A Delicious Pasta Dish Updated for Today

A few months ago, I received an email from a woman who had lost a recipe of mine for Baked Penne with Italian Sausage and Porcini. It had appeared in The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch newspaper way back in 1991. She explained that the dish held special sentimental value to her since she and her now husband had cooked it together on one of their early dates. After emailing a copy to her, I made a note to try the recipe myself, and finally got around to it this past week.  I loved the flavors of this casserole—sautéed Italian sausage and porcini mushrooms and a quick homemade tomato sauce paired with penne, all topped with sliced fresh mozzarella.

Several decades later, I tweaked this recipe to fit my lifestyle today. The Continue reading

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes for Valentine’s Day

For the past few weeks, I’ve been revising a recipe for decadent chocolate cupcakes prepared with three different types of chocolate. For these heavenly little treats, cocoa powder and chocolate chips add a double burst of flavor to the cupcake batter, while the luscious glaze is prepared with chopped semisweet chocolate melted with cream and butter. It took several tries to tweak this recipe that I first made over a decade ago, but, being a certified chocoholic, I savored every bite of every batch.

Because my husband and I are empty nesters, still working and staying in Continue reading

Homemade Crispy Fish Sandwich Rivals McDonald’s

Everyone has a guilty food pleasure. You might think mine would be some chocolate caramel brownies (the creation of a friend who is a talented baker), or Southern pecan pie  (my favorite dessert growing up), or maybe a millefeuille (that incredible French puff pastry layered with a cream filling) from a patisserie in Paris, but you would be wrong! It’s a McDonald’s filet-o-fish sandwich—a golden fried fillet of white fish topped with a slice of (processed) cheese and a dollop of tartar sauce, all enclosed in a soft white bun. For years, I’ve ordered this sandwich along with a bag of fries instead of their burgers. Recently though, due to warnings of a higher Covid 19 spread in our area, I’ve had to forego my “Mcdulgence,” and resort to making the sandwich in my own kitchen.

For my adaptation, I used fresh cod fillets, cut into sandwich size 4-ounce Continue reading

Warming Soup for Cold January Days and Turbulent Times

I remember clearly that after 9/11, all I wanted to cook was comfort food. I could say the same thing this week after our nation’s Capitol was attacked on 1/6. Once again comfort food is what my husband and I craved. During the past few days bowls of spaghetti tossed with a tomato and caper sauce, fried fish sandwiches served with chips, and pizzas ordered from our local pizzeria have brought consolation. Most of all we found our spirits lifted by a warming roasted cabbage and potato soup with smoked kielbasa.

This soup, which calls for inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients, is also uncomplicated to assemble. Diced potatoes and wedges of cabbage are roasted in the oven to enhance their flavor before they are simmered in Continue reading

Happy 2021

In case you’d like to add even more sparkle to your flutes of champagne on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, here are two ways to put pizzazz in your bubbly.

You can add some St Germain,  a French liqueur made from elderflowers, to champagne or enhance it with with fresh raspberries smashed with sugar. Either way will turn a simple glass of champagne into something extra special!

Thanks to all of you who have followed by blog during this challenging year. I wish everyone a healthy, safe, and joyous New Year. May 2021 be a return to normalcy when we can give hugs to all, invite friends to our homes, and travel far and wide.  And, may we always be grateful for and share our blessings with others.

 

A Delicious Christmas Dinner for Four…or More

After posting recipes for Camembert Stuffed with Dates, Apricots, and Walnuts and for Spiced Orange Pecans (both perfect for small holiday gatherings) last week on this blog, I’ve decided on the menu for our scaled down Christmas dinner. The pièce de résistance will be sautéed beef tenderloin steaks with a shallot, bacon, and port sauce accompanied by creamy Stilton flans. My spouse is ecstatic since he adores tenderloin steaks and counts blue cheeses as his favorites.

It’s the tantalizing sauce, layered with multiple flavors, that makes the steaks so distinctive. Sweet, caramelized roasted shallots and salty bits of bacon are added to a simple reduction of port and stock to form a quick pan Continue reading

Two Quick and Easy Holiday Appetizers for Small Gatherings

Typically, at this time of year, we’d be entertaining nonstop—hosting an end-of-semester party for my husband’s students, inviting friends and neighbors for some holiday libations, or welcoming guests to a large open house. None of that will take place in 2020 because of the pandemic. Our socializing this season will be primarily through Zoom or Face Time, and we’ll only need appetizers for two! Because many other families, like ours, will be scaling down this year, I’ve chosen two easy yet delicious treats (both featured on my blog in earlier posts) perfect to serve at small gatherings. A wheel of Camembert stuffed with a glorious mélange of fruit and nuts as well as bowls of spiced orange pecans are on my list.

A round of Camembert is halved horizontally, filled with a colorful fruit Continue reading

Three Last Minute Dishes for Thanksgiving

This year for many of us, our Thanksgiving tables will be smaller than in the past. With that thought in mind, I’ve searched my files for easy recipes to add to your menu in 2020.  A delicious Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Cream would make a fine opener while Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Apples or Oak Leaf Salad and Apple Salad with Cider Honey Vinaigrette could easily be part of your lineup of  side dishes.

The roasted butternut squash soup takes only about 15 minutes to prep. The squash will need 30 minutes of roasting to intensify its flavor. Once roasted it is simmered along with shallots in stock, and finally pureed. Some warm crème fraîche infused with sage makes a delectable addition.

For Brussels sprouts, Bacon and Apple, three unlikely cohorts–assertive sprouts, salty bacon, and sweet apples–combine to form a colorful sautéed dish bursting with flavor. Start-to-finish time is about 35 minutes.

The Oak Leaf and Apple Salad with Honey Cider Vinaigrette, a perfect late fall salad prepared with tender oak leaf lettuce and tart frisée, is the easiest, for no cooking is involved. Add some dried cranberries for a holiday accent, and count on 35 minutes total to assemble this dish.

May you all stay safe and well. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

An Old Favorite is New Again

My 18-year old granddaughter, who is taking a gap year from college, texted recently, asking if I could send her recipes for dishes with shrimp and pasta. She is working fulltime, babysitting and tutoring two elementary school kids, and does house and pet sitting on weekends. All of this has suddenly made her very interested in cooking!  Hooray! I pored over my files, and a recipe that caught my eye was Fettuccine with Shrimp and Garlic Butter!  It was published more than three decades ago in my first cookbook, Betty Rosbottom’s Cooking School Cookbook, and remains a favorite of my students. Continue reading

A Delicious Wild Mushroom and Leek Tart from Leftovers

Last week after teaching one of my fall cooking classes, I noticed some interesting leftovers. I found a bag of dried mixed mushrooms as well as fresh brown mushrooms used to make a chicken ragoût. In the fridge there was a box of puff pastry, as well as heavy cream, butter, and eggs all utilized in a dessert tart. Eyeing these ingredients, I came up with an idea for turning them into a new creation, a savory wild mushroom and leek tart. I could taste the scrumptious tart in my mind as I wrote out my grocery list which included only two items- leeks and Gruyère cheese.

The tart shell prepared with purchased puff pastry was easy to roll out and shape in a tart pan. For the filling I sautéed fresh sliced mushrooms with Continue reading