Thursday, December 28, 2006

Duck and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

I made extra duck breasts when I made dinner for Christmas Day just to have this hearty gumbo on the day after Christmas. A one pot meal after days and days of cooking for the holidays gave me a chance to rest and to serve a casual, but very tasty meal after the big formal meal on Christmas Day.

There are probably as many different variations on gumbo as there are stars in the sky. Gumbo is basically a hodgepodge of food cooked in a pot, but nearly all are based on the Cajun "holy trinity" which consists of bell pepper, onion and celery. Other ingredients important to a gumbo are garlic, cayenne and green onions, plus other spices such as thyme and bay leaves. A good roux, made of drippings and flour, is cooked slowly in the pot until a nutty brown color is achieved. Some recipes call for a blond roux, but the darker roux flavors the gumbo and the blond roux simply thicken it.

I pan-fried the duck breasts and served a sauce on the side for Christmas dinner so I could use the breasts for the gumbo, but you can smoke your duck breasts which I have done in the past when making this gumbo.

Ingredients For Duck and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

4 Cooked whole duck breasts, diced large
1/2 cup cooking oil
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced
1 cup chopped ham chunks
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons creole seasoning (homemade or purchased)-my recipe included here
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Worcheshire sauce
1 1/2 quarts chicken broth

Warm the oil in a Dutch oven and add the flour. Over medium heat, cook and stir the roux until a nutty brown, about 12-14 minutes. Do not let burn. Add sausage, duck,ham, onion, green pepper, celery and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, creole seasoning, bay leaves, Worcheshire and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, simmer 30-45 minutes. Adjust seasonings.

Creole Seasoning
recipe here

My Creole Seasoning
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablesspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1/2 tablespoon cayenne
1/2 tablespoon ground chipotle powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

To serve: hot cooked rice, chopped green onions, creole seasoning and Tabasco

Friday, December 22, 2006

Espresso Gelee With Candied Walnuts

A nice low fat, low calorie dessert to have after a rich meal. I doubled the ingredients for the gelee and served it in small cups. The candied walnuts add a nice sweet crunch and the Greek yogurt gives the gelees a wonderful creamy richness.

Espresso Gelee With Candied Walnuts
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine recipe here

1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup freshly brewed espresso

1/4 2% Greek yogurt
1/2 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Candied Walnuts
See December 13, 2006 post here

In a small glass bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir the sugar into the espresso until dissolved. Stir in the gelatin until dissolved and pour into 4 espresso cups. Refrigerate gelees until set on top, about 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until thoroughly set, about 4 hours.

For the topping, stir the yogurt with the confectioners sugar until thoroughly mixed. Top each gelee with a dollop of yogurt and the candied walnuts.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cranberry Apple Walnut Yeast Bread

Not another apple recipe! My half bushel of Arkansas Black apples bought at an apple orchard in Tennessee seems to be like the proverbial definition of eternity----two people and a ham! I've made baked apples, candied apples, apple coffeecake and now, I swear, this is the last apple recipe for a long time. I must say they have been delicious and a keeper. The old man at the orchard gave us a bit of a history lesson on the Arkansas Black apple saying it originated in Benton, Arkansas in the late 1800's and its beautiful red color deepens to almost black on its exposed side. With great care and storage he said they would be at their best even in February. As you can see from the photo, it is a beautiful apple.

This bread is not a sweet bread, but one that makes great toast and is very good eaten with a wedge of cheddar cheese.

Cranberry Apple Walnut Yeast Bread

Adapted from Bread For All Seasons by Beth Hensperger

1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F.)
1 cup warm milk (105-115 degrees F.)
6 to 6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose of bread flour
2 medium-large cooking apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped (2-3 cups)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Grated zest of one large orange
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon salt

In the work bowl of a heavy duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine yeast, brown sugar, warm water, warm milk and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until bubbly, about 1 hour.

Add apples, dried cranberries, walnuts, orange zest, oil eggs, cinnamon, coriander, allspice, salt and 1 cup more of the flour. Beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed and leaves the side of the bowl.

Turn out on lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and springy, but still firm, about 3 minutes. Place in a greased container, turning to coat once to coat the top, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 2 pieces. Place loaves in 2 greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until 1 inch above the rims of the pans, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. twenty minutes before baking. Bake in the center of the oven until loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped, 45-50 minutes. Remove from the pans immediately and transfer to racks to cool completely before slicing.

