Saturday, February 28, 2009

FAREWELL FEBRUARY! ~ BLACK FOREST CHEESECAKE

"February makes a bridge and March breaks it."

~ February memories
___________
BLACK FOREST CHEESECAKE
~ Rich reminder ... enjoy the remains of each day!
(thanks ... The Connoisseur UP NORTH and Reflections)
_____
Crust:
2 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
2 1/2 oz. melted butter
Mix butter & crumbs. Spray cheesecake pan. Press in mixture.
Cheesecake:
2 lbs. room temperature cream cheese
1/2 cup flour
6 oz. chopped dark chocolate
1 lb. powdered sugar
8 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
  • Preheat oven to 275-degrees.
  • Add cream cheese in processor and blend 5 minutes on low speed. Add sugar and mix 5 more minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add flour and mix 5 more minutes. Scraped down sides of bowl. Add eggs one at a time, continuing to mix at low speed, pausing after each to scrape sides of bowl. Add vanilla and fold in chopped chocolate.
  • Pour mixture into prepared crust.
  • Bake in water bath (just a pan of water placed into an oven. The hot water provides a constant, steady heat source and ensures even, slow cooking) for 2 and 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and let cake rest 1 hour before removing from pan. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.

Cherry Sauce:

3 cups canned dark sweet cherries

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 cup cherry brandy

2 Tbsp. water

Prepare paste of cornstarch and water. Bring cherries & brandy to boil, add cornstarch paste and stir until sauce thickens.

Friday, February 27, 2009

PRIMROSE ... A PROMISE OF SPRING ~ MUSSEL and CORN CHOWDER / MICHIGAN CHERRY MUFFINS

"Winter is on my head,
but eternal spring is in my heart."
~ Victor Hugo

Primrose
(February Flower of the Month)
__________________
MUSSEL and CORN CHOWDER
~ A treasured recipe from chef Milos Cihelka (The Golden Mushroom)
18 mussels
1/2 cup white wine
few parsley stems
15 cruised peppercorns
1/2 sprig thyme
4 minced shallots
1 crushed garlic clove
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off, set aside
1/3 cup sliced leeks
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced onion
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth
mussel juice
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. chopped chives
  • Soak mussels in cold water for 1 hour, drain and rinse in fresh water.
  • In stainless steel saucepan, bring to boil the wine, parsley, shallots, garlic and herbs. Add mussels, cover tightly and, over high heat, steam just until mussels open. Remove from hear, drain juice and reserve. Allow mussels to cool, remove from shells, beard them and cut in halves.
  • In heavy saucepan, melt butter, add vegetables and saute until transparent; dust with flour, stir for 2 minutes, add broth and mussel juice, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, place in blender and puree.
  • Put back on heat, add corn and bring to a boil; add cream and mussels, reheat. Sprinkle with chives before serving. (6 servings)
_________________
MICHIGAN CHERRY MUFFINS
~ Old favorite clipped from Detroit Free Press
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup melted butter cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 1/2 cups pitted and halved Michigan cherries
(or defrosted and drained frozen)
  • Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Spray muffin cups with non-stick vegetable spray.
  • In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In second medium bowl, stir together egg, butter, sour cream and milk. Mix wet and dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold cherries into batter. Fill muffin tins.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes. (10-12 muffins)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

'BREAK - FAST' ~ BANANA BREAD FRENCH TOAST

“The best of all medicines is resting and fasting."
~ Benjamin Franklin


~ Michigan Sunrise
(Leelanau Peninsla)
_________
BANANA BREAD FRENCH TOAST
~ Treasured retro-recipe compliments of chef/owner Keith Famie (past Les Auteurs Restaurant -Royal Oak, MI)
__________
Banana bread:
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup room temp unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (about 2) mashed ripe bananas
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
French Toast:
4 large eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp. butter
Michigan Maple syrup
______________
  • Banana Bread: Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Generously butter 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Sift first 3 ingredients into small bowl. Cream butter in large bowl until light. Gradually beat in sugar then adding eggs, 1 at a time. Add mashed bananas and lemon juice and beat until well blended. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix in pecans. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until center comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out and cool. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead, wrap tightly and refrigerate.) Cut bread into 3/4-inch slices.
  • French Toast: Preheat oven to low. Whisk eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla and spices in large bowl until blended. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Place sliced bread in batter and turn to coat thoroughly. Add bread to skillet, cooking until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer slices to cookie sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining bread slices and batter in batches, adding more butter to skillet as necessary. Serve French toast, passing warm maple syrup. (6 servings)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

