Tuesday, December 29, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  BUON ANNO!  FELIZ ANO NUEVO!  Off to snowy Ohio.  Will return on Monday 4 January 2010.

Ciao
Grayce

Monday, December 28, 2009

BEEF STIFADO

Wow!  What a wonderful Christmas.  Family for the whole weekend and Family and Friends for the day.  Company was great, Food was delicious, Weather was perfect.  Who could ask for anything more?  I am truly the most fortunate human being on the planet.  I will be leaving tomorrow for a trip to Ohio for my Nieces wedding.  So of course all weekend all there was on the news and in the papers was Terrorist talk.  Good Grief people, don't you know I am going to be on a plane?  STOP!  All that talk sure is not very comforting.  But maybe in a way it is actually a good thing because security will be much tighter (I hope).  Then there is the weather.  Not very nice, snow and freezing temps.  Well, in spite of all of that I am looking forward to this very special event.  Chelsea is a very special girl and I know it will be a really beautiful Wedding.

I'm not sure if I will be able to post any recipes until I get back on the 4th of January but I have a good one for today.  This was given to me when I was in High School from the Mother of one of my friends.  She was from Greece and a great cook.  We have the traditional Beef Stew and this is the Greek version.  Really delicious and a nice change in flavors.  I made it a lot and my family all loved it as much as I did when I first tasted it at Kay's house.  So here it is: Beef Stifato.

BEEF STIFATO
Serves 6

about 4 lbs of Beef (chuck or round cut into cubes as for Stew 1")
about 1/2 cup of olive oil
2 Onions
1 6 ounce can of Contadina Tomato Paste
1 3/4 cups of a good Red Wine
2 Bay leaves
1 tsp of Peppercorns
a little over 1 tablespoon of Allspice
6 Cloves
3 Cloves of Garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the meat into pieces and saute in the hot olive oil until nicely browned.  Add all the other ingredients except the onions and cook on simmer, covered, for about an hour and a half or until the meat becomes tender.  Add the onions and cook for another 45 minutes. (should be thick, but if it becomes too thick add a little more Wine)  Pick our the cloves and discard.  The stew should be thick.  Serve with hot french bread, a salad and a nice Red Wine.  Soooooo Good!  I hope you will try this on a cold day.  The flavors are amazing!

Thanks for stopping in today
Ciao for now
Grayce

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NO POST TODAY

Due to the Holiday I am taking a break until Monday 28 December.  I wish you all Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays.  If you are traveling, drive carefully.  Enjoy your Families and Friends where ever you may be.  Keep the less fortunate in your prayers and help however you can.

Buon Natale!
Ciao
Grayce

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ENGLISH TRIFLE

Well I officially finished baking the last Biscotti and Pizzelles today. (Tuesday)  I am writing this in the evening because tomorrow I am baking two of my famous Cheescakes and starting on the Trifle for Christmas Day.  I also have to get my Puppies groomed so they will be Christmas ready and deliver the last of the goodies I have baked.  Whew! Today I give you English Trifle as taught to me by my lovely English neighbor, Dorothy.  Who just happens to be the sweetest woman on earth!

TRIFLE

Large glass bowl with straight sides not rounded
Lady Fingers
Jello
Vanilla Pudding
Bananas
Fruit Cocktail
Cherry pie filling
Whipping cream

Line your bowl on the bottom and up the sides with the Lady Fingers.  Make one large package of Cherry Jello and pour into bowl for first layer.  Refrigerate.  When completely set, make one large package of Vanilla Pudding (not instant) let cool completely, gently pour over set Jello, Slice Bananas on top, refrigerate.  When set make another package of Jello, let it cool for about 15 minutes, drain a can of Fruit Cocktail and mix in, let set in refrigerator till just set, then pour on top of Pudding layer.  Refrigerate.  When completely set, make the last box of Pudding.  When completely cool, pour over Jello layer.  Refrigerate.  When completely cooled and set, gently pour 1 or 2 cans of Cherry Pie filling to cover the top, refrigerate.  Serve with whipped cream. Awesome presentation and yummy to eat!

We always have Trifle and my Cheesecake every Christmas.

Ciao for now
Grayce

GRAYCE'S SPINACH

Ok, I know that does not sound like much of a name for a recipe, but I have not come up with a catchy name as yet so it is what it is.  Anyway, it's just another way to serve Spinach that is a little different and that everyone, even kids will love.  I always make my Spinach sauteed in olive and garlic.  Either that, or raw in a salad.  So one day I thought, what could be good with Spinach and give it some crunch?  I love a little crunch in my salads so why not in the sauteed Spinach?  I like Pine Nuts, Almonds and Raisins so let me try some of those today.  And so I did.  Hence today's recipe.  Quick, easy and tasty.  Give it a try.

GRAYCE'S SPINACH

To serve four                      
2 lbs of Spinach washed and patted dry (I just use the big bags already done)
3 cloves of Garlic sliced thin
1/4 cup Pine Nuts or Almonds
about 1/2 cup Golden Raisins
Pinch of nutmeg
Olive Oil

Soak the raisins in hot water for about 10 minutes until they plump up and are soft.  In a heavy skillet put a 1/4 cup of Olive Oil and let it get hot.  Slice the Garlic very thin and saute just until starting to brown, quickly add the nuts and turn down the heat.  Saute them for a minute or so and then add the Spinach.  Add it a little at a time so as it wilts you can keep adding until it is all in the pan.  Saute quickly (don't overcook), add the Raisins and a pinch of Nutmeg.  Turn out into a bowl and serve hot!  Bene!

I could eat this all day long.  Your kids will love it and they won't even know they are eating something good for them  :) .  Try it soon.

thanks for stopping in today.
Ciao
Grayce

Monday, December 21, 2009

ALMOND ROCA

Oh my gosh!  Just a few days before Christmas.  Today I will be out delivering some of the cookies that I baked on Saturday.  I made eight different kinds.  Baked all day.  Listening to my favorite tunes and just baking away.  Delivered some that night and then my dearest friend Bonnie came over (we have been friends since 1972).  We exchanged gifts and then she took me out to dinner. (she almost always does that since I don't eat while I bake and am starving when she gets here).  I packed up cookies for her and some for her daughter Stacy in San Francisco, as she will be going there for the Holiday.  Also some of the Almond Roca.  This recipe is to die for.  Once you take a bite you cannot stop eating.  So melt in your mouth Yummy.  Please try it this year.  It is truly a Winner.

ALMOND ROCA
 4 sticks butter
2 cups packed brown sugar (measure accurately)
9 Hershey bars (the regular thin size)
Chopped Almonds

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan.  Stir just to mix.  When candy thermometer reaches 200 degrees THEN start stirring and don't stop (even for a second to scratch your nose :) ) until the thermometer reaches 300 degrees.  Immediately place thermometer in water or mixture will stick.
Pour mixture onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  Place Hershey bars on top and let melt.  Gently spread out over the mixture.  Top with the nuts.  When cool and chocolate is hardened, break into pieces.  It will make at least 5 or 6 six gift packages (or all for you).  Wrap 6 pieces in parchment and then put into cellophane gift bags.  Tie tightly with ribbon.  What a great treat for your friends.  Or if you made it for your family, line a tin with parchment and cover tightly.  It will keep.  That is if you all don't eat it immediately.  BEWARE!  Once you take a bite of this candy, you cannot stop eating.  It is truly amazing.

I hope you will make this Almond Roca.  Your family and friends will love it as much as mine do.

Thanks for stopping in today.
Ciao
Grayce

Thursday, December 17, 2009

PINEAPPLE CHICKEN

Ok I know it is not summer but it was almost 78 degrees here today.  Also I bought a deliciously sweet Pineapple.  Hence today's recipe.  This is one of my own concoctions and even though I usually make it in the summertime, I had it for dinner because as I said, it was warm and beautiful and I had a sweet Pineapple.  Things just strike me like that and since I am free to do as I please, and eat what I like, when I like, I decided I shall have my Pineapple Salad.  You are the beneficiary of all of this :)  I know I am rambling.  I am writing this blog at night because I have a huge day tomorrow.  Shopping for cookie ingredients and making some batters for the big cookie baking day on Saturday.  So bear with me.  Here it is then.

PINEAPPLE CHICKEN

1 Pineapple
2 cups diced Chicken
1 container Knudsen sour cream or Vanilla Yoghurt
1/4 cup chopped Walnuts
1/2 cup seedless Grapes
1/2 cup of Raisins
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Cut the Pineapple in half and cut out each half and dice the Pineapple into bite sized pieces.  Mix with the Chicken, Walnuts, Grapes, Raisins and coconut.  Add enough Sour Cream to mix.  Put back into the Pineapple halves,  and serve.  Great with Banana Bread.

There you have it.  A great warm weather salad.

Thanks for stopping in, have a great weekend
Ciao
Grayce

ROSEMARY POTATOES

Good morning everyone.  Had a really great day yesterday.  Went to see Christina's Winter Sing at Sherman Oaks Elementary yesterday morning.  There is nothing quite so delightful as watching children perform all the Holiday songs.  And they really have the most incredible music teacher.  She has those children singing as good as some big High School Choir.  And even the wee ones were awesome and so adorable.  Of course I thought the 2nd grade was the best, Christina, :).  Then I spent the day with my beautiful daughter doing some Christmas shopping and having lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.  Then picked up Kate at school, stopped for a coffee at Starbucks, then on the road home.  What a wonderful day.  How lucky am I!

Today I have a delicious and easy way to make potatoes.  Who doesn't love potatoes?  And you can do so much with them.   I love this dish because the potatoes are tender inside and brown and crispy on the outside.  Your family will love them.

