Archive for ‘What’s on the Queens Table’

March 4, 2014

Shrimp Gumbo Casserole

by Crystal Cook

This Mardi Gras take a page from our latest book (page 44 to be exact) and celebrate with this gumbo inspired casserole! The Creole-spiced shrimp filling and satisfying biscuit topping will have your guests partying in the streets in no time!

shrimp gumbo

Shrimp Gumbo Casserole

Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

½ green bell pepper, chopped

3 celery rib with leaves, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 ¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1 pound fresh okra, sliced

1 pound shrimp (31/35), peeled and deveined

2 teaspoons gumbo file

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

5 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

3/4 cup buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 6 minutes until soft.  Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon of the salt, pepper, chili powder, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover and cook slowly for 20 minutes. Add okra, shrimp and the gumbo file and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the shrimp turn pink.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, sugar, baking soda, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Using a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in the buttermilk until the mixture just comes together. Knead until a soft dough forms.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is 1/2 inch thick.  Using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter, stamp out 12 biscuits.
  5. Pour the hot gumbo into a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Arrange the biscuits on top of the gumbo. Bake until the biscuits are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
February 21, 2014

Lessons from Mamaw Maggie: How to properly season and care for your cast iron pan

by Crystal Cook

Pan and Crisco

My Mamaw Maggie passed when I was only six months old. I didn’t get to create my own memories with her, but I felt as though I knew her as everyone I met had a fond memory of her and a story to share. One of the very few items I have of my Mamaw Maggie’s is her cast iron skillet. When I was younger I only really used it when I was feeling nostalgic, and would bake up some cornbread. When I was little my Mom always said cornbread, soup beans and buttermilk was her favorite meal. But as I got older, I began to discover the pan’s varied uses.

If you are not familiar with cast iron pans, they can seem intimidating. All that talk of properly seasoning it, how to wash it (or not wash) it, seems like too much work. But trust me, the benefits of the cast iron pan far out way any care concerns. When seasoned correctly, a cast iron skillet will work better than any non-stick pan in your cupboard. They heat evenly and beautifully, and when properly cared for, they will last a lifetime. In fact, Mamaw Maggie’s pan has lasted several lifetimes!

For Christmas, I received another vintage cast iron skillet from my boyfriend’s family. Since I need to season it, I thought that I would just share with you all the secrets I learned from my Mom – who just happened to learn from her mom- Mamaw Maggie!

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • If you have purchased a brand new pan, chances are it will contain a coating of wax. To remove the wax, you will want to thoroughly wash the inside of your skillet with warm soapy water to remove the coating, and rinse it extremely well. Please note that this will be the ONE and ONLY time that you will ever use soap on your pan. After you season it, you will only want to wash with hot water. Since my pan is vintage, and does not have a wax coating, I am just going to wash the pan under hot water for several minutes. It is imperative that you understand that a cast-iron skillet is not dishwasher safe, nor is it made for soaking. For best results, always rinse the pan with hot water immediately after cooking. If you have some stuck on food, try scrubbing with coarse salt or a nonmetal brush.

wash

  • Be sure to dry your skillet thoroughly with paper towels, or if you want to dedicate a kitchen towel to your pan, you can. The main thing is to get it completely dry immediately. Never let it air dry or it will rust.

dry pan

  • Dampen a paper towel with a vegetable oil such as canola oil, lard, or a shortening such as Crisco, and wipe your skillet thoroughly. I always use Crisco, because that is what my Mamaw always did, and I rub the entire thing down with a nice even layer. Note: You don’t want the grease to pool up, but you will want to create a nice sheen or glisten to the pan.

grease

all sides

  • Place the pan upside down on the top rack of a preheated 350° oven. Set a baking sheet, or spread a piece of heavy aluminum foil on the lower rack to catch any grease drippings.

best stove

  • Let the pan bake for 1 hour.
  • Cast iron skillets get very hot so use caution and oven mitts when removing and place on a safe surface for cooling. (In fact, another awesome present they got me was my Lodge Handle Mitt.  I love it!)  Cool for 30 minutes or more until the pan is cool to the touch.

cool with handle

cool for sotring

  • You will reinforce the nonstick coating every time you heat the Crisco in the skillet, so I like to repeat this process two or three times.
  • Rinse and dry skillet thoroughly like mentioned above (no soap).
  • Before putting your pan away, be sure to give it another light coating of oil or shortening to protect it from rust and corrosion. I also like to cover it with a paper towel to protect it from dust.

