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144 posts categorized "21) Just Elegant, Extraordinary & Exquisite"

12/05/2019

~ Six Recipes for Fabulously-Flavored Holiday Fudge ~

Fudge is especially popular on the the boardwalks of the East coast in the Summertime. That said, it is also perfect for gift-giving during the holidays. Because it can be made several weeks in advance and stored (covered) in the the refrigerator, I like to make several flavors, then, assemble gift-boxes containing assorted flavors to share with family and friends. It's a fun, relaxing way to ease into the holiday spirit, and it's a great addition to a tray of assorted cookies too. This all-American confection dates back to the late 1880s. Fudge originated in America in the latter 19th...... View full recipe for "~ Six Recipes for Fabulously-Flavored Holiday Fudge ~"

12/03/2019

~The Ultimate-Best Peanut-Butter Killer Fudge Recipe~

If it's full-throttle roasted-peanut flavor and crunch you crave, there's no need to look elsewhere for a peanut butter fudge recipe. Lightly-roasted peanuts, crunchy peanut butter, peanut-butter morsels, and, peanut butter flavoring team up in my version, and, trust me, nobody can eat just one piece of this peanutty fudge. There's more. This recipe (which has been tested, tasted and approved by many experienced cooking friends) is super-easy to make, not to mention foolproof, so, for those who've never tried making fudge before, or novice cooks, this recipe is ideal. Everyone remembers their first bite of fudge -- that creamy,...... View full recipe for "~The Ultimate-Best Peanut-Butter Killer Fudge Recipe~"

11/30/2019

~Double-Cherry & Double-Vanilla Lover's Killer Fudge~

Cherry-vanilla is one of my favorite flavor combinations. Cherry-vanilla or black-cherry-vanilla cream soda, cherry-vanilla ice-cream, cherry-vanilla milkshakes, cherry-vanilla yogurt and cherry-vanilla biscotti are amongst my favorite things. While I didn't invent the idea for cherry-vanilla fudge, once I got my hands on a great base recipe for making fudge, cherry-vanilla was the first spin-off I made (for myself), and, after tasting it, I think you'll agree it's perhaps the best rendition in print or on internet, as, it uses a combination of dehydrated tart "sour" pie cherries and pure cherry extract, instead of neon-colored candied maraschinos (which taste nothing like...... View full recipe for "~Double-Cherry & Double-Vanilla Lover's Killer Fudge~"

11/28/2019

~Cinnamon-Apple Maple-Walnut Lover's Killer Fudge~

Maple-walnut ice cream and maple-walnut fudge. While they're my only two encounters with this sublime combination, meaning I've not tasted a maple-walnut pie or a maple-walnut cake, I was driven to re-create both of them in my home kitchen. My experience with the first was in Vermont, and it was a slow-churned unforgettable experience. My experience with the second was on the boardwalks of New Jersey, and, it was a creamy-dreamy unforgettable experience. Everyone remembers their first bite of fudge -- that creamy, semi-soft confection made with corn syrup and/or sugar, butter, cream and flavoring. Hands-down, the most popular flavor...... View full recipe for "~Cinnamon-Apple Maple-Walnut Lover's Killer Fudge~"

11/25/2019

~ Butterscotch & Bits-O-Toffee Brickle Lover's Fudge ~

Butterscotch, caramel, English toffee and American buttercrunch. These rich butter-and-sugar-based candies are all related, and, I have an affinity for them all. As a little kid, my hand gravitated to the bag of those little chewy squares of Kraft Caramels, and, when I got a little older, I always kept a few cellophane-wrapped Brach's Butterscotch hard-candies in my purse -- they were a way to enjoy an otherwise long and boring class at school or sermon at church. Everyone remembers their first bite of fudge -- that creamy, semi-soft confection made with corn syrup and/or sugar, butter, cream and flavoring....... View full recipe for "~ Butterscotch & Bits-O-Toffee Brickle Lover's Fudge ~"

11/22/2019

~Milk-Chocolate and Toasted-Coconut Lover's Fudge~

As one who in all seriousness does not crave chocolate, when I do eat it it, my taste leans toward milk chocolate, with Swiss Lindt being my chocolate of choice. Even as a kid, I pretty much turned my prissy little nose up at chocolate, with one exception. Every year for Christmas, mom would put a few Russel Stover milk-chocolate toasted-coconut wreaths in my stocking. For Easter, milk-chocolate toasted-coconut bird's nests went in my basket. I love them to this day. While I didn't invent the idea for milk-chocolate toasted-coconut fudge, once I had a great base recipe for fudge,...... View full recipe for "~Milk-Chocolate and Toasted-Coconut Lover's Fudge~"

