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February 26, 2015

Pork and Pasta Stew

This was a left over freezer soup success. I love to make soup out of left overs. So don't ever throw anything away. Put it in the freezer then once a month on clean out day create your own version. Use what you have and save money and time.

I created this dish from left over tomato soup and pork roast. I always have some type of pasta in the pantry. Add a few herbs and spices and you're on your way to real comfort food.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked pork roast, diced
1 quart tomato soup
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced or 1 teaspoon dried
pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup cooked pasta of choice. I used egg noodle pasta
1 tablespoon Parmesan Reggiano cheese, freshly grated

See tips for cooking pasta

Instructions:

Heat tomato soup in large pot. Add 2 cups water, roast, basil and pepper. Cook on medium high for 20 minutes. Add noodles and heat additional 5 minutes. Reduce heat. Ladle soup into bowls and top with cheese.

Posted by terri at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

Real Comfort Food

Buzz Word: Comfort Food

With all the snow, that's about all people are talking about- what to eat. This very morning I heard the folks on the radio talking about comfort food. But seriously, fast food hamburgers and fries? That's not comforting, that's fattening and bad for you. Comfort food smells up your kitchen and makes you feel warm and happy inside and out. Since we can't go anywhere what better thing to do than make a big pot of steaming hot soothing soup?

People must be cooking something. Did you see the lines at the grocery store? It's insane. Obviously people don't have as much in the freezer and in the pantry as I do. I must be a food hoarder. But I could eat well for a month.

Some of my best soup recipes came straight from freezer left overs.

Anytime you have left over pork roast put it in the freezer. Then on clean out day, add that left over pork and tomato soup to the pot with fresh basil and pasta. A real time and money saver.
Roasted Pork and Pasta Stew

Get that ham bone from Christmas dinner out of the freezer!
White Bean and Ham

Other comfort foods

Posted by terri at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2015

Shrimp Risotto

I ate the best Shrimp Risotto in Italy, that was until I made this one. They are very different but both are loaded with layers of flavor.

Risotto is made with Arborio rice and takes a little time to develop the right texture, but totally worth it so get to it!

Pair this dish with an Italian white Soave. The wine is crisp and fruity but yet light enough to compliment the flavors in the risotto.

Serves 4



Ingredients:
For the shrimp stock
1 pound 20 count shrimp, peeled and deveined (save the peels)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup leek greens, chopped
8 black peppercorns
4 fresh parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves

For the risotto
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup leek whites, chopped
1 cup dry Arborio rice
3/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup frozen green pas
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

For the parsley gremolata
3 strips thick sliced bacon
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, mincd
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
1 tablespoons lemon zest, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
Kosher salt to taste

Instructions:

Place shrimp shells and remaining stock ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain stock through a colander into a bowl. Discard solids. Return stock to saucepan over low heat.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add leek whites and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in rice and sauté 2 more minutes. Do not allow rice or leeks to brown.

Deglaze pan with sherry, stirring until liquid evaporates.

Add 1/2 cup of warm stock, stir until absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time until all stock is used ad rice is tender, 20-25 minutes.

Stir in the peas and shrimp. Cook until shrimp are pink and firm, about 4-5 minutes.

Season risotto with salt, cayenne and nutmeg

Off heat, add 2 tablespoons butter and the Parmesan.
Garnish with Parsley Gremolata.

For the gremolata
Cook bacon in a skillet over medium high heat until crisp, drain and cool. Combine bacon with parsley, chives, zest, garlic and salt.


Posted by terri at 04:03 AM | Comments (0)

Arugula Salad with Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette

A wonderfully fresh and flavorful salad with a crisp vinaigrette that would make a great side for any dinner. Arugula is becoming more popular and is a great source of vitamin A and C.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 ounces arugula 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon lemon peel, grated 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped Kosher salt and freshly grated pepper to taste

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the arugula.
Can add shaved Parmesan cheese on top.

Posted by terri at 02:09 AM | Comments (0)

Apple Wine Pork Roast

Several years ago I had apple wood grilled pork chops that were out of this world delicious. So when I tasted the apple wine at the Virginia wine festival my first thought was what could I cook using this wine. Fortunately I thought of pork and apples and the rest is history.
Try this dish with a fruity Pinot Noir from

Apple Wine Roasted Pork
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
5-6 pound bone in pork roast
1 -750 ml bottle apple wine
1 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, fine chopped
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
Kosher salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven 450 degrees F.

Combine thyme, garlic, salt and pepper together and rub into the pork on all sides. Place pork in a roasting pan.

Pour apple wine and apple juice over the pork.

Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350.

Cover roasting pan tightly with lid or foil and continue to cook until fork tender, about 2 hours. Check periodically to make sure juices are not dry. If so, add ½ cup water at a time until pork is tender. The liquid should condense to a thick flavorful sauce. Spoon over the roast each time you check it.

