Monday, January 30, 2006

Mexican Spaghetti

I think that almost every Latin American family has their own version of spaghetti. I'm calling this one Mexican spaghetti because my mom and grandmother used to make it a lot when we lived in Mexico back in the 80's. The best part is you can use almost any veggie you have available; I've had this spaghetti with squash, corn, even tomatillos! My mom and grandmother always used their own seasonings, but I could never figure out what they were. The taco seasoning in this recipe gives it a great taste. By the way, I did not use spaghetti pasta because I ran out, but I highly recommend you do.

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

  • 12 ounces spaghetti pasta
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • One package (1.25 ounces) taco seasoning mix
  • One can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in sauce
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large Serrano pepper, chopped
  • 1 7 oz. can of chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
  1. Cook according to package. Drain; keep warm.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to a non-stick skillet and cook the onions and carrots on medium heat for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Add the ground beef with taco seasoning mix and cook until beef is no longer pink, about 8 more minutes.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, serrano pepper, and green chilies.
  4. Bring to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer for 15 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
  5. Toss tomato mixture with spaghetti in large bowl until well blended. Remember to top each serving with cheese!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Edamame Guacamole

At my girlfriend's baby shower last week, there was a very unusual appetizer that intrigued me. It looked like avocado dip, but just by like looking at it, I knew it wasn't. The dip was a very verdant green color and it was slightly chunky. When I tasted it, it was like my tastebuds were re-awakened after a long winter's night sleep. This edamame guacamole is so tasty and if you're a guacamole lover, I think you'll love this unusual rendition.

INGREDIENTS (makes about 2 cups)

  • 1 cup shelled Soybeans (Edamame)
  • 2 Tbsp. Cilantro without stems chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small Garlic cloves
  • 1 small Serrano pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small Avocados, ripe
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice freshly squeezed
  • Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste
  1. Cook edamame in salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.

  2. Combine edamame, cilantro, garlic, olive oil and serrano pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process until mixture is somewhat smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

  3. Peel and pit avocado and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add lime juice and mash with a fork, leaving small chunks. Add edamame mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Let it sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before serving.

Guavatini and a Guava Eclipse

I love coming up with new cocktail recipes. I bought a can of guava nectar at the Mexican grocery store the other day and I invented these two drinks. One is a guavatini, which is just guava nectar and good tequila, and a guava eclipse, which is a pretty cool looking drink of guava, Sprite and red wine.

For the Guavatini:

  • 2 oz. Guava nectar
  • 1 oz. Patron tequila, or any other good tequila
In a martini shaker, add ice, the guava nectar and tequila. Shake virously. Dip the rim of a martini glass in a shallow bowl of water, then dip the rim in sugar. Strain the cocktail into the martini glass and enjoy immediately!

For the Guava Eclipse:

  • A can of Guava nectar
  • Sprite or any lemon-lime soda
  • A good, dark red wine
In a highball glass, add crushed ice and fill it about 1/3 full of guava nectar. Add 2 oz. red wine and a splash of Sprite. Enjoy the eclipse, just make sure to mix it before drinking.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Grilled Chicken and Jalapeño Quesadilla

Quesadillas are so easy to make, but sometimes people go overboard and load them with too many ingredients. To me, a quesadilla should have 3 ingredients or less. Of course, cheese is always the main ingredient, hence the name "quesadilla" which, loosely translated, means melted cheese. One of my favorite quesadilla to make is a chicken and jalapeño quesadilla with Tillamook Colby cheese!

INGREDIENTS (one quesadilla)

  • 1/3 cup grilled chicken, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 small jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup shredded Tillamook Colby cheese, or Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 1 flour tortilla, 6" to 8"
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • Salsa fresca (optional)

First, get a large non-stick skillet and put it on medium heat. Place your tortilla on it for 30 seconds or so. On one half of the tortilla spread the grilled chicken; spread the cheese and jalapeños on the other half.

Let the cheese melt, about 3 to 5 minutes. Once the cheese is beginning to melt, fold the tortilla over and keep cooking on the skillet, turning it over from time to time, until the quesadilla is nice and golden brown.