YEA ... IT'S 'PACZKI DAY' (FAT TUESDAY)! ~ PACZKI


"Aw yes ... Paczki Day!"
______________
PACZKI
~ Recipe compliments of
Bobak Sausage Company
(Have NEVER ... EVER made these ...
but throughout the years, eaten plenty)
_______
Dough:
4 cup flour
2 oz. yeast
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
6 egg yolks
a pinch of salt
1 jar plum jam
1 tsp. rum
2 tsp. finely chopped candied orange peel
Glaze:
1 cup sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
Frying:
1 3/4 lb. lard
  • Mix the yeast with 1 Tbsp. sugar and a few Tbsp. lukewarm milk. Cover with a towel and leave in a warm place.
  • Sift the flour, add a pinch of salt. Mix egg yolks with sugar until almost white, add to flour and yeast, pour in the rest of the milk and the rum, and mix using a mixer until all ingredients are well combined and the dough is smooth. When almost ready, slowly add melted butter or cooking oil and candied orange peel. When the dough has absorbed all the butter or margarine and comes off of the sides of the mixer, cover with a towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour.
  • When the dough has doubled in volume, roll it out into a 1/ 2-inch sheet of dough and cut out circles using a glass. Place a little jam on each circle, cover with another circle, pinch the edges together well and arrange the doughnuts evenly on a floured breadboard. When they rise
  • Melt the lard in a low wide pot and check if ready, dropping in a piece of dough. If it rises immediately to the surface and is nicely browned, you can drop in the doughnuts, a few at a time so they do not stick together, bottom side up, and slowly fry covered on a medium flame. Turn over browned doughnuts and fry uncovered a little while. Take out ready doughnuts with a sharp stick or a slotted spoon and place on a few paper towels to get rid of excess grease, then cover with lemon glaze.
  • Glaze: Add 1/2 c. water to sugar and simmer until threads can be drawn from the spoon. Take off the flame, let cool and mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture is white, then add lemon juice, and some warm water if needed, to obtain the consistency of thick sour cream. Doughnuts may be sprinkled with powdered sugar instead of glaze.
______________________
_____________________
Perhaps last year's Shrove Tuesday
might tempt you!
__________

Monday, February 23, 2009

MONDAY MUSING (MARDI GRAS - 'A BUTTERFLY OF WINTER') ~ FIERY LEMON CAJUN SHRIMP

"Carnival is a butterfly of winter whose last real flight of Mardi Gras forever ends his glory. Another season is the season of another butterfly, and the tattered, scattered, fragments of rainbow wings are in turn the record of his day."

~ Perry Young


~ Fragile Wings

( my garden and Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory)

________________

FIERY LEMON CAJUN SHRIMP
~ a delicious real New Orleans, peel & eat, treat
_______
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
4 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. coarse cracked black pepper
1 tsp. sea salt
3 lbs. unpeeled large shrimp
2 thinly sliced lemons
French bread
  • Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
  • Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in garlic, rosemary, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper.
  • Pour half of sauce in bottom of large shallow baking dish. Layer with 1/2 of the shrimp and 1 thinly sliced lemon. Repeat with second layer of shrimp and remaining lemon slices. Pour remaining sauce over dish and bake, uncovered for 20-25 minutes, turning once halfway through, until shrimp turn pink.
  • Place in center of table (with bowls for discarded tails), offering plenty of French bread for dipping into the spicy sauce. (serves 6)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

'SNOWMAN'S ANNIVERSARY' ... CHICKEN SOUP with RICE

In February
it will be
my snowman's
anniversary
with cake for him
and soup for me!

Happy once
happy twice
happy chicken soup
with rice.

