Try a New Recipe: Artichoke and Spinach Relish with Walnuts

If you’re like me, you’re probably already planning your Thanksgiving menu. If you are or not, hey, why don’t you try this new recipe for Thanksgiving this year?
This is a quick appetizer we had for Thanksgiving last year. My friend Catherine made it for our appetizer spread. It came from the latest Real Simple magazine. We served it with homemade crostini; the magazine suggests crackers and vegetables for dipping.
The relish can be made and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance! While I would feel completely comfortable substituting ReaLemon for fresh lemon juice, there is No Substitute for real mayonnaise. You’re just going to have to trust me on this. (it’s only a few tablespoons, anyway)
This relish is a light, refreshing change to heavier dips you’ll see on holiday tables. I really loved it. Cath made it ahead, but left the walnuts out to be stirred in right before serving. I think that was a smart move. Delicious!


Artichoke and Spinach Relish with walnuts
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
total time: 10 minutes
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup walnuts
1 13.75-ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed and chopped
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (about 1 ounce)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool, then roughly chop.

In a small bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, spinach, Parmesan, mayonnaise, lemon juice, walnuts, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!

Try a New Recipe: Sourdough Starter + Bread

If you’ve ever wanted to try making sourdough, now is the perfect time to get “started!” OuR KrAzY KiTcHeN is holding the 3rd Annual Need to Knead Bread Roundup, and if you “start” now, you can have some fabulous sourdough bread to enter in the roundup!
This recipe came from one of my Taste & Create partners last year: Grace of A Southern Grace. (If you’d like to sign up and participate in November, go here by Nov. 8!)

As I was looking around Grace’s blog last year, I kept seeing all the fabulous things Grace does with her precious Ebenezer, her sourdough starter.

And I thought:

Exactly what kind of cowgirl doesn’t have a jar of sourdough starter?

Can I actually claim to be a cowgirl, having never made a loaf of bread from my own starter?

Does Grace have a recipe for sourdough starter?

Will this sourdough starter really, truly be hard to kill, as Grace alleges?
Please let it be hard to kill, and easy to maintain.

What should I name it??

And I made a list for Number One and sent him off to the store.

Sourdough Starter
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
3 tablespoons instant potato flakes

To make starter:
Mix water, sugar, yeast, and potato flakes. Let ferment on counter for two days. Then feed with starter feeder and continue with the instructions found in the bread recipe and/or links below.

Starter Feeder
Mix together:
½ c sugar
3 T potato flakes
1 c warm water

Add to jar of starter, (I mixed mine a little with a wooden spoon) and let sit on the counter for around 8 hours.

Grace says: Eb lives in the fridge until feeding time, which can be anywhere from 3 to 14 days after his last meal. (I’ve actually gone longer than two weeks without feeding him and he still did fine.) Upon feeding, he sits on the counter for about 8 hours, and then he’s ready to go.

After sourdough has been on the counter for 8 hours, proceed with any number of sourdough recipes. (Click this link to see all the things I’ve made with sourdough starter!)

The sourdough starter went off without a hitch. It sat and fermented and bubbled and stewed on the counter. I added the starter feeder, and it bubbled away some more. I decided to name it Virgil, which means “growing.”

When it was time, I decided to go ahead with the most basic recipe, Sourdough Bread. I followed Grace’s recipe to the letter. 12 hours later, the dough had risen, but certainly wasn’t overflowing out of my bowl like Grace’s was out of her trifle bowl. Perhaps my bowl was bigger, or something?

