Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Club Luncheon

Last week was Book Club at my house complete with lunch. The ladies were very appreciative of the meal prepared for them, so I thought you would enjoy the recipes. The rolls are always a bit hit and embarrassingly easy!You know that I hate to even attempt pie crust, but this recipe was a breeze and tastes good, too! Give these recipes a try, maybe not all on the same day as I did (I'm always a glutton for punishment!) but at your leisure.

 Here's the menu:
Southern Honey Chicken Salad ( Good deli chicken salad works, too! )
Fresh Green Beans with Caramelized Onions
Tomato Pie (make it with frozen piecrust or use the recipe following)
Surprise Muffins
Cream Cheese Poundcake with Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream and fresh peach slices

And HERE are the recipes! Enjoy! 
Southern Honey Chicken Salad
4 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1  1/2 cups Duke's Light mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2Tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine chicken, celery, cherries and pecans in a large bowl. Whisk mayonnaise, honey, lemon juice and mustard in a small bowl. Combine the mixtures. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Chill. 

* I learned from Ina Garten to bake chicken breasts with skin and bone. Sprinkle  liberally with garlic salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400 in an uncovered pan for 20 minutes. Cool and remove met from bone. Discard bones and skin! 

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions
1 pound fresh green beans, snapped
2 medium Vidalia onions
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Place green beans and 2 Tablespoons water in microwave proof bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes. Remove from oven, drain off water and cover beans with ice. Set aside.
Cut onions into thin slices, then in half. Cook onion in nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium and add butter, brown sugar and vinegar. Add green beans and cook for 5 minutes. 

* I cooked the beans and onions and refrigerated them separately a few days ahead. The day of the luncheon I heated them together but served them at room temperature. They  are also good served cold. 

Ina Garten's Perfect Piecrust
1 1/2 sticks very cold butter ( I put mine in the freezer overnight)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 cup very cold Crisco ( also from the freezer!)
1/2 cup ice water

Cut the butter in 1/2-inch dice and return it to the freezer while you prepare the flour mixture.  Place flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of ( Cuisinart, Darlene! ) food processor fitted with metal blade and pulse a few times to combine dry ingredients. Add butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
Dump out onto a floured board and roll into a ball. ( Flatten the ball to form a thick disc.) Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. ( I made this a day ahead, removed it from refrigerator for 30 minutes before rolling out.)

Cut dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a shape at least 1-inch larger than the pie pan, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough so that it doesn't stick to the board. ( You should see bits of butter in the dough.) Fold the dough in half, ease it into the pie pan without stretching at all, and unfold to fit the pan. ( This is the critical part! If you stretch it, it will shrink!) With a sharp knife, cut the dough 1-inch larger around than the pan. Fold the edge under and crimp the edge .  Yield:2 pie crusts

* At this point, I put the pie crust in the freezer for about 15 minutes. I pricked it all over with a fork and baked it at 375 for 12-15 minutes . 

Tomato Pie
1 baked (10-inch) deep-dish piecrust ( I used tart pans)
3 ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced ( I used red and yellow tomatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste ( I used Basil Salt)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 cup Duke's Light mayonnaise
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese

Fill the cooled, baked piecrust with tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil. Combine mayonnaise and cheese. Spread over tomatoes. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. 

Surprise Rolls ( Surprise! How easy they are! )
2 cups Bisquick
1 stick melted butter
1 cup sour cream
Combine ingredients. Do not overmix! Spoon into greased miniature muffin pans. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 -12 minutes or until golden. Serve warm. 

Here's where you'll find the dessert recipes:
Cream Cheese Poundcake January 9, 2013
Peach Buttermilk Ice Cream August 18, 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Peach Ice Cream

Our ice cream maker has been sadly silent this summer. Today I put it to work and it hummed happily churning out a delicious peach ice cream. The South Carolina peaches are from the local market stand and are sweet tart. They are a beautiful color inside and out but not extremely sweet.
The ice cream recipe isn't too sweet either so together they made a lovely crisp, almost sherbert like, ice cream. I've used this same recipe for strawberry ice cream, too. The great thing is it's no cook and  no eggs. Needless to say, it's quick and easy! And yuuuummmyyy!

Now for the surprise ingredient. It is made with buttermilk! Before you squench up your nose and say "ewwwww", let me assure you that had I not told you, you would have probably never guessed it! As a matter of fact, I'm serving it at a luncheon this week and will not reveal until they have tasted. Ok,  if you're reading this and coming to my house, please don't tell! I'll serve Cream Cheese Pound Cake topped with Peach Ice Cream and fresh sliced peaches. Yuuuuuummmmm! I'm betting they love it! And so will you! Give it a try....

Peach Buttermilk Ice Cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups smashed peaches ( I used an immersion blender to puree them)
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups 1/2 and 1/2

Combine 1/4 cup sugar and peaches. Set aside.

Stir buttermilk and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add remaining ingredients. Stir in peaches. Pour mixture into tabletop ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer to freezer container, place in freezer and allow flavors to ripen for 2 hours ( if you can wait that long!).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Baked Stuffed Eggplant

This summer has been one filled with strange weather and even stranger garden yields. The tomato crop from a few weeks ago is gone yet eggplants are plentiful and almost football size! We've grilled them ( Grill first simply brushed with olive oil, then pour over marinade while they cool.  They absorb the flavors easier!)  and I've  made a variety of casseroles. I finally dug out this recipe for stuffed eggplant that we loved years ago. It was and is still delicious!

