Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry, Merry!

Ok, one last Xmas cookie - and can I say they are  THE Xmas cookie of all time -Pistachio Spice -  they are delicious. 

This recipe is from my holiday book. It's where I keep all my favorite xmas cookie recipes along with "themes" and notes from xmas parties from the past... Hope you all have a merry xmas!

Post Note: no, I don't have any pictures of this fantastic cookie - I gave them all away - and already ate the few I did save! And I am not making another batch - if I did I'm afraid I would eat them all!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Pixies strike again!


Oh I do love this time of year - all the little treats to make, eat and share. And can I say the joy of eating something someone else has baked  - I'm very grateful for all who have shared!

First of all - my dear neighbor Cat made these adorable pink and purple butter cookies - adorable and delicious to boot! I mean what could be better than an 8 year old's decorating?! I'm working on getting the family recipe...
Love the look on the cookie person's face!

Those tricky Pixies...
And then we come to The Pixies.  Tuesday evening, a rainy night here in Healdsburg- I was on the couch reading a book, the stockings were hung by the chimney with care when came such a clatter... BANG, BANG, bang on my door!  I sprang to my feet and flew to the door, barely pausing a moment to glance at my feet at the platter full of treats, I slipped on my flip flops and ran down the street screaming - HEY - I know who you are - WHERE are you?? I couldn't believe they had made that quick a get-a-way. How was it possible?! There was no miniature sleigh or reindeer... as I cursed them under my breath and walked back to my house - what to my wondering mind should I think - they must have hidden somewhere on my STREET! That's when I saw them crouched behind my neighbors hedge! BUSTED! That's right I caught them in the act! But their secret is safe with me - All I can say is "MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!"

Post note: I did give them a sample of my little "snow" covered cookies below - I have to say they are adorable - a bit dry so I think they should be served with a cup of hot cocoa or coffee - enjoy and share with others! xoxo
Umbrian Biscotti


Pixie selection 2014
Post Note: Got the cookie recipe! Here you go!

Eileen's Christmas Cookies (I would say makes a ton- my notes in parenthesis)

6 cups flour (see a ton)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups margarine (ok, I would suggest maybe 1 cup butter, 1 cup margarine)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla

Cream fats and sugar, then add eggs and vanilla and mix. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients. Roll out and cut into fun shapes. Bake 350 degrees 10-12 min or until done but not browned too much. Remove to rack to cool and then ice and decorate like an 8 year old girl for the cutest cookies ever.

Icing

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter
tiny bit of milk
food coloring
sprinkles

Beat sugar and butter and add tiny bit of milk to make a soft icing. Separate into bowls and color - pink and purple made a nice xmas theme! Add sprinkles - enjoy! (ok, I'm not sure this will be enough icing - since I didn't test this - so don't sue me if you need more - just double it!)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Persimmons - who knew?

I used to see these fruits in San Francisco - but had never really ventured into trying them. Now that I've moved up to Sonoma County - they are all over the place and I decided I should venture out and try some - they are so beautiful - I've just been decorating my table with them! I was given a nice looking recipe from another farmer's market seller, Gail of Dry Creek Peach - who actually gave me these persimmons - but it was for a steamed pudding and I didn't have the contraption to do that in - can you believe it?? Then I searched and found a recipe for Persimmon Cake and it was great! These were Hachiya persimmons which are the kind you have to let get mushy - and then you can puree them into a cake. I thought the recipe by David Lebovitz was very good - only adjustments I made were no raisins (yuck) and I reduced the sugar to 1 cup - I did splash a bit of bourbon in the batter - as just because I was skipping the horrible raisin part didn't mean I wanted to miss out on the bourbon! And of course only a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar in the icing. The other is a Pecan Pie  (yes, it has bourbon too) I made for our little post Thanksgiving feast - for two! No we did not eat it all - I shared ; )

Can you believe this Buck we saw the other day out back - nice rack. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Soup night Fancy Pants Style!

It starts as a simple soup night with good friends. The host makes a big pot of soup and everybody else brings salad, bread, wine and dessert. It's low stress and meant to be a mid-week easy get together. Well not this month! For December we decided to have a "Fancy Pants" Soup Night - and boy did we. I busted out the fine china and crystal and with velvet jackets and Jessica McClintock gowns we had a feast! When it was decided that it was going to be a "holiday" soup night Richard said - "why don't we do whole roasted crab?" What could be better than that? And honestly what could be easier? We bought the crab cooked, cracked and cleaned and just had to heat it up with the sauce. Paula brought a wonderful cheese platter to start - some yummy, oozy, smelly delicious varieties and Alex made our special cocktail of the night an Aviator - it was a gin based pre-prohibition drink with Violet liquor - amazing purple/grey color AND easy to drink ; ) But I couldn't stray too far from our soup roots so I started with a Chestnut Soup served in my china tea cups with tiny little croutons. Kevin made a tasty salad of beets,  pomelos, shaved sunchokes topped with hazelnuts. And for dessert Sarah baked a special Feijoa Custard Pie and we had my little crispy caramel salted chocolates. And wine - did I mention the assortment of champagne and wine?! What a perfect evening - thanks to all! and we even had our special guest Malin to share in our happiness. Bring on the holidaze!! What a way to start!
Crab Fest - bibs included

