Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hard Cider Cheese Soup


  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves peeled garlic, minced
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 16 ounces beer (or upgrade to Springgate Vineyards' Hard Cider)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon or stone-ground mustard
  • 10 ounces white extra sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • Salt & Pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic; saute 10 minutes.
  3. Cook, stirring frequently, for until onions are clear.
  4. Combine the milk and half-and-half. Slowly pour into flour mixture, whisking constantly until combined.
  5. Mix 4 oz of Springgate Hard Cider and corn starch in a separate container and add to pot.
  6. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the remaining beer and mustard. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently until foam subsides.
  7. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes until thick. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheese a handful at a time. 
  8. Add turmeric and whisk in completely.
  9. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Serve immediately.

Toasted Cheese Crostini Topped with Sauteed Apples & Onions in a Balsamic Reduction

Apple & Onion Topping Ingredients
1/2 of a Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and sliced into 1/8" slices
1/4 of a medium yellow onion, sliced lengthwise into 1/8" slices
1 t olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 t white sugar

Crostini Ingredients
6 slices of baguette sliced on a long bias making 4-5" slices 3/8" thick
6 thin slices of extra sharp cheddar

1. heat a small non-stick skillet over low heat
2. Add Olive oil when heated, spread evenly
3. Add onions first, then cover with apple slices
4. saute  until onions begin to soften, then add balsamic vinegar
5. allow to simmer for several minutes, softening the apples
6. Stir in sugar and continue to simmer on low for another 5 minutes. Balsamic should be reducing and getting slightly thicker. Stir occasionally and make sure heat remains low.
7. Place a cheese slice on each slice of baguette and toast in a toaster oven or in an oven broiler until the cheese is melted and the edges of the baguette slice begin to brown. Then remove from oven.
8. To server, place baguette slices on a plate and spoon apple/onion/balsamic mixture onto each slice, making sure to keep portions even.

Serve immediately.

This goes well as an accompaniment or appetizer for Cheese Soup and served with cold Springgate Hard Cider. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Reuben Pizza

3 c rye flour
2 c white flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 T olive oil
1/2 c molasses
2 pkgs. yeast (4 1/2 t bulk dry yeast)
1 1/2 c warm water
1 t light brown sugar

I added:
2 T expresso powder (for color)

3 c shredded swiss cheese
1 c shredded corned beef
Thousand Island Dressing
Sauerkraut Latkes (here)

1. Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in 1/2 c of warm water. Set aside for at least 5 minutes. 
2. Dissolve expresso powder in remaining 1 c of warm water.
3. Sift the rye flour and 1 1/2 cups of the white flour together with the salt in a large bowl. 
4. Add the olive oil, the molasses, 1 cup of warm water and the yeast mixture. Mix the ingredients together with your hands or in a mixer with dough hook. Knead for 10 minutes. Add more white flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
5. Coat the interior of a bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and then turn it over so the top is coated as well. Cover and place in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
6. Roll out the dough onto a lightly oiled jelly roll pan or onto two pizza pans.
7. Sprinkle a light coating of shredded swiss cheese.
8. Add broken up Sauerkraut Latkes evenly over the surface.
9. Add shredded Corned Beef evenly over the surface.
10. Sprinkle a generous layer of shredded swiss cheese over all.
11. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
12. Remove from oven and drizzle top with Thousand Island Dressing.

Makes two large round pizzas (16"+)

Sauerkraut Latkes

1 can sauerkraut, drained (about 2 c)
2 eggs
4 T flour
salt & pepper

1/4" oil in frying pan


Heat oil in pan on the stove - do not allow to smoke.
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands.
2. Form patties, squeezing out extra liquid - about 3/8" to 1/2" thick
3. Fry Latkes, browning well on one side before flipping to brown on the other.
4. Drain on paper towels.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sausage, Onion, Pepper & Bean Curry

2 c white beans (soaked for 24 hours)
4 c sliced green peppers & onions (3 c peppers to 1 c onions)
3 c chopped cooked sausage (I used smoked sausage)
1 qt chicken stock
5 t curry powder
1 T corn starch in 1/2 c cold water

4 c rice
8 c water

1. Put beans, peppers & onions, sausage, chicken stock and curry in a crock pot and mix well. Turn on low and let cook for 4 hours. Stir again. Raise temperature on the crock pot to high and mix in corn starch and water. Allow to cook for 4 more hours.

2. Put rice and water in a large pot, put on stove set to high. When it boils, move the pot askew and reduce heat to low. Set a timer for 15 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE POT

3. When 15 minutes are up, remove the pan from heat and allow to sit for 20 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE POT.

4. To server, put rice in a bowl and spoon curry mixture over top. Serve with Naan or Pita bread.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Caramel Sauce


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. If necessary, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color (I look for the first hint of smoke and remove the pan from the heat immediately) -- about 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Transfer the caramel to a dish and cool.

Based on a recipe I found at

Mini Cheese Cake with Caramel Topping

(I forgot to take a photo with the caramel on top.)


