Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘holidays’

Fancy Focaccia

I made a little batch of this over the holidays and found it to be a great little “tide you over” type snack.  Cause God forbid you should go hungry for any reason!

But sometimes you just find yourself in between “feasts” and need a little something.

Holidays 2012039

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Start with a fairly straightforward bread recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil ( 2 tbsp in dough, 2 later)

Topping:

  • seedless grapes cut in half
  • rosemary

Combine water, sugar and yeast and let sit about 5 -10 minutes until the yeast starts to froth up.

Then if you like, mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add the wet stuff gradually.

But I’m really not a fan of dirtying too many things so I just do it all in the mix master machine.

I’m also not much of a “kneady” girl, so again, I let the machine do it.

After the yeast has frothed, add the salt and the oil, then turn on the machine and put the flour in about a cup at a time, stopping to add more and scrape down the sides.

Then with the dough hook, let it go until it forms a nice ball.

OR   do it all the traditional way of flouring a board and kneading it.

Then oil a bowl and drop the dough ball in, turning it over in the oil a bit so it won’t stick.

Then cover with a damp tea towel and put somewhere warm and draft free ( I usually put it in the turned off oven) for about 2 1/2 hours till it doubles in size.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

Then,

Once that has happened, brush a 9 x 13 size dish or pan with some more olive oil and drop the ball of dough in the middle.   With your fingers, poke and stretch the dough till it covers the bottom of the pan.

Holidays 2012020

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Then,

Arrange the grape halves as you please, all over the top the dough and then sprinkle with rosemary.

I didn’t on this occasion, but you could also sprinkle with some coarse salt.

Holidays 2012022

Then bung it in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, till golden brown.

Cool on a rack and serve!

It tastes wonderful with some nice Boursin Cheese spread on it!!

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Eating Too Much

Happy Thanksgiving American Friends!

On this day of “heavy eating” I encourage you to take advantage of this repeat engagement of the acclaimed documentary “Food Matters

 

It is very interesting and worth you time.

 

Happy Turkey day!

 

 

 

This will fix you up!

Okay so I am bring back an old favorite, but this time of year I think you will need it!

Heading into the holiday season you want to be prepared!  And I don’t just mean by having all of your shopping done and your cookies baked!

I’m talking about your immune system!

All of that “merry making” and stress and eating and drinking too much and not getting enough sleep can really do you in!

Here is something I call the Three Appliance Beverage that will do wonders!

Yes it is a bit involved, but well worth it!

I also recommended that you pick yourself up some of the star ingredient Chyawanprash and to use it regularly even if not in the beverage!

Start working on your immune system NOW!

I have a friend going into hospital this week for a bit of surgery and I ALWAYS tell people to make sure you get yourself built up before any hospital visit!  Cause often what you can catch AT the hospital is way worse than what you are there for!!

Start topping yourself up on Probiotics and oil of oregano!

If you get yourself good and strong now, the holidays and the cold and flu season will be a breeze!

Turn this…….

Picture courtesy of “Inmagine.com”

Into THIS!

Photo courtesy of “inmagine.com”

Savory Bread Pudding

Here’s another little gem you might want to enjoy over the holidays……..

I call it a “savory bread pudding” but I’m sure you could come up with other names for it.

Savory Bread Pudding

This could be used as a nice alternative to stuffing (dressing) if you are still looking for a bready side dish without all the turkey bother.  It does have dairy and eggs, but no turkey juice, so the vegetarians can eat this.

Here is what you will need:

  • aprox 3 cups of cubed bread of some kind
  • 1 onion or shallot finely diced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms of your choice, sliced
  • 1 -2 cups of chopped baby spinach ( depending on how much you chop it)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme ( or poultry spice if you have that)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of 1/2 & 1/2 cream ( or whipping cream if you are inclined)
  • few dashes of hot sauce
  • some cheese ( I used some good white cheddar and a little bit of blue and parmesan cause I had it)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a pan with butter or olive oil.

Then in a frying pan with a bit of butter or olive oil, saute the onion and mushrooms, then add the thyme or PS and the S&P.