store with papertowel

Some other important things to note:

  • After you have seasoned your pan, you should avoid cooking anything acidic the first couple of times. In fact, you should try cooking up some bacon, or some other high-fat food, to help build up the surfaces high gloss.
  • Once you have achieved that ultimate gloss, you can cook up just about anything. The only thing you should never try is to boil water. That will cause your pan to rust.
  • Don’t let the cast iron sit too long without using it, if you do it may become a bit rancid. If this happens, clean and re-season the pan (no soap).
  • Always remember to give the pan a light coat of grease after cleaning the pan and storing.
December 18, 2013

Mamaw’s Stuffed Peppers

by Crystal Cook

I always miss my Mamaw Cook, but the holidays make me miss her even more. Lately, I haven’t been able to get her off my mind, so I wrapped myself up in this Christmas apron she made for me and got to cooking! It never ceases to amaze me how the smell of these stuffed peppers can instantly transport me back in time to the comfort of her kitchen.  Smells are magical like that. Happy holidays Mamaw,  I miss you so much!

mamaw Collage

Mamaw’s Stuffed Peppers

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 6 green bell peppers
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (14 3/4-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 cup cooked long-grain white rice
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 4 cups tomato sauce( recipe below)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Make the tomato sauce. (Recipe below)

3. Cut off the top of each bell pepper and remove the seeds. Put the peppers in a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

4. Set a skillet over medium heat. Add the beef, onion, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up any lumps with the back of a spoon, until the beef is browned thoroughly, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, allspice, and rice; stir well.

5. Coat a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Stuff the peppers with beef mixture and place them in the prepared casserole dish. Pour tomato sauce over the peppers.

6.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs. Scatter the bread crumbs over the peppers and place the dish in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown and the meat is heated thoroughly.

Tomato Sauce

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cups diced canned tomatoes
  • ½ cup finely minced celery
  • 1 ½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly black ground pepper

 Directions

1. In a sauce pan set over low heat, melt the butter.

2. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes or until tender.

3. Add the tomatoes, celery, vinegar, parsley, sugar, salt, and pepper and cook about 10 minutes.

4. Pour the sauce over the peppers before baking.

Kitchen Tip:

Keep your stuffed peppers upright in the oven! When you remove the pepper tops, put them between the stuffed peppers for extra stability. (Yep, my Mamaw taught me that!)

 

November 8, 2013

Granny Pansy’s Baked Apples

by Sandy Pollock

Baked Apples a la Granny Pansy

Granny Pansy, there will only ever be one like her. She was sassy and confident and took nothing from no one, and just happens to have some super amazing granddaughters :)!

SCN_0001(My uncle Keith, Granny Pansy, my adorable Dad!)

She made this dish a lot, but when I think of this dish I go back to a very specific memory with Granny. Once a year, just before Christmas, she would have us (me and my sisters) over to the house and we would spend the day making Christmas crafts and eating baked apples. We glittered and glued and painted and ate until we could do no more. It was at this point that she would send the four of us back home covered in glue, sparkles, and brown sugar!  It was awesome and a time I will always and forever cherish. Will still adorn the family tree with some of the crafty decorations we made with Granny Pansy back then.

IMG_8404

½ cup sugar
1 cup water
6 apples
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

IMG_8407Preheat oven to 375F

In a saucepan over medium heat combine 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water. Heat until sugar dissolves.

Pour this syrup in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.

IMG_8411Core the apple, but don’t go all the way through to the bottom. (This will help keep sugar filling in the apple.)

IMG_8413In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon thoroughly.

IMG_8416 Divide the mixture equally between the 6 apples. Place filled apples in the casserole dish.

IMG_8424Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a knife can be easily inserted into the apple. Let cool for 5 minutes.

IMG_8440Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Baked Apples a la Granny Pansy

Serves 6

½ cup sugar
1 cup water
6 apples
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375

In a saucepan over medium heat combine 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water. Heat until sugar dissolves. Pour this syrup in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.

Core the apple, but don’t go all the way through to the bottom. (This will help keep sugar filling in the apple.) In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon thoroughly. Divide the mixture equally between the 6 apples. Place filled apples in the casserole dish.

Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a knife can be easily inserted into the apple. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

November 6, 2013

The Great Cannoli Casserole Challenge!

by Crystal Cook

The Casserole Queens were recently in the Kansas City area to present at the 2013 Hen House Market Holiday Celebration! We are big fans of the Hen House Market and all the terrific folks of Kansas. Everyone is always so welcoming and they truly makes us feel like royalty.

