Monday, March 18, 2013

Here's to Perfect Day's & Small Changes

It's another Monday and I always seem so unprepared for this day.  I know it's coming, but from Friday to Monday morning I seem to put everything behind me in the way of creating.  All I want to do is play.  That said, I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend and a celebratory St. Patrick's Day.

My St. Patrick's Day was not wild, but a very fun day.  Drove up to the mountains with the top down (town of Blue Ridge), had lunch at "Harvest on Main"  (corn beef and cabbage, which was excellent), and went antiquing.  Came home relaxed and had dinner of left-overs and a glass of wine.   Perfect Day!

Friday was a concert at the Cobb Center - Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, & Joey Bishop.  Excellent show!


Saturday was shopping and fixer-upper day.  We replaced the outside lights with shiny new ones (my husband did the work & I was the assistant.
Now, something I have been working on is adding and changing things in my blog.  It takes me some time to figure out how to do certain things; I have been working on a 'drop down menu' so that I can add things to the blog.  Well, miracles do happen and it is a work in progress, but it will happen.  So look out, I'm on a roll.

Next on today's agenda are the recipes for Monday.  I am in the 3rd chapter of  "The Last Course"; the title is 'Figs, Melons, & Grapes'.  I really love these next two recipes because it could be served as an appetizer or dessert.   

 Grape Focaccia with Rosemary
(to make this recipe easier you can buy focaccia and top with the grapes and rosemary)

Ingredients for  topping the focaccia:
focaccia dough (ready to bake, can get at bakery counter in store)
2 tablespoons melted butter 
3 tablespoons butter (softened, cut into bits)
1 cup halved Concord grapes, seedless is easiest, if not remove seeds
1 teaspoon rosemary needles
2 tablespoons turinado (raw) sugar
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, such as fleur de sel

Yield: 8 to 10 servings
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Brush dough with melted butter

3. top the dough evenly with the grapes, rosemary, and the softened butter bits

4. Sprinkle with turinado sugar and the salt

5. Bake the focaccia for about 15 minutes or until crust is a golden brown

6. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.  

Paired with Roquefort cheese   
 Yogurt Sorbet
(this sorbet is refreshing and creamy; use a high-quality yogurt)

Yields: 1 quart
4 cups yogurt
1 1/2 cups Simple Syrup
1. Line a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel and set it over a bowl.
    Spoon the yogurt into the lined sieve and place in the refrigerator to drain overnight. (This
    gets rid of excess water, thickening it into a dense yogurt cheese.) 

2. In a bowl, mix together the drained yogurt and the Simple Syrup.

3. Pour the mixture into an ice-cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer's 

Simple Syrup:
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
2 cups sugar
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and 1 1/2 cups water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Let the syrup simmer for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and allow to cool.  (will keep indefinitely in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator)

Thanks for Stopping By

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sitting In The Middle

It's Wednesday and another sunny day in Georgia.  A bit chilly this morning, but I can definitely live with that - and plus the fact that it is suppose to warm up for the afternoon.  So let's continue with Spring Fever.  I have been busy getting ready for Spring, as you all know.  Last post I revealed my spring table setting.  This time I wanted
 to share the wreath I created for my front door, along with
  2 more simple desserts from "The Last Course". (first the wreath reveal)
 (On to dessert) As I have gone through the
chapters in Claudia's book, I have realized there are many sorbet
recipes; and I love them.  They are simple, very flavorful, and a nice
light dessert.  And, I love using my ice cream maker.  

The next two recipes I hope you will like - I believe the sorbet is one of the best. 
 If you likecherry pie, I think you will like the 'Sour Cherry Sorbet'.  
It tastes just like a slice of cherry pie.  I did take some liberties with 
the two recipes.  The chapter is titles "Stone Fruits".  Here in Georgia it is not the
season for stone fruit, so I used canned cherries for the sorbet and
raspberry jam for the quince thumbprint cookies.  This
just goes to show you that recipes can adapt.

Sour Cherry Sorbet
Yield: 1 pint
   3 cups sour cherries, pitted or if not in season 2 cans of tart cherries (packed in water)
   2 tablespoons sugar
   2/3 cup simple Syrup (recipe follows)
   1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid or (if not available: I used 1 teaspoon lemon juice)

1. In a medium bowl, combine the cherries (if using canned cherries drain off juice) and sugar.  Let them macerate for 30 minutes, then puree the mixture in a food processor or blender.  Push the puree through a fine sieve and stir in the Syrup, 1/3 cup water, and the ascorbic acid or lemon juice.

2. Chill the mixture until it's very cold about 4 hours.  Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions. 
*(I said it before - this tastes just like cherry pie (without the crust of course.)

 Raspberry Jam filled Thumbprint Cookies
 Yield: 5 1/2 dozen
  1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks) (softened)
  1 1/2 cups sugar 
  1 8-oz. pkg cream cheese (softened)
  2 eggs
  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4 1/2 cups flour
  1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  Raspberry Jam or whatever jam might be your favorite
  confectioner's sugar (for sifting on cookies after baking)

1. Combine softened butter, sugar, and softened cream cheese, mixing until well blended.  
     Blend in eggs and vanilla extract.    

2. Combine dry ingredience and add to the creamed mixture.  Mix well.  Chill the dough for
     30 minutes.  Shape level tablespoonfuls of dough into balls.  Place on ungreased cookie
     sheet; flatten slightly, indent center with your thumb.  

