Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Breakfast at Stephanie's" A Deliciously Decadent Morning with the Girls!

I recently invited some girlfriends over for a morning of delicious recipes from "Savor the Moment." Breakfast on Sunday is probably one of my favorite meals of the week and the girls were sweet enough to come on over to Chez Miskew and help me out with some dishes from "Savor the Moment's"  decadent Bread & Breakfasts chapter!

I went with a "Breakfast at Stephanie's" theme, giving everyone their own tiara and a CD with songs from Audrey Hepburn movies including "Moon River Cha Cha" from Breakfast at Tiffany's, a new favorite, and "Think Pink" from Funny Face - perfect tunes for chilling out on a Sunday morning. We also wore our tiaras throughout breakfast - I think Holly Golightly would be proud!

The menu consisted of Honeydew Mimosas (pg. 101) followed by a buffet of Ham and Cheese Strata (pg. 102), French Toast Baked in Honey Pecan Sauce (pg. 97), and Tropical Fruit with Mango Cream (pg. 107). Fortunately, most of these recipes could be made the night before and popped in the oven shortly before the girls arrived - gotta love that!

The Ham and Cheese Strata is a mouth watering mixture of French Bread, ham, Cheddar and Parmesan Cheese, eggs, half and half and Dijon mustard that you can assemble the night before and bake in a springform pan for about 1 1/2 hours. I cut the ham into thick cubes to give some nice texture to the strata. When you pop the springform off this baby, it is a sight to behold! Golden brown, crispy edges studded with chunks of ham and melty cheeses - YUM!  And it tastes as good, if not better, than it looks.

The French Toast Baked in Honey Pecan Sauce was also delicious with its praline topping and accompanying Honey Butter. I'm not the biggest French Toast fan but I reeeeeally liked this recipe. Maybe it was the fact you could also do most of the prep the night before, but I think it had more to do with the flavor combo. The French bread "marinates" overnight in a mixture of eggs, half and half, brown sugar and vanilla and awakes to a warm reception in a 350 degree oven where it bakes atop a mixture of butter, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and pecans until puffed and golden brown. The result is some pretty phenomenal French toast with the perfect amount of sweetness.

In light of the previous two recipes, I thought I should probably throw in a token "healthy" dish to ease the guilt so I went with the Tropical Fruit with Mango Cream. As it turns out, this recipe calls for most of my favorite fruit including mango (obviously), nectarines, kiwifruit, pineapple and honeydew melon. It also called for passion fruit which unfortunately was not to be found in Delray Beach this particular day. Also, for the Mango Cream, in lieu of the kirsch, a clear, colorless fruit brandy made from distilled cherries, I used Chambord, a raspberry flavored liqueur, and it turned out just fine. This is the only dish of the three you will be making the morning of, since neither the fruit nor the Mango Cream holds up too well overnight. This dish also made a beautiful and delightfully colorful presentation and the fruit with the Mango Cream definitely had me going back for more - delicious!

My husband, Steve, was kind enough to rock out some fabulous batches of the Honeydew Mimosas for us girls. They were delicious and a beautiful, light green color that went down veeeeery smoothly - thanks, Hon! All in all it was a fun and delicious Sunday morning. Thanks to Carrie, Lee Ann and Reagan for your taste-testing help and for wearing tiaras throughout the entire breakfast. I've included the recipe for the Ham and Cheese Strata below, but you're going to have to buy a copy of "Savor the Moment" for the rest of the deliciousness. Enjoy!

XO,


Ham and Cheese Strata (pg. 102)**
1 loaf French bread, cubed
1 pound ham, cubed
1 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 green onions, chopped
15 medium eggs
2 egg yolks
4 cups half-and-half
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Combine the bread, ham, Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, and green onions in a large bowl. Beat the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half and mustard in a medium bowl. Pour over the bread mixture and stir until moistened. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or longer.
Stir the mixture and pour into an oiled 10-inch springform pan; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 to 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, covering with foil if necessary to prevent overbrowning. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Place on a serving plate and remove the side of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve. Serves twelve. 
**Better me than you cooking tips!
-  I baked the strata at 350 degrees so it could bake in the oven with the French Toast. It cooked for about 1 1/2 hours
- I cubed the ham into big chunks to give it some nice texture
- Be sure to run a knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the strata before unlatching it

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's the First Anniversary of "Stephanie Savors the Moment" & the Top Ten Recipes - so far!