In preparation for the event, our dear friend Jasper Mirabile, the owner and proprietor of  Jasper’s in Kansas City AND one of the nicest guys you’ll meet, had us on his weekly podcast. It was just on the heels of National Cannoli Month and Jasper was still on a cannoli high! During the entire month of September, Jasper was on a mission to spread his love of the cannoli by hosting events at his restaurant, going on local TV and radio shows, as well as holding a cannoli recipe contest for his guests. The grand prize you ask? Well, cannoli’s for a year of course! Oh, and did we mention that Jasper’s also displays the world’s most expensive cannoli, designed by cake designer Cary Iennaccaro? It’s true, and the value is over $26,000. It features an antique diamond necklace from Tom Tivol Jewelers. Now that is one dazzling cannoli!

So naturally,  it comes to no surprise that while we were on the show, Jasper challenged us to create a Cannoli Casserole! We were nervous about creating a cannoli casserole for a man who loves the cannoli so, but we accepted the challenge and think he will be proud of the end result.

We walked into the challenge knowing that we needed to capture all the flavors of the classic cannoli, but still work within our beloved 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. We made certain to have all the traditional ingredients present and accounted for, but also switch it up a bit (as we like to do) to make this version our own. You’ll see that we replaced the crunchy cannoli outer shell with a scrumptious chocolate chip cookie base, infused with traditional cannoli flavors of orange, chocolate, and ricotta cheese. Then, we perfected our casserole-friendly cannoli by adding a sweetened ricotta cheese mixture on top, with toasted almonds and Maraschino cherries – super tasty and easy to whip up!

Challenge complete.

Enjoy!

Intro

cookie bar

Final

CQ Cannoli Bars

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 recipe Cannoli Cream (see recipe below)
  • 5 maraschino cherries (more if you love’em)
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and ricotta on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, orange zest, and vanilla; beat until blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On medium speed, add the egg and beat until blended. On low speed, add the flour until mixture comes together. Pour in the chocolate chips and continue mixing until just incorporated.
  4. Pour cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula
  5. Bake cookie bars for 45 minutes or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan
  6. Allow bars to cool completely
  7. Frost the top of the cookie bars with the cannoli cream (recipe follows)
  8. Top with cherries and toasted almonds 

CQ Cannoli Cream

  • 3 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 ounces chocolate chips
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and orange zest – until smooth.
  2. Stir in chocolate chips until incorporated evenly into cream

jasper

JASPER J. MIRABILE JR.

Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s commands the helm of his family’s 59-year-old restaurant, consistently rated one of Kansas City’s best Italian restaurants. In addition to running the restaurant with his brother, Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He hosts many famous chefs on his weekly radio show Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM, authored two cookbooks and sells a line of dressings and sauces.

October 24, 2013

Pumpkin, Butternut Squash and Sage Soup

by Crystal Cook

pumpkin shot final

There is something magical that happens in the fall: pumpkin-flavored foods are suddenly everywhere you turn. There are pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin breads, pumpkin beer, and hold on…there are even pumpkin flavored pop tarts!  To all of those things, I say: yes please! I love fall for this pumpkin flavor explosion, so I decided that I wanted to cook something that celebrates the pumpkin in all its natural glory. Behold the glorious Pumpkin, Butternut Squash and Sage Soup, served in a pumpkin bowl of course!

Typical me, I always seem to make things a lot harder than they need to be, so just know that this soup is delicious even without all the bells and whistles (but hello! sage oil and homemade crème fraîche) so it is up to you how crazy you want to get (that goes for the pumpkin bowls too)! But if you want to go all out (and trust me it is worth it!) then know there is some prep involved.

As seen in the previous two posts, the first thing I did was make my crème fraîche and sage oil the day before. This garnish is optional, and you can always buy the prepared product at the store if you don’t want to make it from scratch. I promise I won’t tell.

Now onto pulling out all my soup ingredients! Pie pumpkin, butternut squash, olive oil, vegetable oil, unsalted butter, onions, fresh sage, shallots, garlic, chicken broth, Salt and freshly ground black pepper. Are you hungry yet? You should be.

