Sharing a seriously fun love for food

Month: March 2018

Apple Currant Rolled Pork Loin Roast with Apple Brandy Sauce

Apple Currant Rolled Pork Loin Roast with Apple Brandy Sauce

This is a recipe I’ve been working on for months. I’ve gone through numerous iterations until I finally landed on a version that created the results I was after. I frequently cook pork tenderloin but my experience with pork loin roast has always been, well, sort of unremarkable. Most that I’ve tried through the years were bland and often dry. Until I started brining them. Pork, much like poultry, benefits greatly from brining. The brining process infuses a flavor into the meat that you just can’t get with external seasoning. And the meat stays moist and tender – a definite plus!

Taking it a step further, I decided to butterfly the roast, then stuff and roll it for an extra special touch.

I played with both apples and pears and even added Italian sausage to the mix. The pears were a bust – they totally melted away while cooking which was not the “wow” effect I was after. I nixed the sausage as it competed with the delicate pork flavor. The balance came from a combination of Braeburn apples, currants, toasted pecans and a little thyme with a touch of brown sugar.

To save you a step or two, have your butcher butterfly your pork loin. You can pound the meat flat but I found it wasn’t necessary.

Start the day before you plan to serve the roast. The pork needs to brine at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. To get a jump on things, you can also make the sauce ahead then add the pan drippings prior to serving. This dish has multiple steps but none are difficult. You’ll want to have on hand a large plastic storage or brining bag, kitchen twine, a heavy roasting pan with a rack and a good meat thermometer. Also, a fat separator comes in handy to make sure you add only drippings and not the fat to your sauce.

Because of course in the South you need gravy or a sauce – so a sauce with a touch of apple brandy seemed to do the trick! A beautiful dish perfect for your Easter holiday table or for any festive occasion!

Apple Currant Rolled Pork Loin Roast with Apple Brandy Sauce

To get started:

1 pork loin roast, butterflied, about 4 pounds

¼ cup kosher salt

¼ cup dark brown sugar

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

2 teaspoons whole juniper berries, optional

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 quart water, 4 cups

1 cup apple juice

Place the pork loin in an extra-large (2-gallon) plastic bag or brining bag. Set it inside a baking dish – you want something to catch the drips in the unlikely event it leaks! Keep the roast in the refrigerator while you prepare the brine.

Place the kosher salt, the brown sugar along with the bay leaves, the peppercorns, the juniper berries and the dried thyme in a medium saucepan.

Add the quart of water (4-cups) and place the brining solution over medium heat, stirring until the salt and brown sugar are completely dissolved – about 10 minutes. Stir in the apple juice and set aside to cool completely.

Once the brine has cooled pour the solution into the bag with the pork loin. Seal the bag and refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to roast, remove the pork loin and rinse it thoroughly. Spread it out flat with the fat cap down on a rimmed baking sheet and pat the meat dry. Let the pork come to room temperature – about 30-45 minutes.

For the stuffing and roasting:

3 tablespoons butter

2 chopped apples, Braeburn or your favorite baking apple, about 3 cups (You want an apple that holds its shape while cooking.)

¼ cup currants

¼ cup toasted chopped pecans

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided

1-1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chicken broth

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chopped apples, the currants, toasted pecans, thyme, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and the brown sugar.

Cook until the apples are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Spread the apple mixture across the center of the pork roast leaving about 2 inches on each end.

Roll the pork up lengthwise and tie it together with kitchen twine.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large roasting pan that has been sprayed with a cooking spray. When the oil is hot add the pork and brown on each side seasoning with the remaining black pepper as you turn the roast. Insert the rack underneath the roast and position it in the pan with the fat cap on top. Pour the chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the roast. Cook at 350-degrees for 1 hour plus 15-30 minutes or until the meat thermometer registers 145-degrees. The meat will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven. The brining keeps the meat a little pink in color even after it cooks. Remove the roast from the pan and transfer it to a cutting board; cover it tightly with foil. If possible, do not remove the thermometer – this will help to keep the juices in the roast. Let the meat rest for 10–15 minutes before carving.

While the roast cooks make the sauce.

3 tablespoons butter

5 tablespoons flour

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

3 cups chicken broth

4 tablespoons apple applesauce or apple juice

2 tablespoons Calvados apple brandy

½ teaspoon sugar

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, kosher salt and the black pepper whisking into the butter until smooth.