Whether you have a garden abundance or just want to try something new, this recipe is sure to become a long standing favorite.  I made 4 stuffed eggplants and reheated the "planned overs" a few days later in my convection oven. You could freeze them, thaw in the refrigerator and reheat.  Depending on the size of the eggplant, one half can be a serving or you can cut them into smaller sizes. I used small ones and everyone had their own small stuffed half.

Baked Stuffed Eggplant
 2 medium eggplants, each cut in half lengthwise ( about 2 pounds)
2 slices white bread
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1  1/2 cups chopped onion
1  1/2 cups chopped pepper ( I used green. Red or a combination would work also)
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4  cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Score cut half of eggplant by making 4 shallow crosswise cuts. Place the eggplant halves, cut side down, on foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with Pam. Bake for 25 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from oven, turn eggplant over, and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Remove pulp, leaving a 1/3-inch thick shell; reserve eggplant shells. Chop pulp. 

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Place bread in food processor, pulse about 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 3/4 cup. Drizzle with olive oil and pulse to combine. ( I added fresh basil leaves to the breadcrumbs.)

Heat a large non-stick skillet coated with Pam over medium-high heat. Add onion, sauté 3 minutes. Stir in chopped eggplant, chopped pepper, tomato, oregano and garlic, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Stuff each eggplant shell with mixture. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes until  thoroughly heated and lightly browned.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fall is coming!

 There is a different feeling in the mountain air this week and the sky is beginning to change colors. There is nothing like the blue of the fall sky and the clear and crisp fall air.  All of these changes also mean time for fall recipes! Ok, maybe I'm ahead of the season just a smidgen. However, this recipe for French Apple Tart is timeless.

The placement of the apples is a work of art. Take your time and follow the photo for the design and you'll end up with something worthy of the finest Paris patisserie. (Can you tell that I'm missing our overseas trip this year?) this recipe takes a little time, but using the food processor makes a great short cut. You can slice the apples in the food processor or on a mandolin ( carefully!).

If you like this recipe, use the search feature for my German Apple Cake recipe. It is also a favorite!

French Apple Tart

1  1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, divided
1/4 tsp. table salt
7 Golden Delicious or Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored, and halved
1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup apricot jam, optional

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Combine flour, sugar, 8 tbsp. butter, and salt in food processor and pulse until pea­size crumbles form, about 10 pulses. Drizzle in 3 tbsp. ice­ cold water and pulse until dough is moistened, about 3—4 pulses. (Do not pulse so much that the dough forms a ball. It will clump together when you form it into a disk.) Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a flat disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (Note: This can be made up to three days in advance.)

Unwrap dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough into a 13″ circle and then transfer to a 11″ tart pan with a removable bottom; trim edges; chill for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375º. Working with one apple half at a time, thinly slice into sections, keeping slices together. Press sliced apple half gently to fan it out; repeat with remaining apple halves. Place 1 fanned apple half on outer edge of the tart dough, pointing inward; repeat with 7 more apple halves (or as many as you are able to fit — with a smaller tart pan, you won’t be able to fit as many). Separate remaining apple slices. Starting where the apple halves touch and working your way in, layer apples to create a tight rose pattern. Fill in any gaps with remaining apple.

Sprinkle with sugar (You may not need the full 1/4 cup. Use as much or as little as you like. If your apples are really sweet, you won’t need a full 1/4 cup; if you’re using a 9-inch tart pan, you also likely won’t need a full 1/4 cup.) Bake until golden brown, 60—70 minutes.

Heat apricot jam in a small saucepan until warmed and loose; pour through a fine strainer into a small bowl and set aside. Transfer tart to a wire rack; using a pastry brush, brush top of tart with jam. Let cool completely before slicing and serving with whipped cream.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Scalloped Tomatoes

It's that time of year when instead of having a couple of red, ripe tomatoes, you suddenly have a five gallon bucket full! Abundance is a blessing, but too many tomatoes are also a puzzle. Besides the obvious tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, stewed tomatoes for soups and chili next winter, there are a number of baked side dishes using tomatoes that go well with grilled meats and other fresh veggies. 

I grew up eating Scalloped Tomatoes. Mama made this in winter from canned tomatoes and it was like having a summer meal. I especially like these made from the sun ripened tomatoes of summer. They can be sweet or savory. For sweet, omit the basil and add more brown sugar. For savory, add 1 teaspoon minced garlic and increase the herbs. Either way, this is sure to become a family favorite!

Scalloped Tomatoes
Basil, brown sugar, bread cubes and onions are cooked up with thick, juicy chunks of tomato, and then baked in the oven until your kitchen smells wonderful.

1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil ( or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil)
4 teaspoons brown sugar
5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and sliced (or cut into large chunks)
2 cups soft ( 1-inch) bread cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sauté butter and onion in a medium saucepan until onion is transparent. Place salt, pepper, basil, brown sugar and tomatoes in the saucepan; stir. Add bread and stir until the ingredients are well combined.
Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13 -inch baking dish.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.