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November 26, 2014

Smoked Salmon Basil Rolls with Crème Fraîche with Mango Pineapple Vinaigrette

The salmon rolls were meant to be served as an appetizer but when one of our dinner club members who was bringing salad couldn't come, I converted the appetizer into an appetizer/ salad. It was a success.

If you decide to use as an appetizer, simply plate the rolls and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Serves 8


12 ounces smoked salmon filet
3/4 cup (about) crème fraîche or sour cream
3/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
12 large fresh basil leaves

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Pineapple Juice
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
1 mango peeled and cut into ¼ inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of red pepper flakes to taste


Place salmon on work surface. Spread crème fraîche over salmon.

Sprinkle with chopped basil and pepper. Roll up salmon enclosing filling, jelly roll style. Cut roll crosswise into slices.

For the vinaigrette:


In a small saucepan combine ¼ cup of the cut up mango and rice vinegar, heat slowly on low heat for 5-6 minutes, just long enough to heat vinegar. Remove from heat and allow flavors to infuse for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight. Prior to using the vinegar strain through sieve to remove the mango.

Combine pineapple juice, flavored vinegar, salt and red pepper into a bowl and whisk. Continue whisking while pouring in the olive oil in a stream to emulsify. Adjust seasoning.

To Serve:
Arrange salad greens on plate, top with salmon slices and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve more vinaigrette as needed.

Cooking wiser:

If you can find mango flavored vinegar use it!

Posted by terri at 03:03 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2014

Pumkin Stew

Mac used a pumpkin for this recipe but you could use Amber Cup or Cushaw squash. The flavors from the pumpkin give the stew a slightly buttery sweet and nutty taste.

Serves 8-10


Coarse salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 bay leaves

3 fresh thyme sprigs

6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

6 black peppercorns

1/2 cup broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable) (

2/3 cup canned plum tomatoes, with their juice (full can used this recipe)

1 2/3 cups beef stock

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 ounces pancetta (ask the butcher to slice the pancetta 1/3-inch thick), cut into 1/3-inch dice

1 fresh rosemary sprig

1 pound tender stewing beef, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (beef tenderloin used this recipe)

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 small onions, finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon sugar

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 cup dry red wine

1 large red potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 ear corn, husked and cut into 6 pieces

2 ripe peaches, pitted and quartered (one jar of peaches used this recipe)


Heat oven (with the rack positioned in the lower third of the oven) to 375"F.

Slice the top 2+ inches off the pumpkin, leaving the stern intact. With a large sharp spoon, scrape away all the fibers and seeds from both sections. Prick the inside of the pumpkin all over with a fork. Sprinkle generously with salt. Stand the bottom part of the pumpkin in a roasting pan and put the butter, 2 of the bay leaves, the thyme sprigs, 2 of the garlic cloves, and the peppercorns into the cavity. Pour in 1/2 cup broth and cover with the top of the pumpkin (found best to leave pumpkin top off if large, and roast alongside in same pan).

Bake for 1 hour, or until the pumpkin is tender when pierced through the side with a bamboo skewer. If pumpkin starts to brown before it is tender, cover loosely with foil.

Meanwhile, combine the canned tomatoes and 1 2/3 cups beef stock in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the diced pancetta, the remaining 2 bay leaves, and the rosemary sprig and sauté until the pancetta becomes translucent and renders its fat.

Add the beef and the remaining 4 garlic cloves, raise the heat to high, and cook until the meat is well browned on all sides. Season with salt and pepper, add the red wine vinegar, and boil until the liquid has evaporated.

Add the onions and stir in the sugar. Remove the rosemary and add the carrots, then pour in the red wine, bring to a boil, and let it bubble for about 5 minutes, until the alcohol has cooked off. Add the potato, sweet potato, and tomato-stock mixture and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to a simmer. Add the corn and the peaches, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the meat and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves, adjust seasoning, and keep warm.

To serve, empty out the pumpkin. Set upright on a large deep serving platter. Spoon the stew into the pumpkin, set the lid on top, and take to the table. Using a larger sharp serving spoon, spoon the carbonado onto individual soup plates scooping out some pumpkin flesh with each serving.

