30 December 2011

Resolutions...all food related!

This year my New Year's resolutions are all about food!  (I'm sure you find this a surprise!)  My big plans include Capons, ducks, quail eggs, possibly an octopus or 2 and CHARCUTERIE!!!

Some resolutions are recipes and eating, others are learning new techniques and re-sampling a few things that didn't ring my bell the first time around!

On the Charcuterie note;  it's something I love and have never had the drive to really make on my own.  I believe that is one of the perils of owning a specialty store, other folks are doing a great job, why mess with it?  I feel like 2012 will be my year of pate!

I've thought about making sausages and was really inspired by http://bier-camp.com/ as they are making INCREDIBLE sausages!  I especially loved the Smoked Gouda and portabella mushroom pork sausage I had in the fall.

However, I am still scarred by the years on the farm of finding a butchered hog hanging in the cherry tree as I got off the school bus and my father making us help him stuff sausage.....lots of it.  (That was also the year he made homemade soda.  I swore I'd never do that to my children and drank a coke at every opportunity!)  It doesn't gross me out, I think it's more of a "been there, done that, no need to return" attitude.  Biercamp is doing it so, so well....why not just support their efforts?!

More resolutions to come!

Wishing you joy and peace this holiday season.  Much family friends and food to carry you into the new year.

27 December 2011

Fresh in winter....

Sunshine, fresh oranges with leaves still attached, quince and all their possibilities.  A fine day in the midst of winter in Michigan.

26 December 2011

Christmas Delights

Christmas 2011 has been a season of family, food, dogs/cats, grown children and special gifts. 

Our Christmas Eve is always a Czech meal that my grandmother hosted on the farm and has been the same for as long as any of us remember.  Years ago she taught me to make her prune dumplings and I think they were just like hers this year!  I have never had the Czech spelling but phonetically it's call pee-yet-ee. 

A sweet bread stuffed with plump prunes, cut into hunks and doused with a combination of milk, sugar and poppy seed.  The dish is then baked and dumplings are turned quite often so each is moist and soft with milk mixture.  Most everyone eats a piece, but my dad and I LOVE it!  We share the leftovers and eat them for the rest of the week! (feel free to comment if you'd like the recipe)

Christmas Day was a bit of a challenge this year as John had to take our daughter, Julia, to the ER at 8am.  A scratched cornea and eye infection was the diagnosis.  Painful and swollen, she made it through gifts & breakfast and still went to work in the afternoon!  (Double pay is motivating for sure!)  Our Jamie was North Face-d, Ugg-ed and Victoria Secret-d within an hour of gift opening and planning her evening of movie going by 10:30am.

Little Pierre had so much fun with his gifts from Santa and the cat's gifts from Santa....and the cats after their gifts from Santa! 

John and I never do too much with gifts for each other.  This year we both had gotten a few great things the other had been wanting or needing! 

I received a few special gifts this year too.  Our daughter, Gina, sent a few of her homemade chutneys and lemon curd.  My friend Sandy, gave me a sweet, rooster-topped bottle of homemade amaretto and my artist friend, Pat Cooper, sent a card with a watercolor of Pierre on the front!  Homemade is always a great gift!

My folks hosted dinner on Christmas Day and as usual per my Mom, it was fantastic!  She really puts out the spread!  Per tradition...women in the kitchen, men.....well, you know men. 

I wish you a season filled with all of these wonderful things too and a healthy, happy New Year!

23 December 2011

My Christmas Morning Menu

The only meal I am hosting this Christmas is breakfast for John's folks.  I know they would prefer I make bacon, eggs, toast...diner style.  It's a good thing they are used to my weird-ness with food so here is my menu and recipes!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Cider Syrup
Baked Eggs with Asparagus
Panettone with melted fresh butter
Fresh fruit with dip (my MIL is bring)

The Pumpkin Pancakes are a recipe I modified from Paula Deen's Souffled Pumpkin Pancake recipe.  I wanted a fluffy pancake with great pumpkin flavor, so I changed things a bit and make them individual in a skillet.  They taste great with pure maple syrup or I made the Cinnamon Cider Syrup (50-50 blend of maple syrup and cooked down apple cider) back in the fall and left it to steep in the cellar.

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 
Melt 2 Tablespoon butter in a small pan and add brown sugar, when dissolved, stir in pecan and saute about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Melt remaining 3 Tablespoons butter in mixing bowl and whisk in eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Whisk in the dry ingredients and when combined, fold in pumpkin puree until just combined.

I sprinkle the pecans on top of  pancake batter as they cook, or you can use for garnish when serving.


I simply reduced 2 cups of local apple cider down to about a 1/2 cup, over low simmer in a small saucepan.  It took about an hour.  I then added an equal amount of pure maple syrup and a 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick.  I put the combo in a small jar in the cellar in October and it's delicious!

You can find my recipe for Baked Eggs on this blog!  Just use the search bar!

If you've never tried Panattone, it's really special and delicious!  A light and airy, slightly sweet bread
 studded with candied oranges, citron and raisins that is crafted in a tall round loaf from Italy.  Tradition calls for slices unadorned, yet I LOVE a slice brushed with melted butter!  Just enough to make the slice glisten, but not enough to soak in.  You could also serve with mascarpone, a triple creme cheese from Italy or batter with beaten eggs and saute like french toast!  i just adore a hunk of it with my morning coffee too!

