Alsatian Gugelhopf

16 Comments

This recipe is another one that I copied from a cookbook checked out from our local library maybe 30 years ago, and pasted on an index card. I have no idea what its origin, but I know there are many similar variations of festive gugelhopf and kugelhopf from France and Germany, with many different spellings, and probably in many more countries. In fact, it’s not too different from Italy’s Panettone or Pandulce, as far as ingredients go.

This particular recipe is a moist yeasted sweet bread with dried fruits, topped with nuts. Obviously, there can be many variations. I made this one specifically for Christmas morning, so I used only dried tart cherries and pistachios.

Alsatian Gugelhopf

1 cup dried tart cherries, cut in half if they’re large, about 5 ounces
1/2 cup golden raisins, about 2 1/2 ounces
4 tablespoons Kirsch or ruby port
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dry yeast
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon orange oil
3 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup tepid whole milk
3 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup ground pistachios or almonds

Mix the dried fruits and the Kirsch in a medium bowl. Do not be tempted to add any more Kirsch; it could kill the yeast. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Combine 1/4 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over; stir to dissolve. Let sit for 10 minutes or until yeast foams to top.

In large bowl beat 6 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup sugar, egg yolks, zest, vanilla, and salt until well blended. Add yeast mixture, milk, and 1 cup of flour. Beat until smooth.

Add in plumped fruits and gradually add remaining flour and beat until dough forms.

Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

Butter a 10-cup Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the nuts, tilting pan to coat bottom and sides.

Spoon dough into pan. Cover with plastic wrap and damp towel. Let dough rise in warm place for 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake about 35 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Turn onto rack to cool.

If desired, make a glaze for the Gugelhopf by combining 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of Kirsch and 1 tablespoon of cream. Whisk until smooth, then pour over the cake.

Personally, I don’t love powdered sugar glazes, and this bread is sweetened already, but I made a glaze for half the gugelhopf.

I love gugelhopf slightly toasted with butter.

Bitter Greens with Manchego and Cranberry Dressing

49 Comments

Because this is a festive salad, I just had to squeeze it in before the end of 2021. I made it for Thanksgiving, and it’s truly unique. I had no problem making it a second time!

The recipe, from Bon Appetit, is called Bitter Greens with Cranberry Dressing. What initially caught my attention was how pretty the salad is.

It’s a mixture of bitter greens, with parsley, mint, shaved Manchego cheese, glazed pecans, and a lemony cranberry dressing, made with canned cranberry sauce. You can bet that this was the first time I ever bought canned cranberry sauce.

Because of timing, I purchased glazed/candied pecans, even though they are so easy to make. I used really good Manchego cheese, and bought the best bitter greens I could find.

Bitter Greens with Cranberry Dressing

3 tablespoons raw sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 – 14 ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
12 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
6 heads of green and/or red endive, quartered
2 heads of frisée, torn into similar sizes
4 ounces Manchego, shaved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix raw sugar, maple syrup, and salt in a bowl. Add pecans and toss to coat. Spread pecans out on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until sugar is bubbling, 6-8 minutes, then continue to bake 3 minutes longer to allow sugar to caramelized. Let cool; break into small pieces. Or, buy some already glazed pecans.

Whisk cranberry sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, nutmeg, and 5 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl to combine. Season cranberry dressing with salt.

Whisk parsley, mint, vinegar, and remaining 7 tablespoons oil in a large bowl to combine; season herby dressing with salt and pepper. Add endive and frisée to bowl and toss to coat. (I didn’t include the mint because you just never know who likes what!) Do this just before serving, although I don’t mind a little wilting.

Arrange salad on a platter and drizzle some cranberry dressing over. Top with Manchego and candied pecan pieces.

Serve with remaining cranberry dressing alongside.

This salad is incredible. You could make the dressing with leftover cranberry sauce, or simply make a lemon dressing. The combination is spectacular.

Serve with a creamy pasta or crepes for a perfect lunch or light dinner.

Ginger Spice Truffle Balls

42 Comments

By definition, truffles, the chocolate kind not the fungus, are made of chocolate and cream only. These I call truffle balls, which are a throwback to the rum balls of the 1950’s.

I enjoy making truffle balls, because for one thing they’re way easier than real truffles. They’re also more “stable” and less temperamental, because of a cookie or cake base.

When I make truffle balls, I typically make a batch or two, freeze them, and then whip them out for when I have company. You can’t do that with real truffles.

This truffle recipe I came up with when I was doing the food for a charity event benefiting our local SPCA. So many people loved these things and fortunately I kind of remembered what I’d done, and thus, a recipe was born.

