Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Perfect Appetizer For New Year's...Smoked Salmon Cake

This recipe from Martha Stewart combines traditional partners such as pumpernickel bread, smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumbers, in a beautifully presented cake "iced" with more cream cheese.  If you are asked to bring an appetizer and want to make a splash with little work make this!


Serves 8 to 10

3 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped

2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2 loaves pumpernickel bread, cut into 16 half-inch slices, with crusts

1 pound smoked salmon, thinly sliced

1 1/2 seedless cucumbers, thinly sliced into 1/8-inch slices, patted dry, plus more for decorating sides of cake

1/2 cup creme fraiche

2 1/2 ounces salmon roe

1 ounce black caviar

Lemon wedges, for garnish


1.In a small bowl, combine eight ounce cream cheese, red onion, capers, dill, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper, and stir until smooth. Lay four bread slices on a clean work surface; trim 1/4 inch from all sides of slices. Spread 1 tablespoon cream-cheese mixture on top of one slice, and layer with smoked salmon and cucumber (try not to overlap cucumber slices). Spread another thin layer of the cream-cheese mixture on top. Repeat with two more bread slices.

2.Neatly stack prepared slices, filling side up, squaring the sides with your hands; top with the fourth bread slice. Repeat with remaining bread and filling to create three more stacks in this way.

3.Transfer stacks to a serving platter with their long sides touching. In a small bowl, combine remaining 16 ounces cream cheese and creme fraiche until smooth. Using offset spatula, spread mixture evenly over assembled cake. Refrigerate, covered, two hours or overnight.

4.Before serving, arrange overlapping cucumber slices around base of cake; spoon salmon roe and caviar along the top, and sprinkle with dill. Garnish the platter with lemon wedges

Recipe Marthastewart.com:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

First White Christmas In 100 Years!

Yes, that is right. We are getting our first white Christmas since 1882.  Eat your heart out, Vermont!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Heartfelt Thanks And A Merry Christmas!

About nine months ago, I moved to this lake with my daughter and our two dogs, Lucy and Lilly.  Life has been, to say the least, quite different but very fullfilling.  I have strived to fill my days with my two blogs and a new life close to my children and grandchildren.  It has been challenging at times but lots of fun most of the time.

This blog, unlike Lindaraxa's Garden, has been a place to post about my new life, our dogs and all our adventures living in the country.  As most of you know, I am at heart a "city" girl and a "northener" but have lived in the country when I was very young and in the South when I was newly married so it hasn't been that tough to adapt.  As a matter of fact my son was born in Asheville, North Carolina.  Who would have thought he would marry a Southener and come down to live not too far from where he was born.

Life here is simpler and more down to earth than New York or Florida.  I have learned a lot this year and made wonderful friends both through this blog and on Twitter where Lucy and I  "hang out" with a group of Westies and their moms from all over the world.  @Snowywestie, @Westiesp @Macintoshwestie @Angusfala and @Missbusybiz are some of those friends and to them I say thank you for a lot of laughs and for being there when I have needed a break. None of my friends (or my kids!) can understand how a grown woman can have fun on Twitter but we do and the friendships I have made there are probably as solid as most of the ones I have made throughout my life.

To my fellow bloggers who follow and comment on this blog, I have left you a message on Lindaraxa's Garden.  To the rest of my readers, thank you for subscribing and commenting, it is most appreciated.

I look forward to another year full of fun, good recipes and lots of entertaining ideas.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Y'All... don't forget to feed the doggies!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Dinner At The Lake

For those of you who are spending Christmas at the lake or at one of your vacation homes lucky you!  I've put together and easy but appropriate menu to be enjoyed by many or just a few.  Let's face it, we want to enjoy our time away from the stress of our everyday lives, so why put an elaborate and complicated meal on the agenda. 

You can make these simple hors d'oeuvres ahead to bring with you or simply get some smoked salmon just like I did for the menu on Lindaraxa's Garden.  For those so inclined, there is nothing like popovers to delight everyone at the table.  They can be made while the tenderloin is resting. The cake takes a little effort but not as much as you think. You can make the layers the day before and the frosting early that day; or switch to the Mocha Cake which is a cinch.

So have fun instead and enjoy yourself.  Don't forget to think about what this holiday is all about.  We have many blessings to be thankful for.

