Enjoying the Simple Pleasures of Life, While Living in a Complicated World

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The BEST Fried Chicken…Ever!

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The Best Fried Chicken…Ever! I’m not kidding about this recipe. I’ve tested and tested it…This fried chicken is consistently delicious every time; succulent, tender and moist every time, and asked for time…and time again, by my family.

For me, frying food is not the norm…with one exception, this chicken. The day I stumbled across this recipe on The Chicago Tribune website, little did I realize, the way I would make fried chicken would change…forever. It’s the best fried chicken I’ve ever made; perfectly cooked (tender and moist) with a lovely brown and crunchy crust! This recipe is so remarkable and special; definitely a keeper to pass down in my family. I made it three more times to make sure this recipe lived up to my expectations. It most certainly did! As I write this, it’s with with the hope, you will soon be sharing it with your family!

This recipe begins with making a seasoning mix. It makes a lot and I store it in a 1- quart restaurant container. The next (most) important step is marinating the chicken, overnight, for more than 12 hours in the buttermilk and egg mixture. It’s absolutely crucial to this recipe to marinate more than 12 hours. I’ve found marinating overnight is ideal. The third important step is frying this chicken in a cast iron pan.

My cast iron pan was my mothers; and before her, my grandmothers. This pan has spanned generations and through the decades, has faithfully created wonderful food made with lots of love. I like to picture my grandmother standing in her kitchen, cooking at the stove; (when I think how this pan journeyed from kitchen to kitchen, I’m amazed) and how the world has drastically changed from the first time it was used, in a kitchen lit by oil lamps. This culinary heirloom has cooked so many batches of fried  chicken, I wouldn’t even venture to guess the number. It’s now my pleasure to share this recipe with you.

First step: Make seasoning mix. Combine ingredients thoroughly. Keep in a large, sealed, airtight container. I like storing mine in a 1-quart restaurant container.

Second step: Marinate chicken pieces in the buttermilk and egg mixture, overnight or more than 12 hours, in a covered container in the refrigerator. Do NOT disregard or shorten the marinating time in this step. I guarantee you, this will make the moistest and tenderest chicken you’ve ever tasted!

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Third Step: Coat chicken in seasoning mixture. Using a fork, Press the coating onto the skin so it doesn’t come off during the frying process.

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Fourth Step: Allow chicken pieces coated with seasoning mixture to dry at room temperature on rack for 29-30 minutes. The seasoning will darken as it dries.

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Heat a heavy cast iron pan, with 1 inch of vegetable oil to 350 degrees. Add chicken pieces and fry until both sides are nicely browned and crispy.

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Remove fried chicken to a rack lined with paper towers.

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The BEST Fried Chicken!

Seasoning Mix

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1/3 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried mustard
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons ground white pepper

Buttermilk Marinade:
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1 chicken, cut up, the breast pieces cut in half for more even frying
Or, a combination of your favorite chicken pieces: I prefer chicken thighs and breasts.

Method: 
Make the seasoning mix:
Mix the flour in a bowl with all the herbs and spices; set aside. Store in a quart container. For one whole, cut up chicken, you’ll use between one to two cups of seasoning mix. Before seasoning chicken pieces, stir the seasoning mix to incorporate all of the spices and herbs.

Marinate your chicken:
Whisk the buttermilk and beaten egg together, in a medium bowl until combined. Soak the chicken in the buttermilk mixture, in a covered in a container, overnight in the refrigerator for the tenderest and most flavorful chicken.

Coat the chicken in seasoning:
Remove chicken from the buttermilk, allowing excess to drip off. Dip the chicken pieces in the herb-spice flour mixture and with a fork, press seasoning into surface of the chicken to coat all sides. Shake off excess. Move pieces to a cooling rack that is placed over a baking sheet, to dry for 20 to 30 minutes. Note: The seasoned coating mixture will darken as it dries.

Fry chicken in a cast iron pan:
Meanwhile, pour about 1-inch of oil in a large Dutch oven (or similar heavy pot with high sides) and over medium-high heat, carefully keep an eye on the oil until it reaches 350F degrees. I know and love using my grandmothers cast iron, chicken frying pan; so it’s easy for me to gauge when the oil is hot enough. If you’re new to deep frying, use a deep-fry thermometer to check the temperature.