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove the cookies from oven and place on a wire rack 
    to cool.  While cooking: first sift confectioner sugar over each cookie.  Add jam to the center
    of the cookie.  (to make the jam easier to work 
    with - place a few tablespoons in a bowl and
    heat in microwave for about 10 to 15 seconds.       This makes it easier to spoon in the middle of
    the cookie.)


Enjoy and Thanks for your Support!!!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Fever!!!!!

This past weekend was wonderful: the sun was shining, the temperature was in the 60's.  It was so nice that you felt guilty if you were inside. 

 To celebrate this spring-like weather (only cause it's not officially spring):  went for walks in the park

changed my winter table setting to a spring setting,

and lastly I made 2 more desserts from Claudia's cookbook. I will share these in my next post.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Talk of Spring, Cold Weather, and Just Desserts

It is already Thursday, March 7th.  For me it is 1:00a.m.  I am sitting here writing and listening to the wind howling.  The first day 
of spring is 12 days away.  But, it seems that winter will never end.
I believe that statement is even truer for my friends up north 
as the snow drifts continue to get ever higher.  I live in 
Georgia where the weather is fickled (one day it is 62 degrees and the next it is cold and rainy).  So, really I should not complain. 
On a lighter note, I wanted to continue my
 review of Claudia Fleming’s wonderful book on desserts:  
 “The Last Course: The Desserts of 
 Gramercy Tavern”.

I don't know too much about Claudia Fleming other
than the short biography written in the book (and yes,
I do read my cookbooks.)  I have learned
that she is creative, loves being a pastry chef,
and in her own words "I want my desserts to be
extra special."

As I have read and poured through each chapter, 
reading recipes - I can honestly say,
"that each dessert looks and sounds as special as 
the dessert that was on the page before.

There are 14 chapters and my goal is to share, with you, 
2 of my favorite recipes from each.  The first
chapter is all about "Berries".
  The first recipe is a blueberry tart.  This is no ordinary tart; it's more
like a little bit of heaven.  The crust tastes like graham crackers and the cream cheese custard is light, creamy, and sweet.  Then to add a hint of fancy, top with blueberry compote. 

Blueberry-Cream Cheese Tarts with Graham Cracker Crust
Graham Cracker Tart Crust
 *1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
 *1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
 *1/4 cup granulated sugar
 *1/4 cup honey
 *2 cups all-purpose flour
 *1/2  cup whole wheat pastry flour
 *1 teaspoon salt
 *1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Pastry Cream 
 *1 cup milk
 *5 tablespoons sugar
 *4 large egg yolks
 *2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
 *3/4 cup (6 oz.) cream cheese, cut into cubes and softened.
 *1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

Blueberry Topping
 *2 1/2 cups blueberries
 *1 tablespoon sugar

1. To prepare the graham cracker shells; in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugars until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add the honey and beat until well combined..
 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and cinnamon .  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.  Mix until the dough is well combined..  Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form it into a disk..  Chill until firm, at least one hour.

 3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick, about a 13 x 16-inch rectangle.  Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 16 circles of dough and press the into the greased 2-inch tart cups or mini muffin pans, trimming away any excess dough.  Prick the dough all over with a fork.  Chill for 20 minutes.
4. Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  (the tart shells can be made up to 1 day ahead and frozen for up to 3 months) 

5.  To prepare the pastry cream, combine 3/4 cup of the milk and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup milk into the egg yolk mixture.  Remove the milk mixture from the heat and add a little of the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture to warm it, whisking constantly to keep the yolks from cooking.  Pour the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly as you pour.  
6. Return the custard to the stove and bring it to a boil, whisking constantly.  Let the custard cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until it thickens.  Add the cream cheese and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.  Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with cheesecloth into a clean bowl.  Cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  When it is chilled, whisk the pastry cream until smooth and fold in the whipped cream. 
7.  To make the blueberry topping; in a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the blueberries with the sugar.  Cook over low heat until the berries have all popped and broken down, about 5 minutes.  Strain the cooked berries into a bowl and discard the solids.  Add the remaining
1 1/2 cups whole berries to the cooked berry syrup and toss together to combine.  
8. To assemble the tarts, spoon the pastry cream into each tart shell and top with 2 tablespoons of the blueberries.  Serve soon after assembling.   


Another reason the love Claudia’s dessert book is there are 
many sorbet recipes and I plan to try them all.
So, for the second dessert I have chosen her “Strawberry Sorbet”.
The sorbet recipes are very simple and a perfect ending to a
wonderful meal.

Strawberry Sorbet
        Yield: 1 quart
 1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/4 cup sugar
1 1l4 cups Simple Syrup (recipe at the bottom)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1.       In a large bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar.  Let the mixture rest for 2 hours.
2.    Transfer the berries to a food processor or blender and puree with 3/4 cup water until very smooth.  Strain through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids to extract all their juice, then discard the solids.
3.   In a large bowl, whisk together the strawberry puree, Simple Syrup, and lemon juice.  Cover and chill until cold at least 3 hours, or overnight.  Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Simple Syrup:
   Yields: 2 1/2 CUPS
   2 cups sugar
   1 1/2 cups water
    1 1/2  cups water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring
   until the sugar dissolves.  Let the syrup simmer for 1 minute,   
   then turn off the heat and allow to cool.  (Simple syrup will
   keep almost indefinitely in a tightly sealed bottle in the

Thanks for Reading
Hope you enjoy the wonderful treats!


Happy Thanksgiving

  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Many Blessings and Love to All