I decided I’d make just two loaves instead of three loaves like Grace made. I left the loaves in the oven for 8 hours, just like Grace recommends.
My bread turned out lovely! Perfectly risen, (see above!) golden brown on the outside. The very middle was just a bit doughy, so next time I will preheat the oven to 350 before I start the timer! I think that will take care of that little problem. But, this bread is delicious and easy, and I started baking more of my own bread! I also tried some other sourdough recipes, and I even got my neighbor started with some starter of her very own!
I am sold and converted. Now I’m a real, live cowgirl with real, live sourdough starter in the fridge. Howdy, Virgil. Thanks for coming into my life! I know we’ll make some beautiful things together.
Grace’s Sourdough Bread
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sourdough starter
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
5 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons wheat germ

Combine all ingredients in a large non-metal bowl. Stir everything together, adding more bread flour as necessary to create dough that’s no longer sticky. Transfer the dough into a second non-metal greased bowl.

Roll it around so the entire ball becomes glorious, set it in a warm place, cover it with sprayed aluminum foil…and watch it grow for about 12 hours.

After 12 hours, punch down the dough once, right in its middle. Turn it out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead it a few times.

(Although Grace divided her dough into three, I only felt like I had enough for two loaves this time).

Divide the dough into two or three even hunks, and knead each a bit more. Place the dough into greased loaf pans.

Place the pans in the oven, cover with sprayed foil, and leave to rise again for around 8 hours.

Grace says: Just FYI, the pans are put into the oven to rise so they don’t have to be moved later and risk collapsing.

After the second rise, remove the foil and bake the dough at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Preheat the oven before you start the timer!
Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!

TRY A NEW RECIPE: PORK STEW IN CIDER

This stew is so delicious, with pork, onions, apples, it is just perfect for fall. The recipe comes from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.
Of course I can never find hard cider in this almost virtually dry county (quite ironic that I live here, I know!) So I opted to use “Apple-Beer,” a non-alcoholic substitute. I can’t even find genuine apple cider here (non-alcoholic) either, so I thought Apple-beer would be an adequate substitute.
And, I was right! This stew with Apple-Beer is delicious! I was worried about the carbonation, but should not have been. The stew is savory yet sweet, and very filling. I served it with egg noodles, and one of our guests stated I should open a restaurant. You should make this today! It is a perfect fall stew, excellent. I will definitely make this again.

Pork Stew in Cider
Although the water chestnuts are optional, they add a nice, crunchy texture. The cider is an important ingredient. The alcoholic stuff is best, so look for a good brand, such as Dry Blackthorn.
Serves 6
Cooker: medium round or oval
Settings and cook times: HIGH for 20 minutes (optional), then LOW for 7 to 9 hours.
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large tart cooking apple, such as Granny Smith or pippin, peeled, cored and roughly cut into 1-inch cubes
One 8-ounce can whole water chestnuts (optional), drained and cut in half
1 ½ pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ teaspoon salt
7 grinds of black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons rubbed sage
2 cups dry hard cider
Long-grain rice or egg noodles for serving
  1. Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Layer the onion, apple, water chestnuts, and pork in the cooker; sprinkle with the salt, pepper and sage. Pour the cider over all. Turn to HIGH for 20 minutes, if you have time, to heat through.
  1. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours.
  1. Serve in shallow soup bowls with long-grain white rice or egg noodles.
Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!

Try a New Recipe: Chicken with Bacon, Mushrooms and Onions

This slow cooker recipe is from Real Simple magazine, and it is delicious. I love this dish; it smells wonderful when its simmering away. It is very comforting, flavorful and the sauce is excellent. We’ve had this several times!

*This dish has been added to the select few
that make up a delicious category on my blog:
Chicken in a Fabulous Sauce!*

The steps of frying the bacon and browning the chicken really are important, and add so much flavor. The little onions are so cute and yummy. I have made this with sliced mushrooms (when my neighbor picked up the “wrong” kind), but I prefer whole.

Make this for dinner–you and your family will love it. We eat ours with crusty Artisan bread.


Slow-Cooker Recipe: Chicken with Bacon, Mushrooms, and Onions

This is the country version of the fussier coq au vin. Serve it with mashed potatoes. (tonight we served it with rice. you could also serve it with noodles, whatev.)


