Sunday, March 1, 2009

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Way up high. There’s a cake that I heard of once on the internet…. I know corny…. work with me people!

While on the quest for the perfect dessert for Lizzie’s perfect luncheon; my crowded brain was racing at manic speed (nothing new). Considered mile high lemon meringue pie; did lemon curd in meringues last year…. cream brulee, 5 flavor pound cake, something chocolate??? Hmm, too predictable…. Perhaps fruit tart with a spun sugar topping??? Decided fruit would go best with the main course. Madly searched the net & suddenly there she was; a psychedelic angel. Needless to say; I feel in love with the picture of this Rainbow Angel Food Cake. OMG factor & it screams spring! Ain’t she pretty!!!

This is a grown up version of the kid’s Rainbow Cake dedicated & highly patient mom’s bake up for their kid’s birthday parties. My inspiration came from a picture of Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake mix.
Being an overachiever, didn’t want to compromise my craft so I made the angel food cake from scratch. Something about beating all those egg whites (13 - count 'em) into glorious, silky, shiny clouds makes me happy, happy, happy. At this point some of you smarter folks are pondering there ain’t butter in angel food cake; hold on to your thongs…. patience my friends.

The finished cake is pretty, delicate & lovely, lovely, lovely. For sure has the “WOW” factor. Ribbony levels of color, The Devil Made Me Do It Butter Cream Icing & the sugared flowers will compliment Lizzie’s Garden. Pretty, pretty, pretty; although I did space on the order of the colors.....

Lizzie had a looksee & was a little overwhelmed by the array of colors so I am offering her up Rainbow Angel’s step cousin Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White Angel*. “Step” Cousin because she did come from the Betty Crocker box….. She came out allot taller than her Cuz; I’m thinking Rainbow is jealous…. She can relax; the cake mix was dreadful & wouldn’t slice right so no inside peek; it is a lovely pink. That being tall thing is soooo overrated! Did I say dreadful; it was horrible, the worst, don’t waste your time bad. The baked from scratch is wonderful!!!
*Name courtesy of FB Social Director Extraordinaire Lynne Belcher Burgess who sent me a game on Facebook where you find the Billboard #1 hit the day you were born. Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White was #1 June 11, 1955 & after watching the video realized it was the perfect name for Pinky!

Angel Food Cake
I went with a recipe from All About Cakes and it is heavenly!!! Thanks Rose; she really has her "groove on" when it comes to cakes!
Note; I used lemon juice & 1tsp. zest instead of extracts
Food Coloring
To make rainbow divide mixture into 3 equal portions in separate bowls & fold in 6/8 drops of desired food coloring thoroughly. Pour each layer into angel food pan; level as you go to get out air pockets.
For one color add about 8/10 drops of food coloring & fold into cake thoroughly.

The Devil Made Me Do it Butter Cream Icing
From Serious Cakes
Note; I used lemon juice instead of white vanilla & 1 tsp. zest

Gum drops; flattened & shaped

Plated up the girl needed a little pizzazz; I went with whipped cream but ran out of time to shoot pic. Send me your ideas!
Want Elaine happy, happy, happy & from her comment she is looking for something chocolate; I've got the perfect thing!!! Next week! I know I'm such a tease....

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, Why, oh, why can't I?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ladies Who Lunch & A Kick Ass Dessert

It’s the time of year when I begin brainstorming with my BFF Elizabeth for her annual Spring Luncheon. Sweet Lizzie is all about tempting food but ain’t big on cooking; go figure??? My gain as I get to cater the big event. We’re a great team; she’s a nervous wreck & I get to boss everybody around! For me it’s all about an over the top presentation; gotta have that "OMG" factor. Intense pressure here; I have to outdo myself every year & Dramatic is my middle name!

The ladies who gather are Lizzie’s Book Club which has been meeting for 29 years! They are 12 strong; I believe its 27 kids’, 16 marriages & 21 grandchildren among this tight knit circle. Swear to goodness you will never meet a nicer gang! They are soooo appreciative; one reason I keep coming back is they lather me in praise & adoration; y’all know I crave that…. It’s that middle kid thing….

Another perk is Lizzie’s precious & adorable daughter, Elaine; who happens to be one of my biggest fans! Did I tell you how smart she is? The luncheon gives us a chance to catch up & she gets so excited about the menus. Backing into this year’s selections by doing the dessert first as Elaine loves her something sweet (weighs about 90 pounds… how does that work???) She was less than thrilled with the chicken last week & I need to reel her back in; not to fear I got a couple of tricks up my sleeve!