Serve with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Posted by terri at 01:05 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2015

Bailey's Hot Chocolate

Don't let the cold weather get you down! Warm up with heat and spice and everything nice. This steaming hot drink will take the chill right out of you without adding too many calories.

If chocolate doesn't get your attention, add white chocolate chips instead.

Serves 2 or 4
Depending on how cold you are

Ingredients:

4 cups evaporated milk or whole milk
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
whipped topping for garnish
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch chili powder
12 ounces Bailey's Irish Cream (3 ounces per cup)

Instructions:

Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat until almost boiling. Lower heat to medium-low; add chocolate chips and vanilla extract. Cook and stir milk mixture until chocolate is dissolved, 5 to 10 minutes. Add Bailey's and heat 1 additional minute.

Top with a dollop of whipped topping and lightly dust with cinnamon and chili powder.

Posted by terri at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2015

Feb 2015 Wine Dinner

The theme was "Family Traditions" and the food and wines were memory makers. We learned a little more about each other while talking about the favorite dishes we enjoyed growing up. Our host served the appetizer and it was very impressive, presented on her grandmother's serving dishes. There was even a little mystery around how Pam's grandmother actually acquired those attractive hotel dishes :o)

The first coarse was an antipasto spread better than you see in most fancy restaurants. There was an array of food bites, including asparagus, pickled baby squash, olives, balsamic marinated artichokes, salami, cheeses, roasted eggplant, all centered around a lovely Caesar Salad complete with anchovies and homemade dressing and Italian bread.

The wine that was selected to go with the antipasto was a perfect pairing matching well with each food bites. We all agreed you can never go wrong with a good sparkling wine, in this case a Cantine Maschio Prosecco Brut from Italy. This wine was lively and fruit forward making you think it was a little sweeter than it actually was, probably the reason it paired so well with antipasto. Very nice job!

Donna brought a traditional Polish dish,
32 oz. fresh sauerkraut
1- 16 oz. package noodles, Donna use macaroni
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 sticks butter
4 to 5 Polish sausages

Prepare Polish sausage as directed on package. While sausage is boiling, sauté chopped onions in butter until they just start to turn brown. Add sauerkraut to onion mixture and sauté 20 minutes, stirring occasionally over low heat. While sauerkraut is cooking, prepare noodles according to directions on package. Combine cooked noodles with sauerkraut. Add cut up Polish sausage. Serve hot.

Hold on to your socks! The wine pairing was a Trimbach Gewurztraminer from the Alsace region of France. These wines are typically more dry with cinnamon and nutmeg aromas and a spicy finish making them a fantastic choice for pairing with spicy food and even including sauerkraut.

The next food and wine pairing took us back to Italy with stuffed pasta shells and a Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino. Montalcino is a hill town in the Tuscany region of Italy.

All Brunello wine is 100% Sangiovese with a very unique style. The natural acidity from the grapes makes a wine that compliments the pasta sauce and cheese.

The baked pasta dish was layered with meat, cheese, pasta and tomatoes. But as we noticed in Tuscany Italy, the dish was made with a few diced tomatoes, keeping it very light and flavorful.

I chose Pot Roast with potatoes, carrots and onions as my one of my family favorites. It is also the first meal I served Dennis and he said it reminded him of his mom's kitchen. You know the saying a way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

A friend from Australia gave Dennis and I the wine we brought to pair with the pot roast. The 2003 Hill of Content, from Clare Australia is a blend of Grenache and Syrah. Wines made from this blend typically have aromas of stewed plums, black cherries, blueberries, black olives and even a hint of spiced dark chocolate. When we poured the wine it was amazing to hear the sounds going around the table when smelling the wine. It had the most incredible aroma. The tannins were soft and the flavor was fabulous. This was one of the best wines I've had this year. We all enjoyed it and it paired very well with the beef and interestingly with the sweet stewed carrots.

And to finish the evening Pam graciously opened a wonderful Port to serve with the chocolate cherry trifle. It was a wonderful pairing and an incredible port.

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

February 20, 2015

Really Good Pumpkin Bread

Another tested and proven delicious recipe from Cook's Illustrated. Looking for the right texture with rich pumpkin flavor and balanced sugar and spice was more challenging that anticipated. But after hours of work the right recipe evolved. What I appreciated most was the thought given to flavor verses time- the saucepan also served as the mixing bowl.

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients:

Topping

5 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 can unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces
4 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup walnuts, tasted and chopped fine

Instructions:

For the topping: Using fingers, mix all ingredients together in bowl until well combined and topping resembles wet sand, set aside.

For the bread: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans. Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in bowl.

Combine pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until 6 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in granulated sugar brown sugar, oil and cream cheese until combined. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until no visible pieces of cream cheese remain and mixture is homogeneous.

Whisk together eggs and buttermilk. Add egg mixture to pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine.