Meanwhile, cube your bread into 1/4 or 1/2 inch cubes and add them to your greased pan.  Then add in your cooked onions and mushrooms and toss them all together.

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Then lay on a layer of spinach and a good handful or two of the cheddar cheese and then stir those into all the other stuff till everything is thoroughly mixed.

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Then is a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the cream and the hot sauce.

Then pour the eggs and cream all over the bread then kind of swirl it around to make sure everyone is getting a little of the creamy love!

Even squeeze the bread down into the cream a bit to make sure it is all getting a bit soaked.

Then finish with a few sprinkles of the other cheeses like some blue cheese and parmesan.

Pop into the hot oven for at least 1/2 hour and then have a look at it.  Giggle it a bit, if it is still too wabbly, put it back in for a few minutes.

Then you might want to put it under the broiler for a few minutes just to brown off the top.

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To be honest, I probably could have just eaten a big bowl of the stuff by itself.   But instead I used it as a side dish with a spicy sausage stuffed Portobello mushroom.

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But I definitely feel it is worthy of a holiday side dish!

Somewhere on the I-5

We got started bright and early the next day after a wild evening of outlet shopping!

I DID mention there is no sales tax in Oregon right??

Last night we just ended up getting some grilled cheese, mind you really great grilled cheese filled with local Tillamook cheese, sandwiches at a family restaurant next to the outlet mall.

This was also the last day of the free breakfast buffet so we had to make sure we had the obligatory Belgium waffle, but to be honest I really wasn’t that into it.  I was looking forward to the holiday binge being over soon, but there was still one big celebration left!

So we got a good jump on the drive but as expected, eventually our stomaches got the best of us and we had to stop for some lunch.  Especially because it was New Year’s Eve and so we wouldn’t be eating dinner till later than usual, so we had to give in.

We pulled off the I-5 at a town called Castle Rock, Washington.  I have to admit that I have driven by Castle Rock a bunch of times in my life and have yet to identify any particular “rock” that looks like a castle, but maybe it is off the road somewhere.

We stopped at a place called “Peper’s 49er Restaurant”. 

Peper's 49er restaurant

This is a very unsuspecting place.  Just a joint by the side of the road, we weren’t expecting much but it was really a good experience.  

It was lunch time, but I ended up ordering breakfast and the Chef ended up ordering off the dinner menu and everyone was more than happy to accommodate us!

The service was exceedingly pleasant and most of the clientele you could tell were regulars mixed with a few folks like us who had wandered in off the interstate.

I had a very satisfying full deal breakfast and the Chef ordered the fish & chip dinner that came with a drink and dessert included.   We were very satisfied with our bellies full and ready to face the new year!

The Journey North

Well after a week of over indulgence in the South it was time to set our sights on the journey North. 

I almost want to say that I was a little tired of eating altogether, but luckily that wore off.

We packed up all of our loot, hugged the relatives good-bye and set off North.  Our big concern for the next few days was to get through the Cascade mountains without meeting up with any snow.  That’s why we had taken the coast on the way down, to avoid any such unpleasant weather as the mountains are prone to have this time of year.  Our only goal was to make it to Seattle by New Years Eve because we had plans that we had to get to.

But unlike the trip down, we hadn’t plotted any particular culinary stops on the way back and were just going to have to take our chances.

I’m afraid that this first day was a bust when it came to eating.  We stopped somewhere outside of Sacramento because we were starving and could go no further.  We had been looking for a Sonic Burger, because of the many American burger chains available, I have always found that one to be my favorite.   But instead we had to settle with an IN/OUT burger.  I had heard good enough things, but, I regret to say that I found it most average.  I will give it the benefit of the doubt in that we were pretty much over eating in general and so anything may seem a chore, but unfortunately that is the way things turned out.

We stopped for the night in Redding California.  That is the last sort of “real” place on the I-5 before heading up into the mountains.  It was getting dark so we figured we would get a fresh start in the morning to tackle Mount Shasta.

