Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Venison Roast braised in Merlot

4 lb lean Venison roast
2 c Merlot (un-oaked if you can get it)
2 c water
2 lb onions sliced
1 head garlic separated into cloves
3 lb carrots cut into sticks
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms sliced
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp sage
6-8 sprigs fresh rosemary

With a sharp knife puncture holes in the roast and insert garlic cloves evenly into the center of the meat. Spread onions on the bottom of the crock pot. Set the roast on top. Add wine and water to nearly cover the meat. Set crock pot on low and let cook for 6 hours.

Turn up to high and add bay leaves, sage, rosemary, carrots, and mushrooms. Cook three more hours.

Remove roast and set aside to rest 15 minutes. Meanwhile put other contents into a large pan and simmer to reduce and ensure carrots are cooked through.

Slice the roast thinly and place on serving dish.

Serve with veggies au jous.

Best eaten with a glass of good Merlot.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Panna Cotta with Dark Chocolate Ganache & Merlot Wine Gelatin Whip

  • Panna Cotta Ingredients
  • 8 cups (1l) heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1 cup (100g) sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 packets powdered gelatin
  • 1/4c cold water
  • Dark Chocolate Ganache Ingredients
  • 14 oz Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 10 oz Heavy Cream

  • Merlot Gelatin Ingredients
  • 1 qt Merlot
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 packets powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Prepare Panna Cotta
1. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. DO NOT BOIL
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
4. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into 24 - 6oz clear plastic cups, then chill them until firm, 
which will take about two hours.

Prepare Ganache
1. Put heavy cream in a double boiler and warm until a single chip melts when put into it.

2. Add the rest of the chips and whisk slowly to melt and blend the Ganache.

3. Take off heat and allow to cool.  Whip occassionally to keep soft.

Prepare Merlot Gelatin
1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a medium mixing bowl and let stand 10 minutes
2. Heat wine and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
3. Mix gelatin into wine/sugar mixture and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.
4. Allow to cool to room temperature.
5. In batches of about 2 cups, place cooled mixture in a bowl over an ice bath.  Whisk occassionally until it just starts to thicken.  Either whisk briskly or use a hand mixer to whip the gelatin into a dense foam.  Scoop foam off into a large container.  Keep the container refrigerated between batches.  Complete the process with all of the wine mixture. Should generate about 1 gal of wine foam.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.

In each serving cup, place about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp of ganache on top of set Panna Cotta cream. l

Divide wine gelatin foam evenly into each Panna Cotta cup.  Chill immediately for an hour.

Inspired by Splendid Table ( and Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Zuppa Toscana

2 pounds bulk mild Italian sausage
1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large sweet onions (softball sized), diced
8 qt chicken broth
20 potatoes, thinly sliced (about 5 lbs, medium sized)
1 qt heavy cream
1 bunch kale, torn with stems removed

Cook the Italian sausage and red pepper flakes in a skillet oven over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 25 - 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Cook the bacon in the same skillet oven over medium heat until crisp, about 20 minutes. Drain, leaving a few tablespoons of drippings with the bacon in the bottom of the pan. Chop bacon into ½” pieces.
Stir in the onions; cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.
In a large stock pot, pour the chicken broth along with the bacon and onions; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 40 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the heavy cream and the cooked sausage; heat through. Mix the kale into the soup just before serving.
Yields about 2 ½ gallons of soup

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rueben Dip

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing
16 ounces sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed dry
8 ounces shredded corned beef
16 ounces shredded Swiss cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  1. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and dressing.
  2. Spread sauerkraut into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Layer corned beef, Swiss cheese, and the mayonnaise-dressing mixture on top of the sauerkraut.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Brandon's Chili

This is impossible to mess up so don't worry about measurements or having it all. You can add other stuff to if you want.  I have never had it go wrong. -- Brandon

Meat and Veggies

1 lb to 2 lb Ground Venison
1/2 lb to 1 lb Ground Beef (80/20 or 70/30)
Olive Oil
Minced Garlic
Italian Seasoning
Black Pepper
Chili powder
2 Green Bell Peppers - diced
2 large Sweet Onions - diced

Liquid ingredients

1- Large (28 oz ) cans Crushed Tomato 
2-  Large Can 28 oz Diced Tomato. (Can use Italian style if desired). 
1- Large can Tomato Sauce. (May not need all 28 oz.   
1- 12 oz bottle of hot sauce.   

In a large pan or large Pot (use largest pot  if possible saves dishes) on the stove add olive oil and some fresh garlic minced  you can be generous with both. 