Officially in obsessive/compulsive mode plotting, planning & charting a manic course for the perfect spread for Lizzie’s Ladies! At this point it’s all about choices; I will be presenting the Mother/Daughter duo with 2 butterific desserts & see what they decide.

This week’s selection is;

Caramelized Pears & Stilton Cheese
Serves 6
My version of Americas Test Kitchen Recipe; great video & tips at; Americas Test Kitchen On Demand; see desserts, you have to sign up for videos; highly recommend!

1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
3 firm pears; slice in half, leave stem on one si
de & scoop out seeds with small end of melon
baller, cut off bottom of pear; do not peel
1 cup cream

½ tsp course ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
8 ounces Stilton Cheese or any Danish Bleu will work
Smidgen of Kosher or flaky sea salt
Large non stick skillet with lid

Heat skillet over medium/low. Add water & pile sugar in middle of pan & shake pan; do not stir ( this will keep sugar from crystallizing) continue till sugar is dissolved & bubbling. Add pears cut side down, place lid on skillet & simmer medium/low slightly bubbling not full bubbles; (continue to check bubbles during this step & keep them small). Cover 10/15 minutes till pears are semi-tender but still firm to touch; do not overcook, (I did first pass….) begin to check pears at 10 minutes. Note; they still have more cooking time after this step & you don't want them too soft in the end.

Take off lid & crank up heat to medium/high to increase size of bubbles; shake pan to move sauce around & caramelize bottom of pears & sauce about 3/5 minutes or slightly longer. Watch for sauce to begin to caramelize; it will turn pale amber. Watch carefully; check bubbles & continue to watch for color change while you continue to shake pan. Once it has reached warm amber cut heat off & pour in cream; loosen up pears from bottom of pan with tongs; they will have a nice caramel bottom. Continue to move pan in circular motion to incorporate cream; you can begin to scrape down sides with a spatula. Turn heat back on & simmer 3/5 minutes to slightly thicken sauce; scraping sides as you go.

Remove pears & place on cooling rack; skin side down. Watch out sauce is very hot; remove from heat & stir in pepper & butter; pour into dish cooling slightly; it will thicken more off heat. Plate up by drizzling sauce over dish & stand pears upright; if they crash, which they might, drizzle some sauce in the hole; YUM!!! Scatter a little salt over top. Adorn plate with cheese; I added star fruit for drama.

Tips; use firm pears; this does not work with ripe pears. Slant back from center of pear when cutting bottom as they will look better on the plate at a slight pitch. When scooping out seeds move as close up to top of pear as possible as this will give you a stronger base for standing pears.

First let me say; This is divine!!! The sweet & salty thing rocks; the savory pepper & stilton are pure manna from heaven. It's definitely got the "OMG" thing going on. Howeva’ the luncheon is in the spring & after indulging I’m thinking this a bit of a wintery (spell check hated this one….) dish. Lizzie’s passion is her spectacular garden, come time for the party it will be breathtaking; want to be sure the feeling of the dish will compliment her celebration of floral & fauna. Sorta’ pissed as I was “gun ho” on this one; we’ll see what the girls think.
Off to contemplate round 2….. Sorry, gotta keep you in suspense; want you back next week! I have an enchanting surprise!!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Agony Of Defeat & A Brined Bird

How can I face the world of bloggers after the devastation of losing the competitions…….. so humiliating after being all cocky parading around last week telling anyone who would listen that I was a shoe in. It gets worse; I even wrote an acceptance speech…… Drama, theatrics & over reacting …… the shrink says it is classic middle child syndrome.

Quickly found solace by finding another cocktail recipe to use up all the leftover blood oranges over at The Hungry Mouse; the pictures are to die for! Like drowning my sorrows in alcohol would help..... Luckily precious Chelsea at aqua poppy designs emailed my new blog design was ready! Yippee! So excited!!! Have been collaborating with Chelsea; my new best friend & she did this amazing custom design! Check her out! She has stock designs or she will do a custom design that suits your personality; she definitely captured mine! Did you notice how my “hair do” resembles the pat of butter? Cute, huh?

The new design definitely took my mind off my grief from losing the competitions. Not to be a sore loser I have added the link for the winners over at alchemist chef & A Southern Grace; as you can see I was up against some pretty stiff competition; kudos to the winners!

