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Megans Cookin: September 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

My favorite Salad!

When we had our wine pairing dinner last month, one of the dishes I wanted more of was the salad. Now, if you know me, that would surprise you. A six course meal and I want more salad? Yea, kind of blew me away too. But when I got home, that was the first dish I recreated. It wasn't hard since the title says it all.
Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Peaches with Baby Greens, Macadamia Nuts, Goat Cheese and Wild Flower Honey Vinaigrette

I didn't have any wild flower honey but I had my favorite honey straight from the farmers market. Raspberry Honey. And I found a recipe that not only compliments this salad but any salad. And it was quick, easy, and only has 1 teaspoon of oil. Pretty low fat, don't you think?

I wrapped the prosciutto around the peach slices and the first time we grilled them on the BBQ. The next time I grilled them on my grill pan. And the third time, yes, I've made this quite a few times. I used pears. Or you could use apple slices. I was thinking Autumn when I tried the pears. I thought they were all good so try your favorite fruit.

I grilled them with the toothpick in them but be sure to remove it before serving!

Grill them just till the prosciutto is crisp.

My goat cheese came from the farmers market too, and I got the one rolled in Herbs de Providence. But I've also used plain store bought goat cheese. Just use your favorite!

I've used baby spinich in place of the baby greens.
Mix it up!
Baby greens or spinich, peaches or pears,
herbed cheese or plain.
Make it your own, but do try it!
You'll be comming back for seconds!!!

Honey Vinaigrette:
recipe by Mccormick

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake.



Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Daring Bakers Make history!

So I'm sitting at the computer late at night, barely able to keep my eyes open, when what should I come upon? Some Daring Baker's posts on this months challenge.

WHAT? ALREADY? BUT, BUT, it cant be that time already!

Does it seem the older you get, the faster the time flies?

Well... it is The Daring Baker's Time and this months challenge is making history. We've put down our sugar, butter and eggs this month and bring to you... Lavash Crackers!

This recipe came together really quick if you don't count the rising (90 minutes) time. I put it all in my kitchenaid and let the machine do the work. It rolled out very easy for me but I think it was a little thin in the middle. It was pretty dark and crispy but not quite burned. I flavored the crackers with three different spices. the right side was sea salt, the middle was a garlic mixture and the last was a ground coriander.

I must admit, I dropped the ball on this challenge. We were suppose to pair this with a vegan dip. My crackers didn't even get off the baking sheet to a platter, let alone be hanging out with some bowl of salsa or dip .This cracker would of been a great scooper with some delightfully delicious dip. But your not gonna find any dips here. But if you go to the Daring Bakers Blogroll, you'll find hundreds of them there. And you know what? The holidays are coming, you might want to bookmark a few of those dips for when family gets together.

Thank You to alternative bakers Natalie from Gluten A Go Go and Shel from Musings from the fishbowl for picking this vegan/gluten free, history making challenge. It was nice to have something savory and lite. The recipe can found at either one of their sites.

More Daring Bakers challenges:
Chocolate Eclairs
Danish Braid
Opera Cake
Cheesecake Pops
The Perfect Party CakeJulia Child's French Bread
Lemon Meringue Pie
Buche de Noel
Potato Bread


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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Where Having WHAT For Dinner???

When I think of cream of mushroom soup I think of the kind that comes in the can.
I cant imagine having that as my dinner.

But this soup was rich, creamy and delicious! And it made a mighty fine dinner.
I dont think I'll be hearing the Hubby say, "Will you make that GREAT Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup for dinner?" anytime soon.
But he did like it. And so did I!
That surprised me.

It's Barefoot Blogger time and this weeks recipe was picked by
Chelle of Brown Eyed Baker.

I would of never made this recipe if it hadn't been a BB challenge. That's what is so nice about these online baking groups. It really does push you beyond your comfort point.

I mean, wild mushroom soup?

I would of never... but, I'm glad I did.

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
By Ina Garten

5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/2 Cup(1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining stick of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.


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Monday, September 22, 2008

Mexican Brown Sugar Pound Cake

I'm a chocoholic and I admit it. My good blogging friend Teresa knows it. In fact, she gave me a badge so I can proudly stand up and say with clarity, "My name is Megan, and I'm a chocoholic!"
As a matter of fact, Teresa is the owner and writer of one of my favorite blogs Mexican Chocolate Lore and More. She also writes Mexican American Border Cooking. If you haven't seen her two blogs, I encourage you to do so. You wont be sorry! That's where I got this recipe. Yep, it's from Teresa. And what enticed me to pick this recipe for Mexican Brown Sugar Pound Cake you ask? Well, one of the two ingredients pictured below. It really peaked my curiosity.