11/20/2019

~Dark Chocolate Lover's Killer Dark-Chocolate Fudge~

Everyone remembers their first bite of fudge -- that creamy, semi-soft confection made with corn syrup and/or sugar, butter, cream and flavoring. Hands-down, the most popular flavor is dark chocolate, with milk chocolate in second. Peanut butter, butterscotch, maple and vanilla are all contenders for the third spot. When I was growing up, Agnes was our next-door neighbor. She loved to bake, and throughout the years her sweet treats made their way to our table often. Every year, on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve, Agnes joined our family for dinner and graced our dessert table with a plate of fudge...... View full recipe for "~Dark Chocolate Lover's Killer Dark-Chocolate Fudge~ "

10/05/2019

~ Hungarian Gulyás: Beef, Vegetable & Paprika Soup ~

American-style goulash is made with ground beef and macaroni. It's tasty, it's filling, it's easy to prepare, and, has the added bonus of being kid-friendly. It's a stewy take on Hungarian goulash, but, aside from containing meat (originally ground beef, but nowadays chicken or turkey are sometimes substituted), a few vegetables (typically green bell pepper, onion and tomato sauce) and pasta (usually elbow-type macaroni or corkscrews), it all-too-often tastes resemblant of Italian-American spaghetti with meat sauce -- the flavor profile is hardly Hungarian. A not-so-short but informative bit about Hungarian Gulyás: Hungarian gulyás (pronounced goulēus and meaning herdsmen) is the...... View full recipe for "~ Hungarian Gulyás: Beef, Vegetable & Paprika Soup ~"

08/23/2019

~ Sweet, Succulent & Snowy-White King Crab Subs ~

When I was growing up, in addition to the deli-meat and cheese, on any given trip to the grocery store, my mom would purchase a container of creamy krab (not a typo) salad. At home, she'd scoop it onto cottony-soft 'burger rolls, open a bag of Wise potato chips, and lunch was served. As far as childhood memories for preprepared at the deli-counter salads or side-dishes go*, this store-bought mixture of imitation krab meat, mayo, lemon and paprika, was the singular mayo-based item that ever made it into our grocery cart. Why? Neither my mother or father cared one bit...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet, Succulent & Snowy-White King Crab Subs ~"

06/26/2019

~Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus Cocktail w/Lemon Dip~

How much would you pay for this in an upscale restaurant? About $8.00 as an appetizer? Perhaps $12.00 as a lunch entrée? Both sound fare to me, but, truth told, this small plate of happiness is so good I'd happily pay more. 'Tis true, rake my shrimp cocktail over some hot coals and I'll follow you anywhere -- and pay a tidy sum for it too. Add a few slices of grilled bread, uncork a bottle of white wine, and invite a few guests to join you too -- it's that impressive. For the pucker-up lemon sauce for seafood or...... View full recipe for "~Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus Cocktail w/Lemon Dip~"

06/07/2019

~ Spaghetti w/Crab, Asparagus, Tomato & Prosciutto ~

Light, bright and amazingly lemony, this lusciously-decadent, not to mention rich, restaurant-quality pasta dish is easy to prepare -- and it's pitch-perfect Summer fare. While the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and grape tomatoes roast for ten minutes and cool for five, the pasta gets cooked and seasoned. Toss the two together with high-quality crab claw meat, and lunch or dinner is served. No, just say NO, walk away from hard, grated or shaved, Italian cheese, soft fresh mozzarella or creamy ricotta, and please, don't roll your eyes. Once you savor the delicate flavors in the first forkful of crab and asparagus intermingled...... View full recipe for "~ Spaghetti w/Crab, Asparagus, Tomato & Prosciutto ~"

06/05/2019

~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~

When I was growing up, fresh asparagus was a delicacy, meaning, my family only ate it in the Spring, mostly for holidays and special occasions, or, when we reserved a table at a fancy restaurant -- restaurants had more access to it than the average American family during that era. That said, even in the restaurants back in the 1960's and '70's, it was always of the pencil-thin type, and, it was served either lightly steamed or briefly blanched. Thinking back, I suppose it was because these methods enhanced its color, which made for a prettier presentation. Indeed it tasted...... View full recipe for "~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~"

