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Years ago I entered a recipe contest through Fine Cooking Magazine where we were instructed to use certain ingredients to create our own recipe.  This is what I came up with and though I didn’t win, I did get a phone call from the judges asking for more clarification so that was pretty close to winning, right? 


My concept was to blend the best ingredients of French beef stew with the great Chinese stew ingredients:  wine, garlic, bacon, oyster sauce,  and of course ginger. The other flavor booster I work into this recipe is to layer the ingredients so that you have garlic and ginger cooking slowly and flavoring the broth.  But I also add these ingredients the last minute to enhance the ginger and garlic flavors.This is a recipe I go back to time and again.  My grown up son asked for the recipe and said it came out great.  Feel free to modify as you wish.  For instance, he used regular mushrooms rather than shiitake. If you don’t have the rosemary, don’t worry.  You can add a little thyme, a bay leaf some herbs de province or leave out the spices 


 3 slices bacon

Olive oil as needed

2 lbs stew beef, cut in 2×2 inch pieces (a marbled, fatty cut works best for stew such as chuck.  And if you use organic meat it may take less time since organic meat tends to be less fatty)

Salt and pepper

1 ½ cups shallots, coarsely chopped (about ½ lb)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs. fresh ginger, finely minced

¼ cup flour

2 cups dry red wine (such as Shiraz or Merlot)

1 can chicken broth (10.5 oz)

¼ cup oyster sauce

2 Tbs. sugar

1 sprig fresh rosemary

½ lb. shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and cut in slices.

2 (more) cloves garlic, finely minced

1 Tbs. (or more) fresh ginger, finely minced

1 tsp. sesame oil

3-4 green onions finely minced


1.  Heat a medium size heavy pot over medium heat and cook bacon until crispy.  Remove and set aside to drain on paper towel.  Chop into small pieces.

2. Season meat with salt and pepper.  Increase heat to high, add oil to bacon fat to coat bottom of pot and when oil shimmers add meat in three batches, browning each batch and setting aside. Add more oil if necessary to coat bottom of pan after each batch.

3. Turn the heat to medium and add shallots, browning while stirring for about 5 minutes.  Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for two more minutes or until aromatic.  Add flour and mix together while cooking for another 2 minutes.

4.  Add wine while stirring quickly to mix in the flour.  Add broth, oyster sauce, sugar, rosemary, and reserved bacon and beef. Stir well and heat to simmer.

5. Cook for 30 minutes and remove rosemary.  Continue to cook stew over low heat for 30- 60 minutes more hours stirring every 30 minutes and adding more water or stock if necessary.  Depending on the cut of meat and size of the chunks this may take more or less time.  Take a piece out and see if it is tender.

6.  While the stew is cooking, fry the mushrooms in two batches over medium heat in frying pan coated with oil for 3 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms to the stew for the last 30 minutes of cooking.

7. For best flavor refrigerate the stew overnight and reheat the next day, adjusting seasoning as desired. 

8.  15 minutes before serving add the two cloves of mashed garlic and 1 Tbs. of ginger to the simmering stew.

9. Just before serving, stir in the sesame oil and sprinkle with spring onions.

 Serve over mashed potatoes, with peas on the side.

 Preparation time is 30-45 minutes and cooking time is 2 hours.









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Madeleines and Williamsburg Orange Cake


This is probably my most used appliance though my toaster oven may be coming quickly into first place since I have been using my  new Breville Smart oven to bake small pizzas and cakes  It cooks more evenly than my oven, and toasts bread and bagels better than any previous toaster oven.

My food processor is used for bread crumbs, grating cheese, pesto, and many of my cake and cookie batters.  Here are my two new favorite recipes each of which is made entirely in the food processor.





                                      Williamsburg Orange Cake:  Serves: 8


2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 stick softened butter
1 cups sugar (divided)

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 orange carefully cleaned and organic if possible:  Using a knife cut of the peel and put in food processor with 1/2 cup sugar to chop finely
1 cup buttermilk
3 TBS  cup orange juice mixed with 1/2 cup sugar  (I don't use all of this glaze)


1.   Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2.  Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir raisins and nuts and grated orange/sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and set aside.

 3.  In a food processor, cream the butter and blend in 1/2  cup of the sugar.

4. Beat the eggs into the  creamed butter mixture.

5. Add vanilla and buttermilk  and mix well.

6. Add the flour/orange mixture and pulse 3 or 4 times until just mixed.

7.  Pour batter into a greased 9-inch square pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or when a toothpick comes out with dry crumbs..

8. While the cake is baking, combine the orange juice with the remaining cup of sugar.

9. Spread this glaze over the top of the hot cake and immediately return it to the oven for about 5 minutes, until the glaze bubbles and the cake tests done when you insert a toothpick or wooden skewer near the center.

Let the cake cool in the pan before turning it out onto a serving plate.








Madeleines (Makes about 16)


2 large eggs

2/3   cups sugar (divided)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 lemon using only the peel

1 cup all purpose flour

pinch of salt

1 ½ sticks of butter, melted and cooled slightly so as not to cook the eggs

Powdered sugar

1.     Preheat oven to 375°

2.     Use madeleines mold with teflon coating sprayed with oil or greased with butter

3.     In the food process process the peel of one lemon mixed with 1/3 cup of the sugar until lemon peel is finely incorporated into the sugar

4.     Add eggs and the final 1/3 cup sugar and process together along with vanilla.

5.     Add flour and pulse a few times until just blended

6.     Gradually add the cooled butter processing until just blended

7.     Let the batter stand at room temperature for at least two hours or refrigerate overnight or even for a couple of days.

8.     Spoon about 1 TBS into each mold filling about ¾ of the mold

9.     Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are beginning to brown

10.Turn them out while still hot onto a rack. 

11.  Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.

    12.These are best eaten warm but also keep for a few days in a tin. 






