Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sweet and slightly spicy Peach Pepper Sauce - over grits.

saute in a couple tablespoons of ghee one chopped sweet onion, then add two chopped green peppers, and one head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped. Cook until soft. Season with salt. Then I peeled/loosely pulled apart 7 or 8 ripe peaches, tossed them in, a bit of apricot jelly, some chipotle powder, dash of lime juice, little more salt ...

if you do NOT have a shellfish allergy at your house this could easily be made into a shrimp and grits recipe.  - Just pop in some peeled, cleaned shrimp into the completed sauce and simmer until finished.    Shrimpy or not, serve over cheesy grits.    I put a bit of smoked gouda into the grits, along with large quantities of cheddar, because there is no smoked meat in the sauce.   

I served with some crispy pork (pressure cooked pork belly, then fried in a pan) and garnished with heirloom cherry tomatoes: 


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Soft Sugar Cookies

What to do on a rainy day with four young children to entertain?   (I was borrowing a couple of them for the morning)    Make cookies!     We didn't have quite enough time to make rolled cookies, wait for them to cool and then frost/sprinkle them, so I needed a recipe that added the sprinkles before baking.    These also TASTE very, very good. 

Soft Sugar Cookies

~ 2 dozen 

  • 2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 t double strength vanilla 

Preheat oven to 375 standard/350 convection.   Whisk flour with baking powder and salt.    In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar.    Then add in egg and vanilla (use the good stuff).       Much like when making peanut butter cookies, roll balls of dough in sugar (maybe bourbon/vanilla bean infused raw sugar?) or sprinkles, and place on parchment lined pans - far apart!    I was doing 8-9 cookies on a half sheet pan.     Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on edges, allow to cool a few minutes on the parchment before removing from tray.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pub Cheese (cheddar cheese spread)

So did you know you can actually make "pub cheese" pretty easily?

I did yesterday - 1 pound shredded good cheddar (shred it, don't buy shredded, because of the additives!), about 6 ounces shredded Dubliner. One cube frozen crushed garlic (or one clove through a garlic press), one spoonful good mustard .... then start drizzling in a bit of apple cider and/or beer and running all the ingredients in the food processor until smooth! It was really good. I think I ended up using about 3/4 cup of liquid, using half cider, half stout. Definitely a recipe that needs a full size food processor.

Here's what it looked like right before processing: 

It was spectacular.   My four year old kept begging for just one more crackerful.   It would be excellent with soft pretzel nuggets too.   

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Homemade vanilla extract smells so wonderful and is a great gift for a wide range of people!    Even non bakers can add a splash to their coffee or fresh whipped cream or even their morning yogurt smoothie. 

To make 1 quart:

3.5 cups vodka (not the good stuff, but get a decent brand)
1/2 cup bourbon or sometimes brandy or sometimes rum (another 1/2 cup vanilla would also work)
2oz vanilla beans, each one split down the middle

Place all in a quart jar and shake well - you should see the seeds in the liquid.    Repeat every couple days for three months.

Vanilla extract, brewed in my Pennsylvania home for at least three months with three simple ingredients:   whole vanilla beans, vodka and a splash of bourbon.

I started making my own vanilla because I wanted a strong vanilla with no fillers.   I only brew double strength.   What is "Double Strength" or "Double Fold" vanilla?   Brewed with twice the vanilla beans for more of the vanilla scent and flavor.

No corn syrup.   No water.  No artificial flavors

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hot Fudge!

An approximate recipe:

about 16 ounces of dark / semi sweet chocolate  - broken up if bars - I used a really diverse brand mix from my chocolate bar cannister, but all "dark" chocolate.   Semi-sweet chocolate chips would work too.
1 1/2 sticks of butter

1 1/2 cups corn syrup
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso powder
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons vanilla

Heat chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently.    Stir until completely melted and smooth.      Add corn syrup, espresso powder, sweetened condensed milk.     Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes.      Turn off heat, stir in vanilla.    Store in jars in fridge for up to three months.   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rolled shortbread cutout cookies ... i.e the best buttery sugar Christmas cookie EVER

the JOY cookies, stocking and star above are from this recipe.


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 sticks cold butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons light cream (or half and half or heavy - I've used all three at different times)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix flour, salt, sugar together in bowl of mixer or food processor.      Add butter and mix until it's a crumbly consistency.     Whisk together yolk, cream and vanilla, then knead into butter/flour mixture.  

Divide dough in half and roll out each piece between two sheets of wax paper or parchment.    Chill on a baking sheet in your fridge, on the porch in December or in the freezer for even a few weeks.  

Preheat oven to 325 and line baking pans with parchment. 

Cut desired shapes with cookie cutters, re-rolling and re-chilling scraps.      Bake about 12 minutes, until the edges brown ever so slightly.   Be careful not to move the cookies too quickly so they don't break.

Variation:   to add color BEFORE baking mix serious paste food colors with some cream and brush onto cookies BEFORE baking.    Alternately sprinkle with colored sugar BEFORE baking.     Or wait until after they've cooled and then do a butter icing or royal icing!  

Raspberry Pecan Rugelach - or my new favorite Jewish Christmas Cookie!

So in visiting Zabar's in NYC, in addition to becoming completely addicted to their spectacular $8/pound coffee, I discovered a wonderful little pastry called Rugelach.     Getting it shipped from New York to Philly is a bit pricey though, so I decided to try my hand at making it.   


2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks cold butter, cubed
1 (8oz) package cold cream cheese, cubed
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup raspberry preserves
powdered sugar
finely chopped nuts (I used pecans)

1.  Mix salt and flour together in food processor big bowl.

2.  Add butter and cream cheese, and pulse about 12 times, until it looks a bit sandy / crumbly.

3.  whisk together yolk and vanilla.    Add to processor and turn on until a soft dough forms.

4.  Split dough into four equal balls, wrap each in parchment or wax paper, flatten into a disc about an inch thick and chill at least 20 minutes, or a couple of days.

** preheat oven to 375 **

5.  Sprinkle a work surface with powdered sugar.   Use more powdered sugar on rolling pin.  (don't skimp - the dough itself has no sugar)  Take just one piece out and roll into a messy thin circle-like shape.    

6.  Microwave jam enough to soften, and mix in some powdered sugar.    Spread thinly on dough and sprinkle with nuts.  

7.   Slice dough (using a pizza cutter if you have one) into 16 wedges.    Starting from thick end, roll each up and place on parchment lined baking pan.    Chill this pan for about twenty minutes (I just put it on my porch in December).  

8.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.   

So far I've only tried raspberry/pecan filling, but it's common to see walnut/brown sugar/cinnamon or chocolate or apricot (with apricot jam and chopped dried apricots)