1 jar marshmallow fluff
1 8ounce package cream cheese, softened

Beat them together with flat beater until combined, serve with fresh fruit like grapes, sliced bananas, strawberry halves and cubed pineapple and watch the whole damn dish disappear within minutes.  This is evil, evil dip.

I hope your Christmas is merry, drama is little and the food delicious! 

22 December 2011

Gingerbread Doggie Biscuits & New Holiday Centerpiece

Since the kids have gotten older, there is no longer the need to make dozens of cookies at Christmas.  They just don't get eaten.  So to fulfill my baking wants, I am once again making Doggie treats.  Gingerbread seemed fitting for the holiday season and Pierre really likes any sort of molasses.  I like the way these biscuits roll out.  With that bit of yeast, it's a bit more like bread dough than cookie dough and they bake up really well.  (The house smelled great too!)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons INSTANT dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 Tablespoons rice flour
  • 2 Tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
I threw everything together into my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and turned it on low for about 6 minutes until the dough came together on the hook.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface about 1/3 inch thick.  I let them rest about 10 minutes until puffy.  (If you are using active dry yeast, you may need to let them rise up to an hour.)  Bake 60 minutes, turn off oven and let biscuits cool several hours.

I made 3 different sizes of gingerbread men and bones and tiny hearts for all.  I used a variety of sprinkles for a festive look, but you can omit if you don't want your dogs eating additional sugar!

We are going to bag these up and tie with some satin red ribbon.  We will be handing out the doggie bags at The Market this week, so that should make for some interesting conversation! 

Because of the unusually warm and wet fall/winter we are experiencing in Michigan, my osage oranges did not last for the holidays, as expected.  Funky does not begin to describe what they looked like....ick.  So I scavenged some greens, grabbed a few fresh pomegranates and "borrowed" a few pieces of beaded fruit from The Boulevard Market's christmas tree! 

I think it looks very festive and kitchen-y and I have enjoyed these battery operated bulbs like crazy!  Thinking about how I can use them after the holidays...

14 December 2011

Christmas Preparations...

I'm getting into the holiday spirit this week...I promise.  I've got the tree...
Sadly, Pierre was the only "kid" that came with us this year!

I'm making the "All American" Buckeye Candies...ugly yet so delicious.

Courtesy Frances Prochaska
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate (I used Callebaut 50%)
2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening

Blend peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar & vanilla until smooth.  Shape into balls about an inch round and place on waxed paper.  Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.  In a double boiler melt chocolate and shortening, stirring until completely melted.  Dip peanut butter balls into chocolate until about 3/4 covered.  Place on waxed paper to cool.  Refrigerate until hard.  Stores in refrigerator about 3 weeks. (Yeah right...they will be gone in 3 days)

I put together a few gifts.  I'm sending some of my preserved blueberries, lemon balm jelly, Molasses cookies and more to England with our daughter for the holidays.  I hope it brings her a taste of home (molasses are her favorites) and she enjoys sharing with Lewis' family.  I LOVED these paper covered boxes!  I bought a selection of ribbon that coordinate and some fun vintage paper tags.  I also found these initial stickers at Target for $1!!!  Super cute and holds ribbon well while looking sleeker than a bow.  Fussier than I usually get...but what the hell, it's the holidays!  Plus I got a Christmas card like the DAY after Thanksgiving from L's folks....I feel the need to "appear" organized!

The shelves are all stocked at The Market with care...in hopes that the economy won't be bare....

The beauty of Italy will keep us well fed if nothing else!  Cheers!

11 December 2011

Hungarian Beer Dip & Chorizo Mushroom Queso Dip

We had a great time at The Boulevard Market yesterday cooking up some easy entertaining dips!  Sandy deserves ALL the credit!  Both of these recipes are so tasty and unique yet familiar ingredients that guests will just gobble up!  I can't wait to make them for my family over New Years!  I'm sorry I didn't get any photos to share as the recipes looked very impressive too!  Especially the Hungarian Beer Cheese Dip in the loaf of bread!  Enjoy!

Hungarian Beer Cheese Dip

16 oz cream cheese
16 oz shredded Grafton Village 2 Year Cheddar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup Brown Ale
1 small, round loaf of bread (about 7 oz size)

Mix all ingredients untul smooth.  Hollow out bread , reserving pieces for dipping.  Spoon cheese mixture into hollowed loaf. Replace bread top and scatter remaining bread pieces around loaf for dipping.


Chorizo Mushroom Queso Dip

Olive Oil for coating pan
1/2 pound Spanish Chorizo
1/2 pound mushroom caps, quartered
1 cup diced Cabot Cheddar with Habanero or other pepper cheese
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Chips for dipping

Heat skillet and oil. Dice Chorizo and add to pan to render fat. ( remove casing if you like) When crumbly and brown, add mushrooms and cook until just tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to small casserole or baking dish and top with cheese. Bake until bubbly. Remove from oven and top with scallions. Serve with chips for dipping.