Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ham, Spinach and Mushroom Fritatta

After planning the big meals it is nice to return to something quick, tasty and pretty to look at. A fritatta of any kind lends itself to a fast mid-week dinner or fancy up a weekend brunch. I had plenty of leftover ingredients from the holiday, a specially purchased Coastal Mature English Cheddar, mushrooms, ham, half a red pepper, a shallot and plenty of eggs. Tonight's concoction is a layered fritatta, a nod to the delicious Spanish Tortilla and easy eats for two to four layered in a 10-12" saute pan. If you are guessing by now that I like bold, intense fresh flavors you will not be disappointed. This could easily be made without the ham for vegetarian fare.

Veggie-layered Fritatta
Layered vegetable frittata
Fritatta by the slice
Have a slice and for the recipe click more

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Simple Shrimp Cocktail Appetizer

When my husband and I were dating 'lo those many years ago, his brother introduced us to a incredibly simple appetizer that ended up a holiday staple for decades. We made this for potlucks and annual Christmas or New Year's parties. Along with the required Chili-Cheese Dip and bread, it was gone as soon as it was placed on the table.  Some things just don't change. Wishing you a wondrous New Year, filled with blessings and tasty creations from your heart and kitchens.

Shrimp and cream cheese dip 
Shrimp  Cocktail with Cream Cheese and Green Onions

1 lb fresh bay shrimp (or frozen thawed and patted dry on paper towels to remove all water)
6-8oz Cocktail Sauce
8 oz Soften Creamed Cheese
3 green onions thinly sliced
Sprig of flat leaf parsley for garnish
On a rimmed 12" plate or platter spread cream cheese in an even layer.
Spread cocktail sauce on top of cream cheese.
Layer the shrimp next and sprinkle with green onion slices.
Garnish with a little parsley garnish and serve with a sturdy cracker that can hold up to the cream cheese and shrimp layers (Wheat Thins work well.)
Tip: Be sure to rinse and drain shrimp on paper towels before using, pat dry. You don't want a runny, watery layer on your platter diluting the zingy cocktail sauce.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stracotto with Mushrooms

I am not Italian, but sometimes I play one in the kitchen. Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis version, with my own little changes "a la Mama," made something really wonderful for tonight's windy, raining weather. Start with a good, flavorful cut of beef, a nice red wine and off you go! Complimented with creamy Parmesan polenta and roasted brussels spouts with pancetta.

Stracotto -- Italian Pot Roast

Click More for Recipe

Holiday Sweets

We just can't help ourselves, the holidays roll around and our thoughts turn to sweet morsels and rich desserts. January is soon enough to think about the losing the extras that came along with these delights.

1. Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust
2. Orange Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
3. Red Velvet Brownie with Cream Cheese and Walnuts
4. Persimmon Bread with Walnuts
5. Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crab Season!

2010 Dungeness Crab Season!
Dungeness Crab Bordelaise

This winter guilty pleasure hits me like a bowl of clarified butter. Dungeness crab season on the central coast is a rite of passage. Every year my Dad would visit his buddy at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor and pick up a couple of crabs right off the boat. At home he'd steam them up, a little wine, french bread and lemon and OMG let the decadent feast begin.

Like a giddy child, I wait for this. I don't care that we have to work for our feast, gently extracting the tender sweet flesh from the shell.  Slowly and with care, dipping each succulent morsel in the lemon hinted clarified butter. A taste to savor, a sip to enhance, a sourdough crunch to cleanse, like the shampoo instructions... rinse and repeat!

I tried something new this time, I place the cooked crab pieces in a large bowl, sprinkled with garlic granules, a dusting of parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and splash of white wine. Covered with plastic and microwaved for 2 1/2 minutes to just take the chill off. WOW, instant bordelaise. Served over a quick spinach and romaine salad. Not bad for a Tuesday night delight!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Butternut Squash and Spinach Ricotta Lasagna

Butternut squash and spinach ricotta lasagne
Lasagna has been calling me. Any time I am make lasagna it is a labor of love, has to be... it takes a lot of prep time. Each step from scratch and a big messy kitchen (but maybe that's just the way I cook.) Because of that we usually only enjoy it a couple of times a year, mostly as a specially requested birthday dinner or holiday meal. Big, meaty, cheesy and urber rich homemade marinara sauce. I've been hankering one of these for the holidays, you know how those comfort foods get stuck in your head and ends up a must have?

Last fall I made a butternut version from Everyday Food, it was really good, but seemed more like a side dish than a main attraction. This was the basis for my inspiration and has been rattling around my brain for weeks. When I mentioned to my darling dear that I was planning this new fangled recipe, he cried out, "But then you won't make your regular lasagna for ages, aww honey!" Never fear, the traditional version is on my Christmas menu. So, after pondering the flavor palate and texture combinations all day I started prepping as soon as I got home from work. On a Tuesday night no less. Did not stop for snack and news. Just jumped in a creative frenzy. I think you might enjoy the results. Could be awesome on a buffet with a Christmas ham or it stands well on it's own.

P.S. Remember any lasagna is a labor of love, put on some great music, pour a glass of wine and roll up your sleeves and enjoy the process! I love these artists when I am cooking. On YouTube or On Pandora Rodrigo and Gabriela

Fresh baby sage leaves dot the top of this lasagna

Recipe follows, click read more if you are ready.