Ginger Spice Truffle Balls

6 ounces gingersnap cookies
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter
2 tablespoons strong coffee
2 tablespoons spiced rum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar

Run the cookies though the food processor until fine crumbs. Place them in a large bowl and set aside.

In the top of a double boiler, place the chocolate, butter, coffee, and rum. Over gently simmering water, melt the ingredients completely. Stir in the cinnamon and ginger. Remove from over the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the cookie crumbs. Using a rubber spatula, combine the chocolate and the crumbs completely. Cover the bowl with foil, and place the bowl in the refrigerator for about four hours.

When you are ready to make the truffle balls, get the bowl out of the refrigerator.

In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar well. Have a small spoon and a re-sealable bag handy.

Using the spoon, grab a little of the chocolate-cookie mixture and rub it with both of your hand in a circular motion to make a ball. It shouldn’t be larger than 1″ in diameter. Roll the truffle ball in the coating and place it in the bag. Continue with the remaining chocolate-cookie mixture. You can pour the remaining coating mixture into the bag if you wish.

Refrigerate the truffles or freeze them.

If you freeze them, thaw in the refrigerator first, then put them in a bowl about 30 minutes or so to warm up before serving.

It’s just as easy to double the recipe. Or triple it.

These are really nice for company. Just have some ready to eat at room temperature, and nobody has to eat a slice of cake to please the hostess/host!

A Festive Baked Brie

48 Comments

I happen to love baked brie. I’ve discovered since joining the blogging world, however, that there are those who don’t. Personally, I feel like these people are missing out.

But, like with all food, taste is subjective, and no one need be forced to eat baked brie or anything else he or she doesn’t love, ever. Thankfully. Or I’d have to eat uni.

Hopefully at some point in your life you’ve tried a baked brie – perhaps at a party. It might have been a fancy baked brie, topped with chutney, then artistically wrapped in phyllo dough. When I catered, this is the sort of presentation I used to create because it makes an impression.

And, the pièce de resistance – you get to pierce the cheese rind, and the wonderfully warm, oozy brie pours out, along with the chutney, and you get to spread this mixture on bread. A baked brie is heavenly.

But a baked brie doesn’t have to be wrapped in pasty. Here’s a simple baked brie recipe that I made over the holidays. This one is on the sweeter side, which might surprise you. I do love a savory baked brie…

The main flavors are maple and pecan, so you can serve this brie anytime in the fall or winter, not just for the holidays.

I made this same brie for a Christmas party at my house 16 years ago. It was definitely a hit! (Hiding behind the crackers on the left.)

Maple Pecan Baked Brie

1 – 2 pound wheel of brie, at room temperature
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 stick, or 4 ounces unsalted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Sprinkle of ground cayenne (optional)
1 1/4 cups toasted pecan halves*
Water crackers or French bread slices

Unwrap the brie, and place it on a greased cookie sheet. The greasing helps insure that the brie can simply be slid on to the serving dish. If you use a spatula, you run the risk of prematurely piercing the brie, and you’ll have to start over.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium pot, combine the maple syrup, butter, and brown sugar. Heat over medium heat until the butter dissolves. Cook the mixture for about 15 minutes to reduce slightly and thicken. Then add the cinnamon, and cayenne, if using. Set aside to cool somewhat, stirring frequently.

Break up the toasted pecans and set aside.

Bake the brie as is for about 20 minutes. Carefully slide it onto a heat-proof serving dish. Alternately, if you’re really good using your microwave, have the brie on the heat-proof and microwave-proof serving dish, and gently and slowly on the lowest power settings warm the brie. Do not let it cook.

If you baked the brie in the oven, let it cool for a few minutes, then pour the warm maple mixture over the top, and sprinkle the top with the broken pecan pieces. I first put a little blob on the brie to help the pecans stick, added the pecans, and then poured more of the maple mixture on the top and sides of the brie, followed by a last few pieces of pecans.

Serve immediately with crackers or bread.

Full disclosure – I used a 1-lb brie in the photos, because I didn’t want to eat 2 pounds of brie, basically on my own!

* The easiest way to toast a small amount of pecans is in a skillet on the stove. Place the desired amount of pecan halves in a skillet over medium-high heat, in one layer only. Once the skillet heats up, you will smell the pecans toasting. Shake the skillet around, moving the pecans around, until you can see that they’re toasted on all sides. Then remove the skillet from the heat. Let cool completely.

