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East Coast USA, United States
Lowcountry porch sitter. Appalachian Mountain lover. Finger Lakes dreamer.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Best Bread Pudding

Left over mania at our house! The sweet potato cake was plentiful (everyone gobbled up the apple crisp and Baby Cakes cheesecakes) and to be fair I tried to make the cake with Splenda instead of sugar this year so it wasn't the same moist goodness I've made in the past...just not skilled in the substitution of sugar, there really is a science to replacement therapy. However, slight mistakes can be fabricated into something with just as much ooey goodness called bread pudding. So rather than Italian bread cubed, the cake has been cubed and prepared according to the recipe instructions. I like my bread pudding served warm and this recipe has a sauce that just sweetens it even further.
A Paul Deen 2007 recipe

2 cups granulated sugar
5 large beaten eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandy

Friday, November 19, 2010

Salmon Cheesecake

Anyone who knows me knows that I loved living and working in Ithaca,NY. If you ask me why I provide these reasons: Finger Lakes wine, a great live music scene, 19 spectacular libraries at Cornell University, the rich and colorful people and Wegmans grocery store. Seriously, a grocery store. I was known for spending Sundays, most 1/2 the day at the store, I would arrive mid morning for coffee and read the local paper, NY Times and Wall Street Journal cover to cover, along the way I'd have great conversations with friends who came in to shop, then proceed to order lunch as I would have sat there long enough to witness the switch from morning to noon hour. Comical when I think about it, but everyone (store employees and friends) knew my routine and would even remark if I happened to miss a Sunday or arrive off schedule. Funny how one's quirkiness and eccentric nature touches the lives of others. Needless to say, no one was surprised when my graduation party from graduate school was held at the grocery store in its cooking school. I took as many classes at the "Wegmans School of Culinary Arts" that I possibly could afford to take [I still have all my red folders with recipes]. Cindy Groman was one of my fav instructors and conducted a class October 30,1999 called "gifts from the kitchen." This class was filled with wonderful recipes for the holidays: snack foods, apps, desserts and Salmon Cheesecake. Simply stated, Salmon Cheesecake is a crowd pleaser and very simple to make.

1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
3 Tbs melted butter
16 oz cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 lb can salmon, drained and flaked
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbs grated onion
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
fresh dill, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Mix crackers, butter and press into 9 inch sprinform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temp to 325. Beat the cream cheese, eggs and 1/4 cup sour cream. Add the salmon, lemon juice, onion, salt and pepper. Mix well and pour in the crust. Bake for 45- 50 minutes until set in the middle. Remove from the oven, loosen the sides of the pan with a sharp knife and cool. Combine the 1/2 cup sour cream and the mayo and spread on the cooked cake. Garnish with fresh dill and serve with crackers.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Velvet Rope

(courtesy of a tweet from Domino Sugar
2 oz. - vodka
1-1/2 oz. - 100% cranberry juice
1 oz. - orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 oz. - vanilla infused syrup (see below)
3 dashes - peach bitters
top with a splash of Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine)
long orange twist or 2 skewered cranberries as a garnish

Vanilla-Infused Syrup:
2 cups - Domino Granulated Sugar
1 cup - water
1 - vanilla bean

Credit: Recipe courtesy of Jennifer Philpot, bartender at Waterbar, San Francisco.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homemade Orange Marshmallows

Fall heralds a time of year when an assortment of beverages not enjoyed during any other period become a routine offering until the next change of season transpires. The crisp cool air, camp fires, and comfy sweaters are made for wrapping one's hands around a steaming hot mug. For me, it's hot chocolate made from rich dark cocoa, not the convenient packaged versions, rather the prepared from scratch topped with marshmallows rendition. Visualize the same spicy Mayan delicacy Vianne poured in the movie Chocolat and that's my preferred version, but I also like an assortment of other preparations. Chocolate changes lives no matter the version you are consuming (so would say my friend Karen Hawkins the romance novelist). I personally rank marshmallows high on the pleasure list of self indulgence, right up there with creme fraiche and whipped cream. Perhaps these delicate white clouds are the yang to the yin of chocolate. I could happily eat them singularly all day long as well as on whatever they were actually prepared to be served with. Made from scratch hot chocolate, homemade marshmallows, there's a great deal of love in my mug right now. This marshmallow recipe is from Giada DeLaurentis (Giada at Home, Sugar Rush episode)


* Butter, for greasing the pan
* Powdered sugar, for dusting
* 1/2 cup water, plus 1/4 cup
* 3 tablespoons (3 packets) unflavored gelatin
* 2 cups sugar
* 1/2 cup evaporated milk
* 1 large orange, zested
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* Orange decorating sugar*
* *Can be found at cake decorating stores
* Special equipment: a candy thermometer

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chickpea Fries

Portland, Oregon is one of my favorite places to visit. Not only does Portland explode with restaurants, food shops and markets but it also has made a unique contribution to American independent music, with a strong indie music scene in its backyard. It's been quite some time since I visited, but one location, one chef struck a cord with me, Scott Dolich @ The Park Kitchen ( and though I'm not sure this particular item, Chickpea Fries, still makes an appearance on the menu I thought I'd try to duplicate the indulgent twist on "french fries." These crisp on the outside, tender on the inside jumbo fries are superb paired with pumpkin ketchup but can definitely stand on their own as a palate pleaser [so implies the bar food guide where I found the recipe, Food & Wine Cocktails 2007] The only ingredients I'm lacking in my kitchen: the sambai oelek to spike up the fries (will check in one of our local Asian markets) and the chick pea flour (which I can grab locally on Lady's Island at Its Only Natural). Pick up food, that's what this is and as the proverbial blog tag line implies forks and spoons need not apply.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons sambai oelek
4 cups water
2 cups chickpea flour
Kosher salt
Vegetable oil, for frying
All purpose flour for dusting

