Saturday, December 24, 2016

Brie en Croute (Baked Brie in Puff Pastry)

It's Christmas Eve, when our family celebrates in true German tradition.  Last year, I made this appetizer, and it was gone in a flash.  Puff pastry is a product that can make some of the prettiest, and simplest, appetizers! Baked Brie is a tasty, and easy appetizer to make for your next holiday party.

All you need to do is buy a 13-16 ounce Brie round. The night before, thaw a sheet of puff pastry.
Preheat the oven to 400F.

Roll the puff pastry into a 14-inch square on a lightly floured surface.  I didn't photograph where I put a "schmear" of raspberry jam (apricot works well, too).  You can add about an ounce of sliced, toasted, almonds if you desire.  Then place the Brie on the center and fold the pastry up and over the cheese.  Flip it over onto a parchment covered baking sheet. Cut off any excess puff pastry. I used the extra puff pastry to cut out some leaf shapes with some small cutters that I have.

Beat one egg with water, and brush it all all over your Brie en Croute.

 There! Now pop it into the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. 

Whoa! A lava flow of melted Brie and raspberry jam is starting to flow out from the sides!

As our guests starting digging in with a cracker and knife, the warm melted Brie kept oozing out.  This is perfect with a glass of cold Prosecco-- in my opinion.

If you've never made this easy appetizer, give it a try. This will be part of our New Year's Eve quiet evening at home, with family and a few friends.

Happy New Year!


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Friday, December 23, 2016

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie (No Corn Syrup)

Hello everyone! Hello? Anybody there? Yes, I'm back from my silence in food blogging. I've been cooking (mostly fast and easy) and baking (a lot), but I just needed to take a break from blogging. I'm sure it's cost me a loss of readership, and I regret that. I admire food bloggers who have a full-time job AND who blog on a regular basis. I tried, but after eight years, I decided to focus on my family. Just for a bit. I won't abandon my blog forever!

Speaking of family-- this Pecan Pie was such a big hit at Thanksgiving, that I need to resurrect my blogging mojo and share it with you.  Christmas is just two days away, and if you're wanting to add a holiday pie to your menu, this version change my opinion of Pecan Pie forever!

Don't get me wrong, because I do love pecans!   I usually skip Pecan Pie, or opt for just a sliver-- because I find that the filling is cloyingly sweet and gloppy.  I think it's the corn syrup that's the culprit. I found a recipe from one of my most trusted sources: "Cook's Country", and I liked that maple syrup is used, instead of corn syrup.  Since we use pure maple syrup for pancakes and waffles, it's always on hand. 

I keep an assortment of nuts in my freezer so they don't go rancid. Here we go! First, I toast the pecans for better flavor.

For the filling, we start with brown sugar, heavy cream and a touch of molasses...

... to build a custard-like filling, we add heavy cream, butter, egg yolks and a touch of salt.

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Applesauce Cake with Penuche Frosting

It seems like just last month, we were grilling on our Weber and enjoying the last of our fresh corn, homegrown tomatoes and wearing our flip-flops. Fall has nudged is way back, and the internet recipe sites is proof of that.

It's time for pumpkin recipes, a hundred different ways to prepare turkey. The grocery store produce section is now loaded with mounds of squash, apples and grapes as big as golf balls. I adore pumpkin, but there are a lot of people who don't. I'd say there's something "off" with that, only I'm also one of those weirdos who doesn't care for squash-- except for the aforementioned pumpkin. As for apples, it's not my favorite pie, either. Pass me the pumpkin pie, and the whipped cream, while you're at it. Please.  For you pumpkin-haters, I have an alternative for you.

Applesauce Cake! Top it with a Fudge-like caramel-tasting cooked frosting, and you have a fall dessert that is a crowd pleaser. Now, that's my way of enjoying apples!

I adore spice cake/apple sauce cake as far back as my childhood. I think my love affair with Applesauce Cake started with a boxed cake mix. I believe it was Spice Cake. (Gosh, it's been a while since I was a kid, but I'm pretty sure that was it.) Applesauce and Spice Cake are cousins, I think. The spices are pretty much identical... cinnamon, allspice...cloves.

I omitted adding nuts, but I did add raisins (totally optional).  The applesauce, I believe, makes this cake really moist.

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Kaiserschmarrn (Emperor's Cut-Ups) -- and a snippet of our trip to Europe

Craig and I returned from our two-week tour of Bavaria, Austria and Switzerland a couple of weeks ago. This trip was the best one, EVER, and I say that with a whole heart.   Well, maybe not WHOLE, because I feel as thought I left a piece of it in my mother's home town of Bad Reichenhall, Bavaria.

I lived there from age 3-8, and made four return trips -- some with my Mutti, and some without.  Then, my travel to Bavaria took a hiatus for the last 25 years.  I'll share a little about my trip, at the end of this post.

Kaiserschmarrn... this is a classic Austrian recipe for "cut up pancakes" that we saw on every menu, including in Bavaria.  These are very light and fluffy pancakes-- almost soufflĂ© in texture--that are also served for breakfast or as a light evening meal.  In Bavaria, we saw this served with a plum compote or with apple sauce.

My mother used to make this for us, as kids, and to this day it is one of our favorite breakfast dishes.  Now my son and husband like this, and they are very easy to make.  The batter is very simple-- flour, milk, egg yolks and folded in egg whites.

It's cooked with clarified butter (or just melted is fine) until it becomes golden brown...

...the is carefully flipped over and cooked a few minutes more.

I served ours lightly dusted with powdered sugar and with homemade apple sauce.  I'm sure I'll make this a few more times, for nostalgic reasons.  We could have, easily, spent another week or two in Bavaria. The food, the beer, the scenery and historical places to visit exceeded our expectations.

I'm just scratching the surface of our trip details, but here's a snippet of our wonderful two week trip:

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