Thursday, February 24, 2011

Buttermilk Cornbread

Last week I made a Seafood Gumbo over rice and I pared it with it a delicious Buttermilk Cornbread. As my mother did I like to use a stone ground corn meal. It makes for a crunchy texture.
I always prep my ingredients before beginning.

This recipe is adapted from a Fine Cooking magazine issue. This magazine is my favorite and I never miss an issue.

Buttermilk Cornbread

Serves 6 to 8

1 3/4 cups medium-grind stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into a few pieces

Position a rack in the center of the oven and put a 9-to10-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch heavy-duty square or round metal baking pan (not nonstick) on the rack. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil over high heat. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the cornmeal and the boiling water. Stir to blend-the mixture should become a thick mush.

In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 1 1/4 cups cornmeal with the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda to blend.

Add the buttermilk, sour cream, and eggs to the cornmeal mush and whisk to blend.

When the oven and pan are fully heated, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until just blended. Do not overmix.

Remove the hot pan from the oven and add the butter pieces, tilting the pan to swirl the butter around until it's melted and the pan is well coated. (The butter may brown; that's fine.) Immediately pour the melted butter over the mixed batter and stir to combine a half-dozen strokes with a wooden spoon should be plenty. Scrape into the hot pan.

Bake until the cornbread pulls away from the sides of the pan and is golden on top, 18 to 20 minutes. Immediately turn the bread out onto a rack. Cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

This cornbread pared nicely with my Seafood Gumbo which I will share another time.

I am joining Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee West at Desings by Gollum. There are some wonderful recipes shared at this blogging party every week so click here to see what others have posted.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spring is just around the corner and Bringing the Outdoors In

Here in our area of North Florida for the past week we have been experiencing some mild temperatures. I suspect that we will still have some freezing temperatures to look forward to but for the time being I am enjoying getting out in the garden. Over the weekend I have begun replanting my herb bed that I mix in with old garden roses , bulbs that are now blooming and a few poppies. The old garden roses are not yet blooming and all of the herbs I replanted  can endure the cooler temps if we should have more winter. Hopefully, some of you will delight in these blooms and know that Spring is right around the corner for you as well.

These are heirloom daffodils.

My kitty planter is planted with catnip although I don't have a cat but it makes for a very soothing tea.

I am sharing a newly acquired blooming plant, a couple of orchids that I have brought inside and a vase of stock in a magnificant blue color.

This is a phalanopsis, one that began blooming recently and this soft pink color goes in any room. I particularly like having an orchid at the end of my island since I am in my kitchen most of the time. The white vase has blue stock which I purchased from Fresh Market. I love having fresh flowers in my home and this stock was just gorgeous. Even as it's blooms were waning I found them to be interesting.
The plant on the upper part of the mosaic is called Charita. A very unusual plant and has many of the requirements of an African Violet which I also grow. On the black table is an Oncidium orchid. When it blooms it puts up multiple shoots of this soft pale peachy pink color and it is so delicate.

Today I am joining Mary at Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spring is on it's way

In most parts of the country there is still snow on the ground but here in North Florida we are beginning to see signs of Spring. That is one thing I love about where I live, we do have seasons, some of them shorter than in most areas of the country and not as severe but when Spring does arrive it is so beautiful.

The past few days I have been able to keep the heat off and enjoy our screened in porch which I will share with you today. This time of year I think I enjoy our porch more than any other time of year. I often have morning coffee here, maybe lunch in between gardening activities, and afternoon tea here as well. Since our Spring is so short the heat that becomes so intense here sometimes prohibits the use of this porch but right now I am just loving the use of it.

The porch gets the morning sun and this mosaic piece by a local artist that I have had for a very long time is just gorgeous when the sun is shining through it. The mosaic was an anniversary gift from Mr H because I was so fond of this artists work. I have several of her pieces.

 I also grow orchids and I do not have a greenhouse but grow just enough to have one or two blooming almost year round to enjoy indoors. This one is fascinating to me in that it grows without any kind of medium surrounding it's roots to protect it. It is called a Vanda orchid and this hot pink color is a favorite of mine.
It is just beginning to open up and I will be able to enjoy it for at least a month. This type of orchid needs to be watered everyday, twice a day if possible.

On the opposite side of the porch hangs a painted piece by my favorite artist, my daughter.She painted this for me on an old window right on the glass in acrylics.

I think I mentioned earlier in this post that here in North Florida we are beginning to see the first signs of Spring. I cut my first daffodils to bloom just yesterday.

Spring is just around the corner and I know it is for the rest of the country as well. I am hopeful that by sharing my signs of Spring will lift your spirits if you are having to deal with all the snow.

Today is Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. To see other participants of this blogging party click here. Enjoy your day where ever you are.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day to All

I had my family over last night for dinner and we celebrated Valentines. My way of showing my love for my family is of course, preparing a wonderful meal for them. With four grand children running around I failed to get any photos but my menu went something like this.

Savannah Seafood Gumbo
served over rice

A Greek Salad

Chicken Fingers for the children

For Dessert
Coeur a la Creme
Red Velvet Cupcakes for the children

I have roots in New Orleans, my first ancestor to this country was a Spanish Conquistador and he took a French wife from New Orleans. I grew up eating all kinds of gumbos, jambalya's and crawfish pie. I also grew up with both of my parents loving to cook. My Dad loved to prepare typical New Orleans cuisine and my mother favored preparing French cuisine. A very dear friend has a post on her blog today that made me think of lots of wonderful memories, Random Musings of a Deco Lady.

My favorite Valentines dessert is Coeur a la Creme and I always use Ina Garten's recipe. The mere presentation of it always gets lots of ooooh's and aaaah's whether it be for a dinner party as the one I did recently or for a family dinner. The best part is that it is so very easy to prepare but it is necessary to have one piece of special equipment. Easy to find online or at Amazon, William Sonoma or Sur La Table. You would also need some cheesecloth.

This is a favorite dessert of mine.

Ina Garten's Coeur a la Creme with Raspberries
serves 6 to 8

12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
Raspberry Sauce  (recipe follows)
1 pint fresh raspberries

Place the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the beater for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and vanilla seeds and beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick, like whipped cream.

Line a heart shaped mold with cheesecloth leaving extra to drape over the sides and place it on a plate, making sure that there is space between the bottom of the mold and the plate for the liquid to drain. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth, fold the ends over the top, and refrigerate overnight.
 To serve, discard the liquid and unmold the cream onto a plate, and drizzle raspberry  sauce around the base.  Serve with fresh raspberries abd extra sauce.

Raspberry Sauce

1 half-pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup (12 ounces) seedless raspberry jam
1 tablespoon framboise Liqueur

Bring the raspberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Simmer 4 minutes and pour into bowl of food processor. Add the jam and liqueur. Process till smooth and chill.

Today I am joining Mary at Little Red House for her blogging party Mosaic Monday.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Leek and Potato Soup

As I have mentioned in several of my posts I am enjoying a new cookbook, Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. If you are a collector of cookbooks as I am I highly recommend this book as I am sure I have added that to my posts many times as well. Some may think that French food is daunting but in this book Dorie has made me fall in love with French food all over again. As a child my mother was a huge fan of Julia's and I can remember many dinners from her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now that is a daunting book but Dorie's book, she has written simple recipes that any cook can enjoy preparing.

This week I tried a new recipe from this book, Leek and Potato Soup and I was not disappointed.

Leek and Potato Soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, preferably Spanish, chopped (or1-2 more Leeks)
2 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, split lengthwise, washed, and thinly sliced
1 large Idaho (russet) potato, peeled and cubed
6 thyme sprigs
2 fresh sage leaves (optional) 4 cups chicken broth (or water)
3 cups whole milk (or water)

Optional toppings
Minced fresh parsley, sage, tarragon, or marjoram, or a combination
Snipped fresh chives
Grated Parmesan or Gruyere
Truffle Oil

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and stir until they glisten with butter, then season with salt and white pepper, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft but not colored.

Add the remaining ingredients along with a little more salt, increase the heat, and bring to a boil. As soon as the soup bubbles, turn the heat to low, mostly cover the pot, and simmer gently for 30 to 40 minutes, or until all the vegetables are mashably soft. Taste the soup and season generously with salt and white pepper.

You've got many choices now: you can ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve as is, mash the vegetables lightly with the back of a spoon, or puree the soup through a food mill (my first choice--you'll get a more interesting texture) or with a blender--regular or immersion--or food processor. If desired, garnish with the topping of your choice.

My Notes: I would not use just water in this soup but did use the chicken stock and milk. When you simmer it for about 30 to 40 minutes I would check on it about every 10 minutes. You don't want that milk to come to a roaring boil. I did use the thyme and sage since I do grow both in my garden and this lovely soup really needs the fresh herbs rather than dried. I topped this soup with Parmesan cheese and it gave an added nice flavor.

