Top Recipes For 2017

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It was this same time a year ago I began to struggle with writer’s block. What to Write? What to write? What to write? Like last year, I got nothin’! So instead I will share YOUR top 3 favorite recipes from 2017. BTW-your favorites are for sure some of mine. May love always guide you in the kitchen.

Sweet William's Fancy

inspired by Will

Not one bit surprised that the recipe that got me started writing this blog makes the top list for the second time. Who doesn’t love a perfectly crisp chocolate chip cookie with a soft inside spiked with bourbon? Click here for the recipe.

 

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Next up a heart-warming nourishing bowl of soup that features wild rice. It’s perfect for the crazy cold winter we are having all over the country. Click here for the recipe.

 

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Pretty sure this third and final recipe made the list not only because people seem to love everything cheesecake, but also because it was a Food Network Magazine prize winner. Getting a little national attention never hurts in the blogosphere. Get the recipe right here.

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Food is the common denominator that brings all kinds of people together at the table

Gather the ones you love most as often as you can.

More Happiness in 2018

 

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A Gift From A Stranger

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This week I found myself in a jewelry store while running errands with my daughter. She was having her rings cleaned and making a return. While she browsed, the store owner, a friendly young man named Peter, started a conversation with me. This is how it went.

Peter: How many children do you have?

Me: Two. Caitlin is my oldest. (hesitation) …..And I have a son who is deceased. He died just before his 23rd birthday

Peter: Oh, I am so sorry (hesitation)……how old was he?

Me: He died just before his 23rd birthday

Peter: (now a little flustered) that’s right you just told me that I am sorry

Me: It’s okay it’s been quite a few years since he died

Peter: What happened?

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Needless to say Peter opened the door for a long conversation about who William was and where he had been in his life. Peter ended the conversation by saying: “It sounds like your son lived out a dream. He knew what he was born to do at such a young age. He’s quite amazing. We should never forget him.” I told Peter that I loved talking about my son and thanked him for the conversation. In a room of diamonds and sapphires it is a conversation with a stranger that is the most precious gift.

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Another gift I just received is a small crop of meyer lemons. I care for a potted plant that spends warm days outside and frigid ones indoors. In return I am gifted a juicy crop. This year a half dozen of lovely lemons. Meyer lemons are readily available in the grocery store this time of year, but if you can’t find them substitute a mix of fresh lemon and orange juice.

Meyer Lemon Grilled Butter Shrimp

3 tablespoons dry white wine plus additional for soaking skewers

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1-tablespoon fresh meyer lemon juice

1 teaspoon of honey

4 garlic cloves, grated

2 tablespoons chopped parsley plus additional for garnish

1 pound extra-large shrimp, shelled and deveined (about 20 shrimp)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper, plus additional for garnish

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

4 slices meyer lemon

Soak 4 to 6 wooden skewers in Mark West Pinot Grigio for 30 minutes. In a bowl, mix 3 tablespoons wine, 1 tablespoon of oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic and parsley. Season the shrimp with kosher salt and pepper and add to the bowl, tossing to coat with marinade. Let stand for 15 minutes. Thread the shrimp onto skewers. Brush shrimp with half the melted butter; sprinkle with Aleppo pepper. Grill the shrimp, on a lightly greased grill pan, over moderate heat, basting with remaining butter and turning, until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, brush lemon slices with remaining teaspoon of oil. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Grill lemons for about 2 minutes per side; serve with shrimp. Garnish with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper, if desired. 

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Tip: if using frozen shrimp look for bags labeled: IQF (Individual Quick Freezing) for better tasting and well shaped product. As always buy American.

 

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A Good Gift? & Pie

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What is a good gift for one who is grieving? Acknowledgement of how hard it must be for them during the holidays. Just a simple heartfelt statement about how much that person must be missed. It doesn’t matter how long the person has been gone. The longing for them to be at the table or searching for the pickle on the tree or exchanging gifts is the same. Just a simple statement and a warm embrace will make a difference. No festive wrapping paper or bow required.

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The recognition of a person’s grief allows them to relax a bit. It allows them to remove the happy mask and just be themselves. It releases that tension in the jaw and that need to escape to a quiet place where tears can be shed alone. No one wants to be “Debbie Downer” this time of year, so help release the sorrow and fine the joy. Just a few simple words are all it takes. Trust me.

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Happy New Year. I hope so. Out with the old and in with the new. A purge. I usually start by cleaning out my pantry, my fridge and my freezer. A fresh start with a hearty meal to brave the cold weather ahead.

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Here is a recipe I created cleaning out all my holiday leftovers. A most delicious pie I enjoyed a few years back from a local food truck inspires it. A savory combination of beef, cheese and onions in a flaky crust will do nicely with the addition of some mushrooms. The food truck, “Nomadic Pies” enjoyed such success that they were able to open up a brick and mortar store in my sweet town of Kennett Square. If you’re not a baker (you should be) try a Nomadic pie. Every flavor is delicious and makes a great gift if you want to spread a little comfort and joy in the new year.

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A great piecrust recipe is crucial to a great pie. The standard is a mix of flour, salt, fat and water, but I usually try and change it up a bit wanting the crust to enhance the filling. Since I am baking a beef pie I change out the water for beef broth. It offers a subtle flavor and golden color change to the crust I like very much. Before starting make sure all your ingredients are icy cold to insure that flaky crust. I like to grate my butter into the flour and salt mixture.

Savory Pie Crust Dough

Makes enough dough for 4 (5-inch) or 1 (10-inch) double crust pies

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

4 grinds fresh black pepper

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (very cold or frozen)

6 tablespoons low sodium beef broth

Whisk flour, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Grate butter over the top. Toss it well with a fork insuring the butter gets separated into bits and coated with the dry mixture. Add broth, two tablespoons at a time, tossing mixture around with the fork. Using your hands, bring the dough together into a ball. Flatten like a pancake and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 30 minutes which allows the dough to hydrate evenly. Roll out your dough to fit your pie pans. 

Now for the filling.

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Beefy Mushroom & Gruyere Pie

2 sweet onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups sliced cremini (baby bella) mushrooms

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1-cup low sodium beef broth

½ cup heavy cream plus additional for brushing over pies before baking

2 cups diced leftover cooked beef (prime rib, steak whatever you have)

salt and pepper

2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

2 chopped green onions

finishing salt of your choice (I used The Spice Lab Hickory Smoked)

In a skillet, cook onions in 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes or until golden brown and caramelized. Transfer onions to a bowl. In same skillet, cook mushrooms in remaining butter until they have released their liquid and brown. Sprinkle with flour, cook 2 minutes, stirring. Stir in broth and cream; bring to a boil. Let mixture reduce until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in beef. Season well with salt and pepper. Line Pie plate with pastry. Spread half the cheese over bottom of pastry. Top with an even layer of onions. Spoon mushroom-beef mixture evenly over onions. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and green onions. Dab a small amount of cold water on bottom crust edge. Cover pie with top crust. Seal and flute edges. Brush top of pie lightly with heavy cream and sprinkle with finishing salt. Cut slits in top of pie for steam to escape while baking. Bake at 400F for 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling hot.

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Finishing off the crust before baking with a light glaze of cream and salt

The products featured in this blog post are things I actually like and use all the time. I was not paid to feature or endorse them. This is not a sponsored post.

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These pies went into the freezer for future meals. Do not make steam vents or glaze if the plan is to freeze them for later.