When the temperature is reached, add 3 or 4 pieces at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan. Turn down the heat slightly after a few minutes, so the oil doesn’t begin smoking.

The art of frying involves timing: cooking the outside nice and crisp, and the inside fully cooked. If your oil is too hot, the chicken will brown too quickly, and the inside will not be fully cooked. Also, keep in mind, various cast iron pans will cook chicken faster or slower than others, so choose your pan wisely.

Fry until medium golden brown, turning once. Total frying time should take 15-18 minutes for larger pieces; 5-15 minutes, for smaller pieces, such as chicken fingers. Transfer chicken pieces to a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Enjoy!

I’d love to hear from you and tell me your thoughts about this chicken!

From my kitchen to yours,
Annie Hayes

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A Tea Story: Blue Calico Transferware

A Tea Story~ Blue Calico Transferware

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When I was first married, I discovered my favorite color… cobalt blue, and incorporated into my decorating throughout the house. After we moved back to Minnesota, I was going to school and taking care of my parents. Life was very hectic, and then our daughter came along. For us, going for rides in the Minnesota or Wisconsin countryside was our way of escaping the confines of the city and busy schedules. We would pack a lunch, get in the car and go for a drive. One day, on a day trip to Red Wing, Minnesota we discovered a wonderful china shop, and that’s when I spied it…cobalt blue and white dinnerware. The English pattern was ‘Blue Calico’ and I fell in love with it. There was one drawback, it was more than what we could afford on our budget, and I dreamed of having a lovely set to serve company during dinners and special occasions.

Years passed by, and we were approaching our 30th anniversary. I can say that after 30 years of buying gifts, we were both at a loss what to get each other. Our custom was to go out for a lovely dinner, or I made a special meal for us to enjoy at home. After dinner, we exchanged cards and gifts.

The weekend before our anniversary, we were shopping at Marshall’s where we each went our separate ways. John headed over to the shoe department and I went to look for sheets and towels. A few minutes later, I spied John in the housewares section of the store and rather curious, began making my way over in his direction. Just as I turned into the aisle, he spun around with a large dinner plate in his hand, along with a huge grin on his face. In his hands was a plate, not just any ordinary plate, but a plate I had always wished for….Blue Calico! My face must have registered surprise, delight, and awe…he began laughing. “Where did you find it?”, I signed in huge sweeping gestures. John stepped aside and I could see he had filled the cart with all manner of dishes and the sale price was incredible, compared to the retail price. That’s when he asked me, “How many sets do you want…8, 10, 12? We’ll have to see if we can find more pieces at other stores.”

For rest of that Saturday, we drove around the Twin Cities buying every piece of Blue Calico we could find. I recall being concerned we might get into an accident and all of the lovely dishes packed into our car would be smashed. When we reached the Roseville store, we were close to completing a service for eight. Imagine our relief when we discovered the store had a huge inventory of Blue Calico. We filled up our cart to complete a service for eight, along with additional serving pieces. I made my way to the checkout, and John lagged behind. The girl at the register remarked how pretty the dishes were, and I told her how many years I had been waiting to buy the set. She double wrapped each dish in paper, and carefully stacked them in my cart. Heading out to the car I noted…not only did I have my dream china, we could easily afford a service for eight!!

The backseat was overflowing with bags of Blue Calico, and as I stood next to the car contemplating where to put more dishes, John appeared from around the front of the car…pushing another cart!
“Surprise! I got you another set for eight! Happy Anniversary!”

The next weekend was our 30th anniversary and I made a very special dinner for us. The table was resplendent with blue and white calico dishes, lovely roses, antique linens, glassware and candles. In fact, candles were burning throughout the entire house that evening, bathing the rooms in a soft, romantic glow. The highlight of the evening was dessert. Every year I make my favorite wedding cake recipe~ a white cake covered with white, butter-cream frosting. In candlelight, it looked more beautiful than ever before, served on plates with deep cobalt blue and white…my anniversary china.

Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole

I didn’t want to make a run to the grocery store to buy ingredients for making dinner tonight. The weather has been snowy and cold, and I loathe going out in bitterly cold temps; especially when darkness begins to fall about five thirty. Here, wind chills can make traveling a ‘close encounter’ of the very, very cold kind. We call our state Minnesnowta, and with good reason. So night, I opened my refrigerator and cooked with what I had on hand, along with anything else I could find in my larder.