This was a simple recipe and pared with a Mixed Green Salad with dried cherries, blue cheese, Emeril's pecans and topped with a Walnut Champagne Vinaigrette and some crusty bread, it made for a light and delightful dinner for Mr H and myself.

Try this marvelous soup, you will love it. As a matter of fact, the leftovers are sounding really good for my lunch today.

Today I am joining Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday and also Kim at Quit Eating Out for Saturday Swap. There many participants at both of these blogging parties sharing some wonderful recipes so take a look at their blogs.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dinner with the YaYa's

Last Thursday evening I had girl friends for dinner. We call ourselves the YaYa's and we are a group of very good friends who have known each other for a very long time and we decided to start a dinner group without husbands. We have enjoyed this group and we on occasion do include our husbands. This particular evening I decided to use my very best china, stemware, and silver. I feel that if you have these things you should in fact use them but more importantly enjoy them.

I used my Waterford china with the gold rim, some of my Anna Weatherly salad plates which are part of a collection and I will show more of these, my Grand Baroque sterling flatware, my Varga stemware by Anna Weatherly and are also another collection, and of course, my collection of sterling silver napkin rings.
Here are a few of my Anna Weatherly salad plate collection. They are each one different, hand painted in Hungry and became quite the conversation piece during our dinner. You'll notice below one of a pair of salt and pepper sterling silver cellars. I had seen something similar in a magazine and shortly after went to a local antique show. There they were, they are French with the original cobalt blue inserts and came from an estate in New Orleans. I was thrilled to get them.

I also have a collection of sterling silver napkin rings. A very dear friend of mine has a collection of sterling napkin rings and I just loved the idea. Not that I needed another collection but this one I have thoroughly enjoyed. I prefer French napkin rings but also have some that are English, a few American and one from Czarist Russia. Here are a few that I managed to get photos.

The name Lauren is engraved on this one so it always is placed where  my daughter Laura Nicole would sit when she is here. I don't usually collect engraved rings unless they have some special significance such as this.
This my Russian napkin ring. It happens to be my husband's favorite so I always put it at his place setting. I love the red enamel work and those are seed pearls around each side of the enamel.

I have many more, some that are more suited to place where a male is sitting but I have a tendency to gravitate towards the more intricately detailed French, definitely to be placed where a lady is sitting.

When doing a dinner party one must always place fresh flowers on the table. Flower arranging is one of my passions. The Varga stemware are also shown here in this photo. There are four colors, blue, green, a pinkish red and a gold. This particular pattern is called Springtime and they have butterflies and insects etched on each one.

I also love to cook and this was our dinner menu, a French themed dinner party.


Quiche Maraichere

 Rosemary Cashews

served with  Pomegranate Cosmopolitan's

Dinner Menu

Mixed Green Salad with Emeril's Pecans, Blue Cheese, Croutons, Pears and topped with a Walnut Champagne Vinaigrette

 Chicken with Morels

Haricot Verts

served with a French Chardonnay


Coeur a la Creme topped with Raspberry Sauce

served with Champagne


and in take home bags as a kind of Valentine gift Almond Joy Bars

The food was very good, the fellowship excellent and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. We sat around the dining room table until about 10:30 and we laughed and laughed. A good time was had by all.

Today I am joining Susan's blog party, Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch.

I am also joining the blog party at The Little Round Table.

Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again. Remember, you can click on to any photo to enlarge it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Berry Lemon Bread

I am not sure exactly where I found this recipe but I do believe that it was a fellow blogger. I am so sorry I cannot remember who it was because I would love to give that person the credit for this lovely bread.

Berry Lemon Bread

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup lemon yogurt
¼ cup canola oil
2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup berries

(I used raspberries)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl combine eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, extract, and lemon zest. Add dry ingredients just until moistened. Gently fold in berries.

Spray bread pan with a nonstick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Note: It can be topped with a Lemon glaze of confectioner sugar and lemon juice which I did.

It went together very easily and came out of the pan just beautifully.

It was a perfect little nosh for afternoon tea, a light dessert and breakfast.

It was moist and delicious and I will definitely be making this again. It also kept nicely for a couple of days. This fresh tasting little bread/cake would also make a nice hostess gift or if you just needed to take something to a friend. I am glad I have this recipe in my files.

Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again.