  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt (I couldn't get fat free Greek yogurt, so I used regular)
  • 12 ounces ⅓-less-fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • Caramel Sauce (here:


Instead of the 12-cup muffin tin, I used a 6-cup jumbo muffin tin. There was still enough cracker crust mix and cheese cake mix to make about four more cakes. 

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, combine the melted butter, 1 tbsp sugar and graham cracker crumbs until evenly wet.
  3. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin well with cooking spray. Spoon about 1 packed tablespoon crumb mixture into each muffin cup; press crumbs firmly into bottom. Bake at 300° for 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; cool.
  4. Place brown sugar, yogurt, and cream cheese in processor, mixer or blender; process until smooth. Add vanilla, table salt, and eggs; process until smooth.
  5. Spoon about 3 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup.
  6. Bake at 300° for 18 minutes or until centers of cheesecakes barely move when pan is touched. Remove pan from oven; cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Cover pan; refrigerate cheesecakes 3 hours or until well chilled.
  7. Run a thin knife around outside edge of each cheesecake. Carefully remove cheesecakes from pan; place on a platter. Chill cheesecakes until ready to serve.
  8. In a double boiler, melt the caramel squares and milk, stirring occasionally.
  9. Spoon about 1 tablespoon caramel over each cheesecake.

Creamy Leek & Potato Soup


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 lb or 1 c)
  • 2 leeks (about 1" diameter), sliced lengthwise then into 1/2" pieces. Break up and wash under cold water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 quart chicken broth (I used homemade chicken stock)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups heavy cream


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Cook leeks in butter with salt (to help sweat out the liquid) and pepper until tender, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. I let mine caramelize lightly.
  2. Stir cornstarch into broth and pour broth into pot. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the cream, reduce heat and simmer at least 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Based on a recipe found at

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Blackberry Panna Cotta topped with White Chocolate Cream Mousse

Blackberry Panna Cotta
2 c blackberries simple syrup
3 c heavy cream
2 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 c white sugar

White Chocolate Mousse
8 oz good white chocolate broken up
1/2 c heavy cream for ganache
3 c heavy cream for whipping

Day 1 - make Panna Cotta.
  1. Put blackberry syrup in a large saucepan on low heat.
  2. Sprinkle gelatin powder on top and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
  3. When gelatin is all wet an wrinkly, begin to whisk.
  4. Add sugar and whisk until all is dissolved.
  5. Add cream and vanilla and heat gently. DO NOT BOIL or even simmer. When warm and all well combined, remove from heat.
  6. Pour into 12-14 - 6 oz cups or ramekins (about 1/3 to 1/2 full.)
  7. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2 - make White Chocolate Cream Mousse
  1. In a large microwave safe bowl combine chocolate pieces and 1/2 c heavy cream.
  2. Microwave in high for 30 seconds at a time, whisking between until chocolate is melted and combined with cream. 
  3. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl (or power mixer bowl with a whisk attachment) pour 3 c COLD heavy cream. 
  5. Whisk by hand or with mixer at medium speed for several minutes until cream forms soft peaks. (Do not over mix or you will make butter!)
  6. Put about 1/2 of whipped cream into the chocolate-cream mixture and whisk gently to combine. 
  7. Add chocolate & cream mixture back into whipped cream bowl and whisk gently to combine. Do not over mix.

Portion cream onto tops of cups or ramekins of Panna Cotta.

Chill for two hours before serving.

Bacon wrapped, bleu cheese filled, pitted dates

1 lb bacon
40 pitted dates
2/3 c crumbled blue cheese

Preheat oven to  400°
1. Cut bacon strips into halves (you may need more than a pound if its think cut - you need twenty full length bacon strips total.) In a large skillet, cook bacon in batches over medium heat until partially cooked but not crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain; keep warm.

2. Carefully cut a slit in the center of each date; fill with blue cheese. Wrap a bacon piece around each stuffed date; secure with wooden toothpicks.

3. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until bacon is crisp. 

Yield: 40 pieces

I had these first at a local restaurant, the Federal Taphouse. They call them, "Devil on Horseback". I call them better than sex.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Blackberry Simple Syrup

4c fresh blackberries
4c white sugar
4c water

Put all ingredients in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. 

Stir continuously mashing the fruit as you stir. Use a potato masher to help breakdown the fruit. (The idea here is to extract the juice from the pulp and seeds.)
Heat until mixture begins to just boil and remove from heat.
Set aside and allow to cool.
Pour through a fine strainer to separate pulp and seeds from syrup.
Put the syrup in a quart (or two pints) and refrigerate for up to three weeks or freeze in a muffin tin for longer storage.

Ready for the freezer.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cheese, Onion & Sweet Pepper Cornbread


1 c onion - diced into 1/4" pieces
1 c sweet green pepper - diced into 1/4" pieces
olive oil for sautéing

Cornbread - see recipe here. Replace black beans with onion & pepper topping.

Instructions. Topping instructions
1. heat a skillet on high heat. When hot add a coating of olive oil.
2. Immediately add onions & peppers
3. Saute on high until onions begin to brown and peppers are softened.
4. Remove from heat.

Follow corn bread recipe instructions using onions & peppers in place of black beans.

