Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Sharon and I chose the Fish and Shellfish chapter for our cooking The Essential New York Times Cook Book project. This casserole has an interesting history.  Viola Reardy who was Adlai E. Stevenson's housekeeper and cook served this casserole for lunch to President Kennedy and UN Acting Secretary General U Thant. This was back in 1962.

When I started this blog I decided to only post recipes that I thought were really great. When Sharon made this recipe she didn't think it was in the really great category. I told her that I shouldn't post it but she told me it needed tweaking to make it better. She gave me a sample. Yes, she was right. But it is really good and in cooking our way through this cook book we agreed to cook the recipe exactly as written the first time. I noticed that the recipe calls for paprika. Amanda Hesser who wrote the book mentions that paprika in this recipe only adds color however, she recommends that you can update the recipe by using smoked paprika which would add a spicy, smoky flavor. I agree, so give this recipe a try but make it your own by using a little something to kick it up a notch.

After quickly cooking the shrimp and setting them aside, you make a cream sauce.

Artichoke hearts are arranged over the bottom of a buttered casserole dish.

The shrimp is scattered on top of the artichokes.

The mushrooms are cooked in butter and cooked until brown.

and spooned over the shrimp and artichokes.

The cream sauce is poured over the contents in the baking dish.

The last step is to sprinkle the dish with Parmesan cheese and paprika before baking for 20 minutes.


1 pound small shrimp, shelled and deveined
6 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 14-ounce can artichokes hearts, drained, or one 9 ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, cooked according to the package directions
¼ pound mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
¼ cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1.)     Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan.  Add the shrimp and cook for 15 seconds.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the shrimp.  Reserve both the shrimp and broth.

2.)    Melt 4 ½ tablespoons butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.  When blended, gradually add the milk and cream, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.  Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking, until thickened and smooth.  Season well with salt and pepper; remove from the heat.

3.)    Arrange the artichokes over the bottom of a buttered 8 inch square baking dish.  Scatter the shrimp over the artichokes.

4.)    Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown on the edges, 5 to 8 minutes.  Spoon the mushrooms over the shrimp and artichokes.

5.)    Add the sherry and Worcestershire to the cream sauce.  If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it with a little reserved shrimp broth and milk.  Pour it over the contents of the baking dish.

6.)    Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and paprika and bake for 20 minutes.

Cooking notes:  If you use frozen artichoke hearts, undercook them slightly.  Also slightly undercook the shrimp when you boil them.

This casserole was served for lunch to President Kennedy and UN Acting Secretary General U Thant.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


These nuts are great. I made them over the Christmas Holiday. The recipe is from Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa. I really like her recipes and they are always very good. When I printed out this recipe to give it a try I had a big laugh. It starts out...."When I have a little extra time before a party, I'll whip up a batch of these really delicious nuts" and she serves them WARM !?!? Who has TIME before a party???? I don't....ever....never.

The nuts are mixed with oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, and chipotle powder on a sheet pan. Then they are topped with fresh rosemary and salt. They are roasted for 25 minutes and when glazed and golden brown they are sprinkled with more salt and remaining rosemary.


Vegetable oil
3 cups whole roasted unsalted cashews (14 ounces)
2 cups whole walnut halves (7 ounces)
2 cups whole pecan halves (7 ounces)
1/2 cup whole almonds (3 ounces)
1⁄3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder
4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves, divided
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush a sheet pan generously with vegetable oil. Combine the cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, and chipotle powder on the sheet pan. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and 2 teaspoons of salt and toss again.

Spread the nuts in one layer. Roast the nuts for 25 minutes, stirring twice with a large metal spatula, until the nuts are glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 more teaspoons of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of rosemary.

Toss well and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking as they cool. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or cool completely and store in airtight containers at room temperature.

Chipotle chile powder is different from ordinary chili powder-- it's ground dried smoked jalapeƱos and has a distinctive hot, smoky, sweet flavor.

Recipe by Ina Garten

Monday, December 12, 2011


Last week Sharon and I chose the Pasta, Rice, and Stuffing chapter from the The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Sharon made Vodka Pasta and I made this risotto recipe.  I used butternut squash instead of pumpkin and it was REALLY good. The recipe calls for a dollop of mascarpone to garnish the risotto and calls it optional. Use it! It added an extra creaminess to the risotto that put it over the top.

The recipe also has you save the pumpkin seed and roast them with the bacon on top of the pumpkin. We did not like them at all and picked them out of the risotto. I would recommend leaving that step out.