Cook for about 3-5 minutes. Pour in the broth and whisk until the sauce is smooth. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes whisking occasionally until the sauce thickens slightly.

Stir in the applesauce, the brandy and the sugar. Cook for an additional five minutes. As soon as the roast is done, pour the drippings into a fat separator to pull off any fat that has cooked off the pork loin. Then add the pan drippings to the sauce and whisk to blend.

Layers of apples, currants and pecans all rolled into this gorgeous pork loin served with an apple brandy sauce!

Banana Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Banana Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Have you ever had something so good it brought tears to your eyes and left you at a loss for words? This classic Southern cake might fall into that category.

It wasn’t unusual to find a freshly baked banana cake sitting on my Grandmother’s kitchen counter. This tender cake bursting with the flavor of ripe bananas would tempt you for another bite – or two! Topping banana cake with a creamy vanilla buttercream frosting was most common but this version with a dark chocolate fudge frosting is far more decadent. Think a cross between a ganache and your Mother’s failed fudge!

To make any good banana cake or banana bread you have to start with really ripe bananas. You want the dark bananas. They’re not the most attractive but definitely the sweetest and full of that fruity banana flavor you’re looking for in your cake. Add creamy butter along with a hint of pure vanilla extract and the result will be a luscious cake with a tender crumb .

Then there’s the frosting. It’s chocolaty, buttery, thick and rich. You’ll want to use a high quality cocoa powder – the chocolate should stand out and really play off the bananas. The finished frosting is not as gorgeous as a buttercream but looks don’t shortchange you on the taste!

This recipe makes a layer cake consisting of two 9-inch layers but you can certainly bake it in a cake pan. You might need to adjust the time a bit. You’ll want to grease and flour the cake pans so that the cake layers come out clean. Bananas get sticky when they’re cooked and will have a tendency to well, stick to the pan. Adding a round of parchment paper in the bottom is extra insurance the layers will come out in one piece!

Pour a glass of cold milk, cut a slice of cake and be prepared for some indulgence!

Banana Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

For the cake:

1-1/2 sticks of butter – ¾ cups at room temperature

1-1/2 cups sugar

3 extra-large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup buttermilk

4 ripe bananas, mashed – about 1-1/2 cups

Cream the butter on medium speed of your mixer until it light and creamy.

Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until it’s blended into the butter and the mixture is fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time blending well before adding another.

Pour in the vanilla and mix into the batter.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, the baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt. Add about one-third of the flour to the batter.

Alternate with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat just until the flour disappears to prevent over-beating the cake batter.

On low speed blend the bananas into the mixture.

Divide the batter evenly between two 9” round cake prepared pans.

Bake at 350-degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When the cakes are done, set them on a wire rack and let them cool in the pans for ten minutes. Then turn them out on a wire rack to finish cooling.

While the cake cools make the frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:

1 stick of butter – ½ cup

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup half and half

4 cups sifted powdered sugar (don’t skip the sifting process or you’ll have a lumpy frosting)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Melt the butter along with the cocoa powder and the half and half in a saucepan over medium heat.

Stir together and continue cooking until the chocolate mixture is thick and glossy. Use a whisk if needed to break up any lumps in the cocoa powder.

Turn off the heat and add the powdered sugar, blending in about 1 cup at a time. Add the vanilla.

Then using an electric mixer beat the frosting until it is thick and creamy.

To assemble the cake:

Place one layer of the cake – top down on a cake plate. Cover the top of the layer with the frosting, spreading to the edges.

Add the second layer – top up. Finish by frosting the sides and the top of the cake.

Roasted Carrots with Mustard Sauce

Roasted Carrots with Mustard Sauce

I’ve had a number of people asking for suggestions for their Easter dinner. There are so many dishes that are always welcome on this special holiday menu and roasted carrots should certainly be included. The mere image of them makes us think of spring!

Carrots are a favorite vegetable in our family and almost always in my fridge. They’re extremely versatile in their use – from a beautiful side dish or salad to luscious desserts. For a side, roasted carrots are hard to beat. Roasting is my favorite way to prepare most any vegetable and one of the easiest. They bring out a layer of flavor that you just can’t get by steaming or heaven forbid, boiling!