02/17/2019

~ Perfectly-Prepared Chicken and Mushroom Risotto ~

Risotto is traditional Italian cooking at its best. Risotto is more of a method than a recipe, and it requires respect. There are no two ways to make risotto. Make it right or it's not risotto. Don't deviate from the method, don't take shortcuts and don't make substitutions. Risotto cannot be rushed -- it requires patience. It cannot be made in advance, it needs to be carefully watched, methodically stirred, and served immediately. Risotto is done when it is done, and only the cook knows when it is done, but, when it is done right, it's a meal fit for...... View full recipe for "~ Perfectly-Prepared Chicken and Mushroom Risotto ~"

02/15/2019

~ No two ways about it: Make it right or it's not Risotto ~

Risotto is traditional Italian cooking at its best. Risotto is more of a method than a recipe, and it requires respect. There are no two ways to make risotto. Make it right or it's not risotto. Don't deviate from the method, don't take shortcuts and don't make substitutions. Risotto cannot be rushed -- it requires patience. It cannot be made in advance, it needs to be carefully watched, methodically stirred, and served immediately. Risotto is done when it is done, and only the cook knows when it is done, but, when it is done right, it's a meal fit for...... View full recipe for "~ No two ways about it: Make it right or it's not Risotto ~"

02/11/2019

~ Effortlessly-Regal No-Brainer Blackberry Clafoutis ~

I'm continually astonished by how many cooks have no idea what clafoutis is, or, assume from its name that it's hard to make. If I were to write The Big Book of No-Brainer Desserts, clafoutis would be on the cover. Whisk up a simple batter (eggs, cream or milk, sugar, salt, flour, melted butter and brandy or extract), pour it over some fresh fruit and bake. Cherries are the classic addition, with any type of berries, combination of berries, or tender stone fruit like apricots, plums and peaches being common substitutions. Currently, I'm secretly addicted to the one-pound boxes of...... View full recipe for "~ Effortlessly-Regal No-Brainer Blackberry Clafoutis ~"

01/25/2019

~Jamaican-Style Butter-Poached Lobsta Rasta Pasta~

Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of serving cheese or cheese sauces with fish or seafood, but, there are exceptions to every rule, so, for those who, like myself, do appreciate the divine goodness of dishes like lobster macaroni and cheese, you've gotta try my creamy-dreamy Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta with succulent, butter-poached lobster meat added to it. In the event you've never heard of rasta pasta, take a moment and read on: Rasta Pasta is a restaurant located in Colorado Springs, CO. The owners, the Taraborelli family, specialize in fusing two of the unlikeliest of culinary bedfellows:...... View full recipe for "~Jamaican-Style Butter-Poached Lobsta Rasta Pasta~"

11/23/2018

~ Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage Bundt-Pan Stuffing ~

Stuffing baked in a bundt pan makes for a picture-perfect presentation that brings a smile to everyone. From a practical standpoint, it feeds a crowd (or a small gathering of stuffing lovers) and it's very user-friendly: it easy to portion, slice and serve at the table or on the buffet line, and, slices are especially convenient on closed or open-faced turkey sandwiches. Stuffing slices can be wrapped, stacked and frozen too -- for those times when one has to have a slice of stuffing. Nicely-sliced stuffing is not new-to-me -- it's old-school brilliance. My grandmother always baked her stuffing in...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage Bundt-Pan Stuffing ~"

11/20/2018

~ Nicely-Sliced: Stuffing in a Bundt Pan Stuffing Ring ~

Nicely-sliced stuffing is not new-to-me -- it's old-school brilliance. My grandmother always baked her stuffing in two loaf pans because it was an efficient use of oven space. As a savvy cook, she figured out that two, high, narrow loaf pans took up less oven space than a low, shallow casserole while yielding about the same amount. Her stuffing loaves baked on either side of the roasting turkey with miscellaneous other casseroles strategically placed on the remaining upper rack. Some fun facts about making stuffing in a bundt pan: Making Thanksgiving stuffing in a 12-cup bundt pan does not take...... View full recipe for "~ Nicely-Sliced: Stuffing in a Bundt Pan Stuffing Ring ~"

