Wish Upon A Dish: December 2013

December 31, 2013

Buttermilk and Corn Popovers

When someone says you don't need a popover pan to make popovers, don't listen to them. If you want to try them first (like I did) before investing a few dollars in a popover pan, than that's all fine and dandy.

My first endeavor was a total disaster. Of course I did not start with Alton's Basic Popover recipe, I went straight for an expert baker's recipe. I am not an expert baker, as a matter of fact if I have baked muffins more than 4x in my life I would be surprised.

Popovers need the tall thin metal tin to rise to the occasion. Muffin tins are too squat.
So, if you want perfectly popped over, airy, ethereal specimens....buy the pan. Use the coupons BB&B sends to everyone, and buy the pan, man.

I did change the original recipe due to the problems with the first try. I pureed the corn with the buttermilk, which I reduced to 3/4 cup. To make the liquid thin like a popover batter should be to popover, I added 1/4 cup chicken broth to make the total liquid 1 cup. It was perfect.

These are not hollow like traditional basic popovers are known to be. They have substance but where still light and airy. They were perfect for tearing off a piece and dipping into the chile sauce.

Next time I make popovers I will try Romano cheese to serve with meatballs and sauce and maybe a mushroom, Marsala and thyme version to eat with a great beef stew.  Just remember that the liquid level should always be around 1 cup and any vegetables should be finely minced.

I know one thing, this is one pan that will be used constantly, unlike my muffin tin.

Buttermilk Corn Popovers
Lightly adapted from smittenkitchen.com

*3/4 cup buttermilk
* 1/2 cup corn kernels (defrosted frozen is fine)
* 3 large eggs
* 2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled, divided
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
* 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon table salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
1. Place buttermilk and corn in a blender together and blend till it is a puree with lumps in it, not totally smooth).
2. Add the eggs, one tablespoon of the melted butter and blend for one second more.
3. Add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, a few grinds of black pepper (I used six).
4. Set the batter aside to rest while you preheat your oven to 400°, about 15 minutes. Brush your popover, muffin or ramekin cups with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Fill each cup slightly more than halfway with batter.
4. Bake popovers 30 to 35 minutes (see Note above about baking times in a muffin tin). Try not to open the oven door! Crack it just 1-inch to take a peak if absolutely necessary towards the end. Popovers are done when they’re tall and bronzed. Take a skewer or sharp knife and pop a hole into the top to release the steam.
5. Dump the popover on to a kitchen towel until they are cool enough to handle, then place in a bowl on the table.

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December 27, 2013

Pork Chops with Green Chiles and Onions ♥ Cooking for Two

There are three foodie newsletters I subscribe too and Fine Cooking is one of them. Each day they send me a recipe. Sometimes I bookmark them, sometimes I don't.
This one showed up on December 4th.

How did they know I was looking for a tasty but different recipe for boneless loin chops I bought. Ideally I would find one that The Nudge could grill. I am teaching him how to cook and grilling is a great place to start. He's mastered steak, pork tenderloin and chops were next. Unfortunately the weather turned prohibitive for grilling, so pan sauteing it would have to be. He's not ready for that yet.

I had all the ingredients on hand and it just so happened, since I have had popovers on my mind and a new pan beckoning me to break it in, I stumbled on Smitten Kitchen's Corn, Buttermilk and Chive Popover recipe which will be perfect with these chops and I can get two posts from one meal. I hope. My first try at her popovers were not at all successful but I refuse to give up.
So, you will either see a post on popovers in a few days or a Merry Christmas greeting.

Cook's note: This was absolutely delicious, a true one pot wonder. The heat is perfectly balanced so even kids would like this and I used my cast iron pan from start to finish. I did not change a thing.

Pork Chops with Green Chiles and Onions
Adapted from finecooking.com

Serves 4
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon pure ancho chile powder or chili powder
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 4 center-cut boneless pork chops, preferably about 1 inch thick (about 1-1/2 lb. total)
* 3/4 cup lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed
* 1 4-oz. can chopped green chiles
* 3 Tbs. chopped jarred jalapeños (from about 12 slices)
* 1 Tbs. cider vinegar
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 3 Tbs. olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, combine the cumin, chile powder, 1-1/4 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. pepper. Sprinkle on both sides of the pork and set aside. In a blender or food processor, purée the chicken broth, green chiles (with their liquid), jalapeños, and vinegar until smooth.