Take all the Venision and add 1/2 lbs to 1 lbs of 80/20 or 70/30 ground beef.    Make sure its defrosted and add to the pot on the stove and cook meat till all the pink is out on Med heat.   Add spices to taste - Parsley, Italian Seasoning, pepper.

Mix Green pepper and Onion in with Meat as its cooking 

After meat & veggies are cooked make sure your pot will have room for the next step.    If not move a bunch of the meat and veggies to crock pot.  

Add crushed and diced tomatoes into the pot.  Bring to a boil then back off the heat to low. Add the hot sauce to taste (I always put the whole bottle in -- Its not that hot).

Add pepper and Chili Powder to taste.  

Move the Tomato mixture into the crock pot with the meat and Veggies.   Stir and taste.   If it needs to he thinned you can add the can of tomato sauce as needed.   

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream & pepper croutons.

(NOTE: You can put the crock pot in the fridge overnight and heat day of.   It does take several hours on high to heat if it was in the fridge the whole night.)

Recipe courtesy of Brandon Bower

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Apple & Thyme Custard Tart

Tart Dough
3 C confectioners sugar
4 1/2 C all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
3 sticks of butter (4 oz, or 1/2 C)
3 eggs

Sift together the confectioners sugar, flour, and salt.
Beat the butter until smooth; add the flour mixture and egg. Mix just until it comes together as an evenly formed mass. Wrap in plastic and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, working quickly, line the sheet pan with the dough. Trim off any excess dough that hangs over the edges. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork a few times.
Enough for 2 – 12x18 cookie sheets

Tart Filling
5 - 6 crisp apples (peeled, cored, and thinly sliced) - I used Macintosh
5 eggs
2 1/2 c sugar
2 cup heavy cream
4 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 teaspoons fresh thyme
3 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Toss apple slices with lemon juice, nutmeg, and thyme. Working from the one end, toward the other, lay the apple slices in the tart shell in a consistent linear pattern, overlapping them slightly.
Gently whisk together the eggs, sugar, cream, and vanilla, until just combined. Pour the custard mixture over the apple slices.
Bake tart at 375 F until the crust is golden and center is set, 30 to 40 minutes. (Note: if you find your crust is browning too quickly, cover the tart with aluminum foil for the duration of baking.) Allow the tart to cool before serving.

Adapted and scaled for larger pan size from

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Savory Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Crostini

2 French baguette, cut into diagonal 1/2 inch slices
extra virgin olive oil
2 lg Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate bars
sea salt

Preheat broiler (High setting) and set the oven rack on the top level. Line two baking sheets with foil.

Arrange baguette slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. Place under broiler until golden (watch carefully the burn easily). Turn each slice over and broil until reverse side is golden. Turn off broiler.
Turn each slice over again; drizzle with olive oil. Push chocolate piece into the center of each slice and return baking sheet to oven for 2 more minutes. Remove from oven and lightly sprinkle each chocolate piece with sea salt.

(based on recipe found on AllRecipes)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sweet Pepper, Onion and Potato Soup

8 lg Bell Peppers (late season are red for me)
1 lg sweet onion (Vidalia or similar)
Olive oil

6-8 medium russet potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled until firm but cooked

1 can Low-fat/low-sodium chicken stock
2 cans Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup
2 cans water (reconstitute soup)

Chili powder

Cut and clean seeds & stems from peppers, dice into ½” pieces.  Peel and dice onion into ½” pieces.  Heat a large skillet (high) and add liberal coating of olive oil when hot.  Immediately add onions and stir fry for 5 minutes.  Lower heat to medium high and add diced peppers.  Continue to cook for 20 minutes until onions are clear and peppers have softened.  Remove from heat.

In a stock pot on medium heat, add chicken stock, Cream of Chicken Soup, water and potatoes.

Put onions and peppers into a food processor or blender and puree until it has the consistency of ketchup.  Add to the stock pot.

Stir/whisk until well blended (it’s okay to break up some of the potato chunks).  Add Chili powder, Sage and Thyme (judiciously) to taste.

Heat to simmering and serve.

(I like it to have a bit of a peppery bite [read: chili powder], but not too spicy)

Mini-Quiche with Caramelized Onion Garnish

Caramelized Onion Topping
2 large sweet onions, sliced thinly.
Olive Oil

Heat a large saute pan on medium heat.  When hot, coat the bottom of the pan with Olive Oil.  Place onion slices on the bottom layering.  Keep cooking and stirring onions until softened transparent and caramelized to a light mahogany color.  Remove from heat.