10/03/2018

~ Time for Tapas: Spanish-Style Garlic-Lovers Shrimp ~

A small portion of any hot or cold, savory edible that can be eaten in just a few bites, forkfuls or slurps. Here in America, we call them "snacks". In Spain they're called "tapas". Like the American snack, anything can be a tapas if eaten in a small enough portion. In Spain, tapas is a style of eating, and going out for tapas is one of their most popular activities. When going out for tapas, you're not going out for dinner (although, if you eat enough tapas, they can be the equivalent of a meal). You start out eating tapas...... View full recipe for "~ Time for Tapas: Spanish-Style Garlic-Lovers Shrimp ~"

08/21/2018

~Crunchy Crabmeat Crostini w/Secret Seafood Sauce~

There's nothing like driving back from a trip to the Maryland shore with a few pounds of sweet blue crabmeat in a cooler in the back seat. The mind races with all the mouthwatering options to enjoy after you pull in the driveway. While fresh crab is best, happily, high-quality pasteurized crabmeat is available to us all all-year long, which makes my food world a kinder, gentler place. Beer-steaming live crabs and hand-cracking them to pick their meat, is, not a sport I partake in. Ugh. I don't even enjoy sitting at a crab shack in front of a newspaper-covered...... View full recipe for "~Crunchy Crabmeat Crostini w/Secret Seafood Sauce~"

07/07/2018

~ The Perfect 12-13-Minute, 2"-Thick, Grill-Pan Filet ~

Feel free to take your filet mignon into the great outdoors to cook it on the grill, but, I don't recommend it. Why? The filet, cut from the tenderloin and leanest, tenderest cut of beef, is the least likely to succeed over the dry, open flame of any seething-hot charcoal or gas grill grids. That said, indoors, on a grill pan, where it has a solid, steamy surface to sear itself above its own bubbling juices, the filet graduates at the head of its class -- with perfect, 4.0 grill marks too. 4, 8-9-ounce, 2"-thick USDA Choice Angus filet-mignon steaks....... View full recipe for "~ The Perfect 12-13-Minute, 2"-Thick, Grill-Pan Filet ~"

06/15/2018

~ Have a Blackberry-Cobbler Ice-Cream Kind of Day ~

Newsflash. Blue Bell, the Texas-based ice cream company, announced on Twitter, that its Southern Blackberry-Cobbler Ice Cream will be available in stores, for a limited time only, starting Monday, June 4th. This popular seasonal flavor consists of a creamy, blackberry-flavored vanilla ice cream with flaky pie crust pieces and blackberry sauce swirled throughout. Being a worshiper of the blackberry, under normal circumstances, this news would have caused me to race around town in an attempt to hoard as much of it as I could stuff into my freezer. It didn't. Why? Homemade blackberry-cobbler frozen custard + tips on adding fruit...... View full recipe for "~ Have a Blackberry-Cobbler Ice-Cream Kind of Day ~"

06/04/2018

~ Chinese-Style Tomato-Eggs: For Any Time of Day ~

The incredible, edible egg. For centuries, the Chinese recognized how good the protein-packed egg is. So much so, eggs are their symbol of the principals-of-life: "yin" being the white, "yang" being the yolk.* Eggs, colored or marbled, celebrate birth, restoration of good health, continued good-luck and/or future prosperity. Dating back to ancient times, eggs of any kind (chicken, duck quail and pigeon) were incorporated into meals all day long (fluffy scrambled tomato eggs, flan-like steamed eggs, omelette-esque egg fu young, wispy egg drop soup, vinegary pickled eggs, tea-flavored smoked eggs, etc.), with mushrooms and/or seafood being common additions. *Note: Yin...... View full recipe for "~ Chinese-Style Tomato-Eggs: For Any Time of Day ~"

05/25/2018

~ Spring Chicken w/Garlic-Butter Pasta & Asparagus ~

This winner of a weeknight chicken dinner is taken straight from pages of my working parents' playbook. Before heading out the door in the morning, my mom would put four chicken breasts, doused with store-bought Italian dressing, in a bowl, and, at the end of the work day, dad would dredge the breasts in bread crumbs and sauté them in a skillet, while mom cooked a box of kid-friendly pasta and readied some fresh green beans. It was simple and straightforward, nothing fancy, but, it was a dinner we all liked, right down to the vegetable. If we four could...... View full recipe for "~ Spring Chicken w/Garlic-Butter Pasta & Asparagus ~"