WOW - I can't believe it's been a YEAR since starting this blog! With over 120 recipes from "Savor the Moment" under my belt and plans for the 10th Anniversary Celebration underway, I'm on the home stretch to completing my goal by November. What a milestone!

I have to say it's been quite an adventure so far and I've definitely learned alot. How to segment a grapefruit, the best way to melt chocolate, how to make bread from scratch - these are just a few of the skills I've picked up along the way. It's also been wonderful sharing the delicious recipes of the Junior League of Boca Raton's James Beard Award-winning Cookbook with family, friends and fellow bloggers. The fact that "Savor the Moment" was the FIRST Junior League Cookbook to ever win a James Beard Award - the culinary equivalent of an Oscar - is definitely something to be proud of!

As I mentioned, the Cookbook Committee has some fabulous plans in the works to celebrate the cookbook's 10th Anniversary, so stay tuned for more information! We have a fabulous committee this year that is looking forward to honoring "Savor the Moment" and the wonderful women who made it all happen. Cheers to you, Ladies!

Also, since I am frequently asked what some of my favorites are, I've decided to include a Top Ten list of the recipes I have made so far. Let me tell you, folks, it was no easy feat narrowing it down to ten! There are just so many excellent recipes to choose from. So, in no particular order, here goes...

My Overall Top Ten (so far!)
1.   Sun-Dried Tomato Mousse (pg. 72)
2.   Chutney Chicken Salad (pg. 130)
3.   Tomato Basil Seafood Stew (pg. 177)
4.   Roasted Sea Bass in Prosciutto (pg. 178)
5.   Grilled Swordfish with Tomato and Arugula Salsa (pg. 182)
6.   Rosemary Roasted Rack of Lamb with Cabernet Sauce (pg. 154)
7.   Mustard Pork Chops with Brie (pg. 165)
8.   Filet Mignon with Shallot Sauce (pg. 149)
9.   Frozen Lemon Mousse (pg. 246)
10. Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cakes (pg. 254)

I hope you give these fabulous recipes a try and share them with your friends and family! Also, to purchase your copy of the fabulous, award winning "Savor the Moment" Cookbook, please click this link. Remember, ALL proceeds from cookbook sales go to support the Junior League of Boca Raton's local community projects. Thanks to all of you for the positive, encouraging comments and support and for making this journey so much fun - Cheers!

XO,

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Crazy Carb Adventure Continues with a Visit from my Long Lost Friend, Protein!


Since beginning the "Breads & Breakfasts" Chapter in "Savor the Moment," I have been looking forward to making the Monterey Jack Corn Bread with Basil and Roasted Peppers (pg. 91) - I mean, how delicious does that sound? Also, since this crazy carb adventure has wreaked a bit of havoc on the scale, I decided to pair this fabulous bread with something on the lighter side that involved my old friend, protein! The Barbecued Chicken with Mango Salsa (pg. 173) seemed to fit the bill with homemade BBQ sauce, fresh mango salsa and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Also, since the grill was already hot, we went with the Grilled Asparagus with Roasted Peppers (pg. 214) as well.

The Corn Bread is chock full of delicious flavors and textures including yellow cornmeal, buttermilk, Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeños, fresh basil, corn kernels and chopped roasted red peppers. While the recipe was relatively straightforward, I have to report after baking it for the stated 45 minutes plus an additional 15 and getting a "clean" toothpick test I ended up with a bread that was uncooked and oozing in the middle. Disappointing, true but the edges were delicious and the silver lining of that cloud was that I wasn't left with an entire corn bread to snack on all week!

I have to admit I was a little wary of the Barbecued Chicken simply because when I think of Barbecued Chicken I don't think of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I think of plump, juicy, bone in chicken breasts, thighs and legs with the skin very much ON! Are you with me? But in the spirit of a healthier, lighter meal, I was willing to give it a try. In the interest of full disclosure though, I did add boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

The Mango Salsa is a fabulous blend of mango, tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeño and  lime juice that I simply adored! I would definitely make this to go with other grilled fish or chicken dishes or just to enjoy with tortilla chips - delicious! The sauce for the chicken was also very good,  calling for crushed tomatoes, mango, vinegar, sugar and chipotle chile in adobo sauce. Chipotles are smoked jalapeño peppers and adobo (Spanish for "sauce, seasoning or marinade") is a blend of tomato puree, garlic, vinegar, salt and spices. They are extremely flavorful and gave a delicious, spicy punch to the Barbecue Sauce. Once grilled, the heat of the chicken was nicely offset by the chilled Mango Salsa. I'm sorry to report I forgot to top the chicken with the salsa for the photo but trust me, it is awesome!

