German Chocolate Glaze

February 7, 2008

When you don’t want to ice a cake, glaze it. SAM

4 ounces German sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon shortening
1/4 cup water
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate and shortening. Add the water. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and salt and gradually stir into the chocolate mixture, blending well. Stir in the vanilla and walnuts. Pour over the cooled German Chocolate Pound Cake.
Makes 1 1/2 cups or enough for one 9-inch stem cake.

German Chocolate Pound Cake

February 7, 2008

Great for a groom’s cake or a special birthday or a picnic in the park! SAM

4 ounces German sweet chocolate
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup shortening
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons crème de cacao
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
German Chocolate Glaze (recipe tomorrow)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch stem pan and set aside. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water or in the microwave, melt the chocolate and set aside. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, crème de cacao, and buttermilk, beating until well blended. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the sugar mixture, beating until well blended. Add the chocolate and beat until smooth. Stir in the walnuts by hand. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, remove, and place the cake under a tightly fitting cover until it is completely cooled. Glaze with German Chocolate Glaze.
Makes 16 servings.

Walnut Wedding Cookies

February 6, 2008

As delicate as a new bride … SAM

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar plus additional for topping
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup heavy cream

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla, beating until blended. Add the flour, salt, and nuts. Add the cream. Form the dough into a roll 2 1/2 inches in diameter and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill several hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/4-inch thick slices and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, or until delicately browned around the edges. Remove to wire racks to cool slightly. While still warm, speinkle with additional confectioners’ sugar.
Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Strawberry Bisque

January 31, 2008

Another cool and sophisticated party treat … SAM

1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup light red wine
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and mashed
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
1/4 cup sour cream

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water, wine, sugar, and lemon juice. Boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the strawberries and boil 10 minutes more, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. In a small bowl, fold the whipped cream into the sour cream. Fold the cream mixture into the strawberry mixture. Chill 10 to 12 hours.
Makes 6 servings.

Wine Gelatin

January 30, 2008

Serve this beautiful, sophisticated dessert and you’ll win the heart of every adult who ever loved a quivering bowl of Jello! SAM

1/2 cup cold water
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 cup rosé wine
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
Red grape clusters

Place the cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the gelatin and sugar over the top. Add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin and sugar are dissolved. Stir in the wine and lemon juice. Pour into 4 wine glasses and chill 4 hours or until set. Garnish with whipped cream and grapes.
Makes 4 servings.

Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna

January 28, 2008

Lasagna is a crowd pleaser no mater how you serve it. This hearty vegetarian version doubles as an entrée. Multiply it to feed as many guests as you need. SAM

6 ounces no-boil lasagna (six 7-inch squares)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, very warm
2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound mushrooms, brushed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon snipped fresh rosemary
1 pound fresh spinach, stemmed and torn
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (16-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
1/4 cup yogurt cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese, divided
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

In an 8-inch square pan, crisscross the lasagna noodles and cover with warm stock, turning once to coat evenly.

In a chef’s pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Cover and sauté until tender. Add the mushrooms, sherry, lemon juice, paprika, and rosemary, raise the heat to medium-high, and sauté, uncovered, until liquid is reduced. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.

In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, ricotta cheese, yogurt cheese, Romano cheese, and pepper.

Pour 1/3 cup of stock from the noodles into another 8-inch square baking pan and crisscross 2 layers of lasagna noodles in the bottom. Spread on top 1/3 each of the ricotta mixture, spinach mixture, and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers until the pan is 3/4 filled, ending with mozzarella cheese. Do not fill to the top as the lasagna will expand as it cooks. Drizzle on top the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons Romano cheese. Pour the remaining stock around the edges and cover tightly with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees F, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking, uncovered, until the lasagna has risen to fill the pan and is golden on top, about 1 hour more. Let rest for 10 minutes on a wire rack before serving.
Makes 4 servings.

Date Balls

January 26, 2008

This chewy, crunchy confection is ideal for buffets or any kind of finger-food get-together! SAM

1 cup granulated sugar
1 (8-ounce) package dates, pitted and chopped (1 1/4 cups)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon brandy
2 1/4 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup flaked coconut
Confectioners’ sugar

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar, dates, egg, and brandy and cook, stirring frequently, until the dates are melted. Remove from the heat and add the cereal, pecans, and coconut. Mix well. Form into 1/2-inch balls and roll in confectioner’s sugar.
Makes 4 dozen 1/2-inch balls.

Open-Faced Chicken Sandwiches

January 25, 2008

For these elegant and so, so tasty little sandwiches, consider a smoked paprika. The extra depth in taste will wow you and your guests. SAM

PS If your favorite grocery doesn’t have smoked paprika, one of the online spice companies. My favorite is Penzy’s.

2 pounds chicken breasts, cooked, boned, and chopped (2 cups)
2 cups finely chopped pecans
4 center ribs celery with leaves, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Sea Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 cup whipping cream
24 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Smoked paprika

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, pecans, celery, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add the cream stirring until well mixed. Spread bread slices with mayonnaise and chicken mixture and cut diagonally into quarters. Sprinkle each sandwich with paprika.
Makes 8 dozen appetizer sandwiches.

Sour Cream Dip

January 24, 2008

I’m not really sure where commercial sour cream came from—it’s not like dairy sour cream—but it’s so lush and tangy and totally comforting you can’t go wrong with this mouth-watering dip. Serve it once, and you’ll have to make more. SAM

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream (1 cup)
1 tablespoon fresh snipped chives
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon onion juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, mix together the sour cream, chives, lemon juice, onion juice, vinegar, horseradish, mustard, paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir until thoroughly blended. Chill for 3 to 4 hours before serving. Serve with crudités.
Makes 1 cup or 8 servings.

Chili Dip

January 23, 2008

Technically, this is an appetizer, and a great one. But, trust me, you can make a meal on this! SAM

2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon dried chives

In a large chef’s pan or heavy skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the beef, onion, and garlic until browned. Add the chili powder, cumin, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Pulse the beans 3 or 4 times with an immersion blender to roughly chop and add to the beef mixture. Cook until thoroughly heated. Pour into a chafing dish, top with sour cream and chives, and serve with corn chips.
Makes 20 servings.