Vita Mix:  Kale Banana Almond Smoothie

Juicer:  Fruit juice mix and Vegi mix

Actifry:  Mini potatoes with onions and sausage

Slow Cooker:  Applesauce and Multigrain cereal with fruit

Panini Maker:  Reuben sandwiches with corned beef or Susie's Seiten

Pressure Cooker:  Bean soup and Wild rice and Barley mushroom casserole

Bread Maker:  Sourdough Rye Bread

Apple Peeler and Dehydrator:  Dried apples and dried bananas

Food Processor and Madeleine mold:  Madeleines and Williamsburg Orange Cake (on next post)


This vacation I've busied myself cooking and baking using my great collection of cool appliances  and gadgets.  I use my  "toys" to concoct the  quickest and tastiest feasts.  Over the past week I've counted a dozen of them that have come out of the closet and into the kitchen to do their magic.  Most of them are listed below with the great foods that were prepared.


Each day starts with the juicer or the vitamix which are both privileged to  live on the counter.  The juicer is a Hamilton Beach, the cheapest juicer on the market and one that works very well and cleans up easily and quickly.  I'll make myself a fruit or vegi juice first thing in the morning or to bring to work for later in the morning.  The juicer gets apples, oranges, pineapple, and pears with a carrot thrown in for good measure and great color.  The vegi juice is  some combination of raw beets, carrots, celery cucumber, ginger, garlic or onion. 

Or I'll make my green slime in my  Vita Mix:  raw kale, almond milk, almond butter, banana and a touch of maple syrup. Ice is thrown in since the colder the better.   The almond milk is made by soaking almonds in water overnight and the next morning mixing it up in the Vita mix.  Slowly the rest of the family has grown to like this drink which tastes particularly good for being so healthy. I was fortunate enough to attend a juicing class iwth Joe Romano at Greenstar, our local organic food coop and also attended a raw foods class with Rebecca Robbins who introduced me to the healthy and delicious world of raw foods.

So that's two appliances. Now, it gets less healthy I'm afraid.   For breakfast I've been trying out my newest gadget:  an Actifry.  It's advertised as a low fat fryer alternative.  So this morning the little pee wee potatoes went in with some sliced onions, whole garlic cloves and a few pieces of sausage.  No more oil since the sausages provide more than enough.  They were cooked in about 20 minutes.   It really is overpriced for what it is.  But I'm still working on some menus ideas.  I tried the chicken wings and drumsticks which both came out great and tend to be more moist than when baked .



APPLESAUCE;  One of my favorite uses for the slow cooker is apple sauce.  The entire house fills up with the wonderful scent  of cooking apples, one of the homiest aroma's I can think of.  Quite simply I add cored whole organic apples or cored and peeled non-organic apples that I've cut into large pieces.  For a large apple cut it into eighths and then each piece cut in half or thirds.  And for smaller apples just quarter them and then cut each quarter in half. You really don't need liquid unless they are really old dried up apples, then add 1/2 cup water or apple cider. I add some honey and some cinnamon and then cook it on low until they are mushy and obviously cooked.  Then put them through a food mill (another indispensible gadget.) Add more honey or cinnamon if you want.

 MULTIGRAIN CEREAL WITH FRUIT  This is adapted from a recently acquired cookbook called, "The Healthy Slow Cooker".  It has plenty of health and cooking tips in the margins.  This adapted recipe was great and kept for several days in the fridge, easily reheated in the microwave.

1/2 cup brown rice

1/2 cup millet

1/2 cup wheat berries

2 medium apples, peeled cored and cubed

1 cup apple juice or cider

3 cups water

Add together into crock pot (slow cooker), add salt to taste and cook on low for 6 hours or until cooked.  Add :

Chopped pitted dates

Sprinkle with wheat germ (optional)

and serve with maple syrup.(optional)



Rye bread, thousand island dressing, saurkraut, swiss cheese and corned beef (or turkey or Susie's portabella mushroom seiten).


BEAN SOUP:  In preparation for the winter storm I made my obligatory soup.  The essential comfort food for cold snowy weather.  I bought the package of Hurst 15 beans, threw out the ham flavor packet and put half of the beans aside in hot water to soak for a few hours.  They then got drained and thrown into my pressure cooker (appliance 5 on this list).  I then added broth, a can of diced tomatoes with the juice and extra water if needed to amply cover the beans.  They were brought up to pressure and cooked for 10 minutes .  After depressurizing I checked  the beans and if the biggest ones were almost done,  I added  diced   onions, cabbage,  celery, carrots, parsnips, leeks, and winter squash (butternut this time) that I had quickly fried over high heat in some olive oil while stirring to lightly brown.  I added  some salt Some browned cubes of boneless beef ribs as well. I then brought it back up to pressure and cooked for 5 more minutes and  again depressurized and checked to see if everything was done.  This soup lasted several days through the snow storm and just gets more flavorful with each reheating.  I serve my bean soups drizzled with great olive oil and good grated parmesan.


1 medium onion, chopped

4 TBS butter

¾cup wild rice

¾cup barlely (not quick cooking)

½cup dry sherry

1 ½ cups stock

1 ¼cups water

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

salt and pepper to taste

1.     Fry one chopped sweet onion in butter until softened and set aside. 


2.      Fry mushrooms and set aside.

3.  In Pressure Cooker add  rice and barley, sherry, broth and water and salt to taste.

4.     Cover pressure cooker, bring to pressure and cook for 20 minutes.

5.      Release pressure and check to make sure the rice and barley are cooked.  The rice should be split open and tender but not mushy.  Cook longer if necessary.

6.    Add mushrooms and onions to rice mixture.

7.    Taste for  salt and pepper..



¾ cup sour dough starter

½ cup water


2 TBS molasses

1 TBS olive oil

1 ½ tsp salt

1 TBS toasted caraway seeds

2 ¼ cups Bread flour

¾ cup rye flour

1 ½tsp yeast

Combine in bread maker and check to make sure the consistency is correct.  If you poke it with your finger you should have a tiny bit of stickiness but mostly it needs to be dry and in a ball. You may need to add more flour or water to adjust.