ROSEMARY POTATOES

1 pyrex pie dish 9"
2 large Russet Potatoes
2 cloves of garlic
2 large stems of Rosemary
Butter
salt and pepper

Oven at 375 degrees
Peel the Potatoes and cut rounds thin as for scalloped Potatoes.  Remove Rosemary from the stems and rough chop.  Slice the Garlic paper thin.  Lightly butter your baking dish, arrange one layer of Potatoes
overlapping them on the bottom.  Put a few slices of Garlic, sprinkle with Rosemary, dot with butter, salt and pepper.  Put a second layer of Potatoes, Garlic, Rosemary, butter, salt and pepper.  Finish with a third layer and just salt and pepper and dot with butter.  Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes or until tender.  Remove foil for the las 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and flip out onto a serving platter.  The Potatoes will be browned on the bottom and tender inside.  Cut into pie shaped slices and serve hot.  Really good with any meat but especially Chicken or Pork.

Thanks for stopping in today
Ciao for now
Grayce

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

GRAYCE'S CAPONATA

Hi everyone.  Today's recipe is my version of a Holiday staple that my Mother's Mother always made.  Christmas just was not Christmas without Caponata.  I have told you before that everyone in my family were great cooks.  I started writing recipes down when I was about 12 years old.  Mostly just the ingredients because no one used a recipe, everyone just knew how to make everything.  Which is pretty much how I do it today.  Most of the family recipes that I give you are from memory.  And sometimes I have to think to be sure of the amounts.  Today's recipe is how I remember it.  I made it several times adjusting here and there until it tasted just perfect and then I wrote it down to pass on to family and friends and now all of you.  After all I can't just say well, put in this much eggplant and just this much vinegar etc. etc.  Now it is refined and turns out perfect every time.  If you make this one time, I will guarantee that you will make it again and again.  It is that good.

GRAYCE'S CAPONATA

1/2 cup olive oil
2 large eggplants diced
1 large onion diced
6 small portabello mushrooms sliced thin
1 green bell pepper diced
1/2 jar roasted red peppers cut into pieces
3 chopped garlic cloves
1 small jar green olives with piemento chopped
1/2 small jar capers
1 small can Contadina tomato paste
1 can (tomato paste can) of water
2 tbls red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over med heat.  Add eggplant, onions, mushrooms, peppers and garlic and cook stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.  Stir in rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for at least another 1/2 hour.  Put into 1/2 quart jars that have been washed, and dried.  When cool, refrigerate.  Will keep for a couple of weeks.

Serve at ROOM TEMP. with slices of french baguette.  What an appetizer!  Also great on sandwiches.  I hope you will try this.  It is really amazing.

Thanks for stopping in today
Ciao
Grayce

BAKED ZUCCHINI

Good morning everyone.  Another beautiful day in sunny California.  Forcast: getting warmer.  That's what I like to hear.  Warmer days and colder nights.  Perfect December weather.  I just read an article yesterday online about the calorie count of some of the appetizers that are served at certain Restaurants in the area.  Well let me tell you, I almost fell off of my chair.  Some of those things have more calories in one serving than a body should have in two days.  Good grief.  It makes one never want to eat in a Restaurant again.  Anyway, one of my very favorite things are fried Zucchini with Ranch Dressing.  Yummy.  I was thinking about those when I read the article.  Then I wondered how many calories they must have.  Which in turn brought me to remember how my grandmother used to sometimes make the Zucchini from our garden.  Yep, you guessed it, here comes today's recipe.  She used to make it and then have a big salad with crusty bread and that was a great Friday meal.  (Remember when as Catholics you could not eat meat on Friday?)

So today my offering to you:

BAKED ZUCCHINI

1 large onion
3 or med sized Zucchini
4 Roma tomatoes
3/4 cup bread crumbs (Progresso seasoned are great)
1 tbls of fresh Rosemary roughly chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic minced very fine
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano Cheese
Olive oil

Cut the ends off of the Zucchini and cut them in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half lengthwise again.  Set aside.  In a skillet with a little olive oil saute the onion that has been thinly sliced.  When just tender remove to a baking dish and spread out over the bottom.  Arrange the Zucchini so they are resting against each other in the baking dish in one layer. Slice the tomatoes into rounds and fit them in between the Zucchini slices.  Mix the Bread Crumbs, Cheese, Garlic and Rosemary together.  Sprinkle this mixture over the Zucchini and the Tomatoes.  Drizzle generously over all with Olive Oil.  Bake uncovered in a 325 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the Zucchini are just tender and the Bread Crumb mixture is nicely browned.

This is a really wonderful way to fix Zucchini.  Try it soon.

See you tomorrow
Ciao
Grayce

Monday, December 14, 2009

PORK LOIN IN PUFF PASTRY

What a great weekend.  The rain stopped and the sun was shining.  a great day in California.  Well I got most of my shopping done.  Have packages to mail and I will be all set.  Also made the sauce for the Ravioli for Christmas dinner.  That is in the freezer.  This morning I am making the Ravioli and will get those in the freezer.  I'm just cranking here.  I just wish the Day itself could be stretched out a little longer.  All the preparation, anticipation, and then in a blur it is over.  But it seems like that is how it is with everything that you wait for.  Christmas, Birthday, Summer Vacation.  It's the anticipation and then when it happens, it seems to be over in a flash.  So I always try to enjoy the anticipatin" time, it lasts the longest.

Today I have a recipe that is an original one, developed by my sister.  She just calls it "Pork Loin in Puff Pastry".  It is delicious and on the table in 30 minutes.

PORK LOIN IN PUFF PASTRY

Will serve 6 persons

2 little Pork Loins (look for the ones in the market that come 2 in a package and are no larger than 2" around.
1 Package of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry
1 1/2 cups of Apricots Diced
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3 tablespoons Sweet whole grain Mustard (you can get it at Honey Baked or Hickory Farms)
6 thin slices of Fontina Cheese
Thinly sliced Garlic

Mix the Mustards and the Apricots to make a thick sauce.
Make little slits in the pork loin and put a thin slice of garlic in each.  About 4 or 5 in each Loin.  Salt and pepper each piece.  Cut each loin into 3 pieces.  In a large skillet put 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  When hot, saute the loins until they are browned on all sides.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Cut each Pastry piece into three pieces.  On each piece lay the cheese, then the Pork Loin and then top with the Mustard mixture.  Fold the Pastry over the Pork and place folded side down (the cheese is then on top) on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Let set for about 5 minutes and serve.  Delicious!
Thanks Linda for the wonderful recipe!

That is it for today
Ciao
Grayce

Friday, December 11, 2009

BISCOTTI


Ready to bake
Baked
Cut and baked again
Done!

BISCOTTI

It's raining this morning and outside of having to take the puppies out , I don't mind because I will be baking Pizzelles and Biscotti all day.  So it is a good day to do all that.

When I was a little girl we always had these two cookies for Christmas, and when I was very little, my biggest treat was being able to dip the end of the Biscotti into my Mother's coffee.  And sometimes into the glass of Red Wine.  Yum!  Dessert during the Holidays with all the family, and there were plenty of us, was always fruit and a huge bowl of all kinds of nuts, and a glass of wine.  That went on for hours after the meal, everyone just sitting around and talking. I would eventually get tired and just go play with my sister and my cousins, but the adults spent the evening at the table.  What great times those were and I miss them.  I am lucky though, because most of my family will be here for Christmas.  In fact I will have 16 family and friends for Christmas dinner.  How lucky for me!

 I have had this recipe for a long time.  It is simple.  You can add all kinds of nuts, flavorings, fruit, whatever that you like.

BASIC BISCOTTI

2 eggs
1 stick of room temp butter (not margarine)
about 2/3 cup sugar
2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
a couple pinches of salt
3/4 cup Almond slivers
1/2 tsp Almond  extract

In a bowl put the flour, salt and baking powder.  Mix.  In another bowl beat the sugar and the butter.  Add the eggs and beat. Add the Almond extract.  Add the flour mixture a little at a time.  Beat just until it is mixed.  With a spoon mix in the almonds.
Now some variations.  I love orange and chocolate, for these add 3/4 cup of mini Chocolate chips, zest of one whole orange and 1 tsp of the juice. (or 1 tsp of Grand Marnier which is what I use).
Another favorite, 2/3 cup Orange flavored Cranberries (dried) with 1/2 cup slivered Almonds.
Another favorite, 1 1/2 tsp of finely chopped Anise seeds and 3/4 cups slivered Almonds.
Another favorite, 3/4 cup chopped Hazelnuts and 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips.

Be creative and make your own combinations.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
I use a Silpat on my cookie sheets, or line them with Parchment Paper. On a floured surface, form the dough into a 15 to 16 inch log (does not have to be exact).  Pat it out be about 3 - 3 1/4 inches wide.  Like a big flat log.  Gently place it on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes or until it is lightly browned on top.  Remove from the oven and let it cool completely.  At least 25 to 30 minutes.  Put the log on your cutting surface and gently cut into 1/2" thick cookies.  (I cut them slightly on a diagonal).  Put them back on the cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 15 to 18 minutes.
Remove from the oven and put on a cooling rack.  Pack in a tight container between sheets of Parchment paper and they will keep for a very long time.  Put 6 to 8 into a Christmas cellophane bag, tie with a ribbon and give as gifts.  For very special friends you can put the cookies with a pound of their favorite coffee.  Who wouldn't love that!

That's it for today, have to brave the rain and get the puppies outside.
Ciao
Grayce

Thursday, December 10, 2009

PIZZELLES


Just an extra note to today's blog.  Here are photos just taken as I made the Pizzelles.   Also dough should be like cookie dough. ( soft but not real stiff)  If you need to add a little more flour, do so.