1/2 pound sliced bacon, diced
1 4- to 6-pound chicken, cut up
1/2 cup dry white wine (or 1/4 cup dry vermouth plus 1/4 cup water)
1/2 pound small white mushrooms
1 cup frozen small white onions, thawed
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary leaves)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat until crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer it to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Pour off all but a light coating of fat from the skillet. Add the chicken and brown over medium-high heat; transfer to the cooker. Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits; add the skillet contents to the cooker, along with the mushrooms, onions, garlic, rosemary, and salt. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 hours, or on high for 3 hours. Transfer the chicken, bacon, and vegetables to a platter; keep warm. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan. Combine the water and cornstarch; stir it into the sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Pour over the chicken.

Makes 6 servings

CALORIES 551 (50% from fat); FAT 30g (sat 9g); PROTEIN 56mg; CHOLESTEROL 212mg; CALCIUM 61mg; SODIUM 824mg; FIBER 1g; CARBOHYDRATE 8g; IRON 4mg

Real Simple, MARCH 2004

Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!

Try a New Recipe: Pressed Cuban-Style Burgers

This is one of Bobby’s recipes, from his Boy Gets Grill cookbook. (*You know him as Bobby Flay. I call him Bobby. We’re on more familiar terms, if only in my head…) His cookbook is one of our favorites, but we keep returning to a few select recipes. The Cuban-Style Burger has been calling my name for quite a while. I’d never had a Cuban Burger or Cuban Sandwich before, but there was something intriguing about them, to me at least. So since Number One was running to town, I decided today is the day to try them and sent him to the grocery store too.

We proceeded with the wrapping in tin foil, but I also think these would be great put together and pressed panini-style. Also, Number One brought home generic grocery store hamburger buns. You know the ones, eight to a package, fluffy white. I think buns just a step or two above that kind, like store bakery-made but not crusty, would have been better. Also a better variety of ham. But beggars can’t be choosers, especially when you’ve asked your husband to run to the grocery store for you. I won’t even mention the pickle incident. Let’s just sum it up by saying, my husband went to the store!

I roasted the garlic in a dry pan, on top of the stove. It is faster that way than doing it in the oven, which is fortunate because I forgot about the roasted garlic until I was ready to start grilling! Just heat a skillet over medium heat, and add unpeeled garlic cloves. Turn them so all sides get heated on the pan, in about 10 or 15 minutes they should be great–you should be able to squeeze them down with your fingertip. If they don’t feel soft, just leave them on longer. (If some parts turn a bit black, that’s fine! Remove from heat, peel and puree.

These sandwiches are delicious! I loved them, pickles and all. Number One said he preferred them without pickles. I think they are just perfect. The garlic mayonnaise is wonderful, and all the flavors just complement each other so well. H-Bomb liked them too, although he didn’t end up eating all the components.

We will definitely be making these burgers again! (And, the next time I’m in Miami, I already know what I’m going to order!)



Pressed Cuban-Style Burger
s
Serves 4; can be doubled for 6 to 8

Bobby says: When I’m really, really hungry,all I think about is a big, fat burger oozing melted cheese and pickles. Unless I’m in Miami, when all I think about is a big, fat Cuban sandwich oozing melted cheese and pickles. Cheeseburgers and Cuban sandwiches are my two favorite indulgences, and they’re actually pretty similar. This sandwich combines the two. Don’t be tempted to use fancy crusty bread here. Only soft rolls will get the perfect crisp crust you want to play against the soft interior. As for the meat, chuck is about 80 percent lean, which grinds to the right texture for burgers. Note that you’ll need a heavy pot or a couple of bricks to press the burgers.

1 pound freshly ground beef, preferably chuck (see headnote)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, roasted and pureed
4 hamburger buns
2 to 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 thin slices Swiss cheese
4 thin slices ham
2 dill pickles, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 16)

1. Heat your grill to high.

2. Form the meat into four burgers. Season all over with salt and pepper. Grill the burgers until medium-rare, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and leave the grill on.