Here’s what I came up with… A clear-out-your-fridge, easy, chicken enchilada casserole. Simply mix all the ingredients in a bowl and you’ve got the makings for comfort food on a cold evening.

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Easy, Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients

1 package, large flour tortillas
2-16 ounce jars mild salsa, or your favorite (divided)
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (divided)
1 1/4 cup sour cream (divided)

Enchilada ingredients:
1 1/2-2 cups leftover rotisserie chicken, diced or shredded
1- 6 ounce can black olives, cut in half
1 can black beans, drained
4 whole tomatoes, small dice
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup, salsa
1 1/2 – 2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. celery salt
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup sour cream
One can green chiles, drained (optional)
Tabasco sauce for those who like it HOT! (optional)
1/2 cup frozen corn (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Take out tortillas, and allow to come to room temperature.
Add all of the enchilada ingredients into a large bowl. Mix together, until well blended and ingredients are distributed evenly. Taste mixture, and adjust to your own taste.

Pour 1/2 cup of salsa into a large casserole dish; spread around the bottom and 2″ up the sides of the casserole.

Remove one tortilla from the package and place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of mixture into the center. Add a dollop of sour cream. Fold sides into the center and place in casserole dish, seam side down. Repeat until casserole is full.

Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top of the enchiladas. Pour salsa over the cheese and allow sauce to flow down over the sides of the enchiladas to the bottom of the casserole.

Bake in oven for 45 minutes.

Serve with extra sour cream, chopped black olives and grated cheddar cheese.

It was so good, I didn’t have a chance to get a picture after I plated up servings…

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Making Homemade Mascarpone with Two Ingredients

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese with Two Ingredients

Afternoon teatime is a a pleasure enjoying wonderful scones, breads and other goodies with a lovely, fragrant cup of tea. When it comes to baking goodies, several of my recipes call for cream cheese; and I’ve found making my own Italian cream cheese, or mascarpone, is very easy and a wonderful addition in place of Philly. It’s also very inexpensive and makes a lovely gift for a fellow tea lover.

Sitting down to afternoon tea, snuggled on the sofa with magazines or a good book, along with a well-stocked tea tray is pure bliss and should be enjoyed as often as possible. Why not every day? Enjoy! Mariann

Ingredients

1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Instructions

In a heavy saucpan, add whipping cream and gently heat until it reaches 200 degrees F. (I like using an instant-read thermometer for this.) Once it reaches 200 degrees, whisk in cream of tartar. Remove from heat and allow to cool, to room temperature.

While the mixture is cooling. Get out a large bowl, colander, cheesecloth or thin flour-sack towel. (I prefer to use thin flour-sack towels, which I cut in half, for cheese making.) Soak cloth in cold water and wring out, until damp.

Line colander with cloth; and place colander into large bowl for straining the liquid from the cream mixture.

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When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour into the cloth.

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Gather up the ends of the cloth and twist, until liquid begins to seep from the bottom of the cloth. Place cloth ‘bag’ into the colander, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for about 24 hours.

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Remove from refrigerator and unwrap the cloth.

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Scrape cheese into a covered container and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for about one week. Makes about one cup.

Enjoy on toast, scones, bagels and as a replacement in recipes calling for Philadelphia cream cheese.

Recipe has been adapted from The Great Holiday Baking Book, by Beatrice Ojakangas.

Teriyaki Vegetables over Brown Rice

The more I’m learning about the imporance of cooking with fresh ingredients, whole grains and making truly, healthy meals; my ‘go to’ kitchen larder of recipes is rapidly changing.

Having undergone a major health crisis in 2013, I’m reconsidering everything I’ve learned about cooking. In talking with my specialist about food and what is the MOST impactful in maintaining optimum health his words were: vegetables, fruits and whole grains; while limiting meat as much as possible.

