Oktoberfest in Germany begins Saturday, September 22, 2012, and ends Sunday, October 7, 2012...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cavatelli,Asparagus and Artichoke Salad

So I was thinking about what to whip up for dinner tonight.   I had some leftovers that needed to be used, and a nice package of Cavatelli Pasta which I picked up at our local import market this week.  My list was some leftover asparagus, ¾ of a jar or artichoke hearts, a bunch of fresh Italian herbs from our BB basket this week and a lemon.   This is what I did……


1 cup asparagus cut in 2” lengths
1 jar of artichoke hearts, including the liquid
1/3 cup chopped herbs – a combination of Basil, Oregano, and Parsley
1 Lemon
One 17 OZ package of Cavatelli Pasta
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic
Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
Pinch of Salt for the pasta water

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta.   Cook until tender.

Rinse and pat dry the bunch of herbs.   Chop the herbs to a desired consistency and place in large bowl.

Cut pre-cooked asparagus in 2 “ lengths, add them to the large bowl

Cut the artichoke hearts up in 1 inch pieces and add them to the large bowl

Press the garlic over the bowl mixture

Pour Olive Oil over the items in the large bowl

Squeeze one fresh lemon over the items in the large bowl

Toss the items in the bowl with the EVOO and Lemon juice

When the pasta is finished cooking, drain the water and then immediately add the hot pasta to the large bowl and toss it with the mixture.  Set bowl aside to cool – when it is cool enough, cover with plastic and refrigerate.

I served this dish cold alongside some sliced melon.    You could also serve it hot tossed with some Italian cheese or even topped with grilled chicken.

Enjoy !!!   

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

I always make Irish Soda Bread to accompany our Saint Patrick’s Day Dinner.   This year I tried a new recipe and it was over the top moist and delicious.   In fact, the only picture I have of it is the finished product from the oven.   When I asked my son to slice it and place on the table, it disappeared in minutes!!!    Anyway, here is a recipe for the best Irish Soda Bread ever!

This is a moister batter/dough than most Irish Soda Bread recipes, so you will bake it in a loaf pan rather than a round mound.

    * 3 cups all-purpose flour
    * 1 tablespoon baking powder
    * 1/3 cup white sugar   (I used slightly less)
    * 1 teaspoon salt
    * 1 teaspoon baking soda
    * 1 egg, lightly beaten
    * 2 cups buttermilk
    * 1/4 cup butter, melted


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Blend egg, butter and buttermilk together in a separate bowl and then, add all at once to the flour mixture.   Mix just until moistened and then pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.   Serve warm or wrap in foil for several hours, or overnight.

Saint Patrick’s Day Dinner

We always gather at our house for the Saint Patrick’s Day Feast.   It is always a fun time for our family.   The weather is turning Springish and the kids are full of energy.   I love all Irish cooking.   I must say, however, I have never been a fan of Corned Beef and Cabbage – until I gave myself permission to cook each of the traditional sides separately rather than in the same pot with the beef and brine.   Well, the year I did that everyone agreed it was the best Saint Pat’s meal ever!    This is how I do it ……

Corned Beef:     Follow package directions and in addition to the spices that come with the package, add:
2 dried bay leaves
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon whole pepper corns
½ Tablespoon mustard seeds
½ Tablespoon coriander seed
½ Tablespoon Whole cloves

Cover brisket with ½ Apple Cider Vinegar and ½ water and cook at 350F for the first two hours and then reduce to 325F and continue cooking until you have cooked your brisket/briskets one hour per pound.

Horseradish Sauce:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup jarred grated horseradish
1 teaspoon coarse ground mustard
Pinch of garlic salt   (to taste)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

In a small bowl, mix together the first 4 ingredients and then season with garlic salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate the horseradish sauce for at least 30 minutes before serving.     This is fabulous sauce for the Corned Beef !!!!!

One to Two heads of cabbage – I used  1 ½ to feed my brood
3 Tablespoons Butter
Two to Three Tablespoons of Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette 
¼ cup of cooked liquid from the Corned Beef Brisket

Cut your cabbage head in half and then quarters, removing the core part.   Set the quarters aside and prep your pan.   Drop your butter in a warm pan and when it is melted add the Vinaigrette (I use Ken's brand Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette).   Add the quarters of cabbage and pour the Brisket liquid over the cooking quarters.   Using a wooden spoon or fork in each hand, gently toss the cabbage, butter, Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette, and cooking liquid as it sautées in the pan.   When well tossed and warm, transfer the pan with the lid on to the oven to finish cooking.    This is primarily to free up space on the range.  If you do not need the room, you can finish cooking  on the burner rather than the oven.   Your cabbage is done when it is just tender.