3. Combine the mayonnaise and roasted garlic in a small bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the cut sides of each bun with garlic mayonnaise and mustard. Place a slice of cheese on the bottom of each bun and a burger on top of the cheese, then top the burger with a slice of ham. Add another slice of cheese, then the pickle slices. Cover with the tops of the buns and wrap each burger individually in aluminum foil.

4. Place the burgers close together on the grill and rest a heavy skillet or a couple of bricks on top of them, pressing down if needed to flatten them. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!

Try a New Recipe: Min’s Pork Chile Verde

For a while, we had a Schwan’s delivery guy who said he used to be chef. He said he was “Irish-Mexican” and that his dream job would be cooking on a ranch like ours. He was large, round, friendly and nice, and we talked quite a bit about food. He shared the ingredients for his “secret” Green Chile, and I wrote them down. I didn’t write down the technique, amounts, or anything else, so the first time I made this, I winged it. For a last-minute dinner for 14 hungry cowboys. Everyone loved it!

This is a nice, filling stew, perfect for a fall day.
Just so you know, here are all the notes I started with:
Green Chile
chicken stock
roasted green chiles
chicken bouillon
cumin
mexican oregano
pork sirloins or chicken
cornstarch to thicken (don’t if freezing)
pureed tomatoes
And that’s all I got. He said that green chile is “peasant food” or something to that effect, and that he used to make and serve it in a restaurant where he cooked. He also said something about feeling okay to share the “recipe” with me because I live in the middle of nowhere, basically “who are you going to tell?” Ahem.
But, you know, I made this up as I went along, and I also added more ingredients, and completely improvised the method. So it’s not really like I divulged any big secrets here. I don’t think, anyway, given the end result.
I pulled a 5-pound package of pork loin ribs out of the freezer, but didn’t realize that they were not boneless, but that’s all I had. That’s okay, since I was cutting the meat up anyway, I just had an extra step of removing all the bones. Incidentally, the slab of meat wouldn’t fit into our microwave for defrosting, so I did it a different way: I stuck it into the biggest frying pan I have (it didn’t all fit, some was sticking over the edge), put a cup of water in the pan and perched the lid on top of the meat. I turned it on medium to sort of “steam-thaw” it until I could get the ribs apart and cut them into bite-size pieces. It worked pretty well, I just tried not to cook the meat very much in the process. It would be much easier with advance notice (instead of, “Do you think you could make dinner for us tonight? There are 14 of us”) and having meat that was thawed.
Yesterday, I used boneless country pork ribs that I had already thawed, so I didn’t have any pork “broth.” I just used all chicken broth instead.
And although this started out to be a somewhat “authentic” Chile Verde, it ended up being something quite different. I embraced the “peasant food” label and ran with it, boiling and straining the pork rib bones for broth, adding ingredients that we had in the pantry to extend the recipe when I didn’t think it looked like enough to feed 14.
It was a bit too spicy for the kids…If you’re concerned about it being too spicy, just leave out the can of jalapeños and reduce the cumin.

Don’t forget, this recipe serves 14 with some leftover. You can half the amounts of everything if you wish, although it’s sooooo good, I don’t know why you would. Also, I always always forget to add the tomatoes at the end. I’m going to go ahead and call them “optional.” =)