~ Maurice Sendak
(CHICKEN SOUP WITH RICE)


~ My Snowman
_____________

CHICKEN SOUP WITH RICE
(serves 4 so double for hearty eaters)


2 cups uncooked brown rice or Lundberg Country Wild

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 large chopped onion

3 minced garlic cloves

8 oz. fresh stemmed shitake or baby bella mushrooms

8 cups organic chicken stock

1 Tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary (1 tsp. dried)

1 (15-oz.) can drained and rinsed chickpeas or cannellini beans

1 (15-ounce) bag baby spinach leaves

2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup freshly ground Parmesan cheese

  • Cook rice in 4 cups of chicken broth or water about 30 minutes. Set aside.
  • In heavy stockpot, saute onion in olive oil until tender. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining broth and rosemary. Bring to boil and remove from heat.
  • Add cooked rice (all or reserve some), chickpeas, cooked chicken and spinach. Carefully return to boil. Watch for spinach to wilt and add season with coarse salt and cracked pepper.
  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. (Reheat gently as needed to keep spinach green)


Friday, February 20, 2009

'MARDI GRAS' ORCHID PARADE ~ SHELLFISH GUMBO

"There's a thing I've dreamed of all my life, and I'll be damned if it don't look like it's about to come true—to be King of the Zulu's parade. After that, I'll be ready to die."
~ Louis Armstrong
( Time magazine, February 21, 1949)


~ 'Mardi Gras' orchids*
(life ... lives on)
___________________

SHELLFISH GUMBO

~ from a fav source, Legal Sea Foods Cookbook, comes this slightly adapted (with the addition of herbs) peasant dish, perfect for 'Mardi Gras' and the upcoming season of Lent

_________

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil (preferably grape seed)

2 Tbsp. toasted unbleached, all-purpose flour*

1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped sweet onions

3/4 cup chopped celery

1 lb. (1/4-inch sliced) okra (frozen is fine)

1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded chopped tomatoes

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 bay leaf

6 cups hot fish, shrimp or chicken stock

1-2 tsp. chopped garlic

1-1/1/2 lbs. peeled shrimp

8 oz. fresh (picked over for shells & cartilage) crabmeat

1 pint fresh shucked oysters

hot pepper sauce

salt (opt)

  • Heat oil in large pot and stir in flour over medium-high heat until flour is absorbed. Add onions & celery (the flour will stick to vegetables). Continue cooking roux, stirring constantly until vegetables wilt slightly. Add okra, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, and stock. Stir until stock comes to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for at least 45 minutes, uncovered. Stir in garlic (gumbo at this point may be refrigerated for 1-2 days).
  • Check consistency and thin gumbo with water or additional stock if necessary. Before serving, bring to boil and add shrimp, crabmeat, and shucked oysters. Cook mixture no longer the 1-2 minutes, depending upon size of shrimp and oysters. Do not overcook. Season with hot sauce and salt to taste. Ladle over rice. (You can add add cooked andouille sausage, ham, chicken or bacon but all shellfish is a favorite.)

*Note: To make toasted flour, spread 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour in baking dish. Roast in preheated 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until light beige color (it darkens when mixed with fat). Cool and (if wished) whirl in blender to remove lumps. Store (refrigerated) in covered jar.

___________

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

UNTIL SPRING SPRINGS! ... INDOOR GARDEN JOY ~ (WORDLESS WEDNESDAY)

"Plants in pots are like animals in a zoo--they're totally dependent on their keepers."



~ Indoor Garden Joy
(cyclamen, white rose, primrose, daisy mum)


~ Reblooming cyclamen


~ African Violet


Monday, February 16, 2009

'AMERICAN HEART MONTH' ~ 'HEART SMART' PERFECT PROTEIN SALAD

"We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are. "
(1904 - 1974)
~ Dicentra 'Gold Heart' *
________________