1.      Let  the bread maker do the kneading and first rise,

2.       Remove the dough and put it into a bowl lined with parchment paper.

3.       Let it rise again until double: one to two hours.

4.       Half an hour before preheat oven to 450° .Place empty large enamel pot  with cover (Le Creuset works great) that will just hold the bread in the oven to heat as well.

5.      Slit the top of the bread and carefully place in the enamel pot.  Don't burn yourself lifting the lid (spoken from multiple experiences).  Cover the pot and cook the bread for 30 minutes.

6.      Remove the pot from the oven.  Carefully remove the bread and unless it is already evenly browned, place it as is, without parchment, in the oven and bake a few more minutes, checking regularly, until uniformly brown and crisp. Remove and cool.  Serve with butter and the bean soup!

DEHYDRATOR AND APPLES PEELER:  Dried apples and Dried bananas.

One of the least known gadgets and a really cheap and helpful one is the apple peeler.  But it doesn't just peel the apples.  It also slices and cores the apple.  So in a few seconds you have an apple ready for your pie or for the dehydrator.  Check out the video which shoes you just how it works.  And it's around $20!    APPLE PEELER VIDEO

The dehydrator I use is the cheap one made by Nesco American Harvester.  You can spend lots of money on these guys but I really don't have any problem with this one except that it is  really noisy.  So you need to put it in another room and not forget it.


The apples get sliced and laid out in the dehydrator and if you want, sprinkled with cinnamon.  Cook it until the apples are to your liking, chewy or crisp.  They do continue to crisp up a bit after  you turn it off.  The a bananas get sliced and same thing,  check after 12 hours and see what you think.


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 I got home from work just before 6 tonight.  I took  one pound of  stew beef out of  the freezer and got right to work. 

1. Defrosted the beef in the microwave and cut it up into small chunks. (Beef optional)

2. Fried the beef in olive oil until just browned

3. Peeled and cut up 2 carrots, 2 celery and  1 cleaned leek and threw them into the pressure cooker 

4.  Added the beef and one can of diced tomatoes, a bay leaf, salt, pepper and 36 ounces of chicken or vegetable broth.

5.Cleaned half a pound of lentils and added them to the pot.

6.  Deglazed the frying pan with 1 cup of water and added that to the pressure cooker.

7.  Heated up my stove top pressure cooker to pressure and then cooked for 8 minutes.

8.  Meanwhile chopped up and fried a large sweet onion.

9.  Brought the pressure down in my cooker under cold water, opened it, and added the onions.  Tasted for seasoning and checked how tender the beef was.

10.  Closed up the pot, brought it back to pressure and cooked 3 more minutes.  

AND VOILA,!  An excellent meal with some crusty bread and salad.  And the leftover lentil soup will be even better tomorrow!

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Turkey chutney salad

Turkey Barley Congee

Corn Chowder

Crispy Corn Fritters

Fried Rice


Salsa soup with tortilla chips

Leek mushroom bread pudding


I actually love leftovers.  On my way home from work I’ll picture what is in my fridge and then figure out how to combine them and transform them into tonight's feast.  And many of these creations have become favorites.  Some of these recipes don't give exact quantities because that is not the point.  With these dishes you use what you have and use your creativity to make it all work so that often the new leftover creation is even better than the original!



This is what I make with leftover turkey. Of course first on my list is sandwiches:  hot when you still have gravy left and cold when you’ve run out of gravy.  But there are two other dishes I love to make with turkey. 

·         Turkey (smoked or roasted):  Mix mango chutney with some mayonnaise and curry powder and a drop of toasted sesame oil.  Mix with some celery (or other crunchy vegetable) and scallions if you have them.  This is good served for lunch with bread or as a salad course with a some lettuce.

·         Roast turkey (not smoked):  Right after a turkey dinner I jump into action and take all the meat off the bones.  I throw the turkey bones into a big pot and it can be the same pot that I boiled the potatoes in for mashed potatoes.  Add an onion, a carrot, and some celery and plenty of water and boil for an hour until you have a nice broth.  Add as much salt as you like.  Strain out all the solids and put the broth aside.

·         With the broth I make one of my favorite soups and a family favorite as well:  Turkey Barley Congee.

·          Leftover turkey has many tasty reincarnations. Turkey barley congee is one of my favorites that I make every year after Thanksgiving. It starts off by using the turkey carcass to make a rich broth. Congee is a nourishing and healthy one dish meal which I’ve adapted from the recipe of one of my favorite cookbooks: A Spoonful of Ginger: Irresistible, health-giving recipes from Asian kitchen, by Nina Simonds. She references the healthful or medicinal qualities of each recipe so you feel good about what you serve your family and guests.

Adapted from the cookbook, “A Spoonful of Ginger” by Nina Simonds.
For the broth:
1 Turkey carcass from the Thanksgiving dinner
12 cups water
1 peeled onion
1 celery stalk
1 slice ginger
For the marinade:
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 ½ Tbs rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
For the soup:
1 pound or more leftover turkey meat, cut into bite size pieces or use uncooked turkey meat. if you don't have leftovers.
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 cup whole grain or pearl barley, rinsed and drained.  (whole grain barley is healthier)
3 carrots,  peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice
3 stalks celery , cut into ¼ inch dice
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup rice wine (or dry sherry)
1 tsp.-1 Tbs.   grated fresh ginger (depending on how much you like ginger)
8 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced (fresh) or/and dried shitake:  5-6 reconstituted in water
1-2 cans chicken or turkey broth as needed (optional:  see note).
  1. Combine the broth ingredients and bring to boil in large pot. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for an hour.  Strain and check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary.
  2. Meanwhile, combine ingredients for the marinade, add turkey and coat with marinade. Refrigerate.
  3. Fry onions in oil or butter until soft and lightly brown and set aside.
  4. Fry mushrooms in butter or olive oil until lightly browned and set aside.
  5. Add barley to the strained broth and cook for 45 minutes. If necessary, add more water or broth.
  6. Add carrots and celery (and turkey meat if it is uncooked) and cook another 15 minutes, checking to make sure there is enough liquid.
  7. Add browned onions, cooked turkey, rice wine, browned mushrooms and grated ginger and cook another 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  8. Taste for seasoning and add more broth if necessary and a little sesame oil to taste.
Note: This is meant to be a thick, porridge like soup. I prefer it a little soupier and so I have some broth set aside to add if necessary.





