Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fage Honey Vanilla Panna Cotta



As I've posted before, I love Fage Greek Yogurt. So when Foodbuzz asked if I'd be interested in featuring it in some recipes, I didn't hesitate. (Here's another of my posts featuring Fage Yogurt.)

One of the things I eat at least twice a week is the Fage Yogurt and Honey. I love how the honey is in a separate compartment, so you can decide how much honey you want with each bite of delicious, thick and tangy yogurt.




So I used that combination to inspire a new recipe. Instead of buttermilk based Panna Cotta, I decided to substitute plain Fage yogurt for the buttermilk, and add honey to bottom of a glass with the panna cotta on top.

This dish was delicious. Just slightly sweet but with that delicious tang remaining. Give it a try, I bet you like it.


Ingredients and Method:

1 envelope gelatin
2 tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 small containers plain Fage Yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped of seeds
ground nutmeg for garnish

For the Panna Cotta, combine sugar, vanilla, yogurt and heavy cream in a saucepan over
medium heat and bring to a boil, immediately then turning off the heat.

Allow the gelatin to soften in 1/4 cup water and then add to the heavy cream mixture
and stir well.


I usually give a quick run through my handheld mixer to ensure everything is blended well.

Take 6 to 8 ramekins and pour one to two tablespoons of honey into the bottom of each.

Allow the panna cotta to cool for at least 45 minutes.

Slowly pour the panna cotta on top of the honey in each ramekin and sprinkle with nutmeg and allow to cool and set up in the refrigerator. Serve immediately.



Enjoy!

“As a selected blogger, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here: http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway”

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Home Made Bagels



I love Bagels. Haven't eaten them much until about 8 years ago or so. And I tend now to be on a steady
breakfast regimen of a bagel, and a bit of cream cheese, and occasionally, jelly also.

 I'm not an exotic bagel person. The Jalapeno/Asiago/Cheddar/Bacon Bagel is not my choice. Nor is even the Garlic Bagel.... Who want's garlic bagel breath first thing in the morning?


And frankly, I'm still pissed that Starbucks cancelled their Hawaiian Bagel.... I loved those things. About twice a week for the seven years I worked for Starbucks, it was walk in the lobby, order a Hawaiian Bagel, one cream cheese, not toasted.....  and go to work and savor that bagel, with my hand made choice of morning beverage.


Anyway, working in a new location now, I went to Panera Bread the other morning and ordered a plain bagle. Absolutely delicious. One of the best bagels I've ever had.


That spurred me to make my own. Mine came out nothing like Panera's Bread but they are awfully darn
good, and SO easy to make. I'm pretty sure I'll be making my own bagels from now on.


Give them a try. Adapted from Sophisticated Gourmet.


Directions and Method:

2 tablespoons sugar
2 pkgs active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg white and 1 tablespoon water, blended

In a mixer bowl mix yeast and sugar. Stir in warm water. (You want very warm, but not hot)

Let mixture sit for 15 minutes. It should foam up nicely. If it does, it means the yeast is active and the
dough will rise just fine.

Add 3 cups flour, sprinkle salt over the top of the flour, and mix thoroughly.  Add flour in 1/4 increments
until you have a barely stiff, dough ball.

Grease a bowl, and place the mixed dough ball in it, cover with plastic and place in a warm place to let rise
for one hour. (I preheat my oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes)

Scrape the dough onto a floured board.   Punch down, and let rest. It's important to let bagel dough rest
because you don't want a tough dough, ya know?   Let rest for twenty minutes.....  Roll up into a ball, knead 5 or 6 times, and with a floured rolling pin, roll it out into a small rectangle.  Cut the dough into 8 roughly even squares. Doesn't matter how equal they are, one of the beautiful things about homemade breads, I think, is the individuality, of the finished project.

Now, take a square or rectangle, however you've cut it, and roll into a ball by tucking the corners underneath to the bottom of the dough and pressing in firmly. Do it a few times, and then when it's ball shaped, flatten with your hand on board, and from the bottom, press up your index finger through the
middle of the dough ball until there's a hole.  then spread the dough apart to make the hole as large as
you want.