I had seen the pilocillo before but had no idea what it was, no less how to use it. But Teresa taught me about it. The other ingredient is Mexican chocolate. I had heard about it too but didn't know any thing about it. Now I do. And I'll tell you.

The Piloncillo is Mexican brown sugar that comes in a cone. To learn more about the process of making Piloncillo, click here. First you have to break it up. I asked Teresa how she did it and she said with a mallet and chisel. I didn't have those tools in my kitchen drawers but I had a meat tenderiser and that seemed to do the job just fine. I think an ice pick would work too! Just be careful of flying sugar shards. It could get a little dangerous at this point.

Once you get the cone chiseled, the chopping isn't hard.
There's just alot of it!

The brown sugar chunks get folded into the cake batter.
It was the hubby's favorite part. The chunks, not the folding.
The recipe was suppose to make two loaves but I use a bigger loaf pan then what was suggested and made one BIG loaf. I was planning on two loaves so I could leave one plain and use a Mexican chocolate glaze on the other. Plans aren't always what their cracked up to be. So after enjoying half the loaf, we did just that.
Glazed the other half with the chocolate. Mexican Chocolate!
Now for the chocolate.
I think Mexican chocolate can be used in a multiple of things,
but I believe it's actually made for hot cocoa.
So I figure that if it's made to go in milk,
it would be that much better with cream. Right?

So I added some chopped chocolate in some warm cream and covered the rest of my pound cake. The chocolate has a Cinnamon taste and I loved it. It might be a little over kill on this already rich cake but I had to try it. Hubby thought it was great. But isn't almost everything better with chocolate? I know Mondays are better with it!

Don't you want to make it? Look at that chocolate running down the side.

I think I'm in love!

It was a very sturdy cake and sliced up nicely. I thought it would make nice little gifts and I had a mini bundt cake pan that that I thought would be perfect to make these little cakes. Then I was planning on drizzling the chocolate over the top. Just a little chocolate for decoration.
Well, I was not happy when ALL my cute little cakes stuck to the bottom of the pans. Hubby tried really hard to get them out but the piloncillo chunks stuck to the bottom of the pans and would not release them to save our life. I was so bummed that I put what was left of the batter into the refrigerator till the next day. I thought I would fill regular mini loaf pans the next day.

They stuck too. But I know I'll try again, and next time, I will use a little parchment paper on the bottom. My first loaf didn't stick!?! What was up with that I ask?

I managed to salvage one little loaf enough that I could package it up for a gift.
It was for a friend so I did explain to her that it wasn't perfect. But it was delicious.
And it was from the heart!

Piloncillo Brown Sugar Pound Cake
Inspired by Martha Stewart,
Concocted by Teresa
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cone piloncillo, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Prepare 2 (8 x 4 inch) loaf pans by greasing and flouring.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time until well combined. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to butter/sugar/eggs mixture. Combine well. Fold in piloncillo pieces. Pour into two prepared pans. Bake for about an hour. Cool 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Adopt A Blogger: Meet My Adoptee!

I am excited to see that Kristian of Dine and Dash is hosting the Adopt A Blogger event again, and this time I got to sign up as a veteran blogger. For three months, I have the privilege to mentor a "Newbie" blogger and be available to show them the ropes, I guess you could say.

So without further delay,

I would like to introduce to you;

Brandie of The Purple People Eatery.

Brandie is a mother of four who loves to cook and has been blogging since February. She's got some tasty looking granola bars over there that make me wonder why I've been buying them.
I encourage you to stop by the Purple People Eatery and say "Hi" to Brandy. Make her feel welcomed, wont you?


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Garlic Jelly

When I heard Carla from Chocolate Moosey was
I knew I was in.
The theme is garlic and it's suppose to be the main event.
Not just a clove or two of garlic thrown in some little dish but it is meant to be center stage.
You know what I mean?
It didn't take much thinking for me to figure out what I was gonna do.
Garlic Jelly!!!

Here's my set up. I have the larger pot for keeping the jars hot and then I use it again to boil my jars for processing. The small sauce pan has hot water and my lids in it. The medium sauce pan is where I'm making the jam. Oh, and the jar lifter is there in the middle. See it?

Jelly after processing
In this recipe, you simmer the garlic in vinegar for 15 minutes,
then you let it seep for 24 to 36 hours.
let me tell you...
that stuff stunk the house up so bad, that Hubby and I couldn't sleep.
The second night wasn't so bad, but... that first night...