Christmas At The Lake

What's stress????

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Beef Tenderloin With Shallot And Syrah Reduction

If you are coming up to the lake for Christmas chances are you are looking forward to a relaxed holiday.  Here's a perfect yet elegant main course. No fuss, no prep, no mess! 

Serves 8


1 beef tenderloin, 2 1/2 to 3 lb.

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp. minced fresh thyme

1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

2 Tbs. minced shallots

1 cup Syrah

2 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter


Preheat an oven to 450°F.

Rub the beef all over with the olive oil, then rub on the thyme, salt and pepper.

Place the roast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan just large enough to accommodate it. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 115° to 120°F for rare, about 20 minutes; 125° to 130°F for medium-rare, about 25 minutes; or 130° to 140°F for medium, about 30 minutes. Transfer the roast to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the rack from the roasting pan and place the pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté, stirring them into the pan juices, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine a little at a time, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Continue to cook until the wine is reduced by nearly half, then stir in the butter. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep warm.

To serve, cut the beef into slices 1/2 inch thick. Arrange the slices on a warmed platter and drizzle with the sauce. Serve immediately. 

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Christmas Entertaining, by Georgeanne Brennan (Simon & Schuster, 2005).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Spiced Pecans

Make some this weekend to serve at Christmas and New Years or give away as gifts!


4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. each ground white pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice (or 4 tsp. quatre épices)

4 cups pecan halves (about 12 oz.)

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup dark maple syrup (or 1/2 cup regular maple syrup


Up to two weeks ahead: Heat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, toss together the salt, cayenne, white pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Add the pecans and toss well. Drizzle the melted butter over the pecans and mix well. Turn out onto a rimmed baking sheet, scraping any spices and butter from the bowl and spreading the nuts into one layer. Bake until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally, about 9 min. Drizzle the maple syrup over the nuts, stir to combine, and bake about 10 min. longer, until the nuts turn glossy and slightly dark. Let the nuts cool in the pan for 30 min. and then scrape the nuts and any maple drippings into a bowl; break up any large clusters.

These can be stored in ziplock bags in the freezer.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Caramel Italian Cream Cake

I don't like to serve cake for dessert after dinner but Christmas Eve is a different situation.

Although this seems long and complicated it's not.  Don't get put off by the time, most of it is cooking and cooling the cake. Brown sugar is the shortcut to quick caramel flavor in both the cake layers and the frosting.

Total: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Yield: Makes 12 servings


3 cups shaved coconut
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Quick Caramel Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place shaved coconut in a single layer in a shallow pan. Place pecans in a second shallow pan. Bake coconut and pecans at the same time 5 to 7 minutes or until coconut is toasted and pecans are lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

2. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add granulated and brown sugars, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla, beating until blended.

3. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in pecans and 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut.

4. Beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form, and fold into batter. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

5. Bake at 350° for 23 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

6. Prepare Quick Caramel Frosting. Immediately spread frosting between layers and on top of cake. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting over sides of cake; press 3 cups toasted shaved coconut onto sides of cake.

Quick Caramel Frosting

Like the classic caramel frosting, this one hardens quickly, so cool the cake layers before you start to make it.

Total: 20 minutes
Yield: Makes 5 cups


1 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Bring first 3 ingredients to a rolling boil in a 3 1/2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly (about 7 minutes).

2. Stir in cream, and bring to a boil; remove from heat. Pour into bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Gradually beat in powdered sugar and vanilla at medium speed, using whisk attachment; beat 8 to 12 minutes or until thickened. Use immediately.

Test Kitchen Tip: Don't panic if you overbeat the frosting. Thin to a spreadable consistency by adding 1 to 2 tsp. hot water.

Quick Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yield: Makes about 1 3/4 cups

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended; stir in vanilla.

Southern Living, December 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas At The Lake

Well, the house is finally decorated for Christmas this year and I am happy to say not a dollar was spent on new decorations.  Everything is from the garden or from Christmases past, except for the wreath and the Christmas tree that we always pick out at the Kinsley Family Farm. 

Yes, this year we are having a "new economy" Christmas and spending our dollars on presents for the children and for the family.  Nothing extravagant, just things that we know they will like and appreciate.