Makes 2 9x5 loaves.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sugared Walnuts

A great sweet snack or a garnish for a dessert, sugared walnuts are easy to make and take about 15 minutes from start to finish. I always have a sugared or savory spiced nut for the Holidays and they are great as an addition to a gift basket.

Combine 4 ounces of superfine sugar or caster sugar as it is sometimes called and 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy pot. Dissolve sugar over low heat, then raise the heat and boil until the syrup is just beginning to turn golden. Careful, as it turns dark quickly and will burn. Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts and 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar. Pour out quickly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread walnuts out into a single layer. Let set. Store in a container for up to a week.

Adapted from BBC GoodFood Magazine, November 2006

Friday, December 8, 2006

Green Pozole With Chicken

For Tami Hardeman's Running with Tweezers Super Souper Challenge Blog Event

This colorful and tasty soup has become a mainstay in my household as a warming winter dish- perfect as a main course for a casual meal or Sunday night dinner. Not only have I served it for an easy Christmas Eve dinner, but also as a dinner party meal with several appetizers added and a super rich dessert to finish.


9 cups water
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 large white onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds (not roasted; 2 1/4 oz)
1 lb tomatillos, husked
2 fresh jalapeño chiles, quartered (including seeds)
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon dried epazote or oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 (15-oz) cans white hominy, rinsed and drained

Accompaniments: diced radish; cubed avocado tossed with lime juice; shredded romaine; chopped white onion; lime wedges; dried oregano and chopped cherry tomatoes
Special equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder

Cook chicken:
Bring 8 cups water, bay leaf, half of onion, half of garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil, covered, in a 6-quart heavy pot, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add chicken and poach at a bare simmer, uncovered, skimming off any foam, until just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to cool. Pour broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding solids, and reserve. When chicken is cool enough to handle, coarsely shred with your fingers.

Make sauce while chicken cools:
Cook pumpkin seeds in a dry small skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until puffed but not browned (seeds will pop as they puff), 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool completely, then finely grind in coffee/spice grinder.

Simmer tomatillos and remaining onion in remaining cup water in a 3-quart saucepan, covered, until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain vegetables and purée in a blender with jalapeños, 1/4 cup cilantro, epazote, remaining garlic, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

Heat oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then add purée (use caution as it will splatter and steam). Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in pumpkin seeds and 1 cup reserved broth and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken, hominy, and 3 more cups reserved broth and simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes.

Stir in remaining 1/2 cup cilantro and serve pozole in deep bowls with accompaniments.

In a pinch, I use 10 ounce cans tomatillos, drained and to add a bit of red for the holidays, try substituting 2 red jalapenos for the green ones. I also have toasted cumin seeds to garnish soup.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine
February 2003


Sunday, December 3, 2006

Brandied Figs

The brandied figs are infused with Earl Grey tea, orange rind and cinnamon and are fabulous spooned over a rich, creamy Greek yogurt.


2 pounds ready to eat dried figs
5 cups Earl Grey tea
Rind of one orange
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brandy

Put the figs in a pot and add the tea, orange rind and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the figs from the pan and drain.

Add the sugar to the tea and heat gently until sugar is dissolved. Boil rapidly for 2 minutes until syrupy.

Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in brandy. Pack figs and orange rind into warmed sterilized jars and pour in the hot syrup to cover. Tap jars to remove any air bubbles, then seal and store for 1 month. If jars are properly sealed, you will hear a pop as they cool. If not, refrigerate.

From The Complete Book of Preserves and Pickles-Jams Jellies, Chutneys and Relishes by Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew
A very informative book on the art of preserving with beautiful photos, step by step instructions and sources for equipment.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Rosemary Focaccia

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
Robert Browning (1812-1889) English poet

Focaccia starts with a simple dough and can be formed into many shapes and topped with a multitude of fragrant ingredients, the easiest one being olive oil, coarse sea salt and just about any fresh or dried herb. Eaten just warm or at room temperature, focaccia can be served at any meal, as a snack or split as bread for a sandwich or shaped into a roll. My favorite sandwich is with the rosemary focaccia split and spread with tomato chutney, romaine lettuce and leftover grilled pork tenderloin. The tomato chutney came from my sister who made it with tomatoes from her vegetable garden this summer. Maybe she will share the recipe with me for a future posting.