To serve, slice the quesadilla in half and place the sliced avocados on the place with your favorite salsa. A very cold Stella Artois goes well with this meal.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pork and Beans

I've been going to a lot of parties lately. This month I've been to bridal showers, birthday parties, dinner parties...and every single time I end up bringing party leftovers to the house--which eventually end up in the trash because we forget to eat it. The #1 leftover I tend to bring home is baked ham. My family loves to bake hams, but we always end up with tons of leftovers. The following recipe is excellent for that baked ham you have in your fridge. You can substitute the ham with cooked pork loin or pulled pork.


  • 2lb Navy Beans (about 4 cups)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 pints chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1 can beef consomme
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 5 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 Shallots, diced
  • 1/2 cup Whiskey
  • 2 tsp Chicken Base (bouillon)
  • 1/2 tsp. Seasoning Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 3 Carrots, diced
  • 1/4 cup Worchester Sauce
  • 3 dashes Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 4 cups (or more) of cooked baked ham, pulled pork or pork tenderloin, cut into bite size pieces.
  1. Soak the beans overnight in a pot of water. Drain. Soaking the beans
  2. Place navy beans, 6 cups water, beef consomme and chicken broth in large pot. Bring to boil and simmer for 2 hours.**Make sure you have about one inch of liquid above the beans, if not, add more water** DO NOT ADD SALT. Simmering the beans
  3. In the meantime, cook the bacon in a non-stick skillet. Drain bacon in a paper towel and set aside (do not discard the bacon grease). Sauteeing bacon
  4. In the bacon grease, saute the onion, garlic and shallots on medium heat. Sauteeing onions, garlic and shallots
  5. Once the onions are tender (about 4 minutes), add the chicken base and seasoning salt to taste. Raise the heat to medium-high and pour the whiskey in the skillet and let it get hot. Move the skillet away from the burner and light the whiskey and flambe until the fire goes out. Please be careful when doing this. The Whiskey The Flambe!
  6. Add the onion flambe and its juices to the simmering beans and the remaining ingredients: baked ham, crispy bacon, pepper, carrots, Worchester sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar.
  7. Continue simmering for another 30 minutes, and add more water, if necessary. Taste beans and add salt, if necessary.
  8. When ready to serve, garnish the beans with finely chopped parsely and serve with homemade bread. A good hearty beer such as Guinness or a Michelob Amber Stock goes great with this meal.
Super Yummy Pork & Beans

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chocolate & Chile Bread Pudding

A great thing about cooking for yourself is that you can cheat on your food. For example, I had dessert for dinner last night! I had a major chocolate craving and I found this recipe on Gourmet Magazine. This is a quick recipe and your probably have all the ingredients in your pantry right now. The bread pudding quite chocolatey and not spicy at all, but if you add a scoop of ice-cream, it makes this even better!

INGREDIENTS (makes 1 serving)

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus additional for greasing ramekin
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened or extra-bitter), chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup cubes (1/2 inch) firm white sandwich bread (from about 2 slices)
  • vanilla ice cream (optional)
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter ramekin or 1 muffin cup.
  2. Cook butter (1 tablespoon), cream, chocolate, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne, and a pinch of salt in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in egg until combined. Fold in bread cubes and let stand 5 minutes.
  4. Fill ramekin with bread mixture and bake until puffed and set around edge but still moist in center, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dinner for One: Noodles with Peanut Sauce

I will be sans husband this week as he is Minnesotta to get the land ready for the Blaha vineyard! Since I'll be cooking for myself, I'm dedicating this week to meals for one. It kind of brings me back to my college days...I whipped this up last night in about 20 minutes. I had some leftovers which I'll have for lunch today. This is the type of meal that tastes better the next day.


  • A handful of snow peas, sliced in half
  • Half of a carrot, julienned
  • Half of a celery rib, finely sliced
  • 1/4 lb. fetuccini noodles
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  1. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Make sure you add a good pinch of salt to the water. Add the snow peas and carrots and boil for 2 minutes. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and run them under cold water.
  2. Add the noodles to the pot and boil until al dente, according to the package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, sesame oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, and rice vinegar and whisk until smooth. If it's too thick, you can thin it out with a little water.
  4. Drain the cooked noodles and place them in the large bowl with the peanut sauce. Add the par boiled vegetables and the celery, pepper and red pepper flakes and toss to blend. This is best served cold or at room temperature. It's even better the next day as leftovers!
PS: My pictures will be low quality as I have to take them with my mobile phone. My husband took the camera with him!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Wedding Hors d'oeuvres!