Ingredient shot

Cut pumpkin in half to seed pumpkin, then cut each half in half again (so your pumpkin is now quartered). Rub flesh with olive oil, salt and pepper. Peel butternut squash and cut in half to remove seeds. Cube squash into about 1-2 inch pieces, toss pieces in olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake each on a baking sheet lined with foil for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

roasting veggie Collage

Melt 6 tbsp. of the butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Cook onions, garlic and 1 cup of the shallots in butter until translucent about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, scrape flesh from pumpkin (I used a melon scoop to do this) and add to the onion mixture. Also add the butternut squash. Cook for about 5 minutes.

saute onion garlic shallots Collage

Add 6 cups chicken stock, 1 tablespoon chopped sage and salt to taste. Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.

squash broth sage salt Collage

If you decided to make pumpkin bowls, here is how I did it, but remember this step is completely optional (but completely adorable). When the soup is simmering, it is a perfect time to get these made! I chose a few smaller pie pumpkins than the size of what we use in the soup recipe – they were more around 2-1/2 lbs instead of 5. I guess you could do 5 pound pumpkins, but you had better be really hungry! All you have to do is cut off the tops of the pumpkin or cut a large circle around the stem of each pumpkin. Remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and fibers. I then coated the inside flesh and outside of the pumpkin with olive oil and then seasoned with salt and pepper. Place the pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet cover with foil and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes.

bowl Collage

Using a large measuring cup take batches of soup and purée soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, then return to pot. Repeat as necessary. It is ok to have some chunky pieces. I actually enjoy that texture in the soup!

Puree Collage

Take the remaining ¼ cup of shallots and the 20 sage leaves and fry in 1 cup vegetable oil until crisp (you will see the shallots turn a nice golden color). Drain on paper towels.

fry sage and shallots

Now that your soup is done, let the garnish games begin.  I promise each one counts! First drizzle on some of the sage oil. Just look how lovely that green color is! The drizzle with crème fraîche, and finish with the crispy shallots and 2-3 sage leaves.

Garnish Collage

Now celebrate fall with your loved ones!

Final pumpkin 2

Pumpkin Bowls: (See method in post)

4 or how ever many small baking pie pumpkins you want to make – up to 2.5 pounds each
Olive Oil
Kosher salt & Cracked black pepper

 
Pumpkin, Butternut Squash and Sage Soup

Serves 8

1 small (about 5 lbs.) pie pumpkin, cut in half then quartered
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cubed
4 -5 tbsp. olive oil for roasting pumpkins and squash
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped + 20 sage leaves for garnish
1 1/4 cups diced shallots, divided
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
6 cups chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
Sage Oil for Garnish (optional)
Crème fraîche for Garnish (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cut pumpkin in half to seed pumpkin, then quarter. Rub flesh with olive oil, salt and pepper. Peel butternut squash and cut in half to remove seeds. Cube squash into 1-inch pieces, toss pieces in olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake each on a baking sheet lined with foil for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Melt 6 tbsp. of the butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Cook onions, garlic and 1 cup of the shallots in butter until translucent, about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, scrape flesh from pumpkin (I used a melon scoop) and add to the onion mixture. Also add butternut squash. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 6 cups chicken stock, 1 tablespoon chopped sage and salt to taste. Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Using a large measuring cup take batches of soup and purée in a blender or food processor until smooth, then return to pot. Repeat as necessary. It is ok to have some chunky pieces – I actually enjoy that texture in the soup!
  6. Take the remaining ¼ cup of shallots and the 20 sage leaves and fry in 1 cup vegetable oil until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then garnish each serving starting with sage oilcrème fraîche and then the crispy shallots and 2-3 sage leaves.
October 23, 2013

Make Your Garnish Count!

by Crystal Cook

Yesterday we started the prep for garnishes for our upcoming Pumpkin, Butternut Squash and Sage Soup post with learning how to prep crème fraîche, and as promised, today we will make a sage infused olive oil. (Remember folks, baby steps!) And don’t think I don’t know what y’all are thinking! You are thinking I MAY have gone overboard with the garnishes, but I truly believe every single one of the garnishes used in the soup recipe count! In fact, a garnish should always count. If it does not enhance the flavor of the dish, then simply don’t bother.  I am also a big fan of making sure that if I am creating a garnish from scratch, that I have plenty of ideas on how to use any leftover product. I hate to waste anything, so like with the crème fraîche, ideas for additional use are at the end of the post. Besides, when it is this good – you will find lots of ways to incorporate it!