Let rise for 10 minutes....  meanwhile, heat a large saucepan with water and 2 tablespoons sugar....
When water is at a rolling boil, turn down slightly, and gently add two bagels at a time into the water.

Boil for 1 minute on one side and 1 minute on the other, and immediately remove from water and place on slightly oiled baking sheet.

At this point I brush the bagels with one egg white and one tablespoon water combined, and then you can add toppings, sesame, poppy, cheese or whatever, as I've already said, I'm kinda a plain bagel guy.

Let them all rest for another 20 minutes.... and then, pop them into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, if not golden brown, give them a few minutes more... watch them carefully is what I'm saying.... My first batch actually took 35 minutes, so there ya go.

Remove from oven, cool slightly, slice one open, smear with cream cheese and jelly, after toasting of course, if you want, and Enjoy!





Friday, October 28, 2011

Dutch Oven Bread by Izzy.... (w/my help)





I was contacted via email by someone named Izzy Woods. She offered to write a post on my behalf, regarding my cooking/baking favorites, and I welcomed her to do so.

If you'd like to talk to her about a "guest post" on your blog, let me know, and I'll put you in touch with her.

I suggested Dutch Oven Bread, because of it's unique effect on baked breads, and she did a wonderful job.

She obviously studied it, and enhanced my post on the same subject: Merlin Menu Dutch Oven Bread

By the way, she did this for free, she only asked she get to display a furniture link, so if you're looking for some furniture, give it a click.

Enjoy.....


Bread with a Difference
Home-made bread: there really is nothing quite like it. The smell of it wafting out the kitchen can make even the dullest rented flat feel like home. There is something earthy about baking bread, something that appeals to the simplest of instincts: those of home, family and food. Many home bakers constantly experiment in search of the perfect bread recipe, experimenting with different grains, seeds and flours, often with impressive results. Unfortunately, the cooking stage can sometimes let down the perfect bread recipe. Modern domestic ovens just aren’t made for bread-baking, as moisture is vented out of them, producing a dry heat which tends to lead to dry bread. A wetter, steamier oven will produce moist, soft loaves with deliciously crusty outsides: the holy grail of bread-making.

Traditionally, bread was baked in wood-fired ovens very similar to the pizza ovens seen in most modern Italian restaurants. However, it’s not easy to build this kind of oven in the average domestic kitchen! The solution is to use a Dutch oven: a large cast iron cooking pot. Dutch ovens retain moisture, so the steam stays in the pot while the bread is cooking. A Dutch oven is a cheap, easy way to transform your bread baking.

Dutch ovens cook bread in a very similar way to professional baking ovens used by commercial bakers. Those ovens use steam injection to keep the bread moist as it cooks. A Dutch oven does the same thing, without the need for expensive equipment. It gets and stays very hot: cast iron is a great heat absorber. The tight-fitting lid keeps steam in the pot, preventing drying, with fantastic results.

Making bread in a Dutch oven is very easy, not just because of the cooking method, but the recipe needed. Dough for bread that is to be cooked in a Dutch oven doesn’t need to be kneaded. It can simply be left to rise, shaped, and cooked. This makes Dutch oven baking perfect for beginner bakers: if you’ve been scared off in the past by the seemingly complicated bread-making process, use a Dutch oven.

Cooking bread in a Dutch oven seems to bring bread-making back to its origins. Many of us are reluctant to try making bread, believing it to be a complicated process, almost akin to alchemy. It really isn’t, but it’s not hard to see why so many have that view. Look at a bread recipe, and it will often appear long and difficult. However, people have been baking bread all over the world for thousands of years. It is a fundamental part of our culture, referenced in religion and common phraseology. The concept of ‘breaking bread’ is a highly powerful one. The breaking of the loaf and sharing of it at the table is a representation of community and family. ‘Bread’ in slang can mean, simply, ‘food’. The loaf of bread in the kitchen is almost part of the furniture, central to how and what we eat.