PIZZELLES

Hi everyone.  Well today I am on a "Pizzelle" making marathon.  For those of you who have never had one of these amazing cookies, they are made on an iron and are thin , crispy waffle type cookies.  I have had them every Christmas since the day I was born.  My Grandmother made them, both my parents made them, all my aunts and uncles made them and my sister and I make them today.  Not only are they a family tradition, but they keep for weeks and I challenge anybody to eat just one.  It just would not be Christmas without them.  When my parents were making them when I was little, they had an iron that made just one.  You held it over the flame on the stove and cooked it on one side and then the other.  They called them "Hail Mary" cookies because you said a Hail Mary while one side cooked and another for the other side and then they were done.  Fortunately, when I was just married, there came on the market Electric Pizzele irons that make two at a time.  Now it takes just one Hail Mary and they are done.  So to make these buy a good electric Pizzelle iron.  They are not very expensive.  They will last forever and you will begin baking a tradition at your house.

PIZZELLES

3 eggs
2 or 3 tsp Anise extract
2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 to 2 cups of flour
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup of sugar

Beat the eggs and sugar.  Add the cooled melted butter and anise extract.  Combine the flour and baking powder and add that to the mixture.  The batter should be stiff enough to be dropped by a spoon.  When your iron is hot drop  a tsp of the batter in the center of the iron.  One Hail Mary or 15 seconds, open and gently lift off the iron with the end of a fork.  They are pliable at this point.  Put on a cooling rack and in just seconds they will become crispy.  Pack between sheets of Parchment Paper in a tightly covered container.  They will literally keep for weeks.  One batch will make 28 to 30 cookies.  They are "Christmas" at our house.  A great cookie for coffee or a glass of Red Wine.

Thanks for stopping in today
Ciao
Grayce

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

LENA'S COOKIES

Baking has started.  As I said yesterday, I start baking the cookies that keep for weeks.  Pizzelles, Biscotti, Lena's cookies.  And they are the ones that are so good when you just want to take a moment, sit down, relax, have a cookie and coffee break for yourself.  And believe me, this is the time of the year when you need to take a minute and do just that.  I am going to be giving you cookie recipes that I make for Christmas, pretty much every other day for the next couple of weeks.  Some you may already have.  And maybe you will find a new one here.  So today, here is one that my Grandmother made, my Mom made and my Sister and I make.  It is a great one to dip in your coffee.  Also so easy.

LENA'S COOKIES

5 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup Crisco
4 large eggs
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup water
1 tsp of your favorite flavoring: Anise, Almond, Lemon or Orange.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Cut in shortening until it is like large pea texture.  Add eggs and flavoring and water.  Mix well.  (best to use your hands)

Pick off pieces and shape into an "S".  Let stand for a few minutes.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until golden.  YUMMMMM dip in coffee and dream of being in Italy.  (that's what I do)

These are really wonderful and will keep well.  Try them this Christmas for your family and friends.

Ciao for now
Grayce

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

CHICKEN BREAST STILE DI PIEMONTE

Good morning.  Wow it is cold here today.  Rain and cold.  Wah!  I don't like this one bit.  Ok, winter can be over now.  I'm ready for summer again.  But I do have to say this kind of weather really puts me in overdrive to cook and bake.  I am starting on the cookies that keep and it does smell good in the house and makes you happy all over.
Some time ago I told you about my Uncle who was the Pastry Chef.  He was from Piedmont, Italy.  One of the recipes I remember my Aunt making was Chicken Breasts, Piedmont style.  They are quick, easy and a little different than regular old style chicken.  I don't know about you but I am always looking for another way to cook chicken.  Try this soon.

CHICKEN BREAST STILE DI PIEMONTE

2 whole Boneless Chicken Breasts cut in half (or 4 boneless halves)
1/4 cup of flour
12 very large mushrooms sliced thick and sauteed in butter.  When cooked add 1 tbls of Marsala Wine and stir
4 thin slices of Swiss Cheese
salt and pepper

Put the Chicken breasts between wax pepper and pound them until they are thin.  Season with salt and pepper and coat them with flour.  In a large skillet, heat 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter and three or four tablespoons of olive oil.  When hot, lower the heat to medium and fry the Chicken until tender, about 5 minutes on each side.  Remove the Chicken to a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan.  Arrange the mushrooms on top of each and cover with a slice of cheese.  Put under the broiler long enough to melt the cheese.  Serve immediately.  Serve with Broccoli cooked al dente and sprinkled with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.  There you have it.  Another tasty, different way to do Chicken.  Mangia!

Thanks for stopping in today.  Keep warm!
Ciao
Grayce

Monday, December 7, 2009

ITALIAN GREEN BEAN, TOMATO AND POTATO SALAD

UGH!  It is raining outside.  I know we need the rain but I am not a big fan of Rain!  It can rain all night but during the day, NO!  Of course it probably is okay today and anytime this month because it is a really good time to get baking some of the Christmas Cookies that I then give to friends.  I can bake all the Biscotti ahead of time because they keep forever and are so yummy.  I will be giving you those recipes in a little while.  Today I have a recipe that my Grandmother used to make a lot.  It was a mainstay when there really wasn't a lot of meat.  Or she would make it with Chicken, or Pork chops or Sausage on the side.  It is one of those wonderful comfort foods that can be a meal with a glass of Wine and some hot Italian bread and some good Cheese.  I can eat it anytime.  Try it as a side dish for your Family soon.

ITALIAN GREEN BEAN, TOMATO AND POTATO SALAD

4 large Russet Potatoes
1 medium Onion chopped
2 or 3 Roma tomatoes
1 lb fresh Italian Green Beans (they are the wide flat green beans)
(we always had them from the garden)

Boil the potatoes until just tender, remove from the water and set aside to cool.  Cook the green beans until tender (if you can't find them fresh they are available canned).  Drain and let them cool.  When all the veggies are cool, cut the potatoes into large chunks, put into a bowl with the cooled beans and the onions (that have been thinly sliced) and the tomatoes that have have been cut into quarters.  Make a dressing of 3 to one olive oil and vinegar (3 olive oil, 1 vinegar).  Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss gently.  Let this marinate in the refrigerator for about 1/2 hour to an hour.  Toss gently before serving.
This will serve 6 people.

Try it soon.  It will give you a different spin on Potatoes and Green Beans.

That's it for today, thanks for stopping in
Ciao
Grayce

Friday, December 4, 2009

CROSTINI ALLA MOZZARELLA

 Hi there.  Good morning!  I don't know about you but I am all about getting my house decorated for Christmas and then watching football all day Sunday while I sit surrounded by the sights and smells of the Holidays.  So that is going to be my weekend.  Hopefully it won't rain on Saturday when I go to get my tree.
Today I have a little treat you can make for football Sunday.  Or anytime you crave a hot, delicious snack.  Your kids will love this one too.  It is simple and just melts in your mouth.

1 French bread baguette
1 large ball of Mozzarella (not the fresh one packed in water for this)
2 cups of your Marinara sauce

Cut the bread and the cheese into 1/3" slices.  On a large skewer, put a slice of bread, then a slice of cheese.  Use 3 slices of cheese and beginning and ending with a bread slice. (so 3 cheese and 4 breads).  Lightly brush the bread with olive oil.  Place the skewers on a rimmed cookie sheet or in a baking dish (that have been heated in the oven) and bake in a pre-heated oven (450 degrees) just until the cheese melts and the bread is toasty.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top of each with minced fresh Basil.  Serve hot with the Marinara sauce.
This is sooo good.  Be sure to use the skinny Baguette and cut the cheese to fit.

Have a great weekend.  See you all on Monday.
Ciao
Grayce

Thursday, December 3, 2009

PORK CHOPS WITH OREGANO AND GARLIC

Good Morning everyone.  I sure did not want to get up this morning.  But when you have 2 puppies that have to go out, you have to get up. Today I want to share a recipe that my Grandmother and Mother used to make.  And I make for my family too.  It is perfect for Fall like weather and is a change from Chicken and Beef.  Also Pork is "the other White meat" and when cooked properly has so much flavor.  I can remember so many wonderful dishes that my family made using Pork.  This recipe will bring new flavors to just plain old Pork Chops.  I hope you will try it soon.  Using different spices in your cooking, really enhances the flavors of what you are making.


PORK CHOPS WITH OREGANO AND GARLIC

Serves 4

4 thick Pork Chops (bone in or out)
3 or 4 cloves of Garlic thinly sliced
Dried Oregano
2 large Russet Potatoes (boiled with skins on just until tender)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Gently boil the potatoes just until they are almost tender.  Remove from the pot and set aside.  In a large skillet, put 5 or 6 tablespoons of olive oil, when it is hot, turn heat to medium and add the garlic.  Cook just until it begins to turn light brown.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Salt and pepper the chops on both sides and sprinkle with dried oregano.  Sear the pork chops on both sides in the hot skillet, lower the heat and cook until done.  Remove from the pan to a platter and cover with foil.  Slice the potatoes into thick pieces, salt and pepper them and finish cooking them in the skillet.  (Add a couple more tbls of olive oil if needed).  Just before they are finished add the reserved garlic and stir.  Arrange the pork chops in a row, overlapping just a bit, on the platter.  Spoon the potatoes alongside the chops on either side.  Top with a couple sprigs of fresh oregano.
Make a mixed green salad with a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

A meal that is satisfying and oh so flavorful.  A glass of chilled White Wine will be perfect!  Enjoy!

See you tomorrow
Ciao
Grayce

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

LINGUINI WITH CLAMS

Hi and good morning!  One of my very favorite dishes that I grew up with is Linguini with Clams.  There are many different versions of this dish, some with a white sauce, some with a red sauce.  But the way my parents and grandparents made it is the only way that I like it.  Or I should say, it is the way I like it the best.  It is also the most simple to make.  Since a lot of these recipes have not been written down, my sister and I still make them from memory.  I could eat this dish everyday.  Sometimes when I have company for dinner, I will make this as my first plate of a 5 course meal.  I hope you will try it soon. It is hearty and satisfying.  Have lots of hot garlic bread to go with it.  And a glass of chilled, crisp white wine.

