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Monday, 29 December 2008
There are really two secrets to the perfect pie crust. The first is quality ingredients. The second and most important secret is the temperature of the butter and the water. Butter and water must be very, very cold when making a crust to ensure a flaky, delicious crust.
The recipe below is wonderful for use with pumpkin, coconut, or pecan filling. As a doubled recipe, it works well for a cherry or apple pie. For a 9" X 13" pot pie dish, the recipe can be multiplied by 4 to have enough dough for a top and bottom crust. There will even be a little left over to make decorations for the top.
Perfect Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
Grease 9" pie plate. Sift flour and salt into a mixer bowl. Add butter. Using mixer, mix at slow speed until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Into one cup water, add two to four ice cubes. Water must be very cold.
Add enough cold water (no more than 4 tbsp.) one spoonful at a time to make a firm dough. Using hands, scrape all dough from bowl and knead into a ball. On lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Fold dough in half, then into quarters for easy transfer to the pie plate. Unfold dough onto the pie plate, pressing dough into bottom of pan. Trim excess dough around pie plate edges, leaving enough to cover edge of pan. Using thumb and fingers, pinch edges into an attractive pattern. Refridgerate for 30 minutes before filling. Makes 1 9" pie crust.
Double for a double crust or lattice crust recipe. For custard and cream cheese type pies, prick bottom of pie crust in an overall pattern to keep crust from bubbling or shrinking. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees F.
The perfect pie crust is the mark of an excellent cook, and for many cooks is a matter of pride. If you follow the directions precisely, this recipe will give you the perfect crust every time.
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
Are you planning a dinner during this holiday season? I love to entertain but don't have much time to prep (sound familiar?) so I have picked up a few shortcuts along the way. I have some 30-minute holiday dinner menu suggestions for you! You really can host a holiday dinner in 30 minutes - Flat! Let's get ready...
You will find that I use several cooking methods, mix and match, to put dinner on the table quickly. You can always substitute your favorite made-from-scratch recipes when you have more time.
Turkey Breast with French Country Gravy (crock pot with jarred Alfredo pasta sauce)
Glazed Cornish Hens (microwaved with brown sugar / mustard glaze)
Beef, Lamb, Pork Dinners:
Eye of the Round Roast Beef with Peppercorn Sauce (crock pot with dry onion soup mix, peppercorn sauce)
Lamb Chops with Savory Butter (broiled lamb chops with red wine and herbed butter sauce)
Pork Medallions with Tarragon Sauce (pan seared mustard-rubbed pork medallions with tarragon sauce)
Spiral Sliced Ham (purchased fully cooked)
Surf and Turf (cleaned and deveined shrimp, beef fillets or top sirloin cuts)
Poached Fish in White Wine Sauce (frozen perch or haddock poached in white wine sauce)
Linguine Primavera (linguine with a primavera sauce and fresh vegetables of mushrooms, red bell pepper, green beans, broccoli, squash, and onion)
Fresh Tomato and Double Cheese Tart (puff pastry, Roma tomatoes, baby bocconcini balls or shredded mozzarella, shredded Parmesan cheese, and black olives brushed with olive oil)
If you are serving an appetizer course with your dinner, for an elegant start to a wonderful meal I like to serve: brie with mango chutney; smoked salmon with a dill dip; grapes and a green vegetable platter that will go well with the dill dip; water crackers; gourmet olives. All prepared in 30-minutes or less (of course!).
Friday, 12 December 2008
There are many possibilities for you if you are looking for something unbelievable to do on your next vacation. Often people get tired of doing the same things year after year. Are you bored of going to the beach? Not amused by amusement parks? Do you cringe when thinking about being cooped up in a car for a long road trip?
Are you trying to find the perfect spot for a vacation with your husband or wife? If you'd like to get away from it all and have a genuinely new experience, you should ask your travel agent about seeing the wine country by train. This scenic trip is not only a relaxing getaway, but a seriously amazing ride.
A fantastic escape in any season is seeing the wine country by train. It affords you the ability to taste many different kinds of wine, learn a good deal about the differences between the selections and see how wine is made. See stunning vineyards and get around using an enjoyable mode of transportation.