This focaccia is topped with fragrant rosemary, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with coarse sea salt.

Focaccia with Rosemary

Sponge or Starter

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water, 105-115 degrees
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour


1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt

1 1/4 - 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Chopped fresh rosemary and sprigs for garnish

For the sponge, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large bow or mixer bow, whisk and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour, cover tightly and let rise until bubbly and is doubled in size-about 45 minutes.

In a heavy duty mixer, add the dissolved yeast and the olive oil to the sponge in the mixing bowl. Mix in with the paddle attachment until well blended. Add the flour and salt and stir until thoroughly mixed, 1-2 minutes. Change to the dough hook and knead until dough is soft and slightly sticky, 3-4 minutes.

Sprinkle flour on your work surface and knead the dough briefly.

Place dough is a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.

Flatten dough on an oiled 11x17 baking pan and press it out with wet or oiled hands. If dough doesn't cover the pan, cover and wait 10 minutes for dough to relax. Cover and let rise 45 minutes to an hour. Just before baking, dimple dough with knuckles leaving depressions. Drizzle olive oil over the dough, letting some pool in the depresssions. Sprinkle with sea salt and chopped rosemary.

At least 30 minutes before you bake the focaccia, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Farenheit with a baking stone. When focaccia has risen and is ready to bake, place pan on baking stone and spray the oven walls with cold water from a spritzer bottle 3 times during the first 10 minutes of baking. Continue baking until crust is crisp and the top is golden brown. Remove from heat and place on rack. Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 10-12

From Focaccia-Simple Breads From the Italian Oven by Carol Field

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Sour Cream Coffee Cake


2 tablespoons butter for greasing the cake pan

Streusel Topping

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces

Cake Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream or whole milk yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cup peeled,cored and sliced apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Butter a 9-inch bundt, tube or springform pan.

For the streusel topping, mix together the brown and white sugars, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or a knife and fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Sift or mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a mixer, beat the 1/2 cut butter and sugar in another bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and milk and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture and beat evenly.

Pour about half of the batter into the greased pan, smooth the top and sprinkle in half of the streusel. Top with the sliced apples. Add remaining batter, smoothing over the streusel and top with the remaining streusel.

Bake cake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 45-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Cool on rack for about 10 minutes.

From Spices of Life-Simple and Delicious Recipes For Great Health by Nina Simonds

I topped the apple cake with candied apples made by sauteing apples and brown sugar together for about 10 minutes and purchased apple butter. A dollop of creme fraiche to finish.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Some of My Favorite Kitchen Tools

"In department stores, so much kitchen equipment is bought indiscriminately by people who just come in for men's underwear.”

Julia Child

A whole lot of my kitchen tools have been bought indiscriminately, but pictured are a few which might have been bought on a lark at first, but have worked their way into being an indispensable part of my kitchen activities. These are only a small sampling of the many tools I use in my kitchen and they worked well to photograph.

From left to right, the wooden spoon has been used for a jam spoon, a spoon for chocolate mousse and or getting mustard out of the tiny openings that a normal spoon wouldn't fit. The spoon is also a perfect teaspoon measure. The granite molecajete y tejolote which is easier to prime and clean than the lava version was bought in a kitchen supply store locally. Not only is the molecajete y tejolote useful for grinding small amounts for seasonings, but doubles as a serving dish for guacamole and salsas.

Moving around, the wooden pie dough tamper flattens out the dough in tart shells and is available in many kitchen stores and online. Wooden prep bowls hold spices and herbs for mise en place which means setting in place or organizing to save time in the kitchen. I use the small rolling pin to roll out tortillas and pastry for empanadas and other small pastry items.

The wooden salt spoon holds about a half teaspoon and is kept in a salt pig by the stove as is the wooden coffee spoon which is handy for use as a tablespoon as well as a measure for coffee. A favorite for picnics is the knife bought from Williams-Sonoma years ago and is still available.

From Ikea in the garden shop is the small galvanized tin holding the paprika. I have four of thes which I used for individual portions of sesame sweet potato fries or as condiment dishes. They are perfect containers to hold mustard, catsup, pickles and mayonnaise for burgers or hot dogs.
in the garden shop is the small galvanized tin holding the paprika.

Sesame Sweet Potato Fries

Brush long slices of sweet potatoes with a combined mixture of vegetable and sesame oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in a 400 degree farenheit or 200 degree celsius oven and bake until the sweet potato is golden.