LINGUINI WITH CLAMS
Serves 4

1 lb Barilla Linguini
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 or 3 shallots sliced very thin (my Dad used Cippolini onions or some good onion sliced very thin if there were no shallots)
8 cloves of chopped garlic
40 to 50 Manila clams (you want at least 10 per person) scrub them so that there is no sand left
3/4 to 1 cup of a good Dry White Wine
unsalted butter salt and pepper
chopped Italian Parsley

Put a pot on to cook your Pasta.  When the water boils add the Linguini and cook as directed, JUST UNTIL AL DENTE.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  When it is very hot add the shallots and the garlic and saute, but don't burn, just until tender. Add the wine and the clams and cover.  Cook until the clams have all opened up (about 7 minutes.  If there are any unopened throw them out.  Add two to three tablespoon of unsalted butter to the clams along with the chopped parsley.  Drain the Linguini (never rinse your pasta) and quickly add to the clams.  Pour it all out into your large platter or serving bowl.  Garnish with a little more chopped parsley and serve immediately.  MANGIA!

Tip:  Always use the same Wine to cook with that you drink.  Good cooking, good wine.

Thanks for stopping in today
Ciao for now
Grayce

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

PASTA WITH BASIL PESTO

Well our cool weather is officially here.  Last night I made Beef Stew for Nick and I. (my grandson)  Had some hot crusty sourdough bread and a salad.  Yummy.  Nick said, "Nonni this is perfect for the cool weather".  And he was right.  What you make for dinner seems to be dictated a lot by what the weather is outside.  Today I have an easy but hearty Pasta dish for you to try.  I''m sure you all have made it at sometime or another with Pesto from the market.  But try making your own tonight.  It is so much fresher tasting and so easy to make.  Not to mention the wonderful aroma of the fresh Basil and Cheese. Yum!

PASTA WITH BASIL PESTO
Serves 4

3 cups packed fresh Basil
1/2 cup Pine Nuts
2/3 cups Grated Romano cheese or Parmesan
3 to 4 cloves of chopped garlic
about 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 lb Barilla Thick Spaghetti
3 or 4 seeded and chopped Roma Tomatoes

Put the Basil, Pine Nuts, Garlic, and Cheese in a blender or Cuisinart.  Begin blending and slowly add the Olive Oil until it is smooth but not runny.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside and cook the Pasta just till al dente.  While the Pasta cooks, seed the tomatoes and chop.  Remove Pasta and drain, quickly add the Pesto.  Toss well.  Top each plate of Pasta with some chopped tomatoes, a few pine nuts and a sprinkle of Romano cheese.  Add a salad, hot crusty bread, a glass of wine and Mangia!  It dosesn't get much better than that!

Thanks for stopping in today.
Ciao for now
Grayce

Monday, November 30, 2009

OSSO BUCO

WOW! What a a great weekend.  What a wonderful Thanksgiving.  God is good!  It was so great having so many of the family here for a few days.  Now on to the next Holiday.  Cookies, cookies, cookies.  But before we get into that today I want to give you a recipe from my sister.  It was one of my Mother's favorites.  I don't know the origin, I just know it is amazing.  Here then in direct quote from Linda:

I have tried many recipes for this dish because it was something Mom craved.  We used to order the veal shanks from the butcher and as soon as they came in I could make this dish.  We would love it, eat it and start dreaming of the next time I would make it again.  It is a winner in our book.

OSSO BUCO
4 tblsp olive oil
1/2 cup flour
4 veal shanks
2 cup chopped onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
2 tbls chopped fresh thyme
1 tbls chopped fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 quart beef stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lb orzo
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan for serving.

Dredge: 1/4 tsp each of paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat a large heavy pan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and heat until very hot.  In a shallow bowl or plate combine the flour and the dredging spices.  Dredge the shanks in the seasoned flour mixture.  Shake to remove any excess flour, then transfer shanks to the pot and saute until well browned on all sides.  Remove the shanks and set aside.  Add the onions, celery and carrots to the pot and saute until softened and lightly browned around the edges.  Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper.  Cook all for one minute.  Deglaze the pot with the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned particles.  Add the stock and return the shanks to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and transfer to the oven.  Cook until the shanks are very tender for about 2 and one half hours.

Remove from the oven and add the parsley and orzo to the pot and stir to distribute evenly.  Replace the cover and return the pot to the oven for 20 minutes.  Remove the pot from the oven and stir gently.  Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.  One shank per person on top of a bed of orzo.  Garnish with some of the cheese.

Oh boy, let's eat!  Mangia!

Ciao for now
Grayce

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!

To all of my followers.  I am cooking, cooking, cooking for Thanksgiving.  I will return on Monday, next.

HAVE A MOST WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING wherever you may be going.  Be safe.










Ciao
Grayce

POLENTA STUFFED PEPPERS

Counting down to two more days until Thanksgiving.  Today I am making my fresh cranberry sauce.  It is best made a day or two ahead.  Picking up the Turkey and Turkey breast.  Getting the wine and other drinks.  Shopping done.  Then 3 days of eating.  Here is a recipe you could make a day or so after Thanksgiving when everyone is just plain old tired of Turkey.  We always had a lot of Polenta.  It is an Italian staple.  Especially in Northern Italy.  I told you about our garden of plenty in some of my first posts. One of the things that we had that were abundant were peppers.  All kinds of peppers.  My grandmother used to get the big green ones and stuff them with Polenta.  She picked them when they were green, green with red and red.  She cut them in half, stuffed them with Polenta, covered them with tomatoes and cheese and baked them.  They were wonderful.  This is how I make them today.  I don't cut them in half, I like to leave them whole.

POLENTA STUFFED PEPPERS

1 cup polenta, (get the instant kind it is easier)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan
3 tablespoons of butter
salt and pepper
4 red or yellow peppers (they are sweeter than the green) or 2 of each for color
5 pr 6 Roma Tomatoes cut into quarters
3 cloves of garlic
Fresh Basil
olive oil

Cook the Polenta according to directions, when the Polenta thickens, add the butter and Romano cheese.  Slowly add the cream.  You want the Polenta thick but so you can still pour it.  Cut the tops off of the Peppers and remove the seeds, fill them with the Polenta.  Put them in a casserole dish.  Cut the tomatoes into 1/4 's and put into a bowl.  Finely chop the garlic and chiffonade the Basil.  Mix the tomatoes with the garlic, basil, salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Pour around the sides of the peppers.
Bake for 25 minutes  (or until the peppers are tender) in a 375 degree oven.
Serve hot .  You can cut the peppers in half and spoon the tomato mixture over them.  Or leave them whole and spoon over the top.  Delicious.

Tomorrow will be the last post until Monday after the Holiday.

Thanks for stopping in
Ciao
Grayce

Monday, November 23, 2009

CHICKEN DIAVOLO

Only 3 more days until Thanksgiving.  I am doing all my grocery shopping today.  Pick up my fresh Turkey from Henry's tomorrow.  I love turkey day.  Plus I get to have most of my family here for a couple of days.  That is the best part.  Today I have a recipe that comes from my sister Linda (I only have one sister and no brothers).  She makes it all the time and it was one of my Dad's favorites.  As I said before in earlier blogs, both of my parents were great cooks.  If you like things spicy you will love this one.  The good thing is you can put as much or as little of the red pepper as you like.  So you can serve it to the whole family.  I know you all will love this recipe.

CHICKEN DIAVOLO

3 chicken legs and 3 thighs
1 can of S&W or any good Italian stewed tomatoes
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1/2 can chicken stock
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 yellow onions finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp dried chili peppers
salt and pepper
olive oil and butter

Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet until hot.  Brown the chicken on all sides, remove from pan and add the onions.  Cook until translucent, add the garlic, saute.  Season with salt and pepper as you go.  When the onions are done, add the chicken back into the pan.  Let the mixture simmer.  While it is on simmer, puree the stewed tomatoes to a sauce.  Add the stewed tomato puree and the can of diced tomatoes.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add the hot pepper to taste (you can add Chinese hot garlic sauce instead of the hot pepper).

Serve with a crisp green salad and hot crusty bread because you will want to dip into the sauce. If you don't like things really hot and spicy, cut down on the chili peppers.  It will still be a wonderful dish.

Thanks for stopping in.
Ciao for now
Grayce

Friday, November 20, 2009

CANNOLI


AHHHH Friday.  I love that day!  Today I will be going to Los Angeles to take Kate and some friends to see NEW MOON.  We can hardly wait.  We have all read all four books and really look forward to the films.
My Sister Linda asked me to put this recipe up for her today and on Monday I have one of her specialties that I will be sharing with you.  I don't have this written down anywhere.  I just have been making them for years.  I got this recipe from my friend Ramona when I lived in Rochester, New York.  She gave me the recipe and the forms to make them. I was just in my early 20's at the time, with such a passion for cooking that I soaked up every recipe I could, like the proverbial sponge.  I have been making them ever since.  You can fill them with custard, which some of the family likes or the standard Ricotta filling which is awesome.  Last Wednesday, as I may have mentioned before, I made 40 of them to take to my class for the Teachers Birthday.  They were so good.  So here is the recipe.  Quite simple.

1 15 oz container of Ricotta (not the skim milk )
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tabls powdered sugar
1 tbls orange zest
1/2 tsp vanilla
12 Cannoli Shells

Put the Ricotta in a strainer and let the water drain for about 1/2 hour.  Place in a mixer and beat on medium for about 6 to 8 minutes.  In another bowl whip the cream till very thick, add the powdered sugar, orange zest and vanilla and blend.  Gently fold this mixture into the Ricotta.
You can buy plastic, disposable pastry bags at the market.  Or use a large zip loc bag.  Cut the tip, then fill the bag with the Ricotta mixture.  Fill the Cannoli first on one side then on the other. Fill them just before serving.  They will last after being fill for no more than an hour in the refrigerator.