Awarded "cutest couple" and "best dressed"

Soup Group - love no shoes and comfy socks!
Chestnut Soup serves 8 as appetizer

2 cans roasted chestnuts in water about 2 cups- not the sweet kind (and yes you could roast your own - but even I don't do that!)
1/2 onion chopped
2 shallots chopped
1 stalk celery including leaves chopped
couple tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped smoked ham
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock (I had turkey - oh so good)
1/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste

Drain chestnuts and set aside. In a large pot melt the butter and add the veggies and cook about 10 min until softened. Add the ham and continue to cook another 5 min. Add the broth and chestnuts and cook about 45 min until all is tender. Let cool slightly and put in a blender (or use one of those hand held blenders) and puree until smooth. Return to pot and add cream and salt and pepper to taste. Nutty, hammy goodness. Top with little croutons or for a special touch sauté a few wild mushrooms - talk about gilding the lily! 

Post note: My favorite toast of the night. "Here's to drinking great wine in crystal glasses with greasy crab fingers!" Yes, we know how to get down and dirty!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

As the turkey turns...


Well, hopefully your turkey hasn't "turned" yet - mine is fine as I made it friday - our own little boneless breast - so yesterday I made Turkey Wild Rice Soup - wow so tasty! I used a mix of wild and brown rice and I really loved it. Then today a friend mentioned she made turkey "salad" which is my favorite from childhood - so that was lunch today. And now it's done - the bird that is! 




Because "Thanksgiving" is just not theme enough!
This is our "normal" Thanksgiving group out in Nicasio - this years' theme - The Mad Hatter - I mean who has a more fun holiday tradition?? Thanks to my friend Sarah who lent us actual Mad Hatter Hats!

POST NOTE: Paula (our lovely Hostess with the Mostess) just shared her appetizer Hot Cheese Dip - always served with pot stickers ; ) and her Baked Mashed Potatoes - they are both great! Thanks for sharing dear friend! I love that you can bake the mashed potatoes - that way you can make them ahead and serve them hot!

HOT CHEESE DIP
1/2 cup mayo
1 onion (white or yellow) chopped finely
4 ounces cheddar cheese shredded
Mix all ingredients together in an oven proof dish/bowl.
sprinkle with paprika

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on top.
If not browning turn broil till desired color.
serve with sliced bagel rounds or sour dough bread, or dip pot stickers in it.
You can add anything you want to this i.e. olives, sausages slices, mushrooms.bacon.

For our TG, 20 folks, I generally use 2lbs. of shredded cheese and use enough mayo to wet all the cheese down mixing well.
increase onion according to your taste.

Mashed Potato Casserole
I double the recipe and it's usually too much but I do it anyway .

Recipe calls for 3 ounces of cream cheese softened (ok to use more)
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. baking potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
Paprika
Parsley sprigs..

In a bowl stir together softened cream cheese, garlic salt, pepper and sour cream until smooth and blended set aside.
Prepare and boil  cut potatoes (quartered or cut in smaller pieces)( I peel them).
I mash them in an electric mixer until they're in fine lumps.  Add sour cream mixture and continue mashing until fluffy and smooth. 
Spoon Potatoes into a well buttered, shallow 2 quart casserole: dot with butter and sprinkle with paprika.
If made ahead, cover and refrigerate until next day.

Bake covered in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes (50 minutes if refrigerated)
Uncover and bake 10 minutes more or until top is golden brown. Garnish with parsley sprigs if desired.
Supposed to be for 6 but serves more.
(because I only have on oven, I've successfully cooked it the night before and warm it up covered about 20- 30 min. before dinner.



Post Post note: Love your comments and notes Paula! XO

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Another year and Thankful as ever.

I know, I know. Blah blah blah - life is good, I'm thankful. But it's true! I am grateful for the wonderful life we have. Great food, lovely friends, a cozy home - not necessarily in that order! So have a great day - get outside for a walk if you can and then enjoy the gobble gobble... with love R
Two fawns out behind our house waiting for mom to come back from feeding

Me at Mayacama Club a few weeks ago after a day at the pool! California rules!
And did I mention my loving husband? I am eternally grateful for him and our love and life we have together. I'm sorry, I'm tearing up.... Love to all! Go ahead call me sappy - I'll take it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pork Chops that melt in your mouth

This is not that great of a photo - but the recipe is delicious! Please try it -even though it sounds weird - you won't regret it! I'm still in my nostalgia days and I found this handwritten recipe from my dear friend Stephen's lovely mother Joy - both of them gone now but I can continue to think of them when I cook. She made this for us on our trip to Lake Powell one year and it remains a favorite. Nice treat before we all have to eat turkey for a week.

Tender Pork Chops serves 4

6 Tablespoons Mayonaise
6 Tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup dijon mustartd
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 bunch fresh dill chopped (I didn't have fresh tonight and used a tablespoon of dried - ok, but fresh is better)
4 bone in (or out) pork chops

Mix together all the marinade and put in the chops and refrigerate 4-6 hours. Heat your grill and cook over medium heat about 4 min a side -depends on how thick your chops are -  I use a thermometer and  take them off at about 140 degrees - then let rest about 5 min. Now finish up your mashed potatoes! YUM.