From New Food Fast by Donna Hay

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Honey Baked Apples with Raisins and Cinnamon

Honey Baked Apples with Raisins and Cinnamon

3 1/2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup packed brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper
6 unpeeled Braeburn, Golden Delicious or McIntosh apples, cored with a melon baller
1/2 cup golden raisins or currants
1/2 cup dried apricots, julienned
6 whole cloves
2 or 3 star anise pods
2 to 3 cinnamon sticks, optional
1/4 cup apple brandy

In a medium saucepan, combine the apple cider, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 25 minutes or so, or until mixture is syrupy and reduced to about 2 2/3 cups.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Stuff the apples with raisins and apricots and place in a 12-inch baking pan. Distribute the cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks, if using, over the apples. Pour the hot syrup over the apples. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the apples are almost tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove from the oven, turn the apples over, add the brandy. Baste apples with the apple cider and apple brandy many times, allowing the apples to absorb the flavor. Let the pan stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Serve baked apples with the liquid and dried fruits spooned over them in a bowl. Served with whipped heavy cream or ice cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Adapted from Food TV

Photo-Canon 5D, 50 mm lens, also Canon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Palm Springs Tableware Finds and Tomatillo Salsa

On a recent trip to Palm Springs, California, I found these great soup bowls and woven place mats at two different gift shops-the Trading Post at Indian Canyons ( and the Plaza Gift shop at the Living Desert ( botanical park and zoo. Something Mexican or American Indian to cook? After finding some very fresh tomatillos and jalapenos, tomatillo salsa was in the making.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

1 1/2 lb fresh tomatillos or 3 (11-oz) cans tomatillos
5 fresh Serrano chiles or 2 jalapeno chile's
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 large onion, sliced in half, crosswise
1-2 teaspoons coarse salt

Preheat broiler.

If using fresh tomatillos, remove husks and rinse under warm water to remove stickiness. . Broil chiles, onion, garlic, and fresh tomatillos on rack of a broiler pan 1 to 2 inches from heat, turning once, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 7-10 minutes.

Peel garlic and pull off tops of chiles. Purée all ingredients in a blender.

Can be made one day ahead, cover and chill. This makes a very picante salsa
Makes about 3 cups.

The lizard bowl was made in Mexico and the place mats are woven by the Zapotec Indian's in the Oaxacan Valley of Southern Mexico. You may see them again in future posts-maybe with some posole or corn soup, but definitely, an earthy dish befitting the vessel.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rich Chocolate Souffles with Creme Anglaise

I made this dessert this past Christmas 2005. It was a smashing success with my family and it is in my plans to make it again this year. It was super easy and low fat, but very rich tasting. I used Droste Cocoa and Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate.

Soufflé Cakes:

Cooking spray
8 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons sugar

Crème Anglaise:
3 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º.

To prepare soufflé cakes, lightly coat 8 (4-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray. Sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon sugar.

Combine 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Add chocolates, stirring with a whisk until chocolates melt. Combine 1/2 cup cocoa, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add cocoa mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring with a whisk. Whisk in 2 egg yolks and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; fold in remaining egg white mixture. Spoon chocolate mixture into prepared ramekins. Place ramekins in a large baking dish; add hot water to dish to a depth of 3/4 inch.

Bake at 350º for 15 minutes or until puffy and slightly cracked. Remove ramekins from dish, and place on a wire rack.

To prepare crème anglaise, combine 3 egg yolks and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, whisking until thick and pale yellow (about 3 minutes).

Heat milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat.

Gradually add hot milk to egg yolk mixture, stirring with a whisk. Return egg yolk mixture to pan; cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until slightly thick and mixture coats the back of a spoon, stirring constantly (do not boil). Remove from heat. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. Serve with soufflé cakes.

Note: A water bath tempers the heat and insulates the soufflés, ensuring a creamy texture. Line the baking dish with a towel to keep the ramekins in place.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 soufflé cake and about 1 tablespoon sauce)
Recipe From Cooking Light December 2003

Cooking Light

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Star Anise and a Recipe for Tea Eggs

A powerful, licorice-flavored spice, star anise plays an important part in Oriental cooking and is grown almost exclusively in Southern China, Indo-China and Japan. The stars are available whole or ground. It flavors meat and poultry dishes and is used in confectionery and sweetmeats. Star anise is also an ingredient in a mixture known as "Chinese Five Spices" and is added to jams and fruit compotes. Anisette is a liqueur made from star anise.