Coriander seeds are crushed using a mortar and pestle.

The squash is coated with olive oil and sprinkled with crushed coriander seeds and salt and pepper. The squash is baked until soft.

The cooked squash is covered with bacon, pumpkin seeds, chestnuts, fresh sage leaves, and olive oil and cooked until the bacon is crisp. I  pre-cooked the bacon so it would be extra crispy.

While the squash is cooking you make the risotto. When the risotto is cooked the squash is added. Each bowl is topped with crumbled bacon, chestnuts, sage, and  pumpkin seeds.

This risotto takes some time to make but the results are excellent. Another winner from The Essential New York Times Cook Book.


1 small sweet cooking pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, about 2 1/2 pounds
Olive oil
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
Sea salt and ground black pepper
12 slices bacon or pancetta
2 ounces shelled chestnuts (vacuum packed are fine)
15 fresh sage leaves
4 cups chicken stock or canned broth
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
5 small stalks celery, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
 1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
4 tablespoons butter
 3/8 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
About 1 cup mascarpone, optional.
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Halve pumpkin lengthwise, and remove seeds; rinse seeds, drain, and reserve. Cut pumpkin lengthwise into thick slices, and spread in a layer across a large baking sheet. (If using squash, cut into quarters.) Sprinkle pumpkin with olive oil, and set aside. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the coriander seeds until crushed. Sprinkle over pumpkin along with salt and pepper, and bake until soft, about 40 minutes.
2. Remove pumpkin from oven (leave oven on), and spread bacon over it. In a small bowl, combine reserved seeds, chestnuts, sage and salt and pepper to taste. Add tablespoon olive oil, and mix well. Sprinkle over pumpkin and bacon. Place back in oven until bacon is crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Remove pumpkin from oven. Scrape bacon, chestnuts, sage and pumpkin seeds onto a small plate; reserve. Finely chop about half the pumpkin. Chop other half so that it is slightly chunky; reserve.
4. Place chicken stock in a small pan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to very low to keep warm. Place a large saucepan over medium heat, and add tablespoon olive oil, shallots, celery and a pinch of salt. Stir, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, and add rice. Stir constantly until rice is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in wine until it is absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Begin adding broth to rice, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly. Allow each ladleful to be absorbed before adding next; process will take about 20 minutes. When ready, rice will be soft with a slight bite. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Remove rice from heat. Add chopped pumpkin, and stir vigorously until mixed; fold in pumpkin chunks. Mix in butter and Parmesan. Place a lid over the saucepan, and let sit for 2 minutes. To serve, place a portion on each of 6 serving plates. Top each portion with crumbled bacon, and sprinkle with mixture of chestnuts, sage and pumpkin seeds. Add a dash more cheese. Garnish each plate with a dollop of mascarpone if desired, and serve immediately.
Yield: 6 servings.

Recipe from The Essential New York Times Cook Book

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Ever cooked with miso? If you haven't then here is a recipe to get you hooked. Miso is a source of unami, the Japanese fifth flavor that means savory. A small amount mixed in to your favorite glaze will add that extra depth of flavor that puts your meal over the top.

Miso comes in three basic types. White, Yellow, and Red. The white is the mildest in flavor and the least salty. White is great when added to mashed potatoes. Yellow is a little stronger and red is the strongest and saltiest of all. In this recipe the strong miso flavor pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the apricot preserves. A container of miso will keep in the refrigerator for up to a year.


Nonstick vegetable oil spray

5 TBSP. apricot preserves
1/4 cup red miso
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
2 tsp. finely grated orange peel
1 large garlic clove, chopped

2 pork tenderloins (1 pound each)
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth

Preheat oven to 425~. Coat large rimmed baking sheet with oil spray. Combine preserves, miso, vinegar, orange peel, and garlic in a small pot over medium heat. Cook until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Reserve.

Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Place on prepared baking sheet, tucking thin end under to ensure even cooking. Brush with 2 TBSP. apricot glaze; roast 12-15 minutes. Turn pork over with tongs and brush with 2 more TBSP. glaze. Continue to roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of pork registers 150~, 8 10 minutes longer.

Transfer pork to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add chicken broth to remaining apricot glaze. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced to 2/3 cup sauce, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice pork crosswise into 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick slices and arrange on platter. Spoon sauce over and serve.

Makes 6 servings

Recipe from Bon Appetit

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Sharon made this dish as her meal in our cook The Essential New York Times Cook Book project. It is simple and really good.