I have my first catering gig next weekend (non-paid, of course) for my good friend, Isabel. She's getting married on February 4th and because she and her fiancee have been so busy with their wedding plans, they forgot to order hors d'oeuvres for their reception! So they asked for my help and, since I'm a Virgo, I work best under pressure.

This will be a small wedding of 65 to 70 guests and it will be outdoors. Since I will not have any access to an oven to warm up food, I'm creating a menu of room-temperature hors d'oeuvres that will not go bad if they are not refrigerated for a few hours.

My top four choices are Caprese Sticks, which is a delighful combination of bite-sized tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil skewered through a toothpick. Drizzling some basil-garlic-olive oil over it makes it even better! My other picks are celery boats with a grueyere pesto; the all-time favorite melon wrapped in proscuitto; and I have a new one that I have not tried yet: they are spinach quiche squares. I'll let you know how they turn out!

CAPRESE STICKS (makes about 25)

  • Round wooden toothpicks
  • One pint grape tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh picked basil leaves
  • One pound bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls)
  • EVOO, extra-virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper to taste
On each toothpick, place one tomato, two folded basil leaves, and one bocconcini. Place on a patter and drizzle very lightly with the oil, and then very lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.


  • 1 bunch of celery, separated into ribs, washed well, trimmed, and strings discarded
  • 1/2 pound Gruyere
  • 2 roasted garlic cloves (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  1. With a small knife trim a strip down the length of the rounded side of each celery rib to form a flat bottom and cut the ribs on the diagonal into 1 1/2-inch boats. Put the celery boats in a bowl of ice and cold water and chill them, covered, until ready to assemble the hors d'oeuvres.
  2. Grate all of the Gruyere cheese.
  3. In a food processor combine the grated Gruyere and the pine nuts and blend the mixture until it is minced fine. Add the basil, roasted garlic cloves and the vinegar and blend the mixture until it is a paste. With the motor running add the oil in a stream and blend the pesto until it is emulsified.
  4. In a bowl toss the pesto and taste. Season with a little salt, if needed.
  5. Drain and pat dry the celerty and fill the celery boats with the mixture. The hors d'oeuvres may be made up to 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. Serve the hors d'oeuvres at room temperature.
PROSCUITTO e MELONE (makes about 40)
  • 1/2 cantaloupe
  • 1/2 honeydew melon
  • 24 very thin slices Prosciutto di Parma (you can also use Serrano ham)
  • 48 toothpicks
Scoop out seeds from each melon half. Cut each half into 6 wedges. Remove melon skins. Wrap 1 or 2 slices of prosciutto around each wedge. Secure prosciutto with 4 toothpicks. Cut each wedge into 4 bite-sized pieces. Cover and refrigerate. Serve chilled.

(Can be made 2 to 3 hours ahead of time and chilled. Make sure melon wedges are well wrapped so that they do not dry out.)


  • 2 Tbsps. butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 Tbsp. Onions, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place butter or margarine in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Place dish in the oven, and remove when the butter has melted.
  2. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs well. Mix in flour, milk and baking powder. When the ingredients are well combined, mix in cheese, spinach, onion and nutmet. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes, let cool 45 minutes, and then cut into bite-size squares.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Pasta a la Prisa

Last week I had a small party for my husband to celebrate his emancipation from the Navy. The next day I had some cocktail shrimp leftovers which I transformed into this delicious pasta dish. You can use almost any leftovers and the outcome is always great pasta. The best part is that you can whip up this dish in less than 15 minutes. Try different a variation of ingredients but the following recipe was quite delish.