Sprinkle with Powdered sugar.  For variation, you can dip the ends of the Cannoli in chocolate and then into ground nuts, or dip the ends after filling into mini chocolate chips.

I have not put the recipe for the Cannoli shells, because unless you have the forms you cannot make them.  You can purchase them ready made at your local Italian store.  If anyone has the forms and would like the recipe, just let me know and I will post it for you.

Have a Great Weekend
Ciao for now
Grayce

Thursday, November 19, 2009

FRESH CRANBERRY RELISH

Good Morning everyone.  Since it is almost Thanksgiving I want to share with you one of my very favorite recipes for that day.  After we moved from living with my Grandparents, we moved into a flat.  My Mom's Sister and her husband lived upstairs and we lived down.  Aunt Grayce always did Thanksgiving and my Mom and Dad had Christmas, because Daddy made the home made Ravioli, (which I make even today). One of the best side dishes of the day is the Cranberry Relish.  I still make it.  The great thing about it is that you can make it on Sunday before turkey day and it will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. You need a grinder, hand or electric.  It is so simple.  What I like the best is it is great on leftover turkey sandwiches.  I guarantee that if you try it, it will always be on your table.

FRESH CRANBERRY RELISH

2 bags Ocean Spray Cranberries
2 whole Oranges
2 whole Apples
2 cups chopped Walnuts
Sugar to taste

Cut the Apples and Oranges into quarters.  Grind the Cranberries, Apples and Oranges (skins on).  Add the walnuts and sugar to taste.  That's it!

Everyone in my family loves this.  You can just sit and eat it and eat it.  And like I said it is amazing on your Turkey sandwiches.   The longer it sets the better.  Make it at least a day ahead so the sugar can meld with the fruit.  It is truly wonderful!  I hope you will try it this year.  If you have a small group you can use 1 bag, 1 apple and 1 orange and 1 cup of chopped walnuts.  You just need to have a grinder.  Most Stand Mixers have an attachment for this.

Thanks for stopping in today
Ciao for now
Grayce

Cut the Oranges and

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SALSICCIA E FAGIOLI (SAUSAGE AND BEANS)

Good morning everyone.  I have talked about my childhood and how we lived the first 6 or 7 years with my Grandparents.  Also that we ate things that were raised in the garden, chickens that they raised etc.  My Grandparents also made their own sausage, some hot and some sweet.  I can remember that it was the best sausage I have ever tasted.  Even as I got older my parents made most of the sausage that we ate.  If they didn't make it, someone else in the family did.  Either my Grandparents or one of my many uncles.  So we always had a variety of dishes made with sausage.  One of the favorites was made with fresh green beans out of the garden.  If we didn't have those they used Great Northern White beans, or even Red Kidney beans, to make this dish.  So here is the recipe.  Comfort food at it's best and tasty as well.

SALSICCIA E FAGIOLI

1 lb of sweet or hot Italian Sausage or a combo of both
2 tbls of olive oil
1/2 can (small) Contadina Tomato Paste
salt and pepper, a pinch of each
4 to 5 cups of Fresh Green beans cut in half
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup bean juice or water

Put the sausage in a skillet with enough water to cover.  Cook until the water evaporates and then cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are nice and brown all over.  Take them out and put them on a plate and cover with a piece of foil wrap to keep warm.  Add 2 to 3 tbls of olive oil to the pan, the tomato paste, and the salt and pepper.  Stir and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes.  Add the beans and liquid, and cook for 6 minutes or so.  Add the sausages and cook on low for about 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
Let the sauce thicken a little as it cooks.  Serve hot with plenty of hot crispy bread for dipping.

Although as I mentioned, you can use other beans, and most people use White or Kidney, we always liked it best with Green String Beans since that is what we had the most of fresh out of the garden.

Try it soon.  It is really delicious!

Thanks for stopping in today
Ciao for now
Grayce




Tuesday, November 17, 2009

STUFFED SHELLS (TWO WAYS)

Hi everyone.  Today I have another family recipe for you.  I'm sure that at one time or another you have all had Stuffed Shells.  Well this recipe is how my Grandmother and my Mother used to make them and how my Sister Linda and I make them today.  One way is the traditional way stuffed with Ricotta filling.  The other is stuffed with a meat filling.  I have turned it into an interesting dish by combining the two.  Filling half the shells with the cheese mixture and half with the meat mixture.  That way everyone gets a little of both.  I think that you will like this combination.  I told my friend Daniela yesterday that my Grandmother always used to say.  "Chi mangia bene sta molto vicino a Dio."  Which means, Who eats well is very close to God.  My family must be very close to Him because they have always eaten well.  Through hard times and good times, the food was and is always amazing.  So eat well my friends.

STUFFED SHELLS

CHEESE FILLING

1 package of Jumbo Shells
1 15 oz container of Ricotta
Parmesan Cheese 1/4 cup
1 egg
salt, pepper
Italian flat leaf Parsley chopped very fine 1 tbls
1/2 tsp Nutmeg

MEAT FILLING

1/2 lb ground Beef
1 egg
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/2 pkg frozen Spinach well drained
2 cloves of garlic chopped fine
2 tbls finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1 small pkg Shredded Mozzarella

Your favorite marinara sauce

Cooked the shells as directed being careful not to break them up  (about 4 or 5 minutes) You want them Al Dente as they will cook in the oven the rest of the way.

In the meantime, Blend all the cheese ingredients to make a smooth mixture.  Set aside.  In a skillet, brown the ground beef until it is quite crumbly.  Let cool.  Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan and the spinach that you have squeezed all the water out of.  Add the egg.   Add the garlic and salt and pepper the parsley and mix all of this together with the ground beef.

Stuff half of the shells with the cheese mixture and half with the meat mixture.  Brush the sides of your baking dish with a little olive oil.  Then ladle some of your favorite sauce on the bottom.  Set your shells in the dish alternating, one cheese and one meat filled shell.  Top with your sauce and sprinkle with more parmesan and two or three handfuls of mozzarella.  Bake at 350 degrees for about  45 minutes or until bubbly and cooked through.

Serve with a nice tossed salad and hot crusty bread.  Don't forget a glass of Red Wine for the adults.

MANGIA!

See you tomorrow.
Ciao
Grayce

Monday, November 16, 2009

SQUASH RAVIOLI

Hi, and Good Morning.  I am a little rushed this morning but I just had to tell you that I made my Squash Ravioli again yesterday and they were soooo good I had to put the recipe up for you today.  And how about that game last night, for all you football fans!!!  What a nail biter.  I'm not a fan of either team but I picked the Colts in my football pool.  Plus I really do not like the Patriots, ever!  I could not believe the last minute of that game.  I'm sure Brady and the Pats can't either.  I'll give it to Manning and the Colts, they never gave up.  Kudos to the whole team and the coaches.  A Stunning Victory.  Anyway back to what is really important.  Good food.  As with the Pumpkin Ravioli, you can buy your pasta or make your own.  I tried pasta from the specialty shop and it is good, but not as good as mine.  Also more expensive and a lot of waste.  I encourage you to make your own.

SQUASH RAVIOLI

1 large butternut squash
1 8oz container Ricottta
Parmesan or Romano cheese
nutmeg
Salt

Cut the squash, remove the seeds and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 mins to an hour until well done.  Remove from the oven scrape out of the shell and spread out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Put back into the oven and bake for another 8 minutes.  Put into a Cuisinart and blend till smooth. Put into a bowl and add 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 to 3/4 of the Ricotta depending on how much squash you have.  You want a very stiff mixture.  It will be soft but firm.  Add the Romano or Parmesan and mix well.
Dough.
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
water

Make a well in the flour, add eggs, salt and a little water, 1/2 cup.  Begin to mix together, adding water as needed.  Knead until the dough is elastic and shiny, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.  Cut off pieces, about 1/4 of the ball of dough and roll out.  Moisten the edges so it will seal tightly.  Put a heaping tsp full for each Ravioli.  Cover with another sheet of dough.  Press gently around each mound of filling to get all the air out, cut and put on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  When done, you can cook right away, or put in the freezer.  When frozen put into a plastic bag and cook when you want.  Makes about 24 large Ravioli.  When you are ready to cook them, melt 1 stick of butter in a large skillet.  Add 5 or 6 sage leaves (fresh).  Brown the butter. Drain the Ravioli and add to butter and sage.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Serve with the butter sauce.  The Ravioli will take about 7 or 8 minutes to cook in the boiling water.
You can also do the dough in the Cuisinart.  Just add the water till a ball forms, then remove and knead a little.

Well that is it.  They are so yummy, make them soon!
Have a wonderful day and a great week coming up.
Ciao
Grayce

Friday, November 13, 2009

CROSTOLI and CRISPELLE

Hi everyone.  Well here it is Friday already.  I almost did not make it this morning.  I had a Wisdom tooth extracted yesterday and I'm only feeling so, so this morning.  You know the routine, a million shots of horrible stuff to numb your mouth, 30 seconds to get the tooth out, and then a face swollen up like a jelly fish.  That's me today folks.  Plus can hardly eat anything.  Wah Wah!  Anyway enough of my whinning.  I was at Claro's Italian store in Tustin last week and I saw something that really flooded my mind with wonderful memories.  Cristoli!  My Grandmother used to make both the the Cristoli and what she called Crispelle.  My gosh, what memories.  The Cristoli are thin crisp fried cookies, but the Crispelle are somewhat like a do-nut, fried dough, but a million times better.  It seems like we always had them available.  She must have made them 2 or 3 times a week.  What a treat!  So today, two of my all time favorites.  I will be making the Crispelle this weekend.  The Cristoli I make at Christmastime.

CRISTOLI

3 eggs lightly beaten
 about 5 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp of baking powder
about 1 cup milk
1 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients to make a smooth dough.  Cut into four pieces, and roll each like you would for Ravioli.  Cut into squares, and fry in a large pot of Wesson oil.  They cook very quick.  Turn and let cook on the other side just till light brown. Let them drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle them with powdered sugar.  They are a crispy, sweet treat.