Eggs Chartres

66 Comments

This is a spicy, creamy, cheesy onion and egg recipe that I haven’t made for years, until now. It’s called eggs Chartres. The name of it really intrigued me, so I googled.

And, I got nothing. Besides all kinds of info regarding the cathedral in Chartres, there was no insight into why this dish is called eggs Chartres. It does seem to be unanimously Creole in nature, which is exactly where this recipe lives, in the American Cooking: Cajun and Creole recipe booklet, part of the extensive Time Life Series Foods of the World.

chartres3

It’s a very easy recipe – the hardest part is peeling the hard-boiled eggs!

So, without any further ado, I give you this fabulous and unique egg dish. It would be great for breakfast, but also fabulous for lunch or brunch.

Creamed Egg Chartres
Serves 8

1 tablespoon butter, softened, plus 8 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch bits
5 medium-sized onions, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
3/4 cup flour
3 egg yolks, plus 12 hard-cooked eggs, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground hot red pepper (cayenne)
1 cup freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons paprika

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. With a pastry brush, spread the tablespoon of softened butter evenly over the bottom and sides of a 14-by-9-by-2-inch baking-serving dish. Set the dish aside. I used an oval gratin pan.

In a heavy 12-inch skillet, melt the 8 tablespoons of butter bits over moderate heat. When the foam begins to subside, add the onions and, stirring frequently, cook for about 8 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent but not brown.

Add the flour and mix well, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes to remove the raw taste of the flour.

Meanwhile, in a deep bowl, beat the egg yolks with a wire whisk or a rotary or electric beater until they are smooth. Beat in the milk, salt, and red pepper, and set aside.

Stirring the onion mixture constantly with a wire whisk, pour in the egg yolks and milk in a slow, thin stream and cook over high heat until the sauce comes to a boil, thickens heavily and is smooth.

Taste the sauce for seasoning, remove the skillet from the heat and gently stir in 9 of the hard-cooked eggs.

Pour the eggs and sauce into the buttered dish and scatter the Parmesan over the top, followed by the paprika.

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce begins to bubble.

Garnish the top with the remaining hard-cooked egg slices and serve at once, directly from the baking dish. Oops, I forgot to save some of the sliced eggs.

I couldn’t wait till the dish cooled off, so it’s not very pretty. But, it is basically a casserole.

I used some chopped parsley for a little color, and added some more paprika.

I’d seriously forgotten just HOW good this dish is. It really would be stunning for a brunch buffet.

Gingerbread Liqueur

47 Comments

Well, it’s that time of year once again, with sugar plums dancing in my head. I love all of the flavors of the holidays, yet, not so much gingerbread. I don’t dislike it, it’s just not one of my top holiday flavors.

That is, until I discovered a recipe for gingerbread liqueur, on a now non-existent blog.

I guarantee that this liqueur will make your spirits merry!

Gingerbread Liqueur
Printable recipe below

1/2 cup chopped ginger
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole allspice slightly crushed
5 whole cloves
Fresh nutmeg
1/4 cup molasses
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup spiced rum

Put everything in a clean jar.

I doubled the recipe, because I’ve made this before and I know how good it is!

Give the jar a good swirl to make sure the brown sugar and molasses are well stirred, then set the jar in a dark cool place for at least a week. When ready to use, strain into a clean bottle.

Since I’m so creative with cocktails, I add 1/2 & 1/2 to some of the liqueur and called it done.

If you really want to be fancy, add a rim of flavored or just pretty sugar. This was cranberry sugar, but I just did it for the photos!

I don’t let the liqueur sit longer than a week. I find that cloves and cinnamon sticks can lend bitterness if too much time passes.

And I found these adorable gingerbread cookies! Redundant, but cute!

I think the liqueur would be good not only with 1/2 & 1/2, but also with a splash of club soda. Next time, because it’s all gone!

 

 

Florentine Truffle Balls

56 Comments

I love to share recipes. I’m not one of those who hides them away, not revealing the “secret” ingredient in my sauce or soup. Which is good, actually, since I have a blog!

But oddly enough, there is one recipe that I’ve held dear to my heart, and I have no idea why. It’s one I copied from one in my mother’s collection. The original recipe was an Italian cake – Segretto della Dama. And it was incredible, with the addition of an buttery coffee icing my mother made.

One day many years ago I decided to turn the cake recipe into rum balls. I made this twist specifically for a Chocolate and Champagne gala in my town. Being a local cateress, I was asked to participate, and ended up winning! They were a big hit.

Truffles, real ones, are made from chocolate and cream, and are best made by a true confectioner. They are named after the fungus known as truffles because of their physical similarity. Sort of lumpy brown spheres.

