Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pizza on the Grill

For some time now, I am reading all I can on grilling pizza.  The technique is what makes grilling pizza successful.  I realize that most of you are now creeping into cold, rainy, snowy weather, but down here in Florida, we will be grilling all winter.  That's a good thing!!

So if you can't try this right now, file it away in your memory bank and I hope you will give it a try.  This is actually not a recipe at all, just explaining the technique on how this can be done successfully.

Roll or pat out your pizza dough onto an oiled sheet of parchment paper.  Let rest.  Start your gas/charcoal grill.  It does not need to be too hot.  Use a cooler spot on the grill.  Take the parchment paper and flip the dough onto the grill.  Quickly peel off the parchment paper and dispose.  Put the lid on the grill and let the dough bake for about 3 minutes.  It will be making large bubbles on the top of the dough as it cooks.   Peek underneath to see if you have good grill marks and before the crust starts to get too dark.

Now flip the dough off the grill with the grilled side up.  Arrange your toppings...sauce, herbs, browned sausage, pepperoni, etc., top with cheese and slide back on the grill with the uncooked side of the dough down.  It will take 3 to 5 minutes to finish the bottom crust.  I think you can see the grill  marks on the crust above.  It was getting too dark outside to take a better photo.

A quick way to make pizza and it was tasty.  The crust turned out to be quite crispy.  Obviously because of the short cooking time, the ingredients you put on top need to be precooked.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Orange Ice Cream with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pecans

It was just about a year ago when my friend Barbara, at Moveable Feasts posted this recipe for ice cream. I immediately copied it and knew I would make it shortly.  I will admit, the more and more I thought about orange ice cream, the less desirable it sounded.  The Trout kept asking when we were making "that ice cream".  I just could not commit.  Then, after we had decided on duck for Thanksgiving, the orange sounded so good.  First of all, DO NOT let the orange flavor turn you off.  It is very subtle and both of us decided that this ice cream is so very, very good.  Absolutely delightful!!!  It just seemed like such a better idea than pies though I did miss my pecan pie.

So, thank you, Barbara, for posting this a year ago and WOW, did we enjoy it.  Why did I wait so long?

Orange Ice Cream with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pecans
from Moveable Feasts

2 medium navel oranges
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
large pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 of a vanilla bean split lengthwise (brought this baby home from France)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 tablespoons Cointreau
3/4 cup toasted pecans, broken
Toast pecans and set aside.
Soak the cherries in the orange juice and Cointreau for a few hours until soft
Pare off the peel of the oranges and set aside.

Fill a saucepan half way with water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and combine milk, cream, sugars, salt, egg yolks, vanilla bean and orange zest in a glass bowl and set over the simmering water.

Stir mixture constantly until it reaches a temperature between 165 and 180 degrees.  Mixture will thicken somewhat.  Add vanilla and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.  When you are ready to freeze, pour through a sieve to remove the peel and vanilla bean.  Add half the cherries and ALL of the excess soaking liquid.

Freeze according to directions of your ice cream freezer.  When the mixture is semisolid, add the remaining
cherries and pecans.  Continue freezing with it holds stiff peaks.  I poured into my plastic covered container and it went into the freezer for a day.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Duck, Wild Rice and a Great Wine

It had been quite a few years since we had roasted duck for dinner.  We love duck.  I think we ate duck for two weeks straight while we were in the Dordogne of France a few years ago.  So, since it was just The Trout and me for Thanksgiving, we enjoyed our smaller meal.

Beautifully roasted and with a crispy skin, the duck was delicious.  I made a Cumberland Sauce to go with it with port and orange juice.  We also had roasted Brussels sprouts and apples, but the recipe I want to give you is for the wild rice side.

I still have wild rice that we bought in 2010 when we were in northern Minnesota for a wedding.  I knew I wanted to use it with the duck, but wanted a different recipe.  Of all places, I found it on the large bag of Craisins (dried cranberries).  It was a perfect blend of flavors.  This rice dish would also be perfect with chicken or pork or turkey.

Wild Rice with Cranberries and Caramelized Onions
from Ocean Spray Cranberries

2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup wild rice
3 tablespoons butter
3 medium onions, sliced in thin wedges
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 cup Craisins dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Combine chicken broth and both rices in medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer 45 minutes or until rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and brown sugar.  Cook 6 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and onions are soft and translucent.  Reduce heat to low.  Slowly cook onions, stirring often for 25 minutes or until they are caramel in color.  Stir in dried cranberries.  Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until cranberries swell.  Gently fold cranberry mixture and orange zest into cooked rice.  Serves 4 to 6

Along with this special meal, we had a bottle of wine which turned out to be a real "find".  A Jordan 1980 Cabernet.  This wine was 31 years old and so delicious.  A good meal, a good wine and being together.  It is the best of the best.  But wait until I tell you what we had for dessert........

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our veterans

A repeat posting from 2008.  This photo was taken in the Memorial Chapel in the American cemetery, Normandy, France.

I can't let this day go by without remembering our veterans. I think being a veteran or being closely related to one is the most significant way to be a proud American. During my time, the conscientous objector, the draft dodger were not looked upon favorably. I even grew up in a community built on religion where men were given conscientous objector status, yet so many of these men went to war to defend their country. That is a real veteran. Not being together on our first anniversary because my husband was drafted into the Army right after college graduation; that is a sacrifice we do as Americans.

To be alive during the Vietnam war, getting news that my brother was shot down over Vietnam, rescued, and that his co-pilot was taken prisoner; that is what makes an American proud. God Bless you, Col. Day, for surviving the Vietnam prison and tortures. That is a real veteran. Be proud to live in America and  always be proud of our country. Let our leaders guide us proudly and not falter or undermine just who we are. We are proud Americans!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I am almost done!

For Mother's Day, my daughter gifted me with me a yarn and a pattern for knitting socks.  She reasoned that it does get cold in the winter in Florida and thought I could use them.  I started them in Montana, but then dropped a stitch or two and with complete frustration, put that knitting away.

This last week I have been at it again.  I finished the first sock and this morning started the second.  There is a way to knit both socks on two circular needles at the same time, but I have not taken the time to learn the manipulation needed to do this.  I am totally content knitting socks on two circular needles, one sock at a time.

This fun pattern is called "Laughing Matters" and the yarn is "Aussi Sock", made in Australia from 90% Aussie Merino and 10% nylon.  Color is called "faded valentine."  Thank you Knit Purl Hunter for this pattern.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Grapefruit for the Cocktail Hour

We don't have a grapefruit tree in our yard, but many of our neighbors do.  These trees grow huge, and always seem to be loaded with their bounty.  Our neighbor brought over a large bag of grapefruit and tangerines, so it looks like it will be "Salty Chihuahua's" for cocktail hour.

My bookkeeping is so bad....I know I found this recipe on a friend's blog, and now I simply can't find it.  We had a fair share of Salty Chihuahua's with the neighbors before we left last spring.  Just some freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, a jigger of Tequila, perhaps a splash of Triple Sec, salt on the rim of the get the picture.  Come over about 4 p.m.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup...very tasty

For the last week, I have been searching for a butternut squash soup recipe.  I wanted something tasty, simple and simple.  I saw all kinds that were very intriguing.  Adding curry, different spices, etc.  Then this morning I woke up and told the Trout that I wanted butternut squash soup for dinner.

So, we were off to the farmer's market and there sat a very large butternut squash for $1.50.  What is not to love.  In fact, we only used about 1/2 of it for this soup.  Now I need to find something to do with the rest.

The recipe I used from Whole Foods Market was excellent.  Simple, as I wanted, but extremely tasty.  What you do not see in the picture is me dipping my warm, crusty bread into the soup and getting every last drop out of the bottom of the bowl.

Actually, as we were preparing it in the kitchen....the Trout is definitely the chopper and dicer, I started thinking that maybe this will be too bland.  Nah....not at all.  If you want a simple but great tasting soup that will be on the table with only 30 minutes of cooking.....look no further.  Enjoy.

Classic Butternut Squash Soup
  from Whole Foods Market

2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cups diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
2/3 cups diced onion
4 cups cubed butternut squash
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 to 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
seat salt and ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add carrot, celery, and onion.  Cook until the vegetables have begun to soften and the onion turns translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the butternut squash and thyme.  Stir to combine with vegetables.  Stir in chicken broth and season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until squash is fork-tender, about 30 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to puree soup.  Alternatively, carefully puree soup in batches in a traditional blender.  (CAUTION: do not put the lid on tight without leaving an opening for steam to escape)  Don't ask for reasons...just believe.

A butternut squash is difficult to prepare.  Use a carrot peeler to get the skin off the squash and go deep enough to remove all the light yellow colors.  They will be stringy otherwise.  It will not be too difficult then to cut in half, remove the seeds and then cube in uniform sizes.

By the way, the immersion blender is on my wish list!!!