Saturday, September 30, 2006

RECIPE: Sausage Pinwheels

Sausage Pinwheels

Make anytime before and freeze the slices.2 cups biscuit mix
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter, melted
1 lb Sausage Roll Meat

Preheat oven to 400. Combine biscuit mix, milk and butter in large bowl and stir until blended. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Divide into two portions. Roll out one portion on floured surface to 1/8” thick rectangle, about 10x7 inches. Spread with half the sausage. Roll lengthwise into long roll. Repeat with remaining dough and sausage. Place rolls in freezer until hard enough to cut easily. Cut rolls into thin slices. Place on baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 48. When ready to serve, thaw slices in refrigerator and bake.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

PHOTOGRAPHS: An Afternoon At Preston Winery

Preston is an organic winery in Geyserville, California. It is one of the most idyllic spots. They also make a delicious olive oil that I have been using since I got back. It is not too grassy which is good for my taste buds. They also had some delicious Italian Pink Neck garlics for sale.

Their fruit and nut trees were filling up and ripening. Hints of color were shining through their skins. The kind of color that shows the promise of deliciousness that makes you want to come back for their harvest.

Preston Gardens

Grapefruits beginning to ripen
Grapefrut at Preston


Pomegranates Reddening

Persimmons before the Orange

Olive Trees
Olives at

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

RECIPE: Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus Spears

Asparagus Proscuitto

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus Spears

30 medium-thin asparagus stalks
4 ounces peppered Boursin cheese, softened
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto

Trim the asparagus stalks so the spears are 5” long. In a deep skillet bring 1 ½” salted water to a boil and cook the asparagus until they are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. In a colander drain the asparagus and rinse under cold water. Drain the asparagus well on paper towels. In a bowl mash the Boursin with a fork until it is smooth. Or grill the asparagus.

Asparagus Proscuitto Set up

Cut 1 slice of prosciutto lengthwise into 1-inch strips and spread each strip with about ½ tsp Boursin. Wrap each strip in a spiral around an asparagus spear, trimming any excess. Make more hors d'oeuvres with the remaining prosciutto, Boursin, and asparagus spears in the same manner.

Asparagus Proscuitto (2)

Monday, September 25, 2006

QUICK COOK RECIPE: Coconut Cream Pie Not From Scratch

Coconut Cream Pie - Cheater

This is less than even semi-homemade but I was in a pinch and not cooking for a gourmande so it worked.

Coconut Cream Pie – Cheater

1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon milk
1 instant vanilla pudding mix and milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened coconut

In a microwave, heat up the chocolate chips and milk so that the chocolate melts. Stir to combine. Spoon the chocolate onto the crust and let sit to the side.

Make the instant vanilla pudding according to the directions on the package. Add the vanilla extract and coconut. Stir to combine.
Pour the coconut cream into the pie crust and let it set up for about 30 minutes. Serve.


Sand Tornado

I caught this on Highway 5 while the car was zooming by. Nope, we did not even stop. The boys were sleeping and we did not want to jinx it.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

RECIPE: Rubik's Cube Cake

Rubiks Cube Cake

Well I made this for an '80s themed party. It was the first time I have ever used fondant. It was definitely dry. I did not work quickly enough. But I am not sure how to do it faster and get all that dye in it. Then it fell apart during transportation.

It did not matter because everyone loved it and I quipped that it symbolized the destruction of the '80s mindset. A few people laughed at that idea.

Friday, September 22, 2006

RECIPE: Alsatian Pizza/Tarte Flambee

Alsatian Pizza/Tarte Flambee
Makes 1-12" tart

This peasant dish is found all over Alsace, in the home and in restaurants. It was probably originally made to use left over dough and a quick meal.

1 1/4 teaspoons lavender honey
1 packet dry yeast
1 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 tablespoon vegetable oil plus more for the bowl
1/4 cup luke warm water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, sliced into rings
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup crème fraiche
1/3 cup Muenster Gerome

Pour water into a small bowl and add honey, stir until dissolved. Add yeast, stir once, let stand 5 minutes until it begins to blossom. Add flour and salt to a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add yeast water, oil, 1/2 cup water. Process until dough forms a ball. Scatter some flour on counter. Knead the dough for a minute or so until it is smooth and elastic. Oil a large bowl with oil, place dough ball in center. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place and let rise until it doubles in size, about 2 hours. Preheat oven to 37F. Remove raised dough from bowl. Place on pizza stone. Press and stretch the dough into a 12” round. Do not roll the dough, this would remove the air pockets.

