Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pumpkin Gratin

This is one of the coolest things to make.  It is crazy putting a whole pumpkin in the oven and so much fun.  I first served it as one of the tapas for a pre Thanksgiving event.  Pairs great with a Gewurztraminer and even better with Prager Aria (a white port).

Small pumpkin with a flat bottom.  I suggest a pie pumpkin for the best flavor and a perfect size.
12 oz Swiss cheese, grated (I like using Gruyere but Emmenthaler or Appenzeller will also work) 
French bread, sliced and toasted (Get a good loaf)
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cup cream
1 t. salt
some pepper
some grated nutmeg
vegetable oil

  1. Cut off the top, as if you were going to carve a jack-o-lantern, and hollow it out. (Note: the seeds can be spread out and dried to eat later.)
  2. Slice French bread into 2-inch thick slices with a sharp knife. (Optional, Brush each side of the French bread with olive oil.) Place the French bread pieces on a cookie sheet. Put the cookie sheet into a 400 degree oven. Remove the cookie sheet after five minutes and turn the French bread pieces with tongs. Place back into the oven for another five minutes. Remove from the oven when fully toasted.\
  3. Grate about 12 ounces of one of the Swiss cheeses - Emmenthaler, Gruyere or Appenzeller (or create your own combination).
  4. Alternately layer the toast and cheese inside the pumpkin until it's almost full (leave a half inch on the top because the filling will expand a bit). 
  5. Mix 1 cup of chicken stock into a cup and a half of cream. Add a teaspoon of salt. Grind in some black pepper and grate in some nutmeg. (Optional, reduce the chicken stock and add 1/4 cup Prager Aria)
  6. Fill the pumpkin almost to the top with this mixture, 
  7. Brush the outside of the pumpkin with oil, it will look better when it emerges.
  8. Replace the top of the pumpkin, place on a sheet pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 2 hours. (Note: you will need the oven rack lower in the over to allow room.
Bring the whole pumpkin to the table. When you serve it be sure to scoop out the pumpkin flesh with the cheese and the cream. I like to serve this for our pre Thanksgiving tapas party, the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. It could also be served with a light second course.

I first discovered this recipe through Ruth Riechel I follow her on Twitter @ruthreichel

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Pie

This recipe is from "The Kitchen Detective" by Christopher Kimball from America's Test
When you make this recipe it
helps to have GREAT sous-chefs
Kitchens, 2003.  I love  America's Test Kitchen!!!!  I served this for Thanksgiving.  My family isn't too crazy about pecan pie but this combo they love!!!

5 T unsalted butter
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the dough and work surface
1/2 t. table salt
2 T granulated sugar
5 T all-vegetable shortening (Crisco), chilled
4 - 6 T ice water

2 c. pecan halves
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 T unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 c dark corn syrup
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 T bourbon or dark rum
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 t table salt

1, FOR THE CRUST. (I suggest using your favorite crust recipe or buying a crust.) Cut the butter into 3/4 inch pieces and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Place the shortening in 1-T. lumps into the food processor along with the frozen butter pieces. Pulse about 8 times (1 second pulses) or until the dough appears slightly yellow, pebbly in texture and the butter is reduced to very small pieces, the size of peas or smaller.  Check the dough after 5 pulses and every pulse thereafter. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl. (this dough can also be made by hand.  Use your finger to work the butter and shortening into the flour.)

2. Sprinkle 4 T. of ice water over the mixture.  With the blade of a large rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix., then press down on the dough with the broad side of the spatula until the dough sticks together, adding more water if the dough will not come together. (Do NOT worry about adding more water; add as much as you need to make sure the dough easily comes together and is moist. If the outside of the dough becomes very wet, simply flour it before you warp it in plastic.) Work slowly, mixing the dough to evenly distribute the water.  This should take abut 1 minute. Shape the dough into a ball with your hands, then flatten it into a 4 inch wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling.  (Overnight is best.)

3. FOR THE FILLING. Adjust the oven racks to the lower and middle positions and heat the over to 375 degrees. Spread the pecans on a baking sheets and toast on the middle rack until slightly darker and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Check frequently to avoid burning. Chop coarsely.  Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

4. Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave oven at 50% power for about 2 minutes.  Stir to mix. (Heat in additional 30 second intervals, if necessary.) In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until blended.  Whisk in the corn syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, bourbon, heavy cream, salt and the melted butter-and-chocolate mixture.

5. Roll out the pastry dough and fit it into a 9 inch Pyrex pie plate. Trim, leaving 1/2 inch overlap. Fold the excess dough back under the crust and crimp with your fingers or a fork.

6. Fold the pecans into the filling and pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake on the lower oven rack for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until the edges puffy and cracked and the center 3 - 4 inches is slightly wobbly, about 20 minutes.  Do not over bake; the pie will become tough. Cool to room temperature (about 4 hours) before serving.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Homemade Yogurt

This recipe is from Our Life Simplified


Crockpot Yogurt

Prep Time:
Cook Time:
1/2 gallon


  • 1/2 gallon milk*  (I used whole pasteurized Milk)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt with active cultures
  • * 1/2 cup powdered milk if using 2% or lower milk or ultra-pasteurized milk (I also added powdered milk.  The powdered milk is a thickening agent.)


My first batch 1/2014.  turned out GREAT!!!!! (BD)
  1. Pour milk into croc kpot.
  2. Cover, turn on high and let the milk heat until almost boiling.  The actual temp is 180 F, but I don't use the thermometer. (I do use a thermometer, BD)  Mine takes about 2 hours.
  3. Turn the crock pot off. Take the lid of and let cool back down to 115 F or where you can stick your finger in and leave it for 10 seconds.   Stir it around every once in a while as it's cooling.
  4. Stir in 1 cup of plain yogurt from the store.  If you're using powdered milk, stir in now. NOTE:  stirring the powdered milk in with a small amount of the milk separately
  5. Put lid back on, wrap entire crock pot with a beach or bath towel and set away for 8-12 hours.   I usually stick it in the oven--keeps it away from drafts and it will retain some more of the heat longer.
  6. Stir it up and put in your containers.
  7. Remember to freeze some of this in 1 cup portions (of this first batch that has been cultured from store bought yogurt) for your next batch!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sweet Potato and Squash Soup

I can't believe this is the third squash soup recipe. It's the closest I have come to my favorite squash soup from the Carlin Club in Presque Isle, WI.  The cranberry sauce is a must!!!  The recipe came to me via Addie Halfmann, Food Writer - Cooking Consultant "Fall Favorites 2004"

1 T. butter
1 lg. onion, chopped
4 c. chicken stock or broth, divided
1.5 # peeled, deseeded, cubed butternut squash, about 1 medium
1/2 # peeled, cubed sweet potato, about 1 large
2 lg carrots, peeled and sliced
1.5 t. crumbled dried sage (1 used freshly chopped)
1/2 t ground mace (I didn't have mace se used a little ground nutmeg)
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t hot pepper sauce (I used less, definitely add this too taste)
Salt to taste
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 T orange juice

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently until softened and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups broth, squash, sweet potato, carrots, sage, mace, and ginger. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low and cook until vegetables are very tender, 25 - 30 minutes.

In a food processor or blender, puree vegetable mixture. In batches, if necessary, pulsing until smooth. I used an emulsion blender. (Can we made to this point 2 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen for 1 month.)

Return puree to saucepan, whisk in remaining 2 cups broth. Simmer gently until heated through. Season with hot pepper sauce and salt to taste.

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine sugar and water; bring to boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add cranberries. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally until cranberries soften and burst, about 10 minutes.  Cool slightly. In food processor or blender, puree cranberries with orange juice until smooth.  (Can be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated)

Ladle hot soup into bowls. Top with spoonful of cranberry puree; draw tip of knife through puree to create a decorative swirl, or pip through pastry bag using small tip.

6 servings

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

    • Annie 
    • September 27, 2007
The vining sweet potato plant spends the summer collecting and funneling energy into its roots, culminating in a fall crop of beautiful, bronze tubers. The sweet potato’s rich and creamy orange flesh and earthy, sweet flavor is incredibly versatile, and lends itself perfectly to this easy and delicious recipe for Sweet Potato Enchiladas.
Irresistible and comforting, these enchiladas are also easy to make. This is a weekday meal you can throw together after work and be completely satisfied. Prepare the sauce while the potatoes are cooking, and the rest comes together quickly. Sweet potatoes make a unique yet fabulous filling.
3 medium sweet potatoes (about one pound)
3 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1½ teaspoons)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
12 corn tortillas
1 recipe enchilada sauce (below, or 4 cups prepared enchilada sauce)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch backing dish.
2. Bake the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet until soft, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool, and then peel and mash.
3. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions; sauté until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
4. Stir in the cumin, oregano, coriander and salt; cook stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and cook for 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
5. Wrap the tortillas in a dish towel and place in a steamer basket over boiling water for about 10 minutes.
6. Fill each tortilla with about 1/3 cup of the sweet potato filling and roll up. Place the filled tortillas in the prepared baking dish. Pour the sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes.
Enchilada Sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups pureed tomatoes
Salt to taste
1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, chili powder, cumin, and oregano; cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is soft, 2 to 3 more minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt, Cook over low heat until flavors are fully developed, 30 to 45 minutes. Season with more salt to taste.

Read more:

Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Pasta

Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Pasta

Sweet potatoes and pasta may seem counter-intuitive, but here’s a recipe that uses sweet potatoes and red bell peppers in a bright “power vegetable” pasta dish that’s loaded with fresh herbs and very delicious. Any fresh herbs you have on hand, like basil, oregano, sorrel or chives, can be substituted for the tarragon.
8 ounces whole-wheat angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups shredded, peeled sweet potato (about 1 medium)
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup diced plum tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar or lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes or according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon oil and garlic in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant, 2 to 5 minutes. Add sweet potato, bell pepper, tomatoes and water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell pepper is tender-crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and keep warm.
3. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the vegetable mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, parsley, tarragon, vinegar (or lemon juice), salt and cheese; toss to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, 2 tablespoons at a time, to achieve the desired consistency.
Recipe Nutrition: 4 servings, about 1 3/4 cups each
Per serving: 402 calories; 12 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 6g mono unsaturated fat); 7 mg cholesterol; 62 g carbohydrates; 12 g protein; 9 g fiber; 546 mg sodium; 738 mg potassium
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (140% daily value), Vitamin A (120% dv), Potassium (21% dv), Iron (15% dv).
3 1/2 Carbohydrate Servings
Exchanges: 4 starch, 2 fat

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