Irish Champ    
(champ is native to the North of Ireland. It's made by blending spring onions with creamy mashed potatoes)

8 Russet potatoes, peeled and cut in large cubes
½ cup milk
1 bunch green onions – or in Irish speak, spring onions thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ cup or more of butter (make your mashed potatoes as creamy as you want – your diet is already blown)
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place potatoes into large pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.  When potatoes are cooked, drain well and mash just until the cubes are broken – then add the milk and butter and mix with a hand mixer until smooth.  Add the sliced spring onions and hand mix until evenly blended.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.     Set out some extra butter for individuals to add to their servings.    This dish is traditionally eaten with a well of butter in the middle of the serving.

Carrots with Currants:  
1 large bag of nice narrow carrots
2 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons orange juice (Okay, orange juice is not native to Ireland, but it sure takes sautéed carrots over the top, so I use it anyway)
2 – 3  Tablespoons dried Currants  (I think currants grow in Ireland…? )

First, peel and slice carrots to your desired size.   I like them about two inches long and sliced thin.   Drop your butter in a hot pan and then add the carrots.   Toss them a bit and then add the currants and pour the orange juice over the cooking carrots and currants.   Continue tossing as the orange juice reduces.   The carrots are finished cooking when they are tender.

Sautéed Green Beans

The volume doesn’t much matter.  We used two medium size bags of fresh skinny green beans.   Just trim both ends, and Sautée in butter (1 Tablespoon) until tender.  Season with garlic salt and fresh grated Pepper.

Enjoy your feast with Irish Soda Bread!!!!!!     We sure did!

Pistachio Cupcakes

Having been a young mother and now a grandmother, I can attest to the fact that sometimes there is no time for baking from scratch.   I found that if you use a cake mix and sub milk for the water requirement and add 2 tablespoons of sour cream your cake or cupcakes will bake up with a nice “from scratch” taste and texture.  I wanted to make a green dessert for Saint Patrick’s Day, and it had to be cupcakes because we are also celebrating our Grandson’s Birthday – so I made Pistachio Cupcakes.    This is how……


1 Box cake mix  --  I used Pillsbury Classic White
1 Box (small) pudding mix – I used Jell-O brand Pistachio
1 ¼ cup milk (sub the water requirement on cake box with milk)
2 Tablespoons of sour cream - no more
1/3 cup oil  --  I used canola (or whatever measurement your cake box calls for)
4 whole eggs  -- I used extra large 

Prepare your tins - either with spray or paper liners.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Just add all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine with an electric mixer.   Mix until the batter is smooth.
For regular size cupcakes:
Using a medium size cookie scoop, fill regular size cupcake liners with one scoop.   Bake for 18 minutes or when toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.   The cupcakes will have a light golden finish on top.

For large size cupcakes:
Using a medium size cookie scoop, fill large size cupcake liners with two scoops.   Bake for 23 minutes or when toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.   The cupcakes will have a light golden finish on top.

 Frost when completely cooled.

Buttercream Frosting

The frosting is so easy to throw together it pays to make this from scratch. 
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream (or milk)
Sprinkles of choice

Using an electric hand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading or piping consistency.

This is another picture from a batch of Pistachio Cupcakes made a month later for a Baby Shower.  See cream topper directions under Strawberry Cupcakes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spicy Beef Stir-Fry

This week I received some lovely green cauliflower in my Bountiful Basket.   Actually, the wrapping over the cauliflower identified it as multi-colored cauliflower.   I had never seen or heard of this variety before so I was pleased to be able to use something different.   Since I also had carrots on hand I decided on stir-fry for dinner.   My source is a nicely illustrated cookbook titled “ Low Fat - Quick and Easy Meals in 30 Minutes".   It really was quick and easy – tasty too!    This is my adaptation...

2  large  beef chops  (I actually used venison chops)
1 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons oil  (I used sesame oil)
1 cup orange juice (divided)
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
3 cloves garlic minced   ( I pressed)
2 cups cauliflower
2 cups sliced carrots
1 Tablespoon Asian Sweet Red Chili Sauce
6 cups hot cooked rice

For marinade:
½ cup of orange juice
3 Tablespoons of jarred minced garlic
1 Tablespoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil

Earlier in the day, place your meat in a gallon size zip lock bag, close and then pound to tenderize.   Then, open bag and add all of the marinade ingredients.   Zip closed and from the outside, pressing against the plastic, massage the marinade ingredients into the meat.   Place in the fridge and allow to rest for one to three hours.

Start your rice.   Cook enough for 4 servings.

Combine 1 cup chicken broth, soy sauce, cornstarch and orange juice in medium bowl and whisk until blended.  

Peel and cut up the vegetables - set aside.

Cut the marinated meat crosswise into ¼ inch slices.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in wok or large skillet over high heat until hot.  Add meat, sesame seeds and garlic.   Stir-fry 3 minutes or until meat is barely pink in center.  

Remove all from wok and place on a plate so the vegetables can be cooked without overcooking the meat.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in wok over high heat until hot.  Add the vegetables and chili sauce and cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.  
 Stir the chicken broth mixture and add it to the wok.  Cook and stir over medium heat until the sauce is thickened.   Add the meat mixture and cook and stir for another two or three minutes.

