Sunday, January 24, 2016


When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. 

~ Joyce Brothers


1 large head romaine lettuce
Large chunk of Parmigiana Reggiano
Pumpernickel Croutons 

Caesar Vinaigrette:

12 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tin drained anchovy fillets
freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Pumpernickel Croutons:  Preheat oven to 400º. Toss 2 cups (1/2-inch cubes) pumpernickel bread with 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle heavily with cracked pepper. Spread on baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until crisp. (Can make ahead)
  • Caesar Vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients (but olive oil) in blender. Gradually add olive oil and process until creamy. 
  • Add bite-size pieces of crisp Romaine to large salad bowl. Toss gently with Caesar Vinaigrette to taste. Add Pumpernickel Croutons and toss again. Serve topped with grated Parmigiana Reggiano. 


(adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

“Onion soup sustains. The process of making it is somewhat like the process of learning love. It requires commitment, extraordinary effort, time, and will make you cry."
~ Ronni Lundy

6-8 pounds thinly sliced yellow onions
6 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
6 heaping Tbsp. flour
3-4 quarts good beef stock
3 cups dry white wine
coarse salt and cracked pepper
few glugs of Kitchen Bouquet
12 Tbsp. Cognac
1 pound Swiss cheese*
1 - 1 1/2 pound cheese like Gruyere or assorted shredded cheddar, Colby and Swiss or Parmesan
Cook onions slowly in butter and oil in covered stockpot for 15 minutes. Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in salt and sugar. Cook for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently until onions have turned deep golden brown. (Long slow cooking develops the deep, rich flavor). Sprinkle in flour and stir 3 minutes. Off heat, blend in liquid. Add wine and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30-40 minutes, skimming occasionally. Correct seasoning. Add Cognac and set aside until ready to serve. (*the Swiss cheese is a surprise. Place a big hunk in the bottom of the soup before assembling.)
(hard crusts of French bread for topping)
Slice several 3/4 - 1 inch pieces of French bread. Brush tops with cut garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in 325 degree oven about 30 minutes or until crusty brown.
~ Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place hot soup in oven-proof crocks. Slip in hunk of Swiss cheese. Top with croutes and finish with shredded cheese. Bake 20 minutes and finish browning under broiler. (Be careful serving ~ the 'lava soup is very hot 

(Classic French Onion Soup)


(National Pasta Association & Mom 100)

Panko Topping:

3  Tbsp(1/2 . unsalted butter
2-3 Cups Japanese Panko Crumbs
1/2  Cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Pasta & Cheese Sauce:

4  Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus butter for greasing baking dish/dishes
4  Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2  tsp. red pepper falkes (optional)
4  1/2  Cups 2 % or whole milk
1  Cup heavy (whipping) cream
5  Cups coarsely grated flavorful cheese, such as sharp cheddar or Gruyere, or mix
1/2  cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4  tbsp. Dijon mustard
1  1/2  tsp kosher or coarse salt or to taste
1/2  tsp. freshly ground black pepper or to taste
1  1/2 packages (24 oz.) dried cavatelli, ziti, penne (or what I used, tortiglioni)

  • Preheat oven to 400º. Butter shallow 4-5 Quart baking dish (or 2 smaller ones or individual ramekins)
  • Bring large pot of water to boil, salt generously, and let return to boil.
  • Meanwhile, make panko topping. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat or place in medium microwave-safe dish and heat in microwave 15 seconds or until melted. Add panko and Parmesan and stir until combined. Set topping aside.
  • Make pasta and sauce:  Melt butter in large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and red pepper flakes (if used). Cook, stirring until flour is blond in color, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, Increase heat to medium-high and let simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add cream, grated cheese, Parmesan, mustard, salt & black pepper, stirring until smooth. test for seasoning, adding more salt & pepper as needed.
  • Add pasta to boiling water and cook until barely al dente (follow package directions but stop a minute or two before pasta is completely tender). Set aside 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.
  • Whisk reserved pasta cooking water into cheese sauce, combining thoroughly. Add pasta to cheese sauce and stir to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into prepared baking dish. There will appear to be a lot of sauce. Some of it will be absorbed into pasta as it cooks. (Better saucy than dry)
  • Sprinkle panko topping evenly over pasta and bake until golden and bubbly, 30-40 minutes.Ket pasta sit for a few minutes before serving.

(White Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Parmesan Panko Crust)

Heavenly rich, truffle-like EASY dessert and, like clouds, always a delight
(from a December 1992 issue of Southern Living)
1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1 1/2 cups melted unsalted butter
6 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Ganache Cream
  • Preheat oven to 225-degrees. Grease bottom of 9-inch springform pan; line with greased waxed paper and set aside.
  • Dissolve coffee granules in boiling water. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved; set aside.
  • Position knife blade in food processor bowl; add chocolate morsels. Process 1 1/2 minutes or until finely chopped, stopping once to scrape down sides. Pour coffee mixture through food chute with processor running, stopping once to scrape down sides. Pour butter through food chute with processor running. Add eggs, one at at a time, through food chute, pulsing after each addition. Add vanilla and pulse once again.
    Pour into prepared pan and bake at 225-degrees for 2 1/2 hours or until slightly firm to touch. Cool completely on wire rack. 
  • Run knife around edge; release sides of springform pan. Invert torte onto 8-inch cardboard round and place on rack over shallow pan. Pour Ganache Cream over top and sides, covering completely. Chill 8 hours. Garnish with chocolate leaves (if you feel the need) and chocolate-covered coffee beans (from Trader Joe's). 
1 cup whipping cream
2 (4-oz) packages bittersweet chocolate, chopped and divided
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter, divided

Combine whipping cream and two-thirds of chocolate in double boiler. Bring to boil & reduce heat to low. Cook until chocolate melts, stirring often. Remove from heat. Add remaining chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth. Add one-third of butter, beating until butter melts & mixture is smooth. Repeat procedure with remaining butter. Let cool until mixture is slightly thickened and of pouring consistency. If mixture becomes too thick, reheat in double boiler over simmering water.

(Mocha Velvet Torte)

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