December Recipe: Cranberry Chutney

Cranberry sauce people can be grouped into 2 distinct groups: “jelly” and “the real thing.”  This will please the latter group.

4 cup fresh cranberries (1 lb.)
1 cup raisins
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 apple, pared and chopped
1/2 cup sliced celery

Clean and pick over cranberries, put into large casserole, add raisins, sugar, spices and water. Gently boil for 15 minutes, until berries pop and mixture thickens. Stir in onion, apple, and celery. Simmer 15 minutes more. Delicious with fowl and pork. Makes 4 cups.

You can put this up as preserves if you’ve a mind. Makes a great holiday house gift. (Pack into hot, clean jars, seal and process in hot water bath for 20 minutes.)

November 2004
Autumn Pinecones

It’s almost too pretty to eat!! Needs to chill overnight.

1 1/4 cups whole natural almonds *
1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
5 crisply cooked bacon slices, crumbled
1 tbsp. chopped green onion
1/2 tsp. dill weed
1/8 tsp. pepper

* Don’t use blanched whole almonds. The brown skin on the natural almonds makes the pine cones look realistic.

Spread almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan. Bake at 300° for 15 minutes, stirring often, until almonds begin to turn color. Combine softened cream cheese and mayonnaise; mix well. Add bacon, onion, dill and pepper; mix well. Cover; chill overnight. Form cheese mixture into shapes of two pinecones on serving platter (think tear-drop shaped). Beginning at narrow end, press almonds at slight angle into cheese mixture in layering rows. Continue overlapping rows until cheese is covered. Garnish with pine sprigs*. Serve with crackers.

I usually take some fresh pine sprigs and wrap ends in foil - then push them into top of pine cones. Great for the winter holidays.

October 2004
Patio Baked Beans

This is a foolproof side dish for bar-b-ques. There is rarely any left, and someone always wants the recipe If some is leftover, use it as a filling for enchiladas.

10 slices of bacon
1 medium onion
1 (1 lb.) can pork 'n beans in tomato sauce
1 (1 lb.) can dark red kidney beans,
drained and rinsed
1 pkg. frozen Fordhook Lima Beans - thawed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Grated fresh parmesan cheese

Fry bacon until crisp. Reserve some of the drippings and sauté onion until golden. In a large bowl, combine all beans. Add sugar, cheese, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Add bacon and onion. Pour mixture into an ovenproof casserole. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.

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September 2004
Yummy Applesauce

I make this applesauce on New Years’ Eve with a crown roast of pork. It's incredibly good.

2 1/2 cup water
4 tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice
7 med. size Granny Smith or other firm,
tart apples
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup good French Sauternes
6 tbsp. red currant jelly
2 cinnamon sticks
grated zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup raisins (optional)

Mix half the water and half the lemon juice together in a bowl. Peel and core the apples and cut then into 1 1/2” irregular chunks. As you cut each apple, drop the pieces into the water to prevent discoloration.In a medium size saucepan with a heavy bottom, combine remaining water and lemon juice, the sugar and Sauternes. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and add the apple chunks. Partially cover and cook gently until apples are just tender; apple chunks should remain whole. With a slotted spoon, transfer apples to a bowl. Add the currant jelly and cinnamon sticks to the syrup remaining in the pan. Set over medium heat, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until syrup is reduced by 1/3. Stir in lemon zest.
Pour the syrup over the apples. Stir in the raisins if you are using them. Serve warm; or cool, cover and refrigerate. Serves 6

Note: Double the recipe, you won't regret it!

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August 2004
Sautéed Penne with Mushrooms

From Umbria (central Italy), a region famous for its fruity, deep green olive oil and black truffles, this recipe calls for gradually adding stock to the dry pasta, in the manner of risotto, to heighten the flavor.

1/2 cup parsley leaves
5 oz. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 med. onion, peeled & quartered
3 oz. mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thickly
6 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. dried penne pasta
1/3 cup cognac
5 cup beef stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt & fresh ground pepper

Process parsley with metal blade until finely chopped; reserve. Process onion until finely chopped. Heat 4 tsp. olive oil in a lg. skillet over moderate heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to brown evenly (about 10 min.). Remove from skillet. Now add remaining 2 tsp. oil and sauté onion until soft but not brown (about 5 min.). Return pasta to skillet, stir in cognac and cook until the liquid evaporates.Add 2 cup stock and cook, stirring until it is absorbed. Add 2 more cups of stock and, when it is almost absorbed, stir in the mushrooms. Add the remaining stock 1/2 cup at a time and cook, stirring until it is absorbed each time and the pasta is al dente. Stir in the cream and salt and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 min. Remove from heat, stir in parmesan. Sprinkle with parsley & pepper.

“Frying” dry pasta was new to me, but it works! This dish is worth the time.

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July 2004
Salsa Cheescake

A savory Mexican-style starter that tastes great and feeds a crowd.

1/2 lb. cream cheese *
1/2 lb. lite cream cheese *
1/2 C. grated romano cheese
1 1/2 C. grated jack cheese
2 C. nonfat sour cream (divided)
1 T. Flour
3 eggs
1 1/2 T. minced scallions
8 oz. salsa
4 oz. canned green chilies, drained, diced
1 T. chopped fresh cilantro
* both room temperature

For garnish: guacamole, diced red pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat cream cheeses until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup of the sour cream and the flour. Mix well. Add all eggs and mix again. Stir in grated cheeses, salsa, scallion, chilies and cilantro. Pour into an ungreased 9" spring form pan. Place on baking sheet in center of oven. Bake for 40-45 min., center will be set. Remove from oven and spread the remaining 1 cup of sour cream on hot cheesecake. Cool on a rack. Refrigerate, covered, for a few hours.