Star anise has many medicinal uses and of late has been touted as a major weapon against bird-flu influenza. It is the primary source of shikimic acid which is used to produce oseltamivir phosphate, sold under the brand name Tamiflu.

I also used star anise in a previous post-Pears in Red Wine. The tea eggs have a subtle flavor and are delicious. It's important that the eggs cool in the liquid.

Tea Eggs

1/3 cup dark soy sauce
1 Tablespoon lapsang souchoug tea leaves
1 star anise
12 hard cooked eggs-cooled under running water, but still in their shells
2 teaspoons sesame oil

In a medium saucepan, combine the soy sauce, tea leaves,and star anise with 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, dry the eggs off and gently roll them, using the palm of your hand, to crack the egg shell lightly until they are covered with fine cracks. Add the eggs, shell and all to the boiling liquid. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the eggs to cool in their own liquid. After the eggs have chilled, remove the shells and coat in the sesame oil.

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

Photographs by Lynnylu taken with a Canon 5D.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Plum Jam and Cream Currant Scones

A delicious and easy jam to serve with the cream currant scones.

Melt in your mouth scones with plum jam and creme fraiche.

Active time: 45 min Start to finish: 2 hr
2 lb firm-ripe red, black, or fresh prune plums, halved and pitted
1/2 cup sugar-I used vanilla sugar
1/2 cup water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

Coarsely chop plums and stir together with sugar, water, and cinnamon stick in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally (more often toward end of cooking to prevent sticking), until thickened and reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Discard cinnamon stick and cool preserves. Transfer to an airtight container and chill, covered.

Cooks' note:
• Preserves keep, chilled, 1 month.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
July 2002 .

Cream Currant Scones

These scones taste identical to those I have enjoyed while visiting friends in England. They are not in the low-calorie or low-fat category.

Makes 8
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter , chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup currants
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in large bowl or workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.

3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.

4. Stir in heavy cream with rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Following illustrations for Wedge Biscuits on page 209, cut scones into 8 wedges. Place wedges on ungreased baking sheet. (Baking sheet can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.)

6. Bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe From Cooks Illustrated

Photographed with a Canon 5D and a 50mm macro lens. Lighting -Alien Bees B800 strobe and a Westcott 60" white satin umbrella.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pears in Red Wine

Pear in Red Wine
Originally uploaded by Lynnylu.

This recipe is a conglomerate of several different recipes that I have seen, but the basics are the same-pears poached in wine, red or wine, with a fruit juice added along with some spices such as star anise used here and vanilla beans.

6 medium pears,( not too ripe or they will be too soft when done), peeled with stems left on.
3/4 bottle, (750 ml. ) zinfandel -drink the rest
1 cup pear nectar
1 vanilla bean
1 star anise
2 cups sugar

Bring wine, pear nectar and an equal amount of cold water to a simmer. Add sugar, star anise, and vanilla bean, split lengthwise. Add pears to liquid and simmer about 20 minutes until just tender. Turn off heat and let cool in liquid. Remove pears and boil liquid until reduced by half. The syrup wil be thickend somewhat.

When serving pears whole, cut out core and pour syrup over. Cored whole pears can also be stuffed.

Serves 6

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fudgy Brownies

Three Fudgy Brownies
Originally uploaded by Lynnylu.

Recipe From Gourmet's Casual Entertaining Cookbook

Shortbread Base

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Process all ingredients in a food processor until mixture begins to form small lumps. Sprinkle into a 13-by 9-by 2-inch baking pan and press evenly onto bottom with a metal spatula. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes.

Fudgy Brownie Bars

Hot shortbread base (recipe above)

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped
2 sticks ( 1 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Prepare topping while shortbread bakes:

Melt chocolate with butter in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add eggs, beating with a fork until incorporated, then stir in flour and salt.

Pour chocolate topping over hot shortbread and spread evenly. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan and cut into 24 bars.

Makes 24 bars and will keep, covered , 5 days at room temperature.

There are substitutes for the bittersweet chocolate, but it's easier just to buy the chocolate. I used Ghiardelli bittersweet chocolate. This is a very rich brownie.

Photo by Lynnylu-Canon 5D 50 mm lens, natural light with reflector.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Pear Still Life and a Recipe For Pear and Dried Cranberry Crisp

Pear & Knife
Originally uploaded by Lynnylu.