PERFECT PROTEIN SALAD
~ Favorite retro-health food salad (and ideal Lenten dish) adapted through the years from 1977 MOOSEWOOD COOKBOOK
_____
3/4 cup dry soybeans (soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight)
3/4 cup dry wheat or rye berries (soaked at least 30 minutes)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
juice and zest of 1 lemon
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh dill (2 tsp. dried)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 minced cloves garlic
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup cottage cheese (drain if too much liquid)
4 minced scallions
1 minced large carrot
1 seeded and minced English cucumber
1 minced red, yellow or orange pepper
1/2 cup minced celery
sliced radishes
chopped black olives
alfalfa sprouts (opt)
sliced tomato
(add or subtract veggies of choice)
  • Place soaked soybeans and wheat/rye berries in large pan and cover with water. Bring to boil, partially cover, and simmer until tender (1-1/4 hours). When soybeans are crunchy-tender and grains chewy-tender, rinse in a colander and drain well. Transfer to large bowl.
  • Combine everything else and mix well with cooked soybeans and wheat/rye berries.
  • Serve garnished with ripe tomato slices ... also yummy stuffed in pita bread and topped with sprouts. (6-8 servings)
____________
* Gardener's Note: This brilliant 'old-fashioned' bleeding heart POPS in a shade garden . Surprisingly hearty with long lasting blooms, its sunny leaves will glow throughout spring and summer.

Friday, February 13, 2009

'A WHITE ROSE BREATHES OF LOVE' ~ MOULES A LA MARINIERE / FROZEN WHITE CHOCOLATE PIE with RASPBERRIES





MOULES A LA MARINIERE
(Fresh mussels steamed in white wine & herbs)
~ A favorite simple romantic Valentine dinner (Julia knows)
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
_________
6 quarts scrubbed and debearded mussels
2 cups light, dry white wine
or 1 cup vermouth
1/2 cup minced shallots (or green onions)
8 parsley sprigs
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. freshly cracked pepper
6 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Bring wine to boil in 8-10 quart kettle with shallots, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, cracked pepper and butter. Boil 2-3 minutes to evaporate alcohol and reduce volume slightly.
  • Add mussels to kettle. Cover tightly and boil quickly over high heat. With thumbs clamped to cover, frequently toss mussels up and down with slightly jerky motion so mussels change levels and cook evenly. In about 5 minutes the shells will swing open and mussels are done. (Discard any that are still closed.)
  • With big skimmer, dip mussels into wide soup plates. Allow cooking liquid to settle for a moment (any sand will sink to bottom). Ladle liquid over mussels, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately with crusty French bread, butter and a lightly chilled bottle of dry white wine such as Muscadet, dry Graves, or one of the Pouillys. (6-8 servings)

____________

FROZEN WHITE CHOCOLATE PIE WITH RASPBERRIES

Almond crust:
9 oz. (1 1 /4 cup) blanched toasted almonds
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

Grease 9-inch glass pie plate. Chop almonds into 2-3 pieces each. Transfer to bowl with butter and corn syrup. Stir and spoon into prepared plate. Press onto bottom and up sides. Freeze.

Filling:
10 oz. coarsely chopped white chocolate
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup evaporated milk
3 Tbsp. creme de cacao
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 3/4 cups whipping cream
2 room temperature egg whites
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cups raspberries
  • Melt chocolate and butter with milk in double boiler over simmering water. Stir until smooth. Remove and set in bowl filled with water & ice. Let cool until thick and paste like; stir occasionally. Blend in liqueur, vanilla and extract.
  • Beat cream until stiff peaks form. Gently beat in chocolate mixture. Beat whites with clean dry beaters until soft peaks form. Add sugar 1 Tbsp. at a time and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold gently into chocolate-cream mixture. Pour evenly into crust. Freeze until firm but not hard, about 5 hours.
  • Mound raspberries in center of pie leaving 2-inch border. (8 servings)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

'HAPPY 200th BIRTHDAY', DEAR PRESIDENT!

"A Government of the people,
by the people
and for the people,
shall not perish from the earth."
(1809-1865)




But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

TEMPTATION FROM THE DARKER SIDE ~ COUNTESS TOULOUSE-LAUTREC'S FRENCH CHOCOLATE CAKE

"All of the evil that people have thrust upon chocolate is really more deserved by milk chocolate, which is essentially contaminated. The closer you get to a pure chocolate liquor (the chocolate essence ground from roasted cacao beans) the purer it is, the more satisfying it is, the safer it is, and the healthier it is."

