Archive for ◊ 2010 ◊

16 Nov 2010 Sweet Potato Pie

A friend asked me, “How does Sweet Potato Pie compare to Pumpkin Pie?” and I answered, “Sweet Potato Pie is Pumpkin Pie’s richer cousin.” How about that? Sometimes words don’t fail me! I got it exactly right!

I looooooove me some Sweet Potato Pie.  The best Sweet Potato Pie I ever tasted was from Everett & Jones BBQ in Jack London Square, Oakland.  I wish I had their recipe, but since I don’t, I’ve worked hard at creating the best darn possible recipe for Sweet Potato Pie that I can.  It’s been years of trial and error.  Well, no error.  I’ve never met a Sweet Potato Pie I didn’t like.  It’s been years of upping spices and enriching the filling.  The latest enrichment has been to add a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger.  I saw that Cat Cora put fresh ginger in her Sweet Potato Pie, so decided to add it to mine.  I still like Everett & Jones’ Sweet Potato Pie better, but just a bit!  I suspect they must put at least double the brown sugar in their pie than what I put in my pie, but I don’t know for sure.  I think a field trip is in order.  I need to investigate this further.  After all, I am a serious food blogger now! As for Cat Cora’s pie, I think mine is better.  I don’t remember maple syrup, dark brown sugar, or whipping cream being in her pie.

Here’s MY best recipe for Sweet Potato Pie, and here’s an oddity; this recipe is not made with sweet potatoes, it’s made with yams!  Use Beauregard yams; the long yams with the purple skins and orange flesh. Sweet Potato Pie is a “must have” on our Thanksgiving dessert table.   Walk away from the pumpkin pie, and say “Hello” to its richer cousin!

Sweet Potato Pie

  • 1 unbaked pie crust in a 9 inch glass pie pan, chilled
  • 1½ cups cooked, mashed “sweet potatoes” / Beauregard Yams, about 2 large (To cook the sweet potatoes: microwave whole potatoes [don’t forget to prick them] about 6 minutes on each side OR bake in a 400º oven for about 1 hour. Cool and scrape the flesh out. I prefer to bake the potatoes, rather than microwave.)
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup (Grade B has a more robust flavor)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix cooled mashed sweet potato with brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, spices, fresh ginger and salt.  Stir well to combine.

Whisk in eggs and cream.

Pour pie filling into prepared pie crust.

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until filling is set in middle and slightly puffed around the edges.

Cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate.  Can be made up to two days ahead.

Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream-some people will declare their undying love and affection for you if your beat 1-2 tablespoon of Bourbon or Rum in with the sugar to each cup of whipping cream-or, better yet, cinnamon ice cream (see recipe on this blog).

I hope you enjoy Sweet Potato Pie as much as I do 🙂  If you are ever in the vicinity of Everett & Jones, pulllleeeese  bring me back one of their sweet potato pies.  I’ll love you forever!

15 Nov 2010 Glazed Pork Chop for One

My nineteen year old daughter whipped this up for her dinner–over high heat–in her on-campus apartment over the weekend.  The firefighters came to call, in their big red truck, with the sirens blaring.  She set off the smoke alarm.  With one pork chop! The recipe is good, and it does deserve some fanfare, but let’s save the firefighters another trip out.  When you make this recipe, deglaze the pan over a not-too-high heat!  BTW, she ate the pork chop after the firefighters left and said it was “GREAT”!

I found this recipe a few years ago in an  NPR newsletter.  I was so excited because I was expecting all my kids to move out. I was going to be HOME ALONE for the first time in my life.  I was going to enjoy cooking for one, and this recipe for One Glazed Pork Chop was poised to be a staple. Well, life has a strange way of working out.  My last two kids at home moved out to college dorms, but my older daughter moved back, and she came back with a baby!  My kids were leaving one-by-one, but coming back in twos!

Finally, in March this year my daughter and grandson moved out, and my younger son and daughter are still away at college so the pork chop recipe is now front and center. I’ve never had the firefighters come to call while I am making this, sadly…

If you still  have family at home, my friend Kayte makes “Glazed Pork Chops for Three” using this recipe, so feel free to double and triple the quantities below.

