Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Cookie Cook-Off: Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate-Covered Raisins vs. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chipperoos

Looking for a fun, culinary activity for the kids this Summer? Why not spend an afternoon baking up some delicious cookies from "Savor the Moment?" I guarantee the Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate-Covered Raisins (pg. 257) and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chipperoos (also, pg. 257) will NOT disappoint!

On a recent Saturday, I decided to make these two recipes and assign some friends the task of determining which cookie recipe reigned supreme. Would it be the Oatmeal Cookies, a delicious combination of brown sugar, old-fashioned oats and chocolate covered raisins? Or, the Chipperoos, a blend of semisweet chocolate, peanut butter, white chocolate and toffee chips? After making the cookies, and doing a little taste testing of my own, I knew it would be close! I packaged them up and gave them out to some friends, explaining I would need their verdict in the next day or so. They very eagerly obliged and within two days I had my answer. I was right in thinking it would be close - in fact by one vote, the winner was......
the Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate-Covered Raisins!

My taste testers admitted choosing their favorite was difficult - they were also quick to volunteer for any subsequent assignments! I have included the recipe for the Oatmeal Cookies below and hope you enjoy them. One thing is for sure, pair either cookie recipe with a nice, tall glass of cold milk and you are all set for Summer!

XO,




Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate-Covered Raisins (pg. 257)
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) margarine, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned)
1 cup chocolate-covered raisins

Cream the margarine, brown sugar and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour and baking soda and mix well. Stir in the oats and raisins. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 9 minutes for a chewy texture or 10 to 11 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool on the cookie sheets for 1 minute. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes four dozen.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fabulous Summer Fare: Classic Yellowtail & South African Sauvignon Blanc

Summer's in full swing here in South Florida with temperatures climbing into the 90's and beyond! Time to beat the heat with some easy, elegant dishes from "Savor the Moment." If you're a fan of yellowtail snapper (I think it's a requirement for Florida residents) you should try this recipe that's referred to as "a year-round favorite at the Ocean Reef Club": Classic Yellowtail (pg. 183). After trying it, I definitely understand why!

Fresh yellowtail fillets are dusted with flour, dipped in egg wash and sautéed in a mixture of clarified butter and oil until golden brown, then baked in the oven until cooked through. In case you were wondering, clarified butter is just butter that has had the milk solids and water removed. It has a much higher smoke point, so you can cook with it at higher temperatures without it browning and burning. Also, without the milk solids, clarified butter can be kept for much longer without going rancid. It's actually very easy to make yourself, click here for more info. Once cooked, the fish is topped with a delicious sauce of sherry, capers and butter. I served the Yellowtail on a bed of cous cous with steamed asparagus, lemon wedges and a crisp, refreshing 2008 Boschendal 1685 Sauvignon Blanc Grande Cuvée from South Africa. In case you weren't aware, the host country of the 2010 World Cup also makes some pretty great wines!

Boschendal is one of the oldest wine producers in the New World with a French viticultural heritage dating back to 1685. It was originally founded by French Huguenots who recognized the property's potential and is situated at the gateway to the Franschhoek valley, less than an hour from Cape Town. The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Grande Cuvée from their 1685 label had lovely aromas of citrus, herbs and tropical fruit and was crisp and refreshing on the palate, with a long, lingering finish. It complemented the Classic Yellowtail beautifully! The color scheme of this dish (and coincidentally, the wine) also went nicely with some new linens from Linen Closet, one of my favorite stores in town - I didn't even plan it that way, I swear! I have included the delicious recipe below and I hope it inspires you to pick up your copy of "Savor the Moment" today so you can enjoy fabulous recipes all Summer long. Thank you for your support!

XO,




Classic Yellowtail (pg. 183)
4 fresh yellowtail snapper fillets
salt and pepper to taste
flour
egg wash
1 ounce mixed clarified butter and oil
2 to 3 ounces sherry
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
chopped parsley

Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper. Coat with flour and dip into the egg wash. Sauté in butter and oil in a heated ovenproof sauté pan until golden brown on both sides. Bake at 375 degrees for 3-4 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Remove the fish to a serving platter.

Place the sauté pan on the stove top and add the wine, stirring to deglaze the pan. Cook until bubbly. Add the capers and butter and cook until smooth, stirring constantly. Stir in the parsley. Serve over the fish. Serves two to four.

** Wines for this blog provided by Republic National Distributing Company

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Savoring the Moment with the Fabulous "Ladies Who Lunch"!

While I do most of my cooking in the comfort of my own home, it's so much fun sharing the experience and the fabulous recipes of "Savor the Moment" with friends and family. The other day, I was fortunate enough to share some delicious recipes with a group of new friends, the fabulous "Ladies Who Lunch"! My Mom (that's her in the pink Lilly pants) belongs to this lovely group of ladies who meet once a month in one of their Ft. Lauderdale homes to catch up, have some laughs and enjoy a delicious lunch together. They split the hostessing duties so a different pair of gals hosts each month - a great way to split the work! Last month it was my Mom's turn to co-host and while discussing the menu one day, she asked if there were any recipes from "Savor the Moment" I could recommend. Before I knew it I had planned the menu, volunteered to make the entire lunch and do wine pairings with each course - yikes!