When you think of bread in these kinds of terms, what do you think of? It’s probably not a sliced supermarket loaf. It’s more likely to be exactly the kind of bread you can make in a Dutch oven, with very little effort. Dutch oven loaves both look and taste wonderful. The inside (or ‘crumb’) is soft, melting in the mouth. The crust is thick, crispy and full of flavour. Think about that dipped in some warming soup, matched with tangy cheese, or simply slathered in creamy butter. These are simple pleasures indeed; but very tasty ones. This is the kind of food that we dream of when we dream of home.

Perhaps you’ve struggled for months trying to make the perfect loaf, or perhaps you’ve thought it wasn’t worth trying. Dutch oven baking is the answer. It does not have to stop at basic bread either. You could try flavouring with herbs and seeds, for example, or making rolls rather than loaves. You can also try other kinds of baking in a Dutch oven, including biscuits and pastries. The Dutch oven is one of those most rare and useful kitchen utensils: something that is both highly versatile and very  easy to use. So what are you waiting for? Get baking!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fage Greek Yogurt Pound Cake



I'm affiliated with an organization called Food Buzz as you can tell from the left side of my blog. They occasionally have food related giveaways, product samplings, and contests. A week ago they asked if I would like to participate in an offer from Fage, the greek yogurt company.

I had NO hesitation is saying yes as I've already been eating and baking with this delicious yogurt for two years now.

Here's a couple links to recipes I've already posted regarding FAGE yogurt.

The Merlin Menu Tikka Masala

The Merlin Menu Chocolate Yogurt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Honey Buttermilk Panna Cotta

In fact, if you read the Honey Buttermilk post you will see that Fage's Honey Yogurt was the inspiration of my recipe. That being said, given that they are having a contest, in a few days I think I will make Panna Cotta again, but this time, instead of Buttermilk, I will use Fage Yogurt and combine it with a layer of honey. We'll see how it turns out.

A variation on pound cake recipe using Greek Yogurt. Rich, and dense, and moist and absolutely delicious. Can be served topped by fruit, caramel, dulce de leche, whipped cream or anything else you may think of. 

Here's a different serving idea for your dessert, especially if you're Barbequeing. Slice the pound cake and place slices directly onto the grill. Only a few minutes each side until they get grill marks. Remove, place on plates and cover with sugared raspberries or strawberries and some whipped cream. Delicious and different!

Ingredients and Method:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 7 oz. container Fage Greek Yogurt
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (Yes, in addition to the vanilla bean)

Preparation:In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar and split the vanilla bean and scrape seeds into mixture. With mixer on medium speed, gradually beat in the yogurt. Add flour, alternating with the eggs, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan or Bundt cake pan.

Bake at 325° for about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes, until a wooden pick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

A note about the cooking time. This is a very thick batter so it will probably take ALL of the baking times listed if not a little bit longer. Do check the cake often with the wooden pick technique as you don't want it not quite baked in the very middle. By the same token, it can start to burn pretty quickly, so watch it carefully towards the end of the cycle. When you do check with the wooden pick push it in as deeply as you can as this batter can get done on top and still not be quite done in the middle.



I made this recipe for this post in a oblong baking dish, but I really would recommend a tube pan or a Bundt cake pan.
Enjoy!

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here: http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Summer Squash Soup

So I have this neighbor who drives me nuts. She moved in across the street, we met, she brought me dinner a couple of nights which I thought was nice. The next thing I know, she has asked for a little help planting a garden, and I find myself sweating and digging holes in a cleared 30 year old blackberry patch.

Next thing I know, she leaves for a 3 week vacation and guess who's chosen to water the garden. Yeah, ME!

I tell her, I don't have a garden, I don't want a garden, I don't want your garden, I don't want to water your garden, but I do it nonetheless.


Well, so guess what, now I'm getting tons of squash and zucchini. So I guess it's ok. But still!

And then, she buys a dog, but that's another story. I didn't want a dog to walk either!

So is your Autumn garden bursting with produce?  Got a bunch of yellow neck squash?  Giving it to your friends and neighbors?  So what are you going to make with it?  Boiled squash with milk?  Cut them and cover them with egg and cornmeal and fry them?  Add to some casserole?  All are good, but I have the answer.