Posted by terri at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2014

November food and wine dinner

Our last dinner party featured Argentinian wines. There are many varietals but one of the more popular wines is Malbec. Even though Malbec is a difficult grape to grow, it does very well in the Mendoza area. This wine was served with a Pumpkin Stew.

The stew had so much going on that it was like a flavor party. The pumpkin was roasted with beef broth, herbs and spices that was used as the base for the stew.

The stew was richly flavored with peaches, carrots, beef tenderloin, corn and more. Mac reviewed the list of ingredients with us and will send the recipe.

Even though Argentina is primarily a red wine producing country there was a very good white that we enjoyed. I particularly like Torrontes, a crisp white wine with flower and fruit aromas. On the nose it reminded me of gardenias with a hint of peach. It was paired with a Smoked salmon roll with basil crème and a mango-pineapple vinaigrette. Pairing vinaigrettes with wine is usually challenging but this wine's crispness created a good balance. The salmon was served on a bed of lettuce and the vinaigrette was drizzled on top.

We tried two Torrontes, both good but very different. One, a 2013 Don Manuel Villafañe was light and crisp and big on flavor. The other Torrontes a 2009 Alamos was a more complex wine, not as fruit forward as the Don Manuel.

The side dish a vegetable tart was actually more than a side. It was beautifully presented in a home made pastry filled with chopped carrots, sweet potatoes, leeks and bacon. This dish was served with a Pinot Noir. The acid and fruit in the wine was well balanced with a hint of earthiness, a good pairing with the vegetables.

The Argentinians adopted the Italian tiramisu from which they created a Dulce de Leche Tiramisu. The one we enjoyed was rich, creamy and wonderful. It was paired with a late harvest Malbec, a very interesting wine that was new to me. The typical blackberry and plum flavors of Malbec were there but had been converted into a blackberry plum pie. This wine is perfect as an after dinner drink or with chocolate, making it a good match for the Dulce de Leche Tiramisu.

Posted by terri at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)

October Wine Dinner

Do you select a wine first then a food that pairs with the wine or do you select your food first. Either way it seems our wine dinners are always have excellent pairings. I don't know how much homework everyone does, but the results are amazing. I believe as a group we love to eat and drink fabulous food and wines and our October dinner was proof of that.

We enjoyed several dishes beginning with a wonderful soup that was paired with a Soave Classico.

Our next dish was Chicken Piccata and it was also paired with a Soave Classico. We loved the toasty almond notes along with lemon zest and buttery goodness. It has medium plus acidity that stood up to the lemony chicken sauce.

Next we enjoyed Chicken Enchiladas with St. Kilda Chardonnay, a crisp and fruity wine. Far from the California buttery style, this wine had a long finish with nice acidity and notes of lime and apple. The St. Kilda Chardonnay paired nicely with the enchiladas.

We brought back a Brunello Di Montalcino from Italy that I wanted to share with my friends.

While thinking about the wine and the food I wanted to go with it I decided to make my own recipe. I knew the Brunello would go well with tomatoes and chicken so that became the base for my recipe. I browned the chicken, added home canned tomatoes, herbs and spices and slow cooked it until the meat fell away from the bones and the sauce had thickened to a rich, flavorful dish. The Brunello did not let me down, it was a very good pairing.

All Brunello di Montalcino wine is made exclusively from Sangiovese grapes grown on the slopes around Montalcino – a classic Tuscan hilltop village 20 miles south of Siena.

This wine was full of blackberry , black cherry, black raspberry, chocolate, leather and violets flavors and aromas. The smooth tannins and ripe, fruit driven character allow it to pair well with food.

Dessert was a delicious cheesecake with a lemon glaze that was very close to lemon curd.

It was paired with a Don Fino Sherry. Thanks to Donna and Ron for bringing this back from Spain.

It was quite a treat. Made from 100% palomino grapes it is a delicate and dry white wine that matures in a Solera, under flor (a veil of yeast) for a minimum of five years giving it a very pungent aroma with a crisp, dry finish. Once opened we were encourage to drink it to the last drop as it looses its flavor quickly.

Posted by terri at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2014

Maple Walnut Cranberry Pie

This is a recipe from Cooking Light. I shared a few ideas for changing it up a bit during a recent Holiday Entertaining demo I did for teachers. Bottom line is that it tastes so good.

