Beignets du Monde

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“A traditional New Orleans-style recipe for their famous beignets! Grab a cafe au lait and you’re set!”

Ingredients:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F
/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk

7 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup shortening
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preparation:
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, salt, eggs, evaporated milk, and blend well. Mix in 4 cups of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the shortening, and then the remaining 3 cups of flour. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.
Roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. Fry in 360 degree F  hot oil. If beignets do not pop up, oil is not hot enough. Drain onto paper towels.
Shake confectioners’ sugar on hot beignets. Serve warm.
Note:  I differ slightly from this recipe.  When I remove the beignets from the hot oil, I pop them into a  paper bag with confectioner’s sugar  and shake them up. Serving them shortly thereafter.

Mother’s Day Brunch

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The hints floating in the sir around Johnson Mansion is that my “Spousal Unit” wants french toast for Mother’s Day.

Ingredients:

For The French Toast

    • 1 loaf French bread, sliced and cubed
    • 2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, cubed
    • 1 cup blueberries
    • 12 large eggs
    • 1/2 cup maple syrup
    • 2 cups milk
For the Blueberry Syrup!
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Preparation:

    • Preheat oven to 350°.
    • Grease13X9″ baking pan.
    • Place half of the bread cubes evenly in pan.
    • Scatter cream cheese cubes on top and sprinkle with blueberries.
    • Arrange remaining half of bread cubes on top.
    • Combine eggs, syrup and milk and pour over bread mixture.
    • Cover with foil and chill overnight.
    • Bake covered 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 30 more minutes until puffed and brown.
    • Serve with Blueberry Syrup
To Make the Blueberry Syrup:
  1. In small saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch and water and heat over medium high heat.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  3. Add 1 cup of blueberries and simmer, stirring occasionally until most berries have burst, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add butter and stir until melted.
  5. Transfer to serving bowl.
  6. Place French Toast on individual serving plates and top with Blueberry Syrup

Spanakopita

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I Love Spinach! Those of you in the US will understand when I say that for all of the spinach I have eaten I should look like Popeye – But I don’t!  In fact, I’ve been told I look like a beachball with arms.  Anyway, recently I came across a recipe for “Spinach Pie,” or as our Greek friends say, “Spanakopita.”  You’ve got to try this!

It is in the burek family of pastries with a filling of chopped spinach, feta cheese (sometimes in combination with ricotta cheese, as it is less expensive, and adds creaminess, onions or scallions, egg, and seasoning. The filling is wrapped or layered in phyllo (filo) pastry with butter and/or olive oil, either in a large pan from which individual servings are cut, or rolled into individual triangular servings.

I always keep trays of uncooked spanakopita in the freezer as a handy appetizer or side dish for guests. It freezes very well and heats beautifully.

This recipe makes enough filling for two 9×12 rectangular pans or approximately 100 folded phyllo triangles.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs. spinach, chopped (you can substitute frozen, thawed well)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 large onions, diced
  • 2 bunches green onions, diced (incl. 4 inches green)
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped (substitute 3 tbsp. dried)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 lb. ricotta or cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb. phyllo pastry sheets

Preparation:

Wash and drain the chopped spinach very well. If using frozen spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water. Spinach should be dry.

Heat the olive oil in a deep saute pan or large dutch oven. Saute the onions and green onions until tender. Add the spinach, parsley, and dill and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the spinach is wilted and heated through. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

If using frozen spinach, you will want to cook until excess moisture evaporates. Spinach mixture should be on the dry side.

Remove from heat and set the spinach aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the feta, eggs, and ricotta (cottage) cheese. Add the cooled spinach mixture and mix until combined.

Combine the melted butter with the olive oil in a bowl. Using a pastry brush, lightly grease two 9 x 12 rectangular pans.

Unwrap the Phyllo:

Carefully remove the Phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. Most packages come in 12 x 18 inch sheets when opened fully. Using a scissor or sharp knife, cut the sheets in half to make two stacks of 9×12 inch sheets. To prevent drying, cover one stack with wax paper and a damp paper towel while working with the other.

 Prepare the Pita:

Layer about 10 sheets on the bottom of the pan making sure to brush each sheet with the butter/olive oil mixture. Add half of the spinach mixture in an even layer and press with a spatula to flatten.

Layer another 10 sheets on top of the spinach mixture making sure to brush well with butter/olive oil mixture. Repeat the process with the second pan.

Before baking, score the top layer of phyllo (making sure not to puncture filling layer) to enable easier cutting of pieces later. I place the pan in the freezer to harden the top layers and then use a serrated knife.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until the pita turns a deep golden brown. If the pita is frozen when you put it in the oven, you will need approximately 45 minutes cooking time. If fresh, plan for approximately 20 to 25 minutes of cooking time.

απολαύσετε = enjoy in Greek

Chicken and Waffles

ImageIf you’ve ever tried the unlikely pairing of chicken and waffles, you understand the appeal. It’s a interesting union of sweet and salty, soft and crunchy, maple and… chicken? I realize it might sound strange at first but – don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Chicken and waffles are a dynamic culinary duo. Well, how did this unique combination ever come to be?   I’ve heard that in the early days of American jazz clubs, the musicians would be hungry at 2 or 3 in the morning when they were done playing, the indecision came when they could not decide whether they were hungry for dinner or breakfast so the combination came to be.  I don’t know if that is the real story but it is the most interesting ……

Ingredients For Chicken:

  1. 6-Skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  2. Salt
  3. Pepper
  4. Thyme
  5. Salted Butter

Ingredients For Waffles:

  1. 2 1/4 cups flour
  2. 6 2/3 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 3 1/3 teaspoons sugar
  5. 3 eggs, separated
  6. 7/8 cup butter, melted
  7. 3 cups milk
  8. Maple Syrup

Preparation For Chicken:

Place chicken breasts in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle each breast with salt, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Brush with melted butter. Roast 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Preparation For Waffles:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
  2. Separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the dry ingredient mixture, and placing the whites in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Beat whites until moderately stiff; set aside.
  4. Add milk and melted butter to dry ingredient mixture and blend.
  5. Fold stiff egg whites into mixture.
  6. Ladle mixture into hot waffle iron and bake.

Serving:

Place chicken breast on waffle and serve with Maple Syrup and Melted Butter

Chocolate Waffles with Mocha Syrup

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I don’t usually post on Sundays, but as we enter Easter week I am reminded that  Easter Brunch is one of my all time favorite food holidays. I love the fresh spring fruits and veggies that add color and texture to any Easter spread. Asparagus, citrus, fennel, berries, and cauliflower are fresh and fragrant this time of year! Of course, Easter Brunch is also a great excuse to share one of my favorite dishes with you!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup sugar

eggs

teaspoon vanilla

cup all-purpose flour

teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

cup milk

cup semisweet chocolate pieces

1 cup whipping cream

tablespoons coffee liqueur

2 Bananas

Raspberries & Strawberries for garnish

Preparation:

In a medium saucepan combine butter and unsweetened chocolate. Cook and stir over medium-low heat just until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, stirring until combined. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in milk until smooth.

Add batter to a preheated, lightly greased regular or Belgian waffle baker according to manufacturer’s directions. Close lid quickly; do not open until done. Bake according to manufacturer’s directions. When done, use a fork to lift waffle off grid. Repeat with remaining batter.

Meanwhile, for mocha syrup, in a small saucepan combine semisweet chocolate pieces, whipping cream, and coffee liqueur. Cook and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Top with banana slices and a generous dollop of whipped cream

Chef’s Note:  garnish the plate with strawberries and raspberries for awesome color