Friday, February 22, 2013

BROWNIES AND FLOWERS

Do you need some yummy brownies this weekend?  Maybe some extra chocolate energy needs to come your way.  The truth of the matter is that many people buy those expensive box mixes and brownies are so easy - we are talking about flour, eggs, cocoa, sugar and butter.  You can do this!





I have the same lilies I have been keeping for 2 weeks.  I have realized that as long as you cut off the "overly ripe" ones - the unopened ones keep opening.  It seems to me, lilies are a better value when you are perusing the flower stall at the market.



And now on to the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 9 x 12 pan

Brownie Ingredients: 2 sticks of butter, 6 Tb cocoa, 2 cups of sugar, 4 eggs, 1 1/2 cups flour, dash of salt, 2 Tb milk and 1 cup chopped walnuts.

Icing ingredients:  1/2 stick of butter, 4 Tb milk, 2 cups confectioners sugar, 3 Tb cocoa and 1/2 cup of walnuts to sprinkle on top at the end.  Cut when totally cool for best results.  We can never wait that long!

Melt the butter and the cocoa and mix with all other ingredients in a large bowl.  Spread evenly in pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes.  Let cool...make the icing by melting the butter and cocoa in a saucepan on the stove on medium, - add confectioners sugar and milk till creamy.  Spread on top and sprinkle nuts!



Have a great weekend....I'm guessing you aren't like to 
Dowager who asked:
"What is a weekend?"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"A PITY TO MISS SUCH A GOOD PUDDING"

Strawberry Charlotte Russe

The Dowager Countess had it right when she said
"It seems a pity to miss such a good pudding".



  
 I decided to make some Strawberry Charlotte Russe.  I noticed several recipe variations online and decided to put mine in little glass sherbert dishes.  If you have been watching Downton Abbey - you know all about Charlotte Russe from season three.  Here is my version which is super simple!





I am also sharing a lovely old glass sawtooth cake stand that I found last weekend while doing the flea markets in Fort Collins.  I didn't have a small one like this - so that is my excuse for buying it!



You might also enjoy looking at the "Best of Bliss" special edition by Victoria Magazine 2013 as they have a chapter of Elegant English Berry Puddings!



I also found the cup and saucer on the left
 to add to my collection of pink English
 ones to mix and match.


Here is what you will need to make 8 desserts:  4 cups of mashed fresh strawberries, *1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 envelope unflavored gelatine, 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream and 2/3 cup confections sugar, and 2 packages of 12 ladyfingers
*If the strawberries are summertime sweet - you can skip the 1/3 cup of granulated sugar!

#1  Heat the 4 cups of strawberries in a saucepan, add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 envelope of gelatine and bring to a boil,  stir well and remove to a large bowl to cool in the refrigerator

#2  In a deep medium bowl, whip 2 1/2 cups of whipping cream with 2/3 cup of confectioners sugar till stiff.  Save back 1/2 cup of this (after the whipping) for topping embellishment

Mix the cooled strawberry mixture together with the whipping cream

#3  Line each sherbert dish with 6 pcs of split lady fingers and spoon berry mixture in the middle.  Take the 1/2 cup reserved whipped cream and embellish tops - also embellish with pieces of strawberry.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

CHOCOLATE LOVER'S PIE FOR THE WEEKEND

Every once in a while we crave a Chocolate  Pie.  I remember the one like the former Bishop's Cafeterias in the midwest offered many years ago.  That's our favorite type so last night I made one.  I have featured this in the past on this blog.





Either buy an premade graham cracker crust or make one yourself by smashing up 1 1/2 cups of graham crackers mixed with 1/2 stick of melted butter and pressed into a pie shell and baked at 375 degrees for 7-8 minute.  I like using the cinnamon crackers better but had the plain ones on hand.  Either work.  Cool completely.




Here is what you need for the pie:  1 quart of vanilla ice cream, 
1 1/2 cups milk ( I actually used heavy whipping cream from the carton - unwhipped) 2 - 3.9 oz pkgs of jello instant pudding and my tweak here was 1 square of unsweetened chocolate melted.  (For a darker chocolate - you could use 2 squares.)  Beat these together in a deep large bowl.

Also: Beat (until stiff) another 1 cup of whipping cream with 1/4 cup of confections sugar and set aside for the topping when the pie is done.   I didn't have a chocolate bar to shave pieces off for embellishing which would have looked lovely!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

PIMENTO-CHEESE TWICE BAKED POTATOES

You know how it is when a new magazine arrives and a recipe just jumps out at you.  Such was the case this week when my Southern Lady Magazine arrived and a recipe for Twice-Baked Potatoes was pictured with the recipe served with steak!  A win-win for Valentines Day. 



 As I scanned the recipe - I knew I already had everything except the actual potatoes so I stopped at the market on the way home for those and to pick up a couple steaks to grill.



  By the way, Southern Lady is produced by Hoffman Media who give us Tea Time, Victoria and many other wonderful magazines.


Recipe from Mar-Apr 2013 Southern Lady:
Here is what you need for 6 people:

6 large baking potatoes, washed and dried, 2 Tb olive oil, 1 Tb kosher coarse salt, 1/3 cup of soft butter, 3 oz of soft cream cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese - divided, 1 4 oz jar of diced pimentos drained, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground pepper 

Instructions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Rub the potatoes with olive oil to coat skins, sprinkle with kosher salt.

 Place on baking sheet in prepared oven for 55-65 minutes til they are fork tender.  Cool
Cut a thin slice off the top, being careful not to damage skins.  Using a melon scoop, take out potato pulp leaving a 1/4 " thick shell in tack.  In a medium bowl, mix potato pulp, butter and cream cheese and then stir in  cream, 2 cups cheese, pimento, salt and pepper stirring well.  Return filled shells to prepared oven and bake 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.  You can remove and add last 1/2 cup of cheese and then rebrown top if you like!  Serve...

Since I am a "working girl"  I made all 6 potatoes I plan to reheat 2 of them  later 
for lunch and then freeze 2 of them for another dinner later!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

VALENTINE SCONES

I love to bake and I know that many of you do too.  I baked these nice flaky scones which have raspberry jam inside of them and there is a chair for you too!  I hope you have a few moments to enjoy a cup of tea and a scone.


You know, it worked out well yesterday that we had a "snow day". It snowed all night Sunday and lightly on Monday.   I made homemade soup and bread and there was plenty of time to bake scones - the same ones I had made last Friday I baked again for my hubby and I.....and half to give the neighbors.  Scones need to be consumed while they are fresh.



I have a Valentine Tea Set from 4-5 years ago called "Lucy's Love" which I'm using here. I'm not generally drawn to contemporary type tea sets but I thought this one was great fun and bone china is really nice. (I have 6 plates and 6 cups and saucers)  I've been leaving the little table by the window in our living room so I set up our tea there. 





This recipe will make about 20 medium scones or 14 larger ones.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and grease 2 baking sheets with butter.

You will need 4 cups of sifted flour, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, 
1 Tb baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 2/3 cup of butter, 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, 6 Tb jam or preserves and red sugar crystals if desired to sprinkle on top.

In  large bowl combine the flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  With a pastry cutter, blend in the butter or cut it in with 2 knives until the mix is coarse and crumbly.

Add the buttermilk to the dry mix and stir into a soft dough.

Turn the dough out into a lightly floured surface and knead 5-6 times.  Roll it out to a 1/2" thickness and cut with a Valentine Heart Cookie Cutter.  Use a 2" cutter for smaller scones (more) and a 3" cutter for larger scones (less).  You will be putting a teaspoon of jam on top of one and then another dough heart on top of that.  You will take a fork and press the edges down all the way around to seal the scone layers together.  Sprinkle red sugar crystals on top.


Bake at 425 degrees for about 15-18 minutes

Thursday, February 7, 2013

WINTERTIME BLOOMS HELP US

You've seen all the lovely plants at the market - primroses, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, etc.  I tend to do a major slowdown in this part of the grocery store.


 Fresh flowers, plants and even dried flowers will help you "brighten up" your winter days. We had just a bit of snow last night so it is no longer brown outside. 




 I have watered my small flower garden
out back twice lately just because their hasn't been enough moisture even though it is winter.
We might not realize there are dormant plant
bases down in the ground that need
occasional moisture even now.

These roses are dried ones:




I look at the pictures of the English conservatories in magazines and marvel.  I wonder if Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle)  has a conservatory and why don't they show us a lovely garden?  When the Countess indicates to Edith that gardening would be undesirable...that was sad.  I was glad that Mr. Moseley won the rose contest.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

WHEN VIOLETS BLOOM




Years ago, when I lived in Spring, Texas I especially loved February.  Would you believe that winter was over in February and the smell in the air - I will never forget. It was like the Secret Garden....spring had arrived and that meant violets were blooming.


 Here in Colorado winter hasn't even really begun yet in February. But that's o.k. because we can "pretend".  Thank God for an imagination! I don't think violets bloom here in Colorado until May.








 
I have arranged a little table by the window for us today as we "imagine" spring in all its glory. I also have something special since Valentine's Day is just around the corner!  Fudge - yes and the recipe too!  This is so easy and tastes like really expensive chocolate shop type fudge!



Valentines Day Fudge

1 can 14 oz condensed milk
1 pkg 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts as desired

Butter a square 8 x 8 x 2 pan. Heat milk, chocolate chips, in 2 quart sauce pan over low heat.  Stir constantly till all melted and mix is smooth, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and nuts.  Spread quickly in pan and refrigerate until firm.  At least 1 hour. Cut into 1 ¼” squares - makes about 3 dozen.

Tea and fudge- what could be better, 
so pour yourself a cup of Paris Tea and relax.

Monday, February 4, 2013

VINTAGE CAMISOLE AND COOKBOOKS

After seeing  Carolyn Aiken's feature on an old vintage camisole - I experienced a little memory reflection........I remembered I had received a vintage camisole many years ago in a secret sister swap. 


 At the time I hung it on the wall in my laundry room but after a while it got "dryer" dusty so I washed it and and then I lost track of it.  After a little search yesterday...I found it down in the basement in a box with some lacy doilies.








I also found 3 great cookbooks at Barnes and Noble last night.  Yes, I left home during the Superbowl to go look at cookbooks.  Isn't that terrible.  Shame on me!


This is not a book review because I haven't had time to read them yet - the point is a girl can NEVER have too many cookbooks and during the winter we have the time for research and reading!  I did notice a Blueberry Clafoutis in The French Kitchen Cookbook that looked lovely.  The Afternoon Tea Collection has an entire chapter on "Friands" which are little cakes made with egg whites and ground nuts.  I see I have more to learn here.  There were numerous types too.  Grandma's Recipes has a recipe for Welsh Rarebit which I am interested to studying.  Lastly, Julia Child would have been pleased to see a recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon.