30 March 2011

pb & j cookies

This is going to be short and sweet today. These cookies rock !!  I suggest you read thru this recipe quickly, make sure you have some ice cold milk on hand , and then get going and make these cookies now!
Here we go - I told you, short and sweet today!

pb & j cookies

3/4 c unsalted butter
3/4 c crunchy peanut butter (use your favorite)
1/4 c sugar +  some to roll the cookies in
3/4 c dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt ( 1 always use kosher salt in baking)
Jam of your choice - I prefer blackberry jam or grape jelly

Preheat oven to 350*

Cream butter with sugars for a minute, then mix in peanut butter and egg.  Mix in dry ingredients.
Roll dough into 1" balls, then  roll balls in sugar.  Place balls on prepared cookie sheet.  ( I use parchment all the time).   Using your thumb make an indentation into each cookie ball.  Fill each indentation with 1/4 tsp of jam.   Bake 12 - 15 minutes.  Allow to cool a bit, pour yourself a glass of cold milk and enjoy!!

Starting April 1st , I will be doing a month of April in Paris.

24 March 2011

Stormy Night Onion Soup

It was one of those gloriously stormy chilly nights last night, so what did I do?  I decided to make Onion Soup from scratch at 5pm last night.  It was so worth it and I have enough to have another cheesy bowl when the next storm blows in tonight.   Mr. Skip by the way was not that thrilled with the soup (mr. skip is a meat and potato man) , it said it was good, but he was happy I made him a plate of chicken wings on the side - oh well - more soup for me!!

Onion Soup
makes aprox 4 good size bowls of soup

4 large onions - sliced
2 - 4 cloves garlic - sliced
nub of butter
olive oil
2 cans chicken or veggie stock
1 cup white wine + a bit extra for serving
herbs de provence
1 tablespoon flour
4 thick slices crusty bread
swiss or provolone cheese

Melt large nub of butter with olive oil on low heat - ( I love Le Creuset pots so I use a large soup pot) - add sliced onions, garlic , good pinch of salt and a good pinch of herbs de provence.   Slowly cook the onions down, stirring frequently , careful not to burn them.  You want the onions the color of caramel - this can take up to an hour, but be patient as this is the most important step.  If the onions do not get enough color your soup will be tasteless.  

Once the onions are caramelized, add the flour and cook a couple of minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the wine and stir all the good bits off the bottom - cooking till wine is gone.  Now add the stock and the remaining wine , taste for seasoning  and cook on low about 30 minutes.  

As the soup is cooking , toast the bread in the oven, I do this at 250* - just till the bread is dried with no color.  When you are ready to serve , either heat the broiler or turn your oven up to 450*.  In the bottom of each bowl add a splash of the white wine you used in the soup (traditionally cognac is used, but I like the wine), fill the bowls almost to the top with soup, top with bread and then lots of grated cheese, lots. Place bowls on tray in oven till cheese is melted, bubbly and brown.  Serve on it's own or with a nice butter lettuce salad.

23 March 2011

je t'aime mousse aux chocolat

I am a Francophile.
I love all things French -  I am especially in love with Paris.
It started with Madeline and le Petit Prince, then I met
 my culinary hero Julia Child and
 my French teacher Madame Wagner.
 My first trip to France (there have been many since) was not until my
 twenties but I will never forget it and I will never
forget the biggest bowl of mousse aux chocolat
I had ever seen. It was to be shared at the table and
I know that every last bit was eaten.

the secret to a perfect mousse aux chocolat

Over the years I have tried many recipes for mousse, including Julia's
but I always go back to the one that can be found on the
back of the Nestle Dessert Chocolate Noir Bar. 
I have not been able to find the bars
 in America, so I always stock up when I am in France. 
 I found this site the other day
chocolate as well as some of my other favorites, so I am placing an
order tonight.  On to the recipe!!

mousse aux chocolat

3.5 oz chopped nestle dessert chocolate or
           bittersweet chocolate
3 eggs - separated
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
pinch kosher salt

Melt chocolate over double boiler - cool. Beat in egg yolks and salt till smooth.
Whip egg whites to soft  peaks, slowly add the sugar and continue beating until
whites are glossy and until you have medium peaks.
Fold in 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate, then fold in remaining whites and fold
until incorporated. Try not to deflate the mousse to much. 
You can divide the mousse into 4 bowls or place it in a medium size bowl and
chill for about 4 hours.  Top with whipped cream if you desire!

20 March 2011

the first day of spring

Oh the weather outside is frightful
but they fire is so delightful - what?? 
The calendar said it was the first day of spring,
yet the outside said otherwise!
Oh, I wanted to see this outside my window this morning :

This is what I saw instead:
 A glorious rainy stormy day!