Fold flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until combined. Fold walnuts into batter. Scrape batter into prepared pans. Sprinkle topping evenly over top of each loaf.

Bake until tester inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let breads cool in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove breads from pans and let cool for at least 1 hour. To serve warm, slice and lightly heat under broiler or serve at room temperature.

Posted by terri at 03:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2015

Stir Fried Asparagus

Cook Illustrated tried several techniques and found that adding a little steam created evenly cooked asparagus with just the right texture.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut on bias into 2 inch lengths
2 scallions, green parts only, slice thin

Instructions:

Combine water, soy sauce, sherry, sugar, ginger, and sesame oil in bowl

Heat vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking. Add asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is spotty brown, 3-4 minutes.

Add soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring once or twice, until pan is almost dry and asparagus is crisp tender, 1-2 minutes.

Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with scallion greens and serve.

Cooking Wiser Tips:
I added a minced garlic clove into the soy sauce mixture
For a more robust side dish add 4 ounces shitake mushrooms with the asparagus
or to add color and more flavor add 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 20-inch long matchsticks

Posted by terri at 02:21 AM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2015

The Best Grilled Burger

Another hit from Cook's Illustrated is this tender, juicy grilled burger. I've grilled burgers for years but after following a few simple tips I've finally perfected a delicious hamburger, better than in the restaurants.

This recipe includes grinding your own beef to avoid commercial ground beef that tends to be too fine and too tightly packed resulting in tough burgers. Adding butter makes the burger juicier.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak tips, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
4 tablespoons frozen unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
Kosher salt and pepper
4 hamburger buns

Instructions:

Place beef chunks and butter on baking sheet and freeze until firm about 30 minutes.

Place 1/4 of the meat and butter in a food processor and pulse until finely ground into rice grain size pieces. Remove and repeat in 3 batches the remaining meat and butter.

Sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and gently toss to combine. Divide meat into 4 balls. Toss each between hands until uniformly but lightly packed. Gently flatten into patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Using thumb, make 1- inch wide by 1/4 inch deep depression in center of each patty. Transfer to a platter and freeze for 30 minutes, helping the burgers to stay together better during cooking.

Season top side of the patties with salt and pepper. Place burgers on oiled cooking grate and cook over medium high charcoal grill about 5 minutes or until meat releases from grill. Flip burgers, salt the top and cook until browned on other side.

Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Cooking Wiser
Meat should register 130 for medium and 135 for medium well done.
Lightly brush burger buns with olive oil and toast on grill about 2 minutes.
Serve with your favorite toppings and condiments- lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, mustard and grilled onions.
To melt cheese on top, add about 2 minutes after burgers are flipped.
Too much salt mixed into the meat will make burgers tough but 3/4 teaspoon helps the meat retain its juices.

Posted by terri at 02:58 AM | Comments (0)

Foolproof New York Cheesecake

This recipe takes time but it's totally worth it. Plan ahead and make the cheesecake the day before serving to allow plenty of time for chilling.

Serves 12-16

Ingredients:

Crust

6 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling

2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks

Instructions:

For the crust: Adjust oven racks to upper middle and lower middle positions and heat oven to 325 degrees. Process cracker pieces and sugar in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add flour and salt and pulse to combine.

Add 6 tablespoons melted butter and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened.

Brush bottom of 9 inch springform pan with 1/2 tablespoon melted butter. Using your hands, press crumb mixture evenly into pan bottom. Using flat bottom of measuring cup firmly pack crust into pan.

Bake on lower middle rack until fragrant and beginning to brown around edges, about 13 minutes. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and set aside to cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees.

For the Filling: Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, and salt at medium low speed until combined. Beat in remaining 3/4 cup sugar until combined. Scrape beater and bowl well.

Add sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla and beat at low speed until combined. Add egg yolks and beat at medium low speed until combined. Srape bowl and beater.

Add whole eggs two at a time, beating until thoroughly combined. Pour filling through fine mesh strainer set in large bowl, pressing against strainer with rubber spatula to pass filling through strainer.

Brush sides of springform pan with remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter. Pour filling into crust and set aside for 10 minutes to allow air bubbles to rise to top. Gently draw tines of fork across surface of cake to pop air bubbles the may have risen to surface.

When oven thermometer reads 200 degrees, bake cheesecake on lower rack until center registers 165 degrees, about 3-3 1/2 hours. Remove cake from oven and increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.

When oven is at 500 degrees, bake cheesecake on upper rack until top is evenly browned, 4-12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, run paring knife between cheesecake and side of springform pan. Let cheesecake cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold and firmly set, at least 6 hours.

To unmold cheesecake, remove sides of pan. Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cheesecake onto serving plate. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. To slice, dip sharp knife in very hot water and wipe dry between cuts. Serve

Ideas for toppings:
Fresh strawberries and/or blueberries
Lemon curd
Chocolate sauce

Posted by terri at 02:05 AM | Comments (0)