The Grilled Asparagus with Roasted Peppers came from the kitchen of 32 East, Delray Beach's hallowed dining establishment. This recipe also involves one of my favorite culinary tasks, roasting peppers! I sliced the peppers in half lengthwise and put the halves skin side up on a baking sheet under the broiler. This way you don't have to worry about turning them and there's no mess trying to roast them over your gas burner. Once sufficiently charred, I popped them in a bag and gave them some time for the skins to loosen. For the asparagus, I could only find the thin, wimpy kind, so I didn't bother blanching them before grilling - a very good decision. Once the peppers were peeled and chopped they are incorporated into a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, parsley and Dijon mustard - yummy! The dressing is then spooned over the hot, grilled asparagus which is then finished with shaved Parmesan Cheese.

This meal was an interesting blend of delicious flavors and it was nice to enjoy a dish with protein again! I have included the recipe for the Monterey Jack Corn Bread with Basil and Roasted Peppers. Be sure to bake it long enough so you, too, are not left with an undercooked center! I hope you enjoy and please don't forget to savor the moment.

XO,


Monterey Jack Corn Bread with Basil and Roasted Peppers
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
 1 cup chopped onion
1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
 1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
 1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeños
1 1/3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed, drained
1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute for 10 minutes or until tender. Cool to room temperature.
Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the chilled butter and rub with fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Whisk the buttermilk and eggs in a medium bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Mix in the cheese, corn, bell peppers, basil and sauteed onion.
Pour into a greased 9x9-inch baking pan, Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Cut into squares.
Note: The bread can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead. Cool completely, cover loosely with foil and store at room temperature. If desired, rewarm bread for 10 minutes at 350 degrees before serving.
Serves twelve

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Top of the Muffin to You! Scrumptious Strawberry Streusel Muffins

The baking continues, my friends, as does the battle of the "muffin top"! Oh the lengths I'll go to for the "Savor the Moment" Challenge. I guess it turns out you really ARE what you eat!

I was laughing today recalling Elaine's predilection for muffin tops on Seinfeld years ago. She loved them so much she parlayed her passion into a short lived business venture with her boss, Mr. Lippman, called "Top of the Muffin to You!" Because they only sold the muffin "tops," the duo ran into difficulty disposing of the muffin "stumps," and the business apparently went bust. Revisit this hilarious episode here.

Clearly Elaine never tried one of "Savor the Moment's" Strawberry Streusel Muffins (pg. 90) or she definitely would have devoured the entire thing!  These strawberry-studded beauties are truly scrumptious with a crunchy streusel topping and delicious Key lime glaze. I also happen to know the Junior Leaguer responsible for submitting this recipe - the fabulous Christine Najac! Founder and Owner of the South Florida based business "Really Good Cookies" this girl definitely knows her way around a kitchen! "Really Good Cookies" specializes in handmade, high quality baked goods and confections for those discriminating palates desiring a true "taste experience!" In addition, Christine has also created the website and blog, South Florida Food & Wine, a go-to resource for "all things food, wine and events from Palm Beach to South Beach." Be sure to check out her wonderful website so you too can be "in the know!"

Making these magnificent muffins is a three part process but definitely worth the effort! Once you pull them out of the oven, warm and fragrant with their tops bubbling ever so gently I'm sure you will agree. My husband wolfed down two of them before I even had a chance to glaze them! The combination of the Key lime with the strawberries is delicious enough and the streusel topping really seals the deal. The recipe states you can also substitute blueberries or raspberries for the strawberries and lemon juice for the Key lime juice in the glaze but I really don't see that happening in my house. I hope you give this recipe a try and let me know what you think - Thanks, Christine! 

XO,



Strawberry Streusel Muffins
Muffins (see baking tips following recipe)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced fresh strawberries
1 teaspoon grated Key lime zest or orange zest
Streusel Topping
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated Key lime zest or orange zest
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Key Lime Glaze
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon fresh Key lime juice or orange juice
For the muffins, sift the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a medium bowl. Make a well in the center. Add the egg, butter and half-and-half to the well and mix just until moistened. Stir in the strawberries and zest; do not overmix. Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups.
For the topping, combine the pecans, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and zest in a small bowl and mix well. Pour in the butter and mix well. Sprinkle over the muffins.
Bake the muffins at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Cool completely.
For the glaze, mix the confectioner's sugar and juice in a bowl. Swirl the glaze over the cooled muffins.
Makes one dozen

"Better me than you" baking tips:
- Be sure to grease those muffin cups or those muffins will stick!
- This recipe makes exactly 12 muffins
- I used chopped pecans for the recipe - delicious!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Now That's a Good Muffin: "Savor the Moment" Poppy Seed Muffins!