Put the flour in a pie plate and dredge the pork chops, shaking to remove any excess. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Pour in 2 Tbs. of the oil and heat until shimmering hot, about 1 minute. Add the pork chops and cook, without moving, until they’re brown around the edges and release easily from the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, flip, and cook the other side until browned, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a large plate.

Over medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and the onion to the skillet. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and golden, about 4 minutes. Add the green chile mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens slightly and the onions are completely tender, 2 to 3 minutes more; add a splash of chicken broth if the mixture seems dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Return the chops to the pan, nestling them into the onions. Cover and simmer gently until the pork is fairly firm to the touch with just a little give, 3 to 5 minutes. With a paring knife, make a nick in a thicker chop to make sure it’s only just a little pink.

Serve the pork chops topped with the sauce.

Nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 360; Fat (g): 18; Fat Calories (kcal): 160; Saturated Fat (g): 4; Protein (g): 39; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): 10; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 810; Cholesterol (mg): 115; Fiber (g): 2

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December 21, 2013

Pigeon Peas and Rice ♥ Good Luck Foods - Recipe Redux Challenge December 2013

Our last of everything from the year, starts this month. Gee, I just got sad so I am going to rephrase that and start again.

In a few weeks we will get another chance to start new, all again. 

Now that's much better.

Over at the Recipe Redux, the elves are finishing up our year with a challenge to make a dish (healthy of course) considered to bring luck to it's recipients. You know, that bean dish your Mom always made New Years Day. 

I don't remember if my Mom made a good luck dish, so I asked my Dad. Clueless.

At least after I got married and started a small dinner party on New Years Eve, I started my own tradition.

Before I post my recipe, I would like to share this article I found at epicurious.com. You can skip to the recipe and come back later if you like to read interesting food facts, but they are pretty neat.

For many, January 1st offers an opportunity to forget the past and make a clean start. But instead of leaving everything up to fate, why not enjoy a meal to increase your good fortune? There are a variety of foods that are believed to be lucky and to improve the odds that next year will be a great one. Traditions vary from culture to culture, but there are striking similarities in what's consumed in different pockets of the world: The six major categories of auspicious foods are grapes, greens, fish, pork, legumes, and cakes. Whether you want to create a full menu of lucky foods or just supplement your meal, we have an assortment of recipes, guaranteed to make for a happy new year, or at the very least a happy belly.
- Grapes
New Year's revelers in Spain consume twelve grapes at midnight—one grape for each stroke of the clock. This dates back to 1909, when grape growers in the Alicante region of Spain initiated the practice to take care of a grape surplus. The idea stuck, spreading to Portugal as well as former Spanish and Portuguese colonies such as Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. Each grape represents a different month, so if for instance the third grape is a bit sour, March might be a rocky month. For most, the goal is to swallow all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight, but Peruvians insist on taking in a 13th grape for good measure.
- Cooked Greens Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are consumed at New Year's in different countries for a simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune. The Danish eat stewed kale sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, the Germans consume sauerkraut (cabbage) while in the southern United States, collards are the green of choice. It's widely believed that the more greens one eats the larger one's fortune next year.
- Legumes Legumes including beans, peas, and lentils are also symbolic of money. Their small, seedlike appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with financial rewards in mind. In Italy, it's customary to eat cotechino con lenticchie or sausages and green lentils, just after midnight—a particularly propitious meal because pork has its own lucky associations. Germans also partner legumes and pork, usually lentil or split pea soup with sausage. In Brazil, the first meal of the New Year is usually lentil soup or lentils and rice, and in Japan, the osechi-ryori, a group of symbolic dishes eaten during the first three days of the new year, includes sweet black beans called kuro-mame.

In the Southern United States, it's traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called hoppin' john. There are even those who believe in eating one pea for every day in the new year. This all traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.
- Pork The custom of eating pork on New Year's is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress. The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. Roast suckling pig is served for New Year's in Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria—Austrians are also known to decorate the table with miniature pigs made of marzipan. Different pork dishes such as pig's feet are enjoyed in Sweden while Germans feast on roast pork and sausages. Pork is also consumed in Italy and the United States, where thanks to its rich fat content, it signifies wealth and prosperity.
- Fish Fish is a very logical choice for the New Year's table. According to Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, cod has been a popular feast food since the Middle Ages. He compares it to turkey on Thanksgiving. The reason? Long before refrigeration and modern transportation, cod could be preserved and transported allowing it to reach the Mediterranean and even as far as North Africa and the Caribbean. Kurlansky also believes the Catholic Church's policy against red meat consumption on religious holidays helped make cod, as well as other fish, commonplace at feasts. The Danish eat boiled cod, while in Italy, baccalà, or dried salt cod, is enjoyed from Christmas through New Year's. Herring, another frequently preserved fish, is consumed at midnight in Poland and Germany—Germans also enjoy carp and have been known to place a few fish scales in their wallets for good luck. The Swedish New Year feast is usually a smorgasbord with a variety of fish dishes such as seafood salad. In Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility, shrimp for long life, and dried sardines for a good harvest (sardines were once used to fertilize rice fields).
- Cakes, Etc. Cakes and other baked goods are commonly served from Christmas to New Year's around the world, with a special emphasis placed on round or ring-shaped items. Italy has chiacchiere, which are honey-drenched balls of pasta dough fried and dusted with powdered sugar. Poland, Hungary, and the Netherlands also eat donuts, and Holland has ollie bollen, puffy, donut-like pastries filled with apples, raisins, and currants.
In certain cultures, it's customary to hide a special trinket or coin inside the cake—the recipient will be lucky in the new year. Mexico's rosca de reyes is a ring-shaped cake decorated with candied fruit and baked with one or more surprises inside. In Greece, a special round cake called vasilopita is baked with a coin hidden inside. At midnight or after the New Year's Day meal, the cake is cut, with the first piece going to St. Basil and the rest being distributed to guests in order of age. Sweden and Norway have similar rituals in which they hide a whole almond in rice pudding—whoever gets the nut is guaranteed great fortune in the new year.
Cakes aren't always round. In Scotland, where New Year's is called Hogmanay, there is a tradition called "first footing," in which the first person to enter a home after the new year determines what kind of year the residents will have. The "first footer" often brings symbolic gifts like coal to keep the house warm or baked goods such as shortbread, oat cakes, and a fruit caked called black bun, to make sure the household always has food.
- What Not to Eat In addition to the aforementioned lucky foods, there are also a few to avoid. Lobster, for instance, is a bad idea because they move backwards and could therefore lead to setbacks. Chicken is also discouraged because the bird scratches backwards, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past. Another theory warns against eating any winged fowl because good luck could fly away.
Now that you know what to eat, there's one more superstition—that is, guideline—to keep in mind. In Germany, it's customary to leave a little bit of each food on your plate past midnight to guarantee a stocked pantry in the New Year. Likewise in the Philippines, it's important to have food on the table at midnight.

Now, back to my life.
While I have a perfectly respectable Italian Lentil with Shrimp recipe I used to make on New Years Eve, somewhere down the line I switched over to Shrimp Arroz con Gandules. Probably because I could not forget the Peas n' Rice they serve in Barbados with just about every meal. I fell in love with it on our honeymoon and back then when you wanted a recipe, you wrote a nice letter to Bon Appetit begging asking them for help.

Not only did they send me one recipe, they sent four.

I tried two of them and it wasn't what I remembered. I finally found a Puerto Rican version that was easy to make, I could find all the ingredients and the taste was out of this world good.
As a diabetic, this is one of a few dishes I allow myself to indulge in since I do need all the luck I can get. I substituted basmati rice for the long grain white, and if you can find brown basmati, the luck has already started for you.

Arroz con Gandules ♥ Rice and Pigeon Peas
Adapted from saveur.com


* 3 tbsp. canola oil
* 2 oz. bacon, cut into 14″ cubes
* ½ cup sofrito
* ½ small yellow onion, minced
* 2 cups long-grain white rice
* 2 tbsp. tomato paste
* 2 cups chicken stock
* 1 tsp. dried oregano
* ½ (7-oz.) jar mixed olives, capers, and pimientos
* Handful of grape tomatoes
* 1 (15-oz.) can pigeon peas, drained
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon; cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add sofrito and onion; cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add rice and tomato paste; cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add stock, oregano, and olive mix; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until rice is tender, about 30 minutes; stir in peas. Cook for 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

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December 19, 2013

Individual Quiche Lorraines ♥ Cooking for Two

I have had this recipe bookmarked for the last 3 years, soon after I bought Thomas Keller's Bouchon.
If you thought you had a decent quiche recipe, you are wrong.
So simple but so decadent, this was not one of his famously 'attention to detail' recipes he is known for publishing.
I suppose this was why I chose this recipe for my second from this book. The first was the mustard sauce for a wonderful seafood tower that I replicated a few years back. Unfortunately we were not impressed with that sauce, so like most other cookbooks that have lived the same fate as his, I gave it not another go 'round, until today.

When I think of a great quiche, I think of classically trained French chefs and since my cookbook shelves have but only two of them (Julia and Keller), I pulled down the Father of all French cookbooks.

This time he did not disappoint. The first bite was met with a "omg, this is sooooo good". Something all of us cooks strive for with each attempt at perfection. I have to admit, the custard was light but creamy, the flavor components did not overwhelm the egg to cream ratio and the crust, while mine, was the perfect counterpart to the sweet cream interior.

Right after I fell in love with his version of quiche, I bought a 12" pastry ring but after serious contemplation, I tucked it away, never to make an appearance again. What was I thinking? A 4" thick quiche, 12" in diameter, for two?!?!

I pulled out my mini spring form pans, released the bottoms and, voila! A 4" pastry ring. Now that is something I could definitely live with.

I was given permission to make these again and for me, that's the best compliment I could ask for.

Individual Quiche Lorraine
makes 2

* 3 large eggs
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 cup milk
* 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
* 2 ounces Comte cheese, shredded
* Salt & pepper to taste

* 4 ounces AP flour
* 2 ounces cream cheese
* 2 ounces unsalted butter

Pulse crust ingredients in a food processor until it starts to come together. Remove to a piece of plastic wrap, press into a disk and refrigerate until ready to use, at least 1 hour.

Divide into two pieces and roll each one out into an 8" circle.
Remove the bottom of the springform pan and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Gently press the dough evenly into and around the pan and line with foil or parchment. Pour pie weights or beans into each pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and bake another 10 minutes or until the edges are browned. Remove to cool completely.

In a blender or processor, thoroughly mix the custard. Add half the bacon and half the cheese to the bottom of each crust. Cover with the custard and repeat, ending with cheese.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until the mixture just jiggles slightly. Remove, cool and serve at room temperature.

I served a garden salad on the side, but roasted asparagus would be nice.

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December 16, 2013

Stuffed Rigatoni Cakes ♥ Cooking for Two

I know it is hard to see, but under all that cheese is a beehive of stuffed rigatoni.
Why call it a cake then?

Well, I baked them in a cheesecake pan. I needed a pan whose sides were slightly higher than a piece of cooked rigatoni. Now I could have used a ramekin but I thought they were too small but as I ate the last bite, we both said the same thing. It was very filling. I was able to fit 20-21 stuffed cooked rigatoni into each pan and while it might seem skimpy, it was not.

Using a zip bag with a corner cut off, I stood the rigatoni in like little soldiers and squeezed the meat filling into each one. Was not hard, was not tedious and when the cheese crust is cracked open, there is a moment of "ohhhhh, sweet! This is cool" and then they dig their fork into the first rigatoni and find there is a meat sauce in each one and it then becomes "OMG, these are so good!"

Two things I should have done that I did not think about (but you will benefit from) is to add a spoonful of marinara sauce into each pan to help hold the pasta in place and to add additional tomato flavor to the pasta.
The meat sauce is the beef version of sausage and gravy but I used ground white meat turkey burgers that were on a Manager's Special and some veal stock for more meat flavor.

A spoonful or two of tomato sauce on top and two slices of melting mozzarella (from the deli) and into the oven for 20-25 minutes, then the broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese, yummy!

Keeping with my pledge for no leftovers, these mini cheesecake pans have been getting a workout. I absolutely adore them and they have inspired a plan to cook up a whole new batch of two serving meals. You can easily double this recipe to make 4 servings.

Stuffed Rigatoni Cakes
makes 2 (4") cakes
* 45 large rigatoni (not a ziti) (I like Barilla)
* 1 cup good quality spaghetti sauce
* 2 turkey burgers (1/2 pound ground)
* 1/2 small white onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 cup cream
* salt, pepper and nutmeg
* 4 slices deli cut melting mozzarella cheese
* 2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Equipment needed:
(2) 1 cup ramekins or (2) mini cheesecake pans
1 quart-sized zip bag
potato masher

Preheat the oven to 350°.
1. Boil the pasta for 8 minutes. We want it firm so it stands straight.
2. Fry the meat in olive oil, mashing with the potato masher until it is minced. Remember, it has to fit into the opening of the pasta.
3. Add the onions and garlic to the meat and saute for a few minutes. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cream. Simmer, covered until the meat is tender and when you run a spoon through it, you can see a ribbon of bare metal. The sauce is done so remove to cool.
4. Drain the pasta, spoon an inch of tomato sauce in each pan and stand the rigatoni side-by-side into each pan, making sure it is snug.
5. Put the meat sauce into the bag and squeeze down to one corner. Snip the corner so that it is slightly smaller than the opening in the pasta. Place the corner into a piece of pasta and gently squeeze enough mixture until it is level with the top. Continue with each one until filled.
6. Spoon a layer of tomato sauce on top, using the back of the spoon to spread it into any crevices or spaces, making sure to totally cover the pasta. Sprinkle the tops with grated cheese and two slices of mozzarella. Place in the oven, on a sheet pan, for 25-30 minutes. Can be made ahead up to this point.
7. Right before serving, place the pans under the broiler the cheese is browned and crunchy along the edges.

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December 12, 2013

Stuffed Pears

I know I haven't been posting much lately but this is the busy time for my personalized platter business. Soon, I rap up the last of my Christmas projects and have a chance for free time until we leave for DC on Christmas Day.

I have been cooking but nothing to brag about. As a matter of fact last night's dinner went into the trash and I love my husband too much to pack it in a lunch. It probably would have made the cut if I did not make it earlier in the day. I forgot how starchy pasta gets when it sits in a sauce for a few hours.

Note to self - bake the Turkey Tettrazini as soon as made, then store in the fridge. Not that it stops the pasta from soaking up the sauce but there would be less of it. Not an expensive mistake, the meat was from a free turkey and the sauce was from odds and ends of vegetables and cheeses that probably would have been dispensed when I give the fridge it's once over before leaving for the holidays.

So, rule of thumb is no leftovers allowed. I am truly cooking for two the next 15 days.

While dinner was a bust, dessert was exceptional and a perfect "For Two".
I bought my first pomegranate last week and when I saw this dessert I knew exactly what I was going to do with the seeds.

Not really a recipe but an idea and a great one at that. I mixed a few drops of honey into the goat cheese and with a scoop, filled the spot where the seeds used to be and drizzled more honey over the stuffed pear. A tablespoon of tart arils to offset the sweet of the honey and we have a new favorite and healthy dessert.

Buy Bartlett pears, they are firm and juicy, sweet and sit well on the counter for a few days. Please serve this at room temp. Enjoy!!

December 6, 2013

Upside-Down Pear Pancake ♥ Show Us Your Sweets - Monk Fruit In The Raw Baking Contest

Every Christmas morning my Mom would make us these pancakes.
Well, after we opened all the gifts under the tree, of course.
My Mom was an exceptional cook. She could make savory and sweet dishes with equal ease and had a natural curiosity about new ingredients. Things she wasn't familiar with never stopped her from clipping a recipe for her Wish List.

I know I inherited most of those qualities, along with her love of crafts, but the one thing I can not do well, is bake. I also inherited my father's lack of patience, which I understand, is a trait required to bake cookies and cakes and all kinds of beautiful and wonderful desserts.

When The Recipe Redux sent us our last sponsored recipe contest of 2013, I almost did not enter.
They challenged us to adapt one of my signature family baked goods recipe by reducing sugar with Monk Fruit In The Raw or create a new lower-calorie creation using the Monk Fruit In The Raw.

Presented with a dilemma, the only dish I make well is cheesecake and have published a few versions here on my blog using sugar substitutes. Previously published recipes can not be used and if I was going to do this right, I needed to find something that presented me with a challenge.

I grabbed my Mom's recipe box and seriously went through each one, hoping to find a dish that substituting granulated sugar with Monk Fruit In The Raw would produce a viable entry.

I omitted all the sugar in my Mom's Christmas Pancake recipe, and used natural fruit juice and Monk Fruit In The Raw as the only sweetener. Monk Fruit In The Raw has a natural taste and unlike those other subs that taste like chemicals, this sweetener was easy to use. I am very fussy about sugar subs, I can taste a bad one immediately, which is not a good thing when one is trying to cut out sugars.

These pancakes turned out to be better than my Mom's and can be made in 15 minutes. A perfect dish when your family would rather be playing with their new toys than sitting down to eat a breakfast. 
No syrup required but can be served on the side.

