Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cookbook Book Club ~Part Deux

Our second "Cookbook Book Club" which I fondly call it had our second gathering yesterday. This is a monthly group and we schedule ours at lunch time. When you get into a organized group such as this it is not only to meet new people who have a common interest but also to share outstanding food prepared by excellent cooks, it's lots of fun and OMG, what a feast. It is impossible to explain the experience and of course, you walk away so stuffed because you want to try each and every thing on the table. By dinner time you really have no inclination to cook for the evening meal.

The hostess of the month chooses which cookbook that each of us will cook from. This month our hostess chose to cook from one that is very near and dear to my heart, our own Junior League cookbook. I was on the committee so many years ago that published this book. I worked on it for three years and it taught me so many things and I believe that was when I really learned the joy of cooking. It was published in 1988 but in my opinion has withstood the test of time.

I was a little doubtful when we learned that this is the book we would cook from because of how long ago it was published but WOW was I in for a surprise. There are twelve people in our group, only nine participated yesterday and much to my surprise each person brought a dish that I had never prepared before with the exception of one, Belgian Style Seafood. Since I was the chair person of the seafood section for this book I had in fact tested that recipe. I had not made it since and had forgotten how delicious it was which is crazy especially since we are so fortunate living near the Gulf coast to have fresh seafood at our beckon call year round.

We always serve it buffet style and each of us want to try each and every dish that was brought to this lovely affair.

Belgian Style Seafood
(An over the top entrée' filled with fresh shrimp, scallops, and crab meat and served over angel hair pasta, what's not to like about this incredible dish?
A recipe that I will definitely prepare again for my family.
Wild Rice and Chicken Salad
Artichoke Chicken Casserole

This was served over yellow rice and another amazing dish.

Potato Broccoli Vinaigrette

Zucchini Carrot Bread
A very moist, rich, and flavorful bread.

Sausage Bread
Another nutritious bread that can be served for breakfast or as a tea nosh.
I failed to get a photo of our dessert, French Silk Pie. It has an amazing crunchy crust with a velvety smooth chocolate filling. It was quite simply, DELICIOUS!!!!!
And lastly, my own contribution to this fabulous luncheon.
This was a recipe that could have been served hot, cold or at room temperature which is what I chose to do. I had brought some diminutive punch cups for ease of serving and we also topped it with a slight drizzle of black truffle oil.
Asparagus Soup
24 to 30 pencil-thin asparagus spears
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups chicken stock or broth, warmed
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely minced parsley
2 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 small seeded and peeled tomato, chopped for garnish (optional)
Trim woody ends of asparagus and cut stalks into 2-inch lengths. Trim and reserve tips.
Steam asparagus tips for 3 to 5 minutes. Rinse tips in cold water. Drain well and refrigerate for garnish.
Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions, sauté over medium-low heat, until onions are transparent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for only two minutes being careful not to burn the garlic. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add warmed broth slowly, stirring constantly. Add asparagus stems, parsley, seasonings, and basil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes.
Cool asparagus soup slightly and puree' in batches. Strain in a medium sieve to remove woody pieces. Add cream and reheat gently if serving hot, refrigerate if serving cold. Garnish for serving with asparagus tips, chopped tomato or both, if desired.
May be made the day before.
I have always loved a good asparagus soup but had never prepared this particular recipe. I had an excellent asparagus soup recipe in my repertoire  that I have used over and over again but this particular soup is so delicious that it will now become my go to recipe.
Instead of pureeing in a blender I used an immersion blender and did not put it through a sieve. I liked the rustic nature as it is but I also added in the juice of 1 fresh lemon which gave it a pop of flavor.
There is something so powerful in sharing wonderful, carefully prepared food with friends. As the Prelude of this book reads, "Linger for a moment over a timeless collection of special family occasions. Enjoy for a lifetime the exquisite atmosphere created when family, food and festivity are intertwined. Discover the flavor of the graceful lifestyle and casual elegance which is Tallahassee. Thymes Remembered is a portrait of the food and settings which convey an ambience reflective of our way of life." I vividly remember the meeting where we went over the wording of the Prelude of this book and yesterday I could not help but remember these eloquent words as we were sharing good food, good fellowship and making memories.
I had put this book aside for more recent books that are out today. I knew better than anyone that each and every recipe had been tested a minimum of three times and I learned something. It is an excellent "go to" book and has indeed endured the test of time. Thank you my friends for allowing me the honor of being a part of this group.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine Cupcakes for my Grand Daughters

One of my favorite blogs is Susan's at Between Naps on the Porch and she had posted several years ago about some adorable Valentine Cupcakes. For Valentines I was looking for something I could make for my Grand Daughters and this was an excellent solution. I was unable to find the exact pan Susan had used but found one very similar.
This one is made by Nordic Ware and I found it online at Amazon. Thank goodness for Amazon. I also used the same recipe that Susan had shared and found this to be an excellent cake recipe. It is a 1234 Cake that had been shared with her by her mother in law many years ago and apparently has served Susan well. She agreed to allow me to share it here on my own blog.

