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Wild Mushroom Crostini

Wild Mushroom Crostini

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CATHY NELSON ARKLE

This recipe comes from week 7 class of Pro Chef classes at New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA. We made several fall dishes that week, and this recipe is such a fabulous appetizer that I wanted to share it with you. Wild mushrooms usually can be found at your local farmer’s market or higher end grocery stores.

Wild Mushroom Crostini
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
 
This is a very impressive and tasty appetizer.
Ingredients
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1½ ounce butter
  • 1 tablespoon cognac (substitute pear, peach, or apricot juice)
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup creme fraiche
  • 1 lb. fresh wild mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped marjoram ( I used fresh oregano from my garden)
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • sliced baguettes, brushed with olive oil and lightly toasted in oven
Instructions
  1. Sauté the shallots in the butter until browned. Add the cognac. Flame. Remove from heat. When flame subsides, add the vinegar, lemon juice, and creme fraiche. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Remove any hard or dry stems from the mushrooms. Use a pastry brush to remove any sand or dirt. Cut into ¼″ slices. Toss the mushroms with the olive oil, herbs, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Put them into an earthenware baking dish large enough to hold them in one layer.
  4. Roast mushrooms until tender and juicy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add to the shallot mixture. Return to the oven and cook another 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
  5. Serve on top of toasted baguette slices.
Notes
Cook time: 30 mins Serves 8-10

This recipe was wildly popular with my holiday guests.

Enjoy!
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a date with ginger…
guaranteed to please!

Ginger Spiked Dates

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CATHY NELSON ARKLE

To date or not to date… that is the question. After trying today’s recipe, you will no longer have to ask. Dates are an intoxicating indulgence of the senses by way of a sugar rush. This is brilliant, considering they’re a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates; AND they’re virtually free of fat, cholesterol and sodium! Warning – after I’ve had my way with them… that all changes.

The Virtuous Date:

Dates come from the date palm. They’ve been instrumental to humans since the beginning of time and believed to have originated near the Persian Gulf.

Primeval Mesopotamians capitalized on the tree’s versatility and value. They felt the palm offered 360 uses including needles, thread, lumber, mattresses, rope, baskets and other household items; as well as food and beverage.

Ancient literature praise the merits of the date’s diverse powers – from an aphrodisiac to a contraceptive. Wow… I don’t even want to know how they figured that one out. Probably while on a date of some kind.

Egypt is currently the top producer of dates followed by Iran.

If you can’t find dates at your local store they are readily available online. Medjool are my favorites as they are plump, deep in color, soft in texture and rich in flavor. Dates can also be kept frozen for up to a year with no loss of taste or quality.

shepaused4thought_line-NEW

Today’s Featured Recipe:

These engorged delights are perfect for picnics,
afternoon tea and The Hollywood Bowl.

Just ask Sophia!

 

Ginger Spiked Stuffed Dates
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup mascarpone cheese*
  • 1 teaspoon crystallized ginger, minced
  • 10 Medjool dates pitted|
  • 10 walnuts or pecans
  • fresh mint sprigs
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl mix the mascarpone cheese and ginger until combined.
  2. Using a small spoon, spoon about ½ tsp of the mixture into the date
  3. Top with walnut and decorate with a mint sprig
Notes
*Substitute goat cheese, blue cheese, neufchatel cheese (cream cheese) or almond butter. Serves: 2-3

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CATHY NELSON ARKLE

Date-licious!

Special thanks to Yodi & Rikki for the beautiful Wedgewood tea set!

I have already put it
to good use.

 

Quote of the day:

If the heavens throw you dates, you got to keep your mouth open.
– Navjot Singh Sidhu

….and then, she paused for thought.

 

 

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figs in a blanket…
and other things to make you squeal

Figs in a Blanket

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CATHY NELSON ARKLE

One year my father decided to raise pigs. Another year my mother thought we needed a pig in the house… as if three kids weren’t enough! (Okay, it was a guinea pig) In some cultures they’re considered one and the same – something we learned after taking our pig fascination on a family trip to Peru. We weren’t prepared to eat the family pet, but when in Rome…

Photo on left: My mother playing with her food before eating it. I do believe I was admonished for this as a child. Hmm.

Guinea Pig for dinner in PeruWhich one is the real guinea pig….
the one on the plate, or the one with the fork and knife?

Peruvians have hundreds of guinea pigs living with them in their one-room houses. They consume an estimated 65 million per year. Wedding gift starter-kits include a male and female guinea pig, which soon multiply exponentially. We found all this fascinating until one showed up on our plate during dinner, compliments of our tour director. It didn’t taste like chicken, more like rabbit. Actually, it wasn’t that bad, though it left a nasty aftertaste. I think I got the one whose diet consisted of rank gym socks and sewer water. Continue Reading →

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in praise of perfect popovers…

BLT Steak, LA - Popovers

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CATHY NELSON ARKLE

I am a cooking class junkie.  There… I said it. Whew.  Cooking is my newest obsession.  I have traded in my paints, brushes and canvases for food, utensils, and pans.  Instead of mixing watercolors, I mix herbs, oils and strange vegetables that I hated as a child.  I find the smells coming from my oven to be more intoxicating that those old oil paints that could send your head spinning.

 BLT Steak, LA Restaurant             BLT Steak, LA Restaurant - drinks

I recently took an “Easter Dishes” class at one of my favorite L.A. restaurants… BLT.  For the locals, it is in the old Le Dome building on Sunset Blvd.  In the class we actually got to learn about and experience mouth watering food in the kitchen of a legendary restaurant in LA. Chef Brian Moyers started with their famous popovers.  Now if you haven’t had a good popover…it is worthy of a trip to BLT, or at least trying to make your own at home.  These culinary wonders are a distant cousin to England’s pride and joy – Yorkshire Pudding.

Funny thing about popovers…they are visually challenged and full of hot air. I know many people like this, but I am not singing their praises. What qualities popovers lack, they make up for in depth & richness.  Just goes to show you that there are redeeming values in everyone.

BLT gives you the recipe for popovers if you eat at their establishment, but Chef Brian revealed the secrets to us and that is what I want to share with you….but you didn’t hear this from me!  I rushed out to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy my popover pan as I knew that I was about to be promoted from “fakes her way in the kitchen” to “food goddess” with this new recipe.

              

There are three secrets to great popovers;
a) pre-heat the pan
b) the temperature of the milk when you add it to the mix
b) straining the batter

Straining the batter?  What a strange concept to me, but I guess it gets those micro lumps out.  A chinois works best, but I used a regular metal strainer and it worked just fine.  I have to say…my popovers turned out every bit as good as Chef Brian’s…to his credit.  Thanks Brian!

            

Perfect Popovers

Yields 6 amazing popovers.
Double the recipe if you are lucky enough to have 2 popover pans.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk warmed – almost to a boil and pull it off 
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour (let the flour rest after measuring it)
  • 3/4 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere

Preparation

  1. Place the popover pan in the oven.  Heat the oven and pan to 350 degrees.
  2. Gently warm the milk over low heat until it almost boils and the pull it off and set aside.
  3. Whisk the eggs until frothy in your mixer and then slowly whisk in the milk (so as not to cook the eggs) Set the mixture aside.
  4. Sift the flour with the salt.  Slowly add this dry mixture to the egg mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth.
  5. Strain batter through a chinois or any metal strainer. Rest batter between 10-50 minutes.
  6. After resting period, remove popover pan from the oven and spray with non-stick vegetable spray.  While the batter is still slightly warm or room temperature (definitely not cool) fill each popover 3/4 full
  7. Sprinkle each popover with grated Gruyere.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, until golden brown, rotating pan half a turn after 25 minutes of baking.
  9. Remove from the oven & pan and serve immediately.

To reheat popovers put them in a hot oven for 5 minutes.

I hope you praise these perfect popovers as much as I do.
…and then she paused for thought 

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