The pears were beautiful in the market today which inspired me to photograph this one pear on a slate tile with a knife bought many years ago as a picnic knife.

Pear and Dried Cranberry Crisp

Recipe adapted from www. which used dried tart cherries. I have also used a combination of apples and pears with good results.

3/4 cup all purpose flour
6 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, ground in processor
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs
1 cup crème fraîche
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon all purpose flour

3 1/2 pounds firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (about 8 cups)
1 cup dried cranberries (about 6 ounces)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup baker's sugar (superfine sugar) or regular sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

French vanilla ice cream

For topping:
Mix first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Add melted butter and vanilla extract; stir with fork until soft crumbly dough forms. (Can be made up to 6 hours ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.)

For custard:
Whisk eggs in medium bowl to blend. Whisk in crème fraîche and vanilla. Sift in flour; whisk until smooth. (Can be made up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill; rewhisk before using.)

For filling:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch oval ceramic or glass baking dish. Combine pears, cranberries, and lemon juice in large bowl; toss to blend. Mix flour, sugar, and lemon peel in small bowl. Add to pear mixture and toss to blend. Transfer pear mixture to prepared dish, pressing slightly with rubber spatula to form even layer. (Can be made up to 1 hour ahead; let stand at room temperature.)

Pour custard evenly over pear mixture. Using fingertips, crumble topping evenly over. Bake until pears are tender and topping is deep golden, about 55 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream.

Makes 8 servings.
Bon Appétit
Time For Dessert
March 2006
Diane Rossen Worthington

Originally uploaded by Lynnylu.

Canon 5D, 50 mm macro, also Canon

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Carnival Squash Soup

Carnival Squash Soup
Originally uploaded by Lynnylu.


2 medium size Carnival Squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup sliced onion
3-4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut tops off of squash and scoop out seeds, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in oven about 45 minutes. When cool, scoop out flesh. Reserve. Saute onion in olive oil and add squash flesh and chicken broth. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree with hand immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper. Add butter to smooth out soup. Stir in cream if desired. Top with parmesan cheese and fried sage leaves.

Fried sage leaves.

Heat 2 inches of oil in pan. Fry sage leaves for about 20 seconds or until translucent. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

Serves 2-4

Photo by Lynnylu. Canon 5D, 50 mm macro, also Canon.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Carnival Squash

Baked Carnival Squash
Originally uploaded by Lynnylu.

1 carnival squash, halved and seeded
1 tbs. soft butter
3 tbs. brown sugar
1/4 cup of maple or Karo syrup or honey

Bake squash cut side down, adding a ¼ inch of water to dish and baking at 400º for 40-50 minutes or until tender. Scoop out and add butter and brown sugar to taste, then mash. Combine 1 tbs. soft butter, 3 tbs. brown sugar, and ¼ cup of syrup. Drizzle mixed ingredients over squash and bake for an additional 20 at 350º.

Microwave Directions: Cook squash cut side down in a microwave safe dish. Add ¼ inch of water and cook on high for approximately 10-15 minutes or until tender. Scoop out and add butter and brown sugar to taste, then mash. Combine 1 tbs. soft butter, 3 tbs. brown sugar, and ¼ cup of syrup. Drizzle mixed ingredients over squash and heat to serve.

Photo by Lynnylu taken with a Canon 5D, 50 mm lens and digitally enhanced with Photoshop CS2.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Photo For Banner

Definition of a True Cook

"The true the perfect blend, the only perfect blend, of artist and philosopher. He knows his worth; he holds in his palm the happiness of mankind, the welfare of generations yet unborn."

Norman Douglas, British writer(1868-1952)

Photo By Lynnylu

Monday, October 2, 2006

Carrot Soup With Fried Ginger Garnish

Carrot Soup With Fried Ginger Garnish
Originally uploaded by Lynnylu.

This very tasty soup redolent of orange zest and ginger makes a great winter soup.

Carrot Soup with Orange and Ginger

Recipe From Williams-Sonoma "Soup" Cookbook


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, including tender part, thinly sliced
6 carrots, about 1 lb.(500 grams) total weight, peeled and thinly sliced
1 red potato, about 1/2 lb (250 grams)peeled and coarsely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock or prepared broth
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp grated orange zest
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add leeks and saute until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, potato,and ginger and saute until the vegetables are just softened, about 5 minutes longer.

Add the stock, cover partially, and simmer until the vegetables are completely softened-about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Puree with a handheld blender, leaving some texture. Return to heat and add orange juice and zest. Season with salt and white pepper. Ladle soup in warm bowls and garnish with fried ginger.
Makes 4-6 servings

Fried Ginger Garnish

Peel a 5 inch piece of ginger and slice it into very fine julienne. Pour oil in a small frying pan to the depth of 1/2 inch and heat to medium high. When oil is hot, fry ginger until crisp and golden brown, about 20-30 seconds. Remove from heat with a skimmer and drain on paper towels. When cool, divide into 4-6 portions and garnish soup.

Photo by Lynnylu

Friday, September 29, 2006

Lemon Squares

Originally uploaded by Lynnylu.

* 2 sticks (8 ounces) butter
* 2 cups flour
* 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
* 4 beaten eggs
* 2 cups sugar
* 4 tablespoons flour
* 1/4 cup lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
* sifted confectioners' sugar

Heat oven to 325°. Blend butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar. Pat into ungreased 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. For filling, blend together eggs, sugar, 4 tablespoons flour, lemon juice, and lemon peel.
Pour over first layer. Return to oven and bake at 325° for 20 minutes. Loosen around edges, cut into bars and sift confectioners' sugar over the top while warm.

Recipe from

Photo taken by Lynnylu with a Canon 5D and a 50mm macro lens, also Canon.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Scottish Breakfast

Scottish Breakfast
Originally uploaded by Lynnylu.

Smoked salmon which Scotland is famous for is served here with scrambled eggs to make a tasty breakfast. The Scots eat a lot of smoked salmon as well as kippers, langoustines and haddock to name a few. Its hearty fare for hard-working Scots to sustain them through the cold winters. Porridge and oatcakes also are widely served for breakfast in Scottish restaurants.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Edinburgh Street Scene Collage

Edinburgh Street Scene Collage
Originally uploaded by Lynnylu.

This obviously has nothing to do with food, but I wanted to add it to my blog. A collage made up of several photos of scenes in Edinburgh, Scotland done in Photoshop CS2. It's my first after taking an online layers class taught by Richard Lynch at Better Photo has some fantastic online classes in photography and related subjects.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Peach Ice Cream Topped With Peach Sorbet and Fresh Blueberries

Peaches have been plentiful this year and very tasty. This peach ice cream recipe was adapted from the July, 2006 issue of Bon Appetit.

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 cups mashed pitted very ripe peaches
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons peach schnapps

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl. Bring cream and milk to simmer in large saucepan; gradually whisk into yolk mixture. Return to pan. Stir over medium low heat until custard thickens enough to leave a path on the back of a metal spoon when drawn across by finger, about 6-10 minutes. Do not boil. Pour into large bowl, mix in peaches and corn syrup. Chill uncovered until cold.

Process in your favorite ice cream maker. Transfer to container which has been put into freezer to chill several hours. Freeze about 6 hours.

Peach Sorbet

Recipe from

4 cups peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup lemon juice (I used lime juice with excellent results)

In a blender or food processor, puree peaches. In large saucepan, combine sugar, orange juice and lemon or lime juice. Cook over medium heat while stirring to dissolve sugar. Once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in pureed peaches. Refrigerate until cold. Freeze in your favorite ice cream maker.

To serve, place alternate scoops of peach ice cream and peach sorbet in a bowl and top with blueberries.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Originally uploaded by Lynnylu.

Tomatoes, ripe and ready for a great breakfast dish enjoyed by my family for two generations. Toast as many slices of a good Italian or French loaf as needed, cover with thinly sliced fresh tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano and top with shredded mozzarella, pepper jack cheese or parmesan. Place under broiler until cheese melts and tomatoes are heated through.

Food and Photography

Food and photography are two of my great loves. Cooking gives me so much pleasure and I love to entertain, especially with my family. Taking photos of the dishes I cook has offered me so much more and I strive to perfect both skills. Hopefully, I will be able to post a recipe and a photograph once a week. Please feel free to comment on my photographic techniques and on the recipes, too. This is an evolving blog so could change gears later on, but the basics of food and photography will not change. The recipes will be just whatever I like to cook or whatever prop I see that will work for a certain type of food-napkins, unusual serving pieces or thrift shop finds-anything goes!