Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Best Soup this Year

Is what I made the other night from this Christmas present.  She calls it Paris Mushroom Soup.  For me, it had a depth of umami savoriness I haven't gotten elsewhere.  Up until now my mushroom soup has been the Joy of Cooking's, with its bechamel sauce and pureed onions and celery.  I think it helped that the stock I used had been from poaching a whole chicken.  Want the recipe?  It's posted right here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Recipe for Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

It's right here
And it seems to be working already!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's that time of year

for delicious, warm things.  Here's a favorite of mine.  Take it when you're asked to bring an appetizer, or serve it to your guests.  I think credit goes to Williams-Sonoma--

Preheat oven to 325

In  your blender or food processor whiz together: 8 oz drained, cooked artichoke hearts  (frozen or canned is fine, skip the marinated ones), 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup mayonnaise (are you still with me?) 8 oz cream cheese, 2 cloves garlice, 2 jalapeno peppers (I always skip those, if I don't know the crowd's spice level).  Place into a quiche or pie dish.  Bake 30-40 minutes until lightly browned on top.

Let rest 5-10 minutes, then set it down in front of your  guests, with pita chips or crackers, or calorie-mitigating crudites.  Trust it to disappear quickly, and your once dignified guests will arm wrestle over the last bite.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Short Ribs for a Wintry Weekend

Cold weather and Christmas carols: I'm in heaven!  So, what to cook while the fire crackles?  Something that can get more and more tender, while it bakes in the oven.  
The other day I found boneless short ribs at an incredible price. I found this recipe at Epicurious, and am now a fan.  I'll be popping it in the oven Saturday night, and looking forward to savoring it with a terrific syrah.

Dredge 3lbs boneless ribs (or 5lbs with) in flour.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of bacon fat in your dutch oven. Brown short ribs.

(News flash!  Listened to Shirley Corriher on NPR, and found out that if you put protein on hot fat, let it sit for NINETY SECONDS before turning and the protein will not stick.  Honest!  I've tested this!)

Remove ribs from fat.  Add additional bacon fat if necessary, or reduce to 2 tablespoons.  Add: one pound chopped onions, six carrots scraped and sliced, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary.  Saute until softened, then add four minced garlic cloves.  This will smell like heaven.  Add three cups beef broth, bring to a simmer.  Add the short ribs, cover, and pop into a pre-heated 350 degree oven.  Bake until absolutely tender, 2 hours minimum.  Then invite me over.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Hits, Misses

What are you listening to, as you sip your Mexican hot chocolate, or Tom and Jerry, or coffee spiked
with egg nog?

I'm not a fan, in general terms, of Rufus Wainwright's dead pan delivery, but I find myself loving this album, for a couple of their songs: the wistful, "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" and the bouyant "Spotlight on Christmas."

Each year we buy a new album, and try to incorporate it in with the standards like Christmas in Lake Woebegone, Nat King Cole, Putamayo, Boston Pops.  Some, like the Roches, or the Gypsy Kings, are played just once, and hidden.  Others, like the Chieftains, become favorites. This year we're trying out Annie Lenox's latest, "A Christmas Cornucopia."   What are your faves?

Faithful readers know I tend to stay too long at holiday parties.  Here's a tip:  Put on Celine Dion massacring eardrums in O Holy Night.  I'll be outta there.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sanity Paws

When abandoned golden retriever Denby is rescued by Santa in the Nevada desert on Christmas Eve, he knows he has found the perfect family. But over the months between one Christmas and the next, Denby finds himself again and again doing what he has been told not to. Is it magic? Are his actions somehow tied to the injury he had when Santa found him? Or is he just a bad dog? With the help of a reindeer, some elves, and Santa himself, Denby finds that solving his own mystery could also mean saving Christmas.
Yes, kids, it's an e-book, but you don't need an e-reader to read it. You can download the Kindle for PC or Mac apps here. and read it on your computer. Or use the Droid, iPhone, iPad or Blackberry apps to read it on your phone.

You can see and buy the book here.

I know with all the dog lovers in this crowd, only a Grinch could resist.  I lickin' my chops in anticipation of sitting before the fire, and reading this puppy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Peppermint Mochas for Fuss Pots

It's that time of year where everything is candy cane scented and flavored: ice cream, chocolate, cookies, coffee.  I can't resist, myself.  But instead of popping into a corner coffee pit stop, I mix 'em at home.  I must confess, this is not the recipe for people who are only awake enough to push a button.

Brew your espresso or coffee.  In your coffee mug mix two teaspoons sugar with one teaspoon Barry cocoa (more or less sugar, to taste, of course).  Heat and froth 1/3 cup of milk.
Add coffee. Add 1/8 of a teaspoon of peppermint extract  (a drop or two, any more and it becomes medicinal). Mix in the milk to your desired proportion of liquid and froth.  Turn on the Christmas carols and skip reading the paper this morning.