I no longer use a microwave for cooking vegetables, and have replaced it with a very large, stainless steel, tiered steamer; it’s perfect for steaming LOTS of veggies. Another plus of steaming, you can use the water left in the pan for making soup.This dish makes a nice lunch or dinner and is loaded great layers of flavor. Enjoy! Annie

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Teriyaki Vegetables Over Brown Rice
Serves 4

Ingredients
6 large carrots, sliced
3 cups of broccoli florets
4 cups of cooked, brown rice

Teriyaki Sauce
½ cup sake
¼ cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)*
¼ cup soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon  sesame oil (can find the Asian food section)
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Measure brown rice to serve four people. Wash rice several times in cool water until the water is clear, and cook in a heavy pan, according to directions on the package. When done, fluff with a fork and cover until ready to serve.

Prepare vegetables. Wash, scrub and peel carrots. Slice into 1/4-inch pieces. Break up a head of broccoli into florets, and keep stems for soup making.

Boil or steam your vegetables. If steaming, fill the bottom pan with water for steaming and bring to a full boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer. (Note: Carrots will take longer to steam than broccoli, so you’ll need to steam them first.) Place as many carrots into the basket as possible to steam. When carrots are tender, place steamed carrots in a large casserole and cover to keep warm. Steam broccoli and place in casserole.

When it comes to steaming veggies, I prefer to steam all of my vegetables at one time; using a large, stainless steel tiered steamer. Begin steaming carrots on the lowest tier for 8 minutes, then add the broccoli to the top tier. Cover and steam until broccoli is done. Keep covered until brown rice and teriyaki sauce are ready.

Teriyaki Sauce
In a medium, heavy saucepan: add sake, murin and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. In a small container, make a slurry of cornstarch and a small amount of water. Add cornstarch mixture to teriyaki misxture and continue stirring until sauce is thickened, and still pourable. Add sesame oil. Stir sauce until well blended. Remove from heat and cover.
*Note: If you’re unable to find murin for this recipe, mix 1/4 cup of sake with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar.

Sccop a generous portion of cooked, brown rice onto a plate. Top with steamed carrots and broccoli; drizzle generously with teriyaki sauce and serve. It’s a simple, and easy way to get more vegetables and whole grain into your diet; all the while, tasting great too. Enjoy! Annie

Almond-Blueberry Tea Cake

Remember the Almond Tea Cake recipe I posted?  Well, here is a delicious variation with the addition of blueberries. It’s sooo easy to make!  Enjoy! Annie

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Almond-Blueberry Tea Cake

Ingredients

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons), melted butter
1/4 cup light, sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons for sprinkling
2 eggs
1 1 /2 cups sifted, all-purpose four
1 pinch of salt
2 cups, fresh blueberries (washed and picked over)
2 tablespoons, flour
1 teaspoon, almond extract
1/3 cup sliced, almonds

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie plate, and set aside.

In a large bowl combine: melted butter, light sour cream and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. With a whisk, beat together until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking until batter is well incorporated and smooth.

In a small bow add: flour and salt. Whisk dry ingredients together, and pour into the batter. Add almond extract. Continue whisking until batter is smooth and well incorporated.

In a small bowl, add blueberries and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour. With a spoon, lightly toss berries so flour completely coats berries. This will prevent berries from sinking to the bottom of the cake while baking. Trust me, it works! Next, add blueberries to batter and gently fold berries into the batter.

The batter will be very thick (that’s normal). Spoon batter into the pie plate. Sprinkle almonds over the batter, and top with sprinkling sugar over the almonds.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until cake is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 45 minutes to one hour. Serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream on the side.

 

Almond Tea Cake

Afternoon tea is one of those pleasant, daily rituals for tea drinkers; akin to coffee lovers, having your morning coffee. It’s a part of your day, and should you skip it…Well, your day just doesn’t feel right. Most of all, YOU don’t feel right.

On a cold, rainy, and blustery day (like today, in Minnesota) you look forward to putting a kettle of water on the stove, setting a tea tray and choosing the perfect tea. Next, you turn your attention to…Food. Begging the question: what will you be enjoying with your tea? This lovely, almond tea cake is the perfect confection to enjoy with a pot of Earl Grey Tea. This *almond tea cake-by any other name, is scrumptious. Enjoy!

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Almond Tea Cake

Ingredients

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons), melted butter
1/4 cup light, sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons for sprinkling
2 eggs
1 1 /2 cups sifted, all-purpose four
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon, almond extract
1/3 cup sliced, almonds

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie plate, and set aside.

In a large bowl combine: melted butter, light sour cream and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. With a whisk, beat together until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking until batter is well incorporated and smooth.