Note: The dough can be made up until this point and frozen. Defrost for half an hour before baking.

Place in oven and cook until the top is golden brown. Take out of the oven and flip the pizza to the other side. In a saucepan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onions and salt, sauté until lightly browned. Mix the ricotta, crème fraiche, and Muenster Gerome cheese together. Smooth the cheeses over the dough. Sprinkle pepper over cheese. Spread onions over the top. You can add cooked bacon, ham, sautéed mushrooms, or anything else you want on top of that if you want. Place back into the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese melts and the edges are crisp and slightly burnt.

Note: Muenster Gerome is from Alsace. Unlike typical Munster cheese, this is quite strong with a cumin flavor. If you can’t find it, replace it with any hard cheese like Gruyere.

RECIPE: Cocoa Meringues

Cocoa Meringues
makes 2 dozen

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Heat oven to 225 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. Sift sugar, cocoa, and salt into small bowl. Beat in an electric mixer on slow the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks begin to form. Add cocoa mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until meringue is stiff and glossy.

Drop meringue onto baking sheets with a teaspoonful, 1 inch apart. Or pipe into shapes. Bake about 2 hours until crisp and completely dry. Let cool meringues on baking sheets in the oven. Sift powdered sugar over cookies and remove from pan. Serve alone, with ice cream, whipped cream, and/or berries.

QUICK COOK RECIPE: Srambled Eggs for Dinner

Scrambled Eggs with White wine

Eggs for dinner is easy breezy. If you add a little white wine to the eggs then it adds a little zip to it. Serve with a side salad and some toasted baguettes with a really good butter.

Scrambled Eggs for Dinner
Serves 2

2 tablespoon butter
5 eggs
1/4 cup white wine
3 tablespoons fresh chives

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk. Pour into the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes until set.

Scrambled Eggs Detail

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

RECIPE: Choucroute Garni

Choucroute Garni
Serves 6

Choucroute means sauerkraut which is pickled cabbage. Garni means garnished.

4 pounds sauerkraut
3 tablespoons schmaltz or vegetable oil
3 cups onion, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
Bouquet Garni of:
10 juniper berries or 1/4 cup of gin, 10 black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds, 4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup Riesling
1 cup beef stock
15 new potatoes
1 2-pound smoked pork butt
4 bratwurst
2 kielbasa
3 knockwurst
Mustard, to serve with

Preheat oven to 350F.

Drain the sauerkraut and rinse with cold water. Soak for 10 minutes and rinse. Repeat once more and completely drain. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Set aside.

Place the smoked pork butt in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for two hours.

Heat the schmaltz or oil in a large casserole and add onions and carrots over low heat for a few minutes until lightly browned. Make up the bouquet garni by putting the ingredients in a cheese cloth and tying it closed with a string.

Add the bouquet garni, sauerkraut, wine and stock to the casserole. Bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. Cover with lid and place in the oven and cook for 2 1/2 hours. The choucroute should be bubbly, not too dry and not soupy.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil Add the kielbasa, lower the heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Then bring back to a boil, add bratwurst and kielbasa, cover, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let rest in the water another 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add potatoes and boil until done. Drain and place the potatoes on top of the choucroute once it has cooked for the 2 1/2 hours.

Remove the bouquet garni from the choucroute. Place the meats on top of the potatoes. Serve with mustard.

RECIPE: Grilled Vegetables

Grilled Vegetables

This is the perfect vegetable dish to make for a buffet style party. This way people can choose what they like and what they don't. Also, You don;t have to work too hard to plate it because they look so beautiful just layed out in rows. I served these with a Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette.

I just used my grill pan and grilled them all seperately. I lightly tossed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with fleur de sel and black pepper. I cut the asparagus spears in half lengthwise after I cooked them. I grilled the corn while still on the cob and then cut the kernals off.

RECIPE: Chicken Stuffed with Pesto and Ricotta Cheese

Chicken Roulade W Pesto Detail

Chicken Stuffed with Pesto and Ricotta

4 Chicken Breasts
2 cups ricotta
3;4 cup pesto
salt and pepper
vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375.

To pound the Chicken Breasts, rinse the chicken breast in water so that it is moist. Place the breast between two pieces of plastic wrap. Then pound until it is fairly thin. The water really helps to prevent that the chicken gets torn when pounding it flat.