Make this soup!


Just make it, and you'll see why I say that.

It's delicate, delicious, and tangy, with a hint of nutmeg and Parmesan. Yeah, nutmeg and Parmesan together. Who knew?

Ingredients and Method:

2 -3 medium Yellow neck squash
1 large sweet onion
Yellow neck squash, diced
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
juice of one lemon
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon nutmeg and a dusting for garnishment
Shaved or shredded fresh Parmesan cheese (Or Parmesan Reggiano)

Mince onion and place in saucepan with butter over medium low heat
Wash and cut off ends of squash, and slice into 1/4 inch slices. No need
to peel the squash, the skin is very tender after cooking.

Toss squash in the pan with onions and butter, and saute for 15 minutes or so, stirring every once in a while.  You want the onions and squash to be very soft.

Add chicken stock, salt and pepper and cook on medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes.

Now, remove from heat, and either use a handheld immersion blender or a food processor, and puree it all together. It can take a few minutes, but stick with it, you want it silky smooth.

Return to pan, add lemon and heavy cream and nutmeg. Heat on low for a few minutes until heated thoroughly. Do not boil or simmer, no need.

Now, the important part. Taste it!  Decide if it needs a bit more salt, or pepper, or lemon juice and adjust accordingly.

Spoon into a bowl or cup, dust with nutmeg and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top.

Enjoy!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Parker House Rolls



  • Parker House rolls were invented in the 19th century at a famous Boston hotel called the Parker House. This
  • is the same hotel that created Boston Cream Pie in 1855.

These rolls are light, buttery, and delicious. I made some at home the other day and I just can't stop heating
one slightly, dabbing a bit of butter on it, and wolfing it down. They are so good.

This is an easy recipe, do give it a try.  Many thanks to King Arthur Flour for the source.



  • Recipe and Method:

    • 3 cups flour (I use King Arthur Bread Flour)
    • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    • 3/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
    • 1 cup milk (warmed)
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 3 tablespoons melted butter, for  brushing rolls when baked

  • In a large bowl, add warmed milk, yeast and sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes until it's foamy. Add the balance of the ingredients (except for the 3 tbl melted butter shown at the end of the recipe) Mix thoroughly by hand or with a mixer until dough ball is formed.
  • Drop onto floured board and knead for a few minutes. Place in greased bowl covered with a towel and place in a warm area and let rise for an hour and a half.
  • Remove from bowl to the floured surface. Punch down, divide in half. Roll each half into an 8 x 12 rectangle.
  • Brush melted butter on it and fold the dough lengthwise almost in half. It doesn't have to be exactly in half.

  • Cut each rectangle into 4 pieces and place into greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Repeat with second half of dough.
  • Cover the pan and let rise for another 45 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove and immediately baste tops with remaining melted butter.




Enjoy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bacon, Avocado, and Tomato Sandwich


I love avocados. I don't eat them that often, and I'm not sure why. But recently I came across a source where you can have freshly harvested Haas avocados shipped direct to your door.

The link is: California Avocados Direct.

Shipping was free, and a few days later I had 5 hard, firm, unripened avocados in my house. They were shipped in a nice box filled with straw, all in all a nice presentation.

Now the thing about receiving 5 avocados at once is they can all ripen at the same time, and who wants that many ripened avocados all at the same time?  Usually you wouldn't, so I figured out what to do. Place the avocados is a plastic bag on the counter for about a week, they will slowly begin to ripen (skin turns very dark and they are soft when pressed gently) Then, take one or two out of the bag and leave on the counter. They will then ripen while the ones remaining in the bag are still not ready. Try it, it works!

When the first one finally ripened, I couldn't wait to try it. I sliced half the avocado thinly and placed on a small plate, fanned it out,  dusted it simply with salt and pepper, and tried it.  Absolute heaven, seriously, best avocado I'd ever had. And then I promptly sliced up the remaining half and devoured it also.