 I often buy extra corn on purpose and then leave it out (if the house isn’t too hot) because refrigerating it will diminish the sweetness. I then make a great summer soup.


        Take the cooked corn off the cob.  Meanwhile fry a large sweet onion until soft and slightly browned.  Peel a medium potato and cut into small cubes.  Cook them in the broth for 10 minutes until almost cooked.  Add the corn and the onion.  Thicken with a little corn starch,  add ½ cup of  ½ and ½  or milk, adjust for salt and add some cayenne pepper. 







  • Kernals from 2-3 ears of leftover corn (cooked or raw)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup corn meal
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Mix everything together and let sit a few minutes.  Add more water if too thick.  It should have a thick pancake batter consistency.  
  2. Heat a frying pan with some vegetable oil.  Fry a sample 1 tablespoon size fritter and taste for seasoning and adjust with more liquid if necessary.  You want to cook them hot and brown them on each side.  They should be nice and crispy.  Make them any size you like but I like them to be around 3 inches in diameter.
  3. Serve for breakfast with maple syrup or as a side dish to your dinner.  These go well with a pork barbecue.



Left over rice from the Asian restaurant? I always bring the rice home.  Day old rice is perfect for fried rice and homemade fried rice is in a class of its own.  This is miles better than restaurant fried rice


Fried rice:

·         Start with one of those little boxes of rice from the restaurant or 2 cups cooked rice.  Sushi rice isn’t so great because it’s a little too sticky.  Anything goes at this point but the very best fried rice needs:  cabbage, zucchini, peas, onions, shrimp and some meat.  Start by frying up some chopped sweet onion until its soft and beginning to brown. Put it aside.  Then cube  one or two smallish zucchini and fry until not quite cooked through. Set aside.  Slice about a cup or so of cabbage finely and fry very hot until browned and set aside.  Chop up a few shrimp if you have some frozen and fry them until cooked through and set aside.  If you have broccoli or another vegetable you’d like to add, be creative. Any meat works:  a little cut up ham, beef, pork, Chinese sausage.  Whatever you add, cut it into small cubes and cook it through.  I usually add leftovers rather than buying something fresh. Meat or shrimp is not necessary.


This is sort of like “stone soup”.  The rice is the stone and then you start adding and the more you add, the greater the dish.  Now add the rice to the frying pan or wok and cook in some oil until the kernels are separated and heated through.  Combine everything with the rice and cook it through.  In a separate bowl mix together some soy sauce and some oyster sauce.  You can buy vegetarian oyster sauce if you’d prefer.  I can’t tell you the quantities since this is all about getting inspired by what is hanging about in your fridge and freezer”. But I would start with ¼ cup of soy and 2 TBS of oyster sauce if you started with a cup or so of rice.  Start easy and add more if you want the flavor to be stronger.  Don’t salt until after you’ve added the soy and oyster sauce.


Heat it all together and add the frozen peas at the last minute and cover for a few minutes until the peas are cooked through.  IF you'd like to scramble an egg seaparately, chop it up and add it to the fried rice, this is delicious and authentic. At the last minute you can also garnish with scallion. This dish is great on its own or as a side dish.  And believe it or not, it tastes even better the next day as a leftover.  My husband likes it with the chili garlic sauce as a condiment.





·         This is my go to meal when I have a little bit of leftover steak or venison or bison.  Next night for dinner or for breakfast you start again with fried chopped onions.  Fry them in olive oil until soft and caramalized.  Set aside.  Peel and chop potatoes or sweet potatoes (or both) into small cubes. Fry them in olive oil over medium to high heat watching closely so they don’t burn.  Once they are beginning to brown I cover them for a few minutes until they are cooked through. This should take 10-15 minutes.  Add the potatoes and onion and meat that you have cut into pieces the same size as the potatoes.  Heat all together and add plenty of pepper and adjust for salt.  Next break an egg per person into the hash and cook them as you like.  This beats any hash you’ll get in a diner.  Guaranteed.












Salsa soup with tortilla chips:

·         So how many times do you find yourself with some salsa that has been  hanging around a while and you want to use it up before opening up a new one?  This soup is a hit with everyone.  Again, no exact quantities and you can spice it up to your liking.  But the basics are tomatoes, salsa, black beans and corn.  I start with about a cup of salsa and throw it in a pot with a can of broth (chicken or vegetable) and then add a can of black beans, and a can of corn or I have  fresh or frozen corn .  A can of small diced tomatoes works or you can use up some whole canned tomatoes that are hanging about the fridge like I did tonight .  Or you cn  use fresh peeled tomatoes.  Just chop whatever you have into small pieces.  Bring it all to a simmer and add some hot sauce if you need it hotter or some chili powder.  I also add some smoked paprika.


            Simmer for 10-15 minutes while until the corn is cooked.  Now this is the fun part.   

            Arrange some garnishes on a side platter for people to add to their soup as the like:   

·         scallions

·         Avocado

·         Sour cream

·         Cilantro

·         Lime

·         and don’t forget tortilla chips to crumble on top the last minute.




      I just found this recipe in the October 2012 issue of the Food Network Magazine and it was an instant hit.  The recipe is also on the Food network website, one of the Contessa's recipes.  I have adjusted it a bit:  No 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream for instance.  The first thing I try to do in any recipe is cut down the fat, sugar and salt.  So here is my version of this recipe but the original you can find as well by clicking on the recipe title.


     I use really good bread that has gotten stale because we didn't eat it fast enough.