In a small bow add: flour and salt. Whisk dry ingredients together, and pour into the batter. Add almond extract. Continue whisking until batter is smooth and well incorporated.

The batter will be very thick (that’s normal). Spoon batter into the pie plate. Sprinkle almonds over the batter, and top with sprinkling sugar over the almonds.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until cake is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 45 minutes to one hour. Serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream on the side.

*Recipe has been adapted from Sarah Jample’s-Almond Coffee Cake, that appeared on Food52.com
food52.com/recipes/34893-almond-coffee-cake

 

 

 

A Tea Story~Enjoying A Cuppa of Teavana

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Today, I brewed a pot of Teavana’s ‘Peach Tranquility’ and paired it with a lovely slice of panettone from Trader Joes…Tea time delight! The light, buttery texture and citrus flavors complimented the tea perfectly.

A visit to Teavana has been on my ‘To-Do’ list for quite some time. Searching for new sources of tea is a favorite past time of mine and the prospect of tasting new teas is something I look forward to.

My first impression entering the shop was: immaculately clean, well-organized, uncluttered and  displays were attractive and polished. My eyes were drawn to the cast iron tea pots, especially, the blue teapot with birds  circling the outside. I learned the inside is enameled, making  for easy cleaning. My main reason for considering purchasing an iron teapot that costs nearly $100 dollars?  Breakage. I wouldn’t have to replace it due to breakage, hairline cracks and chipping that china, porcelain and earthenware teapots are susceptible to from normal use. However, I did purchase one of their unique, Perfectea Maker teapots that does NOT pour from a spout. You place it over your cup and it pours perfectly strained tea from the underside of the teapot.

The staff: well trained and VERY informative. I was given a tour by a host, and as I asked lots of questions, was provided with knowledgable answers. There is a daily ‘tea du jour’ available for sampling, along with their version of ‘sugar’ was a delightful feature.

After my host gave me a tour of the store, I was directed to the counter overlooking an entire wall of tea. There were so many categories of tea, I was a bit overwhelmed where to begin. Thankfully, the store was not busy at the time of my visit, so I could take my time and not feel hurried as my host took me through the different categories. I was impressed I could see and smell each tea I requested. The assortment was dizzying to keep track of, and  even though I had quite a good idea what I wanted to bring home and sample…I was intrigued by the variety flavored teas. In the end, I chose quite a variety to bring home consisting of: flavored, herbal, green, white and black teas.

One suggestion: Visit Teavana’s website (www.teavana.com) before visiting one of their stores.

Now about price: Teavana teas are a bit pricey, compared to other tea suppliers, like Harney & Sons. However, you can see and smell teas before you buy them and have your questions answered on the spot. Another plus: you can re-brew a pot of tea several  times in succession without losing flavor.

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Forgoing purchasing tea tins, I placed all of the teas in canning jars and transferred the labels when I arrived home. I was excited to use Teavana’s Perfectea Maker for the first time, and have to admit, it’s ingenious design makes brewing and straining a pot of loose tea, simple and easy.

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In the morning, ‘Oprah Chai’ is a favorite of mine and delightful anytime during the day. Herbal teas are very soothing in the evening. Black teas are refreshing and flavored teas add wonderful variety to tea time. It’s a bit of a culinary adventure pairing flavored teas with different desserts to experience new taste sensations.

Visiting Teavana is a pleasant tea adventure! If you’re a first time customer….Visit their website (write down a list of teas you’d like to see) and plan your visit to a store. Find a time when the store is not busy so you can take your time, ask plenty of questions and peruse the wall of tea at your leisure. Most of all, have fun! XO Annie

 

 

 

Cooking Recipes of Jacques Pepin~ Egg and Swiss Chard Gratin

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Growing up, my mother and I watched cooking televisions together. Julia Child was a marvel and the one she most identified with, The Galloping Gourmet was the most entertaining (she loved his British accent) and her favorite was…Jacques Pepin. She cooked dishes very much like his, made with fresh vegetables, sauces and stock she made from scratch.