01/07/2018

~ Sausage, Apple & Herbed-Brie Breakfast Burgers ~

This morning I decided to go eggless -- it's a woman's perogative. I skipped the skillet and got out the grill pan. On this frigid January morning, I made what I affectionately refer to as: breakfast 'burgers. Six-ounce sausage patties topped with lightly-grilled apple slices and melty herbed Brie, served on toasted English muffins. I conjured up these ladylike, burger-esque breakfast sandwiches years ago. They're culinary proof that necessity is the mother of invention. Read on: We were enjoying an AM tailgate at Beaver Stadium. When I reached into the Igloo cooler to retrieve the eggs, I realized they hadn't...... View full recipe for "~ Sausage, Apple & Herbed-Brie Breakfast Burgers ~"

01/04/2018

~ Filling, Braiding & Baking Store-Bought Puff Pastry ~

Everyone loves a home-baked sweet or savory pie or quiche, but, for those times when you are out of time, or, just don't want to take the time, from appetizers to entrées to desserts, making a puff pastry braid using store-bought puff pastry is a valuable skill to have. As long as you play by the rules, they bake up perfectly 100% of the time. What are the rules? I'm glad you asked. My three basic rules/guidelines for filling a pastry braid: 1) With the exception of the obvious (any liquid or liquid concoction that pours or flows), any solid...... View full recipe for "~ Filling, Braiding & Baking Store-Bought Puff Pastry ~"

01/02/2018

~Swiss Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Puff Pastry Braid~

Imagine eating a freshly-baked, still-warm chocolate croissant at your favorite coffee shop. Just thinking about one of those divinely decadent indulgences makes me happy. Now imagine it super-sized, more than enough to feed four, with sweet cherries and crunchy almonds added to it too. Need I say more? Valentine's Day will be here before we know it, and, if you're looking to surprise the chocolate lover in your life with something truly sweet, stash the ingredients on this list in your pantry and freezer, then, start counting the days to February 14th. Tick, tock. From appetizers to entrées to desserts......... View full recipe for "~Swiss Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Puff Pastry Braid~"

12/31/2017

~ Sweet Sausage, Apple & Cheddar Puff Pastry Braid ~

We all have our favorite breakfast and brunch casserole recipes -- I'd be lost without mine. They taste great, they're easy to prepare, and, some can even be made ahead, but, let's face it: casseroles aren't elegant. They're low-key, family-style, comfort food -- the blue jeans of the food world. Newsflash: Occasionally, it's necessary to dress up -- and that extends to the food. If I told you I have a small repertoire of AM meals that make a stunning presentation, taste as good as they look, and, are relatively easy to prepare, would you want the recipes? I thought...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Sausage, Apple & Cheddar Puff Pastry Braid ~"

12/28/2017

~ Cloudberry Jam, Brie, Almond & Puff Pastry Braid ~

Circa 1980-1985 -- better known as the cloudberry jam period of my life. One of Joe's business associates (a man from Norway temporarily working here in Happy Valley) introduced us to a Norwegian specialty: small squares of grilled bread cheese topped with cloudberry jam. It was served as an appetizer at a cocktail hosted by Rolf and his Swedish wife. I fell in love with this cheesy treat immediately -- and said so. When I reciprocated the invitation, I was gifted a jar of the jam, a small brick of bread cheese and a package of stroopwaffes as a hostess...... View full recipe for "~ Cloudberry Jam, Brie, Almond & Puff Pastry Braid ~"

08/15/2017

~ Rich, Toasted Indian Basmati Rice Pudding (Kheer) ~

When it comes to worldly or exotic recipes, I always do my research and my best to keep them as close to authentic as I can. When it comes to Indian food, I always reply upon the advice of my four Indian girlfriends, and the woman who owns Krishan, Happy Valley's Indian grocery store, because you're all such good cooks. That said, when it comes to kheer, a delicately-spiced addictively-rich rice pudding dessert, if you're one of my Indian girlfriends, you might find yourself wincing in one or two spots while reading my recipe. Why? While the flavors in my...... View full recipe for "~ Rich, Toasted Indian Basmati Rice Pudding (Kheer) ~"

05/05/2017

~ Luxurious: Cod Bathed in EVOO w/Fresh Tomatoes ~

As a kid, I adored frozen fish sticks and canned stewed tomatoes -- I still do. That said, as a grownup, I much prefer the taste of a sweet, fresh, white fish fillet paired with a few acidic, fresh tomatoes. Sometimes I bake them together in parchment with thyme and some white wine, and sometimes I broil them drizzled with melted butter and a bit of lemon and pepper. Tonight I'm using a method similar to shallow poaching, except: extra-virgin olive oil is used in place of the traditional liquid. Today's recipe is simple enough to serve for a weeknight...... View full recipe for "~ Luxurious: Cod Bathed in EVOO w/Fresh Tomatoes ~"