Min’s Pork Chile Verde Stew
serves about 14
Butter
Olive oil
5 pounds boneless pork ribs
1 cup flour
1 1/2 yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups)
2 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch dice
4 cans chicken broth (2 cans if using pork “broth”)
7 cubes chicken bouillon
4 4-ounce cans fire-roasted diced green chiles
1 4-ounce can fire-roasted diced jalapeños
6 to 8 red potatoes, washed and cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can whole kernel corn
1 tablespoon cumin (or to taste)
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, crushed
1 can diced tomatoes (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Pour flour into a large ziploc bag. Cut pork into 1/2-inch pieces, add to ziploc bag, seal and shake to coat. Starting with two tablespoon each, add butter and olive oil to a large soup pot over medium heat. Remove pork from flour with a slotted spoon, and fry in butter and oil until golden brown and cooked through, stirring occasionally. Remove cooked pork to a plate, and repeat until all pork is cooked and on a plate, using more butter and oil as necessary in equal amounts.
Add diced onions to the pan, along with an additional tablespoon each of butter and olive oil, if necessary. Saute over medium-low heat until onions are translucent. Add carrots, stirring in and cooking for a few minutes. Add chicken and pork broth, and chicken bouillon cubes. Return pork to the pot.
Add everything else except tomatoes, salt and pepper, and stir well. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until potatoes are tender. Stir in tomatoes and warm through. Taste and adjust for spices, add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve with tortillas or crusty bread on the side and plenty of Corona.
Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!

Try a New Recipe: Pear Butter (& Canning Tips!)

Before we get into this luscious fall recipe, I need to do a little shameless plug. Some of you may have heard of Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog? You may or may not know that I am a competitor! You can read my first Project post here.

If you love my recipes, and maybe even my blog, The Bad Girl’s Kitchen, please go over and Vote For Me at Project Food Blog. Be sure to vote before the polls close on September 23rd!


And while you’re at it, please vote for my fellow Our Krazy Kitchen pals:

Thank you!!! So much, for your comments, your support, and for coming back to OKK time and again.
Now we return you to the previously scheduled recipe…
This recipe came about after I discovered how much I LOVE homemade Apple Butter. And since I have sooooo many pears from our trees in town. I decided I could make the Pear Butter using the same technique, just varying the spices. It is so simple. Not quick, but simple. The Pear Butter is inspired by the Apple Butter recipe from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.
The pear butter turned out great! Smooth and delicious. And so easy.
Pear Butter
Makes about 10 cups in a six-quart slow cooker.
Does anyone make pear butter? I don’t know. But this is an easy recipe in the slow cooker, with very little hands-on time until you’re ready to can the butter. Be sure to use unpeeled pears, since the pectin in the skins will help make the butter nice and thick. The yield will vary, depending on how thick you like your butter.
Setting and Cook Time: LOW for 12 to 20 hours; cooker is uncovered at 10 to 12 hours
5 pounds pears, unpeeled, cored, and cut up, or enough pears to fill your cooker
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of salt
  1. Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Fill with the pears, almost to the top; the exact amount is not critical. As you load in the pears, sprinkle with the sugar in layers. Cover and let stand at room temperature all day; the pears will exude some of their own juice and collapse slightly. Pears are very juicy.
  2. Add the spices and salt and toss the pears with a large wooden spoon. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 to 12 hours, or overnight.
  3. In the morning, remove the lid and let the pear butter cook an additional 2 to 8 hours on low to reach the desired thickness.
  4. Prepare your canning jars and lids during the last hour or so of cooking. Wash your jars and place them in a pot of very hot water, over the tops of the jars, but do not boil. Place your flat lids in a saucepan and cover with boiling water, then let sit off the heat. Have your clean screw rings ready, along with your towel, tongs, damp dish cloth, etc. (see here for canning hints)
  5. Keep the slow cooker on low so the pear butter remains hot. Use a hand held immersion blender right in the crock and puree’ the butter until it is as smooth as you’d like. Ladle the hot pear butter into hot glass jars, wipe rims, place hot flat lids on top and secure with screw rings. As jars are filled, place them on a clean towel, upside down. When all the jars are filled, let sit upside down for 10 minutes, then turn all jars right side up. Let cool on the counter for about 24 hours, then check for seals. In the meantime you should hear little pops as the jars are sealing. After 24 hours, press lightly on the middle of the lids, if a lid bounces back, it has not sealed and should be refrigerated. Store unsealed jars, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Or transfer to small plastic storage containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
Canned pear butter should be good for at least one year.
Serve cold or at room temperature.
Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!