Serve over rice.

Enjoy !!!

French Toast


Never, never, never throw away stale bread.   As long as it is not moldy, there is so much you can do with it – like french toast, croutons, bread pudding and stuffing.    Whenever I go to all the work of making homemade bread, I cut off a piece, wrap it up and hide it behind the milk so the next morning I can make a breakfast of french toast.    That is what I did today!   Using a slice of the Rosemary Bread which I baked yesterday, I created a little party for my taste buds like this…..

Ingredients for one – double it accordingly for more servings:

1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk
1 Teaspoon vanilla
Dash or more of cinnamon
Dash or more of nutmeg
1 slice of bread ( if it is 1 inch thick, yippee!)

Slice of Butter for the pan – and to top cooked toast if desired
Syrup to taste

Whisk together the egg, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg in a wide bowl.

Place the bread into the mixture and allow to sit for about three minutes and then turn and allow the other side to soak up the good stuff.
Prick some holes with a fork all over one side of the bread.

Either spray with oil, or melt some butter in a fry pan and when hot, place the soaked bread into pan – with the side with pricks facing up.   Now, if there is any of the egg mixture remaining in the bowl, slowly pour over the top of the bread.   The mixture will soak down into the bread via the little hole pricks.
Turn the bread when lightly brown on one side.    Remove from pan when the other side is lightly brown as well.   Top with butter and syrup and enjoy!!!!

About the Rosemary Bread, let me tell you it made a delicious French Toast.   The rosemary is not overwhelming and you really only get the essence – mingled with the custardy goodness and the butter and syrup --- um,um,um,!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mushroom, Celery, and Garlic Soup

It is a cool Sunday afternoon and I am thinking about what to make for dinner.   It’s also raining, so I think a nice warm soup to go with the Rosemary Bread I made earlier…..    Okay, I have mushrooms so I open my big lovely book called  “SOUP”  by Debra Mayhew and find a recipe that is just the ticket!   Mushroom, Celery, and Garlic Soup.                 

Ingredients for 4 servings:

4 ½ cups chopped mushrooms
4 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves   (I use a garlic press)
3 tablespoons white wine
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Celery leaves to garnish

Place the mushrooms, celery, and garlic in a pan and stir in the wine.  Cover and cook over low heat for 30 t0 40 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Add half the stock and puree in a blender, or use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.   

At this time add the Worcestershire sauce, and nutmeg.

Bring to a boil and season to taste with salt and pepper.   Serve hot, garnished with celery leaves.


Rosemary Bread

This week I received some lovely fragrant Rosemary in our Bountiful Basket.   I will use it with a pasta dish later this week, but really wanted to try using it in a bread as well.   The recipe I have been eyeing for a while is found in a lovely book called “The Secret of Challah” by Shira Wiener and Ayelet Yifrach.   I bought this book because I was sure it must contain the perfect Challah recipe.   The Challah I will tackle later, for today we made Rosemary Bread and it turned out wonderful.   The rosemary, being fresh, is fragrant rather than pungent.  Try it and let me know your thoughts……..

I tweaked the original recipe a bit.  This is my adaptation…


2 packets of Active Dry Yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup Olive Oil
2 full tablespoons rosemary leaves   (no stem)
2 ½ cups warm water
3 cups Whole Wheat flour
4 cups bread flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt

I used my food processor for the sponge and added it to the bread flour and salt in this manner:

To a large food processor bowl add first the water (hot tap) and then the sugar, olive oil, and rosemary.  Pulse several times to blend the ingredients and chop the leaves.  The addition of these ingredients will cool the hot water down to just warm – now it is time to add the yeast and pulse two times quickly.    Let the liquid and yeast rest for 5 minutes and then add the whole wheat flour.    Pulse until well blended.   Allow this mixture (called a sponge) to rest for about 5 minutes.

In a separate large bowl whisk the bread flour and salt.   

After the sponge has rested, slowly add it to the flour and salt bowl.   Fold the sponge into the flour with a spoon until it becomes stiff and from that point on, knead until you get a smooth ball of dough that is not sticky.    

Brush the ball of dough with a bit of olive oil and place in a bowl. 


Cover the bowl with wax paper or plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for approximately 1 hour until the dough doubles in volume.

After the dough has risen, slice it in half. 

Knead each half for a few minutes and form a loaf and place in pans.   They should each reach half the height of the pan.  

 Cover and let them rise in a warm place for approximately ½ hour.   In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the loaves have risen above the top of their pans, brush with olive oil and slit each loaf with a very sharp knife.  You can make one long slit along the length of the loaf, or a number of diagonal slits, or whatever design you fancy.

Bake for approximately 50 minutes.  The bread is ready when a firm outer crust is formed and tapping on the top of the loaf produces a hollow sound.   Remove the bread from the oven and from the pans and cool on a wire rack.   


Enjoy with butter and a little honey.  

The Secret of Challah