01/12/2017

~ Classier Classic Clams (on the Halfshell) Casino ~

I've never gone to a casino for the sole purpose of gambling -- I've never even had the urge to. That said, thanks to more than a few of Joe's business trips I've been to Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City several times for days-at-a-time -- complete with gorgeous hotel rooms, tickets to live shows and dinners in fabulous restaurants. That said, casinos are indeed a glitzy, glamorous full-of-fun place to visit. They're akin to amusement parks for adults, and, just like the latter, "the bloom comes off the rose" rather quickly -- fun facades that suck up your bucks....... View full recipe for "~ Classier Classic Clams (on the Halfshell) Casino ~"

11/25/2016

~Time Out: Tomahawk Steak (Long Bone-In Ribeye)~

The tomahawk ribeye steak, also known as a "cowboy" or a "long bone-in" ribeye is a specialty cut that you assuredly won't find at your local supermarket. Without jest (no joke), I literally found one on my kitchen doorstep, leaning up against the kitchen/laundry room door, this very morning. I have a friend, Scott. He owns a few well-known Happy Valley restaurants (you locals all know who he is, and, he is one reason I get to call myself a cooking consultant). He likes to surprise me unexpectedly with unique ingredients occasionally. Today, while driving to and from his eateries,...... View full recipe for "~Time Out: Tomahawk Steak (Long Bone-In Ribeye)~"

11/20/2016

~ Easy Rosemary-Kissed Butternut Squash Bisque ~

This sinfully-simple, creamy-rich butternut squash bisque is one of my favorite go-to Turkey Day specialties. I don't serve it every year, but on years when my husband has harvested a bumper crop, it starts off our traditional feast. It looks pretty and tastes divine. There's more: It is indeed easy to prepare, and, it can be made two-three days in advance too. All it needs is a gentle reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave and it's ready to take to the table and serve. A bit about butternut squash: Butternut squash is one of our healthy super-foods. That’s...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Rosemary-Kissed Butternut Squash Bisque ~"

11/10/2016

~ Eggs a la Goldenrod or Creamed Eggs on Toast ~

Once upon a time, this vintage egg recipe was reserved for Easter breakfast or brunch. Why? It was a tasty way to make use of a dozen or so of those hard-cooked, pastel-colored eggs that got dyed by the children to celebrate the holiday. In my kitchen, eggs a la goldenrod is simply a delicious way to enjoy hard-cooked eggs, which I always keep on hand. Besides liking eggs a lot, as a busy food blogger and host of a TV segment, I hard-cook several eggs at the beginning of each week -- it's ten minutes well spent. I consider...... View full recipe for "~ Eggs a la Goldenrod or Creamed Eggs on Toast ~"

11/02/2016

~ Simply Divine: Chocolate Tart (Tarte au Chocolat) ~

Don't look now but the season of holiday entertaining and festive gatherings is quickly approaching. If you're like me, you're always "in the market" for another elegant yet easy-to-make dessert to serve at your own get-together or take to someone else's. A chocolate tart is a perfect ending to any occasion, and, in the case of this recipe, it doesn't require the skills of a trained pastry chef -- feel free to keep that a secret and let 'em think you slaved all day over it. "Tarte au Chocolate" -- No special skills required. A chocolate tart, or as they...... View full recipe for "~ Simply Divine: Chocolate Tart (Tarte au Chocolat) ~"

10/27/2016

~ Pucker up for French Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron) ~

One thing I love about the late Fall and Winter is the vibrant-colored citrus fruit. Because it's available all year long, a lot of folks don't realize that citrus fruit (lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges) are in fact "winter fruit". This year, for some reason, the citrus fruit I've been purchasing, is extra-over-the-top, plump, tart 'n sweet and juicy. I've been eating grapefruit every morning, putting orange segments in our salads, lime slices in my gin and tonics, and, today I'm baking a lemon tart for dessert. Tarte au citron is a classic French dessert and every patisserie (bakery) in...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker up for French Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron) ~"