I have to admit, ever since Betty White hosted Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, I can't help but snicker when I hear the word "muffin." White plays Florence Dusty a "rock star in the confectionery world" who can "shake it, break it and sprinkle it" with the best of them! If you missed that episode check out this link and you'll see what I mean.

But I digress, on my recent baking marathon I encountered the "Savor the Moment" recipe for Poppy Seed Bread (pg. 89) which, it turns out, can also be made as muffins. After baking two breads in a row I thought, hey why not mix things up a bit? (I know, how do I come up with these crazy ideas.) Historically, I can't say that I've been the biggest "poppy seed" fan - not that I don't like them but I have never been one to seek them out. Well, let me just tell you, my fellow foodies, these muffins are a revelation! I think it may not have as much to do with the poppy seeds, however, as the delicious flavor combo of almond and vanilla extract and the perfect level of sweetness.

Also contributing to the deliciousness is that after they come out of the oven they are then glazed with a mixture of orange juice, sugar and more almond and vanilla extract - a double whammy of fabulous flavor. I'm not kidding, these muffins are delicious! As tasty as they are though, they aren't the most beautiful muffins I've seen. They browned a bit around the edges but the center stayed a pale, blond color with some cracks and crevices - probably due to my lack of baking acumen but I'm not exactly sure... In any event, you will easily forgive their less than perfect appearance once you bite into one of these, spread with a little (or a lot) of butter. Give them a try this weekend!

XO,



Poppy Seed Bread (you can also make as muffins)
Bread
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons ) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Almond Orange Glaze
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For the bread, mix the eggs, milk, butter, sugar, poppy seeds and flavorings in a large bowl. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture on cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Divide the batter between 5 greased 5-inch loaf pans or 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes for bread or for 20 to 30 minutes for muffins or until a wooden pick inserted n the center comes out clean.
For the glaze, mix the sugar, orange juice and flavorings in a bowl. Pour over loaves or muffins while still warm. Makes five small loaves or one dozen muffins.**

**Baking notes:
- Do not skip the almond extract!
- I sifted my flour before combining with the other ingredients
- I used salted butter and didn't add the full amount of salt
- Baking time for my muffins was 25 minutes
- I actually got 20 muffins from the recipe using standard muffin tins - bonus!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Accessorizing: It's Not Just for Clothes Anymore!

Think of your favorite outfit. You know, the one you can count on to make you look fabulous no matter what day of the month it is. You wish it could remain in your wardrobe forever but unfortunately, times and trends change. Sometimes, it's possible to extend the lifespan of said outfit by implementing a little creativity and mixing up your selection of earrings, shoes, or handbag - it's actually quite doable! Such is the case with this classic recipe for Banana Bread that takes on a delicious new spin with a fabulous new accessory: coconut topping!

The recipe for the bread itself is pretty straightforward, like a classic Chanel suit, you have a pretty good idea of what a Banana Bread is going to look like. I've always used sour cream in my Banana Bread recipe to ensure just the right level of moistness that is the hallmark of a perfect loaf. "Savor the Moment's" Sour Cream Banana Bread (p. 87) takes it to another level adding a deliciously sweet "tiara" of coconut, brown sugar and chopped pecans. As with any changes to a classic, I was not sure if it would be an improvement or an unwelcome distraction from the original. I am happy to report the topping was delicious and was a welcome alternative to a casual, "naked" bread.

Once the bread is baked you simply melt the brown sugar and butter in a saucepan, add the pecans and coconut and spoon over the bread while still warm. I will definitely be adding this recipe to my repertoire for those times when I'm looking to accessorize an old favorite. Give it a try and let me know what you think and remember, you can purchase your very own copy of "Savor the Moment" by visiting http://www.jlbr.org/.

Cheers,



Sour Cream Banana Bread
Bread
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Coconut Topping
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
For the bread, sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Beat the sugar, eggs butter and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the sour cream, mashed bananas and pecans and mix well. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
Pour the batter into a greased and floured large loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
For the topping, combine the brown sugar and butter in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted, stirring to blend well. Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans and coconut. Spoon over the loaf while warm.
Makes one loaf
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