s my version with a less pungent Rum.

Mixed Dried Fruit can include Cranberries, Raisins, Dates, Figs, Apricots, Apples, Pears, Pruns, etc.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Apples & Sausage

Dedicated to Brian H. and Lisa W.
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Apples & Sausage

Ingredients:
1 Acorn Squash
1 Red Delicious, skinned, pitted, diced
1 small Yellow Onion, diced
1/2 lb Sausage
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/4 tsp Caraway Seed, crushed
2 tsp Sage, cut fine
1/2 tsp Nutmeg, ground
1 cup White Bread, crust removed, diced fine
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Butter
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat the Oven to 400°F.
  • Prepare the Squash: Cut the Acorn Squash in half Vertically. Scoop out the Seeds and stringy tissue using your hands and a spoon. The Squash is rounded, so you may slice a flat surface out of the skin side of the Squash to give it a base, but don’t take too much out.
  • In a skillet, brown the Sausage with the Onion.
  • Remove from the Skillet to a bowl.
  • Mix in the Spices, Maple Syrup, Bread, and Egg using your hands to fully incorporate.
  • Place the Squash in a baking dish, and fill with 1/4″ water, to assist with keeping the Squash moist while baking.
  • Spread the butter along the inside of each half of the Squash.
  • Divide the stuffing into the two halves of the Squash.
  • Cover the Dish with a lid or Aluminum Foil.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes.

Serves 2 people.

Pumpkin Gnocchi in a Maple Sage Sauce

Ingredients:VegetarianNut Alergy Warning
2 Russet Potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup prepared Pumpkin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg

Maple Sage Sauce
1/2 cup Butter
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp Sage, minced

Garnish:
1 cup Walnuts
Grated Parmesan

Directions:

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash in a large bowl.
  • Incorporate the Pumpkin pulp, Spices, & Egg.
  • Start incorporating the Flour into the mixture. You may not use all the flour, or you may need more. What you are looking for is a dough forming that you can handle, and roll. It should be cohesive to itself, but not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into six parts.
  • On a floured surface, start rolling each part into a rope, about 1/2″-1″ thick in diameter.
  • Start cutting into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Think little pillows for the shape. You do not want to saw, you want to come down with your knife.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add all the Gnocchi. They will sink.
  • As the Gnocchi start to float, they are done, and can be ladled out.
  • In a saucepan, start heating the stick of Butter on low heat. Use low heat to prevent smoking
  • As the Butter melts, it will start to caramelize along the edges.
  • Stir in the Maple Syrup and the Sage, cooking for an additional 30 seconds or so.
  • Pour on the Gnocchi, and garnish with Walnuts and Parmesan.

Serves 6.

NOTES: Gnocchi are simple to make for scratch. I’ve seen many recipes that exclude the use of Potatoes, but in my opinion, it is the Potato that makes the Gnocchi. This is a dish that is great for an Autumn night. I recommend it with a side of green beans.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:Vegetarian
3 large Eggs
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 cups Prepared Pumpkin
1 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1 tsp Nutmeg, ground
1/4 tsp Ginger, ground
1/4 tsp Cloves, ground
1/4 tsp Allspice, ground
1/4 tsp Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 Pâte Brisée

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, cream the Eggs with the Sugar.
  • Slowly incorporate the Pumpkin pulp.
  • In a second bowl, add the Spices, Salt, and Cornstarch, and whisk together so there are no clumps.
  • Slowly whisk in the Heavy Cream.
  • Whisk the Cream mixture into the Pumpkin Mixture.
  • Preheat the Oven to 425°F
  • Roll out the Pie Crust and place into a pie pan. Crimp edges as desired.
  • Place the Pie pan on a cookie sheet.
  • Pour the Pie filling into the crust.
  • Place the Pie in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to 350°F, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. The traditional way of testing is to use a knife inserted into the center. If it comes out mostly clean, it is done.

NOTES: Pumpkin Pie is a very American dish, pumpkins naturally growing in North America. I’ve read that pumpkins were first exported to France and England, where the pie was actually developed by chefs, but that it never became popular there. For many pumpkin pie is all about the Holiday time, and for me it is especially. It connects me with the romanticized idea of family eating desert by a warm hearth.

I have no problem using canned pumpkin, so long as it is PURE pumpkin. Some cans will use other squash types. If you want to do real pumpkin on your own, the best option is to get a small pumpkin and slice it, de seed it, and steam it. Then scoop out the pulp and puree it in a food processor.