Sunday, February 1, 2015

Pizza Sauce - Recipe

     Here is my Pizza Sauce recipe for a 12-inch pizza or the top of a stuffed pizza.  It is fast, easy, and packed with flavor.  This sauce is a smooth sauce with the deep flavor of organic tomatoes, garlic, onion, oregano, and a hint of cayenne.

Pizza Sauce

(Makes 2/3 Cup)

1/4 c. Organic Tomato Paste
2 T. Olive Oil
1/4 c. Water
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/16 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp.  dried Oregano

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Spread the sauce over the dough for a 10-12 inch pizza.  If using it for a stuffed pizza, spoon and spread over the top layer of dough after partially cooking the dough for 10 minutes, then place back in the oven.  Cover a stuffed pizza with foil half way through the cooking time to prevent burning.

Stuffed Pizza out of the oven.

Stuffed Pizza on the cutting board.

Slice of Turkey Stuffed Pizza.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Labeling Serving Dishes - Party Time Saver

     During the holiday season, I figured out a neat trick to save time preparing for a party, especially if you are serving a lot of different things or have a lot of condiments.  I set the table a day ahead like I usually do, but this time I also cut out little sheets of paper with the food items written down.   Then I placed them in the serving dish to remember and keep track of what is for what.  That way I knew I had everything covered and was not scrambling at the last minute.  More importantly, it allowed my family to help plate everything the day of very easily.  They knew what and where something needed to be done without me telling them.  They just replaced each label with food.  It was like magic!  I could concentrate on getting the last minute items taken care of (like the heat smoked salmon) while they did their thing.
     This was a lefse party, one of my favorite things.  Lefse is a Norwegian wrapping bread that is often made with boiled potatoes and flour.  It has an appealing taste and texture suitable for both savory and sweet fillings - a beloved dish of Scandinavians.  It is mandatory at Christmastime, but we like lefse so much I do it more than once a year.  Sometimes I roll and fry the lefse with the guests joining in, and sometimes I do it a day ahead.  The lefse recipe is in Exceptional Comfort: The Recipes Volume I.


      This year I did a lefse brunch party with smoked salmon on the big green egg.

Lefse Brunch Menu

Lefse and Toppings

Heat Smoked Salmon
Chopped Red Onion
Spicy Mustard
Maple Turkey Sausage
Hard Boiled Eggs
Pickled Cucumbers
  Geitost (Brown Goat Cheese)
  Hushallsost (Swedish Farmer's Cheese)
Cinnamon Sugar
Ice Water


Butterscotch Pot De Creme with Candied Bacon
Berliner Kranser (Wreath Cookies)
Fruit Cake
Peppermint Bark Candy
Tea and Coffee

Monday, January 19, 2015

Chili - Recipe

     This recipe makes a boat load of chili.  It will feed your football crowd, and then some.  One of my favorite discoveries was found making this dish -using oatmeal to thicken the chili.  It is fast, works perfectly, and can even be considered healthy!  It disappears into the chili as it thickens!  Ha! Who knew!

Bowl of Chili


(Makes 20 1-cup servings (about 5 quarts))
2 lbs. Ground Beef
2 Yellow Onions chopped
1 head Garlic (Peeled and Chopped)
2 (29-oz.) can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1 1/2 c. Ketchup
2 T. Molasses
4 c. Chicken Broth
1 tsp. Ground Cardamom
2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1 T. Salt
1 tsp. Whole Cumin Seed
2 tsp. Crushed Cumin Seed
2 T. Paprika
1 Cinnamon Stick
3 T. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 tsp. Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
2 (24-oz.) can Pinto Beans (drained and rinsed)

2 c. Oatmeal (uncooked rolled oats)

Place ground beef and onions in a large Dutch oven. Sauté until the meat is brown. Add the garlic and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon. Stir in the ketchup, molasses, and chicken broth. Add the spices (start with less red pepper flakes for less spice if desired), and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning. Degrease by skimming any fat off the top with a spoon. Add the beans, cover, and simmer 15 more minutes stirring occasionally. Uncover, add the oatmeal, and cook for 15 more minutes until thick, stirring almost continuously. The oatmeal disappears as it cooks and thickens the chili. Take out the cinnamon stick and discard it. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Note: This dish freezes well. Freeze in 2-cup disposable containers for an easy meal. You may also cut the recipe in half for 10 servings.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Onesies for the Soul