Mushroom & Leek Bread Pudding

Adapted from  from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust. Copyright (c) 2012 by Ina Garten. By Arrangement with Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. for Food Network Magazine

Serves:   4-6 servings



·       2-3 cups (1/2-inch-diced) bread cubes from a rustic country loaf  

·         1 tablespoons good olive oil

·         1 tablespoons unsalted butter

·         2 ounces deli ham, leftover ham or pancetta small-diced

·         2 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts (2 medium leeks)

·      1 -8 oz. package crimini, baby bella or white mushrooms, 1/4-inch-sliced

·         1/4 cup medium or dry sherry

·         Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

·      ·         2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

·         2 extra-large eggs

·         ¾ cup milk

·         ½  cup chicken stock

·         1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (3-4 ounces), divided


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, until starting to brown. Stir in the leeks and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the leeks are tender. Stir in the mushrooms, sherry, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally.  Off the heat, stir in the parsley.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, chicken stock and ½  cup of the Gruyere. Add the bread cubes and mushroom mixture, stirring well to combine. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes or longer  to allow the bread to absorb the liquid. Stir well and pour into a 2 1/2-to-3-quart gratin dish (13 x 9 x 2 inches). Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere and bake for about 30 minutes, until the custard is barely set. It should still be very moist but with a crunchy top.  If you need to, put it briefly under the broiler.  Don’t overcook this or it will be dried out. Serve hot.  This is great the next day reheated in the microwave.







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Having just returned from 3 days in Manhattan eating at Michelin starred restaurants and being inspired by the great corn we are eating this summer, I decided to put together a meal entirely based on corn.  I had a blast and what transpired was a very unique and surprisingly great meal.  I’ll offer general guidelines for some of the recipes and for others I’ll give you more details.


 The corn maple syrup panna cotta was the most unusual and a real keeper.  The trick for all of these dishes is to find the perfect corn which I am pleased to say can be found in various locations this summer.  I like it, crispy, (not mushy), sweet and packed with corny flavor. 


So here we go, experiment as I did.  Look online for similar recipes and then take off with your ideas.  And be prepared to spend time prepping so that last minute you can finish your dishes quickly.    It helps to have guests who enjoy lending a hand.



August 24th 2012

Celebrating summer and corn




Creamed corn  filo cups with cheese, caramelized onions and shitake mushrooms


Corn vichyssoise with leeks and onions


Arugula and grilled  corn salad with pistachios, and heirloom tomatoes


Tortilla corn and black bean stack with pulled pork


Corn and crab cakes with lemon caper butter sauce (hold the  mayo)


Grilled Kielbasa with corn relish


Savory corn pudding


Corn and maple syrup panna cotta with peaches and strawberries





Creamed Corn Fillo Cups

with Shitake Mushrooms and goat Cheese



5 oz. package sliced shitake mushrooms

1 small sweet onion,  small diced

Olive oil for frying

2 tbs. butter for frying

2 ears of corn cut off the cob

½ cup heavy cream

4 oz. cream cheese

2 oz. goat cheese

1/3 cup shredded swiss cheese

salt and pepper

2 packages mini fillo shells (I like Athens brand that come 15 to a package and is in the freezer section near the pie doughs)


1.      Fry onions in a little olive oil and 1 Tbs. butter until slightly brown and set aside.

2.     Fry mushrooms in a little olive oil with remaining butter and set aside.

3.     Fry the corn kernels briefly in same frying pan over high heat so that it begins to release a great corn fragrance, stirring frequently.

4.     After you begin to smell the corn (about3-5 minutes) add the cream and simmer corn and cream together for another 5-6 minutes.

5.     Meanwhile, in a food process, process cream cheese and goat cheese until well missed. 

6.     Mix everything together and season for salt and pepper.  I like alot of pepper in this dish.

7.     You can prepare this ahead of time and refrigerate for a couple of days.  Right before you serve it, heat it up in the microwave and then fill about 1 Tbs in each cup and sprinkle with the grated swiss cheese.  Bake at 350 ? for about 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and beginning to brown.





3 Tbs. olive oil)

3 medium leeks, trimmed, sliced and washed

2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced

4-6 ears corn, kernels cut from the cob. Put corn from one ear aside.

32 ounces or 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup ½ and ½ (optional)

Salt to taste

Snipped chives for garnish


1.  Using heavy casserole, fry the onions in butter until soft and lightly browned.

2.  Adds sliced leeks and cook slowly with onions for another 10 minutes, stirring


3.  Add chicken or vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.  Simmer gently, covered for

     20 minutes or until leeks are soft.

4. Add corn and cook for another 5 minutes.

5.  When slightly cooled, pureed the mixture in a blender or food process until very

      smooth.  Add ½ and ½ if desired at this point and mix together.

6. Fry the last ear of corn kernels over high heat with a little oil and some salt until beginning to brown.  Set aside to use for garnish. (This step is optional)
7.  Refrigerate 24-48 hours.

7.  Garnish each bowl with chopped chives and corn kernels.




Arugula and grilled corn salad with pistachios, cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes and a preserved lemon dressing


The fusion of lemon, pistacchio and corn creates flavor that is quite extraordinary.




Baby arugula or mixed baby greens

2 ears of corn, grilled until beginning to brown and then kernels removed when cool

¼ cup pistachio nuts

1 cucumber

cherry tomatoes




1 preserved lemon without the peel, chopped finely

1 Tbs. chopped chives

Juice of one meyer lemon

pinch of sugar

1/3 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste



1.       For dressing mix everything together, preferably in a small food processor or chopped and add olive oil gradually. Add salt and pepper to taste

2.      Toss with greens

3.      Arrange the lettuce, corn, pistachios, tomatoes and cucumbers attractively on each plate.




Tortilla corn and black bean stack with pulled pork


Pulled Pork


Corn tortillas

Black beans

2 ears of corn

½ cup heavy cream


This is an experiment based on a wonderful dish we had at Café Bolud in NYC during their restaurant week.  This was served with a Southwestern style lamb dish and they were tiny 1 inch squares of layered beans and tortillas.  I thought it would be even better with a layer of corn as well.