Here's the jam in the kitchen window so you can see that pretty color. Well,... that pretty artificial color. I use a tad bit of orange food coloring to get that Autumn color.
For the recipe, you press the garlic out of the vinegar you just simmered and then used the flavored vinegar basically as the fruit in the recipe. Add your sugar, pectin, water and cook it up. Pour jelly into the warm jars, put them back in their bath and boil for 10 minutes. Easy Peasy!

Looking past the jam, this is my view out the kitchen window.
The beginning of my maple tree is starting to lose her leaves.
This jelly was a pleasant surprise. Despite the overwelming stinch that first night,
this jelly was pretty mild. It's great with cream cheese over crackers for the holidays
(which really is just around the corners)
or makes a great little gift.
I'm brushing it on grilled chicken!
Happy Fall Ya All!

Garlic Jelly
found at Recipezaar

1/2 cup fresh garlic, finely chopped
2 cups white wine vinegar
5 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 (2 ounce) package dry pectin
1/4 teaspoon butter or oil
2 drops food coloring (optional)


1Combine garlic& vinegar in a 2 qt.
Simmer mixture gently, uncovered, over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Remove pan from heat& pour mixture into a 1 quart glass jar.
Cover& let stand at room temperature for 24-36 hours.
Pour flavored vinegar through a wire strainer into a bowl, pressing the garlic with the back of a spoon to squeeze out liquid.
Discard any residue.
Measure the liquid& add vinegar, if needed, to make 1 cup.
Measure sugar into a dry bowl.
0Combine the garlic-vinegar solution& the water in a 5 or 6 quart kettle.
Add pectin, stirring well.
over high heat, bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly to avoid scorching.
Add sugar,& stir well.
Bring mixture to a full, rolling boil.
Add butter to reduce foaming.
Continue stirring.
Boil the mixture hard for exactly 2 minutes.
Remove pan from heat& skim off any foam.
Add red, yellow or orange food coloring if desired.
Pour jelly into prepared glasses.
Seal according to directions on recipe folder in pectin package.

More Jam Recipes
Vanilla Spiced Peach Jam
Chocolate Strawberry Jam


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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's Not Your Mama's Mac and Cheese!

If your looking for creamy, cheesy, comforting, southern kind of mac and cheese, It's not here. In fact, the name MAC and cheese doesn't even do this little lady justice. That's because she's all grown up and sophisticated.

She's got style, she's got grace, She's a winner.
She's a Lady. Whoa whoa whoa, She's a Lady.

Remember that song? It's by Tom Jones. Remember?

I've had that song on my mind since I made Ina Gartens grown up version of macaroni and cheese. This little dish has Gruyere, sharp Cheddar and blue cheese in it.

I told you she was grown-up.

I was Leary about the blue cheese but it all comes together and it really works! The picky kid, who I thought would hate it, ate two bowls before I could even get the topping on and put it in the oven. The sure sign of a winner in my family.

Thanks to Heather from Randomosity and the girl for picking this Barefoot Bloggers recipe. If you want the recipe, you'll find it on Heathers blog here or on the food network site here.
I say give her a whirl!
But instead of Mac and cheese, let's call her *Three Cheese and Roni*

Yeah yeah yeah She's a Lady
Listen to me baby, She's a
whoa whoa, She's a Lady
And the Lady is mine!


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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vanilla Spiced Peach Jam - Oh My!!!

Going through the orchards on the way home from Sacramento one weekend, we stopped and bought a big load of peaches. I knew I wanted to make some jam with them. So when I searched online to find a recipe, I came upon this one. But first, I made a few adjustments. It called for a cinnamon stick to be stewed in the brew. I didn't have any sticks but I knew I wanted to add a vanilla bean, so that was it. Add the vanilla bean and add regular cinnamon instead of the stick.

The Spice

Even the Hubby was seen slathering it on a flaky roll. That's when I knew it wasn't just me who thought it was pretty darn good. But the non jam man thought so to.

My only complaint was that it only made 4 jars and we have already gone through 1. It taste like a peach cobbler without the crust. I seriously thought about putting it on some ice cream.
It's that good!

If canning is your thing, or you have been thinking about trying it, I encourage you to try this. It's not hard at all to actually can the jam. It's just a few easy steps. And you will have summer peach taste all through the cold hard winter.

Click on picture to enlarge

Can you see the vanilla specks?

O.K. so they are hard to see in the picture.

But can you smell it?