Try a New Recipe: Mixed Green Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

This recipe comes from The Culinary Institute’s Gourmet Meals in Minutes. I prepared this salad for guests for a fall luncheon, to accompany my Irish Beef Stew, bread and butter, and Cowboy Cookies. I used organic fresh pears from a tree in one of our fields on the ranch, romaine lettuce, and gorgonzola.


Mixed Green Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Blue Cheese
makes 8 servings preparation time: 20 minutes

Though easy to prepare, this is an elegant starter for every day or when entertaining guests. Port Wine Vinaigrette provides the perfect finishing touch for this marriage of sweet and piquant flavors.

1 1/2 pounds red leaf lettuce or baby romaine, washed and dried
1/2 cup Port Wine Vinaigrette
6 ripe Seckel pears, quartered and cored
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled

Toss the lettuce with the vinaigrette. Divide the lettuce between 8 plates. Top with 3 pears and about 2 tablespoons each of the walnuts and blue cheese.

Note: Other pears may be used, depending upon seasonal availability.

I just put the lettuce in a huge serving bowl, tossed with vinaigrette and topped it with the walnuts, cheese and pears. It looked great in the bowl (forgot to take a picture though).

Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!

Try a New Recipe: Oatmeal Scotchies


These cookies are one of my favorites; crispy, chewy and wholesome-tasting. My grandma always used to make them for me, and still occasionally makes them when I see her. She lives far away, otherwise I’m sure she would bake me cookies whenever I asked. (And since I moved away, sometimes I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a box of cookies in the mail). I love my grandma! I finally got the recipe from her again a couple years ago, to include in our family cookbook.

Guess what? My grandma is here! And she brought me some of these cookies, so I have to share them with you before I eat them all…

Oatmeal Scotchies
Makes about 48 3-inch cookies or 30 4 1/2-inch cookies.

2 cups unsifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 ½ cups quick oats, uncooked
One 12-ounce package (2 cups) butterscotch chips
½ teaspoon orange extract or vanilla

Preheat oven to 375°. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, eggs and water; beat until creamy. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in oats, chips and extract. Drop by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.
Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit on pan for a minute or two before removing to racks to cool.
Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!

Try a New Recipe: Crepes Nutella

We had a wonderful trip to Paris and the French countryside! I know you were all wondering! I expected to come back several pounds heavier from eating everything I possibly could, but no such luck. I have a couple cookbooks with traditional recipes from the region we visited in the country, but they are in French and will take some time for me to translate and prepare.
There were so many things we ate that were delicious beyond words, and I am wishing more than anything there was a French Patisserie right here on the ranch. One of the best things about France is the bread and butter. It’s just sooooo good. Our four-year-old boy, Sawed Off, absolutely LIVED on bread (no butter for him). Our seven-year-old lived on Escargot. That’s right, I said snails. He LOVES snails.
The other thing we were able to get Sawed Off to eat (just to balance out his diet), and that you and I can very easily recreate right here at home, were Crepes Nutella. (and if you don’t believe that carbs and chocolate are part of a balanced diet, well…perhaps you shouldn’t take that trip to Paris after all…)
I really don’t know how many times Sawed Off ate Crepes Nutella. Yes, crepes with that lovely chocolate hazelnut spread that you can buy right here in the States! And they are so easy to make.
I’ve already given you the crepe recipe, so just make a batch of crepes. While they are still hot, spread thinly (or thickly) with Nutella, fold, serve and ENJOY! Tres simple!

Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!

Try a New Recipe: Marinated Mushrooms

Yet another recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen. I used to make these a lot, even took them on a hiking/camping trip in a little plastic jar! You might as well double the recipe from the start. Very flavorful, you will wonder where these little gems have been all your life! Served cold, they are very refreshing in the summer!
Marinated Mushrooms
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 antipasto servings
1 pound small mushrooms (1-inch diameter)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 medium clove garlic, minced
fresh black pepper
a handful of finely minced parsley
Clean the mushroom thoroughly, slicing off and discarding the stems. Place the mushroom caps in a saucepan with no added water, cover, and cook them over medium heat 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the marinade by combining all the remaining ingredients in a medium-small bowl.
Drain the mushrooms. (for a great soup stock, reserve the liquid). Place the mushrooms in the marinade, stir gently, and let marinate, either refrigerated or at room temperature, for at least several hours. Stir occasionally during marination. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!