The mantle has been decorated with juniper branches from a tree in our yard and they actually look much better than the picture.  The wreath has fresh berries from the garden added to some fake ones I found on a box and a not so perfect bow that I made.  Definitely not my strong suit but I got tired of asking my daughter for help.  You know how that is.

I found beautiful tree ornaments at World Market, inexpensive too.  Check them out.  Homegoods has a big supply and Target, well I don't know what happened to them this year...not much excitement in their selection.  If you happen to find the gold and silver snowflakes that are hanging on my tree, grab them.  I saw them at Bergdorg Goodman in NYC for more than 3 times the price at Target.  We bought ours last year, and I think I saw them again when I checked a couple of weeks ago..  They look great on the tree.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ten Inexpensive Christmas Gifts From Your Kitchen

This is a reprint of a post I did last year on Lindaraxa's Garden.  I thought readers of this blog, who might have missed it, would enjoy it.

There is nothing more welcomed during the holidays than home cooked gifts.  If you have a signature cookie recipe or appetizer  make it to bring as a hostess gift or place under the tree for unexpected guest. If you really like the person, place a card with the recipe attached!  I try to concentrate on things that I know will be appreciated at a time when all of us have so much entertaining to do and so little time to do it. 

You will remember that this summer, when the strawberries were in season and on sale, I suggested you get started making jam so you would have a few gifts out of the way.  Well, if you didn't, there is still time this week!  Below, I have given you a choice of a few things that would be very welcomed at this time of the year.  There are cocktail recipes, bread to enjoy for breakfast on Christmas Day and even something simple like pasta sauce for the home you are visiting and the hostess who is going through all the trouble of entertaining you this year!  At least she wont have to make dinner one night.  If you want to go all the way, get a wicker basket and include a box of premium spaghetti, real Parmiggiano Reggiano a baguette and a nice Chianti.

 Beautiful containers can be purchased for a reasonable price at Marshalls, Target and other discount stores.  Going the extra mile will make anything extra special. Just think Martha Stewart in the wrapping department.

Most of the recipes are in this blog or the sister blog My Kitchen By The Lake.  There are a couple that have links to websites or blogs I like.

Here's a few suggestions:

Spiced Pecans - Wonderful with cocktails

Chicken Liver Mousse - Keeps for at least a week in refrigerator

Kentucky Beer Cheese - Great to have in the fridge

Fresh Strawberry Preserves -  Summer in December!

Candied Orange Rinds - Wonderful alone or with espresso.  Great directions on this site!

Tomato and Basil Sauce - Who wouldn't appreciate this!

Pumpkin Bread - Afternoon tea for the unexpected guest.  Freezes beautifully

Amaretti Cookies - Hard to find anywhere but NYC!

Goat Cheese Log - Leftovers make great addition to an omelette

Individual Pound Cakes - For breakfast, tea or dessert

Photo above:  Martha Stewart.com

Photo Carolyne Roehm

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Layered Roasted Red Pepper Spread

Although my Mom hardly ever cooks anymore, she still loves to cut out recipes from magazines.  Here's one she sent me, just in time for the holidays.

prep time 15 min
total time 1 hr 15 min
makes 1-1/2 cups spread or 12 servings


1/4 cup roasted red peppers
 5 pitted black olives, chopped
1 tub (12 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil
 1 clove garlic, peeled
 2 Tbsp. PLANTERS Sliced Almonds,
 toasted RITZ Crackers


CUT star shape from 1 pepper, using 1/2-inch cookie cutter; set aside. Chop pepper trimmings and remaining peppers; combine with olives.

USE pulsing action to blend cream cheese spread, basil and garlic in blender until smooth. Wash cream cheese tub; line with plastic wrap, with ends extending over side of tub.

SPOON 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture into tub; top with olive mixture and remaining cream cheese mixture. Press firmly into cup with back of spoon.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour. Unmold cheese spread onto plate; discard plastic wrap. Top cheese spread with nuts and pepper star. Serve with crackers.

Recipe & Photo Kraft Foods

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bourbon Apple Cake

I love quick desserts, especially cakes,  so when I am looking for a quick and easy one, I usually look to Mark Bittman, aka The Minimalist in The New York Times.  Trust me, if you can mix, you can make this wonderful cake!

