In October a young friend and former assistant told me of a Concord Grape Upside Down Cake that she had baked for a special dinner. Intrigued, I asked for the recipe, but put off trying it for a few weeks. By the time I got around to testing this seasonal dessert, Concord grapes had passed their peak, and my results were lackluster. The clever concept for an unusual upside down cake, however, stayed etched in my mind, and I began to think of other possibilities. Continue reading
If you need an impressive, yet quick appetizer to serve during the holidays, try these Pistachio and Goat Cheese Grapes. When you bite into one of these delectable morsels, wrapped in creamy goat cheese scented with mint and coated with chopped pistachios, you’ll savor an enticing combination of flavors and textures. The grapes are juicy and sweet, the cheese salty and smooth, and the nuts crunchy with a slight roasted accent. These chic, little starters take only minutes to assemble, hold up beautifully for 2 days in the fridge, and best of all are a hands-down crowd pleaser.
Here’s a sandwich that will make you look forward to some post-Thanksgiving eating! The idea is so simple, I can’t imagine why I didn’t think of it sooner. Spread sourdough or rye slices with a dressing prepared with mayo and chili sauce, then add slices of Gruyère and turkey, and some purchased sauerkraut. Sauté the sandwiches until hot and golden brown, then serve these special Reubens with kosher dills and potato chips. Continue reading
Rosemary-rubbed pork chops cooked with fennel in an aromatic mixture of broth, wine, and garlic, and enriched with an addition of cannellini beans make an irresistible main course for cool, crisp autumn evenings. Serve this robust entree with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. Add a baby romaine salad and a basket of warm crusty peasant bread to round out the menu. Continue reading
Typically, gingerbread is baked in a pan and then cut into squares, but in the following version the batter is ladled into standard-size muffins tins. When using tins, the baking time is cut almost in half, a big advantage for busy cooks. These muffins rise above the rims of the molds, but do not spread out as much as traditional ones. They are especially moist and tender because of a generous addition of butter, and have a deep brown hue from plenty of dark brown sugar and molasses. There’s also a double dose of ginger in these little cakes; ground ginger (along with other fragrant spices) is added to the batter, and halfway through the baking, chopped crystallized ginger is sprinkled atop each muffin.
For this simple salad, heirloom tomatoes (choose red, green, yellow, deep purple, whatever your markets and farm stands have on hand) are marinated in a vinaigrette dressing and arranged on a platter or on individual plates. Mixed greens tossed in more of the dressing are added next. Crumbled blue cheese and bits of bacon are sprinkled over the salad as final flourishes. Offer this salad as a first course for a summer supper or use it as a side dish for a backyard barbecue. Or, pair it with some crusty bread and a chilled soup for a light luncheon entree. This BLT variation is as good as the sandwiches and just as addictive.
For my latest version of this all-American classic, I baked these shortcakes with a hearty amount of cream instead of butter or shortening for a rich taste, and used cake rather than all-purpose flour to make the texture extra tender. Orange zest lends a fresh citrus accent to these little cakes, and orange juice is used to season the berries. The whipped cream topping is also scented with a hint of grated orange peel. The shortcakes, the berries, and the cream can all be prepared several hours ahead, so that all you need to do at serving time is to assemble these scrumptious summer confections.
Each time I have served this salad, guests have taken a bite, paused, and tried to figure out what was adding such a refreshing note. Some have guessed that it was mint, others have not, but all have loved this unusual addition. The contrasting textures–the crunch of the romaine leaves paired with the salty creaminess of ricotta– also add to the salad’s appeal. The tomatoes provide some visual pizzazz with their rich crimson hue. It’s great as a garnish to grilled lamb chops or chicken.
These elegant tarts look as if they take far more expertise to produce than the simple effort that is required. Using purchased puff pastry is what makes them so easy and quick to assemble. Count on 15 minutes to make the filling, and five for cutting out the puff pastry squares. Both the squares and the filling can be prepared several hours ahead so that at serving time you will need only to spoon the asparagus/ mushroom melange onto the pastries, and then bake them for 20 minutes. Serve the tarts as a first course or offer then with a green salad for a summer lunch or light supper.
A classic Italian dessert, panna cotta (Italian for cooked cream) is a gloriously smooth custard made without eggs. It is bound with gelatin and served chilled. The recipe featured here is from Brian Alberg, chef at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He cleverly uses buttermilk to add a bright tang to this confection, and to keep it from being cloying. Garnished with fresh blueberries and mint, this dessert is the answer when you want something that’s quick, make-ahead, and delicious.