One Glazed Pork Chop

  • 2 tablespoons jam, any flavor (marmalade does not work, the bits get burned)
  • 2 tablespoons mustard, preferably Dijon or any stone-ground mustard
  • 1 center-cut, bone-in pork chop, about 3/4-inch thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vinegar, preferably white-wine (plain white vinegar, cider vinegar or sherry vinegar would all be fine)
    1. Mix the jam and mustard in a small bowl, with a fork. Season the pork chop with salt and pepper on both sides.
    2. Preheat a small, heavy skillet over high heat until it is hot enough to make a droplet of water dance or evaporate on contact. Add the oil, swirl around to coat, and immediately add the pork chop. With the heat still on high, brown on one side, about 3 to 5 minutes, and turn over. Spoon the jam-mustard mixture onto the browned side of the pork chop. Lower the heat to medium and cover with a plate or lid while the second side browns, another 4 or 5 minutes.
    3. Remove the lid, raise the heat to high, and turn the pork chop a few times to coat evenly. (Since cooking times can vary widely with pork chops, you may want to cut into it with the tip of a knife to check; the meat may be pink but not rosy; moist but not soft).
    4. Remove the pork chop to a plate. Scrape jam mixture off although it’s fine if a bit of glaze clings to it. With the heat on low to medium, keep cooking down the jam and mustard a little more, scraping with a wooden spoon, until the mix is very dark and concentrated and quite dry. If it burns a little, that’s fine.
    5. Lower the heat to medium, add the vinegar, and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to release any delicious brown bits. You may need to add a little more vinegar to achieve a heavy, smooth sweet glaze.
    6. Put the pork chop, along with any collected juices, back in the pan and raise the heat to high (gently, unless you too want the firefighters to stop by…)while you turn the chop with a fork to finish glazing it.

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, and thank YOU, firefighters,

    for stopping by my daughter’s kitchen yesterday.  She’s going to be dropping off some thank you treats soon.  Not to worry! I’ll send her some no-bake recipes!

    15 Nov 2010 Poached Pear Salad

    My friend Louise made this wonderful Poached Pear Salad for Cookbook Club last weekend.  Louise, one of the best cooks in the world,  has been making this salad, to much acclaim, for her family’s Thanksgiving dinner for the last I-don’t-know-how-many years.  I am so glad Louise shared this with us!  You have your hands on tried-and-true family recipe! The Poached Pear Salad is ideal for any fancy meal. It would also be good for a light lunch when paired (peared! now there’s a joke in the making… Hmm, no light bulbs going off here…, obviously someone more talented than I needs to come up with it 🙂 ) when paired with a bowl of soup or a sandwich. The salad looks elegant, tastes great and is dead easy to throw together at the last minute (as longs as the pears have been made and chilled ahead of time).

    The green salad surrounding the poached pear can be customized as  you wish.  Louise used a bag of mixed salad greens, including some of that bitter stuff, and a sprinkling of feta cheese (some pomegranate seeds might have been a  nice addition, too).  I am going to use mixed lettuces with a sprinkling of blue cheese, some sweet and spicy pecans and some dried cranberries.  My daughter is thinking about baby spinach, macadamia nuts and goat cheese.  What will you come up with?  Arugula, walnuts and orange bits?  Bibb lettuce and almonds? Let me know!

    Three cheers for Poached Pear Salad!! Easy, customizable, good looking, and great tasting! I have a feeling this salad will become a staple in my, and your, dinner party and elegant lunch repertoire.

    Poached Pear Salad

  • 6-8 Bosch Pears, with stems left on, peeled (Bosch pears are the ugly brown skinned pears.  I’d suggest using smaller pears so your guests aren’t too full after the salad to enjoy the main meal)
  • 2 cups Port, Shriaz or Zinfandel (The choice of wine will affect the taste of your pears.  Louise prefers a good port.  I liked the pears poached in Zinfandel)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 slices orange
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 bag of salad greens
  • Cheese of choice, about 1 T. per plate (feta, blue, goat)
  • Extra toppings of choice, if desired: chopped nuts, candied nuts, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds…
  • In a large pan with a lid, combine wine, sugar, water, and star anise.  Turn heat to high and bring mixture just to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.

    Add peeled whole pears-with stem intact-to hot liquid turning to coat well.

    Stir in orange slices

    Cover pan and simmer pears on low for 10 to 15 minutes, turning pears occasionally, until pears are tender, but still hold their shape.

    Discard star anise.  Remove pears to a bowl and set aside to cool.

    Turn up heat under the wine mixture, heat to boiling, and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.  Liquid should thicken and reduce to 1 ½ cups. (Pour liquid into measuring cup every once in awhile to measure progress).  When pears are cool, cut in half lengthwise, and carefully remove core.

    Pour reduced wine and the orange slices over halved pears.  Cover and chill for at least 4-6 hours, and up to two days.

    When ready to serve, cut pear into a fan and the bottom(see picture above), and keeping intact at the narrow top end.  Place pear in the middle of a salad plate and carefully spread out the fanned bottom part.

    Discard the orange slices. Reserve the wine syrup and pour into a serving bowl to pass at the table (will be extra dressing).

    Circle the fanned pear with a desired amount of salad greens.  Sprinkle greens and/or pear with approximately 1T. of the crumbled cheese of your choice and any desired “gilding the lily” toppings.

    Pass the reserved wine syrup at the table as a dressing (or serve with a light champagne vinaigrette).