These sweet, tender roasted carrots are wonderful on their own but this mustard sauce really plays off their earthiness. A basic white sauce with a layer of Dijon mustard creates a delicious accent perfect for any holiday table.

Sauces are like accessories to an outfit… sometimes you just need a little something to pull it all together!

Adding a touch of tangy creaminess turns this wonderful root vegetable into an elegant dish – it’s sure to be a hit on your holiday table!

 

Roasted Carrots with Mustard Sauce

For the roasted carrots:

12-16 young carrots or rainbow carrots, trimmed, then scrubbed or peeled

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle the olive oil over the carrots then toss to coat all sides. Spread the carrots out into a single layer. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and black pepper.

Roast the carrots in a 425-degree oven for 40 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your carrots – start checking after 30 minutes.

While the carrots roast, make the mustard sauce.

For the mustard sauce:

1 tablespoon butter

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup half and half

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Fresh chives, chopped for garnish

In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.

Once the butter has melted and starts to bubble, add the flour, the kosher salt and the black pepper.

Whisk until the flour is well blended into the butter and smooth. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Add the half and half along with the Dijon mustard and whisk into the flour mixture.

Cook for another 3-5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally to keep the sauce blended and smooth.

Lightly spoon the mustard sauce over the roasted carrots and sprinkle with the chopped chives.

The sauce will thicken as it cools. You can prepare the sauce ahead of time. When ready to serve warm it over low heat adding a little extra half and half to thin if desired.

Raspberry Beer Cocktail

Raspberry Beer Cocktail

Emily and Matthew are always trying some of the most interesting recipes, including some fun cocktails. I admit the first time she shared this recipe with me my response was somewhat skeptical. Beer and vodka. Really? But this is in fact a light, bright beverage perfect for our warm spring days.

Raspberry lemonade, fresh raspberries plus a spike of beer and a splash of vodka – an interesting combination that will compete with any great Sangria.

You can plan ahead and mix the raspberry lemonade along with the vodka then chill until you’re ready to serve. For the beer, I used Blue Moon Belgian White – with it’s clear orange citrus notes this light ale pairs really well with the raspberry component.

Take a handful of ingredients, toss in some garnish and you’re minutes away from a pitcher of fun refreshing cocktails!

Raspberry Beer Cocktail

1 container frozen raspberry lemonade concentrate, 12-ounces

½ cup vodka

3-1/2 bottles of beer, 12 ounces each – 5-1/4 cups, well chilled

1 cup of fresh raspberries (frozen will work in a pinch!), plus extra for garnish

One or two lemons sliced, for garnish

One or two oranges slice, for garnish

Mix the frozen raspberry lemonade concentrate with the vodka in a large pitcher, stirring to blend well.

Slowly pour in the beer and stir to combine. It’s okay if it foams a bit, it will settle into the beverage.

Add the raspberries and toss in slices of orange and lemon.

To serve, add a lemon and orange slice to a highball glass, fill with ice. Pour the cocktail over the ice and top with a few extra raspberries!

Serves 6 generous portions!

Blueberry Dumplings

Blueberry Dumplings

I just caught a glimpse of the weather in the northeastern part of the country and luckily it’s quite the opposite in Texas. It is absolutely gorgeous outside – just another reason I love the South! I decided to make a run to the North Richland Hills Farmer’s Market early this morning and came home with a sack full of fresh blueberries. Spring has finally arrived and these plump, sweet blueberries are perfect for Blueberry Dumplings.

There are so many ways Southerners cook with fresh fruit. Pies and cobblers are probably the most commonly known. But these little cake-like pastry dumplings cooked in a thick, sweet compote of blueberries is a simply wonderful way to showcase these luscious berries.

This is a quick dessert consisting of two equally delicious parts – the pastry dough for the dumplings and the blueberry compote. Buttery pastry dough is blended together then dropped into the hot blueberry goodness. When they’re done you have light and airy dumplings dripping in a delightful blueberry sauce!

Top with a bit of fresh cream and you have a beautiful and scrumptious way to welcome spring!

Blueberry Dumplings

1 cup flour

1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup cold butter, cut into pieces

¼ cup milk

2 cups of water

2 pints fresh blueberries, 4 cups, rinsed (frozen will work in a pinch!)

Fresh cream for serving

For the dumplings:

Whisk together the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder and the kosher salt.

Add the pieces of butter and blend it into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or fork.