No problem - rainy day sundays are alright with me.
 In honor of the first day of spring and this glorious rainy day, I made a dish of
Spring Braised Leeks for brunch, they will go 
along side poached eggs,  ham steaks and toast!
Have a beautiful,  peaceful  any yummy Sunday!

leeks ready for the oven

Spring Braised Leeks

3 leeks 
unsalted butter
chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper

Clean the leeks well and pat dry.  Split the leeks down the middle.  Cut each half into thirds and place in a shallow baking dish.  Dot the leeks with generous pieces of butter.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour stock around the leeks - about a 1/2 cup. 

Bake  at 375* covered for 20 minutes , take the cover off and bake until the leeks have soften - about an additional 20 minutes.
leeks fresh out  of the oven

18 March 2011

Ode to Avagardnerskivers (aka Aebleskivers)

Ah, the aebleskiver, why do I love you so?  Some people call you pancake balls , some people call you a pancake doughnut - me,  I call you a little round ball of love -  fluffy tasty goodness. Hot out of the pan with sugar and raspberry jam ( this is when double dipping is allowed! ) , buttery , eggy with a hint of cardamon - oh! so , so , so good!

I grew up eating aebleskivers , it is hard not to when you grow up in a Danish house hold.   Sometimes we would get crepes with sugar and jam for special occasions , but the aebleskiver was always the special treat! When I was very young I had trouble saying aebleskiver - so I choose to call them avagardnerskivers - it has stuck to this day.

Avagardnerskivers are easy to make , all you need is an aebleskiver pan, a knitting needle or bamboo skewer and of course a recipe, sugar and raspberry jam.  I prefer cast iron , put now you can find all different types of pans from cast iron to cast aluminum , you can actually get the mix , the pan and an " aebleskiver filled pancake tool" at Williams Sonoma!  Go figure!  http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/6126122/?cm_src=rel

This is my pan, it was either my mormor's (grandmother) or my oldemor's (great grandmother's pan), it  is old and heavy and my friend when I get the urge to make my avagardnerskivers.  Following is the only recipe I have ever used , with great thanks to my mor and my mormor.

aebleskivers - aka avagardnerskivers

2 c buttermilk
2 c unbleached flour
3 eggs seperated
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cardamon
pinch of salt
a mixture a melted butter and oil for cooking

Beat egg whites to stiff peaks, set aside.  Beat yolks with sugar, salt, cardamon, and buttermilk. Mix in flour, baking powder and baking soda. Fold in egg whites.
Heat your pan ,  pour a small amount of the melted butter and oil mixture into each hole.  Using a small ladle or spoon fill each hole.  When the edges are bubbling and are starting to look golden brown use your knitting needle to turn the aebleskiver upside down.  Continue to cook the the aebleskivers till they are brown all over.  You can use a toothpick in the center to make sure they are cooked thru.  It is best to eat them right away , but they can be kept warm in an oven.
Serve with sugar and raspberry jam or your favorite jam.

turning the aebleskivers with skewers

the finished product!

13 March 2011

Back on My Foot!

I drew this when I was 3 - it is a picture of my brother David
Two and a half months ago I had foot surgery  - I came out of it with a shorter toe and 6 pins!  I basically sat in the same chair , in the same position for 2 of those months - it was .... well ..... it was.

I read lots and lots of books on an eReader
I watched many movies, many episodes of House Hunters - Unique Eats - all the seasons of Damages 
I learned how to play Plants vs Zombies
I worked on my Cookbooks
I was on Twitter - alot
I finally went thru all my stacks of magazines
I  watched 60 plus sunsets
I celebrated New Years Eve , the Super Bowl , Valentines Day and my 7th anniversary - all in the chair!

I learned that mr. skip likes to cook ( sort of ) ..he makes great wings and meatloaf
I learned that for my dreams to come true I need to put them on the back burner for a bit ... that is OK

and I learned that I really missed cooking...stay tuned...

11 November 2010

Yes - we've got some Banana Bread

I love bananas - but the moment that they get that very first brown spot - I can't eat them,  I freeze them for another day.   Lately I have been using them to make gluten free muffins for a friend, but you can only make so many muffins , so after a brief discussion with Mr. Skip , I made banana bread.  Apparently Mr. Skip loves banana bread , his mother use to make it for him - so no pressure at all.

Over the years I have collected numerous banana bread recipes always falling back on good old Fannie Farmer it has always been good , but I wanted something else, so I took several others and came up with some pretty seriously good bread.  The top was crunchy and little sugary , the inside was moist,  filled with toasted slightly salty walnuts and a touch of cinnamon.  It was good and Skip loved it so much that he ate one of the three mini loaves that I made.

Mr.Skip's Banana Bread

4 ripe bananas
1/3 c melted brown butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1 T maple syrup
1 egg
1 T Jamesons Whiskey (thanks smitten kitten)
pinch salt
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 1/2 c unbleached flour
2 c toasted and salted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350*  Grease 3 mini loaf pans.
Brown butter , while butter is browning mash bananas with sugar, syrup, salt , cinnamon . Add brown butter , egg and Jamesons. Mix in remaining ingredients and divide among 3 loaf pans.

Bake aprox 40 -45 mins.