In a large bowl combine the pesto and ricotta cheese. Put a large spoonful of the stuffing over the breast and roll up. Stick toothpicks into the chicken to make sure the chicken stays tight and the stuffing does not spill out. Brush the breasts with a little bit of vegetable oil and then sprinkle on salt and pepper. Bake for about 45 minutes and then let rest. Remove the chicken rolls to a cutting board, remove the toothpicks and then slice on an angle and move to a platter. Serve at room temperature or warm.

RECIPE: Gougeres – Tiny Cheese Puffs

Gougeres – Tiny Cheese Puffs

Unsalted butter and flour for baking sheets
8 tbs unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces.
Pinch of salt
1 cup water
1 cup minus 1 tbs all-purpose flour, sifted
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾-1 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 400. In a medium-size heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the butter, salt, and water over high heat, bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. When mixture boils, remove from heat. Add the flour all at once, and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan. Return the pan to low heat and continue beating for 1 minute, to dry out the dough.

Quickly transfer the dough to the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer with a flat paddle. Gradually add the eggs one at a time and ½ cup of the cheese, mixing at a moderately high speed to incorporate the maximum amount of air. Dough should have the consistency of very thick mayonnaise.
Transfer the dough to pastry bag fitted with a plain ½” tip. Pipe into 2” mounds, spacing them about 2” apart. Or carefully spoon dough onto the sheet with a tablespoon. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining ¼ cup of cheese. Place in the center of the oven and bake until puffs are an even golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Avoid opening the door because the humidity will escape causing the puffs to dry. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

PHOTOGRAPHS: Honey with Nuts

Honey with Nuts

SHOPPING: Hearth Song


QUICK COOK RECIPE: Steak with Smoked Paprika

Steak with Paprika

Steak with Smoked Paprika

2 rib-eye steaks
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the Broiler. Combine the paprika, salt and pepper in a small dish. Then rub it onto both sides of the steaks. Cut the butter into pieces and place on one side of the steaks. Make a little dish with tinfoil and place the steaks on the tinfoil. You can skip this but you will have a much harder time cleaning up this whole supper. Place in broiler and broil for 6 minutes on one side, flip and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Serve!

Steaks with paprika raw

Friday, September 15, 2006

PHOTOGRAPHS: Ferarri Carrano Winery

Ferarri Carrano is also in Geyserville, California. It is a sprawling and luxurient estate with a palatial main building. The wine was quite good. I really don't drink sweet wine but I bought a sweet wine to bring back with us. I have not opened it yet.

Ferarri Carrano Wisteria Entrance

The House
Ferarri Carrano Winery

The Gardens
Ferarri Carrano

New Growth
Ferarri Carrano New Fields

Malbec Grapes
Ferarri Carrano Grapes

Wine Vault
Ferarri Carrano Wine Vault

ON FOOD: Dining Out at Willie's Seafood

Willie's Seafood is in Healdsburg, California. Casual but nice. Their entire menu is small dishes. Since there were four adults and two toddlers we ordered many many dishes. I had never taken pictures in restaurants and lately we had not gone out much so there has been little opportunity. So I thought I would take advantage of the evening. The food was really delicious. My tuna tartare is better though. The riblets were amazing. I thought the boys would like the garlic bread and the riblets but I have to admit that they got very little of it.

Tuna Tartare
Tuna Tartare - Willie's Seafood

Crab Cakes
Crab Cake - Willie's Seafood

Garlic Bread
Garlic bread - Willie's Seafood

Fried Calamari
Calamari - Willie's Seafood

The Riblets
Riblets - Willie's Seafood

Bacon Wrapped Scallops
Bacon Wrapped Scallops - Willie's Seafood

Thursday, September 14, 2006


September is celebrated as Honey month.

"The only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey... and the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it." - Winnie the Pooh, House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne Honey.

Honey. It is sweet, timeless and every flower in the middle of summer. It is a timeline into history. It is the only food that will never spoil. It is comfort, a yummy topping on toast, pure and unprocessed and soothing in tea. It is Aristotle's nectar of the gods. It is our memory bringing us back in time to Winnie the Pooh's passion, liquid gold, great in cooking and the only human food produced by insects. It is primarily composed of glucose, fructose, water, enzymes, minerals, vitamins...delicious, a lover's calling with a simple, Honey, be mine.

There are many legends surrounding honey, including the origin of the word "honeymoon". In Eastern cultures as a means of celebrating their union, love and respect for one another, newlyweds would have a spoonful of honey poured into their coupled palms. The couple would then lick the honey off each other's hand. This ensured that the man would never raise a hand to his bride, and that she would forever speak loving words to him. Legend also says that Cupid dipped his arrows in honey prior to striking lovers and thus the bee became a symbol of Cupid. Peasants paid German feudal lords in honey during the 11th Century. Honey was also thought to possess the strength to mark a man a genius and forever happy. For this reason, certain cultures still practice the tradition of lightly gracing a newborn child's lips with the sweet nectar.
Egyptian hieroglyph's featuring bees were found in a temple built in Cairo in 24,000 B.C. The Egyptians not only used honey as a sweetener but also in embalming, for money, and as an offering to their gods. The bee continued to be important throughout Egyptian history: the pharaoh of Lower Egypt during the First Dynasty (3,200 B.C.) used the bee as his emblem. Honey has been written about since the 21st Century B.C. in Babylonian and Sumerian cuneiform writings as well as in India. The ancient Assyrians, Babylonians, and Sumerians poured honey on thresholds and some sacred objects for good luck. Bee keeping was depicted in wall paintings found in Spanish caves, dating back to 7,000 B.C. The Greeks and the Romans both offered honey to the gods and their ancestors. They also extensively used honey in their cooking.

The importance of honey is lauded in many of the classic Greek texts of Aristotle, Plato, Hippocrates and others. The Romans spread honey throughout their empire. Honey was quickly absorbed into the empire's culture, cooking and folklore. In the Old Testament of the bible, the region now known as Israel and Palestine was called "the land of milk and honey." Bee keeping became even more important once Christianity became a fully developed religion due to the need for beeswax church candles. The bee was used on Pope Urban VIII's insignia. Napoleon believed that bee was a sign of power, emblazoning the bee on his robs and flags.

The beehive runs like an well-organized manufacturing plant. The bees have to take the nectar from about two million flowers just to make one pound of honey. A bee will visit between 50 and 100 flowers in one trip alone. In order to get from flower to flower, the bee flies roughly 15 miles per hour. Luckily each bee has four wings. After all this work, the average bee only produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its entire lifetime. When the bee gets back to the hive there is still a lot for the bee to get done. Its home is a wax honeycomb and each cell has six sides. When they want to communicate with their fellow bees, they go dancing. They have numerous different dance moves, each one communicates a different signal to the other bees: when the nectar is out, how far it is to the nectar, and where the pollen is.

There is a social order in the hive in which a division of labor between the various bees is set. The colony has one queen bee, 500 to 1,000 drone bees, and between 30,000 to 60,000 worker bees. The queen bee is fed on royal jelly and is the only sexually active female bee in the hive. Drones are male bees without stingers and their only purpose is to mate with the queen. A few weeks after hatching the queen mates once, receiving millions of sperm cells from the drones, which will last for the entire two years of the queen's life. The queen can lay 3,000 eggs in one day. The worker bees are sexually undeveloped female bees. Their purpose is to collect nectar, cool the hive by fanning their wings, make the wax comb, clean the hive, feed the larvae, and guard the hive. The worker bees also pollinate flowers. This is actually maybe their most important purpose since bees pollinate about one-third of the vegetables we eat. Pollination is the process of fertilizing a flowering plant. Pollen is transferred by the bees from the anthers of one flower to ovules another flower or sometimes that same flower.

Honey comes in three delicious varieties. Comb honey comes in its natural form; honey in its wax comb. Both the honey and the wax are edible. Liquid honey is removed from the honeycomb by straining or centrifugal force and it is free from any discernible crystals. Whipped or creamed honey is liquid honey in its crystallized state. The crystallization process is controlled so that honey can be spread easily. The flavor of the honey is a result of the nectar of the flowers the bees collect. The flavors vary from fruity, woodsy, herbaceous, aromatic, mild, or spicy. The color also depends on the flower in which the bee collects the nectar. Typically, the darker colored honeys are full bodied, and the lighter colored honeys are mild.

You can replace honey for sugar in most recipes. Since honey is sweeter than sugar, you will need to reduce the amount called for in the recipe by about one-third. In addition, honey is part water so you will need to reduce the liquid called for in the recipe by one-fifth in baked goods. Honey browns quickly in the oven so reduce the oven's temperature by 25 degrees in baked good recipes. Honey helps to keep baked goods fresh longer because it retains moisture. Honey helps keep vinaigrettes stable because of its emulsifying qualities. Babies under the age of one year should never be fed honey. Honey can contain trace amounts of botulism spores. Babies have a propensity to be at risk to these spores because their immune system is undeveloped.