(The Darker Side of Chocolate)




COUNTESS TOULOUSE-LAUTREC'S FRENCH CHOCOLATE CAKE
~ a perennial favorite, perfect for Valentine's Day, adapted from MAIDA HEATTER'S BOOK OF GREAT CHOCOLATE DESSERTS
_____________
1 lb. good semisweet chocolate
5 oz. (1 1/4 sticks) room temperature sweet butter
4 extra-large eggs, separated
1 Tbsp. unsifted all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • In an 8-inch springform pan, cut a round waxed or parchment paper to fit the bottom. Butter one side of paper and the sides of the pan (not the bottom). Place buttered paper in pan, buttered side up, and clamp shut.
  • In top of double boiler, place coarsely chopped chocolate. Melt over simmering water, stirring occasionally with rubber spatula. Add 1/3 of butter at a time, each addition completely melted before adding next. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • In small bowl beat egg yolks at high speed for 5-7 minutes, until pale and thick. Add Tbsp. of flour and beat on low only to incorporate. Gently fold beaten egg yolks to into chocolate.
  • In another clean bowl, beat egg whites and salt until whites hold a soft shape. Add sugar and beat until whites hold definite shape but not too stiff or dry. Fold one-half beaten whites into chocolate -- don't be too thorough. Fold chocolate into remaining whites, handling gently until blended. Turn into prepared pan and rotate to level batter.
    Bake for 15 minutes. Cake will be soft (only 1 inch high in middle, rim higher and cracked ~ you'll think it's not done but don't worry). With a small sharp knife, carefully cut around side of hot cake, but don't remove sides. Let cake stand in pan until room temperature. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
  • To remove, cut around sides again with small sharp knife. Remove sides. Carefully insert a narrow spatula and invert on serving plate. Glaze with ganache (or top with toasted sliced almonds or a fine dusting of cocoa).

GANACHE

In double boiler (or glass bowl over water), melt 6 ounces coarsely chopped good semi-sweet chocolate with 2 ounces heavy cold cream until fully melted. Whisk in 2-4 ounces more cold heavy cream until smooth and shiny. Add 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter. If mixture becomes too thick, heat gently. Cover sides first then spread generous amount on top.
Bon appetit!
Note: Holds up well when frozen

Monday, February 09, 2009

FEBRUARY FULL MOON & VELVETY VIOLET 'FLOWER OF THE MONTH'

"The moon looks upon many night flowers;
the night flowers see but one moon."
(Songs of the Night Watches)


~ February Full Moon & Violet (flower of the month)

Namebini-giizis - 'Sucker Moon'

(Ojibwe)

^^^^^^^^

February Moon

The Full Moon of February occurs on the 9th at 9:49 AM EST. It is known as the "Wolf, Snow, or Hunger Moon." It was the "Trapper's Moon" to Colonial Americans and the "Storm Moon " for medieval English. Chinese refer to it as the "Budding Moon", and for the Celts it was the "Moon of Ice". Anishnaabe (Chippewa and Ojibwe) know it as "Namebini-giizis" (Sucker Moon).

___________________________

The February full moon falls at 14:49 Universal Time today.
That’s 8:49 a.m. in the central U.S. Every full moon takes place at the same instant for everyone all around the world – but your clock time for the full moon varies by your time zone.


To look full to us, the moon has to be opposite the sun. That moment when it’s most opposite the sun for the month marks the instant of full moon – and that instant has to come at different hours on the clock, all around the globe.


For the west coast of the US, for example, the moon reaches the crest of its full phase around sunrise this morning. At this same full moon instant, it’s high noon today in eastern Brazil, and midnight in Japan and Australia. Still, no matter where you live, watch for the full-looking moon dominant from dusk till dawn.

And remember that – at every instant, like at the instant of today’s full moon – the globe of Earth is always half-illuminated by sunlight and half-engulfed in shadow. Earth has a day side and a night side. At any moment, there’s always a sunrise and sunset someplace on Earth. Around now, a full moon will shine in the east at sundown – for all parts of Earth.
Astronomers use Universal Time use Universal Time as their standard. It corresponds to standard clock time at the prime meridian of 0 degrees longitude, which runs through Greenwich, England.