There are countless wine regions in this country, Upstate New York, Long Island and Napa Valley just to name a few. These regions are known for growing different kinds of grapes that are used in wine making. Due to their appeal, there are a number of tourist-focused railroads. Winery tours in California allow you to put the two together and tour the winery by train!
When you are mulling over the notion of researching accessible alternatives for touring the wine country by train, you might want to check the Napa Valley wine train murder mystery. It is an thoroughly enjoyable jaunt that combines dining with a murder mystery that you'll find tremendously suspenseful. It is something you'll really enjoy, and you'll be pleased you decided to view the Napa Valley from a train car and have the unusual experience of this mystery filled train tour.
So, if you are having a hard time deciding how you want to spend your next vacation, a railroad tour of beautiful wine country is a great opportunity to consider. As a matter of fact, it is so much fun and so spectacular; you will remember it for the rest of your life. It is a great way to escape for a week of a weekend. Look into touring the wine country by train as soon as you can.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Many people belong to wine clubs, but most have no idea how a wine of the month club goes about choosing the tasty wines they deliver to club members each month. The selection process usually consists of two different parts: setting the criteria for choosing particular wines and finding the wineries with wines that fit.
Common Criteria Used By Wine Clubs
Not surprisingly, the first decisive factor used by a wine of the month club in choosing wines is the price. Most groups look for wines that fit within two or three price points for French, Italian, California, or other wines.
Secondly, wine clubs usually look for balance in a wine. Balance is judged by how a wine exhibits the typical flavors of the grape variety used in making the wine. In other words, Cabernet Sauvignon should taste like Cabernet Sauvignon. If the wine is red, it should have an agreeable texture, a somewhat grainy characteristic that is derived from the tannings that reside in the seeds and skins.
That texture shouldn't give the taster a case of lockjaw, but it shouldn't be absent either, as it is in grape juice. Good texture lies somewhere in between. The wine should contain enough acid (the component that vinegar or lemon juice gives to salad dressing) to create a crisp, clean, refreshing sensation. Since white wine is not fermented with the seeds and skins, it has no tanning, but acid is an important component.
Finally, wood flavors should be inconspicuous. Beautiful red wines aged in old casks shouldn't reek of oak. The woodiness should be subtle, not overpowering.
Finding Good Wineries
Often, the selection committees for the group attend wine tasting events where they meet winemakers to taste their wines. Winemakers love the exposure they can get from a wine of the month club. Each year, Family Winemakers of California in San Francisco hosts one of the biggest wine tasting events. At the last event, 375 wineries poured over 1,000 wines during a two-day tasting. Attended by thousands of people, this yearly event is open to trade professionals, wine clubs, and the press.
The problem with finding the perfect wine for a wine of the month club at a massive event like this is that they are often "too much." There are too many wines, too many people, and too much going on to make a wise decision. Therefore, many wine clubs opt for smaller, more specialized tastings. Popular with wine of the month club selection committees, the annual Rhone Ranger tasting specializes in California wineries that produce Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, and other wines originally grown in the Rhone region of France.
The Cal-Ital Festival offers California wines made from grapes indigenous to Italy. The Zinfandel Advocates & Producers annual tasting specializes only in Zinfandel wines. Various regional wine organizations also gather their local producers for local events. For example, the Santa Cruz winery association recently organized a tasting in San Francisco. Various Sonoma wineries conduct tastings throughout the year, as do wine regions from all over California.
Sometimes the show goes on the road, and sometimes it's hosted in its own region. Importers will do the same to introduce and educate press and trade. Sometimes, individual Italian wineries will visit their major markets in the United States to conduct tasting seminars for restaurants, retailers, and wine clubs.
Government agencies in wine-producing countries also sponsor tastings attended by wine of the month club selection committees. Italy, France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany make appearances in San Francisco and other major markets around the United States. The wine press is a good resource as are referrals from other wineries and other wine of the month club selection committees.
There are many formal venues for a wine of the month club to become acquainted with wines. It is a diligent effort that wine clubs make so that club members always have the perfect flavorful and aromatic wine to enjoy every month.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
This is a wonderful seasonal soup with a subtle lemon flavour. Super easy to make, it pairs up well with almost anything and is light and refreshing to serve as a first course. Use fresh asparagus only as this soup will not be a success with frozen or canned asparagus.
