Thursday, April 27, 2006

Appetizer Party for 20

Appetizers are my favorite food and nothing excites me more than planning an exciting appetizer buffet. Especially if I can sneak in a few new things among the requested standards. I was particularly pleased with the shot glass desserts. Everyone loves miniatures. The Key Lime Pie in a sho glass was a favorite. The Dark Roast Gelee scared people a little.


Key Lime Parfait served in shot glasses
Expresso Gelee & whipped cream served in a shot glass
2 Cheeses and Grapes
Roast Beef Crostini with Caper Mayo
Chicken Satay with a peanut dipping sauce

Pasta Shells Stuffed with Chopped Salad
Crab Rangoon Cups
Thai Crab Tartlets

Sugar Rush Part 2

I gave homemade marshmallows another try. I used a highly rated recipe from I read through all the reviews and chose which alterations I would make. Everything went great. It wasn't as messy as some of the reviewers said. I flipped over the pan after letting them sit and they popped out nicely. They cut easily and did not stick to the knife as I expected. I could even use a cookie cutter to make heart shaped ones. The marshmallows turned out perfect. They were big and fluffy and square. I was able to hand coat them in bittersweet chocolate which was my goal all along. My only problem was - they tasted just like marshmallows! I think I expected a loftier, grander, oh-my-God version of marshmallows when really all I got was a really fresh, nicely large marshmallow. The marshamllows dipped coated in really good bittersweet chocolate were pretty good. And the experience was fun, don't get me wrong, patting a large pan of soft white fluff and sprinkling with powdered sugar was very satisfying, especially after the earlier debacle (entitled Sugar Rush.)

Will I make them again? I will probably make them next December - they would make a nice gift packaged with some hot chocolate and people certainly ohh and ahh when you say they are homemade. Part of me i toying with the idea of making a batch of caramel and pouring it in a large pan then making a batch of marshmallow and pouring it over that, then cutting and coating with bittersweet. Sugar Rush Part 3?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Prosperity Sandwich

I got a craving for a Prosperity Sandwich. They used to serve one at the Sheraton WestPort when I worked there as a waitress one million years ago. As I remember, it involved toast layered with ham and turkey, smothered with a mellow, creamy cheese sauce, topped with 2 slices of bacon and then heated. I looked online, and even though I went several pages into the search, I found only fond reminisces. It must be a St. Louis sandwich because the only references I found to it where about restuarants here. My daughter Grace has been on an "out of the ordinary" sandwich kick lately (she has been taking a fluffer nutter in her lunch) so she encouraged me to make it. I took two oven proof dishes and lined them with toasted bread. I used a whole grain wheat because that is what I had. I then layered Honey Roasted turkey from the Deli and some leftover Easter ham. I made a cheese sauce by cooking some flour and butter. I then added about a cup of evaporated milk. I let that cook and thicken a few minutes. I tossed in some cheese from the cheese drawer - some shredded cheddar and then a handful of mozzarella. I ladled the cheese sauce over the meats and toasts and sprinkled it with a couple strips of bacon I had chopped and thrown in the microwave to cook. I heated it in a 350 degree over for 15 minutes. It turned out very tasty. It was not the creamy smooth sauce that I remember but my guess is the original version may have been made with Velveeta or American. It was very smooth, not stringy and clingy like the cheddar suace.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

April 2006 Wine Club

Saturday night we had the first meeting of the Wine Club. We chose Cabernet Sauvignon for our first gathering. The weather cooperated for most of the meeting. We sat at one long table and spread out the wines and the delicious food everyone one brought through out the evening.

We had seven wines ranging from $10 to $30 dollars. They definitely all improved by uncorking and decanting. We uncorked the next in the line and decanted it while we drank the previous wine. Next time, we will probably open all the reds at the beginning of the evening. I can't imagine we would have enough pitchers to decant all.

Here is a list of the wines followed by the foods with links to the recipes as they come in:


Wellington Vineyards 2001 Cabernet Savignion

1998 Hess Collection Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Albertina Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Waddington Ranch Vineyards Medocino

Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2002

2002 Franciscan Oakville Estate Napa Valley Cavernet Sauvignon

Robert Mondavi Winery 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Stonegate Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Napa Valley

Field Stone 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley


Eggplant and Artichoke Pasta - Jen
Cheese Platter - Don
Baked Mushroom and Emmenthaler Crostini – Lisa and Shane
Lamb chops with Maytag and Walnuts – Lisa W.
Carpaccio of Beef – Marilyn
Blue Cheese Tarts– Kathie and Bill
Chocolate Truffles and Rasberries – Catherine and Pete
Field Greens with warm goat cheese – Sharon

Everything was delicious. I think all the wines were enjoyed by everyone. The Hess and the Franciscan were two favorites. I liked the Albertina.

Can't wait for the May Wine club!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

SF - Photos

Lunch at Scharfenberger's Cafe Cacoa

Crab sauteed in ginger and scallions from Bow HunA steaming bowl of Claypot with Fish Dumplings

A bowl of Mocha as big as your head

Boudin Bakery on Fisherman's Wharf

A bakery showing off his wares.

Sugar Rush

Chocolate and candy making has been my latest passion. I have been obsessed with cookbooks about chocolate and candy. I have bought a tempering machine. I have taken a class on truffles by a reknowned pastry chef who worked at Le Cirque with Jacque Torres. And still I am making candy. Unlike most of the food I cook, candy does not always turn out. And it is hard to rescue a screwed up batch of candy, especially if it cooked. I recently made my first batch of homemade marshmallows. It was out of a really old candy cookbook. The woman on the cover looked like she knew her stuff, in a friendly, Betty Crocker sort of way. So I made her no cook marshamallow recipe, which she recomended was good for dipping. My eyes lit up! Homemade marshmallows dipped in a quality bittersweet chocolate! Yum! Perfect for Easter too! I followed the directions and let the finished product sit over night. The next afternoon I cut it into slices and rolled my nice cubes in corn starch and sugar. They looked great. It said to let them dry on a rack. So I got out a rack and placed them on it to dry out even more. I went about setting up my chocolate to temper. When I checked back on my marshmallows, they had all gently settled through the rack onto the wax paper beneath, neatly sliced by the rack and then reformed into pools of marshmallow fluff. I suppose at that point I should have scooped them into a jar and saved it for ice cream sundaes but I had chocolate tempered and I needed to dip something in it. Luckily I had some raspberry truffle ganache left from a class I took. The instructor said it had to much raspberry filling so we had cut the mixture in half and added more chocolate to one half to make trufles and I took home the over rasberried other half. I had put it into a ziplock bag and flattened it out and put it in the fridge. I had this pound of perfectly tempered chocolate, so I took it out of the fridge and slided it and cut and trimmed the slices into squares and dipped the squares in the cholocate. They came out great! And they filling is really smoth and creamy. It is tricky though because you have to let it warm up enough from the fridge so that is doesn't break the temper of the chocolate you are dipping it in.

I ran out of ganache so made a quick batch of Honeycomb (know as molasses puffs at my house even though there is no molasses in it.) I dipped a few chunks of that but Icould tell the chocolate and had lost its temper.

So tonight is round 2 on making Marshmallows, a highly rated recipe from Epicurious, and I will dip the rest of the puffs.

Recipe: Flank Steak with Cherry Tomatos and Olives

This is one of my favorite recipes for Flank Steak. Every now and then I get a hankering for it. I made it the other night and it was just as good as I remembered it. And I got beef with broccoli out of it for the next night! So don;t be afraid to cook more than you can eat.

Get a flank steak from your butcher. Have him score it for you or when you get it home make a criss cross pattern on both sides of shallow cuts to keep it from curling and to let the marinade really soak in. Rub both sides with olive oil. Make a paste in a bowl of 4-5 tablespoons of fresh herbs, 2 finely minced or pressed cloves of garlic, 2 teaspoons of salt a teaspoon of pepper. I usually have thyme and rosemary on hand so I use those. Spread the paste on both sides of the flank steak and place in a gallon zip and throw it in the fridge for awhile. An hour is good, overnight works, if you only have 15 minutes then leave it at room temp till you are ready to go.

Meanwhile, cut in half a carton of grape tomatoes and a cup of chopped flat leaf parsley and place in a bowl. Add some pitted kalamata olives, chopped coarsely, 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar. Toss it all loosely. I think the sherry vinegar is an important part of the blend of these flavors so I recomend buying a bottle for this recipe. If you don't have it use another vinegar that is fairly mild in flavor. White distilled vinegar should be used for washing windows and dying easter eggs!

Toss the flank steak on the grill or grill pan until cooked to the way you like it. Let it rest 5 minutes on the cutting board. Then slice into thin slices starting at either short end.

If you have any leftover, and I do now that I am cooking for 2, save it for the next night for a stir fry. In a bowl, mix together some oyster sauce or hoisin suace, some soy sauce, sugar and a little sesame oil. Through in some Mirin if you have it. This is not rocket science. Just use what you have. Taste it and adjust accordingly. Add a teaspoon or two of cornstarch and stir to mix.

Slice your leftover flank steak slices into 2 inch pieces and put it next to the pan.

Cut broccoli into small flowerets. I also had some pea pods so I put that with the broccoli. Heat oil in a pan or wok and add 2 teaspons of fresh ginger and then the veggies. Stir over high heat until crisp/tender. If still not tender and starting to brown, add a couple of tablespoons of water and steam it a little to get it tender enough to your liking. When the broccoli is ready, through in the meat and sauce. Let it cook for a few minutes, stirring. The sauce will go from cloudy to clear and start coating the meat and veggies. Serve with with rice.