Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream Sundae

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One of my favorite desserts when I was growing up was vanilla ice cream with marshmallow mint sauce. My mother would tint it pale green, and top the sundae with a bing cherry and sprinkling of colored sugar; to my youthful self, it seemed so elegant! This recipe, from Matty Matheson's new book  Home Style Cookery: A Home Cookbook from Abrams Books has a wonderful Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream Sundae that is absolutely delicious. The brownie base and fudge sauce topping can be made ahead of time, so all you need to do is get out the cherries, scoop up the ice cream, assemble and devour. Perfect for the upcoming holiday season.

Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream Sundae

For the brownies:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup
unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

For the hot fudge:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup
unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For serving:
1 quart store-bought mint chocolate chip ice cream
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

4 high-quality macerated cherries
Sea salt

Make the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour an
8” square baking pan.

In a medium heat-proof bowl, combine the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Place over a pot of simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and whisk gently until incorporated. Whisk in the cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder, and whisk until the mixture comes together. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Pull from the oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Cut into even squares for the base of the sundaes.

Make the hot fudge: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and cream, and whisk until incorporated. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil. Add the butter and continue to simmer until the fudge starts to thicken, about five minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and salt. Allow to cool for five minutes before building your sundaes.

To build your sundae, have all the ingredients ready and in front of you. Start by adding one square layer of brownie, then cover with hot fudge, then ice cream, then whipped cream, and hot fudge again. Garnish with cherries and a sprinkle of sea salt. Eat right away.



Friday, October 23, 2020

The Reimagined Seven Layer Salad

I was talking to friends the other day (at a distance), and asked them if they remembered Seven Layer Salad. Everyone answered enthusiastically in the affirmative. They all loved it; one of them said it was a major staple at every big family gathering. The only problem, another said, was that not everybody liked all of the layers. I got to thinking about that as I was making use of the excess amount of vegetables that I had in the fridge. There is no reason to stick to the rules when cooking, particularly when it comes to salad. Use what you have on hand. If somebody doesn’t like peas, replace it with something they do like. Just be mindful that seven layers is usually enough, it’s helpful to layer different colors (and make sure there are quite a few colors otherwise it will look blah and unappealing), and be certain to have lettuce on the bottom. As far as the dressing, there is a standard dressing, but any of your favorite mayonnaise-based dressings will do. Reimagine what you recall from your youth. I waxed nostalgic as I enjoyed every bite of this salad. I added seasonings, fresh chives, and Dijon mustard to a small amount of ranch that I had left over, and it was wonderful! Below is the recipe from the ‘70s that my mom used to make, but feel free to mix it up to suit you, your family, and friends.

 The Reimagined Seven Layer Salad

 5 c. chopped green leaf lettuce

2 c. halved cherry tomatoes

2 c. white corn

1 (12-ounce) pkg. frozen green peas, thawed

2 c. chopped radishes

2 c. diced cucumber

Seven-Layer Salad Dressing (see below)

Garnish: shredded Cheddar cheese, crumbled cooked bacon

In a 3 ½-quart glass bowl, layer lettuce, tomatoes, bell pepper, peas, radishes, and cucumber. Top with dressing, spreading to edges to seal. Cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight. Garnish with cheese and bacon, if desired.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

100K Cookie Bars


I had the pleasure of dining with number one son and family on Saturday evening. We sat at a very large, lovely wrought iron table (that used to be mine, and that they have used more in their brief ownership than I ever did) on their wonderful deck, beneath the overhanging branches of a tree that gently swayed in the wind as we enjoyed my son’s incredibly delicious smoked barbecued meatloaf. I was tasked with bringing dessert, so I knew it had to be lacking nuts (my granddaughter, Gabby, is allergic to tree nuts), something chocolaty (because…of course!), and something that all would enjoy. This recipe absolutely did it! Everybody enjoyed it, and while I did store the bars in the refrigerator, they are wonderful at room temperature because the caramel becomes soft, smooth, and wonderfully delicious. I can’t imagine anyone not liking these crunchy, chewy, chocolaty cookie bars.

100K Cookie Bars

¾ c. unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. granulated sugar
1 ½ c. flour
½ t. salt

Caramel layer:
6 T. unsalted butter
½ c. light brown sugar
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 T. light corn syrup
¼ t. salt

1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
¾ c. crispy rice cereal


Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a 9” x 9” square metal pan with aluminum foil leaving a 2-inch overhang on either side.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until creamy, 2 - 3 minutes. Gradually add flour and salt, and mix until just combined and giving a crumbly appearance. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan, pressing it evenly into the bottom. Bake until the top is golden, 35 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the caramel layer.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter and sugar together, stirring occasionally until the butter is melted. Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup; bring the mixture to a full boil. Stir continuously while cooking for 5 minutes, or until the mixture has turned amber in color and is thick enough to completely coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in salt. Pour mixture over the shortbread layer, and set aside to cool completely.

When the caramel layer has set, melt chocolate chips in the microwave, for 1-1½ minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals until completely melted. Fold in rice cereal, and spread over the top of the cooled and set caramel layer. Allow to cool completely before gently lifting from the pan using the foil overhang, and cutting into bars.

Makes 36



Monday, October 19, 2020

Zucchini Caviar

Cookbook author, chef and owner at Barbuto in Manhattan, 2016 James Beard Award winner, and former participant in TV’s Top Chef Masters, Jonathan Waxman has a new book out, The Barbuto Cookbook: California-Italian Cooking from a Jonathan Waxman’s Beloved West Village Restaurant. While paging through this newly released (from Abrams Books) tome the other day, a recipe jumped out at me. The recipe paired two unlikely words, “zucchini” and “caviar.” Naturally, I was intrigued. Not just because of the interesting combination of words, but also because I had a refrigerator full of zucchini. I also happen to be a person who doesn’t like breakfast food at breakfast (I far prefer it at dinner, and enjoy cereal as a snack), so I’m continually looking for new, savory dishes to enjoy as my morning meal. A wonderful way to start the day, a delicious vegetarian lunch, or a great snack or appetizer, this is a winner!  While the recipe indicates it be served at room temperature, as shown in the photographs here, I tried it the second day, warm, after running it under the broiler, and I think that took it over the top! 


Zucchini Caviar

4 very fresh zucchini, 4"-6" long
Sea salt
4 T. olive oil, divided
1 small baguette*
2 cloves garlic, one thinly sliced and one cut in half
2 teaspoons capers
1/4 cup diced green olives
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Slice zucchini lengthwise, 1/2-inch thick. Season with sea salt and top with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, sear the zucchini on both sides. Remove and let cool, then very finely dice.

In the pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat, add the shallots, sliced garlic, capers, and olives, and sauté briefly. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Slice the baguette lengthwise. Bake until golden, about six minutes, and let cool.

Rub the cut sides of the baguette with the halves of garlic, then slather 1 tablespoon olive oil per baguette half.

In a bowl, combine the zucchini, and the shallot-garlic-capers-olives mixture. Add the basil and then the Parmesan and mix well. Smear the mixture over the two baguette halves.

Serves 4

*I prefer slices of rustic bread

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

National Dessert Day

Can a day be any sweeter than National Dessert Day? I don’t think so. Now, as you all may know, my favorite dessert is a cookie, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t whip up some tasty pies and cakes. Below are my favorites (and some of the most viewed recipes in the history of the blog). Click on the name of the dish below the picture to go straight to the recipe.

White Almond Cake with Creamy White Almond Frosting

Chocolate Stout Cake

Sistine Chapel Sugar Cookies

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Slow Cooker Chili Cheeseburger Soup

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I had a great weekend! I always do when it’s sunny and cool outside. I washed up my favorite blankie, comfy robe, and fluffy slippers, all ready to settle in for the evening, strike a match to light that fire that I had set weeks ago, and sip on a dirty martini, while watching my favorite British mystery show on TV. But, I did need something to follow up that martini. I wanted something warm and comforting, super tasty, with no work involved whatsoever. That was a bit of a tall order, but I came close. This does involve browning ground chuck, chopping onions and garlic, but that’s it, and the rewards are plentiful. The flavor of this soup is magnificent! It is hearty and wonderful, and can be topped with croutons, chopped pickles or tomatoes, crumbled bacon, anything you see fit. This is a must try!

Slow Cooker Chili Cheeseburger Soup

¼ t. Montreal Steak Seasoning

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 10-oz. can Rotel Mild diced tomatoes, undrained

1 14.5-oz. can petite diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 of a 15-oz. can Wolf Brand Chili, no beans*

⅓ c. brewed, strong coffee

½ t. chili powder

½ t. cumin

1 lb. Velveeta Cheese, cubed**

In a 10-inch sauté pan brown the ground chuck, breaking up as you do; season with Montreal Steak Seasoning. When the meat is suitably browned, stir in onions and garlic, and simmer until onions are transparent. Drain fat on a paper towel-lined plate, and place in the crockpot. Add the remaining ingredients, and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.

*Or your favorite brand. The remaining chili can be frozen until you decide to make the soup again, and you will, trust me on that.

** If you don’t like Velveeta, substitute with an 8-ounce brick of cream cheese (not low-fat), and 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.





Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Mexican Street Corn Macaroni Salad

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Last week I mentioned my obsession with corn. That obsession continues, with corn in all forms. I just discovered that I could have a box of local decorative goodies delivered to my home including mini pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn! How exciting is that? To celebrate, I decided to use [edible] corn in this delicious Mexican Street Corn Macaroni Salad. Unique and flavorful, fans of Mexican street corn are going to love you for making this. Word to the wise, either serve it immediately, or, if you want to make it ahead, do not combine the dressing with the pasta or it will absorb it all and your salad will be dry. To keep it creamy, add it together just before serving.

Mexican Street Corn Macaroni Salad

 8 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked, drained, and cooled

1 c. canned corn, drained

½ c. feta cheese, crumbled

2 T. finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish*

⅓ c. sour cream

¼ c. mayonnaise

¼ t. chili powder

¼ t. onion powder

¼ t. salt

Few gratings freshly ground black pepper

Pinch garlic powder

Pinch smoked paprika

Pinch cumin

1 T. fresh lime juice

1 t. lime zest

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, chili powder, onion powder, salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and lime juice.

 Add the pasta, corn, parsley, and lime zest. Toss to coat.

 Next, add ¼ cup of the feta. Gently toss into the pasta mixture. Transfer to serving dish. Top with remaining feta and more parsley. Serve.

 If you prefer to serve later, keep dressing separate from the pasta mixture and combine just before serving in a festive bowl.

 *You can use cilantro if you prefer.



Monday, October 5, 2020

Slow Cooker Corn and Chicken Chowder

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In this household, October is soup month. I have so many recipes that I want to try, experiments that I want to involve myself in, as well as an overabundance of pantry goods that could stand a bit weeding. I’ve gone crazy over corn these past couple of days, having made a variety of recipes containing it as an ingredient, and I am absolutely in love. This is an easy one to put together, hearty and filling, and so is appropriate for an evening meal along with a side salad and crusty roll of bread. There’s nothing in here that the kids won’t like, so it’s family friendly as well. What a lovely pot of comforting warmth.

Slow Cooker Corn and Chicken Chowder

1 lg. (.75-1 lb.) boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 medium carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, sliced
1 10.5-oz. can Cream of Chicken Soup
16 oz. homemade chicken broth
2 14.75-oz. cans Creamed Corn
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
¼ c. chopped fresh chives
¼ t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. dried basil
½ t. dried minced onion
¼ t. Montreal Steak Seasoning (yes, that stuff makes everything better)
1/8 t. seasoned pepper

In the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker, combine chicken and vegetables. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together soup, broth, corn, fresh herbs, and seasonings. Pour mixture over vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours until chicken is tender enough to shred. 

Shred chicken, and serve topped with additional chopped chives and/or parsley.


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Pony Pie

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This post contains affiliate links.

This is my third year as a representative of Abrams Books via their Abrams Dinner Party program. What this means is that I get an advanced look at all of their books related to cooking, and get to share them with you. One of the first books I received was Pie for Everyone, Recipes and Stories from Petee’s Pie, New York’s Best Pie Shop by Petra “Petee” Paredez. It’s exceptionally comprehensive providing you with everything you need to know about making pies, the whys and wherefores, suitable vessels, crusts, fillings, techniques, the works! Despite the fact that I’m not particularly a pie person, so many of these recipes caught my eye, because this book deals with not just sweet, but savory as well. The selection of pies also runs the gamut from fruit pies, to custard pies, to meringue topped pies, to deliciously rich and nutty ones like the recipe I’m going to share today. The one that I chose to make, because I was in a chocolate mood is this wonderful Pony Pie, the author’s take on Derby Pie. It is very easy to put together, and if you happen to have a crust on hand, you will have it in the oven in about 20 minutes. I had to bake mine about 15 minutes longer than the time indicated, but it is nutty, rich, and absolutely delicious. If you’re looking for a pie to welcome fall, I doubt you can do better than this one.

Pony Pie
From Pie for Everyone, edited for clarity

1 stick unsalted butter
½ c.
1 c. packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
½ t. salt
2 T. bourbon
½ c. pecan halves
½ c. walnut halves
½ c. chopped
dark chocolate
1 crust for 9” pie, edges crimped

Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then whisk the honey into the melted butter; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, salt, and bourbon. Whisk the honey butter into the sugar mixture until smooth.

Place the walnuts, pecans, and chocolate, into the bottom of your pie shell. Place the pie shell onto a baking sheet (I put a
Silpat on the baking sheet to ensure the pie wouldn’t slip). Pour the filling over the nuts and chocolate. Slide pie onto the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F and bake for an additional 40 minutes (I needed 55 minutes), or until the center of the pie has puffed up.

Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. The pie will keep for up to one week at room temperature.

 Editor’s Note: I found that the taste of the bourbon came through much better on the second day.