We NEVER went out to eat in restaurants and when McDonald’s opened a fast-food place in town, she was perplexed at the thought of “fast food”.  She cooked every meal with what she had on hand from a menu she created from weekly sales posted in the newspaper or what was featured at the butcher’s. She could poach eggs perfectly (my favorite) and even though her kitchen was very simple, without the latest gadgetry (we didn’t have a dishwasher or a microwave; toaster ovens and food processors hadn’t been invented yet) she turned out wonderful food . Her goulash, salads, ice box cookies, dressing, and hamburgers are still talked about…and those are just a few of her recipes she became well-known for in our family. Every fall, I crave her vegetable stew and yams sweetened with maple syrup.

I’ve continued watching cooking programs on PBS and Jacques Pepin is still MY favorite. His new series, “Jacques Pepin Heart & Soul” is an intimate look into his career in the kitchen, special moments in his life and family all wrapped up in his final series. I’m looking forward to more episodes and purchasing his book.

This recipe featured in the Episode ‘Recipes at Le Pelican’ was inspiring! So much so, I immediately went out and bought the ingredients I didn’t have on hand, and made it the next day! It’s very easy to make and it’s layered with marvelous flavors. I added diced, smoked country ham and  it complemented the dish perfectly!  This recipe is recreated from my notes…

I miss you, Mom.


 


Eggs and Swiss Chard Gratin

Recipe adapted from Jacques Pepin’s book: “Heart & Soul”

A bunch of Swiss Chard (I used rainbow Swiss chard)

1 cup mushrooms, washed and sliced

1 1/2 cups smoked country ham, diced in small cubes

8 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled (2 eggs per person) and sliced

1 1/2 cups Swiss cheesse, grated

Salt and pepper

Béchamel Sauce

1 tablespoon, flour

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup milk

Pinch of salt and pepper.

In a sauce pan melted 1 tablespoon of butter, add 1 tablespoon of flour and stirring with a whisk stir flour mixture for several minutes, add milk, salt and pepper. Stir continually until sauce is thickened. 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Lightly butter casserrole dish. Wash and slice mushrooms. Peel (under cool, running water) and slice, hard-boiled eggs.

Preheat a large pan on the stove over medium heat. Wash  (do not dry) Swiss chard and chop into 2-inch segments. Place wet chard in pan and a pinch of salt; reduce heat to low, cover and steam. Check often so it doesn’t burn. Note: It may appear to be a lot of chard, but it drastically cooks down to a small amount. Place witled chard in bottom of casserole. Return pan to heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter. When melted add sliced mushrooms and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Assemble casserole

Place chard on the bottom as the first layer. Followed by a layer of cooked, sliced mushrooms, then layer country ham. Arrange  sliced, hard boiled eggs over the ham. Ladle bechamel sauce over layers and top with  grated, Swiss cheese.

Bake at 350-degrees until cheese is completely melted and lightly browned. Serve.

A Tea Time Story~ Rose Themed Tea with a Long Distance Friend

The other day, the mail arrived. Normally, it’s a ‘meh’ moment until I spotted a package that was addressed to me from my friend, Karen, who lives in Wisconsin. Karen and I met on Facebook when I posted a picture of a mismatched, vintage set of china with a lovely rose pattern.  Karen contacted me and mentioned she had a beautiful platter with a rose pattern, and would I like to have it. A few days later, it arrived and it was a perfect mismatch. Can there be such a thing? YES! Is it possible to have a dear, close friend…Even though you’ve never met them? YES!

In our chats together,  we discovered we were kindred spirits in our many, shared interests and have been friends ever since.


However, on this particular day, her  package held  a lovely surprise…Russian Tea Cakes! As it happened, I was making a tea tray and her package held the perfect, made-from-scratch treat! Karen also included her family recipe for these melt in your mouth cookies and it made my day! What a marvelous treat from a sweet and thoughtful friend.

 My rose themed tea tray set with Roy Kirkham ‘English Rose’ China and Karen’s melt in your mouth, buttery Russian tea cakes served with Harney & Sons~Rose Scented Tea. I’m sharing her wonderful recipe with you! Thank you, Karen !

Karen’s Russian Tea Cakes

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cups finely chopped nuts

Directions:

Cream together butter and sugar and flour, gradually. Add salt and work with hands to mix. Add vanilla and nuts. Roll into balls. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 14-17 minutes at 400-degrees. While still warm, roll in confectioner’s sugar and when cool, roll again. Enjoy, Kathy!