The full moon for February 9, 2009 comes 14:49 Universal Time (9:49 Eastern Time; 8:49 Central Time; 7:49 Mountain Time; 6:49 Pacific Time)





Saturday, February 07, 2009

R.S.V.P. DINNER PARTY AT EIGHT! ~ DREAM 'FLOW BLUE' DINNER

NOTE FROM KAREN HALL (An Artist's Garden)~
The date Saturday 7th February
The venue VP’s blog and your own blog
The event A dinner party
___________________

Guest List:
Guest of honor: Karen Hall
(Artist, Embroiderer, Designer Maker, and Gardener - Dyffryn Ardudwy, Wales)
Vincent van Gogh
Henry David Thoreau
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Claude Monet
Anne La Flamme



Vincent van Gogh

Henry David Thoreau


Rembrandt


Claude Monet

Anne La Flamme
(Garden Mentor)

_______________________


MENU:

NASTURTIUMS FILLED with GUACAMOLE

CREAMY MOREL SOUP

TYROLEAN BEEF TENDERLOIN

DEEP DARK CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

(A click on above will take you to the recipe)


~ 'Flow Blue' Dinner Party

(click on Flow Blue for history on this charming china )

The 'best of the best' for a night to remember!

______________

Note: A rush to get dinner on the table for my honored guests by 8:00, left much unsaid. First, thanks dear Karen, who honored me at 'Mrs. Grumpy's' feast ... then the delightful meme at veg Plotting ... a creative day for sure ... give it a try! Each guest was chosen, not only to delight my honored guest, an artist herself, but because they have all held my heart throughout my life. Click on each name to discover wonders for yourself (my photographs speak in praise of those who have lived before me) and click on the food, chosen with each in mind ... the chocolate cheesecake, on Karen's request. Though only 3-5 guests were to be invited, once my mother knew Monet was coming (not only for his artistic hand but love of food), she insisted on being included, and rightly so. Though she has not touched this earth in over 34 years, she lives beside me ... my first garden mentor, knowing gardening was a good thing simply watching her smile, wiping her freckled nose coming in from the garden and then again watching her magic hand in the kitchen.

Friday, February 06, 2009

'SMALL MIRACLES' (BLOOMING FRIDAY) ~ JARLSBERG TARTS

"Miracles never cease to amaze me.
I expect them, but their consistent arrival is always delightful to experience."


~ Small miracle
(Reblooming cymbidium)
______________
JARLSBERG TARTS
~ Rich custardy appetizer or delightful compliment to fresh green/fruit luncheon salad
______________
2 packages Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1 lb. crisp & crumbled bacon
1 lb. shredded Jarlsberg cheese
1 cup whipping cream
3 eggs
1 bunch chopped fine green onions
Lawry's Seasoned Pepper
  • Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
  • Butter small muffin tins. Cut each crescent into 3 pieces and press each 1/3 into bottom and sides of muffin cup. Sprinkle each with bacon & shredded cheese.
  • Beat eggs & whipping cream. Add seasoned pepper and divide filling over each muffin cup. Sprinkle with chopped onion.
  • Bake until puffy and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. (24 small tarts)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

'HEART SMART' FEBRUARY (NATIONAL CHERRY and AMERICAN HEART MONTH) ~ CHERRY OATMEAL BREAD

~ Yoshino Cherry blossoms
___________________
CHERRY OATMEAL BREAD

~ Heart smart oatmeal and cherries, a good way to begin the day

________________

2 cups flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup rolled oats

2 organic eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup dried cherries

  • Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & sugar into a large bowl. Stir in rolled oats.
  • Beat eggs in a bowl. Add oil and milk and mix well and incorporate into flour mixture, mixing well. Add dried cherries.
  • Pour into greased 5x9 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing. (10 servings)