Time: About 1 hour, plus one hour’s resting
Yield: About 12 servings.


2 sticks butter, softened, more for greasing pan

Flour (if using bundt pan)

2 medium apples (about 8 ounces), peeled, cored and quartered

2 1/2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1 cup bourbon, Calvados, Cognac or brandy.


 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch rectangular pan with butter, or butter and flour a 9-inch bundt pan. Put apples in a blender or food processor and purée; remove and set aside.

2. In food processor, combine 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons) with 1 1/2 cups sugar and pulse until combined. With motor running, add eggs one at a time. Add apple purée and process until just combined.

3. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add about a third of flour mixture to apple mixture in food processor. Then, with motor running, add about half of milk; add another third of flour, followed by rest of milk, then finally last of the flour. Process until batter just evens out.

4. Turn batter into prepared pan and bake until middle is set (your fingers should leave only a small indentation when you gently press cake), 45 to 50 minutes. When done, cool in pan for about 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup liquor in a small pot with remaining butter and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and liquid is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then pour over cake; let it sit for at least an hour before serving. (For bundt, let it sit for an hour, then unmold). Store at room temperature, covered with waxed paper, for up to 2 days.

Photo: Evan Sung

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shirred Eggs With Spinach And Crisp Bread Crumbs

Tired of bacon and eggs for Sunday's  breakfast?  Not only is this recipe healthier, it is easier and probably less fattening.

This dish can be prepared in four ramekins, each 2D3 to 1 cup, instead of in a baking dish. Divide the spinach among them and then break an egg into each. The cooking time will be about 10 minutes less.

Serves 4


For the crisp bread crumbs:

2 tsp. unsalted butter

3/4 cup fresh sourdough bread crumbs

1 large garlic clove, pressed (optional)

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 1/2 lb. spinach, well rinsed and stemmed

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

4 extra-large or jumbo eggs


To make the crisp bread crumbs, in a small fry pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the bread crumbs and garlic, and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until crisp and golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. The bread crumbs may be stored in a small, airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours before using.

Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach, submerging it completely, and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Immediately drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water until the spinach is no longer warm. Gather into balls and squeeze very firmly to extract as much water as possible. Chop coarsely.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Generously butter an 8 1/2-inch round gratin or similar-size shallow baking dish.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until any excess moisture has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cream, the salt, a generous amount of pepper and the nutmeg. Cook until thick and dry, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat.

Transfer the spinach to the prepared dish and smooth the top into a perfectly even surface. Using the back of a large tablespoon, form 4 evenly spaced, egg-shaped pockets, each 1 inch deep, in the top of the spinach. Break an egg into each depression.

Carefully transfer the dish to the oven and bake until the whites of the eggs are set and the yolks are still distinctly runny, 18 to 20 minutes. Scatter a few tablespoons of the bread crumbs over the top of the dish and serve directly onto individual plates, scooping up the base of spinach underneath each egg.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Breakfast, by Brigit L. Binns (Simon & Schuster, 2003).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Candied Walnuts

These are wonderful to have around the house at Christmas time.  Add to salads. serve with cheese or simply enjoy them by themselves.  They also make simple and inexpensive holiday gifts! click here for ideas.


Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 cup walnuts (about 3 1/2 ounces)

2 tablespoons light corn syrup*

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Generous pinch of cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine walnuts and all remaining ingredients in medium bowl; toss to coat. Spread nut mixture on prepared baking sheet (some nuts may clump together). Bake until nuts are deep golden and sugar mixture is bubbling, stirring occasionally to break up clumps, about 15 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store in airtight container.)

*Some people prefer to add maple syrup.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Eddie Ross Holiday Decorating Tips Plus A Giveaway!

Eddie Ross is simply the best when you are looking for simple and inexpensive holiday decorating tips.  Last year I posted on instructions for a holiday ornament wreath and now I am including his post for decorating your entrance, the mantlepiece and the Christmas tree...all with inexpensive materials from Kmart and Sears.  Oh, and did I mention there is a  $250 giveaway on his site? Check it out!

