Friday, April 29, 2011

FFWD Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steaks

Our very yummy dinner!!

After eating leftover ham since Easter, it was really wonderful to eat such a scrumptious steak dinner last night. However, I shy away from fried foods, so there was no way I was making french fries. I decided instead to serve a "Buttered Fan Potato". These potatoes are really delicious.  My potatoes were on the small side so I made four. First you peel them and make crossways cuts about 3/8 inch apart. Heat 1 inch salted water to boiling, add potatoes, cover and boil 10 minutes. Drain and cool slightly. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt, panko crumbs and paprika. Place in a 350° degree oven and bake till tender and golden, about 1 hour. I timed these so that they were just finishing up when I started my steaks. I went a little lighter on the cracked pepper then Dorie suggested. My husband is not a fan of spicy.  As soon as the pan was sizzling I put the steaks in and timed them for 3 minutes. Such a great steak should be eaten rare! When the second side finished cooking, things were moving quite well, until I forgot to let the pan cool and I evaporated a 1/4 cup of brandy instantly! Then I remembered….Oh yea.."Let the pan cool before you add the brandy." To flame or not to flame that was the question? I decided to flame…this was a first time for me. I was a bit apprehensive but I really wanted to give it a try.  And flame it did…wooo!! Good thing Dorie wrote, "light the brandy and step back"! I could have easily singed my eyebrows. After adding the cream, the sauce came together quite well.  This was a pretty easy meal to prepare and was absolutely delectable!! I know I will make this again but I will wait till my grocery store has fillet mignon on sale!! As I say each friday…this recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook "Around My French Table".  I just bought this book for my son's birthday and he loves it!!

Buttered Fan Potatoes

Beautiful fillet mignon with cracked pepper

1/2 cup cream, 1/4 cup brandy ready to make sauce

Steaks in fry pan, ready to be plated.
The Brandy Flambéed!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baklawa for Easter and A Visit to The Crayola Factory

So delicious!!
This has been a crazy week in our house. I had planned to post about my "Baklawa" before Easter. This is a staple on our dessert table every year. I did get it made but, never got to post. This past week I had my three grandchildren here. My 7 year old granddaughter and her 3 year old twin brothers. They were a joy but, kept me veeery busy! There was no time for the computer during the day and I was way too tired after they went to bed. We had decided to spend one of the days visiting the Crayola factory. It is about an hour away from us in Easton, Pa. An enjoyable day we thought!! We had been there before and it is a really fun place for the kids to run around and enjoy all the wonderful things Crayola makes. There are dozens of hands on activities for the kids to experience. They also have a demonstration on how crayons are made. This is not a real manufacturing plant. It's a colorful center that allows children of all ages to unleash their creativity! However, the Crayola Factory was not such a fun place during spring break!  Wall to wall parents with way too many kids, made for a very challenging day! Nevertheless, my grandchildren did enjoy all the fun and creative things they could do there. They loved the "Chalk Walk" and they really enjoyed the demonstration of how the crayons are made. Dancing in the "Cool Moves" exhibit was so great. You can create art, by moving your body. This psychedelic color kaleidoscope follows every move.  After a full day of wonderful activities, grandma and grandpa were tired!!

Crayola Factory

No visit to the Crayola Factory is complete without a visit to the store!!

 Crayon making demonstration.

One of the many art stations.

Cool Moves!!

My grandchildren dancing in cool moves!

Chalk Walk

On Thursday, I had my husband take the kids to the park, so I could get the Baklawa made. They were thrilled when they saw an eagle that's nesting at a nearby lake. Grandma was thrilled to get some baking done for Easter. My Baklawa is not a Greek version…it is Lebanese or Middle Eastern. The Syrup is probably the biggest difference. A simple syrup made of sugar and water with orange blossom water, lemon juice, and cinnamon.


1 pound butter
1 pound filo pastry

1 cup finely chopped almonds
3 cups shelled ground pistachios or walnuts
3/4 cup sugar 
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon rose water

Mix all ingredients.

3 cups sugar 
2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
Cinnamon sticks

Mix sugar and water, bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes on low. Let cool slightly and add lemon juice and orange blossom water. 
When I make this syrup I slice thin slices of oranges and lemons and put them in the pot with the water and sugar, along with 2 cinnamon sticks.

Preheat oven to 325°
Pan: I used a round 13 inch pan…You may use a jelly roll pan, mine measures 10 1/2 x 15 1/2.
Layer filo sheets in pan, buttering each sheet as you layer...14 sheets in all. Add 1/2 the nuts. Then layer about 6 more sheets of filo. Add the rest of the nuts. Layer the rest of the leaves on top. Make sure to butter after each layer of filo.  With sharp knife, cut through the top layer on long side making diagonal
cuts at 1 1/2 inch intervals. Then starting at one corner, make cuts, on the diagonal at 1 1/2 inch intervals to form a diamond shape. Cut through the top layer only. Bake 60 minutes, or until golden and puffy. Turn off oven and leave in oven for another hour. Remove from oven and pour cooled syrup over hot baklawa. Following the diamond pattern cut all the way through baklawa.

The syrup should always be cool and the baklawa hot when you pour the syrup.
Syrup can be made a few days ahead of time and kept refrigerated until ready to use.

Syrup...water, sugar, orange and lemon slices and cinnamon sticks.
After it cools add orange blossom water and lemon juice.

First layer of nuts

Filo pastry…keep it covered so it doesn't dry out.

Second layer of nuts

Layering the rest of the filo

Trim the excess

Ready for oven

Beautifully golden…just out of the oven!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Aunt Emma's Easter Bread

Aunt Emma's Easter Bread

Every Easter morning, for the past 30 something years, our family celebrates with a beautiful Easter Bread.  I received this recipe from my Aunt Emma, who had been making this bread for as long as I can remember. She used to make several and send them out to her family who lived out of state. Today, she is living out of state…South Carolina! She moved several years ago at about the same time my mom passed away. While she was still living here, we frequently had our special lunches.  I would pick up lunch at one of my favorite cafes and take my mom down to her home. My other aunt (Louise, who is 85 and still working…I sure hope I've inherited those genes) would join us. We had wonderful lunches together!  We would talk about politics, world affairs, family and of course a little gossip. I think back now and treasure these wonderful memories. I used to think I was doing this for my mom, getting her together with her sisters, but in actuality it was for me. My mom and her two sisters were very close. They had a special bond that few of us ever experience.  I was very blessed to have these ladies in my life. They were always strong, intelligent role models. They are very special to me so, this Easter I am baking three Easter Breads. One will be sent to my son and his family in Georgia. One is for my family here and, one will be going to SC to my aunt. When I spoke to her the other day on the phone, I told her I was making her Easter Bread. She said she doesn't do any baking anymore.  I heard a sadness in her voice...she really misses the baking but also the tradition of having the bread for Easter morning.  So Aunt Emma, I hope you enjoy the bread!

Easter Sweet Bread


4 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
1/2 cup butter
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 large egg (slightly beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package yeast
Egg white for brushing
colored sprinkles

In a large bowl mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter as for a pie. Make a well in the center and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well until dough holds together and then knead until smooth. Put into a lightly greased bowl and let rise about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Punch down and divide into 3 portions. Roll each portion into a rope and form into a loose braid. Place dyed eggs into the braid, brush with egg white wash and add the sprinkles!! Cover lightly with kitchen towel and let rest for an hour. Bake for 25-30 minutes. till nicely browned. 
This Bread can be made into smaller loaves. Wrapped in plastic wrap and then in heavy duty foil it freezes very well.

Dough ready to use
Cut into 3 portions and roll into ropes.