INGREDIENTS (2 servings)

  • 1/2 lb. Spaghetti, Linguini or Fettuccini
  • 1 Tsp. Olive oil
  • 2 slices of proscuitto, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (about a handful) fresh spinach, cleaned & washed
  • 8 to 12 cooked cocktail shrimp, remove the tails
  • 1/4 cup feta or Romano or mizithra cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  1. First, cook your pasta to al dente in a large pot of salted boiling water.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium. Add the proscuitto and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Raise temperature to medium-high and add the spinach. Cook for another minute. Add the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes then add the cheese and the red pepper flakes.
  3. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to coat. If pasta looks a little dry, add a bit of the pasta water one tablespoon at a time.
  4. Cook for another minute or so and finally add the finely chopped parsley. Serve immediately and enjoy with a glass of red wine and some good crusty French bread.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Torta Especial

A Torta Especial!
What the heck is a torta, you ask yourself? Well, Mexico has a Panini-style sandwich we call tortas. These sandwiches contain all sorts of ingredients, but my favorite is with pork, Swiss cheese, jalapeno peppers and avocados. The key to this sandwich is the bread. You will need bolillo or birote bread, which is a telera type of bread that most Mexican bakeries have available. If you can't find this bread at your local bakery, you can use telera or cibbatta bread.

INGREDIENTS (2 servings)

  • 2 Birotes or bolillos, sliced in half
  • Crisp lettuce leaves
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, sliced into 8 wedges
  • 2 Jalapenos, sliced lengthwise
  • 4 slices of good Swiss cheese
  • 4 slices of your favorite ham
  • 4 slices of roasted pork
  • Mayo <= very important because we use mayo in everything in Mexico

First, heat up your Panini grill (if you have one) or a non-stick skillet on medium-high. That's me devouring a torta.

Next, spread mayo in the 4 slices of bread.

Starting with the bottom bread, layer the ingredients in the following order: 1 slice Swiss, 2 slices of roasted pork, 1 sliced jalapeno, tomato slices, 4 slices of avocado, lettuce, 2 slices of ham and one more slice of cheese. Top with bread slice and place the torta in a Panini grill and grill until it's lightly grilled and warm and cheese has melted. Repeat process for the other torta.

If you are using a skillet, place the torta in the hot skillet and weigh it down with something heavy. I usually put a jar of pickles that I wrapped in aluminum foil over it. Grill it for 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Cut your torta in half and serve immediately. It's best when it's warm and the cheese is melted. YUMMY!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Prime Rib

If I could, I would eat prime rib every day, specially if it's cooked just right. I have tried prime rib in almost every state I've visited and to this day the best Prime Rib dinner I've ever had was at the Beverly Depot Restaurant in Beverly, Massachusetts. Recently, I've been craving prime rib and I decided to finally give it a try. The recipe is quite easy, it's the cooking that takes the longest. There are many recipes for prime rib out there and I combined two that I found to make this one. This is for a 6 lb. prime rib roast that has been trimmed and tied by my butcher. It serves 4 very hungry people.


  • 2 Tbsp. fresh Thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves, passed through a garlic press
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 6 lbs. standing prime rib roast, trimmed and tied with butcher string
  1. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Rub mustard marinade all over the prime rib and place it in a shallow baking pan. Let the roast sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. It is very important that your roast be at room temperature before you cook it.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 500 F.
  4. Put a meat thermameter through the thickest part of your roast--make sure you don't put it next to the bone.
  5. Place the prime rib in the oven for 30 minutes (5 minutes per pound), uncovered, at 500 F.
  6. Lower the temperature to 350 F. Tent the prime rib with a piece of aluminum foil and cook for 1 hour. After an hour, check the temperature. Cook longer until it reaches your desired doneness. 135 is rare, 140 medium-rare and 150 and above is well-done. We like ours at medium-rare.
  7. Remove prime rib from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with a side of horseradish and Yorkshire pudding.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Yorkshire Pudding

Last night I cooked prime rib for the first time (pictures and recipe coming very soon) and a very traditional side dish to prime rib is Yorkshire Pudding. This isn't really a pudding but a souffle-like pastry that was originally cooked in a tin under the rotating spit. By cooking it this way the juices from the meat dripped on to it, giving a delicious flavor. You can use prime rib or roast beef drippings, melted lard or even bacon drippings in this recipe. I'm sure you can use olive oil too, but it will not give it that authentic Yorkshire taste!