Bean layer:  I make my own black beans in a pressure cooker without needing to soak ahead of time.  To half a pound of beans that have been cleaned, I add ½ cup of soy sauce, ¼ cup orange juice, and a cup of water.  I then add salt, a couple of garlic cloves and a little cumin.  I pressure cook for 20 minutes and then reduce pressure and check for doneness.  They take between 20-30 minutes.  I then leave them to cool in their liquid and when you make the puree add only enough liquid to give it a smooth spreadable consistency.  You can also buy canned black beans and puree and season them to your liking or you can do this with refried beans.


Corn layer:  Take kernels off the cobs and fry this in a sauce pan until beginning to smell aromatic but not brown.  Add heavy cream and cook together for 5-6 minutes until the corn is cooked.  Then put in food process or blender and puree until very smooth.  If it’s too thick add some more milk or cream to think it out but you want it spreadable and not runny.


To make the stacks:  Toast the tortillas in a toaster oven until very lightly toasted but not brown.  On a tortilla spread a thin layer of beans, then layer another tortilla and then a layer of corn followed by another layer of tortilla.

Wrap them up and refrigerate them until ready to serve.  Right before serving fry them in a hot frying pan until lightly browned on each side.  


For main course serve one or two per person and for an appetizer serve a quarter of the stack alongside the pulled pork.



Corn and crab cakes with lemon caper butter sauce


There are some people who are mayo-phobes.  They hate anything even remotely associated with jarred mayo including any type of aioli.  I am happy to offer this recipe for a mayo-less crabcake and mayo-less sauce.



You can use you own crab cake recipe and add corn or follow these general instructions:


Crab Cake

8 ounces crab meat (good quality, not canned or imitation)

2 green onions (scallions, finely chopped)

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 ears of corn, kernels removed

1 tsp old bay seasoning

cayenne pepper to taste

1 tsp dry mustard

2 egg yolks

bread crumbs


1.      Cook the corn in the heavy cream until the corn is cooked through but still crunchy (5-6 minutes) cool

2.     Mix egg yolks into corn and cream mixture

3.     Mix everything except bread crumbs together gently so as to keep the chunks of crabmeat intact.

4.     Gently make small (2 inch) patties and coat them with the bread crumbs. This is difficult since they are very crumbly

5.     Refrigerate until they are firm and easy to handle.

6.     Fry in vegetable oil until brown on each side.

7.     Serve with lemon caper sauce


Lemon Caper Sauce (hold the mayo)


Juice of one lemon

1 Tbs. capers

2 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs. white wine or vermouth

1/4 heavy cream


1.     Boil lemon juice and vermouth until reduced to 1-2 Tbs.

2.  Add cream and reduce until thickened.

3.      Wisk in butter a little at a time while stirring. 

4.     Add capers and season with salt

4.     Refrigerate until ready to use.

5.     Heat gently in microwave



Grilled Kielbasa with corn relish


Kielbasa ( I like the small individual smoked Polish Kielbasa from Hilshire Farms)


Corn Relish Recipe



·         1 large cucumbers, peeled, finely chopped

·         2 cups of finely chopped onions 

        1 cup chopped green cabbage


·         2 stalks celery finely chopped (Size of corn kernels)

·         ½ cup chopped pimento

·         4 cups corn kernels (cut from 4-6 ears, depending on how big the ears are)

·         1/2 cup sugar

·         1 ½  Tbsp Kosher salt

·         1/2 teaspoon black pepper

·         1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)

·         1/2 teaspoon turmeric

·         2 teaspoons mustard seeds

·         1 teaspoon celery salt

·         cayenne pepper to taste


1        Place everything except corn, celery and cucumber and pimento in a medium-sized (4 to 6-quart), thick-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

2        Add celery and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add corn and cook for another 5 minutes.  Then mix in pimento.  Taste for seasoning.

3         Spoon the corn relish into clean jars and seal. Will last for 4-6 weeks refrigerated.

4        This is better made a few days before you serve it.


Yield: Makes 3-4 pints.




Savory corn pudding



FOOD AND WINE magazine has a wonderful corn pudding recipe . I cut down on the butter; actually I just left it out.  And instead of 6 eggs, I used 4 because I wanted more corn flavor.  The corn is so sweet and tasty now…it’s the perfect time to try this recipe.  The cornmeal settles on the bottom so that it serves as a crust.  I loaded up with sweet Mayan onions. If you want a more elegant presentation try using muffin tins or individual pots as pictured above.  Another idea is to use a small cup as a cookie cutter and carved out single portions.  The picture below shows this single portion presentation using chervil as a garnish.






Corn and maple syrup panna cotta with seasonal fruit


This is an incredibly easy dessert to make and quite elegant.  It isn’t quite as smooth as regular panna cotta but my guests liked the texture.  If you want it really smooth you’ll need to put it through a sieve. 


5 ears of corn taken:  kernels taken off the cobs

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1 envelope gelatin

2 Tbs maple syrup


Mint leaves for garnish (optional)


1.      Put the gelatin in a bowl with 2 Tbs water to soften gelatin

2.     Heat the corn kernels up in a heavy skillet for a few minutes so that they become fragrant.  Add the heavy cream and simmer until the corn is cooked: 5-6 minutes.

3.     Add the gelatin and stir together until the gelatin is dissolved

4.     Put gelatin and corn mixture and maple syrup into blender and blend until very smooth. You will need a good blender for this.  I have a Vita Mix which does a good job.  A food processor will not make it smooth enough.  If you want it smoother you will have to put it through a fine sieve after you add the milk. Add milk and pour into individual dishes.  A good amount is about ½ cup per person which will give you  6-7 servings.

5.     Chill in fridge until set.  You can make this the day before.

6.     Garnish with mint and serve with fruit cut into little pieces:  blueberries, nectarines, peaches, kiwis or strawberries.



