Serves 10


  • 1 refrigerated pie dough from a package of 2
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted


    Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray 9 inch pie plate with cooking spray

    Roll dough out enough to fit into a 9 inch pie plate

    Line bottom of dough with a piece of foil and arrange weights or dried beans on top to keep pastry from puffing up.

    Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove pie weights and foil and cool on wire rack.

    Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

    Combine maple syrup and next 6 ingredients through eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gently stir in cranberries and walnuts.

    Pour cranberry mixture into prepared crust.

    Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until filling is just set. If edges of crust begin to get too dark, cover around the edges with foil.

    Remove from oven and cool.

    Cooking Wiser

    If you don't have maple syrup on hand you can use a full cup of the dark corn syrup and substitute the vanilla extract with maple flavoring.

    Make mini tarts for a different presentation. There are mini pie crusts in the freezer section or cut your own from a regular size pastry using a cookie cutter. Place in a mini muffin pan. Pre cook the pastry as before, about 5 minutes.

    You can use pecans but the walnuts give the traditional pecan pie a new twist. The cranberries cut the sweetness creating a flavor explosion. I love this dessert! And as many know, I am not a dessert lover.

    Posted by terri at 02:22 AM | Comments (0)

    November 10, 2014

    Grilled Salmon with a Beer and Dijon Mustard Glaze

    Salmon is a firm fish high in fat, making it a great choice for grilling. Since it is high in protein, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D, it is also a healthy choice. Choose wild caught salmon for the best flavor.

    Serves 4


  • 1- 12 ounce bottle amber ale beer
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1- 12 ounce salmon fillet
    salt and pepper to taste


    Whisk beer, brown sugar and Dijon mustard together in a medium sauce pan

    Heat on medium heat until sugar melts

    Place salmon in pan and pour sauce over salmon to marinate.

    Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes

    Heat grill to medium heat. Remove salmon from marinade (reserve) and place on grill and cook for 8-10 minutes depending on thickness of salmon. Sprinkle top of salmon with salt and pepper after placing on the grill.

    Baste salmon with marinade and turn over to cook other side. Continue to cook until salmon is done, being careful not to overcook.

    Posted by terri at 03:32 AM | Comments (0)

    Shrimp deglazed in a white wine sauce served on herbed puff pastries

    If you're looking for something quick, simple and delish this recipe is the one. You can have dinner on the table in 20 minutes.

    Shrimp are low in fat and calories. I always select U. S. wild caught grayish white shrimp for their firm texture and delicate flavor.

    The deglazed shrimp could also be served over angel hair pasta with Parmesan cheese.

    Serves 4
    Prep time: 5 minutes
    Total time: 10 minutes


  • 1/2 pound 24-26 count shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup semi dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh herbs, finely minced
  • 1/2 frozen puff pastry sheet, cut into 4 equal squares


    Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet on medium high heat.

    Quickly add shrimp and garlic and cook until shrimp begins to turn pink, turn shrimp over and continue to cook about 1 minute more. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan and remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

    Meanwhile sprinkle pastries with a little pepper and bake according to package instructions.

    Remove from oven and quickly brush with melted butter and sprinkle with herbs.

    Divide shrimp and any liquid equally among puff pastries and serve.

    Cooking Wiser:
    To save time buy peeled, deveined shrimp.

    Seafood should smell clean, like the sea, not fishy and no ammonia odors.

    Shrimp is sold by the count, 20-24 count means there will be about 20-24 shrimp/pound.

    It will become mushy if overcooked. About 1-2 minutes per side for medium size shrimp. Once the color changes to pink, remove from heat.

    Posted by terri at 02:40 AM | Comments (0)

    November 09, 2014

    U T Cooking Class

    Another successful hands on cooking class at the University of Tennessee. The students jumped right in and looked like professional chefs. We all had a great time and there were no left overs so it must have been good.

    On the menu:

    "I think our shrimp turned out really good"

    Shrimp Deglazed with White Wine served on Puff Pastries.
    Sometimes it is the little things that make a good class an even better class.