10/08/2016

~ Classic Pommes Anna: The Ultimate Potato Cake ~

This just might be the most impressive potato dish ever placed on a fancy-schmancy dining room table. It's a gorgeous golden cake constructed of layers of ultra-thin-sliced potatoes that have been baked in the oven (just like a cake layer) and turned out onto a serving plate. When sliced into wedges, each person gets a pretty, pie-sized wedge of potato heaven: buttery-rich, nicely-and-lightly seasoned potatoes, with a crispy golden crust and a soft tender center. Impressive to look at & surprisingly simple to make. While pommes Anna does take a bit of time to make, for a French dish, it...... View full recipe for "~ Classic Pommes Anna: The Ultimate Potato Cake ~"

10/02/2016

~ Duchess Potatoes (Pommes de Terre Duchesse) ~

Mashed potatoes are the quintessential American side-dish for the Sunday roast or pot roast and the gravy that comes with it. While there are a lot of ways to prepare potatoes, the ethereal smell of a chicken roasting in the oven or a pot roast simmering on the stovetop compels me to peel potatoes and bring a pot of water to a boil. To us Americans, mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food, and duchess potatoes, a fancy French-named mashed potato dish made of piped egg-laced mashed potatoes which are baked to a beautiful golden brown, is an impressive-to-look at,...... View full recipe for "~ Duchess Potatoes (Pommes de Terre Duchesse) ~"

09/20/2016

~ Joe's Steak Joseph: Filet of Beef-Steak Sandwich ~

The French have several ways to generically say "steak". My personal favorite is "biftek", meaning "boneless beef-steak". If there is a bone in it, they call it a "côte de boeuf", meaning "beef-chop". Past that, just like us Americans, they have a list of words each denoting the specific cut (the place on the steer the meat came from). That said, when you order any type of beef-steak or beef-chop in a French restaurant, whether it's plain, seasoned, served with a sauce or served with sliced vegetables that act as a sauce, it is customary to serve it with some...... View full recipe for "~ Joe's Steak Joseph: Filet of Beef-Steak Sandwich ~ "

09/18/2016

~ The Old-Fashioned & Classic Banana Cream Pie ~

Put down that box of graham crackers. No you can't use those vanilla wafers either. Thou shall not use a graham cracker or any cookie crust to make my banana cream pie recipe. These two easier-to-make (or worse, easier to purchase) alternatives simply screw up the taste and texture of this iconic pie. A classically made banana cream pie deserves a scratch-made pie pastry, a traditionally-prepared pastry cream, lots of bananas, and, copious amounts of freshly-whipped cream. Save the cookie crusts for recipes that use instant pudding mixes. Got it? Good. Nothing about a banana cream pie should be understated...... View full recipe for "~ The Old-Fashioned & Classic Banana Cream Pie ~"

09/15/2016

~ The Old-Fashioned Classic Coconut Custard Pie ~

When I was growing up, two trucks pulled into my family's driveway twice a week (and they weren't FedEx or UPS which didn't even exist then). They were: The milk man and the baker. The milk man delivered milk, butter, eggs, sour cream and some cheeses. The baker delivered bread, sandwich rolls, cakes, pies and cookies. In the case of both, via a paper checklist, you ordered on a Tuesday what you wanted delivered on Saturday, and you ordered on Saturday what you wanted delivered on Tuesday. When mom said it was my turn to pick a dessert, it was...... View full recipe for "~ The Old-Fashioned Classic Coconut Custard Pie ~"

07/17/2016

~ Lobster Rolls: The Official Summertime Sandwich ~

For a bib-wearing lobster-lover like me, past steaming-hot with drawn butter and lemon, when I am looking to quell a craving for my favorite crustacean, I indulge in a lobster roll -- a sandwich with big chunks of tender, sweet-white-meat and tiny bits of celery or scallions, lightly-coated with creamy mayonnaise and piled into a buttery, toasted 'hot dog' roll. It's heaven. On bread. Yes, from bisque to thermidore, you will find a lengthy list of recipes paying homage to the preparation of this beloved cold-water creature, but, none result in the comfort and complete satisfaction that comes over me...... View full recipe for "~ Lobster Rolls: The Official Summertime Sandwich ~"

07/12/2016

~ Skillet-Roasted Baby Carrots & Potato Medallions ~

Twelve minutes. Yes, in a skillet, in twelve short minutes, you can roast elegant-looking sweet-tasting fork-tender baby carrots and potato medallions. I roast all sorts of vegetables in the oven when I'm cooking for a crowd (if one is serving roasted meat, poultry and gravy, one can never roast too many vegetables), but, when I'm only cooking for Joe and myself, I turn to my skillet on my stovetop instead of my oven. It's a super-speedy method with a super-delicious outcome. While you can successfully roast all sorts of vegetables in a skillet on the stovetop, you can only combine...... View full recipe for "~ Skillet-Roasted Baby Carrots & Potato Medallions ~"