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today…, and I am so glad you were able to meet my good friend Louise.  Maybe one of these days she will share some more of her recipes with us!

    11 Nov 2010 Pumpkin-Maple-Pecan Sundaes

    I saw a Maple-Pecan-Bacon Sundae in last month’s issue of Bon Appetite.  I’d heard about bacon brownies and bacon cookies and bacon cupcakes and I was ready to be on the cutting edge with Bacon Sundaes.  With a friend coming over for lunch,  I was ready for some taste testing. We were prepared for a drop-dead wonderful taste sensation.  I warmed the sauce, poured it over two flavors of ice cream (vanilla and coffee), and set the sundaes down. We tasted. I looked at her.  She looked at me.  We tasted again.  We shook our heads.  We tried it one more time. “Nooooooooo”, I said.  “Nooooooooo”, she said.

    It just didn’t work. Bacon does not belong on ice cream.  Nope.  Not ever. The bacon was like a cold gummy bear, all texture, little flavor.  What salt kick did come, came after the chewing was over, and by that time the sauce and the ice cream had been swallowed.  The dessert just didn’t work.  But it had potential. We liked the sauce. We liked it over the coffee ice cream best, but still it wasn’t quite right.

    I tinkered a bit more, and this is what I came up with… the warm Maple-Pecan Sauce (minus the bacon), drizzled over homemade Pumpkin ice-cream, and topped with a bit of bourbon whipped cream. Now here’s a nice dessert alternative for Thanksgiving, or an nice ending to any fall meal!

    Just a note:  Pumpkin ice cream has a bit of a grainy texture (ALL pumpkin ice cream has this issue, unless it has been made with pumpkin flavoring rather than pumpkin puree), but with the sauce and the whipped cream, it’s not so noticeable and the pumpkin flavor goes fabulously well with the maple, the pecans, and the bourbon.  Mmmmmmmm 🙂  I taste tested pumpkin ice creams, too.  This one’s the best.

    Maple Pumpkin Pecan Sundaes

    with Bourbon Whipped Cream

    Pumpkin Ice Cream

    2 cups whipping cream (35%)
    1 cup whole milk
    ½ cup sugar
    1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    ½ tsp nutmeg
    ½ tsp ground ginger
    ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
    ½ tsp ground allspice
    1/8 tsp salt
    ½ tsp vanilla
    1 cup pumpkin puree

    1. Gently heat the cream, milk, sugar, spices and salt over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and bubbles form around the edge of the pan.
    2. Stir warm cream into the pumpkin along with the vanilla.
    3. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until cold.
    4. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

    I found this recipe at Christie’s Corner.

    Maple-Pecan Sauce

    ¾ cup Grade B Maple Syrup
    2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger (I used Australian crystallized ginger, it’s very soft)
    ½ cup pecan halves

    1. Combine maple syrup and cinnamon in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to ½ – 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes.
    2. Remove sauce from heat.  Discard cinnamon sticks.  Stir in lemon juice, chopped ginger and pecan halves.  Can be made 2 hours ahead.  Let sit at room temperature and then reheat slightly to serve.
    3. Spoon warm sauce over scoops of pumpkin ice cream. Serve immediately with a bit of Bourbon Whipped Cream, if desired.

    I found the inspiration for these sundaes at Epicurious. The original recipe had diced maple glazed bacon in the sauce but just. say. “NO”!

    Bourbon Whipped Cream

    1 cup whipping cream
    1-2 tablespoons sugar
    1 tablespoon bourbon

    1. Whip with electric mixer until creamy.

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. Happy Fall!

    05 Nov 2010 Corn Pudding

    My daughters made me do it. My daughters made me do it!!  Why else would I mix a box of Jiffy cornbread mix with a few cans of corn, a hefty handful of cheese, some butter, some sour cream and then pour it into my prettiest casserole dish and call it Thanksgiving?  Do you think I want to expand out of my jeans?  Nooo, of course I don’t.  I did it for my girlies. They seriously loved this corn pudding.  Just like they love those corn cake things at Chevy’s.  They think I am pretty darn smart.  Yay for the Internet! I found this recipe at The Runaway Spoon, but I must also thank my friend Terry, who brought a dish very similar to this to a Dining For Women meeting last winter… I have been thinking about it ever since!

    Corn pudding is on our Thanksgiving menu now (along with a mandatory before dinner walk around the lake).  We usually try out one new dish each year (at least). The bright yellow will be a colorful addition to our plates, we have almost all the colors of the rainbow on the plate now (well, except for the colors at the blue-purple end of the rainbow).  And here’s another plus for this recipe, the leftovers will reheat very well in the microwave, 19 year old boys could probably do it all by themselves.  I don’t know about you, but after I get Thanksgiving dinner on the table I don’t want to cook again for at least another week!