The sauce consists of equal parts Italian plum tomatoes, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese.

Add some good vodka, pepper flakes, and butter and enjoy over your favorite pasta.

Pasta With Vodka
1 ½ pounds pasta, such as penne or ziti
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons Polish or Russian Vodka
1 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1.)     Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
2.)    Meanwhile, melt the butter in a casserole or saucepan large enough to hold the cooked pasta.  Add the pepper flakes and vodka and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let simmer for 2 minutes.
3.)    Add the tomatoes and cream and bring to a boil.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.  Season with salt.
4.)    When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the hot sauce.  With the heat on low, add the cheese and mix thoroughly.

Serves 6 as main course

Cooking Note:   It’s particularly important in a recipe this subtle to add enough salt to the pasta water (the water should taste salty) and cook it to truly al dente.

Recipe from The Essential New York Times Cook Book

Monday, December 5, 2011


This make-ahead gravy is great. I usually make it once a year at Thanksgiving and keep it in small jars in the freezer. I love to have it on hand for roast turkey breast or my favorite Cajun Turkey Meat Loaf.

Turkey wings are covered with quartered onions and roasted in the oven for 1 1/4 hours. The smell will put you in the Thanksgiving spirit immediately.

When the wings have browned they go in a stock pot and simmer with broth, carrots, and thyme for 1 1/2 hours.

After simmering you remove the wings and strain the contents through a strainer into a saucepan. At this point I refrigerate the sauce overnight to solidify the fat. It makes it really easy to remove the next day.

Flour is whisked into chicken broth until smooth. It is gradually added to the turkey stock until the gravy has thickened. You add a little butter and pepper at the end and  your gravy is done.

I adjust the seasonings when I'm ready to serve it by adding salt,  herbs (sage is good) or anything else that will compliment the dish you are serving it with.


6 turkey wings
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup water
2 quarts chicken broth, divided
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 TBSP. butter
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400~. Arrange a single layer of turkey wings in a large roasting pan. Scatter the onions over the top of the wings. Roast in the preheated oven for 1 1/4 hours or until wings are browned.

Place browned wings and onions in a 5 quart stockpot. Add water to roasting pan and stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the water from the pan in to the stockpot. Stir in 6 cups broth, carrot, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove wings from the pot and place on a cutting board. When the wings are cool, pull off the skin and meat. Discard the skin and save the meat for another use. Strain contents of stockpot through a large strainer into a 3 quart saucepan. Press on the vegetables to extract any remaining liquid. Discard the vegetables and skim the fat off the liquid. Bring the contents of the pot to a gentle boil.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour into the remaining 2 cups chicken broth  until smooth. Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the simmering turkey broth; simmer 3-4 minutes or until the gravy has thickened. Stir in the butter and pepper. Serve immediately or pour into containers and refrigerate or freeze.

Recipe from 

Sunday, December 4, 2011


The Pie Guy made this pie. My husband Ron is known as the Pie Guy. He brings the pies to our Thanksgiving dinner every year. They are always the highlight of our meal. This year he made two different pies. This pumpkin pie and a Chocolate Pecan pie. They were his entries into the competition.

                                                               COMPETITION ??????

We didn't know there was a competition until brother Alex surprised us with his own Apple Pie.

            Did someone really have the audacity to try and knock the Pie Guy off his fancy crust?

The Chocolate Caramel Pecan, The Pumpkin Pie with Toffee-Walnut Topping or The Apple Pie???

                                                            Who's pie will be voted the best?

My hands down favorite was the Pumpkin Pie. That's a BIG endorsement since I'm not a pie or dessert eater. The rest of the family all had their favorites and when we tallied the votes it resulted in a three way tie.

                            Since Ron made two of the three pies I think that means he won. :) :)

                        And I think we have a new family pie competition to be continued next year.


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons (about) ice water
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend

  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
  • 1/3 cup English toffee bits (such as Skor)
For crust:

Blend flour, sugar and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 tablespoons ice water; process using on/off turns until small moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough into ball. Flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill 30 minutes.
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Roll out dough on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter pie dish. Fold overhang under, forming high-standing rim. Crimp edges decoratively. Freeze 15 minutes. Brush crust all over with yolk. Bake until crust is set but still pale, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

For filling

Whisk first 12 ingredients in large bowl. Pour into crust. Bake until filling is set, about 55 minutes. Transfer to rack. Sprinkle nuts and toffee around edge of hot pie, forming border. Cool pie completely. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Recipe from Bon Appetit