07/10/2016

~ Oh My Goddess of the Hunt: Divine Steak Diane ~

One upon a time, Joe and I used to go up to the top of Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh (the point overlooking the city and the location where the three rivers meet (the Monongahela, the Allegheny and the Ohio), to eat in an upscale French restaurant named Christopher's (currently The Monterey Bay Fish Grotto). During that period of time, Joe did enough of business in Pittsburgh that we got to eat there a few times a year. He in a suit and tie, I in a dress and heels, through the doors we walked. Their food was divine, the view...... View full recipe for "~ Oh My Goddess of the Hunt: Divine Steak Diane ~"

05/12/2016

~ Rich & Creamy Celery Soup (Isn't Ho-Hum at All) ~

Celery. It's the swizzle stick in my Bloody Mary, a must have in my egg, tuna and potato salad, and, send back those Buffalo wings if they don't come with a crudité of celery and some blue cheese dip. That said, in my food world, celery is not considered an exciting vegetable. No one ever gleefully remarks, "my Bloody Mary had the best stalk of celery in it", "the celery in her tuna salad was divine", or, "the celery that came with his chicken wings was outstanding". Celery, however, is one of the world's most used vegetables, coming from the...... View full recipe for "~ Rich & Creamy Celery Soup (Isn't Ho-Hum at All) ~"

04/17/2016

~ Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate-Raspberry Tart Bars ~

The purchase of a few rectangular- and square-shaped tart pans were some of the best baking investments I've ever made. When it comes to serving crumbly cookie-type crusted tarts with custardy-textured centers, I find portioning and slicing a tart into bars or squares, instead of wedges from a round-shaped pan, more "user friendly" -- it's a kind of unique presentation too. There's more: When I'm making tarts that require refrigeration, I find these shapes to be a more efficient use of refrigerator space -- which, in my kitchen, is valuable real estate. "Tarte au chocolat" -- no special skills required!...... View full recipe for "~ Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate-Raspberry Tart Bars ~"

04/07/2016

~ Tender Steak Scallops w/Herbed Mustard Sauce ~

"This is Steak Diane". That's what I said to our "twenty-something" waiter in a steakhouse not long ago. I was generically expressing my pleasure at seeing a blast-from-my-past, famous-and-favorite steak dish on a millennial restaurant menu. My comment didn't require a response. That said, it did prompt a polite, ever-so-slight nod-of-agreement, accompanied by a "if you say so lady, but I have no idea what you are talking about" look. This lead me to conclude: Steak Diane has skipped a generation or two of Americans. A bit about Steak Diane: Prepared using common French techniques, the dish isn't French --...... View full recipe for "~ Tender Steak Scallops w/Herbed Mustard Sauce ~"

03/27/2016

~ 'Ye Olde' Diner-Style Creamed-Spinach Omelette ~

The French omelette is iconic, but, miracle of miracles, we Americans actually improved it. By allowing our omelette to get a little golden on the outside, which gives it a bit of extra flavor and texture, and, by generously filling it with a heavenly host of filling combos, egg lovers like me have turned the omelette into the hot pocket of beloved egg dishes. While I make quite a few omelettes during the course of any year, classic recipes with a clear history, popular breakfast-joint favorites, and, recipes with eggs-traordinary stories are the only ones I share. For example. My...... View full recipe for "~ 'Ye Olde' Diner-Style Creamed-Spinach Omelette ~"

03/18/2016

~ Classic Coquilles St. Jacques (Gratin of Scallops) ~

Once upon a time in Happy Valley we had a fancy-schmancy resort restaurant called LePapillon. As the name implies, it specialized in French cuisine. If you were into a swanky, suit-and-tie, heels-and-hose, Saturday-night-date-place to enjoy a wonderful meal while listening to the best grand piano player in the area, and, take in a breathtaking sunset, this is where you went. For a period of about ten years, Joe and I frequented the place often, and, I arranged for many family celebrations and business gatherings to be held there. Times change, people change, and, back in the late 1990's, when they...... View full recipe for "~ Classic Coquilles St. Jacques (Gratin of Scallops) ~"