•Sears Entryway: http://www.youtube.com/sears#p/u/3/MpGbmvZMQWA

•Kmart Mantel: http://www.youtube.com/user/kmart?blend=1&ob=4#p/u/0/xUh3MNWiX4Y

•Kmart Tree: http://www.youtube.com/user/kmart?blend=1&ob=4#p/u/1/zQZe5vxsi40

Photo Eddie Ross

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sunday Family Dinner...Turkey Enchiladas

Okay, you did it...you survived THE family dinner of the year....and you are still intact.  So, nobody expects anything more from you, at least, not until next week.  If you come up with something unexpected, fun and easy for you, you will be a hero for at least another 24 hours. 

You can always count on Mexican to fit the bill.  It is unexpected, at least for those of us who are not Mexican,  it's fun and it's simple.

For this recipe use any favorite, good-quality salsa, red or green, for the enchiladas. The recipe is a great way to use up leftover holiday turkey, but if you don't have turkey on hand, shredded cooked chicken is a good substitute. Serve the enchiladas with a simple Mexican coleslaw of shredded cabbage dressed with lime juice and yellow rice cooked with onions and cumin or saffron.

Yield: Makes 6 servings


3 cups shredded skinned cooked turkey (see notes)

1 cup Mexicali corn

2 cups sour cream

2 TB Cilantro, chopped

About 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 oz.)

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

12 corn tortillas

1 jar (16 oz.) medium-hot salsa (see notes)


1. In a bowl, mix turkey, corn, cilantro, sour cream,  and 2 cups shredded cheese, and the salt.

2. Heat oil in an 8- to 10-inch frying pan over low heat. Dip the tortillas, one at a time, in the hot oil just until limp, about 5 seconds.

3. Fill tortillas equally with turkey mixture, roll up, and arrange side by side, seam down, in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Pour salsa evenly over the top.  Sprinkle most of the  1 cup shredded cheese saving some for the end.

4. Bake in a 350° oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. If desired, sprinkle more shredded cheese over hot enchiladas before serving.

You may also want to look at other turkey leftover suggestions from Lindaraxa's Garden::

Turkey Chili
Turkey Croquettes
Turkey Tetrazzini
Turkey A La King

Recipe inspired by Sunset Magazine
Photo: Same

Friday, November 26, 2010

Easy Mushroom Pate - Great for Cocktails!

From Steamy Kitchen comes this wonderfully simple and delicious appetizer!

A great vegetarian pate that only takes 15 minutes to prepare. Great for spreading on little toast rounds or bread. The secret ingredient is a little touch of good quality balsamic vinegar. I have also added two cloves of mashed garlic to flavor the oil.  Make sure you remove them before adding the mushrooms.

This recipe makes a nice big batch, enough for a dinner party. If you want a more smooth, silky pate, add more olive oil.

Prep Time 2 Minutes
Cook Time 15 Minutes
Difficulty Easy 


8 ounces Sliced Mushrooms (any)

1 whole Onion

2 garlic cloves, mashed

2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley

¼ cups Olive Oil, Divided

1 teaspoon Sea Salt Or Kosher Salt (1/3 Teaspoon Table Salt)

¼ teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar


1. Heat a large saute pan or frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add just 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and saute 2-3 minutes.  Add the onions and saute until softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove garlic.

2. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms and onions are browned, about 8 minutes. Makes sure you don’t burn the onion (you can keep the heat on low if you need to).

3. Add the balsamic vinegar and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Pour all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and chop very finely until almost like a paste. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Butternut Squash With Pecans And Currants

This recipe came out of the New York Times article on Thanksgiving.  Check it out, it has a lot of ideas.  Me, I already know what I'm going to make and it's over in Lindaraxa's Garden!

Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings.


2 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds each)

7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5 thyme sprigs

Salt and pepper

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

1/4 cup currants

dash - 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes.

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut the squash in two at the base of the neck, discarding the hollow bulb end or reserving for another use. Peel the rest and slice into 1/2-inch disks. Toss the squash in a large roasting pan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, thyme and salt and pepper to taste, and arrange in a single layer. Roast the squash, turning once halfway through, until tender and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, combine garlic and one tablespoon of the remaining olive oil. Sauté until fragrant and tender, about one minute. Add pecans and sugar, and toss until the sugar has melted and the pecans are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk the vinegar into the remaining olive oil. Add the pecan mixture, currants and chili flakes. Mix well, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Arrange the squash on a warm platter and top with some or all of the dressing.