Now let’s get back to the sage olive oil and the heart of this post.  Just think about it…a simple drizzle of good quality olive oil is both delicious and elegant, add a gorgeous herb like fresh sage – and you have magic! With that said, be sure to spring for a good quality olive oil for this recipe. It only has a few simple ingredients, is really easy to prepare and just requires a little forethought.

sage oil ingredients final

With that said, the first thing is to take a cup of good quality EVOO and place it in the fridge to chill for 1 hour. (That’s all the forethought you need folks!)  Once chilled, take about a cup of fresh sage leaves (leaves only) and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the leaves until they are very fine and coarse. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the chilled olive oil.

Sage Oil Collage

When all of the olive oil has been incorporated and the mixture is a bright green color throughout, pass through a fine sieve and discard the solids. Finish off by seasoning with kosher salt to taste.

discard and salt

Store the olive oil in an airtight container of your choice and keep in the fridge for up to 3-5 days. We purposely made this in a small batch so that you can easily find uses for it. Aside from garnishing our pumpkin, butternut squash and sage soup, here are some other ways I love using this:

  • Drizzle this over your favorite mushroom pizza to make it sing! Bada Bing!
  • Dress up your favorite cheese or pumpkin ravioli by tossing it in this flavorful oil along with some shaved Parmesan cheese. And guess what? You can do the same with risotto!
  • Goes great on earthy creamed soups such as a cream of mushroom, butternut squash or potato leek soup.
  • Simply splash on roasted root vegetables to pick up a subtle hint of sage.
  • Rub it onto chicken or turkey breasts before cooking, and it will taste like Thanksgiving!

Note: The refrigeration will cause the oil to become a bit cloudy and slightly solid. It will return to its liquid state once removed from the refrigerator and placed on the counter for a few minutes. Give it a quick whisk before use.

October 22, 2013

Crème Fraîche: The Fancy French Cousin.

by Crystal Cook

I used this crème fraîche as a garnish for a Pumpkin, Butternut Squash and Sage soup that I made this weekend. Originally I was going to incorporate the method into the soup post, but since I also garnished with some olive oil that I infused with sage, I thought it might be nice to teach you how to make these separately. That way you can go ahead and make them to have on hand!  Besides, if I put all of that in one blog post it would become more like a small novel. You know I couldn’t just stop there! I also had to make some crispy sage leaves and shallots, then I served the entire darn thing in a pumpkin bowl! It was amazing, but it took some time! So, since the crème fraîche can be stored for up to 10 days, let’s start here — and then tomorrow we can tackle the sage oil — and then head on to the soup in a pumpkin bowl! Baby steps….

So what is crème fraîche, you ask? Well, crème fraiche is sour cream’s thinner, more sophisticated cousin from France. Aside from the accent, it also has a smoother taste and won’t break as sour cream does when added to sauces. (Show off!) While crème fraîche is becoming more and more available in supermarkets, it is actually really easy to make at home. The only thing sour cream has going for her is that crème fraîche doesn’t develop in a hurry. Crème fraîche will make you wait. 24 hours to be exact.

Cream Collage

It only takes 3 simple steps to make — the waiting is the hardest part! Simply pour 1 cup heavy cream in a jar, add 1 tablespoon buttermilk, cover and shake. Leave covered at room temperature, stored in a dry place and away from sunlight, for 24 hours. It is ready when it becomes thick, and don’t worry about the cream spoiling; the benign live bacteria in the buttermilk will multiply and protect the cream from harmful bacteria. You know, science stuff. After 24 hours, place in the refrigerator. It will continue to thicken and take on a tangier flavor as it ages. Crème fraîche will keep in the refrigerator for up to 7–10 days.

In closing, here is a teaser shot of the crème fraîche on my soup. Oh, and some other clever uses for it! It really is pretty amazing on about anything.

  • Great on black bean and other creamed veggie soups, too!
  • Mix into mac and cheese for something completely decadent.
  • Stir into marinara to make for a creamier pasta sauce.
  • Spoon it in place of whipped cream over chocolate pudding, or on top of your favorite cobbler.
  • Make an elegant appetizer by dolloping it onto smoked salmon and rye bread, topped with fresh dill.
  • Make your morning brighter by serving alongside your morning scone.

Final pumpkin 2

October 8, 2013

Miss Elsie’s No-Bake Candy!

by Sandy Pollock

Small towns and small town churches are great places to grow up. I was raised in Hargill, Texas and attended the Hargill First Baptist Church every Sunday (whether I wanted to or not).