     Happy New Year!  I for one am glad for the new year and happy to meet the changes and challenges this new year will bring.  At my house Number One Son will graduate college this year and has applied to 10 graduate schools.  Yes, ten.  More swings at the bat bring more hits.  Any how, these changes looming ahead have inspired deep philosophic conversations between the two of us which I will cherish.  When he moves into his own apartment somewhere in the USA, he will be even farther away, and we won't have these opportunities in person very often.  I have permission to share a bit of his enlightened wisdom which I found both extremely humorous, light hearted, and profound at the same time.
     After discussing some of the big stuff such as the state of the world, why we are not in control of our own food in this country anymore (i.e.. the amount of dangerous pesticides allowed etc.), and the definition of destiny, we came to the definition of the soul.  I described how when I was small we were taught that the soul's location was inside you near the heart area.  Then as an adult I read how ancient Celtic people believed that the soul was much larger.  That the body resided in the soul.  Number One Son asked "What if it just fits?  What if the body is a onesie for the soul?"  I smiled, -a onesie for the soul.  What a neat way of thinking about it.  Then he went on to ponder that maybe for some people the soul is not in exact alignment with the body and is a bit off; the head might be off to an angle for instance.  What if it was so off that it was 180 degrees rotated, and the soul's head was up its, you know?  That would explain a lot of things.  I burst out laughing.
     As funny as this sounds, I can't help thinking that he is right.  Maybe when our actions are not in line with what is best for us or hurting others, we are off kilter and out of balance.  My prayer for this new year and time of transition for my family and the world is that our choices are in alignment with our higher selves.
Lefse and Heat Smoked Salmon Dinner

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Haggis Neeps and Tatties with Whiskey Sauce

     I experienced my first Haggis, Neeps (yellow turnips), and Tatties (mashed potatoes) in Scotland on the first day at The Greyfriars Bobby's Bar in Edinburgh.  It was wonderful.  And the frosting on the cake was the whiskey sauce.  It completely dispelled all the nasty rumors that I had heard over the years.  It reminded me of a kind of peppery hash.  They used a pin head oatmeal that is toasted before adding to the mixture which had a rice-like texture.  The dish was described as mutton, oatmeal, and mixed spices.  Further research divulged that many butchers make their own special recipes.  Haggis is typically made from the offal of sheep.  That is not awful, it is offal.  The most widely used description of haggis I heard is the lamb's minced lungs, kidneys, heart, and sometimes liver mixed with oatmeal, spices, and suet or fat, and then cooked in a sheep's stomach.  A local lady told me that MacSween's was the best.  Many pubs and restaurants used this brand.  People either love it or hate this national dish.  One gentleman in a restaurant heard me talking to a young waiter, and he said some people think it is too spicy.  That is why not everyone is fond of it.  I did not think it was too spicy at all.  It had a pleasant warmth that was not overpowering.  Combined with the neeps and tatties, it made a wonderful comfort food.  Pubs usually included a whiskey sauce to go with your haggis which peeked my interest, because it was fabulous.  I asked a lady who was doing a whisky tasting at the Edinburgh Castle if she made whisky sauce.  She said yes, and basically it is a gravy with adding in whiskey at the end.  Some recipes call for mustard.   Some recipes start with whiskey, setting it aflame to burn off the alcohol, and adding the rest of the ingredients.  I don't like this method, - I am afraid of burning myself or my house down in the process. I like the -add a wee bit at the end method and let it bubble.  One thing about Scotland was that their whiskey is an art form.  One restaurant offered 450 different kinds and was happy to pair them up with the food you ordered.

Another thing about Scotland is that virtually every place you go has a story behind it.  The Greyfriars Bobby has its name taken after a dog named Bobby, who was owned by policeman, John Grey.  He used to eat lunch there, and when he died they buried him in the Greyfriars Kirkyard (also steeped in history, Kirk means Church) behind the bar.  Bobby used to keep watch by sleeping on his grave every night for 14 years.  When he passed, he was buried with his master.

To my delight, I found MacSween haggis at Romanes and Paterson.  Too bad I could not bring it home.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Time to Rejuvenate in the Scottish Highlands

Bagpiper in the Highlands

A Highland Loch

Portree, Isle of Skye

Mirror Image on the Isle of Skye

Kilt Rock, Isle of Skye

     If you haven't guessed by the bagpiper, I went to Scotland for the first time.  One can not go to the Highlands and come away unaffected.  It was like another planet for a while where the land was lost in time unchanged in centuries, yet spoke of the history and people who tried to survive there for thousands of years.  The still fjord-like lakes and round mountains covered in lush green and heather, the peat bogs, and rocks all tell their tales.  Structures of ancient people still say , "We were here."  I came back with more energy after exploring these hills, and not as worried about the usual stuff.  I learned a lot about how difficult it was to live here years ago when the average life span was 25-45.  Stepping away is wonderful and I feel I took a wee bit of Scotland home.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Taste of Northern Virginia Golf Tournament and Tasting Reception

Golf in the morning and food and wine tasting in the afternoon!
Benefits the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
To Register

     This is my second year volunteering with these folks.  It is a lot of fun and hard work.  There is much to be done to spread awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms, but it is imperative that every woman know what to look for.

     Come out, play some golf, wear your teal.  If you don't golf, no problem, come to the reception with tastings from great chefs and wineries!  See who we have lined up, including Chris Klyler from The Next Food Network Star and Cut Throat Kitchen, Chef Jeff Eng from Chopped and Rachel Ray's $40 a Day, and award winning founder and pit master of Dyvine Barbecue in Motion, Chef Derrick Wood!  Chefs  Also on board is Loudoun County's original winery Willow Croft Winery, Loving Cup Vineyard and Winery, and Winding Road Cellars! Wineries