Thursday, April 30, 2009

Coconut Crusted Tilapia with Spicy Apricot Sauce

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Coconut Crusted Tilapia with Spicy Apricot Sauce

1 ½ C. Sweetened Flaked Coconut
2 T. Flour
2 T. Creole Seasoning
4 (4oz) Tilapia Filets
½ C. Flour
1 Large Egg + 1 T. Water
1/3 C. Vegetable Oil

The “Three Bowl Method” is great for breading fish or chicken. You will want to use three different bowls for the flour, egg wash and coconut crust topping.

First bowl - place the ½ cup of flour. Second bowl - mix the egg and water together until blended. Third bowl - add the coconut, 2 tablespoons of flour and Creole seasoning and mix together.

Take each Tilapia filet through the breading process and place on a plate until ready to cook. One filet at a time, you will want to cover with flour, dip in egg wash and press coconut topping on both sides of filet. Repeat process until all four are prepared.

In a large skillet pan, place the oil in pan and heat on medium. Place each filet into the pan and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes per side. After removing from the pan, season with salt.

Spicy Apricot Sauce:
½ C. Apricot Jam
1 T. Brown Mustard
2 t.. Horseradish

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and serve as a dipping sauce.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Blueberry Crumble Bars

Blueberry Crumble Bars

These bars are not for anyone on a diet! Brought these to work for our weekly “Fun Friday” event and they were a complete hit. Try with your favorite jam or preserve flavor.


1 C. (2 sticks) butter, melted
2 C. Flour
½ t. Salt

1 ½ C. Blueberry Jam

Crumble Topping:
2 ¼ C. Flour
1 ½ C. Dark Brown Sugar
1 C. (2 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces
¼ t. Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the crust – Melt the butter in the microwave. In a large bowl, add the melted butter to the flour. Stir and it will be a dough consistency.

Spread evenly into a well greased 9 x 13 inch rectangle baking pan. (I use the spray with flour in it.) Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly brown. Remove and cool for about 30 minutes.

To prepare the topping, mix the flour and dark brown sugar. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the mixture. Use either a pastry cutter or your hands, to cut the butter into the mixture to resemble coarse crumbs.

When the crust is cool, gently spread the blueberry jam over the crust. Pour the crumble topping over the top and spread evenly. Press gently.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature, or overnight, before cutting. Recommend using a very sharp knife to get clean cut bars.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Coho Cabernet Blend "Headwaters" - 2005 - Napa Valley

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Coho Cabernet Blend “Headwaters” 2005 – Napa Valley

A delicious new blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Petit Verdot features the best of Napa at an affordable price. Had deep layers of ripe fruit flavors that include blackberry, plums, and a hint of cherry floating across a super silky smooth texture. Hints of caramel toffee shine through with the toasty oak and tannins on the great finish. Recommend decanting 30 minutes prior to enjoying. Enjoy with any meat or hard cheese. This wine should age gracefully over the next 3 to 5 years.

Recommended Food Parings:
Grilled Lamb with rosemary
Roast Pork loin with a mushroom sauce
Gruyere cheese


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce

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Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce


1 C. Dry roasted slivered almonds
10 Cloves garlic
1 C. Extra virgin olive oil
2 T. Sherry vinegar
1 t. Red pepper flakes
2 C. roasted red bell peppers

In a food processor, puree the almonds, garlic, oil, vinegar and red pepper flakes until smooth. Add the peppers, replace the top and pulse until sauce is smooth. Add salt to taste. Keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.

To prepare the asparagus, wash and cut off woodsy ends. Brush with olive oil and place onto grill for about 4 minutes. Turn every minute. Remove and serve with the Romesco Sauce.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spinach Casserole

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Spinach Casserole

5 T. Butter
3 C. Diced onions
1/3 C. Flour
1 t. Nutmeg
1 ½ C. Heavy cream
1 ½ C. Milk
5 – 10oz. Packages of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 C. Grated parmesan cheese
2 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper
¾ C. Grated emmental cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the flour and nutmeg and cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and milk until thickened.

Squeeze as much liquid from each package of spinach. Add to the mixture and stir. Add ½ cup of the parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.

Transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Top with the grated gruyere cheese and the remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
*Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

Friday, April 17, 2009

Steven Kent - Lot 541 - Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Blend - Livermore Valley

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Lot 541 – Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon Blend – Livermore Valley

Lot 541 encompasses many of the beautiful qualities of both its parts – Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The name refers to the fact that the Cabernet Franc was the 41st wine to be made in 2005 in the small lot winery where Steven Kent does all of the production. This wine is a blend of 42% Cabernet Franc fro the Ghielmetti Vineyard and 58% Cabernet Sauvignon from the McGrail Vineyard, both located in the historic Livermore Valley.

The Steven Kent Winery was started in 1996 with the planting of the vineyard site and had a mission to create distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon from the Livermore Valley.

Cabernet Franc is quickly becoming one of my favorite varieties. It possess sandalwood essence, red fruits and licorice undertones. First sip of the wine is very supple, owning the Cabernet Sauvignon flavor and texture. On the mid-palate, the wine turns a bit to the red fruit spectrum and show wonderful palate cleansing. The finish is long and nods toward Franc.

We belong to the Collector’s Circle wine club and this is one of the wines from the club. Steven Kent is a wonderful find in the Livermore Valley with great small lot wines and extremely friendly when you visit their winery.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Corn Pudding

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Corn Pudding

Each Thanksgiving, one of my offices has their annual feast. Joe brings his deep fryer from home to prepare the Turkey in the building’s parking lot. Everyone else brings a side dish. Each year, Deb brings her famous “Corn Pudding”. I have changed the recipe ever so slightly and it is a year round favorite. Served it recently for the Easter Holiday.

1 stick butter, melted
1 t. garlic powder
6 grinds of pepper
2 beaten eggs
1 can (14.75 oz) Cream style corn
1 can (15.25 oz) Whole kernel corn
8 oz. Crème Fraiche
1 box Jiffy Corn muffin mix

Preheat oven to 350.

Add butter, eggs, garlic powder and pepper into a large bowl. Stir until combined. Add crème fraiche, cream corn and whole kernel corn. Stir well. Add the corn muffin mix and stir until combined and creamy.

Pour into an oven proof dish. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until firm to the touch. Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sausal - Cabernet Sauvignon - Alexander Valley - 2003

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Sausal Cabernet Sauvignon – Alexander Valley – 2003

Sausal is located right next door to Silver Oak. They have been growing grapes in the Alexander Valley fro the past 52 years but selling the majority to Silver Oak. They now keep a tiny portion of their fruit for the production of their own Cabernet. Leo and Rose Demostene purchased the 125 – acre Sausal Ranch in 1956. They planted prunes, apples and Zinfandel. Later Leo replanted the ranch with more Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

This amazing value comes from 100% estate grown grapes. The deep garnet color displays aromas of black currants, clove and lavender. Along the tasting journey, black cherries begin to pop with hints of pepper leading to a long finish.

Recommended Food Pairings:
Leg of Lamb
Veal Parmigiana
Aged Cheddar Cheese
Sauteed Wild Mushrooms


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mozzarella Crostini with Candied Walnuts, Honey and Fried Rosemary

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Mozzarella Crostini with Candied Walnuts, Honey and Fried Rosemary

1 baguette (20 half inch slices)
3 Large fresh mozzarella balls
40 Candied or toasted walnuts
Honey (squeezable jar)
2 T. Fresh rosemary leaves
Garlic powder
Fleur de Sel
Olive oil (to brush crostini and fry rosemary leaves)

Slice the baguette to have 20 half inch thick slices. Brush each side lightly with olive oil. Place onto cookie sheet. Dust each one with garlic powder. Toast each side under the oven broiler until golden brown. Remove and let cool.

Pat dry with a paper towel each mozzarella ball. Slice the fresh mozzarella into 20, approximately one third inch thick slices.

The candied walnuts can be purchased already prepared from Trader Joe’s or you can candy at home. To candy the walnuts, place in a large skillet with about 1/3 cup of sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt. On medium heat, toss the mixture together and watch carefully until the sugar begins to dissolve. The process goes quickly. Once the sugar is dissolved and a caramel color is present, place onto a cookie sheet or large plate to cool. You can also simply toast the walnuts in the oven at 350 for about 6 to 8 minutes to develop that rich flavor.

For the fried rosemary, place about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, place the rosemary leaves into the oil. Stir them around and fry for one or two minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel to drain.

To assemble:

Place the sliced mozzarella on each crostini. Put two of the walnuts on each crostini and drizzle with a bit of honey. Put a pinch of the fried rosemary on each crostini. Sprinkle a pinch of Fleur de Sel on each crostini to add that extra punch of flavor.

Mozzarella Crostini with Candied Walnuts, Honey and Fried RosemaryMozzarella Crostini with Candied Walnuts, Honey and Fried Rosemary

Monday, April 6, 2009

Vanilla Cake with Butter Cream Frosting and Toasted Coconut

Last weekend my Husband and I attended the annual school auction for our Nephews. Every year I bake two cakes to donate to the auction. This year I made a Vanilla Cake with Lemon Curd filling, Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting and topped with Toasted Coconut. The cake went for $150 dollars!

1 ½ cup butter (stick and a half), softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 ¼ cups self rising flour
1 ¾ plus 1/8th cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cup milk
4 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour three 9 x 2 inch round cake pans.

To make the cake: In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one is added. Combine the flours and add slowly until incorporated, alternating the milk and vanilla extract. Divide the batter among the cake pans. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes and then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
8 cups confectioners sugar, about two 1 pound boxes)
½ cup heavy cream
3 t. vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low and gradually add 4 cups of the powdered sugar and ¼ cup of the heavy cream. Add the remaining sugar and cream. Continue to beat on low speed until blended. Add the vanilla and beat until blended.

Filling and Topping

2/3 Cup Lemon Curd
1 cup toasted coconut

To toast the coconut, place into a large skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally until you begin to see the coconut develop a golden brown color. Watch carefully and stir until you have mostly golden brown coconut.

To assemble

On a plate, put first layer of cooled cake and spread 1/3 cup of lemon curd over the entire layer. Repeat with next layer of cake. Place the third layer on top. Begin with the top and add frosting and spread. Carefully frost the sides of the cake. When the toasted coconut is cooled, carefully place on top of the cake.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bure 'Majesty Blend' Cabernet - Napa 2006

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Bure ‘Majesty Blend’ Cabernet - Napa 2006

Bure Family wine is owned by former pro hockey star Val Bure and his wife, actress Candace Cameron from Full House. He has a passion for wine and wanted to produce small lots of handcrafted wines. The name is pays tribute to his great grandfather who was a master watch craftsman for the Russian Royal Family.

The premier offering of Cabernet Sauvignon from Bure Family is a combination of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Merlot to create a wine that is dense and rich with a strong backdrop of black currant and licorice. This wine delivers a great balance of blueberry, tobacco, cigar and youthful tannins that reveal the wine’s power with mouth coating flavors of various black fruits and vanilla.

This is a rare opportunity to taste a Napa Cabernet under $100 with serious “cult” wine connections. The grapes are sourced from the same “Meteor” vineyard in Napa that Screaming Eagle winemakers use for their own private Cabernet. The winemaker Luc Morlet is most famous for crafting Peter Michael “Les Pavots” Cabernet ($249 per bottle and 97 points in wine spectator). Only 185 cases of this inaugural vintage boutique cabernet were produced.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Super Simple Flatbread Pizza

When my husband and I were in Boston a few years ago, we stayed at the Westin Copley Place Hotel.. I was there for a user conference for and my husband played tourist for two days until my conference wrapped up. We stayed the weekend and explored Boston – what a terrific city. One night we landed at the hotel’s bar and ordered their “flatbread” pizza. It was so tasty, I wanted to recreate it and ever since, I make this quite often.

Lavosh Bread (1 piece 11 x 9)
1/3 Cup Spaghetti Sauce
1 ¼ Cup “Quattro Formaggio” Cheese Blend (Parmesan, Asiago, Provolone and Fontina)
¼ Cup Diced Scallions
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400. On a cookie sheet, place the Lavosh bread piece and spread 1/3 cup of your favorite spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle the Quattro Formaggio over the entire Lavosh bread. Sprinkle the scallions and season with a touch of salt and pepper to taste.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is browning and bubbly. Cut into 6 pieces and enjoy.

Note: Everything is available at Trader Joe’s. I bought their spaghetti sauce in a jar along with the packaged cheese blend. The Lavosh bread and scallions are also available at Trader Joe’s.

Other variations to try:

(1) Capresse Pizza – Use olive oil, garlic powder, four cheese blend and sliced cherry tomatoes
(2) Sweet Italian Sausage, caramelized onions and four cheese blend
(3) Sautéed Mushrooms with thyme and garlic, olive oil and four cheese blend topped with fresh Italian parsley