Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tapas Thursday - Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

For this week Tapas Thursdays, I decided to use what I had on hand and raided the pantry, freezer and refrigerator.  The garden's tomato plants continue to produce such lovely varieties of tomatoes it seems a shame not to eat every single one.

3 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. light brown sugar
pinch of salt
4 oz. cream cheese or goat cheese
8 mini-pastry shells
fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and salt.  Pour into a shallow baking dish and let bake for 15 - 20 minutes until tomatoes are softened.

Place pastry shells on a baking sheet and prick several times with a fork.  Place them in the oven while the tomatoes are baking until they are cooked and nicely browned, about 8 - 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and fill with whichever cheese you prefer.

Carefully spoon equal amounts of the roasted tomatoes over the cheese.  The heat from the just cooked pastry shells and tomatoes will make the cheese ooey-gooey delicious.  Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Crock Pot Roast Beef and Vegetables

I'm a firm believer in all of you digging that crock pot from under the cabinet and using it!  It's not just for soups and stews during the wintertime.  How great to not heat up your kitchen during the summer months.  I took about 15 extra minutes before leaving for work this morning and walked in the door tonight to a meal completely cooked and ready to serve.  You can't beat that deal all of you working moms and dads. 

2 lb. chuck roast
16 oz. beef broth
1 bay leaf
2 t. chopped garlic
5 - 6 small to medium potatoes
2 onions, peeled and quartered
3 carrots, cut into thirds
16 oz. frozen or canned green beans (I used green beans from the garden that had been preserved in the freezer)
A few grinds of black pepper

I set it to low around 6:30 this morning.  I was putting all these delicious goodness on a serving platter at 6:00 p.m.  If you think you don't have time to put a meal like this on the table because you work all day, give this one a try.

Here's a picture as soon as I lifted the lid of the crock pot.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Raw Summer Tomato Sauce for Pasta

A tomato sauce for pasta that isn't cooked for hours? No simmering on the stove? Lovely chunks of tomato that you can distinguish and aren't cooked down to nothing? Yes indeed. Make sure you use a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes and types of tomatoes for the best results. If at all possible, use at least some heirloom varieties.  hey will add an enormous depth of flavor to this dish.

2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, preferably heirloom varieties in a mix of colors and shapes
3 to 4 plump cloves, garlic, peeled
1/2 t. salt
6 large basil leaves
1/4 t. hot red pepper flakes, or more or less to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup or more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or cubed fresh mozzarella cheese

Rinse the tomatoes, drain and wipe dry.  Cut out the core and other other tough parts.  Working over a big mixing bowl to catch all the juices, cut the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes in half; regular tomatoes into 1 inch chunks and drop them into the bowl.

Smash the garlic cloves with a chef's knife, and chop into a fine paste (easier if you add some of the salt as you chop; mash the garlic bites and salt with the flat side of the knife, too). Scatter the garlic paste and the rest of the salt (1/2 t. in all) over the tomatoes and stir gently. Pile up the basil leaves and cut into thin strips; you should get bout 3 T.  

Scatter these over the tomatoes, then sprinkle in the hot red pepper flakes. Pour in the oil, stir, and fold, to coat the tomatoes and distribute the seasonings.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it marinate at room temperature for 1 - 2 hours.

Toss the marinated sauce with freshly cooked and drained pasta. Serve as is or toss in 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. For extra richness, add 1 cup or more cubed fresh mozzarella.

From Lidia's Favorite Recipes

Pasta Drying Rack

You know those little pasta drying racks you see in food specialty catalogs?  You know the ones.  The ones that maybe you can hang 2 dozen noodles and then you start looking for backs of chairs, you open cabinet doors, etc. etc.

Check out THE ULTIMATE PASTA DRYING RACK.  A friend made and gave this to me for Christmas.  And yes, it comes apart easily for storage.  It's amazing.

Classic Pesto

Basil is my most favorite herb. Right now, basil is at its peak. Paired with freshly made egg noodles, this recipe had NO room for improvement. It takes longer for the water to boil for the pasta, than it does for the pesto to be made in the food processor. Take a few minutes while basil is abundant and enjoy this lovely dish.

And remember, you can make a big batch, freeze in ice cube trays and when frozen pop out and freeze in freezer bags. This winter you'll be glad you did.

4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, gently washed and dried
pinch of coarse sea salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 T. pine nuts, lightly toasted (I toasted an extra tablespoon for garnish)
2 T. freshly and finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 T. freshly and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 - 4 T. olive oil

Combine the basil, salt and garlic in the food processor. Add 2 T. of the olive oil and blend at low speed. Stop frequently to press the basil down around the blades, until a coarse paste forms.

Toss in the pine nuts and pour in the remaining olive oil. Blend until the pine nuts are finely ground.Stir in the grated cheese to form a creamy paste.

Toss with freshly cooked and drained pasta. Top with the remaining pine nuts and additional cheese if desired.

From Lidia's Favorite Recipes

Fresh Egg Pasta

Yesterday was pasta making day. I made two batches because I had different sauces I wanted to try. Using a food processor to begin the blending process and the attachments on my KitchenAid mixer made quick work of getting the dough ready to cut into noodles.

2 cups all purpose flour plus 1/3 cup for board and extra for sprinkling
3 eggs

Combine the flour and eggs in the work bowl fitted with the metal blade. Pulse briefly a few times to combine the ingredients. Then process using long pulses only until the dough forms a ball around the blade, about 1 minute.  

Turn the dough out onto a pastry board and knead with the palm of your hand as you would bread dough, pushing it against the board and turning it constantly, until it is smooth, elastic and not too soft, about 5 minutes.

Adjust the rollers on the pasta machine to its widest setting. Cut dough into six equal portions and light dust each portion with flour. Feed dough through the rollers, dust with flour, fold into third and roll through again, adjusting the roller width each time until you reach the desired thickness you'd like.  

As you get each portion to the desired thickness, place on clean dish towel, cover with another dish towel and repeat until each portion is rolled out.

Change the roller attachment to the cutting attachment and feed each sheet through the cutter and then carefully place the noodles on a drying rack while you cut the remaining sheets.

A friend gave me this handmade pasta drying rack for Christmas. It's awesome!

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Lightly salt the water and add pasta. Cook for 5 minutes and drain. Serve immediately.

From Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Pasta

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Table Setting for Pasta Making Day

I promise the greens match better in "real life" than they do in this photo!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Southern Saturday Breakfast

I was in the mood for fried green tomatoes and why not for breakfast?  Then, I thought, hmmmm let's add some home fries as the base, TOP with the fried green tomato(es) and then, add the egg?

Here's the recipe for the home fries.

Here's the recipe for the fried green tomatoes.

Top with your favorite way to cook your breakfast eggs.

Voila!  A delicious breakfast that incorporates so many delicious flavors and textures. 

Double Battered Fried Green Tomatoes

'Tis the season for fried green tomatoes.  This morning I fried up a batch and used them in a breakfast dish.  But these were worthy of their own blog post.  A cast iron skillet is a perfect way to fry them.  

2 medium green tomatoes, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
2 cups self-rising corn meal
salt and pepper
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oil to 375 degrees.

Place the cornmeal in a shallow dish and lightly add salt and pepper.  Pour the buttermilk in a separate bowl.

Dredge the tomato slices in the cornmeal, dip them in the buttermilk and then coat them with another layer of cornmeal.  Let the coating set for a few minutes and then carefully lower a few at a time into the oil and let them fry until golden brown on both sides.

Drain on a towel and lightly salt.  Enjoy one of the best delicacies ever. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tapas Thursday - Grilled Eggplant with Tomatoes and Parmesan Garlic Mayonnaise


Tonight's tapas features a lovely home grown eggplant. An important thing to remember before you cook eggplant is to slice it, spread it out on paper towels, lightly salt and put another layer of paper towels. The salt will draw out the moisture of the eggplant. Place a heavy pot on top of the eggplant slices for at least 10 minutes. This one easy step will make all the difference when you cook eggplant.

1 small eggplant, sliced in 1/2 inch thickness
olive oil
sliced tomatoes
4 T. mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Assorted herbs - I used rosemary, dill, basil and oregano

You can either pan fry, bake or use a grill pan to cook the eggplant slices. I brushed the slices on both sides with olive oil and heated the grill pan on high heat.

I let the eggplant cook for about 3 minutes per side, making sure the grill marks were nice and pretty. A sprinkling of the spiced sea salt and they were ready to go.

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, garlic and Parmesan cheese.  

Place a slide of tomato on top of each eggplant slice. Place a dollop of the Parmesan Garlic mayo and then top with whatever herb you'd like. On one of the slices I put the mayo mixture down first and then topped with sliced cherry tomatoes.

from http://laylita.com/recipes/2008/08/12/annas-eggplant-appetizer/

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Heirloom Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

I thought you might enjoying seeing a few pictures of our crop of Heirloom Cherokee Purple tomatoes. 