Work the butter until you have small pieces.

Add the milk and blend together with the flour and butter creating a soft dough.

The dough will resemble a pie dough.

For the blueberry compote:

In a wide stockpot or pan add the water, the blueberries and the remaining 1-1/2 cups of sugar.

Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, stirring frequently then bring to a gentle boil.

Drop the dough by the spoonful into the blueberry mixture. Using a medium ice cream scoop works well.

Reduce the temperature to low, cover the pan and cook for 30 minutes.

Leave the lid on the entire length of cooking time.

Serve warm or room temperature with a splash of cream!

 

Mom’s Hot Rolls

Mom’s Hot Rolls

Mom was from a large family and having been raised on a farm she knew her way around a kitchen. Both my Grandmothers and my Mom would make hot rolls for every special occasion and for many years my Grandmother would make fresh bread daily. In most Southern kitchens you will find a great hot roll recipe. This is my favorite and one of my most cherished recipes, This was the recipe my Mom used – the results are the most luscious, tender soft rolls!

Good bread starts with simple kitchen staples. The beauty of this recipe – you can make the dough in advance and keep it in the refrigerator for a week to ten days. When you’re ready to bake a batch, just take out the dough you need and keep the rest for later. Or you bake the whole batch and stick some in the freezer. (Thank you Emily for this idea!)

Some helpful tips when making bread:

*If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer consider getting one – All-Clad makes a great one. It makes checking the water temperature foolproof. Water that is too hot or too cold can keep the yeast from rising. The water for proofing the yeast and the milk should be between 110-115 degrees. The last ¼ cup of water that is mixed with the baking soda, salt and baking powder can be at room temperature.

*Check the date on the packages of yeast. Start the recipe by proofing your yeast. If the yeast is not “alive” you don’t want to add it to your dough. Toss it and start over.

*You’ll want to mix this recipe in a large container – the dough will continue to expand in the refrigerator.

*For the first rise of the dough and when your rolls are rising, let the dough rise in a warm place away from a draft – the biggest culprit is your air conditioning vent!

*The rise time will vary depending on the type of yeast you use.

*If the tops of your rolls start to brown too much before they’ve finished baking, cover the top loosely with a sheet of foil.

This is a classic hot roll recipe yielding a soft tender crumb with a subtly sweet flavor. Wonderful for any special occasion. But why wait….  treat yourself today!

 

Mom’s Hot Rolls

½ cup warm water, divided (110-115 degrees)

2 packages dry active yeast (okay to use fast rising yeast) 1/4 ounce per package

1 cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon, divided

1 cup vegetable oil

1 quart (4 cups) milk, warmed to 110-115 degrees

10 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons baking powder

Melted butter, optional

Mix the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar with ¼ cup of the warm water (110-115 degrees). Stir together and set aside to allow the yeast to proof for about 5 minutes.

In a large container or bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup of sugar and the vegetable oil.

Add the warm milk and the yeast mixture stirring to blend together.

Add the 9 cups of the flour, stirring in about 1-2 cups at a time. The dough will be somewhat lumpy as you start to mix it together…

…but will smooth out as you add more flour.

Mix the dough well making sure you have all the flour blended into the dough. Cover the dough and let it rest for an hour at room temperature.

Combine the kosher salt, the baking soda and the baking powder with the remaining ¼ cup warm water.

Stir this mixture into the dough.

Add the remaining cup of flour – you will have thick, soft dough.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

When you’re ready to bake:

Remove as much dough as needed and place it on a floured surface. (You can bake it all or just a couple of rolls!)

Lightly dust the dough with flour and roll it out until it is about ½” thick. Using a biscuit cutter cut out rounds of dough.

Shape the dough into rolls, tucking the edges under. We use a 3” biscuit cutter that produces a generous size dinner roll. Place the rolls in a baking dish that has been sprayed with a cooking spray. You want the rolls to have room to rise but it’s fine if they’re touching.

Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap or a lightweight kitchen towel. Place the pan in a warm place and let the rolls rise for about 30-45 minutes or until they are doubled in size.

Bake the rolls in a 400-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on top.

Brush the tops with melted butter and serve.

 

Pineapple Lime Bavarian

Pineapple Lime Bavarian

There’s nothing better than old family recipes. There are some that when I make them I would swear the spirits of my Mom or my Grandmothers are hanging out in my kitchen. This dish is my Grandmother, Grace Pearl through and through. One whiff, one taste and she is standing by my side.