---------------

___________________

The tart cherry has an amazing history that is intertwined with Michigan. The first tart cherry tree was planted in 1852 by Peter Dougherty, a Presbyterian missionary living on Old Mission Peninsula (near Traverse City, Michigan.)
Much to the surprise of the other farmers and Indians who lived in the area, Dougherty's tart cherry farm and trees flourished and soon other residents of the area started their very own cherry farms. The area proved to be ideal for growing sweet and tart cherries because Lake Michigan tempers Arctic winds in winter and cools the orchards in summer.The first commercial tart cherry orchards in Michigan were planted in 1893 on Ridgewood Farm near the site of Dougherty's original plantings. By the early 1900s, the tart cherry industry was firmly established in the state with orchards not only in the Traverse City area, but all along Lake Michigan from Benton Harbor to Elk Rapids. Soon production surpassed other major crops. The first cherry processing facility, Traverse City Canning Company, was built just south of Traverse City, and the ruby-red tart cherry fruit was soon shipped to Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee.
The Montmorency is the primary variety of tart cherry. It was planted in the early orchards and is still used today. The fruit is excellent for pies, preserves and juice. The newest American variety of tart cherry is the Balaton. Dr. Amy Iezzoni developed this tart cherry variety at Michigan State University. It currently has limited production, but has great potential for the fresh market and for juice.
Sweet and tart cherries have pleased the palates of food lovers for centuries. Their ruby-red color and tangy taste won cherries a place on the tables of Roman conquerors, Greek citizens and Chinese noblemen. Cherries were brought to America by ship with early settlers in the 1600s.

Monday, February 02, 2009

PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL SPEAKS: "SIX MORE WEEKS OF WINTER!" ~ GROUNDHOG SUNDAES / CHOCOLATE SAUCE / SPICY GROUNDHOG COOKIES



"Hang in there!"
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GROUNDHOG SUNDAES
~ Fun treat from the Gourmet & Groundhogs cookbook
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1 quart good vanilla ice cream, cut in slices
Groundhog Cookies
(recipe below)
Chocolate sauce

Place slices of ice cream on individual serving plates. Place a Groundhog cookie in the center of each slice. Drizzle chocolate sauce across ice cream and on plate to suggest a shadow.
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CHOCOLATE SAUCE
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Melt chocolate & butter in top of double boiler over simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, salt, milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Serve warm. (2 cups)
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SPICY GROUNDHOG COOKIES

2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk
1 egg slightly beaten
currants or raisins
  • Sift flour, salt, soda, baking powder and spices together. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Blend in molasses and egg yolk. Stir in flour mixture and mix well. Form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper. Chill 1 hour or longer.
  • Roll out small amount at a time on a sugar-sprinkled board. Roll 1/8-inch thick. Cut out cookies with lightly floured cutter. Place cookies on greased baking sheet. Brush with slightly beaten egg. Decorate with currant eye, buttons, etc. Bake 8-10 minutes in preheated 350-degree oven. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet. (12-15 large groundhogs or 3-4 dozen small cookies.)
    NOTE: Groundhog Cookie Cutter (H.O. Foose Tinsmithing Co.)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

'SPRING VIOLETS UNDER THE SNOW' ~ SONG OF THE VIOLET (FEBRUARY FLOWER of the MONTH)

"Surely as cometh the Winter, I know
There are Spring violets under the snow."

~ Robert Henry Newell (used pseudonym Orpheus C. Kerr)
(Spring Violets Under the Snow)


SONG OF THE VIOLET

A humble flower long time I pined

Upon the solitary plain,

And trembled at the angry wind,

And shrunk before the bitter rain.

And oh! 'twas in a blessed hour

A passing wanderer chanced to see,

And, pitying the lonely flower

To stoop and gather me.

~ William Makepeace Thackeray

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The VIOLET


Violet scientific classification:
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Violaceae
Genus: ViolaSpecies
List of Viola species

Violets (Viola) are a genus of flowering plants in the family Violaceae, with around 400-500 species throughout the world, mainly in the temperate Northern Hemisphere but also in Hawaii, Australasia, and the Andes in South America. They are typically found in moist and slightly shaded conditions such as hedgerows.

Most violets are small perennial plants, but a few are annual plants and some are small shrubs. They typically have heart-shaped leaves, and asymmetrical flowers with four upswept or fan-shaped petals, two each side, and one broad, lobed lower petal pointing downward. The shape of the petals defines many species, for example, some violets have a "spur" on the end of each petal. Flower colours vary in the genus; many are violet as their name suggests, and some are blue, some yellow, some white, some cream; some are bicolored, often blue and yellow.

Flowering is often profuse, and may last for much of the spring and summer.
One quirk of some violets is the elusive scent of their flowers; along with terpenes, a major component of the scent is a ketone compound called ionone, which temporarily desensitises the receptors in the nose; sniff all you like, you won't get any more smell from the flower.