Rum balls, on the other hand, have a crushed cookie or cake mixed in with the other ingredients. They’re much less delicate and easier to make, but that doesn’t make them less yummy.

The reason I named this confectionery truffle balls because it’s like a rum ball and sort of looks like a truffle! I call them Florentine truffle balls is because my friend, a now retired florist, decorated my table at the Gala with floral fabric and a statue that was Tuscan-inspired. The recipe has Italian heritage, after all.

Normally, these truffle balls are made with ladyfingers – the soft kind – not Savoirdi biscuits, which are the only kind I can find locally, as well as on Amazon. This is a first for Amazon disappointing me.

I could have made ladyfingers from scratch, which I’ve done it before. And if I can do it, anyone can. Just use a baking dish; no need to pipe the batter into “fingers,” when you’re going to be crumbling them up. I’ve always used Julia Child’s recipe from Masters of Cooking.

Another option is to make your favorite pound cake and lighten it by folding a couple whipped egg whites into the batter before baking.

Even though it’s really not like me to take major shortcuts in the kitchen, I picked up a pound cake at the store to substitute for the ladyfingers. It’s a heavier texture than lady fingers, but it works, and has no specific flavor.

So here’s the recipe for my truffle balls. I think you’ll find them exquisite, in spite of the purchased pound cake! Since I know how good they are, I doubled the recipe!

Florentine Truffles
Makes about 2 dozen balls

1/2 cup of whole almonds, approximately 2 1/2 ounces
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 ounces ladyfingers or pound cake, broken up
1 tablespoon cognac, or to taste
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

First, toast the almonds in a skillet on the stove. Let them cool completely. Or, do this the day before. Place them in the food processor and process them until coarsely ground.

Add the chocolate chips and process until the chocolate is a similar texture to the almonds.

Add the pieces of pound cake and process again.

Add the tablespoon of cognac and sprinkle it into the food processor. If you want these to taste strongly of cognac, add more. I didn’t. Then add the butter and powdered sugar.

Process until a “dough” is formed.

Place the dough in a bowl, cover it, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Meanwhile, sieve a mixture of 2 parts cocoa powder and 1 part powdered sugar in a small bowl. You will only need about a total of 3-4 tablespoons total for this batch of truffles.

Roll teaspoon-sized balls of the dough with your hands, or use a small cookie scoop, and them place them in the cocoa mixture.

Toss a few balls at a time in the cocoa mixture to coat completely, then place in a ziploc bag.

These truffle ball aren’t stable at room temperature for long because of the butter. I wouldn’t serve them at a party that lasted hours, unless I kept replenishing with chilled ones.

Also, these truffles freeze really well. I’ve made multiple batches of them for the holidays in previous years, and just pull them out of the freezer before guests come over. They’re a nice little treat.

What you taste when you eat one of these is buttery chocolatey goodness, along with some almond and cognac flavor. They’re quite lovely!

If you make these, be prepared to want to triple the recipe next time!

Festive Cumberland Sauce

34 Comments

Cumberland sauce is, to me, a cross between what Americans know as a fruit compote and a fruit chutney. Mustard and shallots add savory elements to the sauce, plus I added cranberries to a traditional Cumberland sauce for the festive aspect! Cause I’m all about festiveness.

Cumberland sauce supposedly originated from Cumbria, in England, which also happens to be the home of sticky toffee pudding! If you’ve never been, it’s worth a visit, and definitely for more than the food.

You can purchase Cumberland sauce, this one sold by Harvey Nichols, (or Harvey Nic’s if you’re and Ab Fab fan!), but home-made is always best.

I included verjus in this recipe. It was the first time I’d opened the bottle. Really good stuff! I had to stop myself from sipping it. (It’s not alcoholic.)

Festive Cumberland Sauce
printable recipe below

1 lemon
2 oranges
2 shallots, peeled, finely chopped
1 teaspoon English mustard
3 ounces ruby port
8 ounces fresh, sorted cranberries
1/2 cup red currant jelly
1 tablespoon verjus

Zest the lemon and oranges and add the zest to a medium-sized saucepan of water that is boiling. Lower the heat to a simmer and remove from the heat after 5 minutes. Pour into a fine sieve and set the zest aside.

Return the saucepan to the stove. Squeeze the oranges and place juice in the saucepan, along with the shallots, mustard, port, and cranberries.

Gently bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the cranberries have burst.

After about 10-15 minutes, stir in the jelly, zest, and verjus.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

It’s truly a sauce, not thick like a compote or chutney, so I put it in a gravy boat.

