Chicken Marsala

January 16, 2008
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A quick, stove-top chicken supper you can make while you’re winding down from your day at work. Pour yourself a glass of wine and you’ll be in heaven. SAM

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 pound mushrooms, brushed and sliced
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Wash the chicken breasts, pat dry, and sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and sage. In a large skillet or chef’s pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hazy. Add the chicken and cook until golden, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving plate and keep warm. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and sauté, covered, until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté, uncovered, until they give up their liquid, about 5 minutes more. Add the wine and stock and cook, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from the heat, stir in the half-and-half, and pour over the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley.
Makes 4 servings.


Cayenne Cheese Rounds

January 14, 2008
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Every good cook has his or her favorite cheese snacks. Some call them ‘straws,’ some call them ‘rounds.’ Whatever, they’re a must for any buffet or cocktail party. This recipe has an especially taste-tempting balance of hot pepper and mellow cheese and egg. Warning: make more than you think you’ll need. SAM

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 cup butter, cut in 1/2-inch pieces (1 stick)
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons ice water

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cheese, pepper, and paprika. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks and add the ice water, beating until frothy. Stir the egg mixture into the cheese mixture to form a ball of dough. Dust with flour, cover, and chill until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Form the dough into 48 small balls, place on a lightly floured surface, and flatten with a fork dipped in flour. Place rounds on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.
Makes 4 dozen.


Whole Wheat Banana Bread

December 14, 2007

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A breakfast bread so packed with flavor and pizzazz you’ll want to make it a permanent part of your morning routine. SAM

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 egg
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and oil. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat until lemon colored. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the bananas, beginning and ending with flour, and blending well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack. Wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator. Bread will be better the second day.
Makes 1 loaf, or 16 servings.


Sausage Quiche

December 13, 2007

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Use whatever peppers you like in this yummy quiche. Really good peppers and spicy sausage will make this a breakfast to remember. SAM

4 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 (9-inch) unbaked pastry shell
1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 small onion, minced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 medium banana pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Dash of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, fry the sausage and pepper flakes, draining any excess grease. Add the onion, poblano, and banana pepper and sauté until tender. Layer the cheese in the pastry shell, then the sausage mixture. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, salt, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper and pour over the sausage mixture. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Remove to a wire rack and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 6 servings.


Crab Breakfast Pie

December 12, 2007

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This is called ‘breakfast pie’ but the truth is you can eat anytime of the day or night! SAM

4 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 (9-inch) unbaked pastry shell
1 (7 1/2-ounce) can crabmeat, flaked
2 green onions with tops, chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
2 tablespoons finely grated Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Layer the Swiss cheese in the pastry shell and top with crabmeat, then onion. Combine the eggs, half-and-half, lemon zest, mustard, salt, and mace and pour over the onion. Top with Romano cheese. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Remove to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 4 servings.


Oatmeal Pancakes

December 11, 2007

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Pancakes are the perfect way to tell someone you love them! SAM

1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons quick-cooking oats
Butter
Maple syrup, hot

Lightly grease a griddle or iron skillet and heat to medium high. In a large bowl, combine the egg, oil, and buttermilk. In another bowl, combine the flour, soda, salt, and sugar and add to the egg mixture, stirring until just blended. Add the oats. Pour by 1/3 cupfuls onto the prepared griddle. When bubbles form on top, turn the pancakes and cook on the second side until lightly browned. Serve with butter and hot maple syrup.
Makes 10 pancakes.


French Toast Strata

December 10, 2007

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What could be better than French toast casserole, ready to bake the moment you get up. All you have to do is turn on the oven. Well, you might want to heat the maple syrup. This is sublime! SAM

8 (1-inch) slices day-old sour dough bread
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar plus additional for topping
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cognac
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Dash of freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, diced, plus additional for serving
Maple syrup, hot

Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and fill completely with the bread slices. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a wire whisk until frothy. Add the milk, half-and-half, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, cognac, cinnamon, and salt, stirring to blend. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, cover tightly with foil, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Dot the bread mixture with butter and bake, uncovered, for 45 to 50 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove to a wire rack and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving with additional butter and hot maple syrup.

Makes 4 servings.