Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Tables

We ususally have two tables for Thanksgiving, one for the adults in the dining room and one for the four grands on the screened porch. My dining room opens out to the screened porch and on a beautiful day here in N FL it makes for a perfect setting as was this past Thanksgiving, cool temperatures and a beautiful day. The children feel as if they are sitting with all of us and it works great for me in terms of clean up.

Here is our Thanksgiving table.

By candlelight is was gorgeous and I tried to keep it so very simple.

My centerpiece was done in an antique bread bowl with an assortment of pumpkins, gourds and butternut squash with some faux berries.
I used my woven chargers, Spode Turkey dinner plates, Spode bronze stemware, Pottery Barn Leaf salad bowls, and those charming turkey place card holders that I found at a local gift shop last year. Behind the place card holders you can see my white turkeys that I found at William Sonoma this year. The amber candle holders I have had for a very long time and use them throughout the Fall season.
I just absolutely loved these white turkeys that I found at William Somoma.
The place card holders I found at a local gift shop and used the same ones on the childrens table. It made them feel even more special.

These acorn napkin ring holders I have had for such a long time and use them often in the Fall. I found them at an antique shop many years ago in Blowing Rock, NC when I was visiting a friend there. 
They always remind me of that special trip with just the two of us.

I always love to use my collection of silver birds on any table.

The children's table is set up just beyond the French doors. We swing them open and the children feel as if they are sitting in the same room.

The ten year old grandsons have outgrown the cutsie Thanksgiving plates from Pottery Barn but I can mix the Spode Turkey plates with those for the younger children.
The younger children love these little plates.
These Turkey napkin rings were made by my mother many years ago and I shared this with the children this Thanksgiving. Traditions..........this is what I hope to pass on to my grands.
We had one of the most memorable Thanksgiving's ever and I hope that my efforts will be remembered. I do want to pass on some of the traditions that were passed on to me.

It is time to move on to the Christmas Season and I am up to the task. I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving celebration as much as I did, filled with family and traditions.

I am joining Seasonal Sunday's at The Tablescaper's blogging party.

I am also linking to Susan's blogging party Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Plantation Pecan Pie

One evening last week one of the twin grandsons called and told me his class was doing a Thanksgiving dinner in their classroom two days before Thanksgiving. He told his class and his teacher very loudly apparently, "MY Gigi can cook". Thankfully he didn't volunteer me to do the entire meal. He did however ask me if I would bake a Pecan Pie for their class celebration. You gotta love a young man who loves his Gigi's cooking, how do you say NO to that even if you are busy?????

This is the Pecan Pie recipe that I have been making for many many years. It is also the recipe that appears in our Junior League cookbook that I worked on many years ago as well and this pie is always served as one of several desserts in our home for Thanksgiving.

Plantation Pecan Pie

8 servings

3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, halves or broken pieces
1 9-inch pie pastry, unbaked

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, salt and vanilla extract until well blended.

Arange pecans in pie pastry.

Pour egg-sugar mixture into pie pastry; pecans will float to the top.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and filling is puffy.

Let pie cool to room temperature before cutting.


It is amazing to me that whatever design you place the pecans  that is the way they will float to the top after pouring in the egg/sugar mixture. Many people chop pecans to go in the filling and then place the pecans in a design on top of the pie but this is the way I have always done it. It truly is a Southern "thing".

This is such a simple pie to make and is so very delicious. A bought pie crust works very well but if you are more inclined to make your own crust Martha Stewart has a wonderful Pate' Brisse that I use.

Martha's Pate' Brisse

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/4 sticks (18 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube until dough just holds together (no longer than 30 seconds).

Divide dough in half, and shape into disks. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).


I am told that the principle of my grandsons school ate some of the pie I had made and asked my daughter- in-law if I would be willing to make some pies for her family for Thanksgiving????? She absolutely LOVED this Pecan Pie and it is so very simple.

My daughter will be making this same recipe for our Thanksgiving dessert table. It is quite simply, DELICIOUS and a family tradition!!!!! My daughter will use this same recipe that I have made for years. Family and traditions, that is what Thanksgiving is all about and I am so very thankful for so many things.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

M. Jacques' Armagnac Chicken

I first posted this almost a year ago and it truly was one of the best Roasted Chicken recipes that I have ever prepared. I also just love this cookbook and cook from it often. I highly recommend this book.

Today I am linking this repost to Chari's blogging party Sunday Favorites at Happy to Design. 


I am working my way through Dorie Greenspans latest cookbook, Around My French Table. This is an excellent book and one I have thoroughly enjoyed cooking from. This morning I wrote out my grocery list but not before looking at Dorie's book to see what I wanted to prepare next.

I love a good roasted chicken, it is such comfort food. Dorie's recipe for M. Jacques' Armagnac Chicken is outstanding. Truly dinner party fare but my DH and I just loved it for just the two of us as well.

m. jacques' armagnac chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
8 small thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and halved lengthwise
3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and thickly sliced on the diagonal
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 thyme sprig
1 rosemary sprig
1 bayleaf
1 chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds, preferably organic, trussed (or wings turned under and feet tied together with kitchen string), at room temperature
1/2 cup Armagnac (Cognac or other brandy
1 cup water

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. You'll need a heavy casserole with a tight-fitting cover, one large enough to hold the chicken snugly but still leave room for the vegetables. (I use an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven.)

Put the casserole over medium heat and pour in the oil. When it's warm, toss in the vegetables and turn them around in the oil for a minute or two until they glisten; season with salt and white pepper. Stir in the herbs and push everything toward the sides of the pot to make way for the chicken. Rub the chicken all over with salt and white pepper, nestle it in the pot, and pour the Armagnac around it. Leave the pot on the heat for a minute to warm the Armagnac, then cover it tightly- if your lid is shaky, cover the pot with a piece of aluminum foil and then put the cover in place.

Slide the casserole into the oven and let the chicken roast undisturbed for 60 minutes.

Transfer the pot to the stove, and carefully remove the lid and the foil, if you used it-make sure to open the lid away from you, because there will be a lot of steam. After admiring the beautifully browned chicken, very carefully transfer it to a warm platter or , better yet, a bowl; cover loosely with a foil tent.

Using a spoon, skim off the fat that have risen to the top of the cooking liquid and discard it; pick out the bay leaf and discard it too. Turn the heat to medium, stir the vegetables gently to dislodge any that might have stuck to the bottom of the pot, and add the water, stirring to blend it with the pan juices. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens ever so slightly, then taste for salt and pepper.

Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables and sauce.

All my ingredients are prepped and I used a six quart oval Le Crusuet covered casserole.

 When I prepare a dish for the first time I always go exactly by the directions so I did in fact use Armagnac. However, in France the Armagnac refers to the region. You could indeed substitute Cognac as Dorie mentions in her book.

Just before popping it into the oven. I failed to get a picture after it came out of the oven, silly me but I must say that I did have to put it back in the oven uncovered to brown just a little more.

This was a superb dinner and that sauce, oh my.

I will never prepare Roasted Chicken any other way now. Amazingly delicious.

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

Friday, November 18, 2011

Roasted Vegetables

One of my most favorite ways to serve a medley of vegetables is to Roast them. It's easy, quick and roasting them imparts a different flavor to the way my mother prepared them, over cooked and in a bath of water.
My choice of vegetables is most always Yukon Gold Potatoes, Red Onion, Carrots, Squash, Zuchinni, Red Bell Pepper, and Cherry Tomatoes. Spinkled with some kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of a good olive oil. A sprinkle of fresh herbs can only enhance this side too and I have in my garden almost year round thyme and rosemary.

My olive oil of choice is this one. It is a perfect olive oil for roasting. On occassion I will use this with just a subtle taste of garlic.

I always add more vegetables than I need because the leftovers the next day make the most delicious soup.
I place the leftover veggies in my blender adding a little chicken stock (store bought is fine here). Then I place them in a sauce pan with some additional chicken stock to my particular preference and heat. When serving I sometimes drizzle with a little Truffle Oil or maybe some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It is simply DEVINE.

The next time you want a one dish side give Roasted Vegetables a try, a healthier way to serve veggies. You won't be disappointed.

Today I am linking this post to Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee at Designs by Gollum.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Red Pepper Frittata with Prosciutto

It's Friday and once again time to join Michael Lee's blogging party Foodie Friday. Today I am sharing a recipe that I really enjoyed, Red Pepper Frittata with Prosciutto. Sometimes we enjoy a lighter dinner and this was perfect for one of those evenings.

The recipe comes from one of my newest favorite cookbooks by P. Allen Smith. Allen is a very well known garden designer from Little Rock, Arkansas and has a country home and farm. In this his first cookbook he stresses as most cooks and chefs do now a days to cook with local ingredients and seasonal. I had the opportunity to meet Allen a couple of years ago when I went to an antique show in a small little town just north of us. He was a wealth of information and hopefully I will be able to travel to his country farm home since he on occasion does tours.

This recipe cooked perfectly in my 10-inch cast iron skillet and it did not disappoint. Another thing that I enjoy about this book is the simplicity of each recipe.