Serve with pico de gallo, salsa, guacamole, or fajita filling.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cranberry barbeque chicken dip

1 can whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 bottle chili sauce
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T coarse brown mustard
1 t red pepper flakes
1 T cider vinegar
4 c cooked chicken, shredded
2 pkg Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 lb Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Small bunch of green onions cut up for garnish.

2 - 8" diameter oven safe serving bowls or a single 9x13 glass casserole dish

Preheat oven to 350° F

Lightly oil dishes with olive oil. Evenly divide Neufchatel cheese between the dishes and press out evenly on the bottom (put some oil on your fingers to make this easy.) Cover with a light layer of shredded Monterey jack. Set aside.

Put cranberry sauce, chili sauce, worschesher sauce, mustard, red pepper, and vinegar in a food processor. Pulse to combine. You want the cranberries to still have some texture, so don't puree.

Put chicken in a large bowl. Spoon about 1/2 cup of barbeque sauce over it and stir well. Keep adding a few spoonfuls until all of the chicken is coated and the mixture holds together. Add a bit more sauce along with about 1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack and mix just until combined.

Spoon an even layer of chicken mixture into the casserole dishes. Level with the back of a spoon.

Coat with the remaining shredded Monterey jack cheese.

Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove and top with green onions.

Serve immediately with snack crackers.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Red Pepper Hummus


  • 2 red bell peppers (roasted, skinned and diced)
  • 1.5 cups (one 15 oz. can) cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained if canned (equals 1/2 c dry beans soaked overnight and cooked for 45-90 minutes)
  • 2-3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup raw tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (or less if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    1. If you are anal, skin the chickpeas. It will take a while. You might start to curse, or give up altogether.
    2. Roast red peppers directly over burner on stove until blackened on all sides. Put in a paper bag for 10 minutes. Peel off skin, dice into 1/8" pieces
    3. In a food processor, blend the garbanzo beans and garlic cloves very well. Add the tahini, lemon juice, salt, broth and oil and process until fully emulsified and creamy. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to ten days. For best results, allow to warm to room temperature before serving.
    4. Add 1/2 of the peppers to the food processor and blend (peppers should still be visible.)
    5. Serve hummus in a bowl and garnish on top with the other 1/2 of the peppers.

Moroccan Style Sausage Rolls & Red Pepper Hummus


  • 3 puff pastry sheets
  • 1½ lb ground beef (use lamb if you can afford it)
  • 2½T sundried cranberries
  • 1½t ground coriander
  • 1½t ground cumin
  • 1T of lemon juice
  • 1/4lb fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 2T cold water (separate from above)


    1. Remove the pastry from the freezer to defrost
    2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F
    3. Put the chopped herbs and spinach, and spices in a bowl and blend well.
    4. Put the ground meat into the bowl and mix by band until well blended
    5. Add 2 beaten eggs and mix through
    6. Split the mixture into three parts
    7. One by one, layout each sheet of pastry on a lightly floured surface, rolling slightly to fix any splits and to make the pastry even.
    8. Dab some of the egg/water mixture for about 1" along one edge.
    9. Lay out 1/3 of the meat mixture along the opposit edge of the pastry and then roll the pastry up and over into a log, sealing with the egg dabbed edge.
    10. Cut into 1" pieces
    11. Put the pieces onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush with the egg/water mixture to glaze
    12. Bake for 30 minutes
    13. Remove from the oven and cool
    14. Serve with Red Pepper Hummus

    Monday, June 9, 2014

    Savory corn pancakes with refried beans & salsa

    1 c corn flour
    1 c corn meal
    1/2 c rice flour
    2 t baking powder
    2 t cumin
    2 t chili powder
    1 t sugar
    1 1/2 c skim milk
    2 eggs

    Refried Beans
    1/2 lb black beans
    1/2 lb navy beans
    1 lg yellow onion sliced thinly
    1 green pepper chopped into 1/4" dice
    1 T cumin
    1 T chili powder
    1/2 c red wine
    4 beef bullion cubes
    1 1/2 c boiling water

    Preparing beans:
    Soak beans in water for 24 hours rinsing every 8 hours. Keep covered with water.

    Cook beans in a crock pot with water for 4-6 hours. Drain excess water and put beans in a food processor and process into a coarse paste (do this in batches).

    Heat a large skillet add olive oil and saute onions until translucent. Add peppers and continue cooking. Add cumin and chili powder. Deglaze with red wine a reduce heat. Add beans and fold in onions & peppers.

    Dissolve bullion in water. Add to bean mixture as needed to smooth it out. Set aside.

    To serve put beans in a dish, coat top with grated cheese and microwave for a couple minutes to melt cheese.

    Preparing pancakes:
    Put dry ingredients in a large bowl and blend thoroughly.

    In a separate bowl whisk milk and eggs. Add milk and eggs to dry ingredients and whisk.

    Heat a griddle or skillet. Spray with oil. Pour 1/8-1/4 c of pancake mixture onto skillet. Allow to cook. Check edges and flip when brown. When cooked remove and repeat for the rest of the batter.

    How to serve:
    Place pancake on a plate. Top with several tablespoons of bean mixture. Top with salsa.