I’ve mentioned it before – I am not a fan of plain flavored gelatin. But I make an exception when adding these types of gelatins as flavor enhancers. The delectable Strawberry Cake and the Strawberry Pretzel Salad are two favorites we’ve written about that benefit greatly from flavored gelatin. And this recipe for Pineapple Lime Bavarian is another wonderful example. Blending flavored gelatins with a variety of ingredients to create beautiful salads – Bavarians as they were known, were quite popular from the 40s up through the 60s.

This recipe dates back to the 1940s and was one of Grace’s favorites year round. I don’t recall a holiday meal that she didn’t serve it. This chilled Bavarian pairs perfectly with your Easter ham and makes a delightful addition to any spring menu. Pineapple along with the tang of lime delivers a bright, slightly sweet tone to this cold salad and a creamy fluffiness comes from folding in a blend of whipped cream cheese and heavy cream. Throw in a bit of crunch from chopped celery and toasted pecans and this medley of ingredients come together in a splendid way.

This is a fun and unusual mix of items that play off each other surprisingly well!

Pineapple Lime Bavarian

1 large can crushed pineapple with the juice, 20-ounces about 2 cups

2 small packages lime flavored gelatin, 3-ounces each

1 cup small marshmallows

½ pint heavy cream, 1 cup

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Combine the pineapple, the gelatin and the marshmallows in a small saucepan.

Cook over low heat until the marshmallows are melted. Stir frequently.

Refrigerate the mixture until chilled.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the heavy cream and the cream cheese.

Whip until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the chilled gelatin into the whipped cream mixture.

Add the chopped celery and the pecans.

Chill and serve!

 

Black Bean Soup – In a Flash!

Black Bean Soup – In a Flash!

Emily and I talk about food a lot. We are always trying both new and old recipes and sharing what we’re cooking. Which is both good (very inspirational) and bad (the distance between Georgia and Texas gets in our way when we would like to pass food back and forth!) Recently Emily made a black bean dip which led to a conversation around black bean soup – something I hadn’t made in years.

Soup made from beans has long been a rural staple. My Mom as did many, used beans on their menu to stretch a dollar. Black beans have such a rich almost smoky quality making them perfect as a side dish or puréed into a dip and they’re bold enough as the star component in a wonderful soup. But as with any dried bean, preplanning is required before you can enjoy their goodness. But not so with this soup.

The recipe for this soup is a variation from one found in a favorite cookbook of mine – Soups and Stews from Food & Wine. Originally published in 1994 this book has spent its fair share of time in my kitchen through the years. This quick version of black bean soup uses canned black beans instead of dried cutting the prep and cook time down dramatically. It has an incredibly well-rounded flavor with additional notes of savory coming from onions and garlic, a burst of sweetness from corn and a background of spice from cumin. Plus there are bits of ham to satisfy those with a hearty appetite. The soup comes together with a depth that you would expect from one that has simmered hours on the stove.

With a dollop of sour cream and a bit of fresh cilantro you’re only 30 minutes from enjoying this wonderful soup!

Black Bean Soup

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 sweet onions, finely chopped

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic, about 2 garlic cloves

10 ounces ham, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

7 cans black beans, drained and rinsed, 15-ounces each – about 10 cups, divided

1 package frozen corn, 10-ounces

6-7 cups chicken stock, divided

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Sour cream and fresh cilantro for garnish

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are somewhat translucent – about 7-10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and the ham and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.

Stir in the cumin, the kosher salt and the black pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add 5 cups of the black beans, the corn, 4 cups of the chicken stock and the Worcestershire sauce.

Place the remaining 5 cups of black beans along with 2 cups of the chicken stock in a blender.

Purée on medium speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

Stir the puréed beans into the soup and continue cooking until it’s heated through. Add the additional cup of chicken stock if you like a thinner base for the soup.

Top with sour cream and fresh cilantro!

 

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata

This dish is a great “go to” when I’m tight on time and stumped for dinner ideas. Made from a short list of ingredients – most I always have on hand. From my early years of setting up a kitchen I keep my pantry stocked with my favorite staples. (I was raised by a Mom who prepared for unexpected blizzards or dinner guests!) Chicken Piccata is a simple but elegant dish with big and bright flavors. It’s perfect for any night of entertaining whether casual or formal!