1 2 3 4 Cake

 1 cup butter
 2 cups sugar
 3 cups all purpose flour
4 eggs
1 cup milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered Sugar(optional)
Raspberry preserves(optional)

  Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and cream well. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.

 Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add milk and flour mixture into the butter mixture, alternating the two and ending with flour.  Beat on low speed and add vanilla extract.  Fill each heart-shaped cup or muffin tin about ⅔rds full. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes...test with a toothpick to see if it's done. Once cakes have completely cooled, sprinkle powdered sugar over them, then fill with Raspberry or Strawberry Preserves. If the little heart cakes expanded above the level of the pan while cooking, using a large knife, slice off the part sticking up so the cakes will sit flat on the plate.

My Notes: I used a small serrated knife to cut the tops off to make them sit flat.

The cake went together so quickly and turned out to be very moist little cupcakes. Of course, doing the prep work ahead of time is a MUST.

The only thing I regret is not ordering two of these pans so both pans could have baked at the same time. The recipe is plenty to fill two pans. Another order from Amazon for sure since I know I will be making these again and again.

Moist and delicious and all my grand girls were thrilled. However, since I knew they were chocoholics I chose to do a chocolate ganache drizzled over mine.

I could have thinned the ganache a little more but I will remember that for the next time. I used Ina Garten's recipe from her book, Barefoot Contessa Parties.

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces a good semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Place the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Place the cakes upside down on a wire rack and gently pour the glaze evenly over the top. You can cover the cakelet or just a drizzle.
Each one was boxed up with large white cupcake papers underneath and then placed in a pretty box. For the children I chose to top with sprinkles.

Of course, there were a few left over for me and my husband. They were very tasty.

Susan decorated hers differently and I wanted to share that with you as well. Probably a prettier presentation but I needed to do the chocolate "thing". The next time I will decorate them as Susan did and she also gave me permission to share her photo as well. So there are several options, I can see these made any time of year maybe for a luncheon dessert for some special friends.
You can click HERE to see Susan's post about these wonderful little cupcakes.

These little cupcakes made for an excellent Valentine surprise for my five grand girls. Thank you so much Susan for allowing me to share your recipe and your photo. I hope each of you enjoyed a very Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cabbage and Sausage Stew

I was gifted recently with some delicious smoked sausage. My friend wanted me to try this sausage after she had had another recipe of mine that I had made for my Garden Circles Soup Luncheon recently also using sausage. I had used a smoked sausage that is made here locally and I have always loved that sausage. I now am a convert and really liked the sausage my friend had brought me. Now every time she goes to Destin where she buys it she will just have to bring me some as well.

I came across this recipe recently and thought it to be excellent.

Cabbage and Sausage Stew

1 1/2 pounds Country Smoked Sausage, sliced
2 pounds red potatoes, medium chopped, unpeeled
2 medium size onion's, chopped
3 carrots,medium chopped
1/2 of a cabbage, chopped
5 to 6 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
dash of Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

In a hot Dutch oven brown the sausage on both sides in the oil and remove it from the pot. Pour off all the oil from the sausage reserving 2 Tablespoons. Brown the onions in the sausage oil and add the sausage back into the pot. Add the garlic, thyme, parsley, nutmeg, Cayenne, salt and pepper and mix well being carful to not burn the garlic.

Add the chicken broth, potatoes, carrots, cabbage and mix well. Bring the stew to a boil and then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

If you want to thicken the stew mix 2 Tablespoons of room temperature butter with 2 Tablespoons flour.

It is necessary to brown the sausage on both sides. It makes for a more appealing presentation in the stew.
 This soup went together so simply and the fragrance in the kitchen was amazing.
An excellent soup for a chilly winter evening. True comfort food at it's best.
I topped the stew with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and also a drizzle of black truffle oil. The black truffle oil just puts it over the top in my opinion.

This was an amazingly delicious stew and a wonderful way to use my gifted sausage. Enjoy!

I am linking this post to Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee at Rattlebridge Farm. You can click HERE to enjoy other wonderful recipes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016