Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Saturday, June 12, 2010

camembert and jam

one of the easiest appetizer recipes is made with athens mini fillo shells. these light and flaky layers of fillo dough are fully baked and great tasting.  it is easy to just fill and serve these shells either with a cold filling or heated filling like camembert and jam.

for these appetizers, i slice small quarter size pieces of camembert or brie cheese, and place into the unfrozen shells.  then i add a teaspoon of jam, which could be blackberry or any desired flavor of choice.  place these tarts into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  when the cheese is melted, remove and serve to guests. 

other options for cold appetizers with these shells include:  chicken salad, cream cheese and dickinson's red pepper jelly, fresh fruit, or even roasted peppers.  i have also served these shells with chopped tomatoes, onion, and basil from the garden with a small bit of shredded swiss on top.  heated for 10 minutes, these tarts will be a delicious start to any meal this summer.

homemade cream puffs

one of our favorite desserts happens to be cream puffs.  i think i first fell in love with them at the greenbrier hotel in lewisburg, west virginia.  when our children were young, we would always take them there for a special visit and meal.  it was so much fun to see our son jeff order the cream puff swans.  the greenbrier chef would fashion the cream puff shell into a baked swan, which seemed to float over the white whipped cream filling.  and, it was always swimming in a small pool of chocolate.  it became a tradition to order the cream puff swan, because it was delicious and so beautifully presented. the french name for this dessert is profiteroles, and many recipes are often listed under this name.

i found a very easy recipe for these cream puffs in gourmet magazine, march 2008.  this recipe comes together quite quickly and the baking time is only 20 minutes. by using a pastry bag, the puffs are formed into uniform circles and bake evenly.  this recipe makes 12 puffs.  after they have dried, remove the top portion of the puff, fill with either sweetened whipped cream or ice cream, and top with chocolate sauce. my ganache recipe works well with this recipe, and provides a glossy coating to the puffs.

i will be happy to share the recipe with you upon request.

oregano in the garden

my friend sherry shared some of her oregano plant with me in 2008.  the plant has grown so well without much care in a full sun space in my herbal garden bed.  it is bordered by garlic chives and a perennial purple geranium that i purchased at our nature center.

with this oregano, i plan to make a fresh tomato spaghetti sauce this summer to use for pasta dishes and even for homemade pizza later in the summer.  this week, i will harvest the oregano and save in the refrigerator after soaking lightly in the sink basin.  then i will dry the herb thoroughly and place into a plastic storage bag wrapped in a white paper towel.  this method keeps the herb quite fresh and ready for use within the next couple of weeks.  without the paper towel, the fragile leaves will stick together, become soggy and spoil rather quickly.

growing fresh herbs for use in the kitchen is more than fun, it is a true delight.

pita crisps

when serving homemade salsa, i often make my own pita crisps.  there are quite easy to make and  whole wheat pita pockets or even quesadillas can be baked to make flavorful crispy dippers.  i usually use the mini pita pockets and slice them into quarters and then slice the pocket in half to complete.  place on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet.  i often use Pam olive oil cooking spray, and then season to taste.  here, i used the brand simply organic garlic and herb dried seasoning.  sometimes i use parsley with mary's kitchen port seasoning from traverse city.  spray the tops lightly with Pam olive oil spray and place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes while watching to make certain the crisps do not burn.

up north flowers

we spent the day shopping in petoskey, harbor springs and charlevoix yesterday.  the flowers along the street are just splendid.  i truly enjoy stopping and looking at the individuality of each shopkeeper's street flowers, and they certainly make a lovely entrance to their store.

each of these three cities have a wonderful selection of gift shops, art, boutiques, and food stores.  we enjoy visiting american spoon foods in charlevoix and cutler's kitchen and home shop in petoskey.  i also enjoy horizon books in traverse city and petoskey. their selection of gardening and cooking books, as well as their books about michigan life are not the standard fare found in most traditional book stores.

white chocolate coconut praline ice cream

after reading the ingredients listed on most ice cream packaging, i continue to make our own ice cream.  here are just a few ingredients that i see frequently on some of the popular brands:  food starch, locust bean gum, citric acid, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, corn syrup, whey, mono and diglycerides, xanthum and cellulose gum, and polysorbate 80.  why are these added?  they must affect the taste, because my ice cream tastes so much better!

i can make my own ice cream in less than 30 minutes, and the flavors can't compare to anything in the store, including any of the fancier brands.  this week, i made white chocolate coconut praline. i use half and half for part of the recipe to decrease the caloric count as well. i have found that by using milk with less fat, the ice cream may not freeze as well, so some fat is required to have a better consistency.

using my cuisinart ice cream maker, here is the recipe taking from the william sonoma ice cream cookbook:
in a bowl, combine 2 cups heavy cream with one cup half and half.  add in 3/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt. mix well.  add flavors as desired.  some of my favorites have been:  coconut, almond, vanilla, peanut butter, rum, and maple.

pour into the cuisinart ice cream maker while it is turned on.  mix for 20-25 minutes.  then, add in desired ingredients.  for strawberry ice cream, add in 2 cups mashed strawberries.  Other ideas include any nuts, butterfinger chips, chopped chocolate mint squares, heath toffee bits, or chopped chocolate bits.

some favorite flavors are:  coconut almond, chocolate pecan, blueberry, chocolate chip almond, maple pecan, and coconut with fresh coconut flakes.  i store the mixture in a stainless steel pan, which allows me to scoop the ice cream very easily.  summer ice cream never tasted so good.