New York Times November 10, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Reprise...Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

This was last year's top post in Lindaraxa's Garden.  I thought I would post it again for those of you who are new to this blog.  You will make a splash with this one!

One of the most important things about this pie is toasting the pecans beforehand.  Really, do go the extra mile, it makes a world of difference as far as flavor is concerned.  Place whole or halved pecans on an ungreased sheet pan and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring a few times until light brown and fragrant. Let cool and set aside.

Don't scrimp on quality when it comes to making the best chocolate pecan pie for the holidays. As important as toasted and roasted pecans are to this pie, so is the type of chocolate used. Gourmet chocolate would include such brands as; Lindt chocolate, Ghirardelli chocolate and Callebaut chocolate. Mini chocolate chips are easy to use, and shaved or finely chopped dark chocolate works well too. These two ingredients -- toasted or roasted pecans and gourmet chocolate -- will be the deciding factor between a so-so chocolate pecan pie and a knock-your-socks-off, have-to-have-some-now chocolate pecan pie! A few drops of bourbon won't hurt either.

Servings:  8 - 10


1 deep dish 9 inch basic pie crust

3/4 cup gourmet chocolate chips or shaved dark chocolate

1 1/2 cup toasted pecans, shelled and chopped in half if desired

1/3 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup Karo light corn syrup

3 large eggs

3 TB Bourbon


Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F with rack in lowest position.  Prepare pie crust ahead of time  whether you are making one or buying one already made such as Mrs. Smith's. Place toasted pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell (don't worry, they will rise to the top when the pie is fully baked ). Sprinkle chocolate chips or shaved chocolate over the pecans. Place the pie crust on a baking sheet to prevent drips and set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Turn off heat. Add brown sugar, stir until dissolved and pour into a large mixing bowl. Mix well with the whisk attachment.

Add corn syrup and mix again. Scrape.

Mix in bourbon and eggs, beating to mix well, but not foamy.

Carefully pour batter over the chocolate chips and pecans, being careful not to disturb them.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until top is slightly browned and puffed up. This will fall during cooling.  Make sure you let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least 4 hours.

Chocolate Pecan Pie cuts best when it is chilled. Use a sharp knife. Let cool completely before wrapping. This pie freezes well, so make extra!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sourdough Stuffing With Apples, Sausage and Prunes

This is the stuffing I usually make for Thanksgiving, except with a few variations.

I love the taste of sweet madeira so I usually reduce the broth in order to incorporate it into the recipe.  I also drizzle some of the drippings from the turkey over the stuffing about 10 minutes before it is done.

For traditionality, I will put some inside the turkey but really prefer to bake it separately so it will form a crust.  But it's up to you, both ways work.  For best results, though, be sure to use artisanal sourdough bread.

If you are feeling rich, by all means add some chestnuts!


1 1/2-pound loaf sourdough bread, crusts removed, bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 13 cups)

2 pounds bulk pork breakfast sausage

2 large onions, chopped (about 4 generous cups)

2 cups chopped celery (about 5 stalks)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided

6 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled Granny Smith apples (about 28 ounces)

3/4 cup prunes (about 4 ounces)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth

3 large eggs


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread bread cubes in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer bread to very large bowl.

Sauté sausage in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking up into small pieces with back of fork, 8 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl with bread cubes.

Add onions and celery to drippings in skillet; sauté until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread-sausage mixture (do not clean skillet).

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread mixture; mix in prunes.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons sage; stir 30 seconds. Add sage butter to bowl with bread-sausage mixture; toss to blend. Season stuffing with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously butter 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk broth and eggs in medium bowl; add to stuffing and toss to mix. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake stuffing uncovered until top is golden and crisp in spots, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes and serve.

Variations: use 1/2 cup less broth and add 1/2 cup Madeira

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Centerpiece... Simple & Inexpensive

Good Housekeeping

You can play with this and use it as a centerpiece on your dining table or on the sideboard.  Actually, you can use anywhere in the house!

Pull out all of your glass containers -- hurricane lamps, vases, glasses, and stemware. The different shapes and sizes will give your tablescape an interesting topography.

