Wednesday, November 22, 2017


I had my heart set on apple picking this fall and trying some new recipes along with making one of my favorite fall dinners;  pork chops with apples and onions, apple sauce on the side and apple nut cake for dessert. An apple lovers dream! I will have to wait until next year to pick my own, but lucky for me supermarkets stock locally grown varieties in abundance and for a reasonable price. Each apple has is own unique qualities depending on what you want to make with it. So, after a trip to the supermarket and 3 varieties of apples ( Cortland, Empire & Granny Smith ) I decided to make mom's fall favorite:  Apple Nut Cake. The cinnamon and nutmeg flavored batter combined with fresh apples and nuts makes for a super moist cake. I usually bake it in a 9x13 pan and cut large squares, douse with powdered sugar and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to complete. Although this cake tastes great warm right out of the oven, I think it is best eaten a couple of days later when the apple flavor and moistness is at its peak. 

Did you know that New York grows more apple varieties than any other state? In fact, there are approximately 10 000,000 apple trees that produce enough apples to bake 500 million apple pies! 
The New York Apple Association's website is a good resource to familiarize yourself with the varieties and what they are best used for.

This all-purpose apple was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, the USA in 1898. It is a juicy, sweet apple with a hint of tartness. Excellent multipurpose apple for eating, baking, sauces and salads. Freezes well. 

A cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious. Firm textured and sweet-tart makes this apple a great all purpose apple good for juice, sauces, pies, baking, and eating. 

Granny Smith 

One of the most popular apples, Granny Smith's are a bit sour but a good all-purpose baking apple. Is best when paired with sweeter spicier varieties to create a balanced pie.

Tips for Baking with Apples

Select apple varieties that are in season. If the apples are out of season, they may have been in storage and will not be as flavorful and juicy as fresh-picked apples. Look for firm apples that have no bruises or bug holes. Choose apples that look fresh, are bright in color and have a fresh apple aroma. Don’t choose unripe apples that are hard and have too much green or yellow color for their variety. If you're slicing apples and don't want the exposed pieces to turn brown, dunk the slices in a bowl of three parts water to one part lemon juice. When baking a pie, use a mix of sweet and tart apples to ensure a balanced flavor.

Mom's Apple Nut Cake

1 cup butter
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon ( I always add more - I just love cinnamon!)
2 tsp vanilla 
3 cups peeled chopped apples
1 cup chopped nuts 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 baking pan. 

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Gradually add sifted flour, baking powder,salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in vanilla. Fold in apples and nuts and bake for one hour or until toothpick comes out clean from center of cake. 

Friday, August 25, 2017


I'm slacking off in the ice cream department. It's nearing the end of August and I haven't even gotten started on my ice cream making. So far only blueberry, banana chocolate chunk (aka chunky monkey), pineapple and the latest attempt at toasted marshmallow. I have to say at first I was not sure if the flavor represented its name but the more you eat it, the more you think you should grab some graham crackers and chocolate and eat some more! It's creamy and decadent and worth a try. 

Marshmallow Ice Cream

  • 1  16 oz bag of marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk 
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Spread the marshmallows on a baking sheet and toss in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes, until lightly browned, turning them a few times to brown on all sides. 

In a large saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot but not boiling. 

Transfer the milk mixture to a blender, add the marshmallows, and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Submerge the bowl in a larger bowl filled with cold water and ice and transfer 
both to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours and up to 12 overnight.

Transfer the chilled mixture to an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers directions. When frozen, transfer to a container and freeze until firm.

Review: "Fans know Richard Blais best as the winner of Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars, the first competitor to be invited back as a permanent judge on Top Chef, and now as a Food Network regular as well. On television, Blais is famous for his daring cooking, making use of science (think liquid nitrogen) to dazzle and impress. But how does he cook at home when the cameras are off? That's what this book will answer, with elevated homestyle recipes and personal stories which invite you behind the scenes and into his own kitchen for the first time. Some recipes might look familiar, like spaghetti and meatballs, but have a secret, flavor-boosting ingredient, and others feature clever but unexpected techniques, like his fried chicken which is first marinated in pickle juice. These are creative recipes that anyone can make and are sure to excite, from Seabass with Ginger Beer and Bok Choy to Jerked Spatchcock Chicken and Plantains, making this this the book Blais fans have been waiting for."

Thursday, March 16, 2017


St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner and even though I am not of Irish descent, each year I make a traditional "Irish - American" meal of corned beef and cabbage Don't they say that everyone is Irish on St. Paddy's Day? Most of us associate corned beef and cabbage as a typical Irish meal because it's a popular dinner eaten on that celebratory day however, it is not a meal customary to Ireland. Instead of corned beef and cabbage, the traditional St. Patrick's Day meal eaten in Ireland is lamb or bacon. (salted pork ) It wasn't until the late 19th century that Irish American immigrants used corned beef as a substitute for bacon since it was an inexpensive alternative thus starting a new American St. Paddy's day tradition.

 This year, I decided to make something more traditionally Irish. I looked at a  few books on Irish cooking from our vast cookbook collection and chose a recipe from The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook by Christine McFadden. Dublin Coddle. A bacon, sausage,onion and potato stew that has been a favorite in Dublin since the seventeenth century. The photo of the soupy stew in the book helped me to decide. Yum...cold weather comfort food. I just happened to have most of the ingredients on hand. That, coupled with a cold, snowy weekend convinced me to try a stab at it and I assure you, it was worth the effort.

Warning: it is not considered a diet dish. It starts with a pound of bacon! Don't worry....if it makes you feel better, you can choose to prepare it as a special treat for St. Patrick's Day....once a year!

Feeling a tinge of guilt, I chose to broil 1/4 of what the recipe called for and the stew was still very flavorful. I can't imagine if I used a pound of bacon! It is a hearty dish that will stick to your ribs. A comfort food for a winter's day and as I decided for can always start your diet tomorrow.

Dublin Coddle

1 lb of bacon strips ( I only used 1/4 lb)
8 good quality pork sausages
4 onions sliced
black pepper
1 leek sliced
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme 
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves chopped
6 starchy potatoes peeled and cut into 2 or 3 large chunks
3 cups ham or chicken stock 
soda bread to serve

Preheat the broiler to high and preheat oven to 300 degrees. Broil the bacon for 7-8 minutes, until just starting to crisp. Drain on paper towels, slice in half widthwise and set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the sausages and cook, turning for about 15 minutes, until evenly browned. If necessary, use a little bacon fat to prevent the sausages from sticking. Remove the sausages from the skillet, slice in half widthwise and set aside.

Using the same skillet, gently cook the onions for 7 minutes, until soft but not colored.

Layer the onions, sausages and bacon in the bottom of a flameproof casserole dish, seasoning each layer with plenty of black pepper.  Add the leek, herbs and garlic and finish with a layer of potatoes. Season with a little more black pepper, then pour in the stock.

Layer the onions, bacon and sausage add herbs, leeks and lots of fresh black pepper

Add potatoes, sprinkle with more black pepper and add the chicken stock

Cover the casserole dish tightly and bring to a boil on top of the stove. Transfer to the preheated oven and cook for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Serve with chunks of soda bread to mop up the juices.