RECIPE: Lavender Honey Mousse


Lavender Honey Mousse
Serves: 2-4

1 tablespoon water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup lavender honey
1 1/4 cup whipping cream, chilled

Sprinkle gelatin on water; let soften 5 minutes, then set cup in pan of hot water. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Whisk honey and yolks in small metal bowl. Set bowl over large saucepan halfway filled with boiling water. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats spoon, about 3 minutes. Do not let mixture boil. Remove bowl from over water. Add gelatin mixture and whisk until honey mixture is cool. Whip cream only until stiff enough to hold its shape. With rubber spatula, fold cream gently into honey mixture. Cover and refrigerate mousse until set, at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours. Serves 2 large desserts or 4 small and add Lavender sugar cookies. Serve with Strawberry Coulis.

RECIPE: Honey Chicken Legs

Honey Chicken Legs
Serves: 4

4 chicken legs
3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
3 large cloves garlic
2 tablespoons Rosemary Honey
1 onion, large

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken. Mince the garlic and combine with lavender honey. Brush the honey mixture over the chicken. Peel the onion. Slice the onion into 4 large slices. Place the onion slices in the pan with a little bit of butter under each one. Place a chicken thigh on each piece of onion. Dot each chicken leg with butter. Place saucepan in oven. Bake for 45 minutes until cooked through. Baste 2-3 times while it cooks.

RECIPE: Honey Lime Yogurt with Berries

Honey Lime Yogurt with Berries
Serves: 6

Juice of 2 limes
3 cups of plain yogurt
6 teaspoons Hawaiian Organic White Honey
6 cups berries (small strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

Stir lime juice and yogurt in a mixing bowl. Spoon the yogurt into individual serving cups. Spoon 2 teaspoons of honey on top of the yogurt. Clean and pick through the berries. Place one cup of berries onto the honey. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

RECIPE: Honey Baked Apples

Honey Baked Apples
Serves: 6

6 large apples
6 Tablespoons Honey
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Core the apples, taking care not to cut all the way through to the bottom. Make four small pierces in the apple. Combine the honey and orange juice and pour it into the center of each apple. Pour 2 cups of water in the bottom of a baking dish and set the apples into the dish. Bake the apples for 50 minutes, or until the apples are tender. Remove from the oven and turn on the broiler. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the tops of the apples. Place the pan under the broiler until sugar is caramelized, before serving.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

RECIPE: Grilled Corn on the Cob

Roasted Corn Cobs

Grilled Corn – Husks Off

4 corn on the cob 1/4 cup sugar

You can cook them on the grill with the husks on but sometimes I prefer the taste of the corn directly on the grill. Peel back the husks and remove the excess corn silk. Some of them get stuck but if you dampen a paper towel and rub the corn it usually comes of more easily. Fill a large pot with water and stir in the sugar. Stir a few times so the sugar dissolves. Place corn in the pot and let soak for about 1 hour. Remove the cobs from the water and pat dry. Place on a grill over medium heat. Cook about 12 minutes and turn frequently. They are done when some of the kernels are browned. These can easily be done on a grill pan too.

Roasted Corn

RECIPES: Figs with Proscuitto and Goat Cheese

Figs with Proscuitto and Goat Cheese (1)

Figs with Goat Cheese and Proscuitto

8 Figs
4 oz Goat Cheese
5 Mint leaves plus little ones for garnish
2-3 slices Proscuitto
Olive oil

Figs with Proscuitto and Goat Cheese

Figs with Proscuitto and Goat Cheese (2)

This dish can be either served raw or cooked. The raw figs have a fresh, minimal taste ith a bit of a firmer flesh. The broiled figs are full flavored but have a much softer flesh and the goat cheese will be melted a bit too.

Slice each fig into quarters but don’t cut all the way through from top to bottom. You want them to remain in one piece but cut enough to open up and be able to be filled.

Mince up the mint leaves. In a small bowl mix up the goat cheese, mint leaves and pepper.

Slice the proscuitto into thin strips lengthwise.

If roasting them, preheat the broiler.

Spoon small balls of goat cheese into the center of the figs. If roasting, drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over the tops and broil for about 3-5 minutes until the goat cheese starts to brown slightly and the figs get soft. Remove from the oven. Then to both the raw and the cooked figs with cheese, top with a little heap of proscuitto and top with a little mint leaf for garnish. Serve

Figs with Proscuitto and Goat Cheese (4)

Figs with Proscuitto and Goat Cheese (3)