Sunday, November 7, 2010


My mother made the best chicken and dumplings ever, primarily because she made them and knew they were my favorite (along with white coconut layered cake). This recipe hails from my Grandmother Adams' The Lilly Wallace New American Cookbook. My grandmother and mother passed away some time ago and lovingly I retain this cook book in my small collection of such texts (there are pages falling out and there are a multitude of inserted recipes stashed inside the cover). 1944,editor in chief Lily Haxworth Wallace, Home Economics Lecturer and Writer, Instructor, Household Arts Department, The Ballard School, New York City~assisted by fifty-four leading authorities on Domestic Science and the art of modern cooking. Is there really an inappropriate time for easy comfort food? Not ever and most especially when memories of mom are the course for the day.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup milk

Sift flour, salt and baking powder. Rub in shortening with knife or finger tips. Add milk to make a soft dough. Drop dough a tablespoon at a time, on chicken or meat stews the last 15-20 minutes of cooking. Kettle must be covered closely and cover must not be removed during cooking.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Celery and Pear Bisque

Cooler temperatures, scarves, hot soups, and warm beverages. Fall has arrived. I welcome this climate with open arms each year in the Lowcountry. It does not dampen the spirit of our coastal lifestyle. It gives rise to a great many more reasons to invite guests to our home, to clean out the wardrobe closet, to enjoy a bounty of produce previously not available at the farmers market and to explore our own back yards. My only regret is the limited daylight hours that this half of the year invokes. We still enjoy the beach, albeit not always in a bathing suit, accompanied by a chair, a great book, girlfriends and a thermos! Bon Appetit Magazine tweeted this recipe earlier this week and I immediately thought to pull out that vintage thermos and share it with the girls during our weekly beach ritual. Note rain does not make for a great beach day, so the ritual shifts to a toasty warm home environment, just in case you were wondering.


* 4 1/2 tablespoons butter
* 6 cups thinly sliced celery with leaves (preferably organic; about 12 stalks) plus chopped leaves (for garnish)
* 18 ounces unpeeled ripe Bartlett pears, cored, diced (generous 3 cups) plus 1/2 cup finely diced (for garnish)
* 1 1/2 cups chopped dark green leek tops
* 3 small Turkish bay leaves
* 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
* 1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
* 3 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sweet Potato Butter Cheesecake

If you have never savored sweet potato butter then you are missing out on one of life's simplest but tastiest treasures. I've actually tried two local versions of this same great product (Southern Gardens/Carolina Cherry Co in Yemasee and Lowcountry Produce in Lobeco) and enjoyed both tremendously. This is a must for Thanksgiving celebrations either solo or transformed into another scrumptious delight (such as the cheesecake below).

Guilt-Free Sweet Potato Cheesecake (Lowcountry Produce)

You will need an 8-by-3-inch springform pan and a larger pan to use for a water bath. This cheesecake is best made a day in advance to chill properly.

1 cup Lowcountry Produce Sweet Potato Butter 2 pounds (4, 8-ounce packages) low-fat cream cheese, completely softened and at room temperature 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3 teaspoons ground ginger 1 1/2 cups Splenda 4 extra large eggs 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs 2 tablespoons butter


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease an 8-by-3-inch springform pan. Combine butter, graham cracker crumbs and 1 teaspoon ginger into a microwaveable container. Heat for 45 seconds in the microwave. Press mixture uniformly into the bottom of springform pan. Bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool.


Cream softened cream cheese in mixer. Add Splenda very slowly while you are smoothing your cream cheese. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of ginger, vanilla, Lowcountry Produce Sweet Potato Butter and four eggs, one at a time. As soon as the last egg is blended, turn off the mixer. Using a spatula, pour the mixture into the pan. Place springform pan into the larger pan. Add water to larger pan to create water bath. Bake for 2 hours, or until it is an even golden brown with small cracks forming.

Variation: For just a little guilt, add 7 ounces of goat cheese and 2 tablespoons of bourbon to the cheesecake mixture.

From Lowcountry Produce

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Honey Glazed Baked Beans

I'm always the one in the neighborhood that has a tendency to bring covered-dish items that fall out of the ordinary cookout fare. Sometimes my selections meet with rave reviews, other times they sit with slight spoonfuls removed. Opting to go with something more classic for the occasion I chose a recipe from The All New, All Purpose Joy of Cooking for baked beans. I used canned beans (pintos and great northern) rather than rinse, soak and simmer the beans from a dried state. Definitely repeating this recipe, but won't give up on introducing creative selections to the local gatherings.

Drain the beans from cooking liquid and combine in a casserole with:
2 medium onions, chopped
8 ounces bacon diced
2 gloves garlic, minced

Stir into the cooking liquid
1 cup honey or pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons groung ginger
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pour liquid over the beans. Cover and bake. I baked for 2 hours @ 300 F, uncovering the last 1/2 hour.
Life Enrichment is like a travel and learn program...offering infusions that make every day life thereafter far more interesting! ~ Ann-Marie Adams, Reflections on a Meaningful Life