2 ½ cups fresh asparagus, chopped
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried basil)
Salt and pepper to taste
Hint: Discard woody portions of the asparagus spears as they will not cook or puree well. You can also add more lemon if you want to increase the lemony flavour. When making soup, always sauté the vegetables together to enhance the flavour before adding the broth. Experiment with seasonings to give your homemade soups some zing by adding cayenne, chili powder, and other spices. Start with small amounts and taste as you go until you get the right blend. Always taste before adding salt because most of the commercially prepared broth contains a lot of salt.
Tuesday, 09 December 2008
We all have special occasions that need a fast easy dessert. Whether it is for a birthday, the holidays or to celebrate something special like your child learning to ride a bike, sometimes you just need to be able to throw together a special dessert on short notice. Serving a dessert for various accomplishments makes your family feel special and makes the day memorable, especially if dessert is not a daily event at your house.
Easy desserts should consist of ingredients you have readily at hand. By having a few mixes and fresh ingredients on hand, it will be easy to pull together a nice dessert for any special occasion. Cake mixes, jello, instant pudding and other ingredients that keep well are a good place to start. By keeping a few in your pantry, you will be ready for any occasion.
There is nothing more elegant or simple than a parfait. Served in a wine glass, everyone will ooh and ahh when you set them out on the table. You can make a simple parfait out of Jello cubes. Choose your favorite flavor, and let your Jello chill in a shallow pan. Once it has set, slice it into small cubes. Mix up a box of vanilla or banana pudding. Alternate layers of Jello cubes and pudding and top it off with whipped cream. Add a cherry, a couple berries, or some sprinkles on top for a finishing touch. You could also substitute fresh fruit for the Jello cubes for layers in the parfait.
If you prefer creamy desserts, you can make a wonderful parfait with chocolate pudding and whipped topping by alternating layers of each ingredient in a wine glass. Top it with more whipped topping and add a few shaves of chocolate. The shavings will make your parfait look like it came from an expensive restaurant. Everyone will be amazed at how much time you spent (but you didn't!) preparing such an elegant dessert.
Easy Baked Desserts
If you prefer something baked, a simple gingerbread can easily be put together using a mix. It can even be baking during dinner, as hot gingerbread makes a lovely, easy dessert. Hot gingerbread is a wonderful easy dessert served plain, with sprinkle powdered sugar on top, or served with hot lemon pudding poured over it. If the gingerbread has time to cool first, you can serve it with whipped topping and a sprinkle of cinnamon for an elegant touch. Cold gingerbread is also very good with hot lemon pudding poured over it.
If your family prefers chocolate, you can easily bake a chocolate cake and serve it simply with either whipped topping and chocolate curls on top or with powdered sugar sprinkled over the top. To make it appear even more elegant, add a couple fresh strawberry slices beside the cake, set into a small dollop of whipped topping.
These easy desserts can make any meal special, and they take very little time to make. Your family will be astounded at the care you have shown by making their accomplishment even more special by celebrating with dessert.
Holidays and special occasions often call for an easy dessert. Find one that fits your menu at JelloRecipes.net that will be suitable for any occasion. Whether you are looking for that traditional recipe, you remember from your childhood or a contemporary recipe to fit special dietary needs, this site will serve up something special.
Thursday, 04 December 2008
With the Holidays almost upon us, now is the time to start thinking about all those folks that you want to remember this year. The question is how to do it. Christmas gift baskets have been a long standing tradition for many. The problem is today there are so many choices it's hard to know where to start.
One very good idea is the wine and cheese gift basket. Many people always appreciate a good bottle of wine. But why not add a few things to go with it and send a beautifully put together wine and cheese gift basket this Christmas.
These are perfect for not only friends and family, but also they are perfect for the business colleagues or special customers you want to thank for their business this year. Whatever the reason, a Christmas wine and cheese basket is a great idea.
Now unless you're a wine enthusiast yourself and have a lot of time to spend trying to put together and decorate a basket yourself, it's almost a necessity that you let the experts do the work and purchase the gift basket. The choices are almost unlimited today. The price ranges available will accommodate most any budget. Nevertheless you will have to make some decisions when you see all the choices you have.
