Friday, December 27, 2013

Readers Requested Recipes

I hope all of you are having a wonderful, relaxing, revitalizing & tasty Holiday season.

Over the past few days I have posted a few favorite holiday dishes - I use them because they are just my kind of seasonal, easy and delicious recipes.  At this time of year I spend a lot of time in the kitchen as I know many of you do as well. As a matter of fact, even when friends and family are here, and I am not cooking, I am in the kitchen!  It really is the place where folks gather isn't it? That said, it is nice to exit the kitchen once in awhile - but when we're entertaining, I have a dickens of a time moving the group out! I bring this up because it is my goal to have as much cooked, baked and finished when guests arrive or else in our small home it looks like I'm conducting a cooking class! So the recipes I choose are almost always done or just need a few steps to be complete when folks arrive.

I was so happy to hear from a number of folks requesting the recipes for some of the recent dishes I posted on my Facebook page. So, let's start with a favorite and versatile dessert that is always a hit and really straightforward and easy to put together. And it is even better if you make it the day before you are going to serve it!

Recipe:  Pisciotta - Olive Oil Cake with a Limoncello Glaze (adapted from the late, great Marcella Hazan) 


Two large eggs
One half cup, plus 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
The zest of one lemon
Kosher salt
1/3 cup dry Marsala (not something we always have around, so I have substituted cognac, and once, bourbon)
One third of a cup of whole milk
Three fourths of a cup of extra virgin olive oil
One eighth of a cup of extra virgin olive oil - for greasing the cake pan
One tablespoon of baking powder 
One and one half cups of all purpose flour
A round cake pan


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk them with the all of the sugar - you want a pale, foamy mixture so whisk well.  You can also use a mixer.
Add the lemon zest, a pinch of salt, the Marsala, the milk, and the 3/4 cup of olive oil. Whisk a bit to incorporate.
Mix the baking powder with the flour and add it to the other ingredients. Mix well.
Smear the baking pan with the rest of the olive oil and pour the batter into the pan.

Bake in the upper third of your oven for 50 minutes.

The cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean when pushed into the center of the cake.

When the cake has cooled for about 10 minutes, brush about a half cup of Limoncello liqueur all over the cake.  Wait a minute or two between brushings. 

Note:  If I have berries - strawberries or blueberries work best - and I have the time, I make a "Berry Concasse" to pour over slices of the cake.  Just chop the berries, add sugar to taste, and a shot or two of Cointreu or Triple Sec and bring the berries to a boil. Lower the heat to medium/low, stirring regularly until the mixture thickens.  Store in the refrigerator and remember to take it out about a half hour before service.


Next Post:  Bourbon Chicken Liver Pate

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Recipes: Stay - a - Bed Stew and Our Favorite Jambalaya

As requested Readers.  Her are two of my favorite cold weather recipes:

Recipe:  Stay - a - Bed Stew (adapter from Peg Bracken, the "I Hate to Cook" cookbook).  With love and gratitude to Peg Bigley.

The name of this dish suggests what you can do while this easy one pot recipe long cooks.  And, oh, the aromas in the house!


Two pounds of stew meat, cubed, fat trimmed, but not entirely removed
One cup of cut up carrots (wash the carrots well and do NOT peel the carrots - all of the nutrients and most of the flavor are in that skin)
Two medium onions, chopped
One teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste - at least a 1/2 teaspoon
One can of condensed Tomato Soup, mixed with 1/2 can of water - I have moved away from condensed soups, but sometimes you just have to go with the original!
Two - Three large potatoes, quartered
One tablespoon each of fresh Thyme and Parsely - chopped - OR use 1 Teaspoon of dried herbs


Mix all of the ingredients - except the parsley - into a 2 1/2 quart casserole
Put the casserole into a 275 degree oven
Cook for five hours

Remove.  Skim fat if any is floating on the top.
Top with the parsley and serve

NOTE:  Make it "Beef Bourgourgne" - add 1/2 can of red wine instead of water!  Impress folks.

Recipe:  Crawfish and Sausage Jambalaya (adapted from Emeril Lagesse, "Every Day's a Party" cookbook)

This is delicious and easy.  Feel free to substitute medium to large fresh shrimp - peeled and cleaned - for the crawfish. However, most good seafood vendors now carry frozen crawfish tales.  Look for Gulf Coast on the crawfish label.  Just defrost - they are delicious! As you will see, this recipe uses the New Orleans cuisine staple:  The "holy trinity" - onion, green peppers and celery!


Two tablespoons of Vegetable or Canola oil
Two cups of chopped yellow onions
One cup of chopped green bell peppers
One half cup of chopped celery
One teaspoon of sale
One half teaspoon of cayenne
One pound of smoked sausage (your choice; kielbasi is used a great deal and, I think, is perfect). Cut the sausages in half, lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices
Four Bay Leaves
Two cups of peeled, seeded and chopped canned tomatoes
One tablespoon of chopped garlic
One pound of crawfish tails or shrimp
Two cups of of long-grain rice
Five cups of low salt chicken stock
One half cup of green onions/scallions - green parts only


Heat the oil over medium heat in a Dutch Oven 
Add the onion, bell peppers, and celery and season with the salt and the cayenne
Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are wilted - about 5 minutes
Add the chopped sausage and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes
Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, garlic and if you are using crawfish, add them now
Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes
Add the rice and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes
Add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil
Reduce the heat to medium - low, cover, and cook for 15 - 20 minutes
If you are using shrimp, add them now and cook for about 10 - 15 minutes more, until the rice is tender and the shrimp  are cooked
Remove the bay leaves, stir in the chopped green onions, and serve hot.

Enjoy both of these delicious, basically one - pot, cold weather comfort dishes.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Heart of Urban Homesteading: Act Locally to Help the Hungry

Having spent a good deal of time working in the food services business, I am always happy to say that food people are among the best folks out there -  in so many ways.

I am one who thinks that sentiment also applies to we who like to think of ourselves as, "Foodies", Gourmets, or "Food Lovers".

Let's face it.  At this time of year, if we have what we need, if we are healthy, if our larders and freezers are stocked, and the ones we love are safe and happy - what more do we need?  I know what we need.  In the midst of all of the fun and revelery and feasting, we need to be able to get away from the "me" and focus on the "we" for a bit - especially the "we" who are needing some help. The "we" who are hungry. 

Who better than those of use with a deep love and appreciation for all things edible than for us to use our passion to be part of helping to address - in our own local way - hunger in America.  Just typing that phrase makes my skin crawl!  It should not be, but it is.  And remember, so many of those Americans are children.

All I ask of those of us who chat on this blog and on my FB page is please, do at least one thing this Holiday season to help feed hungry people in your own city, town or neighborhood.  Donate cash to a local food program - they will know what to do with it. Or bring boxes of non-perishables to shelters and soup kitchens. Perhaps make sandwiches and containers of hot soup and hand them out to those who are homeless. This is just a short list of potential things to do. Do some research as to what is available and what is needed in your area and take action.

There's an old saying, "Do something good.  Feel something real".  So see, this will really be a gift you give yourself.

And, if you care to, feel free to share with the rest of us what it was that you were able to do.

You will never regret it. As a matter of fact, it may become habit forming!

Thank You.