Friday, October 26, 2007


It's October and that means it's time for our annual Oktoberfest party to celebrate my husband's birthday. The party is heavy on German beer and meats. I also tried out some new ones this year and was happy they were good. The menu consisted of: Spinach & Cheese Puff Pastry Pockets, Buffalo Chicken Dip (aka Crack Dip), Hot Pretzels and Warm Mustard Cheese Dip, Grilled Brats and Sauerkraut, Potato Salad, Shrimp Salad (for the vegetarians), Macaroni & Cheese (for the kids), Birthday Cake, and Cookies. Unfortunately I didn't get shots of all of the food. But here are some pictures & recipes.
Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry Pockets
12 frozen puff pastry shells, unthawed
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/4 cups grated Fontina cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 to 5 green onions, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the frozen pastry shells on the baking sheet and bake until they puff and become golden brown, about 20 minutes. Using a small knife, cut out the center of the pastry shells.

Meanwhile, stir the cream, milk, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the spinach, Fontina cheese, Parmesan, and green onions. Spoon the spinach mixture into the baked pastry shells. Bake until the pastries are golden brown and the filling is hot, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pastries to a platter and serve.

Brats & SauerkrautPacker Brats
4 pounds bratwurst
12 (12-ounce) cans light beer
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
8 round hard rolls or 16 bratwurst or hoagie buns, split
Butter Kraut, recipe follows
Ketchup, for serving
Brown mustard, for serving
Chopped onion, for serving
Pierce the brat casing multiple times with a fork prior to boiling.

In a large pasta pot, add beer. Add onion and garlic. Bring to a boil. Add brats. Allow beer to come back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat.

Remove brats from beer, pat dry and grill, turning frequently, until brats are browned all over, about 8 to 10 minutes.

To serve brats "Classic Style", serve 2 brats each on round, hard rolls with Buttered Kraut and brown mustard.

To serve brats "Stadium Style", serve 1 brat on a brat or hoagie pun with ketchup, mustard, onion and Buttered Kraut.

Buttered Kraut
1 (16-ounce) package sauerkraut, drained
1/2 (12-ounce) bottle beer
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter

Place sauerkraut in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat (this can also be done in a saucepan on the grill while grilling the brats). Add beer and cook until liquid is almost completely reduced. Add butter, cook, stirring frequently, until butter is melted and absorbs into the kraut, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Potato Salad & Shrimp Salad Platter Creamy Potato Salad
recipe from Katie of Good Things Catered
3 lb. red potatoes, unpeeled
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

8 green onions, white and light green portions,
thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, finely chopped

3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus
parsley sprigs for garnish
3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint, plus mint sprigs
for garnish
3 Tbs. chopped fresh basil, plus basil sprigs
for garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and boil until tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and let cool completely in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Cut the potatoes into 3/4-inch dice.
In a large bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, green onions, celery, and the chopped parsley, mint and basil. Add the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to mix. To serve, transfer the salad to a large serving bowl and garnish with parsley, mint and basil sprigs. Serves 6.

Shrimp Salad

1 lb small Shrimp, cooked, shelled, deveined

2 Tbsp minced Shallots or Yellow Onion

1/2 cup finely diced Celery

1/2 cup Mayonnaise

2 Tbsp Sour Cream

2 Tbsp Lemon juice

1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

1/8 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper

Old Bay, to taste

Place the shrimp, celery, cucumber, dill and shallots in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients except the salt, and pour the dressing over the shrimp. Toss well. Taste the salad and add salt, if needed. Toss well again. If the salad seems dry, add an extra tablespoon or 2 of sour cream. Cover the bowl and chill it for several hours. Mound the salad on crisp lettuce leaves or spoon it into hollowed-out tomatoes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Buffalo Chicken Dip - aka Crack Dip
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing
1/2 cup Cayenne Pepper Sauce or Buffalo Wing Sauce
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup diced celery

Heat oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese into 9-inch pie plate. Microwave 1 minute to soften.
Whisk in salad dressing, Cayenne Pepper Sauce/Buffalo Wing Sauce, and cheese until smooth.
Stir in chicken and celery.

Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through. If desired, garnish with celery leaves.

Cheese & Mustard Dipping Sauce for the Hot Pretzels
1/4 cup dark beer, such as stout or porter

1/4 cup Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 1/2 ounce Cheddar cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)

Combine the beer, mustard, butter, and cayenne in a small saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in the cheese. Continue cooking until smooth and all the cheese is melted -- about 5 minutes. Serve warm.

If You Love Garlic, You'll Love this Chicken

This recipe comes from Guy Fieri on the Food Network. He's the guy from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. What I did not realize, until recently, is that he has his own cooking show and he won the contest last year to be a food network chef. This was a hearty meal with tons of garlic! I served it with mashed potatoes. Yum!