This sauce is marvelous. You can taste all of the sweet, tart, and savory elements. It was definitely good with turkey, and I can’t wait to serve it with gammon.

note: I’ve seen Cumberland sauce with a demi-glace component, which sounds lovely. Also, one option is to prepare the sauce in a skillet where meat had been seared.

 

Brie with Roasted Strawberries

58 Comments

I am a cheese-aholic. I love stinky cheese the best, if I was forced to choose. My favorite stinky cheeses would include Époisses, Reblochon, Délices, and Raclette. The ones I love the best tend to be washed rind cows’ milk cheeses.

However, there’s also nothing much more appealing to me than ooey, gooey cheeses – baked cheeses or those gently warmed. Brie and Camembert come to mind, but feta and goat cheeses serve the same lovely purpose. Why they’re so much fun to me is that you can change up the toppings, and really create seasonal presentations as well. I’ve made baked Brie with sautéed mushrooms in the fall, and also one topped with tomatillos in the summer. It all works!

Years ago I made something similar to what I’m doing with strawberries here, but with cherries, and the result was outstanding.

I prefer savory toppings, or at least partially savory. Lots of restaurants serve baked brie topped with honey, and that’s just too sweet for me. So for my roasted strawberries, I grabbed a fun product my daughter bought me – black pepper simple syrup. I’ve only used it on roasted Brussels sprouts at Thanksgiving. The black pepper flavor was there, but also a sweetness.

Brie with Roasted Strawberries

2 cups strawberries, approximately 12 ounces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons black pepper simple syrup
Pinch of salt
1 pound Brie, approximately 5.5” across

Preheat oven to 375 convection roast, or to 400 degrees F. Chop the strawberries.

In a small baking dish, combine the olive oil, syrup, and salt, then add the strawberries and toss to coat.

Roast the berries for about 15 minutes.

Place the brie on an oven-proof serving dish. Gently heat the Brie using your microwave, or if you prefer, your oven. You just want to warm the Brie, not cook it; actrual baking of the brie isn’t necessary.

Top the Brie with the roasted strawberries, and serve with crackers or bread slices.

This brie was so good my husband actually devoured it!

If you don’t have the black pepper simple syrup, you could use a mild syrup like maple syrup and add some cayenne pepper.

Or, you can mix the roasted strawberries with a chutney and then add some white pepper.

Foriana Sauce

119 Comments

Soon after starting my blog, I posted on this miraculous concoction called Foriana sauce. I’d never heard of it before which is what I love about food and cooking. There is always something to discover.

The recipe is in the cookbook, “Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods” by Eugenia Bone. She claims its origin is a little island off of the coast of Naples. I definitely need to visit this island to see what other culinary treasures they have!

51ljADbi6VL._SX414_BO1,204,203,200_

So I posted on foriana sauce back when I had about 3 followers, and it’s just too good to keep to myself. So this is a re-post of sorts.

foriana sauce

Foriana Sauce

1 cup walnuts
1 cup pine nuts
10 good-sized cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup golden raisins
More olive oil

Place the walnuts, pine nuts,and garlic cloves in the jar of a food processor. Pulse until the nuts look like “dry granola.” Add the oregano and pulse a few more times.

for4

Heat a skillet over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the nut-garlic mixture and the raisins and cook on the stove, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. The nuts and raisins will caramelize a bit.

Divide the mixture between 3 – half pint jars that have just come out of the dishwasher (sanitized) with their lids. Let the mixture cool. Tamp it down a bit to limit air pockets, then pour in olive oil until there’s about 1/2″ of oil over the nut-raisin mixture. When cooled completely, cover and refrigerate until use.

foriana sauce cooling off in the jars

After using, replace some of the olive oil on the top to protect the sauce.

To test it out, we spread chèvre on baguette slices and topped it with the foriana sauce. Everyone fell in love with this stuff. I quickly gave the other two jars away so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat more of it!

for1a

Then, that Christmas, I made foriana sauce again, but this time with two different kinds of dried cranberries instead of the raisins, just to make it more festive! Plus, I processed the nuts a bit more to make the sauce more spreadable. And once again, I can share with you that this stuff is heavenly!

for2

I tested it with a variety of cheeses, for the sake of research, and I found foriana sauce especially good with warmed bleu cheese!

I hope you try this extraordinary “condiment” of sorts for the holidays, or any time of year. You will not regret it!

for4

note: I can see this spread on chicken or fish, or added to lamb meatballs, or added to a curry. The author also has suggestions as to how to incorporate foriana sauce into various dishes.