Red Pepper Frittata With Prosciutto
Serves 6 to 8

4 red bell peppers
3 medium-size potatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces sliced prosciutto, cut into strips
2 leeks, white and green parts, sliced in half lengthwise, will rinsed, and cut into thin half-moons
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Preheat the oven to 400*F.

Lay the  peppers on a baking sheet and roast them, turning them as needed, until the skins are well charred all over, about 30 minutes. Then put the peppers in a plastic bag and let them steam for about 20 minutes. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin and cut the roasted peppers into strips. Set the strips aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350*F.

Rinse the chopped potatoes under cold running water, drain, and pat dry. Set them aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in an ovenproof skillet. When the mixture is foaming, add the prosciutto and leeks, and cook until the prosciutto is crispy and the leeks are translucent, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a plate and set it aside.

Add 1 more tablespoon each butter and olive oil to the skillet, and cook the potatoes over medium heat until they are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and remove the skillet from the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream. Season with plenty of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the cooked leeks and prosciutto, the goat cheese, most of the Parmesan, the chopped chives, and the roasted peppers. Pour this over the potatoes in the skillet, stirring gently to combine. Put the skillet back on the heat and cook for just a couple of minutes, until the bottom of the frittata is beginning to set.

Transfer the skillet to the oven, and cook for 10 minutes, until the frittata is just firm to the touch. Invert the frittata onto a large plate. (I think the top looks nicer, so I suggest flipping it back again.) Then allow it to rest for 5 minutes (it has far less flavor when it's piping hot). Garnish with the remaining Parmesan, cut into wedges, and serve.

This made for a light but yet delicious dinner pared with a Mixed Green Salad and a glass of my favorite white wine. There is nothing better than a Frittata made with the freshest of ingredients, I consider this "comfort food".  I also have an Herb Garden so the chives are just a short walk out the back door. There is something so therapeutic about cutting fresh herbs from your garden to use in a recipe.

Go by and visit Michael Lee's blogging party, there are many wonderful and varied recipes shared. You can access her blog by clicking HERE.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Emeril's Red Beans and Rice

Yesterday a friend asked for a crock pot recipe that I had from another friend. It seems she lost track of the recipe and it was a quick and easy recipe for a working young mom. It reminded me that I had recently prepared Emeril's recipe for Red Beans and Rice and if you have the time it is well worth the time to prepare it. It is absolutely delicious.

Emeril’s Red Beans and Rice

1 pound dried red beans

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup chopped yellow onions

1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/2 pound andouille or other spicy smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

One 1-pound ham hock

2 to 2 1/2 quarts Chicken Stock

Cooked hot Rice

In a colander, rinse the beans under cold running water. Discard any broken beans or pebbles. Transfer the beans to a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Soak for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Or, bring the beans and enough water to cover by 2 inches to a boil in a large pot over high heat and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and cover tightly; let stand for 1 hour.

Heat the oil in a large heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the sausage, salt, Essence, cayenne, black pepper, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring often, until the sausage is browned, about 4 minutes. Add the ham hock and cook for 2 minutes.

Drain the beans and add to the pot. Pour in enough stock to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

Mash about one-fourth of the bean mixture against the side of the pot with a heavy spoon to thicken the juices. Remove the ham hock. Let cool slightly. Slice the meat from the bone, discarding the skin and bones. Return the meat to the pot and heat through.

Spoon the rice into bowls and top with the beans.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

In the Fall I always use my Staub Pumpkin 5 quart cast iron pot and when not in use it is always sitting on my cook top. Probably to remind me that something really yummy needs to be cooked in it.
Because it is lined with a non stick coating nothing sticks to the bottom of the surface. It makes for easy clean up especially when you need to simmer something for several hours.
Pared with some really good corn bread and a Mixed Green Salad it makes for a nice dinner on a cool Fall evening.
Red Beans and Rice originated in  Louisiana and is a New Orleans staple. My original ancestor to this country was a Spanish Conquistador who was one of the early settlers of Florida. When it came time to finding himself a wife he looked no further than New Orleans and took himself a French wife who happened to be a relative of Napoleon Bonaparte. There is my history, Spanish from the northern part of Spain and French from New Orleans. Red Beans and Rice are in my blood and it is sooooooooo very good.  
The andouille sausage has a little heat but not too much. I am one of those people who don't care for too much  heat or overly spicey dishes and the andouille sausage is just perfect. If you have never tried Red Beans and Rice you will enjoy this recipe, typical New Orleans fare.

It's Friday and I am linking this post to Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. There are many other excellent recipes shared at this blogging party.