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This is the Italian version of ratatouille and at least as good when made properly. This can be made and stored in the fridge for several days and just gets better with time. This is my version which brings rave reviews every time I serve it.

  • 1 medium eggplant (approximately ¾ lb.)
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1-15 ounce can small diced tomatoes (well drained of juice)
  • 1 Tbs capers
  • 1-2 Tbs vinager
  • ¼- ½ cup green olives stuffed with pimento
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  1. Peel and cube the eggplant into approximately a ½ inch dice. Fry in olive oil over high heat stirring often until brown and cooked. Set aside.   
  2. Cut the celery into small dice and cook with a little water in microwave until cooked but still quite crunchy. Don’t overcook. The crunchy texture is very important. Set aside.
  3. Chop onion into small cubes (about ¼ inch) and fry in olive oil until soft and beginning to brown. Set aside
  4. Chop olives so that the pieces are of similar size to the celery and eggplant.
  5. If you have the time, fry the drained tomatoes in a little olive oil until all the remaining liquid is gone and they are just beginning to brown.
  6. Mix all the cooked vegetables together and add the tomato, the sugar and the vinegar. Cook together for 5 minutes until everything is blended.
  7. Remove from heat and add capers and olives.
  8. Add salt to taste and check for seasoning. You may want it a little more sweet or sour. But the tastes really meld together after the caponata sits for at least a day. I keep it at room temperature for a few hours and then refrigerate. Check the next day and adjust the seasoning.
Serve caponata as an appetizer with thin slices of bagette or as a side salad to a summer meal.
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 Let me count the reasons why:


1.   It's available all year long and keeps for weeks in the fridge so it’s always on hand

2.   There are many varieties:   Asian (napa), green, red and many more

3.   Every variety is delicious raw or cooked

4.   It tastes good with no additional fancy preparations

5.   Every country has their own special version of cabbage salad

6.   You can ferment it for sauerkraut, or kimchi

7.   You can stuff it with its big enveloping leaves

8.   It’s terrific shredded and fried as a side dish for tofu, pork, duck, chicken and fish

9.   You can cook it long and slow with chicken and bacon or with apples and vinegar if you have red cabbage

10.               And…its cheap.


     11.     And healthy. 


Here are some of my favorite recipes for cabbage salads. Two are from previous blogs and all but the first are vegetarian:







Vietnamese Chicken Salad

(Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side dish)



Special note:  You need to taste and adjust this salad before serving.  Some like it spicier, some like it sweeter or saltier and some like it with more sour flavor from the limes.  Don't add salt at first since the fish sauce is salty.  Remember that adding the peanuts (and you need lots) adds to the flavor so when you taste it, try it with the peanuts and basil and mint. 


For salad:


·         1 ½ -2-pound  green cabbage, shredded, but not too finely:  I don't use the mandoline

·         2  carrots, peeled and cut into julienne strips

·         ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion


Optional:   ¼ cup dried shrimp from Asian market boiled for 5 minutes in water and then drained and chopped.  It adds a very fishy shrimp flavor that is very authentic but not to everyone's taste.

For dressing :

·         1/3 cup Asian fish sauce  (Nuoc Mam)

·         2 teaspoons  cup brown sugar

·         1 teaspoon (or to taste)  Thai or Vietnamese chili garlic sauce

·         2 teaspoon finely chopped peeled ginger

·         1 tablespoon  garlic clove, finely chopped

·         ¼ cup fresh lime juice from 2-3 limes

·         1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger


·         For  topping:

·         2/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts

·         1/2 cup packed torn basil leaves

·         1/2 cup packed torn mint (optional)

·         ½  cup bean sprouts

·         ½ -1 cup  leftover boned  shredded, cooked chicken (optional)



1.    Combine salad ingredients


2.    Make dressing by combining ingredients by hand or in a blender


3.    Toss salad: Mix dressing with cabbage and carrots and shrimp


4.    Assemble salad: .Arrange chicken and bean sprouts over tossed salad and sprinkle with peanuts, basil, and mint. Serve at room temperature or chilled. You can pass around extra peanuts and lime juice for people to add to their salads.









Lebanese Cabbage Salad (Salatet Malfoof)


This is a simple cabbage salad that tastes fresh and delicious.  It comes together very quickly and stays fresh for a few days.  I learned how to make it from my friend Cindy.  Her Lebanese mother, Gladys Payne makes it frequently and they’ve never seen it in the United States.  This is the healthy version of coleslaw.  The flavors meld together so that it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s in it.  But it is very simple:  lemon, garlic, spearmint and a little oil.  Cindy’s mother adds the tomato which isn’t authentic but really kicks it up both visually, texturally and taste wise.


1 small cabbage (about 2 ½ pounds), thinly shredded ( I use a mandolin which works great)

1 TBS salt

2 TBS lemon

6 garlic cloves, pressed or mashed

1 TBS dried mint (fresh mint will give it an entirely different taste)

1 cup petite diced tomatoes drained of juice

1 TBS olive oil



1.       Combine cabbage and salt in a bowl and massage the salt into the cabbage.  Let it sit for 20-30  minutes and drain off any liquid.  Taste for saltiness.  If it’s too salty, rinse it with fresh water until it is the desired saltiness. 

2.      Add the rest of the ingredients and taste.  If you like more mint or lemon, adjust the quantities.  The garlic and mint flavors will be more pronounced after the flavors have a chance to meld.

3.      Refrigerate for an hour.  This salad will keep for a few days refrigerated.






(adapted from KASHI™ recipe)

  I’ve  made this salad many times with great reviews from family and friends. This is my  simplified  version still made with Kashi™ Whole Grain Pilaf which comes in a box and can be found at Greenstar.  For some reason Wegmans stopped carrying Kashi 7 grain pilaf even though it's a terrific product and extremely healthy. The box holds three packets each with about a cup of pilaf.  It’s a chewy flavorful blend of whole grain oats, brown rice, rye, hard red wheat, triticale, buckwheat, barley and sesame seeds.  In case you don’t know what Triticale is, (and I didn’t) the Kashi folks explain that it is “a natural cross between durum wheat and rye with higher protein than both.  A ½ cup serving contains 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.