Here's some information if you're not familiar with this delicious variety:

This cultivar originated with Craig LeHoullier, who claimed it was a century-old cultivar originating with the Cherokee people. In 1990, while living in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Craig received unsolicited in the mail, from John Green of Sevierville, Tennessee, a brief note and a small packet of seeds. The note indicated that John wanted to share this unnamed tomato with Craig, and that it was a purple tomato that the Cherokee Indians gave to his neighbors 100 years ago. 

Cherokee Purples have an unusual deep purple/red hue. It was one of the first of the "black" color group of tomatoes. It is also unusual in being extremely popular for the sake of its flavor, instead of only its unusual color. Cherokee Purple tomatoes are beefsteak in style, with green "shoulders" across the top. They are also notable for having a dense, juicy texture, with small seed locules irregularly scattered throughout the flesh. The comparatively dark interior color is enhanced by the tendency of the seeds to be surrounded by green gel.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Ina Garten's Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic is one of my favorite recipes. Of course, I break rules and made mine with 42 cloves of garlic.

3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths  (I used breasts and thighs this time)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside. 

Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches.

Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot.  Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned.  Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. 

Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

Roasted Garlic

Whole garlic bulbs
Dried thyme or oregano
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Peel loose, papery skins off garlic bulbs.  Slice top of each head (pointy end) so that the flesh is exposed.  Arrange in a baking dish or garlic baker and drizzle with oil.  
Sprinkle with herbs.  Cover with foil or baker lid and bake for about 45 minutes until the garlic is soft and golden.  Cool before serving.  
Squeeze soft garlic out of skins and spread on meat or French bread.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Macaroni and Cheese Balls

I adapted this recipe from one found on the Food Network website. I feel the need to tell you that unless you're having a huge party or feeding a LOT of teenagers, considering halving the recipe. This made a LOT.

1 pound elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, warmed, plus 2 tablespoons for egg wash
1 pound grated Cheddar
2 cups grated Colby
 salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
3 cups seasoned bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
Marinara or Alfredo sauce, to serve
Cook the macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour into the butter and stir it with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes. Whisk the warmed milk into the flour mixture, working out any lumps. 
Cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cheeses, and stir until melted and smooth; season with salt and pepper. Fold the cheese sauce into macaroni. Pour the mac and cheese into a shallow pan and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.

Shape the cold mac and cheese into meatball-sized balls and place them onto a waxed paper-lined tray. Freeze the balls overnight.

Beat the eggs and 2 tablespoons milk together to form an egg wash and pour it into a shallow bowl. Put the bread crumbs into another shallow bowl. Remove the mac and cheese balls from the freezer.
Dip the frozen balls into the egg wash then into the bread crumbs. Put the balls back into the freezer until you are ready to fry.

Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 350 degrees F. Fry the mac and cheese balls until they are golden brown and center is hot, about 5 minutes. 
Serve hot with your favorite marinara or Alfredo sauce or combination or both for dipping.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

My daughter and son in law requested a chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake for their birthday this year.  A couple of clicks of the mouse to the Philadelphia Cream Cheese website and voila!  They loved the cheesecake.

2 pkg.  (8 oz. each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened

1/2 cup  sugar

1/2 t. vanilla

2 eggs

3/4 cup  prepared or refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough, divided

1 ready-to-use graham cracker crumb crust (6 oz.)
Preheat oven to 350°F.   Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.

Add eggs; mix just until blended.

Remove 1/2 cup of the dough; drop by teaspoonfuls into batter.   Stir gently until well blended.

Pour into crust.  Top with level teaspoonfuls of the remaining 1/4 cup cookie dough.  Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set.  Cool. 

Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Sometimes I want the goodness, heat and flavor of hot wings, but not the messiness of frying and eating them. This is a wonderful alternative.

1 lb. chicken tenderloins, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
Your favorite hot wing sauce. I used Moore's Buffalo Wing Sauce.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil until it shimmers and then add chicken cubes. Reduce heat to medium high and cook for 5 - 6 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Add butter and let cook until butter begins to brown, 1 - 2 minutes.

Add hot wing sauce and stir until chicken is well coated. Spoon into a small casserole dish. At this point,you can put into a mini slow cooker set to low to keep warm, place in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes or so or serve immediately.


Baked Buffalo Chicken Dip

There are lots of variations of the classic buffalo chicken dip recipe.  Instead of cooking in a crock pot, I baked this one.  Still delicious.  I served with the choice of tortilla scoops or pita chips.

2 - 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup of your favorite hot sauce
2 - 10 oz. cans white meat chicken, drained
1 cup Ranch dressing
2 cups finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add cream cheese and hot sauce and stir to combine.  Add chicken and Ranch dressing and bring to a low simmer.  Add cheese and slowly stir until the cheese melts.

Pour into a shallow baking dish and bake for 10 - 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.