Monthly Archive for December, 2006

Noel Chez Paula

Paula was one of my mom’s best friends and since my mom died 3 years ago Paula has become a good friend of mine too. She loves to open up her house for great dinner parties, and it shows. She always has her table set so elegantly and on this occasion her house was festively decorated to celebrate Christmas! Lets take a look…

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Menu:

Cheese appetizer (Pamela)

Herbed crown roast of pork w/ mustard seed sauce (Paula)

Potatoes Gratinee (Steve)

Shredded brussel sprouts w/ chestnuts, shallots and applewood smoked bacon (me)

Corn (Paula)

Chocolate mousse (Pamela)

Chocolate truffles – mint/tarragon; chai pistachio; earl grey (from my friend Beth who has started her own small chocolate enterprise, “Little Dipper Chocolate“)

Calvados/Coffee

Img_1030_1 Appetizer

Img_1064_1 Let the eating continue…

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Once the calvados kicked in, the wackiness began…

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I learned something new… according to the salesperson at the cooking store where Paula bought the papillote, these are also called panties… so as the zaniness continued, one of the guests tried on the papillote/panties but they were too small!

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Then I started spanking the monkey and we proceeded to corrupt our new friends the Worthingtons!

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Me thinks it’s time to go home…

Paula, thanks for the hospitality and friendship (and fun)!!

Happy New Year everyone!

Bruno

                                    

                                    

Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

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This is a hectic time of year and the last thing someone needs is to be stressing over cooking, which I typically find therapeutic rather than stressful. Here’s a quick and easy appetizer recipe so you don’t have to go somewhere empty-handed if you promised to make something but ran out of time to do a more complex recipe (as I did). I got this idea from Barbara at Winos and Foodies. I just added some green (i.e., chives) to make the peppadews more Christmasy. Despite their simplicity, these little guys make a good impression and nice presentation!

Peppadew Peppers Stuffed w/ Feta, Cream Cheese and Chives

Ingredients:

6 ounces feta cheese (crumbled)

8 ounces whipped cream cheese

1/3 cup chopped fresh chives

42 peppadew peppers (I found mine at the grocery store’s olive bar)

Procedure:

Combine first 3 ingredients then stuff peppers

** I used the tip of a butter knife to stuff the peppers, however a friend who liked this recipe said they are going to use a pastry bag to insert the filling. A great idea which I will use next time because filling the peppers was the most time consuming part of this recipe.

***You will have some leftover filling which you can use as a spread on crostini or crackers, a dip for veggies, a sandwich spread, or you can buy more peppadews to fill.

Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!!

Bruno

Thanksgiving Photos w/ Dessert Recipes (Pumpkin Gelato and Pumpkin Pie)

Hi everyone… I’m finally getting around to doing my Thanksgiving post! It’s been a very hectic couple of weeks w/ all the additional holiday activities (parties, shopping, etc…) so I’m taking advantage of this window of opportunity to get this posted before I get swamped.

My friends, Michelle and Byron, graciously invited me to their home for Thanksgiving dinner this year. Michelle did a beautiful job w/ all the food as well as taking the photos of this sumptuous feast. My only contribution to the bounty was the pumpkin gelato w/ candied pecans. Hats off to Byron and Michelle for being such wonderful hosts for my Thanksgiving 2006!! (Thanks to Kristin and Bob too for inviting me over for Thanksgiving lunch – no photos of this delicious spread because I was too busy feeding my face!)

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Recipes:

Michelle’s Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry dough (use your favorite recipe)

2 cups fresh pumpkin meat (see gelato recipe for procedure)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Special equipment: pie weights or raw rice

Procedure:

1) Make pastry dough as directed.

2) Roll out dough into a 14-inch round on a lightly floured surface and fit into a 9-inch glass pie plate (4-cup capacity). Crimp edge decoratively and prick bottom all over. Chill 30 minutes.

3) Preheat oven to 375°°F.

4) Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake shell until pale golden, 6 to 10 minutes more. Cool in pan on a rack.

5) Whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, spices, and salt, then pour into shell.

6) Bake pie in middle of oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until filling is set but center still trembles slightly. (Filling will continue to set as pie cools.) Transfer to rack and cool completely.

Pumpkin Gelato w/ Candied Pecans

Ingredients:

1 cup candied pecan halves

2 cups pumpkin meat (from 1 small pie pumpkin  – 8 to 10 inches in diameter)

1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

6 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 quart half + half

1 teaspoon Penzys cake spice

Procedure:

For  pumpkin:

1) Wash pumpkin, remove stems, cut in half and scrape out seeds

2) Place pumpkin halves on baking sheet, cut side down, add 1/4 cup water to the pan and bake in 350 degree F oven for 1 hour (the pumpkin should be very soft and slightly browned when done)

3) Remove from oven, turn halves over and set aside to cool

4) When cool enough to handle, scrape out meat and puree in a food processor (leave in processor in order to complete gelato mixture – see gelato procedure)

For candied pecans:

1) Roast pecans in 300 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently, then let cool

2) Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/8 cup water in saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium heat until sugar is dissolved

3) Boil to 333-335 degrees F, occasionally brushing sides of pan w/ water to prevent crystals from forming, remove from heat immediately then add pecans and stir until they are well coated

4) Pour onto baking sheet lined w/ parchment paper and quickly separate pecan halves w/ 2 forks (I began using my fingers because using the forks was too slow to separate the pecans before the sugar hardened)

For gelato:

1) In medium saucepan heat half + half and cake spice gently to a simmer, then turn off heat

 2) In medium size mixing bowl combine egg yolks and sugar and beat together until pale yellow

3) Beat 2 tablespoons of the warm half + half into the egg mixture (do this slowly to avoid curdling the eggs), then beat in the remaining half + half little by little

4) Place bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon (do not let temperature exceed 170 degrees F or mixture will start to curdle)  

5) Cool in an ice bath

6) Add grated orange peel to pureed pumpkin, blend in 1 1/2 cups gelato mixture to pumpkin to thin puree, then stir puree into the remaining gelato mixture, blending well, and chill for at least 4 hours in fridge

7) Roughly chop the candied pecans (set aside a few whole pieces for garnishing and munching on while your plating dessert because they’re addictive and damn good!)

8) Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding the chopped pecans halfway through the churning process

9) Transfer gelato to a 2 quart plastic container, cover top w/ parchment paper cut to size (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of gelato), and freeze until firm

Yield: Approx. 1 ½ quarts

Bonus recipe…

Cranberry Chutney

Ingredients:

1 bag fresh cranberries

2 mangoes – peeled and cubed

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Procedure:

Simmer in a pot to a sauce consistency

 

That’s all folks! Until next time…

Bruno

A Menu for Hope

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Menu for Hope is a holiday fundraising campaign involving food bloggers which is now in its third year.  The campaign was started by Pim of Chez Pim, who recently announced that this year’s campaign will be benefitting the U.N. World Food Program. See Kalyn’s Kitchen and Cream Puffs in Venice for more details.

Happy Holidays,

Bruno