Place on a large round platter and surround with chips. Decorate with guacamole, chopped red pepper and sprig of cilantro.

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June 2004
Tortellini with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Pepperoni

This is a great lunch dish with a salad and bread.

1/4 lb. pepperoni, chunked
1 cup drained sun-dried tomatoes
1 tbsp. green peppercorn or Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup virgin olive oil
1 lb. tri-color tortellini
fresh basil leaves (garnish)

2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tsp. minced onion

In food processor coarsely chop pepperoni. Add tomatoes, mustard, lemon juice, red pepper flakes (optional ingredients). When motor is running, add olive oil in a stream until combined. Toss with hot cooked tortellini. Garnish with thin slivers of pepperoni and sliced basil leaves. Serves 3 to 4 as a main course.

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May 2004
Creole Eggs

A favorite brunch dish.

1/4 lb. butter
1 cup chopped onions
2/3 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped celery
2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 can Cream of Tomato soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 1/4 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 tbsp. MSG
1/3 tbsp. Beau Monde seasoning
Salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste
15 hard boiled eggs
2 cups grated cheese
1 1/8 cups Ritz cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 450°. Melt butter in large saucepan. Add onions, mushrooms, green pepper and celery and sauté until onions are translucent. Add soups and seasonings. Simmer until blended. Cut eggs into halves and arrange in one layer on an oven-to-table greased platter, or Pyrex baking dish. Pour sauce over eggs. Sprinkle with cheese and Ritz cracker crumbs. Bake for 15 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

Sauce will keep several days in refrigerator, but does not freeze well. Recipe doubles easily.

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April 2004
Torta Mascarpone

Mascarpone, a fresh triple cream cheese, lends texture and richness to this simple layered dessert. From Bon Appetit 8/87 - first served it on New Years Eve 2000.

1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup dry Marsala
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened)
or semisweet chocolate, grated
1 cup well-chilled whipping cream
2 egg whites, room temperature
20 amaretti (Italian macaroons) crushed
Fresh strawberries or raspberries (optional)

Beat mascarpone in large bowl until smooth. Stir in sugar, Marsala and vanilla. Fold in chocolate.

Beat cream in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another bowl until stiff but not dry. Gently fold cream into mascarpone mixture, then fold in whites. Divide 1/3 of mascarpone mixture evenly among 6 goblets. Sprinkle with 1/3 of amaretti. Top with remaining mascarpone mixture. Sprinkle with remaining amaretti. Cover and chill 3 to 24 hours. Top with berries.
Serves 6

Italian cream cheese available at Italian markets. If unavailable, blend 3/4 pound cream cheese with 6 tablespoons whipping cream and 1/4 cup sour cream. Measure 1 cup.

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March 2004
Peanut Butter Cake

2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Crisco
3 eggs (1 at a time)
1 cup milk
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 stick butter, softened
4 tbsp. milk
1 box confectioners sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter

This is an original recipe from a dear family friend, “Aunt” Elizabeth Scialabba. It was my absolute favorite. I still have her hand-written recipe in my files.

Place all cake ingredients in a mixing bowl just as listed. Mix until smooth. Place in greased and floured pan or pans. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Peanut Butter Icing:
In a bowl place soft butter - beat in 1 box sugar and milk, keep beating until smooth. Add peanut butter and taste. If too soft add more peanut butter, if too dry add more milk a tbsp. at a time.
Spread over cake.

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February 2004
Apple, Walnut, Liver Paté
1 cup walnuts
3 large shallots
2 large garlic cloves
1 med. onion (4 oz)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled & cored
1 lb. chicken livers (trimmed)
8 oz. hot Italian sausage (casing removed)
1/4 cup Calvados or Apple Jack
8 oz. cream cheese (room temp.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. ground allspice

Originally from The Pleasures of Cooking magazine, this spread has great flavor, good texture and freezes well. It’s addictive.

In a food processor, process walnuts 5 sec., remove. With machine running drop in shallots & garlic and mince fine. Add onion to work bowl and chop. In a large fry pan melt 3 T. butter over mod. high heat and add shallots, garlic and onion. Process apples and add to skillet; cook, stirring until soft and translucent. Return to processor. Melt remaining butter in skillet & sauté livers & sausage (breaking up latter) till cooked through, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, gently warm Calvados & ignite. Pour into meat mixture and stir until flame dies. Let cool slightly. Add meat to work bowl with cream cheese and herbs; process until well combined. Add walnuts and process to blend. Pour into ramekins. Chill.

Recipe makes several cups and if you use small dishes you can freeze what you don’t need right away.

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January 2004
Chicken Maria's Way
4 large chicken cutlets
1 large can cling peach halves, drained
1 large bunch fresh broccoli, cleaned and trimmed
1 stick butter
2 shallots, minced
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

I love this dish; I found it in a magazine many, many years ago. A colorful, one dish meal that's fast and easy. Oval, individual ceramic casseroles add to the presentation.

Melt butter in a medium pan, sauté shallots. Remove from heat and sprinkle liberally with paprika so the mixture is red. Coat chicken all over in the butter mixture and place in individual casseroles. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350° for about 20 minutes (don't overcook chicken!). Meanwhile, steam the broccoli till just right and rinse under cool water to set the color. Keep warm. Mix sour cream and mayo. Have all ingredients ready when chicken is done. Assemble cooked broccoli to one side of the chicken, two peach halves to the opposite side. Spoon cream mixture over each element lightly. Sprinkle with cheese. Put under the broiler until the cheese bubbles and browns nicely. WATCH CAREFULLY. Serves 4

A light appetizer, salad and bread would round out the dish for company.

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