Turning the Pages….

You may have noticed some new links on my homepage for cashmeretea. I’m adding some features for existing and up and coming options that will make it easier to find some new things.

First, I have created links to my India Hicks business.

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You can watch and learn here!

Connected to royalty and living on an out island in the Bahamas, India is smart and funny and has created a great business model for women, of which I am a part. Her designs are contemporary and sophisticated with a bit of whimsy mixed in. You can shop from the link and you can reach out to me on comments if you’d like to learn more about joining me in the business with India!

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Then I have added a page called “Paint me a Picture” that I’m going to use to convey my new creative endeavor or painting in oils from an online class taught by the artist Dreama Tolle Perry. You can read about her here. She’s so talented! Oh my gosh, the colors!

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Then I have two more pages, one called “Por Deux” or “for two” that showcases pictures that I have taken of two glasses or cups or sometimes meals when the Hubs and I have been traveling. The second is called “Look Up” and is a record of photos, mostly of religious statues, from my travels. In our secular America, it is unusual to see holy figures outside of the grounds of churches and temples, however in Europe, they appear everywhere and often.

I hope you enjoy these new additions. I may in fact add more in the future, but for now this will give me some new areas to fill out. Check back often and I’ll try to remember to update on the main site when something new is posted!

 

An oldie but goodie

I’ve had this book for almost 30 years, and recently revisited one of my absolute favorite recipes from it. Best of all, the recipe has 5,only 5 ingredients! Chicken, butter, zucchini, cream and marjoram or tarragon..and salt & pepper, but I don’t count those two.


Cut one pound boneless, skinless chicken into large finger size pieces. Lay on a tray or large plate and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Then, slice a large zucchini into 1/2 moon slices. Season with salt and pepper. Chop fresh marjoram if you can find it (yeah,  right) or fresh tarragon ( miraculously found in Worcester this week, someone must have ordered in error!) Worst case scenario is to use dried.

 

Sauté the zucchini in 2 tbsp of butter on medium high heat, add the herbs and continue till just starting to caramelize. Remove to a bowl, add 2 more tbsp of butter and add the chicken. Sauté on med high heat until cooked through. 



Add the zucchini back in and pour in 1 cup of heavy cream. Bring to a boil, dial the heat back and reduce by 1/2. Serve over rice pilaf.

Same church, different seat…

You may remember this sunburst shaped and filled pastry from Thanksgiving, when I filled it with olives and sundried tomatoes. In honor of Super Bowl Sunday, I changed up the recipe to buffalo chicken. Because…Super Bowl.

 

I cooked off a large boneless and skinless chicken breast in Franks Hot Sauce and butter and when it was cooled, popped it in the cuisinart and shredded the life out of it. Then 8 oz of no fat cream cheese and more hot sauce. Spin again, so it’s like a pate…which of course it is.


Meanwhile, back at the puff pastry board…dust with a little flour and roll it out so that a dinner plate will fit on it. Trace the outline with a knife and set aside. Repeat with another piece of dough, this time on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment or silicone. Spread the chicken mix and top with a little shredded cheese. Then lay the second pastry round on top and lightly pres edges together. Put a glass in the center and press lightly then score the dough in rays from the circle. You can use a pizza cutter to cut all the way through. Twist each ray a 1/2 turn and lay flat. Bake in 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

Fun fact! Super Bowl Sunday is second only to Thanksgiving for food consumption in a single day in the US!

Fun fact #2. I have officially named this pastry piñata!

Lighter than air…

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Isn’t that what they say about ballerinas? And didn’t they name this dessert Pavlova after a great ballerina?

What is it about a great big cake of egg whites and flavoring that instantly melts in your mouth that is so delicious? I mean, it’s barely there, and then it’s gone…like air ( do you see a pattern forming here?)

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Anyway, for aforementioned dinner party on Saturday, I decided to break out the last jar of salted caramel that I brought home from France last year. I was going to just serve it over coffee ice cream, but then I thought…’it need something’. Why not make a pavlova? So I did.

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Dead simple, egg whites, powdered espresso for flavor, sugar, cornstarch and a couple of drops of white vinegar. It will come out of the mixer able to be formed to your liking, so in light of the upcoming Valentine holiday, you could always form it into a heart.  Then a 300° degree oven for about an hour, and let it cool completely in the oven.

Of course, no pictures are extent of the finished product because I got completely absorbed in dinner and guest and wine…but trust me it was delish!

 

 

You can’t go wrong with brisket…

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We had some friends over Saturday nite for dinner and I was pondering cooking my standard short ribs for dinner when I struck upon the idea of doing a brisket instead. I had made Gail Simmons Horseradish Brisket in the past, but it came out kind of dry. I had followed the recipe and cooked it in the oven, but this time I reverted back to the trusty pressure cooker.

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Like all pot roast, short rib type beefs, it’s kinda hard to mess it up and instead just go for savory and slow. If you have to run a second cycle on the pressure cooker, don’t worry, cooking it more, just means a more tender meat at the end. I seasoned the meat with salt and pepper and browned it in the pressure cooker with a little butter and olive oil. I took the meat out and and added carrots and sliced onions to the cooker. img_2068img_2064img_2070

Then I slathered the meat with prepared white horseradish according to the recipe and put it back in the pressure cooker with the veggies and the beef broth. I cooked for a total time of 2 hours under pressure, but oven cooking might be longer.

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And just because I could, I threw in some short ribs for soup also. We got a brisket for 4, and 2 notes worth of soup for 2 out of the recipe. The horseradish may seem like a lot, but honestly, it just adds a nice note of savory to the jus. Not spicy at all.

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Oh and I set the table really pretty, too. See?

Currently Crushing

Not much to do at this time of year except wait for the Patriots to go to Houston and try to keep from going stir crazy . A few items of note for the month of January…

Sherlock (series 4)If you haven’t watched PBS’s “Sherlock” this year, what are you waiting for? As my aunt would say..”it got dark”. Yes siree, dark it is. Some truly heartbreaking performances this season. But there are some fun aspects of it also. Although broadcast is finished, you can stream on PBS.org or probably find on netflix. If you haven’t watched previous seasons, time for a binge!

v_s1_preview_official-trailer_posterOnly one episode in and already addicted to the new series from PBS about the young Queen Victoria. PBS clearly knows that there is a void in our lives left by the culmination of Downton Abbey, so they are loading us up. Sorry to say the evil villain is named “Conroy”….where were his people from? Not Rosmuc, that’s for sure!

Mercy Street is also back for season II on January 22.

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Once upon a time I thought pre washed and bagged salad was the best thing for busy cooks since the spoon, however the rise of cauliflower as a carb substitute and NOW that you can buy it pre chopped…Well, shut my mouth as they say! In your grocers produce section along with pre cleaned beans and aforementioned salads. Over the weekend, I spun this for a few seconds in the Cuisinart and then boiled it in salted water like pasta. At the end a couple of tablespoons of instant polenta, and some butter and shredded cheese. All the goodness of polenta without all the carbs!

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Those of you who know me, also know that I gave up pretty much all dairy and definitely all milk once I got out of being in a unit every day and took my act on the road. I always felt like “Bloaty”, the 8th dwarf that no one talked about. And I used to love that 8th continent milk brand and then when that went away, I used to buy the Costco Organic milk. So this Fairlife stuff comes along and I think, “well, I’ll give it a try”, just to make sure I’m not missing anything. Let me tell you, it’s delicious! The chocolate tastes like a frappe as we say in Boston. Rich and thick, not watered down tasting. I keep it in the house for a little midday treat or sometimes for dessert after dinner. Also delish with a little Bailey’s liqeur mixed in…on the rocks!

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Hands down the best lotion I have ever used in my young life.Not sure if its new or old, but Eucerin Skin Calming lotion for dry skin is keeping me from clawing my skin off this winter. The Hubs found it for me. Don’t worry, the menthol doesn’t make it smell medicinal. You can get it in 3 bottle packages from Amazon. LOVE IT!

ih-beauty2016-10And I know that I rep for this beautiful women and her line of extraordinary and luxurious accessories, but India Hicks also sells a small line of scent and beauty and her Extraordinary Oil is my new go to fave morning and nite for moisture and illumination. Honestly, I wear it under my sunscreen. It’s delicious, with a fabulous light scent.Get it here!

 

We’re cooking…

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Along with the aforementioned Onion Pie and curried lentil soup, I also turned out a huge pot of marinara sauce and made homemade meatballs and served them on cauliflower polenta with ricotta on Saturday nite.

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On Sunday, I wanted to have something snackie for dinner like nachos. After all, the Pats were in the conference championship game for the AFC and the game started right when I normally would be working on dinner. I was thinking of doing nachos, but then transferred the flavor profile to soup and made a killer chicken tortilla soup, using roasted chicken from Costco, taco seasoning and canned beans. And I sped everything along in the pressure cooker. Dead simple. I picked the chicken and added the shredded chicken  to some sliced onions and chopped garlic that I had heated in the pressure cooker with the garlic seasoning and additional smoked paprika, chili and coriander. Add a can of rinsed white beans, a large can of diced tomatoes, 4 cups of chicken broth and cook for 90 minutes. Once the cooker de pressurizes , you will have a lovely rich soup. You can add additional levels of spice after cooking if you want. I cut some corn tortillas in strips and dropped them in boiling oil for a couple of minutes to crisp them up, sliced up an avocado that I luckily got at a perfect 10 seconds of ripeness. Some shredded cheese, a little sour cream or crema and a sliced jalapeño, very fresh. The Hubs loved this and seeing as the Super Bowl is in two weeks, time to start menu planning now….img_7065img_6679img_6505

 

Don’t you love the name?

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Honestly, I think the name is worthy of a Bond girl. She was probably a friend of Eleanor Lavish, the character from E.M. Forster’s “Room with a View”. Evidently, according to Wikipedia, she did more than just cook. She’s listed as a culinary anthropologist, but also was in movies and was published and was a commentator for NPR. She’s kind of a big deal I think.

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Anyway, I saw this recipe for her onion pie on the NYTimes site and of course, had to give it a try for Meatless Monday. I cooked a whole bunch over the weekend. Made curried lentil soup, and then tossed this together pretty easily. That is until the tip of my finger came off on the mandoline. Let’s put it like this… I had to throw out the first crust that I blind baked.

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Really the only wonky item is peanut oil, but there’s not that much used and it is easy to find. Saute up the onions, mix with salt and pepper, add to blind baked crust and then pour eggs and cream over it. Bake and be done.

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I plan on reheating in a 300°  oven and serving with a simple salad and some red wine. The perfect dinner for a rainy, snowy and damp winter nite. Qualifies for meatless Monday, too!

Identity Crisis

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Ah, they only look like muffins! In real life they are scones…well sort of. At least that’s how it started.

I had used a box mix last year for apricot scones and although I have to tell you they were very good, I just didn’t think the box was worth $8 when I have all the ingredients in my pantry, including apricots and can put them together for less than a quarter of the price. So, anyway….

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Cold butter, cut up small and flour equals a short dough that is very versatile for scones etc.

Add milk and melted butter and apricots and at the very end, I thought, why not try to cream this out a little, so I added about a tablespoon of mascarpone cheese, the cream cheese of Italy.  The dough was a little wetter than anticipated so instead of being able to roll it and then use a biscuit cutter, I would up using a muffin tin to bake. End result, scones disguised as muffins. Or muffins disguised as scones…You’ll have to decide!

Just Another Meatless Monday

Inspiration and instructions from Lidia Bastianich…

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I binge watched a Saturday afternoon full of Lidia Bastianich cooking shows on PBS a couple of weeks ago and as evidenced by the success of the poached egg, Lidia makes it look so easy. One of the episodes was about the Italian love for bitter greens like mustard greens, chicory, radicchio and escarole.

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Nothing that starts out with garlic will end badly, so I knew this recipe for Escarole soup would be terrific. I started with some garlic and olive oil in large heatproof pot ( my le Creuset, medium size).

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I added canned white beans instead of using dried ones that have been soaked. Saves time and really doesn’t change the end result. I added 2 quarts of water, bay leaves, more olive oil and left it to simmer for about 30 minutes. (If using soaked beans the time is longer by 1.5 hours)

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Once the beans have cooked down, turn the heat down and add 4 cups of shredded/torn escarole and simmer again for about half an hour.

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Meanwhile, heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and toast some dried hot pepper flakes in the oil.

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Add about a cup of the soup from the larger pot to the hot oil and pepper. It WILL sizzle, so be cautious.

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Add the contents of the skillet to the soup pot and stir well. Season to taste and serve! Mangia!