My favorite gifts to get and to give are things for the kitchen, many of which last a lifetime. I've used a measuring cup set my high school friend Penny bought me as a wedding gift 33 years ago. It's one of my most prized kitchen tools.
Something as simple as a set of salt and pepper shakers can generate so much excitement.
The patchwork of black olives, spiced cranberries, sweet gherkin pickles, homemade pickled watermelon rind and pickled herring, my dad's personal favorite, was a feast unto itself. Those one-bite delights offered a crisp and tangy contrast between nibbles of mashed potatoes and green bean casserole that accompanied the bird. The relish tray made a lasting impression, and to this day provides me with comfort and familiarity of carrying forward a family tradition.
But when my sister called me to make menu arrangements this year, she assured me the relish tray was covered. Would I please make my brandied sweet potatoes? she asked, a dish I have made every Thanksgiving and Christmas for at least 23 years.
Happy Turkey Day, everyone!
Brandied Sweet Potatoes
4 medium sweet potatoes
2/3 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 c. water
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. seedless raisins
1/4 c. cognac
Wash the sweet potatoes, but do not peel them. Boil in water to cover until barely soft, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and peel. Slice into a greased casserole. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring the brown sugar, water, butter and raisins to a boil. Add the cognac and pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, basting several times with the syrup in the casserole.
This weekend is the Anniversary Festival at Colorfield Farms.
I make a continental breakfast for the Ruskin Chamber of Commerce's monthly board meeting, each time preparing something different to keep things fresh.
I'm happy to announce the winner of the catered dinner for two. Her name was drawn from the many who submitted favorite seafood recipes: Sue Romeo, owner of Canadian Meds South in Apollo Beach.
Sue calls her recipe MSR [my special recipe] Shrimp, which she serves with thin spaghetti and a big salad.
Sue, I'll be in touch.
My Special Recipe Shrimp
(Sue Romeo's recipe)
1 pound raw or cooked shrimp
1 pound box thin spaghetti, cooked until tender
1- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
15 - 20 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
Garlic powder to taste
Hot pepper flakes for seasoning
Grated Parmesan cheese
In a large saute pan, over medium heat, add the oil and garlic. Saute' for two minutes. Add the shrimp. Saute' for three minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, bouillon, olives, and garlic powder. Continue to saute' for two minutes.
In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the shrimp mixture. Season with hot pepper flakes. Garnish with cheese. Serves six.
And the food was delicious. My dining partner and I immediately dove into the incredibly good Saganaki cheese. Served with pita, the dish is brought to the table, where the cheese is then ignited.
Not-to-be-overlooked is the Falafel, hummus, eggplant dip and fried kibbe'. This appetizer platter, which had them all offered a sampling of the classics. Come hungry!
My earlier post told you a little bit about it, but here's the deal I didn't tell you about. Bring me your favorite seafood recipe. You'll find me at the Table Scraps booth — the one that looks a little like Island Paradise meets Gilligan's Island. Any adult who brings me a favorite recipe gets a chance to win dinner for two at your home catered by almost-famous moi. You'll also receive a seabuck to use in the festival's fabulous food court.
If you're any kind of seafood lover, I strongly urge you to make a day of it! There's lots to see and more to eat!
For additional infromation, call the Ruskin chamber at (813) 645-3808 or visit http://www.ruskinseafoodfestival.org/.
The words boot camp probably conjure up grit, sweat, and a bunch of drill sergeants barking orders. Certainly no cakewalk...
Makes 24 cookies
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/3 cups sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Melt the butter with the unsweetened and bittersweet chocolates in a metal bowl over barely simmering water and reserve. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a separate small bowl, mix the instant coffee and water, add the vanilla, and reserve.
Beat the eggs, sugar, and coffee mixture with a whip attachment on high speed until light and thick, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce the speed and add the chocolate mixture. Blend on medium speed until evenly mixed, 1 to 2 minutes. On low speed, add the dry ingredients until just blended, 1 minute. If necessary, refrigerate the dough until firm enough to hold its shape 15 to 30 minutes.
Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop the dough onto the sheet pans lined with parchment. Bake cookies until they are cracked on top but still appear moist, about 14 minutes. Be sure not to overbake. Cool slightly on sheet pans and transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Growing up in Minnesota, my favorite season was Fall. I loved jumping in piles of raked leaves, going to the State Fair, eating caramel apples... and the crisp cool temperatures.
This afternoon, I stopped by Hydro Harvest Farms in Ruskin to see what's pickin' and to say hello to owner John Lawson. He has pumpkins... lots and lots of pumpkins. Halloween is in the air!
Recently, I checked out "Breakfasts & Brunches" by The Culinary Institute of America. I loved the book and the recipes in it so much that I ordered a copy from Amazon.com.
You haven't lived until you've had Len Gamble's plate-sized, spongy and golden brown pancakes, which are slightly crispy at the edges.