Ready to braid
Braided Loaf

Raw dyed eggs

Place dyed eggs into bread.
Brush with egg white wash and sprinkle on the sprinkles!!
Let rest one hour. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie Vanilla Éclairs

My very pretty mini Eclairs

My first attempt at making pâte à chaux was probably 30 years ago. My neighbor wanted to try making cream puffs. My thoughts were…these have to be quite difficult but, it was a challenge and I always loved a good challenge! We found a recipe and we each made our own batch. To our amazement,, they came out wonderful!! The challenge met…job well done…that's that!! Fast forward about 17 years. My daughter was getting married and we were throwing her a shower. I wanted to do fancy finger foods! Something elegant! I wanted to do a ladies tea! Pretty china, cloth napkins and beautiful food. Out comes my Martha Stewart Hors d'Oeuvers cookbook. Pâte à chaux puffs filled with chicken salad! Oh yes! Just what I was looking for. I made what seemed like hundreds but in actuality were probably about 80 or 90 puffs. As I made them, I was able to freeze them. I took them out of the freezer the day of the shower and filled them with the chicken salad. They were a hit! I decided to keep the "pate a chaux puffs" in my "go to" file. A short time later, I needed a dessert for our dinner club and decided to make profiteroles. Awesome! But, until today, I have never made Eclairs. This weeks FFWD recipe was for Vanilla Eclairs. Dorie gave us a lot of choices with these eclairs. Chocolate filling, vanilla pastry cream or profiteroles, which are filled with ice cream. I chose to make eclairs and profiteroles. I made my eclairs shorter then Dorie suggests. Three inches long gave me a very nice mini eclair. I had never piped pastry before. I think I could have made them a bit fatter. I chose to make a vanilla pastry cream for the filling and finish with a chocolate ganache for the top. Since I plan on using the profiteroles for Easter, I made two for the photos and froze the rest for later. These were delicious and my Easter company will definitely appreciate having these as part of our dessert selection!

I really enjoy making Pâte à chaux and had fun with this recipe…If you need a challenge, give them a try. This recipe came from Dorie Greenspans new cookbook "Around My French Table". If you'd like to have your own copy you can get it here...Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

Ingredients for pâte à chaux

Boiling the milk mixture

Flour being stirred in

Ready for the eggs

After the eggs were added

Piped eclairs


Vanilla pastry cream 

Pastry cream cooling

Pretty Profiteroles!!
Post script to my I was hitting the publish post button I accidentally deleted my whole post..I still don't know how I did it but for the second time this morning here we go!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Healthy, Satisfying Breakfast Quinoa

Quinoa and raspberries..a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon!

I have been overdosing on eggs lately! My husband has been on the South Beach diet (I've caught him cheating with Easter candy!!) and breakfast consists mostly of EGGS. We have had fried eggs, scrambled eggs, egg omelets, soft boiled eggs and hard boiled eggs!! This morning when I got up I was really hungry for something different!! No eggs, please!!
I didn't feel like having the usual bowl of cold cereal or some quick bread that I had laying around! I really needed something healthy! Something comforting!
Several weeks ago, the Dorista's ( a tag created by Trevor of Sis Boom in regards to the FFWD participants) made a Quinoa, Fruit and Nut Salad. This salad was enjoyed by most however, the reference kept coming up of how it seemed like a breakfast food.  I really loved it as a salad but, the only way I had ever eaten quinoa, before the salad, was as a breakfast cereal. I had found the recipe on Martha Stewart, being a very adventurous eater, I had to try it. I originally made it with fresh blueberries as suggested. All I could say was WOW! The texture was a little crunchy. Instead of water it is cooked in milk, which made it so creamy and delicious.  So this morning on my quest for healthy, I made a lovely pot of quinoa. Today the choice of fruit was raspberries! Mmmm so good! 

Breakfast Quinoa 
adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 2 cups

2 cups whole or low-fat milk (plus more for serving)
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
cinnamon to taste
1 cup of fresh fruit such as blueberries, raspberries or the berry of your choice


1. Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa, and return to a
    boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until three-quarters of 
    the milk has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.  

2. Stir in sugar and cinnamon. Cook, covered, until almost all the milk 
    has been absorbed, about 8 minutes. Stir in the berries and cook 
    for 30 seconds. Serve with additional milk, sugar, cinnamon, and 

Pour 2 cups of milk into saucepan

Rinse quinoa

Add quinoa to boiling milk and simmer, covered.