My mom played the piano, my sister led the singing, and the elegant and amazing Miss Elsie taught my Sunday school class. I was about 5 years old and Miss Elsie was simply magic to me. She was kind and gentle and the bearer of stickers and happiness. I miss and think of her often.

Miss Elsie was an AMAZING cook and I could spend many days on this blog recreating some of her dishes (her chocolate pie and cabbage rolls are the stuff of legends), but today, I’m sharing her no-bake candy that she made for us kids.  It’s a sugar-on-sugar extravaganza with an accent of peanut butter — super sweet and super awesome! We all LOVED it. Not sure where the original recipe came from, but here is how my beloved Miss Elsie made it.

Enjoy!

IMG_7301

4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups powdered milk

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

IMG_7329Combine everything in one bowl

IMG_7332

IMG_7344Roll into bite size balls

Miss Elsie’s No-cook candy

4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups powdered milk

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

Mix all the ingredients. Roll into small balls and place on wax paper to harden. Eat them with your face.

September 30, 2013

Merry Mushroom Bread Pudding

by Crystal Cook

My dish addiction is no secret. We have discussed it here on the blog many times before. So it should come as no surprise that I have an impressive selection of vintage casserole dishes—from Pyrex to Fire King, and a whole lot of everything in between. One of my favorites happens to be a Corning Ware dish with the “Merry Mushroom” pattern on it. The orange, yellow, and brown color palette screams 70’s, and I love it! The dish keeps me inspired and I am constantly creating new mushroom recipes to proudly serve up in this dish. Trust me, nothing perks up a buffet table like a “Merry Mushroom” painted casserole pan!

Since I just learned that September was National Mushroom Month, I jumped at the chance to make something in this dish! Unfortunately I didn’t find out about this until the next to the last day of the month, so I had to act fast! I picked up my trusty Make-A -Meal cookbook from The Cassserole Queens (maybe you have heard of it?) and immediately turned to the Merry Mushroom bread pudding—one of the finest mushroom masterpieces around! The combination of portobello and button mushrooms makes it especially earthy and super comforting.

Shall we?

casserole_cvr_resize

Ingredient list

Yummy ingredients: Milk, rustic bread, portobello mushrooms, vegetable oil,  button mushrooms, garlic,  fresh parsley,  fresh rosemary, salt, freshly ground black pepper, eggs, and Gruyère cheese.

Pour milk

First take your bread and cube it into 2-inch pieces. Any rustic bread will do, but I used Ciabatta and I liked it a lotta! 🙂 Pour 2 cups of milk over the bread and refrigerate for 30 minutes – stirring occasionally. 

Meanwhile, using a spoon, remove the brown gills from the undersides of the portobellos and remove the stems; discard the gills and stems, slice mushrooms. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the portobello and button mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes, until the mushrooms start to release their juices.

mushrooms saute

Stir in the garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and cook for 1 minute.

add garlic rosemary and parsley

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk, the eggs, and the egg white.

whisk eggs

Spoon 2 cups of the bread mixture from the fridge into the prepared casserole dish.

layer

Top with the mushroom mixture.

layer mushroom

Sprinkle with ⅓ cup of the cheese.

cheese layer

Top with the remaining bread mixture and the remaining ⅔ cup cheese. Pour the egg mixture over top.

last layer

bread pour

Bake for 45 minutes, or until set. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

in the oven

final mushroom dish

final from above

Gorgeous and delicious! Happy National Mushroom Month (or in this case – day!) Better late than never, right?

Merry Mushroom Bread Pudding.

Serves 6

Cooking spray

3 cups whole milk

8 cups rustic bread, cut into 2-inch cubes (I used Ciabatta)

2 (4-ounce) portobello mushrooms

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

6 cups quartered button mushrooms (about 12 ounces)

2 garlic clove, minced

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 large eggs

1 large egg white

1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (4 ounces)

1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9 × 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of the milk and the bread. Cover and chill for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.  Meanwhile, using a spoon, remove the brown gills from the undersides of the portobellos and remove the stems; discard the gills and stems, slice mushrooms. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the portobello and button mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes, until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Stir in the garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and cook for 1 minute.

4.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk, the eggs, and the egg white. Spoon 2 cups of the bread mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Top with the mushroom mixture and sprinkle with ⅓ cup of the cheese. Top with the remaining bread mixture and the remaining ⅔ cup cheese. Pour the egg mixture over top. Bake for 45 minutes, or until set. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

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