Try a New Recipe: Râpée Morvandelle [Gratin of Shredded Potatoes with Ham, Eggs & Onions]

I am currently at my friend Jean-Claude’s country house in the South of France!! I scheduled this post in advance because I’m on a fabulous vacation with my family! (plus there’s no internet at the country house, but there are neighbors with goats who make cheese!) I can’t wait to tell you all about my culinary and other adventures in France, but in the mean time, here is another scrumptious French recipe to tide you over.

My friend Jenny started a book club last year, and in April it was finally my turn to choose a book! It may not come as a surprise that I chose Julie and Julia. I had been wanting to read the book, but before I had a chance to, my step-mother-in-law and I went to see the movie together. She said something like, “it’s about food, and blogging, and I knew you’d love it!” She is so very thoughtful, and we had a wonderful afternoon at the theater.
As soon as the book arrived (I wanted it in hardcover, not the movie tie-in re-release), I pored through it. Then I started in on Julia’s My Life in France. I won’t give away everything about the book, other than to say I loved it. I was also happy to see my favorite Poulet au Porto make an appearance (if only briefly on screen) in both movie and book! My only complaint is that I WANT TO KNOW what Julia said about Julie!! But no such luck.
Of course I was planning our trip to France as well!
So anyway, back to the dish at hand. Since I chose the book, I hosted the book club gathering on Saturday. I wanted to serve something delicious (yet simple?) and of course it simply had to be out of Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. (which may automatically seem to be an oxymoron in Julia’s book) And I have to admit, I could never ever attempt Julie’s “cook every recipe in the book” feat with this book. It’s just too complicated and to me, it’s hard to follow. Sorry, Julia, I had to say it. But the recipes I have tried have been fabulous!!
I was happy to find a little note in this recipe that read: “(*) May be prepared ahead to this point.” Perfect.
This is a Gratin of potatoes, with ham, eggs and onions. I think it will be perfect with a simple salad served with Julia’s vinaigrette.
This dish was fabulous, although I must admit I probably wouldn’t make it very far in advance the next time…the potatoes didn’t fare well in the fridge overnight, although they weren’t too far gone to rescue. I should have put some plastic wrap directly on the mixture to prevent the blackening…and as Julia said, “who will ever know?” I’m just telling you so you can avoid it!
Râpée Morvandelle
Gratin of Shredded Potatoes with Ham and Eggs and Onions
For 4 people

1/2 cup finely minced onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup (3 ounces) finely diced cooked ham
4 eggs
1/2 clove crushed garlic
2 tablespoons minced parsley and/or chives and chervil
2/3 cup (3 ounces) grated Swiss cheese
4 tablespoons whipping cream, light cream, or milk
Pinch of pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 medium-sized potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
An 11- to 12-inch baking dish or skillet about 2 inches deep or individual baking dishes about 6 inches in diameter
1/2 tablespoon butter cut into pea-sized dots

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cook the onions slowly in the oil and butter for 5 minutes or so, until tender but not browned.
  • Raise heat slightly, stir in ham, and cook a moment more.
  • Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with the garlic, herbs, cheese, cream or milk, and seasonings. Then blend in the ham and onions.
  • Peel the potatoes and grate them, using large holes of grater. A handful at a time, squeeze out their water. Stir potatoes into egg mixture. Check seasoning. (*) May be prepared ahead to this point.
  • Heat the butter in the baking dish or skillet. When foaming, pour in the potato and egg mixture. Dot with butter. Set in upper third of preheated oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until top is nicely browned. Serve directly from the dish or skillet.
Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!