CRISPELLE

These are just flour, water, salt, yeast.
 3 to four cups of flour
1 pkg of dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
warm water
1 egg

 Dissolve the yeast in a 1/4 cup of warm water.  Make a well in the flour and add the yeast mixture and one egg.  Add the salt.  Bring the flour up into the wet ingredients and mix until it forms a dough.  Knead the dough until smooth and shiny.  Let it rise until doubled.  Punch down the dough.  Cut into 4 sections.  Roll out to about 1/2 thick.  Form into twists.  Let rise for about 1/2 hour.  Fry in light olive oil till brown and cooked through.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, or my favorite, drizzled with honey.  They are amazing.

Well that is for me today.  Going to just take it easy and try to think what I can eat for the next day or so.
Have a great weekend.
Ciao for now
Grayce











































                                                                                                                                                                        

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

PASTA BEANS

Hi.  Today it is Pasta Beans as my Mom always called it.  This is a dish that we had a lot when I was very small.  If you read my first few blogs I gave you a little history about my childhood.  This dish is very simple, but probably one of the most satisfying comfort foods ever.  I made it for my kids and their kids and everyone loves it.  As a matter of fact I made it tonight.  My sister asked me why I had not put it on my blog, and so here it is today.  As I said, this is what we always called it.  There are other names for it also.  But this is ours.

PASTA BEANS

1 can of Progresso Cannellini Beans
elbow macaroni or thick spaghetti
garlic
olive oil
Broccolini, mustard greens, or rapini

Par cook the greens in a small amount of water in the microwave, drain well.  Saute in olive oil with the garlic.  Add about 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (hot).  Add the beans and stir till warmed through.  Add the pasta that has been drained. (do not rinse)  Drizzle with more olive oil, serve piping hot , sprinkled with a good amount of Parmesan or Romano cheese.

It is one of those dishes that you just can't seem to get enough of.  Sometimes, it is just the beans and pasta, but I really like it with the greens.  Kids love it.  I have seen it in Italian Restaurants on the menu for $12 and up.  I hope you will try it.  Not only is it a rib sticking meal, it is so tasty, and so economical. Not to mention, ready in 10 minutes or so.

Thanks for stopping in today.  Mangia!
Ciao for now
Grayce

SPECTACULAR SPINACH SALAD

Hi everyone.  I have been asked to give you the recipe for the Salad that I served on Sunday.  I don't know if you have a "Henry's" Market near you, but it is a great place to shop.  Last summer that were sampling this salad.  It was so good, I got the recipe, and now make it all the time.  When I was growing up, we never had a meal without a salad.  Even if it was lunch, there was some sort of a salad to go with the meal. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, oil and vinegar.  It is the same at my table, every meal has a salad.  Tossed, Caesar, Spinach, whatever.  It is an important part of the meal.  I hope you will try this one soon.  You can make as much or as little as you like.  Just make the dressing in a glass jar and use it as needed.

3/4 cup almonds (skinless, slivered)
2 tbls olive oil
1 lb spinach (baby leaves)
1 pint strawberries
Pomegranate seeds (optional) You can buy them already taken out and in a container

Dressing

1/2 cup sugar
1 tblsp poppy seeds
2 tblsp sesame seeds (toasted)
1 1/2 tsp minced onion
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a container with a cover.  In the 2 tblsp of olive oil saute the almonds just till they are light brown and toasty.  Slice the strawberries.  Put the spinach in a bowl, top with the strawberries, pomegranate and almonds.  Pour on dressing and toss.  It is SPECTACULAR!

There you have it.  I guarantee that if you make this one time, you will make it often.  Not only are the flavors amazing, it is really pretty to look at too.  Remember, the visual part of any food is as important as the taste!

Thanks for stopping in today.  I hope you stop in everyday for some new ideas and maybe some old ones that you have forgotten.  Sign up to be a follower and please leave your comments.

Ciao for now
Grayce

Monday, November 9, 2009

CHICKEN A LA KING WITH BISCUITS

Hi again.  Welcome in today.  I don't know about you but one of my very favorite comfort foods that my Mom used to make was Chicken a la King.  Just thinking about it, I can almost taste it.  I have not had it for a long time and thinking about what recipe I should give you today, it popped up in my mind.  I can remember her in the kitchen, making the sauce, cutting up the chicken, adding all the rest and baking those wonderful flaky biscuits to go with it.  Everything smelled so good, and I loved how it tasted and how good we felt eating this wonderful dish.  I know that if you have ever had this you know what I am talking about.  And if you have never had it, make it soon and create some wonderful memories for your family.

CHICKEN A LA KING

1 small can of mushrooms
1 green pepper chopped fine
1 small jar of pimentos
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup of flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock (broth)
2 whole chicken breasts or 1 cooked chicken from the market
salt and pepper to taste

Make a roux of the butter and flour, slowly add the milk and the chicken stock.  Let it come to a boil, lower the heat and add the chicken which has been cut into cubes. In a small skillet melt 1 tbls of butter and add the chopped pepper, saute for two or three minutes.  Add to the Chicken mixture.  Add the mushrooms and the pimentos.  Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.  In the meantime make your favorite biscuits.  When they are hot out of the over, split them in half and ladle the Chicken over the top. Absolutely wonderful!  Serve with a salad.

Your family will love this dish.  It is just one of those time favorite comfort foods.  Nothing fancy, just good old down home cooking.  Also, quick and easy.  Under 45 minutes to make.  (You can also use Pepperidge Farm Pastry Shells)

Try it soon.  Thanks for stopping in today.
Ciao for now
Grayce

PATTY'S SURPRISE

Hi Everyone.  What a weekend.  We celebrated Nick's 18th Birthday yesterday.  What a big day.  It seems like he was just born yesterday.  Time flies by so quickly.  Unbelievable.  It was an absolutely gorgeous California day.  We were able to eat outside, not too hot.  Just perfect in every way.  What a menu.  Guacamole and Chips, Sauteed Shrimp in garlic and olive oil, Squash Ravioli in brown butter and sage, those were the appetizers.  Tri Tip, Roasted Vegetables, Roman Salad, Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Almonds, Pomegranate Seeds, Chocolate Beet Cake and Ice Cream.  It was a feast for sure.  So after all that food, today I give you a simple, but wonderful one pot dish.  My whole family loves this.  The neighbor who used to live across the street from us (Patty) made this dish, (and called it Patty's Surprise).  It is so simple and I'm sure that everyone has some form of this recipe.  Everyone loves it.  Talk about easy, you can have this on the table in less than an hour.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 15 oz (or it may be 15 1/2) oz tomato sauce
green pepper
onion
chili powder
Grated cheddar cheese
Fritos
3/4 box elbow macaroni

Chop the onion and the green pepper and saute in a little olive oil until tender.  Add the ground beef and cook until browned, add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper and 1 1/2 tbls of chili powder.  Lower heat to simmer and cook until it thickens up, (about 45 minutes).  In the meantime, cook the elbow macaroni.  When done, drain well and mix into the meat mixture.  In the bottom of the dish put the (small) Fritos, put the mixture on top.  Sprinkle with a handful of cheddar cheese, pop in the microwave for just a minute.  Serve.

I absolutely guarantee that if you make this once your whole family will ask you to make it again and again.  It is just one of those wonderful tasting things.   Try it soon.

That's it for now
Ciao
Grayce

Friday, November 6, 2009

WHOLE WHEAT COFFEE CAN BREAD

Hi there everyone.  Trying to get everything done this morning early so I can watch the Parade from New York for the Yankees at eight o'clock.  Then it's clean the house, and get ready for a big Birthday Party on Sunday for Nick who will turn the "big" 18 on Saturday.  A lot of food to get ready.  What a weekend!  I get to do some real cooking.  Today I have a recipe that would be really fun for you to try with your children.  I have this little book of bread recipes, and it is falling apart, so I don't have the cover and some of the pages.  It was just called Bread Baking.  Anyway, I used to make this for the kids and it was just fun to bake in coffee cans, not to mention being the best bread ever.  Try it on a weekend with your kids.

COFFEE CAN BREAD

3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
 1 1/2 tsp salt
2 pkg active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water (125 degrees)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter

In a large mixing bowl stir together 1 cup flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, salt,yeast and brown sugar.  Stir in water.  Beat until smooth.  Mix in butter and remaining whole wheat flour.  Beat 5 minutes longer.  Gradually add enough of the remaining all purpose flour to make a stiff dough.  Turn out on floured board.  Knead 5 to 10 minutes, or until smooth and no longer sticky.  Place in a greased bowl.  Butter top of dough lightly.  Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.  About 1 1/2 hrs.  Punch down and turn out  on a lightly floured board.  Knead a minute or two to remove air bubbles.  Divide in half and shape into 2 round loaves.  Place in two greased 2 pound size coffee cans or two greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.  Cover with kitchen towel.  Let rise until doubled, about 35 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when thumped.  Makes 2 loaves.

There is nothing in the world that smells quite so wonderful as fresh baked bread.  Especially when the weather turns cool.  Sliced, and slathered with butter, absolutely heavenly.  I hope you will find time to make this.  It is truly worth the effort.  Have a most wonderful weekend.

Ciao for now
Grayce

Thursday, November 5, 2009

ARTICHOKES

Good morning and I do mean GOOD MORNING!  The Yankees are Champions again.  I am so happy, but I am also so excited I can hardly think.  My neighbor is a New Yorker and he is going back for the Parade on Friday.  Lucky devil, I wish I could do that.  Anyway, again, I am so excited it is hard to think of a recipe to give you today, or to talk too long.  One of the girls in my Illustrator class who reads my blog asked me for a recipe for Artichokes.  The way she described the ones she likes sound just like the way I make them so I told her I would post it for her today.  They are how my Grandma and my Mother made them.  So, one more time, YEA YANKEES and here is the recipe.

2 big Artichokes, nice and round and heavy with tight leaves
1 1/2 cups of Progresso or Contadina seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
3 big cloves of garlic
olive oil

Rinse the Artichokes and clip the top of the leaves.  Shake out as much water as possible and layer by layer spread the leaves outward.  Combine the breadcrumbs and cheese and starting at the bottom of the artichoke bend each leaf and fill with the mixture.  Put into a dutch oven or pot with a cover.  Add about an inch or inch and a half of water.  Drizzle the artichokes liberally with the olive oil.  Drop the garlic into the pot, cover, put over high heat until the water boils then turn down to simmer.  Keep a watch as you will have to add more water from time to time.  Steam until the leaves are very tender.

I could eat these and never stop.  Try them soon, the Artichokes in the stores right now are looking pretty good.

Thanks for stopping in today.
Ciao for now.
Grayce

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CINNAMON ROLLS

Oh Yummy. CINNAMON ROLLS.  I wish I had one of these right now with a nice, hot cup of coffee.  Remember awhile back I told you that I make everything from scratch?  One of the family's favorite things were my Cinnamon Rolls.  I made them often.  I know most of you probably don't have a lot of time, but do take some time on a weekend or a day that is not so hectic and try these.  The thing about making anything you cook from "scratch", isn't just how wonderful it tastes or how good having fresh ingredients without those "unknowns" in your food, or the wonderful smells that are created, for me at least it is a kind of therapy.  It is the great feeling of satisfaction that I get.  I don't know how to explain it exactly, but you sort of become one with the dish you are making or the goodies you are baking.  You just get into a whole, neat world of your own and your creation.  And then there is the satisfaction of seeing everyone enjoying your delicious efforts.  The thing about these or any bread recipe, is that while the dough rises, you can be getting other things done in the mean time.

CINNAMON ROLLS

2 pkg dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sweet cream butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
5 cups flour
cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
 Sprinkle yeast into the warm water and let it set until it is dissolved.  Heat milk and the butter in a small pan until the butter melts.  Pour into a large bowl.  Stir in the sugar, salt and the vanilla.  Cool until it is just lukewarm.  Add the yeast mixture.  Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.  Gradually mix in enough flour to make a soft dough.  Turn out onto a floured board.  Knead until smooth and shiny.  Place in a greased bowl.  Brush the top of the dough lightly with melted butter.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel. Keep in a warm place until it is doubled in size, about an hour and a half.  Divide the dough in half and knead just a little.  Roll each piece into a 10x12 " rectangle.  Brush liberally with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon, half of the brown sugar.  Roll up and cut in 3/4 inch slices.  Use 8 " or 9" rounds  or 11"x12" cake pans.  Into each pan put 4 tablespoons of butter and 2/3 cup of brown sugar,  put into the oven just to melt the butter, remove, stir and spread evenly over the bottom of the pans, then top with the cinnamon slices.  Cover and let these rise til double.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden on top.  Bake at 350 degrees.

Once your family gets a whiff of these, and a taste of these, there will be no turning back.  They will beg you to make them again.

Thanks for stopping in today.
Ciao for now
Grayce

Monday, November 2, 2009

VEAL MARSALA

Well here it is November 3rd and yesterday it was 90 degrees.  We may never get any cold weather.  The forecast for next week is mid to high 70's.  Ah, that is why we live here.  Some people are actually complaining about the heat.  But not me, I like it just fine.  I turn on the TV and see the Mid-West buried under snow, and other parts of the country having Wind, Rain and freezing temperatures, and I am real satisfied with 90 degrees :).  So just in case it is hot again tomorrow, how about something stove-top in stead of in the oven.  This is a family recipe and a very favorite one of mine.  Pretty straight forward and probably made the same by most everyone.

VEAL MARSALA

to serve 4 persons
8 thin pieces of veal (scallopine)
1 beaten egg
flour
1 1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms
1 cup of Marsala wine

Beat the egg, dip the veal (that has been salted and peppered) into the egg, then into the flour.  In a frying pan heat 1/2 butter and half olive oil.  Quickly saute the veal on both sides until done.  Transfer to a warming plate.  Into the drippings, add a 1/2 stick unsalted butter, saute the mushrooms until done, add the Marsala wine and cook over low heat until it begins to thicken a little.  Add the veal back into the pan to heat through.  Serve with buttered Fettucine.

Quick and easy but so delicious.  Try it soon.  Serve with a small green salad and a crisp White Wine.

Thanks for stopping in today
Ciao for now
Grayce

GALUMPKIS (STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS)

Welcome in for another day.  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  What a whirlwind!  Between Halloween, the Swim meet, Football games, and of course MY Yankees winning game three, I slept like the proverbial log.  I spent the weekend with my Daughter and her Hubby and kids.  What a great time!  Halloween party at Nancy's on Saturday, then up early Sunday to the swim meet.  Kate won her Freestyle heat by a mile and Christina was the overall point leader in her age group for the year.  Linda and Jody are happy the meets are over for the year and they can relax on Sunday for awhile with Football games.

I don't know about what happened at your house on Halloween night, but Kate and Christina and their friends garnered more candy than you can imagine.  The house looked like a candy store.  (Just a hint, if that happened at your house there are places that you can donate the candy to which is what my daughter and the girls do every year).  Anyway after all the sugar rush, here is a wonderful dinner for tonight (or any night) to get things back on track.  My Mom used to make these stuffed cabbage rolls and I always loved them.  I make them a lot even now.  They are always one of the wonderful comfort foods.

GALUMPKIS

Sauce:
1 quart of tomato sauce
1 clove of garlic minced
2 tbls of vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
salt and pepper
Put this over low heat and cook until it begins to thicken, about 10 minutes

Rolls:
1 lb ground beef , 1/2 lb ground pork
1/ 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 egg
1 onion chopped very fine (small onion)
1 clove of garlic chopped fine
mix all together well, add
salt and pepper and set aside

2 heads of cabbage (pick ones with really large leaves.)

In a large pot bring salted water to boil.  Remove any leaves of the cabbage that are not good.  Cut the core out of the cabbage and gently remove the large outer leaves being careful not to tear them.  Blanch the large leaves in the hot water for about 4 or 5 minutes or until they bend easily.  Remove them and put them in a bowl of cold water just for a minute.  Cut a little of the core so you can fold the leaves. Put about 1/2 cup of the filling mixture in the leaves, fold over sides and roll up, secure with a toothpick and put toothpick side down.  When all rolls are made set aside.  Cut remaining cabbage into pieces, in your deep fry pan saute the cabbage with garlic and olive oil until just tender.  Make a bed of this cabbage, put your cabbage rolls on top, pour the tomato sauce over the rolls, drizzle with a little olive oil.
Cover the pan or casserole and bake at 350 degrees for an hour to an hour and 1/2.  Until cabbage is tender and meat is cooked through.

Just writing this makes me hungry.  I think I will make them soon myself.  Try this recipe.  I know you will like it a lot as will your family.

Thanks for stopping in today
Ciao for now
Grayce

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SWISS STEAK

Good morning.  Well it's that Fall feeling again.  I guess when the weather turns I just think of cooking different things.  And I will tell you it got plenty cold last night.  Who says California does not have Seasons?  Today I have a recipe that I am sure you have all had at one time or another.  My Grandmother and my Mother made this and it is truly one of the great all time comfort foods.  Swiss Steak with mashed potatoes, green beans and hot crusty bread.  Now who doesn't like that?  When my family all lived at home, they loved this dinner and I made it often.  Not only is it good but quite economical, and today being what it is financially for a lot of people, you can't miss with this meal.  Here is my Grandmother's and then my Mother's, and now my recipe.

SWISS STEAK

1 large round steak (as much as you need for your family) will feed four
flour
1 chopped green pepper
1 onion sliced
1 can chopped tomatoes

Cut the steak into serving sized pieces.  Salt and pepper each piece and then dredge in flour.  Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a chicken fryer or deep frying pan (that has a cover).  Brown the meat on both sides.  Add the tomatoes, onion, and green pepper.  Cover and cook on low heat until the meat is fork tender.
Make mashed potatoes and add 1/4 cup of Parmesan to them.  Cook the green beans till just crisp, dress with olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper.  Spoon some of the juice from the meat over the potatoes.

I  have always liked this meal ever since I was a little girl.  My family always liked it too.  Try it soon.  It will be a hit with your family too.

That's it for today.
Ciao for now
Grayce

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SWEET POTATO STUFFED ORANGES

AHA! Can you tell that I am in Fall mode?  Almost the end of October and my mind immediately shifts into a different mode as far as cooking goes. It's not too warm to turn on the oven, so you start to cook differently.  (even though it is going to be 86 degrees here in a day or two), but for now, I'm thinking Fall. Colored leaves, Pumpkins, crisp Apples, Apple Cider, lots of baked goodies, you get the drift.  Today I have a recipe for you that I always make for Thanksgiving, Oranges stuffed with Sweet Potatoes.  Can I tell you just how yummy they are?  You can make them anytime, they are so easy, but at our house they are a Thanksgiving staple, along with the Sweet Potato casserole that my daughter makes.  So, here is the recipe.

SWEET POTATO STUFFED ORANGES

You can bake your own Sweet Potatoes or use 1 of the large cans of Potatoes (drained).  That will make 4 to 6.

3 oranges cut in half (extra large Navel)*
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
heavy cream
butter
(3/4 stick melted)
1/4 cup brown sugar
Rum
Whip the potatoes as you would for mashed potatoes, add the spices and the melted butter and the brown sugar.  Then add enough cream just to make them smooth but not runny.  Add 3 tbls of Rum (not rum extract, Rum)
Hollow out the oranges and spoon the sweet potatoes into the halves, piling up high. Top with 1/2 Pecan piece.  Bake at 350 degrees until hot.
*My sister bakes them in little Pumpkins for variety

I guarantee that once you make these, you will make them again, and you may make them part of your Thanksgiving Dinner too.

They are definitely a crowd pleaser.


Well, until tomorrow,
Ciao for now
Grayce

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

PUMPKIN CAKE


PUMPKINS, PUMPKINS everywhere.  So now that it is almost Halloween and Pumpkins are plentiful,  it is time for a Pumpkin recipe. I love Fall and this time of year.  And I adore Halloween.  I love to decorate and make Treat bags for all the Trick or Treaters.  It was always a big day at our house.  This year I will go to my Daughter's house and go out with the two girls, Kate and Christina.  I have so many recipes using Pumpkin but this one is for a really good cake.  I have been making it since my Children were little.  It is just as good today as it was back then. I hope you will try it.

PUMPKIN CAKE

Sift together:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

Mix in another bowl and beat:
4 eggs plus 2 cups granulated sugar, then add 1 cup Wesson oil and the flour mixture and beat well.  Add 2 cups of pumpkin (Libby's).
Pour into a greased and floured 13x9x2 baking pan
Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees
Let Cake cool completely before frosting.

FROSTING
1 stick of butter at room temp and 6 oz cream cheese.  Cream butter and cream cheese together then add 1 box powdered sugar.  Beat well.  Add 2 tsp vanilla and 1 cup broken pecans.  Frost cooled cake.
Keep any leftover in the refrigerator (leftover? :))

Make it for Halloween, your family will love it.

(someone inquired about my photo, it was taken this past August at a family Birthday dinner)

Thanks for stopping in today.
Ciao for now
Grayce

CREOLE JAMBALAYA

Good morning everyone.  Another hot day in Southern California.  And it is almost November.  But we have to admit we are enjoying it a lot.
Years ago when I first moved to California I had a neighbor who also loved to cook.  He shared some of his recipes with me.  The one I am bringing to you today came from him.  He had gotten it some time before that when he was in New Orleans.  He got it from a friend who worked in one of the famous restaurants there.  I promptly made it for the first time for a Christmas Open House for 25 people.  It was, true to his word, really delicious.  I still make it today.  This recipe serves 25 to 30 people but it is one of those things that you can easily adjust to suit the number of people in your family which is what I have done to bring it to you.  If anyone of you would like the proportions to serve 25 just let me know and I will publish it or send to you.  It is great for a large group.  One pot for the Jambalaya.

CREOLE JAMBALAYA

1 tbls olive oil
1 cup pork sausage cut into pieces
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 tbls flour
3 cups cleaned cooked shrimp
3 cups diced tomatoes (save the juice)
4 cups tomato juice combined with water (no seeds) the juice from the tomatoes plus enough water to make 4 cups
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tbls chopped parsley
2 cups uncooked long grain rice
2 tbls Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup cooked chicken cut into bite sized pieces.
1/2 cup dry White wine

In a large pot put the oil, cook the sausage, green pepper and onion stirring often for about 10 minutes until soft.  Stir in the flour and stir until smooth, then cook 2-3 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes, tomato juice water mixture, garlic and parsley.  Cook just to boiling point.  Stir in rice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme and red pepper. Add the White wine.  Cover and cook on low for 25 minutes or until rice is tender and almost all the liquid absorbed.  Add and stir in the shrimp and chicken.  Cover the pot and simmer for about 6 or 7 minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
*If after adding the rice it begins to get too dry, add some tomato juice.

This is a good hearty meal served with a nice crisp salad and some hot bread.  Don't forget a glass of wine for the adults.

Thanks for stopping by today.
Ciao for now
Grayce

Monday, October 26, 2009

FILET OF SOLE


Hi everyone.  What a weekend! Well, to start off with, I don't know how many of you have known about my pineapple, but 2 1/2 years ago I took the top of a pineapple and planted it in a big pot.  For two years it grew and grew but no pineapple.  After 2 years I noticed something deep in the center and a little over six months later it had grown into an amazing big pineapple.  (pictured above)  This weekend I cut it off and took it to my daughters where we cut it open and ate it.  It was juicy and as sweet as sugar.  It was the most amazing pineapple I ever ate in my life.  But can you imagine?  It takes 2 1/2 years to grow 1 pineapple and each plant gives only one.  Sometimes it may give two.  Just think of the rotation they have in Hawaii to keep us in pineapples.  I can hardly believe it.  The best part of this whole experience was,  that no one thought it would grow.  My son Ed, works for Chiquita Fresh, and all the guys in the pineapple part of the Company said there was no way I could grow one.  Well they don't know me.  So if you have the patience, try twisting the top off of your next pineapple and give it a try.  It was very exciting to say the least. (Also my Yankees won the Pennant!) Just a footnote :-)

Well let's get to today's recipe.  It is so simple and I know that even someone who is not a fish eater will love this.

Filet of Sole
egg wash
lemon
White Wine
butter
 olive oil
salt and pepper

Beat an egg and put into a pie dish, salt and pepper the filets and dip into the egg wash on both sides.  Saute quickly in the mixture of  1/2 olive oil and 1/2 unsalted butter.  Remove from pan and cover with a piece of foil (just lay the foil over the top).  Add 1/4 stick of butter and 1/2 cup White wine and juice of 1 lemon to the drippings in the pan. Cook until it reduces and thickens a little, spoon quickly over the fish and sprinkle with slivered almonds.  Serve with Asparagus and roasted little red potatoes.

Cut the Asparagus into 2" pieces and saute quickly in a little olive oil and garlic.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast the Potatoes in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Put them into a shallow baking dish and toss with a little olive oil just to coat, salt and pepper, slivered garlic and some Herbs de Provence.
A meal fit for a King!  Delicious and healthy.

I am going to plant another Pineapple today.  Give it a try.  It was so worth the effort.

Ciao for now
Grayce

Friday, October 23, 2009

CHOCOLATE KICKS

YIPEE! YEA! HOORAY!  My blog site is working AND I found the Brownie recipe in with all my Christmas Cookie recipes.  To quote the author, "there's a recipe around for chocolate brownies: a dry, pale brown thing that really has no resemblance to this dark, fudgy, moist delight."  And she  (Edna McHugh) is absolutely right.  I have been making this recipe since 1971.  There is a little book called "Chocolate Kicks and other recipes for the Chocolate Addict."  The recipes all have Hippie Era names.  And of course, I am the biggest Hippie of them all.  The Sixties Rule!  Anyway, I digress.  I am also a "make it from scratch" person."  Even if you are a run around crazy Mom or a working Mom, you must try this Brownie recipe at least once.  Make it on the weekend.  And.....once you do, watch out, you will be doing it again.  Okay, enough of that, here then is the recipe.

CHOCOLATE KICKS

5 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/4 lb of butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 tbls vanilla
1 cup sifted all purpose flour

Set oven at 325 degrees.  Grease a 9" square pan.  Melt chocolate butter and shortening together over hot water or on a very low flame.  Mix thoroughly, let cool slightly.  Beat eggs with salt till light.  Add sugar gradually and beat till creamy.  Add chocolate mixture and vanilla.  Fold in well.  Add flour all at once.  Beat till smooth.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or till done  (DO NOT OVER BAKE)  Cut into small squares while hot.

That's it.  The recipes in this book are all so awesome, Chocolate Joints, Chocolate Weeds, Chocolate Hippies, Chocolate Far Outs.  You get the drift.  I will be bringing you more of them as time goes by.  There are recipes for Cakes, Pies, and Misc. Jazz.  All of them noteworthy to say the least.

When you taste these Brownies, these moist, mouth watering chewy delights, I guarantee you will take the time to make them often.

PEACE!

Ciao
Grayce

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PUMPKIN RAVIOLI

Good morning.  Well I am still looking for my Brownie recipe.  I want to get it to you all so you can try it on the weekend.  In the meantime I am going to give you a recipe that I first had in a Restaurant in Northern Italy a few years ago.  Pumpkin Ravioli.  I really did not have a recipe but when I came home I put one together with good results.  Since then I have had them at a couple of different restaurants in Los Angeles and have seen them being prepared on The Food Network by two or three different chefs.  I have not tried their recipes, because my family and myself included are happy with the way I make them.  So today I impart to you my recipe.  Very simple but so delicious they really do make your mouth water.  I am making them for dinner Friday night.

2 cups of cooked pumpkin (I used canned) or 2 cups of cooked squash (you can buy it already peeled and cubed at your local market.
6 tablespoons of cream
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 1/2 sticks of butter (unsalted)
6 sage leaves
pasta sheets or wonton wrappers or make your own pasta

Add the cream to the pumpkin (or squash puree'), cook in a saucepan over low heat to cook away some of the moisture.  Add the nutmeg and let cool.  If you use wontons*, (the small size) put about a tsp of the mixture in each, brushing the edges all around with water, fold over to make a triangle and press them down to seal.  If you make your own pasta dough (or use sheets from your specialty market) add a full tsp to each and cut with your ravioli cutter or a knife and then seal the edges pressing down with a fork.  To make your own pasta, 2 cups of flour, 1 egg and enough water to form the dough, knead it until shiny and elastic and roll into sheets.  Fill as directed above.  Drop into boiling water and cook just until they float to the top.  Cook a minute more.  In the meantime melt the butter until it just begins to brown, drop in the sage leaves and cook just for about 20 seconds or so.  Remove ravioli from the water, draining well, and toss them into the pan with the butter and sage.  Coat them evenly and serve immediately.

They are so amazing, I know your whole family will really love them.  Some specialty markets may carry Pumpkin Ravioli.  But they are so easy to make, especially if you buy the pasta or use the wontons, that it is more economical to do so.  And you know what you are getting.  I am a big proponent of "making your own".
*wanton raviolis cook in just a couple of minutes

Try them this weekend for something different.  Thanks for stoppping in today.
Ciao for now
Grayce