First, you will need to decide what kind of wine to choose and how much. Many wine baskets offer the choice of one, two or more bottles. Of course the more you include the more expensive it will be. Should you choose a white or a red wine? Unless you know the particular taste of the person on your list, I would suggest selecting what you prefer. If you're choosing a basket with two bottles included the choice is easy - one of each. Many times people will choose a sparkling white wine or Champaign. That's not a bad idea with New Years not far away.
If you know the particular taste of the person you're shopping for you might want to consider substituting the wine for a fine bottle of Scotch or special Liquor. The choices are yours to make. You know they will appreciate the special thoughtfulness.
Once you decide on the baskets with the type of wine you want, take a look at what else is included. You can find wine and cheese baskets that include everything from multiple cheese selections to gourmet snacks, spreads, candy and a variety of other goodies. Fruit has become a very popular addition to these baskets and here again there is a wide variety to choose from.
So for Christmas this year why not go for something that is a traditionally elegant gift - a Christmas wine and cheese gift basket. And while you're at it, why not pick up several for all those hard to shop for friends and family. You can feel confident that your choice will be appreciated this Holiday season. And if you're lucky, you just might find one under the tree for you this year.
Tuesday, 02 December 2008
Desserts are always great to have after a meal. But most people think they are hard to prepare, whilst dessert recipes are quite easy to make.
I've listed below 4 dessert recipes you can try at home today.
1. "Brown Bag" French Apple Pie
For the pie
- 1 1/2 c All-Purpose Flour
For the topping
- 1/2 c Granulated Sugar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
To make the pie:
- Combine the first measure of flour, salt and shortening using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, then stir in the water a little at a time, using a fork, and form the dough into a ball.
- Roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured board. Roll to an 11" or 12" diameter and fit into a 9" pie pan fluting the edges.
- Combine the sugar, the second measure of flour, the cinnamon, the nutmeg and the lemon juice in a large bowl then toss the apple slices in the mixture and arrange them in the pie crust.
To make the topping:
- Combine the sugar and flour in a bowl and cut in the butter using a pastry cutter then sprinkle the topping over the apple filling.
- Place the pie in the large paper bag and place the paper bag on a baking sheet and loosely fold the open end of the bag under. Bake until the apples are tender (50-60 minutes).
- Carefully remove the pie from the bag. Caution: Watch Out For The Steam Coming Out Of The Bag!
- Serve warm with generous portions of vanilla ice cream.
2. 1,000 Calorie-A-Bite Trifle
Peel and slice pears, drain raspberries if tinned, and scoop out passion fruit. Place fruit in large trifle bowl and add an ample quantity of sherry. Leave for twenty-four hours to soak in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Mother Ebert's Angel Pie
- 1 c Crushed pineapple
- Mix above ingredients and cook until thick; cool, beat 3 egg whites until stiff and fold two together.
One of Grandma's recipes we all enjoyed.
4. Watergate Pie
- 1 c Flour
There are 4 layers to this recipe. Use an 8 x 12 inch baking dish.
margarine and 1 cup walnuts.
Monday, 01 December 2008
Bake a tasty holiday treat today
Finding Your Christmas Cookie Recipe
How can you tell if it's an easy or an advanced recipe? First, look at the list of ingredients. Chances are, the more ingredients, the more steps involved. Read the directions to see if they're easy to follow. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself, but if you're planning to bake for a major event, it's probably a good idea to have a couple simple recipes on hand in case something goes wrong with one of your batches.
Organizing Your Cookie Recipes
There are many other factors to consider when deciding which cookies to bake, such as who you'll be baking with. For example, if children are taking part, try a recipe where they can use Christmas cookie cutters in shapes like stars, trees, snowmen or angels. You can find cookie cutters at craft stores, department stores and dollar stores. Get some icing and other accents to jazz up the cookies. If a child isn't old enough to use baking utensils, decorating is a great way to get them involved.
Christmas Cookie Favorites
With a pinch of cheer and a dash of laughter, you'll be sure to have success baking your Christmas cookies this year.