Café de Cacao Frappé

November 25, 2007

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A coffee that doubles as a dessert … It’s a very special way to top off a meal. SAM

1/2 cup strong black coffee, cold
1/2 cup crushed ice
6 tablespoons crème de cacao liqueur
1 teaspoon white crème de menthe
1 large scoop vanilla ice cream
1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped
Cocoa powder for garnish

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in a blender, combine the coffee, ice, crème de cacao, crème de menthe, and ice cream. Pulse until smooth. Serve in chilled champagne flutes topped with whipped cream sprinkled with cocoa powder.
Makes 2 servings.


Plum Crisp

November 24, 2007

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One of the easiest desserts in the repertoire … As long as you have fruit on hand, and flour, oats, butter, and spices, you can throw this together at the last minute—or last half hour—and have a scrumptious dessert hot out of the oven. SAM

PS Add 1/4 cup brown sugar if you like a sweeter dessert, but the dates make it very sweet. 

2 1/2 pounds ripe plums, thinly sliced
7 ounces dates, pitted and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup toasted oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Dash of freshly ground nutmeg
Dash of salt
4 tablespoons butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch deep-casserole dish. In a large chef’s pan over medium heat, heat the plums, dates, and lemon juice until bubbly. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. With a pastry blender or fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Do not overwork. Pour the plum mixture into the casserole dish and top with the flour mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Makes 6 servings.


Turkey-Mushroom Lasagna

November 23, 2007

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Half the fun of holiday dinners is the leftovers. Turn all that extra turkey into a great, very non-traditional lasagna. If you’re lucky, you’ll have some left over for lunch next day. SAM

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 pound mushrooms, brushed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry sherry
3/4 pound shredded turkey
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1/4 cup yogurt cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese, divided
6 ounces no-boil lasagna (six 7-inch squares)
4 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup turkey or vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 by 8-inch baking dish. In a chef’s pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, sweat the onion in 1 tablespoon oil, about 30 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms and sherry, raise the heat to medium-high, and sauté, uncovered, until liquid is reduced. Add the turkey, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper, and remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, yogurt cheese, and Romano cheese.

Starting with noodles, build 4 layers of noodles, ricotta mixture, mushroom-turkey mixture, and mozzarella, ending with mozzarella. Pour the stock around the edges. Tear off a length of tin foil 8 inches longer than the dish and make a 1-inch crease side-to-side across the center. Cover the lasagna tightly, pulling the crease apart to create a tent. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until browned.
Makes 4 servings.


Cranberry Sauce with Horseradish and Sour Cream

November 22, 2007

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This recipe is one of those happy accidents of place and time. A couple of Thanksgivings ago, trying to gussie up a bland, store-bought cranberry sauce, I added horseradish, onion, and sour cream. The result? Fantastic! It’s even better if you start with homemade sauce and end with pecans. And, yes, you do include the orange peel. SAM

1 medium orange, quartered and seeded but not peeled
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
6 ounces prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the orange, cranberries, and sugar until coarsely ground. Remove the blade and stir in the horseradish, onion, sour cream, and pecans.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.


Avocado Bisque

November 21, 2007

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Elegant, refined, rich … and so creamy and delicious you’ll want to lick your soup bowl clean! Isn’t it fabulous to serve good food to the ones you love? SAM & HARRY

2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and roughly diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
Sea salt to taste
4 tablespoons fresh, chopped dill weed, divided
Paprika

In a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the avocados, lemon juice, broth, cream, salt, and 3 tablespoons dill until smooth. Chill. Serve sprinkled with the remaining 1 tablespoon dill and paprika.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Leek-Cornbread Gratin

November 20, 2007

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Breadcrumbs make gratins crispy and light. Cornbread makes them rich and nutty. This leek and onion casserole is cheesy and sweet and will make a great side dish for the big holiday or a wonderful vegetarian entrée. SAM

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 medium leeks, trimmed, soaked, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 3/4 cup crumbled cornbread, divided
4 ounces log goat’s cheese melted in 2 ounces water or 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 ounce Gruyère cheese, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large chef’s pan over medium-low heat, sweat the onions in 1 tablespoon oil until soft, about 20 minutes. Add the leeks, raise the heat to medium, and sauté, covered, until soft, about 15 minutes. In a small saucier over very low heat, melt the goat’s cheese in the water. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups cornbread, the cream or goat’s cheese mixture, and Gruyère cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn into a 10-inch gratin dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cornbread, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and Parmesan and bake until browned, about 45 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.


Buttermilk Cornbread

November 19, 2007

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Cornbread is great for the holidays! Serve it fresh with fried fish or spicy beans. Crumble it in soups and gratins. You can even stuff it in your turkey. You’ll need good quality, stone-ground cornmeal and a seasoned iron skillet. Make sure the skillet is really hot before you pour in the batter and you’ll get a wonderful crunchy, brown crust. Save some for me. SAM

3 tablespoons olive oil, butter, or bacon grease
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously coat a 9- or 10-inch iron skillet with oil, butter, or bacon grease and place it in the oven to heat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and buttermilk. In another bowl, combine the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a pastry fork, lightly stir the cornmeal mixture into the egg-buttermilk mixture. Over stirring will make the cornbread tough. Pour the batter into the hot skillet and bake for 40 minutes. Loosen the edges and bottom with a thin spatula and invert the cornbread onto a serving plate.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.