Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Peanut brittle just seems to go with Christmas, with its salty-sweet combination.
It is surprisingly easy to make and makes delightful little hostess gifts.

4 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups light or golden corn syrup
¾ cup water
6 cups salted roasted peanuts with skins
8 T unsalted butter
1 T vanilla extract
1 T baking soda

In a heavy Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water.
Bring to a boil, mixing with a long wooden chopstick or spoon. 
Cover and boil 5 minutes.

Remove lid and add a candy thermometer and continue to boil until temperature reaches 275 degrees F.

Add peanuts and stir constantly until mixture reaches 300 degrees F, which takes about 12 to 15 minutes.  
At this point, the mixture should be a rich golden brown.
Immediately remove from heat and quickly add butter, vanilla, and baking soda.  
Stir until butter melts.
Pour down the center of 2 baking sheets and then spread evenly with an offset spatula.  Allow to cool 1 hour. 
Snap into shards and store in an airtight container.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Here is a recipe from south of the border . . . way south . . . all the way to Cuba.

3 cups dried black beans
1 qt water

3 T extra-light olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
1 jalapeno, split and seeded
1 bunch of cilantro, long stems cut off

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 t dried oregano
¼ t allspice
2 T ground cumin
½ t coriander
½ t turmeric
2 bay leaves
1 small smoked ham hock
2 qts chicken broth

Sour cream
4 scallions, chopped
Lime wedges, for garnish
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Rinse and sort beans, discarding any foreign material. 
Combine beans and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.  
Cover and set aside for at least 8 hours. You can also do this overnight.

In a skillet, add the oil and sauté the onion, celery, garlic, and jalapeno for 10 minutes.
When cool, spoon into a food processor along with most of the cilantro, leaving some for garnish, and process.

Drain the beans and discard the water. Add the beans to a large soup pot or Dutch oven.
Add the ham hock, chicken stock, and processed vegetables.
Add the spices and simmer, partially covered, for 3 hours.

To serve, remove the bay leaves and ham hock.
Ladle the soup into warm soup bowls.

Place a dollop of sour cream on top of each bowl of soup. 
Garnish with some scallions, fresh cilantro, and a lime wedge on the side.

Serves 4

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


This is the easiest sorbet to make because there is no simple syrup to make and let cool and no straining necessary.

4 cups blueberries
2 T freshly grated ginger
3 pieces of candied ginger, chopped
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup honey
1 T freshly grated lemon zest
3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup cold water
2 T vodka (optional)

Place all of the above ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.
Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.
Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer to a covered container and place in your freezer, until firm.

Serves 4 to 6

Monday, February 3, 2014


Coconut cake is such a delicious dessert to have once in a while.  I made this cake and cut a slice each for the two of us and cut the rest into three portions.  I froze them on a baking sheet in my freezer until they were hard enough to vacuum seal them.  Now I have cake whenever we have the urge for coconut cake again.  To frost the cake, I put three pieces of wax paper just under the bottom layer and put the cake pedestal on a Lazy Susan.  It is messy putting the coconut on the sides but when finished, you can pull the pieces of wax paper out and along with the mess and pour it back on the top of the cake.

¾ lb unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 t pure vanilla extract
1 t coconut extract
3 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
½ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Spray some cooking oil into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. Spray the top of the parchment paper as well.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and coconut extract. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add eggs one at a time. 

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternating with the milk. Mix just until combined.  Fold in the coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 prepared pans and bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  
Cool on a rack for 30 minutes and then turn the cakes out onto a rack to finish cooling.

1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
½ lb unsalted butter, room temperature
1 t pure vanilla extract
½ t coconut extract
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the cream cheese, butter and extracts on low speed.  
Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix just until smooth.

To Assemble
Place one layer on a flat serving plate, top side down and spread with frosting.  
Place the second layer on top (top side up) and frost the top and sides.  
Sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides.