Friday, October 28, 2011

FFWD ~ Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

Dorie's delicious Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
Here I am spending another Friday in Florida, and that means another French Friday in Florida! I have been  looking forward to this recipe since it was picked, mostly because I love pumpkin! This recipe sounded so different and yet so yummy! However, I was not thrilled to be making it here! We had plans to go out to dinner with my sister-in-law and her husband who were visiting us.  So, we weren't making dinner. Anyone who's read my blog knows my husband is not an adventurous eater! Oh, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law aren't such squash/pumpkin fans either! There was no way I was going to miss this recipe so, I picked up a small pie pumpkin at the store and was going to make it anyway. Even if I was the only one to eat it!
That was yesterday! I carved the pumpkin, cleaned out the seeds, salt and peppered it! Then I started to make the filling! Dried bread cubes, cheese (I used cheddar), bacon (I used turkey), garlic, thyme, nutmeg and heavy cream!  I filled the pumpkin with this wonderful mixture and popped it into the oven at 350° for 2 hours. The aroma in the house was wonderful and was drawing everyone in! They walked into the kitchen several times asking what was smells so delicious! Ah ha! I think I've got them! Would they try it? I didn't know but, I knew they were getting ready for a glass of wine and something to nibble on. So I sliced the pumpkin and asked it they wanted to try it! Surprise! They all said yes. If nothing else they would eat just the stuffing. This dish, was to my astonishment, a huge hit! Maybe they were just hungry after spending the afternoon at the beach but, if that were the case they sure fooled me! This wonderful pumpkin dish will be making an appearance at my Thanksgiving table by request! Who'd have thunk it? Not me!
This delicious recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook, "Around My French Table" or you can find it here at NPR. If you'd like to see how other Dorista's did, you can check them out here.

Preparing the stuffing

Mixing the stuffing
Pumpkin salt and peppered
Oh so luscious and just out of the oven
This smelled so incredible  

I will be serving this for Thanksgiving dinner
I can't believe they eat the whole thing!

Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women in Food # 21 Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Women

Cinnamon Toast the Right Way!
I have missed the past several weeks of posting on Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women in food. We have been enjoying some vacation time. Although I'm still away, I had to join in this week for Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Women. Most people in the blogging world know about Ree Drummond. I have been following her blog for several years. She began blogging in 2006, writing about topics such as ranch life and homeschooling. Then she posted her first recipe, a tutorial on "How to Cook a Steak". The thing I like most about Ree is her very relaxed way of writing, her sense of humor always comes shining through. You won't find a lot of gourmet recipes there but, you will be entertained and find quick, wonderful family fare.
Ree Drummond's blog "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman", describes her daily life as a rural wife and mother. Her very popular blog won honors at the Weblog Awards (the Bloggies) in 2007, 2008, and in 2009 was named Weblog  of the year. With 13 million page views per month, I would say she is the queen of bloggers. Her cookbook "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" was published that same year. And in April 2011, the Food Network announced that Ree would host a daytime television series on their network. Her show "Pioneer Woman" premiered in August.

Because I am away, I chose something very simple to spotlight Ree. I made her cinnamon toast. She blogged about the controversy over making Cinnamon Toast the Right Way in April 2010! It was quite a funny piece, where she wrote about Approach #1, Approach #2, Approach #3 and Approach #4 for making the perfect Cinnamon Toast. I always made my cinnamon toast with approach #3 but now I have learned that I was doing it all wrong! According to Ree this is Approach # Gross! THE ABSOLUTELY WRONG WAY to make cinnamon toast. Who knew? I love reading Ree's blog for this very reason....She is funny!
To be absolutely honest her approach was way better then mine. I really loved the way the butter melted into the bread. So if you want to try the right way to make your cinnamon toast, here is the recipe.

Butter, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla mixed up and ready to spread
Bread with butter-cinnamon spread
Just out of the oven
OK,  Ree was right...YUM!

Cinnamon Toast the Right Way
by Ree Drummond

16 slices Bread (whole Wheat Is Great!)
2 sticks Salted Butter, Softened
1 cup Sugar (more To Taste)
3 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract (more To Taste)
1/8 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg (optional)
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Smush softened butter with a fork. Dump in sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg, if using. Stir to completely combine.

Spread on slices of bread, completely covering the surface all the way to the edges.

Place toast on a cookie sheet. Place cookies sheet into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until golden brown and bubbling. Watch so it won't burn!

Remove from oven and cut slices into halves diagonally.

Thanks to Mary of One Perfect Bite for this wonderful challenge. These bloggers are also featuring the recipes of Ree Drummond.  Hope you'll check them out. They are all very talented ladies.

Mary - One Perfect Bite 
Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green
Jeanette - Healthy Living 
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda 
Linda A - There and Back Again
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Nancy - Picadillo
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits,
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen

Friday, October 21, 2011

FFWD Pissaladiere

Delicious Pissaladiere----minus anchovies 
This week I felt like I lived in the nursery rhyme Jack Sprat. Except my husband was Jack and he could eat no onions...and I could eat no anchovies! But together we could lick the platter clean. Well, kind of!
This turned out to be a great pick for my friday! We had guests coming to visit and they were arriving on Thursday late afternoon. Wednesday night I made my dough. I doubled it because there was no way my husband was going to eat anything covered with onions. Therefore, I decided to make one Pissaladiere and one Margherita Pizza. I put the dough in the refrigerator overnight, made the onions the next day and just covered them until I was ready to use them. I love caramelized onions but, I'm not crazy (that's an understatement) for anchovies. I bought two cans but opted not to add them to my onions. I used them only for the topping. This was the only change I made to the recipe. I knew I would love everything else about this dish. I was right! This Pissaladiere was scrumptious however, I did pick the anchovies off as did my guests! My Margherita Pizza was also a hit. I loosely followed a recipe I found on the Splendid Table. You can find it here. This one was so fresh tasting being made with fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. Drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt it was wonderful! Both of these Pizzas were wonderful and I would definitely make them again. I'm thinking the Pissaladiere would make a great appetizer during the holidays. So both of these get a thumbs up!
You can find the recipe for the Pissaladiere here. You can also find it in Dorie Greenspans cookbook "Around My French Table". See what other FFWD participants did here.

Slicing onions

Caramelizing onions 

Dough after sitting in fridge all night

Margherita Pizza

This was so yummy! Wasn't able to get a picture before we jumped in.
Dough spread with onions
Out of the oven just to put on the anchovies and olives...then back into oven

This was so time no anchovies and maybe sausage or mushrooms...maybe both!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart

Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart
                                                                                                                                                                           While we are in Florida we will be having friends visiting us who live in Port Charlotte, about 6 hours away. My friend and I go way back, to when we were both about seventeen. I met her while I was working at my first job after graduating HS. We were inseparable until she got married, and then we entered into the adult world. Before that, ours were summers filled with excitement! Staying out till the wee hours of the morning, dancing, and having fun. Sometimes we would meet all our friends at a diner, eat french fries and gravy, and then head to the Jersey Shore.  We would sleep on the beach, after we enjoyed some breakfast.
We didn't drink, so driving home after a late night wasn't a problem. However, her being Dutch Reform was.  Her father would sometimes lock the doors to their house to teach her a lesson.  She would then do her pleading, and of course he would let us in. We will be spending many hours this weekend laughing and reminiscing. Although we'll be eating several meals out, I  do enjoy staying in and having dinner at home. It's just a relaxing way to spend an evening...a little wine, good food and great company!

One of the things I plan on serving is Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart. I can make all the components the day before I plan on serving it. Make the crust and leave it a room temp covered overnight. Cook up the cauliflower and onions and refrigerate them separately until ready to assemble. That way it will only take a few minutes to put together, and pop it into the oven. This will make a lovely lunch on the back porch. This cauliflower tart is such a favorite of mine. It is wonderfully delicious! Whenever I serve it, I get requests for the recipe.  I clipped it from Bon Appetit magazine several years ago. One of my go to recipes!

Roasted cauliflower
Onions cooking
Mustard spread over bottom of crust

Crust with onion and cauliflower added

Love this tart....smells better then it looks

This is so delicious...the caramelized onion add an extra layer of flavor

Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart
from Bon Appetit


1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 pound), cored, cut into 1-inch florets
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon truffle oil*
1 refrigerated pie crust (I usually make my own)
1 large onion, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 large eggs
1 (7- to 8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese (Italian cream cheese)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 425°F. Toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil in large bowl. Spread on large rimmed baking sheet, spacing apart. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes; turn florets over. Continue roasting until tender, about 25 minutes longer. Cool cauliflower, then thinly slice. Drizzle with truffle oil; toss. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Press pie crust onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Line pie crust with foil; fill with pie weights. Bake crust 20 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights; bake until crust is golden, about 5 minutes, pressing crust with back of fork if bubbles form. Cool crust. Maintain oven temperature.

Heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is deep golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Store crust at room temperature. Cover and chill cauliflower and onion separately.

Brush bottom and sides of crust with mustard. Spread onion in crust. Arrange cauliflower evenly over. Set tart on rimmed baking sheet. Whisk eggs and next 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Stir in Gruyère. Pour mixture over filling in tart pan; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until tart is golden and center is set, about 40 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool 15 minutes before serving.

Friday, October 14, 2011

FFWD Buckwheat Blini with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraich

Buckwheat Blini with Smoked Salmon

Here I am in Florida and it's French Friday. I haven't posted recently because of our travels but, today I am so glad to be back. What a gorgeous day it is here in Florida! As I went to bed last night I had everything set out and ready to mix up for my "Blini". 
Blini are small, yeast-leavened, buckwheat pancakes that originally come from Russia. Classically they are served with sour cream and caviar or smoked salmon. I got up this morning, at 5:30 a.m. and mixed up the batter. Since this batter had yeast added to it,  the batter needed to rest for 60 to 90 minutes. So my husband and I went for a lovely long walk along the beach. Walking the beach early in the morning is serene and I can't help but be thankful for all my blessings! After our walk, feeling very invigorated, we stopped by our favorite coffee shop for our morning treat! When we got back home I started the pan heating, stirred the eggs into the batter, dropped the mixture into the hot buttered pan and the result was a wonderfully light pancake. While I cooked the Blini, my husband set the table and sliced the salmon.  What a delicious ending to a beautiful morning. I felt as if I were sitting in a fancy restaurant having a lovely gourmet breakfast. We even had the view of the ocean...what could be better! This was another Dorie keeper! You can find this recipe at Epicurious where Dorie posted it!
This recipe can also be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook "Around My French Table". To see what other  Doristas have made you can check it out here.

The bubbly batter

Blini and Smoked Salmon...wonderful after a long walk on the beach 

So good....Yum!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

German Plum Cake and Bunco

German Plum Cake
This is a post I planned on putting up before I left for vacation. However, that didn't happen! It has been pretty crazy; trying to get myself ready to be away from home for a month. A week in Georgia, kidsitting with my very handsome and wonderfully smart grandsons (Ok, I'm a little prejudice but it's the truth)! Then to Florida to spend a few weeks enjoying the sunshine and warm weather.
The friday before I left for vacation, I hosted my bunco group.  As I've written before, our group has been playing bunco for over 20 years. Bunco is a dice game that is played in rounds. There are 12 players and three tables. Players take turns rolling dice and trying to accumulate as many points as they can. At the end of the night prizes are given out for the most wins and buncos. That's pretty much the game however, for our group bunco is much more then a game, it is a social event. We get together once a month to share our friendships and the news of our community ( Ok some gossip, too). Good friends, good food, some wine and plenty of good times! This week we didn't even break up until 12:30 a.m.
I served several quiches, a big beautiful fruit plate, a spinach-strawberry salad and for dessert a German Plum of my favorite fall desserts!
Place plums skin side up

Ready for the oven

So can serve warm or at room temperature! A little vanilla ice cream on the side is yummy!

Ice cream fridays...a tradition!

German Plum Cake


 2 1/2 cups flour

 3/4 cup sugar

 2 teaspoons baking powder
 pinch salt
 1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into pieces
 2 eggs
 2-3 Tablespoons milk
 About 16 Prune Plums, cut in half
 1 Tablespoon to 1/4 cup sugar
 2 teaspoons cinnamon   

  1. Mix the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Add the butter and blend it into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender to form a mixture with an oatmeal-like texture.
  3. Beat the egg and milk together. Stir into the flour mixture with a fork until the dough comes together. Remove to a clean, floured surface and knead gently just until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease and flour a 9 x13 inch pan, I use a 9 inch spring form pan. Place the dough in the pan and press it to cover the bottom, creating a lightly raised edge. Prick the dough lightly all over with a fork.
  5. Arrange the fruit neatly on top of the dough, skin side up. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven 35-45 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry are golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven.  Serve hot or at room temperature.