Make sure the glasses are sparkling clean without any trace of fingerprints. Depending on the size of each container, place either a pillar, votive, or tapered candle into each glass. Fill with hazelnuts, walnuts, or pecans. Stagger the amount of nuts in each container.

Tip: This is the time of year where you can find unshelled nuts quite easily in the produce section of your local market.

Once your dinner is over, you can pour all of the nuts into one big bowl for everyone to enjoy while watching the football game. Don't forget to supply nutcrackers!

Good Housekeeping

Monday, November 15, 2010

Decorating With White China...Thanksgiving

If I could only have one set of china it would be white.  Why? it goes with everything and you can dress it up or down as the mood fits you.

My everyday set and the one I have been using for the last ten years, is from Pottery Barn and luckily, my daughter has the same pattern and we can borrow from each other as the need arises.  Between the two of us we have dinner and dessert plates for 24 and soup bowls and bread plates for 16.  I don't bother with cups and saucers since, when I am entertaining,  I serve espresso and have a  white demitasse set which goes with everything.

Pottery Barn

Now, one of the reasons I usually get extras from places like Pottery Barn is they tend to discontinue a lot of their things including some of their best selling china!  My pattern, (and Carolyne Roehm's),  has been discontinued, but is similar to the one above except it is a purer white.  I find off white to be a little difficult to work with.

This year I am in a mellow mood for Thanksgiving and a little tired of orange and red. I'm gravitating towards the whites and tans, and brown, with maybe an accent of color here and there. Look at the following ideas.  Love the simplicity.

A Taste Of Home

House & Garden TV

Everything Fabulous

Martha Stewart

House & Garden TV

And, if you must...a little color!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chocolate Chubbies

From Sarabeth Levine, famed for her marmalades and jams all over the world and owner of Sarabeth's Kitchen in New York City comes the new book From My Hands to Yours.  A great Christmas gift for the baker in your list.

Here's a simple chocolate drop cookie recipe from the book for those who love cookies but want nothing too complicated to tackle.  Right up my alley.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

9 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (no more than 62% cacao), finely chopped

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 ¼ cups superfine sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1 ½ cups (5 ½ ounces) coarsely chopped pecans

1 ¼ cups (4 ½ ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts


Position racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.

Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over low heat. Put the butter in a wide, heatproof bowl, and melt the butter over the hot water in the saucepan. Add the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate, stirring often, until melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cooled slightly but still warm, about 5 minutes.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Whip the eggs in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the eggs are foamy and lightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, then the vanilla. Whip until the eggs are very thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the tepid chocolate, making sure it is completely incorporated. Change to the paddle attachment and reduce the mixer speed to low. Gradually add the flour mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips, pecans, and walnuts, making sure the chunky ingredients are evenly distributed at the bottom of the bowl.The dough will be somewhat soft.

Using a 2-inch ice-cream scoop, portion the batter onto the prepared pans, placing the cookies about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake the cookies immediately—if you wait, they won’t be shiny after baking. Bake, switching the position of the pans from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through baking, until the cookies are set around the edges (if you lift a cookie from the pan, the edges should release easily, even if the center of the cookie seems underdone), 17 to 20 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool completely on the baking pans. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, with the layers separated by parchment paper, for up to 3 days.)

Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fall Boating on the Lake...Bittersweet Memories

This is the time of the year that I look forward to.  Beautiful foliage, cool temperatures, less people...nirvana.  But this is also the time to take better precautions when you are out on the lake so take a look at this post from the folks who have your safety at heart.

These photos were taken a couple of weeks ago when we went out on the lake with our good friends and neighbors who, unfortunately, will be moving at the end of this month. 

Our cove

Lake Lanier 10/21/10

 Stephanie & Gretchen our lake neighbors!

I'm so sad they are leaving...

Gonna miss him!

A great island for overnight camping!, boys on the left, girls on the right!

Going back to our original favorite island!

So many memories of the past year!

This beats the tanning salons!

Bet you can't do this on Madison Avenue!

No Lucy, I don't want to play catch now, I want to fish!

So when do I get to fish??


Not again...
It was a bittersweet afternoon and looking at this post makes me terribly sad.   They have been the best friends, so kind and loving, , and I am going to miss them very, very much!


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