A non-stick skillet or a cast-iron pan is required because the pears poaching liquid is absorbed by the cake mix and would be almost impossible to remove if cooked in a stainless or aluminum frying pan.

"I received free samples from Cumberland Packing Corp., maker of Monk Fruit In The Raw. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Cumberland Packing Corp. and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time."

Upside-Down Pear Pancake
Servings: 1 large or 4 (6") pancakes
Can be halved or doubled successfully

* 2 Bartlett pears, cut in half, seeds and stems removed
* 8 ounces natural apple juice
* 2 cups packaged pancake mix (water added only style)
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1/2 teaspoon Five Spice powder
* 1/2 cup Monk Fruit In The Raw
* 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (almonds or pecans)
* Butter flavored or canola spray release agent
* Extra Monk Fruit In The Raw to dust the finished pancake

1. Preheat broiler to LOW and move the rack to 6-7" from the heat.
2. Thoroughly spray a non-stick pan with release agent (12" for one large pancake or 6" for 4 smaller pancakes).
3. In a small bowl, place Monk Fruit In The Raw, Five Spice powder and 1/2 cup apple juice, and whisk to mix.
4. Slice each pear half into 8 slices (total of 32 slices).

To make (4) 6" pancakes:
Lay 8 pear slices in a clock-wise, circular pattern with tips touching in the middle. Pour 1/4 of the Five Spice mixture over and around the pears. Simmer, on medium low, covered for 4 minutes. Remove the cover, flip the pears over and continue cooking while you place 1/4 of the nuts and the butter in and around the pears.
Pour 1/4 of the pancake mixture gently over the pears (so not to disturb them) and place in the broiler, at least 6-7" from the heating source until the mixture just jiggles slightly in the center (about 2 minutes).
Remove and let it rest for a few minutes, running a spatula around the edges. It will continue to cook from the residual heat. Over cooked pancake may stick to the skillet.
Place a plate on top of the skillet and flip over to release the pancake. Gently remove any food that might have remained in the skillet and place it back on the pancake.
Repeat for three more.

To make one large pancake:
Place all 32 pieces of pancake in pan and follow same instructions as above, using the measurements listed  above.
Simmer time is the same as well as the time under the broiler.
Flip the pancake onto a large platter or sheet pan and slice into quarters.

I have even made this recipe in a flame-proof casserole dish to slice into squares for a buffet table.

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December 5, 2013

Wonton Dumpling Lasagna

I posted this recipe last year for a contest I thought I had entered, but did not make the deadline.
My boo-boo is your good fortune. I own this recipe and I want to share it with you, especially at this time of year.
Making dumplings and ravioli's may seem daunting when you have to make the dough, but by using store-bought won ton wrappers, you can have Asian dumplings and lasagna in the same dish.
The end result was this East meets West by the Appian Way dish, making dumplings and lasagna accessible on a weeknight.
It was my choice to make individual portions and one recipe makes 8 ramekins or 24 buffet bites.

The Nudge's first reaction (besides it was too hot to eat) was exactly the reaction I was going for, see, because the ingredients were not revealed. He tried to bribe me (maybe he thought I was going to poison him) but was not successful.

Super easy, it tastes just like those wonderful dumplings in take-out Won Ton Soup. This recipe is for all of you, from the novice college student to the experienced cook, if you have measuring spoons, won ton wrappers, and aluminum pans, you can make this.
I will tell you......if you love Asian and Italian food, dumplings and lasagna, you have to make this. If you have ever wanted to impress your family and friends, place this in front of them but don't reveal what they taste like and wait for the applause. It will come and then the request for the recipe will follow.

The beauty of this is you can add whatever Asian vegetables your family will eat but my first try was perfect with a layer of seasoned pork and Shiitake mushrooms. Feel free to sub lean ground poultry for a healthier version and bok choy, bamboo shoots or water chestnuts for crunch.
Oh yea, it's that versatile.

I got so excited I peed my pants wet my bloomers when I ate the final rendition and immediately took 4 of them next door for my neighbor to eat. If his child was like Mikey and liked it, I know I had a winner. What kid doesn't love their own little portion, doesn't love Chinese take-out or doesn't love lasagna?

To affirm all the ingredients and directions, I also made 24 mini lasagnas in a muffin tin. Besides being as cute as a kitten, they also came out great. Now you can knock their socks off at your next dinner or football party and be prepared to hand out many recipes.