Once she accepted my offer, I got to work on the logistics. I chose two recipes I had made before and one I hadn't - I don't recommend making three recipes for the first time when cooking for group! The new recipe I chose was an hors d'oeuvres, the delicious Smoked Salmon on Potatoes with Dill Sauce (pg. 74). Now, I have never been a big fan of salmon. I have tried really hard to like it and sampled it in many forms: grilled, baked, broiled, etc..but to no avail. It wasn't until an encounter with smoked salmon in Paris last year at the historic Café de Flore that I actually REALLY liked it! At first I thought it was just the location but ever since returning home, I am still a fan! For this recipe, I used Scottish Smoked Salmon I bought at Carmine's Gourmet Market in Palm Beach Gardens. It had a nice, mild, briny flavor and wasn't as strong as the Nova Smoked Salmon they also had. The recipe calls for serving the salmon atop roasted new potatoes with a delicious dill sauce and seemed like the perfect way to start off lunch with the Ladies!

For the main course I went with the tried, true and delicious Chutney Chicken Salad (pg. 130) served on a bed of organic mixed greens. This flavorful blend of chicken, mango chutney, curry powder, raisins, celery and almonds is a hit every time! Cooking the bone in, skin on chicken breasts in a pot of salted water imparts the most fabulous flavor and texture to the chicken. Once cooled, just remove the skin from the chicken, cut into pieces and gently mix with the other ingredients. It couldn't be easier to make and this recipe can also be prepared in advance, which made it a great choice for the menu.

Dessert was a no-brainer and one of my favorite finds of the past few weeks! The Frozen Lemon Mousse (pg. 246) is so light, refreshing and perfect for Summer I had already made it twice before this lunch! It calls for a few delicious, fresh ingredients including lemon juice, lemon zest, eggs, sugar and cream and, according to the cookbook, can keep for up to two weeks in the freezer. It does take a little time to make and involves beating egg whites, whipping cream, folding and mixing but, let me tell you, it is well worth it! I prepared it the night before and popped it in the freezer to to let all the lemony, delicious flavors chill and meld together.

The day of the lunch, I packed everything up, including the wines I had purchased the day before at Total Wine, and headed down to my
Mom's place in Ft. Lauderdale. Preparing everything the day before really cut down on the anxiety factor! Once there, I assembled the Scottish smoked salmon on the potatoes I had roasted that morning, each filled with a savory dollop of the delicious dill sauce, and garnished with a sprig of fresh dill. My Mom's co-hostess with the mostess, the lovely Barbara Rogan, arrived soon after and we did some last minute preparations. Once the ladies arrived, we served the Smoked Salmon on Potatoes with Dill Sauce with a Lucien Albrecht Brut Rosé Crémant d'Alsace NV, a sparkling wine made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes from Alsace, France. The salmon was nicely complemented by the crisp, light flavors of berries and spice and, lets face it, bubbles always set a festive mood. The hors d'oeuvres and wine were well received and it appeared the Ladies were off to a great start!

When it was time for lunch, we plated the savory, fragrant Chutney Chicken Salad atop beds of organic mesclun greens and served with a 2007 Sonoma-Loeb Sonoma County Private Reserve Chardonnay. As the subtitle of this delicious recipe suggests, it goes perfectly with a Chardonnay and the Sonoma-Loeb did not disappoint with complex, rich, buttery flavors of ripe pear, apple, fig and toasty oak. The duo seemed to be a hit with the fabulous ladies and after some great stories, lots of laughs, and few glasses of wine, it was time to clear all the empty plates! The Frozen Lemon Mousse, served with some juicy, ripe raspberries and sprigs of fresh mint, was the perfect dish to serve following the flavorful chicken salad. I just can't get enough of its delightfully creamy texture and refreshing lemony deliciousness. Judging from the empty parfait glasses, the Ladies were in agreement too!

I so enjoyed sharing recipes from "Savor the Moment" with the "Ladies Who Lunch"! Cheers to Dot Cobb, Barbara Rogan, Joann Voight, Diane Gill, and Susan Goldstein. It was such a pleasure and I hope you enjoyed lunch as much as I did meeting all of you. I have included the recipe for the Chutney Chicken Salad below - hope you enjoy it!

XO,




Chutney Chicken Salad (pg. 130)
2 lbs. bone-in chicken breasts
salt to taste
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 tablespoons mango chutney
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely shopped scallions
Cook the chicken in salted water in a large saucepan for 30 minutes or until tender. Cool and cut into pieces, discarding the skin.
Combine the mayonnaise, curry powder, chutney, lime juice, raisins and almonds in a large bowl. Add the chicken, celery and scallions and mix well. Serve on a bed of lettuce. Serves four
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