Pastry Dough
2c flour
2T baking powder
1/4t cream of tartar
1/2c shortening
1/4t salt
2/3c milk

Whisk dry ingredients.  Cut in shortening with a pastry blender to texture of coarse breadcrumbs. Make a well and add milk, mixing lightly.  Turn out on floured surface and kneed lightly to blend. Form into balls and press into mini muffin tin cups.  Make sure the pastry walls are about ⅛” thick or the pastry cup will be too large.

Quiche Filling
¼ lb grated swiss
1 pkg frozen spinach
8 eggs
1c milk
½t nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  

Whisk eggs, adding milk and nutmeg.

Cut spinach into 1/2t sized chunks and put one in the bottom of each shell.  Add a small amount of grated swiss cheese.  Pour over approximately 1T egg mixture in each shell.  Bake 20-30 minutes until egg mixture is cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Repeat process of putting dough in cups, add filling ingredients and bake.  When done, place on serving tray and place a small curl of caramelized onion on top of each pastry shell.

recipe by Jay Mumper

Apple-Cheese Hors D'oeuvres

1c white sugar
4T lemon juice
1/2c water
1t butter
2c Granny Smith Apple strips (about 2 apples)
20 “Hint of Salt” Ritz crackers
8oz extra sharp cheddar cheese

4T lemon juice to 1c water to keep apple strips from browning.

Prepare apple strips
Using an apple peeler with the slicer/coring cutter removed, peel apple and discard peeling.  Make additional passes on the peeler removing strips of apple.  Place immediately in bowl with cold water and lemon juice to prevent browning.

Cooking apples
Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Melt butter and coat skillet.  Blend sugar, lemon juice and water.  Cook stirring constantly until sugar begins to caramelize to a light brown color.  Drop in drained apple strips and continue stirring.  Once most of the apples are transparent with a few opaque pieces, remove the apples and sugar from the skillet into another heat resistant container or heavy bowl.  Allow to stand.  Apples will finish cooking as they stand.

Slice cheese
Slice cheese into ⅛” slices and then into 1” squares.

Assemble hor’s d’oeurves

Lay out crackers on a serving tray.  Place one slice of cheese on each.  With a fork get about 1/2T of apple slices (still warm) and place on top of the cheese.  Place a second slice of cheese on top.

Hot Mustard

½ c dry mustard
½ c cider vinegar

⅓ c sugar
½ t salt
1 egg

Whisk dry mustard and vinegar and set aside.
Whisk egg thoroughly.  Add sugar and salt, whisk until blended.  Add mustard and vinegar mixture and whisk until combined.  Put mixture in a saucepan on low heat and cook stirring constantly until thickened to a light pudding consistency.

Set aside and cool to room temperature.

Blend in equal volume of Miracle Whip dressing.  Refrigerate.

Serve cold.

Recipe from Sue Crawford Hewer, Pickford, MI.

Prosciutto and Apple Smoked Gruyere (Tourbillon Pâtisserie Jambon et Gruyère Fumé Pomme)

2 tubes crescent rolls (uncut crescent sheets if you can find them)
½ lb grated Apple Smoked Gruyere Cheese (see
¼ lb thinly sliced of Prosciutto

Preheat oven to 375°

Spread dough, sealing pre-cut seams

Add a thin layer of grated Apple Smoked Gruyere. Place slices of prosciutto. Roll the topped pastry starting with one long side, rolling evenly to the center and then the other side, so that the two sides meet at the center.

Cut slices of dough stuffed with 1/4 inch thick, with a sharp knife to form swirls. Place the swirls on a parchment covered or non-stick pan and bake 12-15 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Adapted from French recipe by Jay Mumper - August 2013

Asian Pear Tart Tatin

All-purpose flour, for rolling
2 sheets frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
24 firm, ripe Asian pears (1 ½”-2” dia typ.), each peeled, quartered, cored

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll puff pastry sheets into an 9x13 rectangle. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium cast-iron or ovenproof nonstick skillet, combine sugar, vinegar, and 6 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in butter. Butter pyrex 9x13 glass dish. Cover bottom with parchment. Place pear wedges in skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until pears are crisp-tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Move pears to glass pan, placing larger pieces around perimeter - pears should form a uniform layer.

Drape chilled pastry over pears, tucking edge under. Place second sheet over the first, again tucking edges under. Bake until pastry is golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Let tart cool in pan, 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of skillet, and carefully invert tart onto a serving plate. Serve warm.