The next day, I took out another avocado, left it on the counter until perfectly ripened, and decided I just had to have a Bacon, Avocado and Tomato Sandwich.

I lightly toasted some whole wheat bread, spread with mayonnaise or salad dressing (or thousand island dressing also!) sliced avocado, crisp bacon, and sliced fresh hot house tomatoes.

Sure you could add lettuce, but I wanted the texture of the creamy avocado, the crunch and saltiness of the bacon, blended with the juiciness of the ripe tomato only. It worked for me.

One of the best sandwiches I've ever had.  And you have to admit, that's a purty good lookin' meal.
Get some avocados, and make yourself one or three.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Baked Donuts


Baked donuts. Who makes baked donuts. Aren't donuts always deep fried, greasy, and delicious?  Of course they are.

But for some reason, the other night, (I gotta stay off the net)  I came across and bought a donut pan for baking donuts. Why?  I have no clue.  But now I have another specialty use pan which I'll probably use twice in the next 2 years. But, that's the curse of a foodie I guess.

Now here's the surprise, the donuts were delicious and easy to make. I did notice that cinnamon sugar doesn't  adhere real well, probably because of the absence of OIL!  But that's ok. I think glazing might be a better way to go anyway.  Next up, I think I'm making some baked yeast donuts. We'll see how it goes. Keep in touch.

I did notice they only browned on top, so I'm thinking next time, I may oil the pan with butter instead of
spray and see if they brown more uniformly. That being said, they tasted perfect anyway.

Recipe came with the pan. I really did like the spices in the batter. Excellent.

Ingredients and Method:

1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 cup buttermilk 
2 eggs 
1 tablespoon honey 
1/2 cup butter, melted 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Lightly spray the donut pan with oil.

In a medium bowl, mix together all dry ingredients including spices. Blend together the liquids in a bowl (buttermilk, eggs, honey, and melted butter) and add to the dry ingredients and mix well.

The dough will be a bit thick. Using two spoons, drop dough into the donut pan tin, filling each mold about 1/2 full with dough.

Bake in oven for 12 minutes, until nice and browned,  remove, cool on a rack, and coat however you would like.

All kidding aside, I bet I use this pan, ummm,   4 times a year!  ha ha

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Daughter's Wedding


I know it's a food blog. I know most of you might not care. But some of you will.  So I post this link.

And I'll get back to food next week.


I have 3 children. A daughter, and two boys. My daughter is my eldest. And she got married this weekend,
and it was amazing. Check it out. Mt. Hood, Oregon, way above Timberline Lodge.

God Bless You Both!

And the following is a little video I put together....Be sure to play with audio so you can hear the sound track.

https://picasaweb.google.com/ronmerlin/Movies?authkey=Gv1sRgCInGodurxP6NqgE#5603795187681251810

Artist here is: Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland

And a second video for your viewing pleasure:  https://picasaweb.google.com/ronmerlin/Movies?authkey=Gv1sRgCInGodurxP6NqgE#5604798621483727410

Artist here is: Joe Cocker

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Curried Apple Butternut Squash Soup



Spring is springing. So this will be the last of one of the soups I made over the winter. Actually, this soup is one of my favorites because it has such a unique blend of flavors. The nuttiness of the squash with the depth and gentle heat of the curry, coupled with the tiny sweet goodness of the apple.

I'm telling you, it's all about mouth feel and taste with this soup. Liquid velvet goodness, with a kick. (Did I just really type that?)

Quick and easy, especially in the pressure cooker.

Served with a crust of bread, and little dollop of sour cream?  What could be better?


Ingredients and Method:


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 large chopped yellow onions
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 butternut squash, chopped (See my note about preparing Butternut Squash below)
3 sweet McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and chopped.
2 cups water
2 cups apple cider. (Don't skimp here, not apple juice, good and fresh apple cider)
Salt and pepper to taste.


First a note on butternut squash. I find it a pain to peel and cut up the squash. So what I do is, is pierce it several times. and microwave for 8 minutes until it begins to soften. It is then much easier to cut it open, cut into manageable sized chunks, and the the thick tough skin is easy to just cut off with a knife.


Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat in pressure cooker. (Or stock pot or dutch oven) Saute onions and curry powder until the onions are translucent. 


Add the squash, apples and water to pot. Bring up to pressure, and cook for 12 minutes. Let cool down normally. (If not using a pressure cooker, cook over medium heat for an hour until vegetables are very tender)


Open up pressure cooker and use a hand blender (or food processor) to combine mixture. Add cider and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of parsley and a small dollop of sour cream.




 Enjoy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Curried Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup with Peanut Butter



I see spring around the corner so I thought I should catch up on my winter soups that I've made, photographed, and haven't yet posted.  I'm behind on everything.

I was looking for some inspiration for some soup with a bit of kick.This is a uniquely flavorful soup that everyone seemed to really enjoy. It's different, hearty, and simply delicious.

Adapted from Sing for Your Supper.

Ingredients and Method:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
6 carrots, washed and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
6 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
heaping 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, and a bit for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

First a note on butternut squash. I find it a pain to peel and cut up the squash. So what I do is, is pierce it several times. and microwave for 8 minutes until it begins to soften. It is then much easier to cut it open, cut into manageable sized chunks, and the the thick tough skin is easy to just cut off with a knife.

Heat oil in your dutch oven or heavy duty pot. Saute garlic, onion, and ginger until onions are softened and transluscent. Add the vegetables and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally,  until vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes. (Conversely, this is a perfect pressure cooker soup also.  Saute onions, garlic, etc.  in the pressure cooker, add vegetables and chicken broth and heat under pressure for 12 minutes. Let pressure reduce naturally.)

Add tomato paste, cumin, cayenne pepper, curry powder and cilantro. Stir spices in, and then, using a hand blender, or a regular blender, blend soup mixture until smooth.

Stir in peanut butter.

Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with cilantro as a garnish. (I like to add a small dollop of sour cream also)

 Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Roundup

Now that my blog has been established for a couple of years, I find that I have enough recipes posted that
I can perhaps provide a quick reference to the Irish inspired things I like to make. So here it is:

Ha ha, admittedly only five recipes, but I do what I can.  If you try nothing else, do the cake or the soda bread. Both are wonderful. And enjoy a pint or two.
Guinness Stout Ginger Cake 



Guinness Beef Stew



Irish Soda Bread



Irish Brown Bread



Corned Beef and Cabbage        

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ron's Homemade Chicken and Rice Soup


Have you ever had really good chicken soup?  I mean really, really, good chicken soup. The kind that tastes so good that you just know that in addition to having incredible taste, it has healing properties too?

Yeah, I haven't either I don't think.  Let's face it, we rarely get Grandma's homemade chicken soup anymore.

But, thanks to a Pressure Cooker, and my throwback recipe, I think you might truly love this soup. I sure did, and so did all who tested it for me.

This all started when I bought a whole roasted chicken at the Supermarket. But after having chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner for a couple of nights, I tired of chicken for dinner.

I didn't want to waste the chicken carcass, and never having made homemade chicken soup before, I thought this would be the ideal time to try.

Give it a shot. It sure got rave reviews.

If you're not a Pressure Cooker person, that's fine. Just add all the ingredients into a heavy sauce pan, or Dutch Oven, and simmer for 3 hours Do NOT add the carrots and celery until the last 60 minutes of roasting/cooking time.. If using a Crock Pot, give it 6 hours (vegetables included).

Ingredients and Method:

Chicken Carcass
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence (or your own selection of herbs)
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 32 oz carton chicken broth
3 carrots, washed and sliced
2 stalks celery, washed and sliced
3 cups water
3/4 cup rice
2 teaspoons ground pepper
Salt to taste
Parsley for garnish

Heat pressure cooker over medium heat with olive oil.  Add diced onions, celery, and carrots and saute until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds more until fragrant. Add bouillon cubes, chicken broth, water, rice, herbs,  and chicken carcass.  Yeah, just dump the whole carcass right in.

Cover the pressure cooker, bring up to pressure on medium high heat until it begins to steam constantly, turn to medium low, and let cook for 15 minutes.

Let pressure release normally. Open cooker, and remove carcass, and all bones, and all chicken. Separate remaining chicken from the bones and chop into bite size pieces. Return chicken to pot and stir.  Salt and pepper soup to taste.


Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Merlin Menu Top 10 Recipes for Year 2010


I know, it's February, not January. This is the kind of post that, were I up on things, would have been posted right around the New Year. But, I've been a bit distracted trying to find a new position at my company. That's my excuse, anyway.

But here's the deal. As I looked through my newsreader in 2011, I noticed a number of blogs posted their top recipes from the previous year. And I found, that I liked being able to just click on whatever recipe I wanted to without having to scroll through page after page of blog. I figured therefore, that other people probably like this convenience also, so I decided to do one for my blog. And here it is. Hope you find at least one or two things you'd like to try, and maybe catch up on a recipe or two you might have missed over the last year.

Salted Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars Decadent and delicious.

Dutch Oven Bread A little baking magic from a Dutch Oven

Cinnamon Currant Bread Another Dutch Oven Bread

Eggs Benedict Who doesn't love Eggs Benedict. Make them at home for 1/10th the price.

Homemade Potato Chips Delicious and easy and fun to make.

Irish Brown Bread Authentic and delicious.

 Lime Cake with Strawberry Compote Light, refreshing, and a great flavor combination.

Salted Caramel Butter Bars Decadent and delicious.


Three Ingredient Tomato Sauce 3 Ingredients and knock your socks off good.

My personal Top Ten from my Blog for 2010.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cheddar Beer Soup with Truffle Oil


I know, the photo doesn't look like much. But this soup EXPLODES in your mouth with flavor.

So here's the deal. I went to Portland to have dinner with my daughter and her fiance for Thanksgiving  in their new home. (My first visit).

I was enlisted to make the Turkey, Dressing, and a casserole, and I threw in a pie just for good measure. (Photo link here: Just Click.)

Wonderful weekend. Met some of the future in-law family and we had a great time.

Next day, during the Alabama Auburn game we went and had a beer at a Brewpub in downtown Portland.

And I saw, Beer Cheese Soup.....  I love Beer Cheese Soup..... and it occurred to me I've never blogged it....and haven't even made it in years.....  What have I been thinking?   So I ordered a bowl, it was exquisitely good.....  and planned an update and counter attack.

And guess what happened?  Yup, I nailed it.  Believe me, there are many times I fail, I just don't post them. But this time, I got it right. You have got to try it. And, it's got a "secret ingredient" that truly put it over the top. Read on....

Ingredients and Method:
1/2 stick butter
2 ribs celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 leeks (pale green and white parts only) sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1 12 oz. bottle Bass Ale
1 teaspoon dry mustard
pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 8 oz packages shredded Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese
White Truffle oil
Smoked Paprika for garnish

Add butter to pressure cooker (or large saucepan) over medium-low heat. When melted and foamy, saute celery, leeks, and garlic for five minutes, until leeks are limp. Sprinkle flour over vegetables, stir and cook for two minutes more. Add bay leaf, milk, chicken broth, ale,  dry mustard, and cayenne. If using pressure cooker (as I did) cover, bring to pressure, and cook for 10 minutes. If cooking stovetop, cook over medium heat, stirring  occasionally, for 40 minutes until all vegetables are tender. Cool pressure cooker, release, and salt and pepper to taste. (same for saucepan)

Using a hand blender, or a food processor, puree soup until fairly well blended. (I tend to leave a bit unblended so it has some "texture")

Return to low heat, and add cheese, (reserve some for garnish) and stir constantly until well blended.

Pour into bowls.

Now the magic!

 Pour 6 -8 drops of white truffle oil into each bowl. No more, as this stuff is potent. Garnish with cheddar cheese and smoked paprika (if you have it, if not omit). Or, crumbled bacon, green onions, etc. whatever you like in your cheese soup.

Enjoy some of the best Beer Cheddar Soup I've ever had!