Chicken Piccata is simply this – chicken breasts sautéed with garlic, butter and olive oil then brightened by fresh lemon juice along with the tangy bite of capers and artichoke hearts creating a bold and vibrant dish. Some recipes call for a 1/2 cup or so of white wine, by all means add it if you’d like!

Just a few of notes –

The chicken breasts can be split and will easily serve three to four people.

Capers have a sharp, distinctive flavor that comes from the brining of the buds. If you’re not sure that everyone in your group is a big fan of capers, start with two tablespoons and give it a taste. For the artichoke hearts, I recently stumbled across Roland’s Marinated and Grilled Artichoke Hearts and they are amazing! The char from grilling adds a wonderful smoky depth. You can find them in most fine food markets.

Chicken Piccata is a beautiful dish. Serve with a side of angel hair pasta tossed with olive oil and Parmesan cheese and you have a feast!

Chicken Piccata

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup butter

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/2” thick

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2/3 cup flour

4 garlic cloves

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 2 lemons

1 small jar capers, drained, 3-ounces

1 small jar marinated artichokes (preferably grilled and marinated), drained, 6.5 ounces

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with the kosher salt and black pepper. Loosely cover the meat with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes.

Put the flour in a shallow dish.

Dust both sides of the chicken breasts with the flour.

In a large sauté pan heat the olive oil with the butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted and the oil starts to shimmer add the garlic cloves and the chicken.

Sauté until the chicken is a light golden brown on both sides.

Add the lemon juice, the capers, the artichoke hearts and the parsley. Cover the pan and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Juices should run clear when you pierce the chicken breast with the tip of a knife. Just be careful not to overcook the chicken or it will be dry.

Serve on top of a bed of angel hair pasta!

Avocado Cream Dressing and Blue Cheese Cream – Two Delightful Savory Whipped Creams!

Avocado Cream Dressing and Blue Cheese Cream – Two Delightful Savory Whipped Creams!

Both of these recipes have been on my “to do” list for a while. The Avocado Cream Dressing comes from one of my Mom’s collections dating back to the 1950s.

The Blue Cheese Cream recipe was given to me by a lovely woman from France that we met this past holiday season.

I had both recipes lying out and noticed that oddly they are quite similar except for the key flavor components. Both start with a heavy cream base, both come together in the same fashion and both are absolutely luscious.

First, let’s start with the Avocado Cream Dressing. Though avocados seem to be the latest food trend and a new fruit discovery (yes, they’re technically a fruit) they’ve been around for thousands of years. According to the California Avocado Commission, by the 1950s around 25 varieties were being packed and shipped commercially. Avocado Cream Dressing showcases this versatile fruit in a delightfully surprising way. Simple. Avocados, cream and a touch of orange.

On a different flavor note is this beautiful Blue Cheese Cream. I love blue cheese and was so intrigued by the notion of blending this savory, piquant cheese into heavy cream accented with a touch of honey. Lovely is the best description!

Use these creamy blends on a salad, as a spread for a cheese board or a condiment on your favorite burger or sandwich. You’ll never think of whipped cream the same way!

Avocado Cream Dressing

1 cup heavy cream

3 ripe avocados, slightly mashed, about 1 to 1-1/4 cups

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Zest and juice of 1 orange

Pour the heavy cream into a blender. Add the avocados, the kosher salt, pepper and the zest and juice of the orange.

Blend on low for about 2-3 seconds, then on high for 5-6 seconds just until the dressing is thickened.

Keep dressing tightly wrapped and refrigerated until ready to serve. Avocados will oxidize but it doesn’t impact their flavor. If your dressing darkens a bit on the top you can simply skim off the top of the dressing.

Blue Cheese Chantilly Cream

1-1/4 cup heavy cream

½ cup blue cheese, Roquefort or Gorgonzola

1-1/2 tablespoons honey

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Pour the heavy cream into a blender. Add the blue cheese, the honey and the black pepper.

Blend on low for about 2-3 seconds then on high for about 8-10 seconds just until the cream is thickened.

Keep the cream tightly wrapped and refrigerated until ready to serve.

Quick note – If your cream is whipped thicker than you’d like, simply stir in some fresh cream until you reach your preferred consistency.