Indonesian Pilaf (from a previous fingerlakesfeasting post)

Created by Kashi™  and  Adapted by Celia Clement



For original recipe go to:



  • 1 packets of Kashi™ 7 Whole Grain Pilaf
  • 1 cup whole roasted peanuts
  • 3 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1/4  teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4  teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 cup organic currants
  • 3 medium carrot, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup organic red cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ½ bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons  rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mirin or other sweetener such as honey
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 teaspoons crushed red chili flakes (I omit this but add it if you like it spicy)


  1. Cook Kashi Pilaf. Each packet  holds 1 cup. Boil two cups water and then add the pilaf along with the cumin and coriander and salt .  Cover and cook about 25 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Add the carrots for the last 10 minutes of the pilaf cooking time.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped cabbage, scallions, currants, cilantro,  and peanuts with cooked Pilaf mixture,  and mix well.
  3. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger root, and vinegar, whisk together, add to pilaf mixture, stir well and taste to adjust the seasoning. Enjoy.
  4. This is best made ahead of time to let the flavors harmonize.  





 MARINATED VEGETABLE SALAD (courtesy of Anita Devine)
(From a previous post on fingerlakesfeasting)
1 head romaine lettuce, finely chopped (I use less romaine and more red cabbage)
¼ head red cabbage, finely sliced (I use less romaine and more red cabbage)
¼ head red cabbage, finely sliced
1 block marinate tofu (I use tofu kan), chopped
1 cup dry roasted organic peanuts, skin on
1 small jar marinated artichokes, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
½ cup sprouts ( I used mix sprouts)
½ tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs. ume vinegar
1 Tbs shoyu (or regular soy sauce)
Juice of one orange
1 Tbs. rice syrup
1 ½ Tbs. mustard (I use whole grain Dijon)
  1. Mix together dressing ingredients and set aside.
  2. Place sliced red cabbage in a bowl, mix with ¼ tsp sea salt, place a place over it and weigh it down for one hour to extract some of the liquid. (I skip this step)
  3. Mix together all the vegetables, tofu, and peanuts and toss with dressing.

Note:  Taste for seasoning.  I usually adjust with more ume vinager and more soy sauce.







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Preheat oven to 350°


  1. Chocolate graham cracker crumbs:  the boxes have 3 separate packages of 8 double crackers.  I use one package of 8 and another 5 double crackers.  Put them in food processor and grind into fine crumbs.  Then add:
  2. 1 stick butter and another 3 TBS. that has been melted in microwave. Blend in food processor until mixed.
  3. Butter a 10 inch removable rim tart pan and push the crumbs into the tart pan first around the rim and then the bottom so that it is spread evenly and packed down well.
  4. Bake 8 minutes, remove from oven and carefully push crust back into shape using a small spatula or your fingers.



1-8 oz. package cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat variety)

½ cup sour cream (I use the lite variety)

½ cup sugar

 2-3.5 oz. bars of chocolate 70% cocoa (I use Lindt Excellence)

1-50 ml. bottle Godiva chocolate Liquor (the little darkest bottles you see when you check out)

1 large egg


  1. Mix cream cheese, sour cream and sugar in a food processor until well blended.
  2. Break the bars into largish pieces and then melt.  The easiest way I’ve found to do this is by setting the microwave for 1 minute and then swishing your bowl around so that the pieces are distributed in the melted chocolate.  Then microwave for another 30 seconds and let sit a minute.  You want the last few pieces to melt after the chocolate has been removed from the microwave.  Don’t melt the whole thing in the microwave or you risk burning the chocolate.
  3. Add the melted chocolate to the cream cheese mixture and blend together.
  4. Add Godiva Liquor and blend.
  5. Add egg and blend using a spatula to scrape down the sides.
  6. Pour into tart shell and bake 25-30 minutes.  You want the sides to begin cracking but the center to be slightly moist and dipped down.

Cool the tart.  It can be refrigerated and brought to room temperature to serve the following day.  I like to garnish it with raspberries.  Or you can garnish with whipped cream.  This pie is VERY rich and can serve 10-12 people easily.


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Raspberry Almond Thumbprints




Preheat oven to 350 degrees



1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter

2/3 cup sugar

½ teaspoon almond estract

2 cups flour

Raspberry jam



½ cup confectioner sugar

¾ teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon milk


1.  In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar

2.  Add almond extract and mix

3.  Add flour and mix quickly

4.  Form about 36 balls and place them on a baking sheet

5.  Make a thumb print in each ball and fill with a little raspberry jam

6.  Bake 14-18 minutes  and  cool

7.  Mix together glaze ingredients and drizzle over the cookies.




Michal’s Chocolate Brandy Snowballs


3 eggs

½ cup sugar

350 Grams dark chocolate (I use 3 bars of Lindt 70%) 

50 grams butter ½ stick

45 ml brandy (3 Tab

1 tsp Nescafe or espresso powder

¾ cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup finely chopped almonds (.3 pounds) I chop them in a food processor

Granulated sugar

Powdered sugar



1.     Beat eggs and sugar for 5 minutes in a mixer.

2.     Melt chocolate and butter carefully in the microwave.  I don’t melt the chocolate completely because it is too easy to burn.  Instead I melt it almost all the way and stir it to melt the last little bit of chocolate.

3.     Add coffee and brandy

4.     Fold chocolate mixture into eggs

5.     Add dry ingredients and mix quickly

6.     Fold in almonds

7.     Refrigerate 3-4 hours or for several days

8.     Make snowballs by rolling into 1-2 inch balls, dipping into granulated sugar and then into powdered sugar so that each is completely covered.

9.     Bake in preheated 360 ? oven for 8 minutes.  Do not overcook.



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