19 November 2015

Pecan Sandies

Today was a milk and cookies kind of day. I spent the morning baking Ina Garten's foolproof Pecan Sandies and playing Words With Friends. Periodically, I'd stare out the back window into the grey foggy drizzle that's coating New England, then back at the cheery blaze in the kitchen wood stove.

The idea of baking cookies and reheating some chicken noodle soup for a cozy lunch was particularly tempting, as it kept me in the warm kitchen. Must be getting old. I find the warmth far better for my bones than being outside on a day like today!

18 November 2015

Traditions ... Spinach Bars Get Their Due

Most foodies have onions, eggs, milk, flour, and frozen spinach ... yes? Add a few spices, mushrooms, leavening, some cheese and ... VOILA!

12 November 2015

Savory Pumpkin Empanadas

Snacks are always an important part of our holiday celebrations. I've always got a few plates and platters set out long before the main meal. Folks always say they'll spoil their appetite, but they manage to knosh a few bites of everything and STILL clean their plate! I'm trying these empanadas because they give a 'pumpkin spin' on a classic Spanish tapas offering. They'd be a fun snack for a Thanksgiving feast or for our traditional New Years Eve tapas dinner.

We'll see how they go down at a little get together this evening. I tried one and liked them; they have a soft herbal pumpkin flavour but  I feel they need more to them.. SB has tried one, too, and feels they need a bit more spice ... hmm. Perhaps more ham ... a switch-up with the prosciutto I used and larger cubes of German speck ? A smokier cheese, maybe? Some red pepper flakes? Like I said, I like them, but they could be even better. Having them with a crisp white wine would be a real treat! I'll have to think on it and get some other folks' opinions too. Nothing like experimenting on your friends! We'll put our heads together and get this filling right!

As for the empanada dough, using a conventional pie crust is pretty perfect. It crispy and flaky and has an easy bite. However, I found that one needs two full pie crust recipes - in other words enough pie crust for two two-crust pies. The filling , as stated in the recipe will easily make 60 two-bite empanadas and that's enough for a good Thanksgiving crowd! One could easily make these ahead of time and freeze them on cookie sheets. Bagging up frozen empanadas would allow you to bake as many or as few as you wish. Just a thought ...

If you decide to experiment with this filling recipe and come up with some neat additions, do let me know! One last point. Do use mashed pumpkin and NOT pumpkin pie filling ... just sayin'.

Savory Pumpkin Empanadas


1 recipe for double crust pie crust
1- 15 oz can pumpkin pulp
1 large egg
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground sage
1/8 tsp. ground thyme
2 tbsp. whole milk
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
5 slices of Spanish ham or Italian prosciutto, fried crisp and chopped small

small dish of cold water for sealing the empanadas
small dish of beaten egg for glazing the empanada crusts

Making the Empanadas:

  1. Chill the pie crust dough. While it chills, crisp the ham and chop it. Mix the other ingredients and add the cooled ham. Mix well.
  2. Pre heat the oven to 400 Degrees F.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll the crust out and cut 3 1/2 inch circles.
  4. Place a teaspoonful of pumpkin filling just off center. Moisten the edges of the circle at the edges with water. Fold over and seal with a fork.
  5. Place on the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, leaving some space between each empanada. Brush with the egg glaze.
  6. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until golden and shiny.
  7. Cool slightly before serving or leave in a single layer on a big platter and re-heat when you wish to serve them.

24 October 2015

Frosted Carrot and Parsnip Cake

Nothing fancy here, unless you think that a cooked meringue frosting and candied orange and lemon peel embellishment makes for a fancy cake. This carrot and parsnip cake had butter instead of the more traditional oil component to the batter, brown sugar instead of white sugar, and golden raisins added with the grated carrots and parsnips. There are no nuts, no pineapple, no added falderal.

It's a tall cake, made in an 8-inch spring form and slipped to a pretty cake plate shortly after coming from the oven. I cooled it and then slipped it under the cake dome overnight to let the residual warmth in the cake create a moist environment to soften the crumb crust at the outer edges and top.

30 September 2015

Christmas Spiced Chocolate Torte - Thanks, Nigella!

I haven't been making a lot of sweets of late, but today was a rainy day - all grey and sullen, buckets of rain pouring down and this end of the state under flood watch. I was in need of sweets. To boot, my friend Dom posted a round-up of cakes that his blogging friends posted in honor of his birthday month. I digested about a million calories worth of food porn along with my morning coffee. The temptation was just TOO GREAT!

When the urge hits, a chocolate cake is called for, don't you think? I scrounged around looking for just the right chocolate buzz and found it on Nigella Lawson's website. This slice of heaven is a combination of chocolate, orange zest, expresso powder, sugar, eggs, and almond flour. Yes! It's a flourless torte that reminds me of those chocolate oranges that come foil wrapped at Christmas time!

28 September 2015

Rustic Turkey and Spinach Tart

I've decided to try serving our main meal of the day at the middle of the day - hence, what I would normally call lunch will be more like a dinner meal. That's hard for me, as years of eating a fast bite in the middle of the school day has become ingrained.

21 September 2015

Cajun Style Eggs in Purgatory with Cheesy Polenta

Sunday night and an easy cozy dinner is called for ... it was cooler today. Fall has arrived!

12 September 2015

Prune Plum Danish with Almond Sugar Glaze

Walking into a lovely, sparkling clean patisserie is one of life's greatest pleasures, don't you think? It's as if all the sweetness of life is laid out under glass just waiting for you to take your pick of the choicest, most perfect dream. For me, a layered Danish is always so tempting. The pastry cream that sits as the base to whatever seasonal fruit is at its peak is such a soft and smooth taste treat. Add flaky puff pastry crust and that ubiquitous sugar glaze and it's a sealed deal for me!