    Corn Pudding

    2 eggs
    1 (16-ounce) can creamed corn
    1 (16-ounce can) whole kernel corn, drained
    ½ cup (1stick) butter, melted
    1 cup (8-ounces) sour cream
    1 (8½ ounce) package Jiffy corn muffin mix
    1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese (other kinds of cheese can be used, pepper jack anyone?!)
    ¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives (or finely chopped green onion if you forget to buy the chives, or chilies, or green pepper…)
    ½ teaspoon salt
    Freshly ground pepper, to taste

    Preheat the oven to 350º.  Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking dish.

    In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then add both corns, butter and sour cream and mix thoroughly.  Fold in the corn muffin mix, cheese and chopped chives.  Add salt and a few grinds of black pepper and mix completely.

    Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until puffed and golden and firm in the center.

    Serve immediately.

    Makes a lot of servings, at least 10-12.

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

    04 Nov 2010 My Top Ten List for Thanksgiving
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    I am not putting Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy or Cranberry Sauce on my list, because those are “musts”.  One must have those five: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving.  I like it all.  My Top Ten list deals with the other Thanksgiving food and, after all, if I put the must have five on my list, I would have only had space for another 5 options.  Not cool!

    1. Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes – I came close to adding this to my “must” list, verrrrrry close, and I probably should have, but I really wanted to post my recipe for Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes!  Stay tuned.  I also have a recipe for Apple Cider Sweet Potatoes, which is different, but quite delightful in its own way…

    2. Pumpkin Roll – I was only just introduced to this recipe last year, but now it’s a must have.  I am going to share this “secret” recipe with you (but the recipe has been right there in front of you for all these years. Yes it has!  Do you know which recipe I am talking about?  My goodness, it’s sooooo good.  It’s now my Mom’s all time favorite Thanksgiving dessert.  Last year she had a slice every day for breakfast (after her half gallon of oatmeal, banana, half an apple, and slice of panettone), and another with her cup of tea at 10 0’clock.  My mother is not a big woman.  She might weigh all of 100 lbs. I should be on her diet.

    3. Pumpkin Pancakes – My elder daughter started a tradition of an open house, at my house, early on Thanksgiving morning (too early).  Neighbors and friends are invited over for pumpkin pancakes, sausages, glazed bacon, coffee and pumpkin roll (see above).  Very  informal.  Stay a few minutes or stay a lot of minutes. Jammies and slippers are encouraged.  The Macy’s parade will be on and there will be a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle to work on.

    4. Wild Rice and Turkey Soup – You have to make this!  Save your turkey carcass and have a box of wild rice on hand (you’ll need 1 1/2 cups).  I’ll post the recipe (it’s on my Polly, Julie and Julie facebook page, if you can’t wait). It’s sooooo good, it’s almost the best part of Thanksgiving.  Really!

    5. Turkey Sandwich with Balsamic Onions and Cranberry Sauce – My daughter made this from Tom Colicchio’s book, ‘wichcraft: Craft a Sandwich into a Meal–And a Meal into a Sandwich.  Sooooo good.  I’ll post his recipe for the balsamic onions and let you know how to put it together.  A Turkey Sandwich on some good bakery or home made bread is a Friday lunch must-have (and I usually have one for breakfast, too).

    6. Sweet Potato Pie – A richer, sweeter cousin to Pumpkin Pie.  This year I am trying a Sweet Potato-Pumpkin-Coconut Pie.  I am excited about it.  The sweet potatoes have already been roasted with whole star anise, cinnamon sticks, ginger and cloves. I’ll make the pie on Saturday and taste testing will be on Sunday.  If it’s any good (crossing my fingers), I’ll post the recipe.

    7. Baked Brie with Cranberries – I found this recipe on the back of the puff pasty box.  Is there any other Thanksgiving appetizer?  I think not! I’ll post the recipe (it’s on my Polly, Julie and Julie Facebook page, if you can’t wait).

    8. Gorgonzola Broccoli Casserole – I don’t like the canned soup green bean casserole, I like this alternate.  It’s still green, it’s still creamy, it’s still a casserole, but it’s made from real food, ten times tastier, and just as easy to make.  The blue cheese flavor is very mild.  The whole thing is delicious.  I can’t wait. I’ll post the recipe.  I found the recipe in Sunset Magazine in 2003.

    9. Roasted Carrots – So simple, so good. I’ll post this recipe, too (it’s on my Polly, Julie and Julie facebook page as well).

    10. Hrmmmm…, I think THIS spot is still open, what have I missed?!?  Tell me, please!

    The picture above is last year’s family portrait, taken with the three desserts!  We had Apple Pie, Maple Cheesecake, and for my son and my father, the absolute must-have, oh-so-not-Thanksgiving dessert, Chocolate Cream Pie, it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving (or Christmas or Easter or July 4th) without it!

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Aren’t you happy we are in this season of celebration?  BTW, share your Top Ten List, I’d love to compare notes!