It might seem like a lot of work, but it is easy work and very easy to make, the only cooking required is to saute mushrooms. Everything can be made ahead, prepared ahead and baked ahead. Easy peasy done!!

The mini versions are a great buffet item and will disappear in no time. They just pop in your mouth, no fork or knife needed.

Individual Wonton Lasagnas
makes (8) 6oz ramekin lasagnas or 24 mini lasagnas
  • 1 package (48) won ton wrappers 
  • 1 cup cooked mushrooms, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground pork, turkey or chicken
  • 1 teaspoon dry sherry
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger root
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 packet Stir-Fry Seasonings (I used Kikkoman)
  • 1 1/2 cups College Inn chicken broth
  • 1 scallion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 350°
  1. Place meat and next 7 ingredients (to garlic) in a bowl and mix well.
  2. In a small saucepan, simmer broth and seasoning packet until it boils. Remove and cool.
  3. Spray baking pans with release agent and place one wonton wrapper into bottom, gently pressing down on each point until it hits the bottom. Does not have to be in snug.
  4. Place 1 teaspoon meat mixture on top of wrapper and repeat, making 2 layers for the mini lasagnas and three layers for the ramekins, ending with a wrapper.
  5. Pour 1 tablespoon broth mixture down the side of each mini lasagna and up to the top in the ramekins.
  6. Cover muffin pans loosely with foil.
  7. Place ramekins into larger baking pan filled with water, halfway up the sides and cover with foil.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes and remove, uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  9. Remove and sprinkle with grated cheese and then the sliced scallions. 
Can be assembled in advance up to 8 hours before baking, covered in the refrigerator.
Can be stored already cooked for 24 hours, covered in the refrigerator.
Reheat in a a 350° preheated oven for 10 minutes.

I also made a glaze that I drizzled on the mini lasagnas. It's Unami on steroids.

makes about 1/2 cup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Thai Style Chile Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring all the ingredients to a simmer and lover the heat to medium-low. Cook until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. If it gets too thick just whisk in some water, off heat.
These are so easy to make, and easier to eat.
Come back Monday to see the details of my College Inn giveaway and the wonderful items included.

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December 2, 2013

Chicken Paillard with Roasted Pears, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

My favorite way to cook a chicken breast is breaded and shallow fried. We call them cutlets. My favorite way to eat a chicken breast is a pounded and breaded cutlet served with a salad on top.
Now the The Nudge has his new favorite.

In Italy they top it with a lemony arugula and call it Milanese, in France, it has been largely replaced by the word escalope. In new Orleans they still use the old word paillard and in Germany they top it with a fried egg and call it Weiner Schnitzel.

Anyway you call it, it's a great way to eat chicken. If you have not yet tried this version with a salad on top, you must make it really soon. Good enough for company, Ina even served hers to Mel Brooks.

With the cooler months upon us and the holiday spirit slowly creeping into my bones, I decided to make a roasted pear, blue cheese and walnut salad to top my cutlets with.
Family coming for Christmas? Overnight guests need to eat. I guarantee your family will be talking about this meal more than the turkey.
I bread my chicken with both panko and Italian bread crumbs. The places on the chicken that the panko won't adhere to, the bread crumbs will, so it gets total coverage....yum

The salad makes the dish. What's not to love?
Roasted pears, chunks of bleu cheese and toasted walnuts with hearts of romaine lettuce. Oh My!!

I used a walnut oil to roast the pears with but any good quality oil would work.
I sprinkled the tops with sage, a dusting of sugar and a pinch of salt. Once the tops got some color, I flipped them over and roasted them 4 more minutes, repeating the sweet and the salt. You need to buy unripe pears and a few more than you need. Ripe ones will fall apart and turn to applesauce when roasted. If that happens just add them to the dressing and start over. No more pears, use apples.

Since the roasting depends on the ripeness, just roast until a knife slides in and out without raising the pear.
To serve, place a few romaine leaves on one side of the chicken. Slice the pears into lengthwise 1/4-inch slices and fan them out over the lettuce. Sprinkle with bleu cheese and the walnut pieces. Spoon the dressing over the salad and serve more on the side.

This was my best version to date. I made sure I had extra of everything so The Nudge would have lunch of this fabulous dish in sandwich form. The guys are gonna flip when they see that!!!