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 to 8)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup pan drippings from Prime Rib, Roast Beef or bacon or melted lard
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Sift together flour and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add flour mixture, and whisk until combined. Cover with plastic; chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  3. In a baking pan pour reserved pan drippings. Heat pan and drippings on top of the stove until very hot, about 5 minutes. Remove batter from refrigerator, and shake or whisk well; quickly pour into hot roasting pan. Note: You can also make this into individual Yorkshire puddings by baking them in pop-over pans or muffin tins. Simply pour pan drippings into each tin, then the batter and bake for 10 to 15 minutes for individual pudding.
  4. Bake until crisp and golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm with prime rib.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I'm a big fan of Greek food but I realized I had never had dolmades before. I finally tasted these stuffed grape leaves at Daphane's restaurant last week. They were okay, but I figured I could make them better. Authentic dolmades or dolmas are made with a rice stuffing mixture (I'm using ground lamb in mine). Sometimes they are served with a lemon sauce but a yogurt-cucumber sauce or Tzajiki goes just as well. You can find grape leaves at any Greek, Arabic or Mediterranean food store. I was lucky to find them at my local Albertson's grocery store.


  • 1 Jar grape leaves (about 36 leaves)
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup currants or raisins
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup cooked white rice
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Rinse the grape leaves in cool water and cut off the stems; drain and set aside.

Place a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablepoon olive oil, chopped onion, garlic, allspice and cinnamon. Cook until onion is translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high and add the ground lamb (you can substitute ground beef), and cook until it's no longer pink, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and cook for 1 more minute. Finally add currants, lemon juice, cooked rice and chopped parsley and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat and let mixture cool.

To assemble: Place a few grape leaves in the bottom of a large 10" skillet to prevent dolmades from sticking. Stuff grape leaves with no more than 1 to 2 teaspoons of stuffing (see pictures here on how to stuff grape leaves). Place stuffed grape leaves on top, folded side down. Add 1/4 cup water and cover skillet with a plate to weigh it down. Cook over low heat for one hour, if water evaporates, add a bit more water. Serve at room temperature with a side of yogurt-cucumber sauce.

dolmades with yogurt-cucumber sauce Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce (Tzajiki)

  • 1 cup plain yogurt, Greek style if you can find it
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup diced cucumber
  • pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dillweed
  • salt and white pepper, to taste
In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Allow flavors to develop in the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Apple Mojito

As you know, I love mojitos. They are one of my all-time favorite cocktails probably because mojitos are so refreshing and not overly sweet. Well, I was walking down the liquor isle at Trader Joe's a few weeks back and lo and behold I saw Pommelle. Intrigued, I bought it eventhough I had never tried it before--yeah, that's the type of person I am. Anyway, I came up with this cocktail. It's quite potent so be careful. And remember, the key to a fantastic mojito is fresh mint...always!


  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 2oz. Pommelle, Liqueur de pomme (Apple liquor)
  • Club soda
Muddle 5 or 6 mint leaves with a pinch of sugar and one lime wedge in a glass. I use the back of a wooden spoon to muddle. Add ice, 1-1/2 to 2 ounces of Pommelle and top it off with club soda. Lightly stir, serve and enjoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Tomat-Basil Crab Bisque

This tomato-basil crab bisque is quite tasty and satisfying. You can serve it as a first course if you're having a fancy dinner party, or you can have it as a hearty lunch. Make sure you have plenty of French crusty bread to go along with the bisque. This recipe is from


  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 10 ounces fresh crabmeat, if available. Canned crab meat can be substituted.
  • 1 tomato, seeded, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups clam-tomato juice (such as Clamato)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup bottled clam juice
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 of crabmeat, tomato, 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, and garlic. Sauté 2 minutes. Whisk in flour; stir 2 minutes. Whisk in clam-tomato juice and next 5 ingredients. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Cool soup slightly.

Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in 3/4 cup water and lemon juice; bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Divide soup among 6 bowls. Sprinkle with remaining crab and 3 tablespoons basil and serve.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Danish Style Pancakes

Just about every country has their own style of pancake. Here in America we love our buttermilk pancakes; Norway has lefse, and Denmark has "Dutch Baby" (yes, it's a misnomer) pancakes. I had my first taste of this pancake at an Original Pancake House restaurant last July during our honeymoon. I first heard about these pancakes from watching the Food Network, of course!

What's different about these pancakes is that you do not put syrup on them, you simply squeeze fresh lemon over them and sprinkle with powdered sugar, add butter and that's it! These pancakes are thin and light and tangy and I think you're going to love them.

INGREDIENTS (2 large Dutch Babies)

  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut stick of butter in half and place each half in two round aluminum pie-baking tins or two 12" frying pans that can withstand heat up to 425 degrees. When oven has reached 425 degrees, put pie tins on center rack. You want your butter to be zizzling.

Meanwhile, blend four eggs in your blender; add whole milk and blend. The batter should have the color of a ripe lemon. Slowly add in white flour, vanilla, salt and lemon zest. Finish off batter on "liquefy" for 30 seconds. The batter will be thin and should contain a number of small lumps (like pancake batter). Do not overbeat; this batter doesn't need a lot of air beaten into it. Set aside briefly.

Pour 1/2 of batter in each hot pie pan or frying pan. Make sure you distribute the boiling butter evenly in the pan.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, but check on them at 12 minutes. You want the Dutch Babies to be puffy and golden-brown. Once they are done, remove them CAREFULLY from the oven, using pot holders (the pan will be very hot), then serve it at once.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Piñon, Part Deux

I have to admit that the first time I tried making Piñon (a Puerto Rican beef and plantain omelette), it didn't come out as good looking as I hoped nor as delicious as my mom's. But I'm not the type of person that gives up easily. I revamped the recipe and tried it again, this time cooking it entirely on the stove top. This time, it came out very delicious and my husband even ate the plantains!


  • 2 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 3" pieces
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 Red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef
  • 1 TBSP. Sofrito
  • 1 tsp. Goya Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning without pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 10 Spanish olives, sliced
  • 1 TBSP. capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 6 eggs, room temperature and beaten with 1 tsp. milk + 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • A container of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
  • Cooked white rice

  1. First, in a small non-stick frying pan, heat up 1 tablespoon I Can't Believe it's Not Butter (ICBINB) on medium-high. Add half of the sliced, ripe plantains and fry for 2 minutes per side, careful not to burn. Remove first batch and drain in paper towels. Fry up the rest of the plaintains. Set aside.
  2. In a 10" non-stick skillet, heat up 1 tsp. olive oil on medium. Add the red onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high.
  3. Add the ground beef and cook for 8 minutes. Then add the sofrito, Goya seasoning, tomato sauce, olives and capers. Lower temperature to medium again and cook, uncovered for another 8 minutes. Remove from heat and put beef mixture in a seperate container and set aside.
  4. Clean the skillet with a paper towel and put back on the burner on medium. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of ICBINB. When melted, add half of the beaten egg batter. Swirl egg batter around, as if making an omelette, and keep running a plastic spatula around the edges to keep it from sticking. Cover the skillet and let it set for about a minute. Do not flip egg omelette over.
  5. When the egg looks like it's almost fully cooked, scatter the plantains over it then top with the beef mixture. Cover and let it cook for another minute or so.
  6. Get a plate slightly smaller than the 10" skillet (it must fit inside the skillet). Uncover the beef mixture and place the plate over it. Remove the skillet from heat. Put one or two kitchen towels over the plate and the skillet and quickly turn skillet over and the beef and egg should come right off.Set plate aside and clean skillet with paper towel and return to burner.
  7. Place 2 to 3 TBSP of ICBINB on medium heat skillet and cook the rest of the egg, swirling it around the entire pan and running a spatula around it. Cover to let it set and cook, about 3 minutes.
  8. When egg is ready, slowly slide the other half of the beef and egg over the egg. You are basically forming an egg sandwich. Cover the skillet and turn off the burner.
  9. When ready to serve, place a larger serving plate over the skillet. Place towels around both so you don't burn yourself and turn it over (see step 6).
  10. Cut piñon into slices and serve with a side of white rice. This makes a great, hardy lunch or dinner.