Vanilla Spice Peach Jam

Adapted from RecipeZarr

1 Vanilla bean, split
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 lbs peaches, peeled and chopped (about 6 cups)
1 Place all ingredients in a heavy large pot; stir to combine. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain an even boil.
2 While the mixture boils, mash fruit with a potato masher to desired consistency. Boil an additional 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, or until slightly thickened (you'll see the bottom of the pot when stirring) and set.** (Temperature should be about 221 F.) Remove from heat; remove vanilla bean.
3 Pour hot jam into 4 sterilized 8-oz. jars. Carefully wipe jar rims; cover. (Jam can be made up to 1 month ahead and refigerated or up to 6 months ahead and frozen.) To store at room temperature, immediately process in a boiling water bath for 5 five minutes.
4Tips: * To peel peaches, drop peaches into larg pot of boiling water; boil 30 seconds or until peach skins loosen. Remove with slotted spoon; drop into ice water to cool. Use a knife to peel away skins.
5** To test jam, before you begin cooking, place a small plate into the freezer to chill. When jam begins to thicken slightly, place a small amount of jam on chilled plate; return to freezer for 1 to 2 minutes (remove jam from heat during testing time). When set, jam will be slightly set and will not run on plate. If jam is too liquid, cook an addition 1 to 2 minutes before testing again.



Friday, September 12, 2008

How to use a Chocolate Transfer sheet

Last Christmas was the first time I ever used chocolate transfer sheets and fell in love with them. They have every thing from snowflakes to music notes and there is a transfer for every occasion. I ordered mine on line at Country Kitchen sweet Art . A sheet measures 15 x 11.5 inches and is like a thin piece of plastic. On one side is an edible design made of food colors.

I cut mine into little squares to top my truffles. I flattened the tops a little to get a flatter surface for the transfers to adhere. You have to dip the truffle and apply the transfer design side down before the chocolate has a chance to set.

Once the chocolate sets, you just peel off the plastic.

Works like magic! I have also just spread melted chocolate on a sheet of wax paper, applied the transfer, let set and then brake it up to make a chocolate garnish on a dessert. But, I can also tell you from experience, chocolate transfers don't work on chocolate ganache. I made a cake once and poured ganache over the top. I thought it would be so pretty to have the design on top. Wrong. It was a muddled mess. I ended up making a circle of chocolate and used the transfer on it. Go check it out. Go ahead, I'll wait. Click here!

Here is what the paper looks like after peeling it off the truffle. I tried to cut the transfer sheets into circles with my circle puncher but it made straggly edges and didn't look as pretty as when I just cut them into squares. It wasted a little bit but made the finished product much nicer.

Cousins boxing the truffles for the birthday party favors!
Look at all those curls ! Lucky girls!!! It's the portugese in them.

Boxed and ready for the party.
The holidays are coming and what a perfect opportunity
to try using a chocolate transfer sheet.
So easy yet so impressive!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Wine Pairing Dinner!

Ahhh, the wine pairing dinner has come and gone. And what a wonderful time we had! Let me share with you. We gathered at one house for the family picture and a few predinner activities. This is a third of the family acting out an interactive story about the birthday girl.
And it all started with Champagne and appetizers!

Portugese Cod Fish Balls with an Aoili


Bolinhos de Bacalhau with Molho Maionese
Mumm Napa NV Blanc de Noirs Champagne
Napa Valley

The staging area!

We walked down to a second house where dinner was to be served.Here is a peek into the kitchen. The salad is almost ready.

My Place Setting
Every place setting had a copy of the menu and a truffle as a party favor.

First Course
Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Peaches with Baby Greens, Macadamia Nuts, Goat Cheese and Wild Flower Honey Vinaigrette
Dry Creek Vineyard 2005 Fume Blanc
Sonoma County

Second Course

Cedar-Planked Salmon with Fresh Pineapple-Mango Salsa on Spiced Couscous
Belvedere 2005 Chardonnay
Healdsburg Ranches
Sonoma County

Third Course

Wild Boar Ravioli
with Wild Mushrooms, Grappe Soaked Raisins and Chives
Blackstone 2004 Pinot Noir
Sonoma Coast
Sonoma County


Champagne Sorbet

Fourth Course

Filet Mignon Medallions on Truffled Potato Cake with
Port Wine and Blackberry Gastrique
Korbel 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon
Alexander Valley
Sonoma County

Fifth Course

Farmhouse Artisan Cheeses and Sun-dried Fruits
Korbel NV Port
Sonoma County
Mt. Vernon 2004 White Port
Placer County

Sixth Course

Almond Nougat Semifreddo with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
Deco Chocolate Port
Sonoma County

Everything was spectacular!
I hope you enjoyed our dinner!

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