Sought further therapeutic measures from the defeat & looking for a cure for my ginormous hangover turned to one of my favorite comfort dishes; Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Onions. An exhilarating moment of the preparation is massaging the chicken. My hero Julia Child said “Many aspects of my method are based on my feeling and experience. For instance, I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it—and, more important, I like to give it.” Love her! No doubt she is up in heaven fixing up a scrumptious Béarnaise as I type.

Brining the chicken is key to a moist, succulent bird. Have fun with the brining! I used lemons, salt & sugar to make her quite the diva! I thought about adding a shot or 2 of tequila but I am trying to lay off the sauce. Sweets; my precious Mother always ahead of her time, for years has soaked her chicken overnight in salted water. Let me say she was clueless this process was called brining but she always says “Sweetie Lamb, don’t forget to soak your bird.” A little salt goes along away; for brining tips see What's Cooking America or . Roasting the chicken over the potatoes & onions will have you shouting; “Taste like another.” A lemon placed in the chicken cavity is sheer genius.

Recipe Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Onions

½ cup kosher or sea salt
¼ cup sugar
¼ lemon juice; add some zest for extra punch!
2 cups warm water
1 ½ quarts cold water
1 Chicken Free Range rocks (about 3/4 pounds), giblets discarded

Other Ingredients
4 large sliced potatoes; I used Yukon gold & left the skin on; if you use red potatoes; quarter
1 Large sweet onion sliced
3 to 4 cloves of peeled garlic (this is up for your discretion- I used 6…..)
4/5 basil leaves
1 lemon
Butter 3 tbsp.
Salt & pepper to your taste

Brine Chicken: Combine salt, sugar & 2 cups of warm water; allow to dissolve, add lemon juice. Place chicken in large container that will fit in your fridge with submerged chicken. Cover with salt, sugar & lemon water & add 1 1/2 quarts cold tap water; cover chicken completely; add more water if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels; this is important as it makes for crispier skin. Lift the chicken skin (carefully - do not tear skin) under the breast, legs & neck end; give it a good massage with butter, salt & pepper, inside & out; scatter the basil leaves under the skin. Place pierced lemon inside the bird; if lemon is too large cut in half. I added a couple of basil leaves in the cavity. Tie legs together with twine.

Layer onions, potatoes & garlic in oiled roasting pan; salt & pepper as you go. Place chicken on V rack or on top of roasting pan grill breast side up, twist wings under bird to lift up & place over potatoes, onions & garlic.
Roast about 1 ½ hours until chicken is medium golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast and thigh registers about 160 and 175 degrees, respectively (start checking at an hour as this depends on size of chicken & your oven.)

Allow chicken to rest for about 15 minutes. Carve chicken; squeeze lemon over chicken & and serve with potatoes, onions and garlic.

The chick definitely massaged my soul!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Be Still My Heart!!!

Being ADD (ADD DRAMA DAILY) I’ve been all over the map preparing to submit to my first Foodie Blog contests. The choices are endless & the competition is fierce. Let me just say Foodies are a cult to be reckoned with. Usually one with nerves of steel, I am a nervous wreck. My heart is palpitating like a whore in church. Haven’t been this worked up since I tried out for Jr. High Cheerleading.

Have narrowed the field & will enter The Alchemist Chef’s Valentine’s Day Recipe Competition & A Southern Grace’s Cinnamon Celebration. Totally changed gears from last week where I was considering my S’mores Brownies as the entry. Decided I needed an edge with the judges….

Put my investigative skills to work & did a little digging into how to get the attention of the Alchemist Chef. Discovered from snooping around her blog she is a sucker for blood oranges. Also noticed she likes her some lemon curd, hmmm? Bingo! Going with Hearts Afire Blood Orange Curd Meringues. Obviously I consider butter a food group….. another staple in my life is lemon curd; tweaked it by making it with the current darling of the Foodie World; blood oranges.

Sidebar; while doing research on The Alchemist Chef ran across her recipe for Blood Orange Martini. Felt compelled to test last night as I had all the ingredients and figured it would be a bonding experience for me & AC. Fast forward; had to rush out this AM to get more oranges when I awoke to one lone blood orange sitting on the counter next to an empty bottle of Grey Goose. Did I mention the bloody headache?? Inside voice pleeezzzz. The martinis were well worth the mad dash to Whole Paycheck.

For the Cinnamon Celebration over at A Southern Grace I am going to submit Sugar & Spice & Everything Naughty Pastry Hearts. These are loaded up with cinnamon; the key ingredient to get me in the door. Pecans have a special place in my heart & will add the perfect touch. A Southern Grace is a Southern born gal, got my fingers crossed the pecans will capture her heartstrings. She is now residing above the Mason Dixon so I added a little maple syrup as it is made up there somewhere ….

I am shamelessly “sucking up” to the judges….

Blood Orange Curd
4 eggs room temp.
1 egg yolk room temp.
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Juice of 2 lemons
½ tsp lemon rind
Juice of 3 blood oranges
½ tsp orange rind
1 stick butter

Whisk eggs, sugar & salt in metal bowl or pan for double boiler. Place over simmering water. Whisk in juices & rinds. Whisk constantly (not too fast) till thick; 7 to 10 minutes. Don’t freak at the foam that forms; it will reincorporate into curd later. Curd will become a lovely blush color.

Remove from heat & add butter 1 Tbsp at time; whisk till melted & blend thoroughly.

Cool slightly, place in container & cover surface with plastic wrap; chill for several hours.

Meringue Hearts
Do not attempt on humid days as they will be weepy & gooey

4 large egg whites- room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup superfine sugar or 1 cup regular sugar
Preheat oven to 250°F.
I traced 4 hearts around a large heart shaped cookie cutter onto baking liner paper & flipped over.

Beat egg whites until foamy in large bowl with electric mixer. Mix in cream of tartar & salt. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at medium speed until stiff peaks form about 10/15 minutes.

Spread a small amount of meringue within each heart about ½ inch high. Put remaining meringue into pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe meringue in heart shape up outer edge; I went around twice. For plain shells, shape a cloud bowl using the back of a large spoon.

Bake 1 hour until firm. Turn oven off and let dry several hours or overnight. Do not open oven or they will turn brown.
Made 4 hearts

Assembly Hearts Afire

Spoon curd into hearts; try not to eat much so you can fill 4 hearts; I filled 2 ½…..
Hearts are syrup with blood orange juice & cinnamon red hearts; added a little water & melted. Reduced to a syrup. Drop round ½ teaspoonful of syrup on curd & drag a wooden skewer/toothpick through top to below bottom of circle trailing off to make heart.

Option II
Blushing Heart Meringues
Serve with whipped cream & adorn with sliced blood orange quarter to pretty it up.

Sugar & Spice & Everything Naughty Pastry Hearts

These are a spin on Sugar & Spice Straws at Puff

1 sheet Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)

1 egg, beaten with a dash salt
2 Tbs. maple Syrup
2 tbs. melted butter

2/3 cup finely chopped pecans – this is important – you will see why when you roll the dough second time….
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Thaw pastry at room temperature 30 min. Preheat oven to 350°F. Set rack at the middle level of the oven. Line a 15"x10" jelly-roll pan with parchment paper.

Mix egg and salt. Mix sugar, nuts & cinnamon

Open pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll into 12" square. Brush pastry with egg mixture, maple syrup & butter. Sprinkle nut mixture over half of pastry. Fold other pastry half over nut filling. Slide onto a pan and refrigerate 30 min. or until pastry is firm.

Roll pastry on lightly floured surface into 12" square. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough crosswise into 24 (1/2: wide) strips. Twist the top of each strip in one direction and the bottom in an opposite direction several times to form a corkscrew shape. Place each twist into a circle pinching the ends into a pointed tip; Push in center opposite side of tips & press into heart shape, pressing center of heart firmly into pan. Place hearts opposite directions across pan so tips are going in opposite direction across the width of pan. Original recipe says to refrigerate again till firm; I did not, seemed fine…. Probably want to do if weather is warm.

Bake about 20 min. or until well puffed and well caramelized. Cool in pan on wire rack 5 min. Store hearts between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container. Makes 24 hearts.

Off to dip the pastry hearts into the blood orange curd; lawzy I feel a food coma coming on.

Be Still my Heart!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super, Super Sunday!!!

Stay Home Sunday ended last week… good thing coz for sure I will be out & about today; gotta get ready for the Big Game! I am clueless about who plays, who wins, who cares, blah blah blah. I am going to bake my mouthwatering S’mores Brownies for my BFF Mary Ellen’s party. Knowing I ain’t a game girl she invites me with the promise I will bring the goodies. These will have everyone screaming "Can I have S'more?"

Doing double duty this AM; baking for the party & taking pic’s of my entry into Alchemist Chef’s Valentine Day Recipe Contest. Surely these decadent morsels are bound to capture the attention of the judges! My pic’s not so much as I have been in “picture taking hell” trying to get photo’s with the proper lighting effects. Always one to seek out experts I consult Cute Chris; IT Guy at work who fancies himself a photographer. After viewing my recent efforts he says to me “BB, these pictures suck….” Esteem building comments like this fire me up to do better. He gives me tips on filtering the light, beaming in lights from all directions & encourages me to buy a tripod; yeah like that will fit in my kitchen…. Being resourceful; one of his “filtering the light tips” had me grabbing a pair of yellow panties from the laundry basket (clean) sitting near the kitchen to add a “glow” to the aura.

SCORE!!! It turned out to be a brilliant twist as you can see the pictures are near perfect.

One of my most sought out recipes is S’Mores Brownies. This recipe came about years ago when I was under pressure to make a last minute offering for an office party. Had 4 of the ingredients for 7 Layer Bars & some marshmallows and as my life goes it was midnight before the gathering. Panic paved the way for this “melt on your thighs” concoction. Sugar buzz from these gems will definitely illicit a little back field in motion!

S’Mores Brownies

Preheat Oven to 325F

One stick of Butter melted and browned for extra flava’
2 packs of Graham Crackers (about 2 ½ cups) crushed- not too fine keep some small bits in there for texture.
1 can of Condensed Milk; I am a Borden’s Gal
6 ounces Chocolate Chips
One small bag mini marshmallows
10.5 ounces

Stir together butter, graham crackers and condensed milk with a wooden spoon; add chips*. Spread in greased 8’x11’ baking pan- for thicker brownies use 8’x8’ bake on 350F for 30 minutes.
* For a more chocoholic experience sprinkle chips on top of brownies

Bake for 30 minutes on middle rack. Change to broil. Dump marshmallows on top & return to oven; toast till golden; about 5 minutes- keep your eye on the prize! Cut brownies while still warm; cool a bit & remove from pan.

Working on a romantic presentation for the contest so the S’Mores Brownies look as sexy as possible. Thinking of cutting in heart shapes!
I am off to the game to cheer for the Redskins!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Comfort Sunday IV & Grilled Pesto Pimento Cheese Sandwich

Since this is the end of SHS- surely by now you’ve got it…Stay Home Sunday’s; I plan to relish every second of it. I will read, watch movies, listen to music (I had to include “At Last” in my repertoire), cook & sit by the fire. OMGosh, I am exhausted thinking about it & the whole point of SHS is to relax…… No problem, I will multi task as all woman are trained to do.

I learned how to multi task from my sweet Mother. She could drive carpool; no gum allowed, stop by the market, drop us off for dance lessons, pick up my Daddy’s drycleaning, return library books, run by the fabric store as she is one hellavaseamtress to make our dance recital costumes & have the car back to my Daddy (we were a one car family “back in the day”) all in an hour! Whew!!!

My BFF Kaye called last week about the new blog & said "You’ve gotta post your Mother’s Pimento Cheese." It was a staple in our dorm room back in the day, that and instant grits got that gal through 4 years of college. My response; “Ain’t no butter in pimento cheese” Kaye’s reply “Who cares; it’s the bomb!” Mother's Pimento cheese is also the reason I think my brother-in-law married my sister Claudia. I brainstormed all week, how can I pull it off???? Don’t want to let Kaye down as I featured “BT” in last week’s blog & we were the 3 Musketeers in college but it is a butter blog....

Brainstormed & pesto decided I would invent a Grilled Pesto Pimento Cheese Sandwich (lots of butter for the grilling.) Pretty, pretty, pretty & the flavors will dance across your taste buds. Happy, happy, happy; I have gotten my Mother, Sister, Brother-In-Law, Kaye & butter all into the same blog; how is that for multi tasking?

Recipe Drama.....
Here is where things got dicey; now I know how to make pimento cheese in my sleep but do I have a recipe? No. Call Mother; “Hey Sweets, I need your recipe for pimento cheese.” “Sweetie Lamb, you know how to make it, besides there is no recipe & you know I don’t like it cause it has mayonnaise & you know how I don’t care for mayonnaise. Wish I could talk but your Father & I are walking out the door to go do our volunteer work taking care of the old folks (Mother & Daddy are 80….) ” Great, now what? Call my sister Claudia, “What is the recipe for Mother’s pimento cheese?” “I never make it cause Jack will only eat her’s.” For crying out loud, work with me people! I’ll punt, here is what I did today.

Mother’s Famous Pimento Cheese
10 ounces of Sharp Cheddar Cheese- this part is all Mother- Kraft Cracker Barrel
Grate fine into large bowl, add mayo to taste (I used 1 and half cups Dukes- I like it creamy)
4 ounces of drained sliced pimentos or throw in a couple of roasted red peppers
Dash or 2 of hot sauce, dash of Worcestershire sauce, dash of salt & lots of cracked pepper.

Blend thoroughly with an electric mixer; this will break up the pimento/peppers. Scrap down & blend again. Done! Refrigerate; for use later let sit outside of fridge to soften. Makes about 2 cups.

Small Batch Quick Pesto
2 cups basil sliced & diced
1 glove garlic cut into pieces
¼ cup of grated Parmesan
½ cup olive oil
2 TBSP water
Salt & Cracked Pepper

Put in Emulsion Blender & pulse several times to break up, continue to pulse till it breaks down & blend thoroughly into a paste. Let sit to thicken.

Grilled Pesto Pimento Cheese Sandwich
French Bread- sliced ½” thick- 8 slices
Pimento Cheese
Pesto Sauce
Butter- couple of Tbs.

Heat non stick large sauté pan on medium. Add butter till bottom of pan is covered & it starts to sizzle. Spread 4 slices of bread lightly with Pesto & place pesto side down in griddle; spread with Pimento Cheese; top with another slice of bread & spread top with Pesto. Grill till golden remove from pan, add more butter & flip & grill other side till golden. Remove from heat & rest for minute or 2 or cheese will run all out when you slice. Slice & serve warm.

These are perfect for chasing away winters chill & would pare nicely with mushroom soup. I am going to try this one from the Alchemist Chef's Blog.
Off to take in my last SHS!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Comfort Sunday III & Cheesy Buttery Bread Casserole

OMGosh be careful what you wish for! After lamenting the heat wave last weekend I am sure I am totally responsible for the arctic temperatures over the past few days. Jiminy it is cold as shitake here…. totally conducive to SHS (Stay Home Sunday) and actually Stay Home Saturday! I stocked up Friday in anticipation of the frigid weekend. I have books, movies, Target jammies, rabbit slippers & the robe; a smorgasbord of lay around, keep warm & relax material plus a roaring fire!

Friday I loaded up my shopping cart with fresh eggs, milk, cheeses & French bread in preparation for Cheesy Buttery Casserole. Okay I’ll admit not a very sexy name but calling it by its name on my torn & tattered recipe card from 1974: Cheese Pudding, may have you running for the Food Network & as far away from this blog you can get. Then you would miss out on this easy to make, fast to disappear, sure to induce a food coma, comfort food. That would break my heart as this dish is supercalifragalisticexpealidocious. I think Mary Poppins would for sure agree!

Thanks go to my BBF Betsy Tom (Elizabeth Thomas Lawrence Homewood- gotta love Southern names and this was before she married!) who made this recipe every time we had a brunch (often) when we lived together in college; way back in the day. It continues some 30 + years later to get rave reviews. Updated the cheeses to make it more current; try your fav hard cheeses as it is easy to adapt to your own personal taste & it called for soft loaf bread, I subbed a hearty French loaf.

Layers of cheese, bread and buttery goodness stack up against any cheese soufflé you may ever attempt with none of the stress and hassle of such soufflés. Heap on custard of eggs and milk with some simple seasonings, bake & dig in! Crossover appeal at breakfast, brunch or sits proudly next to a nice Rosemaried Pork Roast, Baked Apples & something green; buttered spinach or perhaps some wilted buttered broccoli rabe; you decide.

Heap it all in a casserole dish or make individual servings in little ramekins to fancy it up – cut back on time; bake til set & puffy, about 25 minutes.

Jazz it up with a nice Pepper Jack Cheese or perhaps 1/2 cup of chopped jalapeños; layer with the cheese; YUM!!!

Mam Flo's Cheesy Buttery Casserole

1 loaf soft bread- I used French Bread sliced 1/2” thick

12-14 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used white cheddar & havarti)

6 eggs

3 c. milk

Salt & pepper to taste

1 t. dry mustard

1 stick butter

In a greased casserole alternate bread & cheese (begin and end with bread.)
Beat eggs & milk together & add seasonings. Pour over casserole.
Melt butter and drizzle over top. Let stand covered overnight or all day in fridge. Bake 45 min @ 375.

Decorate with paprika.

While I partake and savor this indulgence I will contemplate a more appropriate name; perhaps Faux Cheese Soufflé….. Has a nice ring; don’t ya’ think? BT (gotta love she has that long name & goes by BT….. go figure) wants y’all to know this is her beloved Grandmother Mam Flo’s recipe & has been around since at least 1948!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Comfort Sunday II & Vidalia Onion Tart

So wouldn’t you just know we are having a heat wave in Richmond (it is 46 degrees at 8 AM) & it always puts a damper on Stay Home Sundays when it’s warm in the winter. Not to be swayed from the plan I cut the heat back to keep the house as cold as possible so I can light up the fire. I am determined to keep on my new Target flannel jammies & fluffy rabbit slippers so I will just shed the robe.

Lick your plate & beg for more Vidalia Onion Tart is courtesy of my buddy Ashton Harrison who serves this dish up for breakfast, lunch or as a side dish at dinner when entertaining guest at her ski lodge in Wintergreen, Va. Yesterday in preparation for SHS (Stay Home Sunday) I made my list for SUS (Stock Up Saturday.) Now I realize that you aren’t going to find Vidalia Onions in the middle of the winter & I did consider holding off on this recipe till the season came upon us but this one is just too good to wait & is a great cold weather dish. Always one to find creative solutions to a challenge I sub sweet yellow onions for the Vidalia’s and we’re good to go.

Quick & easy as Ashton always does quick & easy; this dish is sorta like French Onion Soup in a pie crust; yummy to the tummy & great served with a good winter salad. I am going with this beautiful Crispy Kale & Pomegranate Salad from Food Rockz Man.

This week SHS – Stay Home Sunday- keep up! will be a reading day for me so on SUS- Stock Up Saturday- got it…..geez; I picked up Plum Spooky the new Stephanie Plum novel from author Janet Evanovich. Easy recipes; I was going to say KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) Recipes but then that would be rude & I am never rude, always work best on SHS reading days.

Ashton’s Caramelized Vidalia Onion Tart

1/4 cup butter
4 cups (I used 2 large onions) thinly sliced Vidalia onions – it’s winter I subbed sweet Peruvian Yellows
1/2 cup dry white wine* - leaves a good ¾ of the bottle for the chef so use what you like to sip!
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 pie crust (Pillsbury All Ready Pie Crust)** pressed into 11" tart pan or use a 8/9" pie pan
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (I used 8 ounces of Gruyere)

Melt butter in skillet.

Add & sauté onions on medium/high til they begin to caramelize- about 10 minutes, until they begin to turn golden -do not stir too much as this will slow down the caramelization.

Stir in wine & parsley; simmer till onions are nice & caramelly (spell check hated this one!) about 15 min. Cool slightly as this will keep the crust from getting soggy.

Layer cheese, onions, cheese, onions into crust.

Bake at 450º until cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.

*for bolder flavor use a hearty red wine
** Make it or fake? fake it is fine for this recipe; tips for a flakier crust; Pillsbury Pie Crust Facts.

I plated it up with a balsamic reduction glaze & it was superb!

Update; I am just getting around to posting & happy to report the temp has been going down! Keep the home fires burning & enjoy this butterific recipe. I am off to the chaise lounge to find out what Stephanie Plum is up to.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Comfort Sundays I & Caramel Corn

I love January Sundays!!! The colder the better for me as I never leave the house (well it’s a goal…. sometimes life gets in the way). Not leaving the house on Sundays led to "Stock up Saturdays." Stocking up for me means what will I cook & will I read or watch movies???

This Sunday is Movie Day! The SUS (Stock Up Saturday- work with me people….) ritual begins with a stop at the coffee shop for a double shot Venti latte. Being from the “old school” I head off to the Video store to scour the shelves. I luck out finding a copy of Rear Window and being in dire need of comedy I pick up Bringing Up Baby with Cary Grant and Airplane; obviously in a nostalgic mood.
Sunday AM begins; I am building the fire & contemplating food for the day. Oh how I love this part!!! My pantry resembles nothing short of a “fall out shelter” so my choices are endless. For Movie Time I am going with Kitchen Sink Caramel Corn which has nuts and cranberries; be still my heart! I hear nuts & cranberries are healthy so I am comforted those will balance out the butter and sugar.

Kitchen Sink Caramel Corn

Peanut Oil (can sub vegetable oil but peanut oil rocks)
2 1/2 cups unpopped popcorn – I use yellow
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup – tip- grease cup with butter & you will get more back out of the cup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or jazz it up with orange liqueur or almond extract
1 cup jumbo salty peanuts ~ I love Hubs
1 cup pecans - I use Mascot
1 cup almonds
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Step I
For perfect pop corn, place ½ cup kernels in a heavy-bottomed large pot and cover them with oil. Put the lid on and cook on high until you hear the first pop. Immediately take pan off the heat and let it sit 1 minute. Return pan to the heat and finish popping, shaking the pan the whole time. Remove unpopped hulls and place popped corn in oven to keep warm. Repeat until all corn has been popped.

Step II
Melt butter in a medium saucepan, and then stir in brown sugar, syrup, and salt. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly; boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Step III
Stir baking soda, vanilla, peanuts, pecans, almonds and cranberries into brown sugar mixture. Quickly pour nut mixture over warm popcorn in a gianormous bowl and toss until well coated with a greased spatula. Spread on several greased cookie sheets.

Step IV
Bake for 45 minutes, stirring well every 15 minutes. Cool on aluminum foil; any leftover or for gift giving store in an air-tight container. This makes a crap load but does half nicely! FYI; I do not halve nuts & cranberries.

Now I get it's the first Sunday in the New Year, you are worn out and not up for all the fuss??? Honey, just pop some corn, cover in yummy butter, add some grated Parmesan and for a kick use the pepper grinder liberally, relax and tune into Lifetime.

This is the first in a series of Comfort Sundays… sure to tune back in!


Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Butter World; The Blog Is Born!

Welcome to A Butter World; The Blog! Take a ride on the journey of My Love Affair with Butter! Join the fun & shenanigans as we create a “Butter” World one recipe at a time. I’ll introduce you to my family & friends as we explore the wonderful world of delicious, creamy, cow created, 100% butter! If you love butter you are in the right place; PLUS you are my new best friend!

Anyone who has ever asked me for a recipe will tell you it usually begins with “A Stick of Butter.” I say this with no apology or shame ( several years in therapy helped.) Truth told I say it proudly; here, online, millions of viewers ( a broad can dream) I love butter!!! No margarine or some chemical derived make believe butter; no way! I want the real deal, cow to the churn; give me butter!

I began cooking around age 5; that would be some 40+ years ago..... Around our house I was known as the “Famous Child Cooker.” My Daddy at 80 years young still calls me that! I loved whipping up French Toast. A favorite part of my Saturday morning ritual was melting the butter & heating up the syrup to serve in gravy bowls. As I recall I thought for sure I would end up Julia Child's assistant at the very least when I thought that up.....

While my tastes have matured I still love me some French Toast. To kick things off I want to share a recipe from my good friend Boo Parker from Raleigh, NC who serves up “Company French Toast” whenever she has overnight Guest. A perfect “Do Ahead Dish” for the holidays. This a definite keeper and loved by all; kid’s included. Now Boo wanted me to be sure and tell you to have your finest linen napkins handy to wipe the butter & syrup from those chins; pleezzz no paper napkins. She is a one fine Southern Lady and Hostess who prides herself that every Guest in her home deserves the finest. Go on make her proud!

Boo Parker's Company French Toast
Serves 8/10

Step I
1 Large Loaf day old French Bread* - slice thick; about 1½”

Step II
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup orange juice
2 Tablespoon light corn syrup

Step III
1 ½ cups whole milk
6 eggs
1 tablespoon orange juice or Grand Manier
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. orange rind
¼ tsp. salt

Combine ingredients from Step II in a heavy small pan. Stir mixture over medium low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Pour into a 13×9 casserole dish. Tilt dish to coat bottom evenly, cool.

Arrange the bread slices in the dish; if they don't all fit make some croutons!

Whisk Step III ingredients in a bowl to blend. Pour over the bread. Cover and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake uncovered until bread is puffed and slightly golden brown, about 40-45 min. Let stand 5 minutes and cut into serving portions. Take a large decorative platter & cover dish & invert onto platter; caramel side will end facing up.

* if bread is fresh slice earlier then you plan to begin & leave on the counter for several hours till crusty.

Serving Suggestions
Melt 1/2 stick of butter & serve in gravy boat! For those “die hards” you may want to include some heated maple syrup. If you are into appearances arrange orange slices decoratively around platter. Serve with lots of crispy bacon & large glasses of milk.

Come back often!