Oak Town Garlic Vinegar Chicken
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium yellow onions, julienned
2 Anaheim chiles, cleaned and julienned
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3/4 cup minced garlic, divided
8 ounces beer
8 ounces chicken stock
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons green onions, sliced

In large saute pan over medium heat add 2 tablespoons oil, onions, chiles and saute for 3 minutes until translucent. Add chicken thighs and lightly brown. Add 1/4 cup garlic and saute. Deglaze with beer and chicken stock. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until chicken is 3/4 of the way cooked. Remove chicken from saute pan, and let cool, reserve pan and braising broth.

In medium saute pan heat another 2 tablespoons olive oil and lightly caramelize remaining 1/2 cup garlic. When done, remove from heat, and let cool.

In medium mixing bowl, combine, flour, salt and pepper, oregano, paprika, and chili powder. Combine thoroughly, add cooked garlic and mix into a paste.

Take cooled, cooked chicken and press paste on to the chicken. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in garlic pan, and gently place chicken in the pan. Lightly brown chicken on both sides.

Simmer reserved braising broth and add red wine vinegar. When chicken is cooked on both sides, pour vinegar broth over chicken and let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.

Garnish with green onions.

Chili & Cornbread - take 2

It was a cold and rainy night, so what better food to make than turkey chili and cornbread. I decided to try a recipe from the Shady Brook Farms website for "Farm Hands" Fat Free Chili. I cut back on the spices a bit because it sounded like it would be too hot. I also used Spaten beer.

For the cornbread, I found a recipe from that is to die for. It's a sweet cornbread and was very moist. I also thought the name was cute - Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread.
"Farm Hands" Fat-Free Chili
2 packages ground turkey

¼ cup sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, grated
1 tablespoon red peppers, crushed
2 medium green bell peppers, sliced

1 can (14-½ ounce) kidney beans

1 can (12 ounce) tomato paste

1 can (14-½ ounce) tomatoes, crushed

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon dried basil

3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper

¼ cup Worscestershire sauce

¼ cup hot sauce

2 tablespoons paprika
2 cups water

1 can beer (for the cook, or the chili) (optional)

2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese (optional)
2 cups oyster crackers (optional)

In a skillet heat oil and sauté garlic, red pepper and ginger for 2 minutes at high heat. Add turkey and brown until turkey is no longer pink (3 to 5 minutes). Do not cover.

In a 6-quart stockpot, add browned turkey, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, all remaining spices, sliced green pepper, chopped onion and beans. Add 2 cups of water; bring to boil, stirring frequently.

Simmer covered for 1 hour over low heat (add beer now or drink it). Serve with grated sharp Cheddar cheese and oyster crackers.

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread
1/4 pound butter
2/3 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.

Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Another fall treat--Apple Cake

I had a bunch of apples to use up and wanted to make something that was not too sweet. I came upon a recipe for Apple Coffee Cake with Crumble Topping and Brown Sugar Glaze. Suprisingly, it was from Emeril on the Food Network. When I think of apple cake, Emeril is not the first chef to come mind. However, this was an exceptional cake and not super-sweet. It stayed moist over the course of several days, which is also a good thing.

Apple Coffee Cake with Crumble Topping and Brown Sugar Glaze

1 stick plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Brown Sugar Glaze:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter.

In a large bowl, cream together the remaining stick of butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating after the addition of each. In a separate bowl or on a piece of parchment, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Fold in the apples. Pour into the prepared baking dish, spreading out to the edges.

To make the topping, in a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter, and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and bake until golden brown and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

To make the glaze, in a bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla, and water and mix until smooth. Drizzle the cake with the glaze and let harden slightly. Serve warm.

When it's chilly, it's time for chili

It was cooler a few weeks ago so I made a batch of cornbread and turkey chili. I like the recipe for Rachel Ray's Indian Summer Chili. I like to add kidney beans though. This time I tried a new cornbread recipe. Enjoy!
Rachel Ray's Indian Summer Chili
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
2 1/2 pounds ground turkey (85 percent lean) or ground turkey breast (99 percent lean), 2 packages
4 tablespoons dark chili powder, 2 palm fulls
2 tablespoons grill seasoning blend, any brand, 1 palm full
1 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 palm full
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 to 3 tablespoons hot sauce, medium to extra-spicy
1 large onion, quartered
2 large peppers, any color combination, red, green, purple, yellow or orange, chopped
1/2 bottle beer (the alcohol cooks out), about 1 cup
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup smoky barbecue sauce
2 cups corn kernels, optional

Heat a pot over medium to medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 3 turns of the pan, and the turkey meat. Season the meat with: chili powder, grill seasoning, cumin, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Break up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon into small crumbles.

Chop the onion, reserving 1/4 of it for topping the chili. Brown meat 5 minutes, then add onions and chopped bell peppers and cook 10 minutes more. Add beer and deglaze the pan, scraping up the drippings and cooking off the alcohol. Add tomato sauce and barbecue sauce and bring to a bubble. It using corn kernels add them now. Let chili simmer 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings and heat level to your taste. Remove from heat and serve.