We had no dinner plans but we happened to pick up a flyer in the lobby of the hotel for a near by restaurant.  I was very excited at the prospect, it was called ” Dill’s Southern Style Barbecue”.  Now I love BBQ and this place sounded like a “joint” which usually always turns out to have the best stuff!

But sometimes that can be furthest from the truth!

Now I am usually of the thought that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, but I’m afraid it is my civic duty to warn you NOT to waste your vacation or eating pleasure on this place.  It is just plain bad.  I can’t even make any excuses for bad days on their part or ours.  It felt like eating in the back room at your garage while you are waiting for your oil change.   Bright fluorescent lighting, absolutely no decor, indifferent service and the food was microwaved and  awful.   Sorry Dill but I won’t be back!

The next morning when we got up it was pouring rain!!  Hopefully it wouldn’t be coming down as snow in the mountains.

Mount Shasta - photo courtesy of Blooming Rose Press

This is a picture of Mount Shasta on a clear day when it is quite spectacular, but on our day passing by we couldn’t even see her for the fog and rain.  

I’ve never actually stopped for any reason,  in the town Weed, which is high up in the mountains,  but the exit sign gets me every time!

Finally we made the trek through the most threatening part of the mountains and decided to stop for lunch in Eugene, Oregon.

I’ll admit that I have never stopped there either.  Usually when I am heading up the I-5 it is alone and I am on a mission to get to the Canadian border and don’t have time to stop and explore the towns along the way but we were in no immediate hurry so we ventured in.  Eugene is in a ways off the highway and not just an exit on the highway.

We had a hankering for some pizza and would have been happy with just a pizza parlour type scenario but instead we lucked out with a place called La Perla“.

La Perla Eugene Oregon

What a wonderful surprise this was!  The have those wonderful Neopolitan style pizzas with handmade dough and then cooked in one of those fancy dome ovens for 90 seconds at 1200 degrees!

We split the Caesar Salad and then I had the Capricciosa which consisted of:

Pomodoro San Marzano, artichokes, mushrooms, olives, fresh house made mozzarella, prosciutto cotto and Parmesan.

The Chef had the Campagnola topped with:

Pomodoro San Marzano, fresh house made mozzarella, Italian sausage, porsciutto cotto and Calabrese salami.

They were fresh and delicious!   If you are ever in Eugene, this place is worth the stop!!

The Very Next Day

Well obviously we couldn’t eat ALL that food at one seating!!  No matter HOW hard we tried!

So what to do with it the next day?

I mean after the compulsory turkey sandwiches and what have you, we still had to eat didn’t we??

So the Chef whipped up a wonderful dish with the left overs.  A fantastic Turkey Pot Pie!

He started by lining the bottom of the casserole dish with those cute little piped potatoes because those are made by making mash potato, piping them on to a tray and then baking them slightly so they keep their shape and get a nice toasty bottom.

So they made a nice base for “innards” that would go in on top.  

Next he diced up the roasted root vegetables and turkey meat into nice bite size or smaller chunks then added the left over gravy and mixed it all together and heated it in a pot on the stove.   Once that was done, he poured it over the potatoes in the dish, leaving space at the top for the puff pastry.

Now HERE is where things get crazy!

He gently removed the puff pastry coating off of the left over Beef Wellington.  Reheating Wellington doesn’t do justice, the meat will be over cooked and the pastry soggy.   But as it was the pastry was still perfectly good, not only that, but if you know what’s in a Beef Wellington, you’ll know that on top of the beef is a delicious layer of  “mushroom duxelle”  and then the residual beef flavours of course.

Then the pastry is added to the top of the cassarole and baked in the oven for about 20 minutes just to make sure everything is heated enough.

Voila!  A turkey pot pie the likes of which you’ve never tasted!  Layer upon layer of flavour!

Christmas dinner left over Turkey Pot Pie

But I know what you’re thinking.  He used up a whack of left overs for that one dish but what became of the beef?   Well don’t fret, that went to good use too.   He cut it up into small bits and with the left over UN-baked puff pastry from the fridge, made a whole bunch of mini party snack beef Wellington that he then froze and bagged up for my relatives to enjoy for weeks to come!!

Nothing went to waste!

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