    Here's a tip for improving this recipe: Cut the pastries into serving sizes before cooking.
    Also, these puff pastries really puffed up, not so ideal for this recipe. The commercial brand that I use from Pepperidge Farm works very well. You will find them in the freezer section.

    Thanks to the great helpers last night. All the shrimp were peeled and deveined before class. Don't you wish you had that luxury at home!

    The shrimp were cooked to perfection, each group did a great job and I didn't see not even one left. This recipe is also very good served over angel hair pasta.

    Pecan Crusted Halibut with Cilantro Aioli was the class favorite. I love this recipe and just about any type of mild white fish would work. It is another easy, quick dish for dinner. I suggested to the class that it is an excellent choice for fish tacos. Serve with a zesty slaw.

    This was a beautifully prepared dish. Great job!

    The final fish dish tonight was Grilled Salmon with a Beer and Dijon Mustard Glaze
    The salmon is marinated in the glaze then basted during the grilling time, adding more flavor. Many people remove the skin before cooking but if left on it will create more flavor as it cooks. Always put the salmon skin side down on the heat first. Since salmon is high in fat and firm it makes a great fish for grilling.

    We were all very pleased with the salmon. No one overcooked it!

    There goes Sylvia again, she did a great job assisting her team, keeping it all under control.

    Time to plate the fish and enjoy

    Posted by terri at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

    Rock Salt Roasted Shrimp with Lemon Dipping Sauce

    This is a go to recipe any time you are hungry for shrimp. The shrimp cook perfectly and taste like shrimp instead of heavy seasonings and sauces. I prefer wild caught white shrimp for their firm, delicate flavor. They are caught between March and November and the U. S. follows the strictest guidelines.

    I featured this recipe at our November cooking light dinner club. Each dish we serve is a recipe from Cooking Light Magazine.

    Shrimp are low in calories and high in protein, vitamins and iron. The latest research suggests that the benefits of eating fish far out weigh the risks.

    Serves 6


  • 1 box rock salt
  • 1 pound 26-30 county unpeeled shrimp
  • 2 medium lemons, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon rind, grated
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper, ground
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Pour salt in an even layer in a large cast iron skillet. Place pan in oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully.

    Arrange shrimp in a single layer over the salt. Cover with foil. Turn off oven and leave shrimp in hot oven for 5 minutes.

    Combine the lemon and rind and remaining ingredients. Serve sauce with shrimp.

    Posted by terri at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

    November 07, 2014

    Cole Slaw with flavored vinegar

    If you want a lighter version of your favorite slaw recipe then try this one. I tested it out in my "test" kitchen and it turned out creamy and tangy just the way I like it. Use pre-shredded cabbage to save time. Usually it has been washed, just check the package information.

    Serves 6-8
    Prep time: 6 minutes
    Total time: 12 minutes


  • 1 - 16 ounce bag pre-shredded cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon flavored white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • salt to taste


    In a medium bowl mix together mayonnaise, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper. Add cabbage to the mayonnaise mixture and stir until well blended. Adjust flavors with more lemon pepper.

    Cooking Wiser:

    I use the bag of cabbage that has carrots and purple cabbage already added. If you prefer to shred your own, you will need 1 small head of white cabbage, 1/2 head purple cabbage and 2 medium carrots.

    Use low fat mayonnaise to decrease fat and calories

    Make it your own
    Add ½ teaspoon dried dill mix

    Use herb flavored vinegar- cilantro, dill or for a really different flavor use tarragon. Make flavored vinegar by combining 2 cups white wine vinegar with 2 sprigs fresh herbs, washed and dried. Heat in a medium saucepan until simmering. Remove from heat. Pour into a air tight jar.

    Posted by terri at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)

    November 05, 2014

    Raspberry and White Chocolate Soup With Chocolate Brownie Croutons

    The soup is made from raspberries cooked with sugar and stained to remove the solids. The white chocolate is swirled into the raspberries giving the soup a marbled appearance. How unique is that?

    Serves 4


    Brownie Croutons:
    2 brownies

    2 packages (12 ounces each) frozen raspberries (about 3 cups)
    1 1/4 cups water
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
    2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, divided
    1/2 cup whipping cream
    4 ounces white chocolate, chopped


    For the brownies: Preheat oven to 325°. Use a serrated knife to cut the brownies into 1/2-inch squares. Toast squares in 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

    For the soup:
    In a small saucepan, bring raspberries, water and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and raspberries are softened or broken down, about 4 minutes.

    In a food processor or blender, puree raspberry mixture, jam, and 1 tablespoon of the Grand Marnier until smooth.

    Strain into a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours.

    In another saucepan, bring cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add white chocolate, let stand for 2 minutes, then whisk until melted and smooth.

    Stir in remaining Grand Marnier. Let cool.

    To Serve: Ladle raspberry soup into chilled shallow bowls. Gently drop 5 to 6 spoonfuls of the white chocolate mixture onto the soup. Draw a chopstick or knife through the chocolate mixture to create a marbled effect.

    Serve with brownie croutons.

    Posted by terri at 03:01 AM | Comments (0)

    November 04, 2014

    Super Soups Class

    They are enjoying the food they prepared in cooking class. Looks like fun doesn't it. The University of Tennessee offers non credit classes every semester. It is a hands on class and after the food has been prepared they sit down together to eat. As I've often remarked, it is amazing that they all have the same recipes but each one turns out a little different. I always point out that recipes are simply guides and can be changed to suit your own taste.

    The fun comes when you make it your own by adding a different spice or vegetable or by browning the food a little longer during the sautéing process. We had a great example of this with the Butternut Squash and Bourbon Bisque.

    This is my recipe for butternut squash and bourbon bisque. One of the students in the class is from Louisiana and he decided to spice it up a bit with cayenne pepper. It did add a kick to the final dish and it was excellent.

    The ladies had a great time making sure everything was prepared to perfection.

    We had many great chefs in the kitchen that night each with their own style.

    There was one mushroom soup that caught my attention. It was a little darker brown that the others and the flavors were rich and delicious. I believe they caramelized the mushrooms to deepen the flavors, they reduced the soup more to concentrate the flavors and they seasoned the soup more to enhance the flavors. Their soup was very flavorful.

    Roasted Wild Mushroom and Rice Soup

    You must always keep a close eye on the food when cooking on high heat.

    The final recipe was a raspberry soup with white chocolate and brownie croutons.

    The soup base is made by cooking the raspberries with sugar, then straining to remove the solids. The white chocolate is melted into cream and swirled into the raspberries, making a beautiful presentation.

    Posted by terri at 02:41 AM | Comments (0)

    November 03, 2014

    Eating Roman Style

    Ah Rome, so much to see, so much to do and so much to eat. Where do we begin? We knew we couldn't see everything but with 3 days we certainly could hit the highlights, the Vatican, Forum, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountains.

    Rome is the capital of Italy and is in the Lazio region, making this the 6th region we visited. The first thing we had to work through were the crowds, with both residents and tourists there were millions. Then there is the history, which spans over 2500 years. But this is about the food which is simple and good.
    If you ask about food that you should try in Rome you will most likely be advised to try the pizza, fiori di zucca ( fried zucchini flowers), carbonara and offel (meat stewed in tomatoes). We tried it all and it was all good.

    The restaurant we found on our final night was serving something else that interested me. The Steak House Ristorante Pizzeria turned out to be a good choice. It is actually quite funny how we ended up there. Since we were walking, we wanted someplace close to our hotel. As we begin our search I saw another couple that appeared to be headed out to dinner as well. I asked them if they had come across any good restaurants nearby and they said yes, that they were headed back to the one they went to the night before. So Dennis and I decided to discretely follow them. It was really funny. They went in and we chose a table on the sidewalk.

    I asked the waiter to recommend one of the fish dishes. It sounded good and it was. But the presentation was a surprise.

    He noticed the look on my face and smiled as he started to work on my whole fish. First he removed the head and then very carefully he removed the remaining bones. The finale result was a very delicate, mild white fish that was absolutely delicious. I ate every bite.

    Dennis had steak au Poivre that is actually a French dish. Usually in France it is served with French fries but in Italy it was served with a small side salad. He reported that the steak was good but he would have preferred fries. He is a meat and potato kind of guy.

    We found the food in Rome to be simple, fresh and rich in flavors. But the food in Verona and Tuscany was by far the best.

    Posted by terri at 01:32 AM | Comments (0)