Monday, March 30, 2009

St. Andrè Dessert Tart

A most delicious and decadent tart

In the world of cheeses there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of richness. That cheese is St. Andrè. Hailing from France (mais, oui) it is a triple crème cheese with a soft rind and a butterfat content of 70% - rich, indeed.

St. Andrè triple crème cheese - just starting to soften at the top, if left at room temperature for 20 minutes it will become soft and very spreadable.

It pairs perfectly with several light beers and is perfect for spreading on a French baguette. I decided to do something a bit more decadent and designed this dessert tart using this truly luxurious cheese. The crust is very tender and delicate and the filling was perfectly done - not too set, just right. I may make this again with cream cheese replacing the ricotta. Not that it's not divine as-is, but the ricotta makes the texture a bit more grainy than I'd like. I think cream cheese or mascarpone would do very well here.

Find out more about St. Andrè Cheese at the Ile de France website or check out their interactive cheese map for other delicious French cheeses.

Orange, pine nuts and St. Andrè cheese make this tart a wonderfully delicious treat.

St. Andrè Dessert Tart

Serves 8

1 cup lightly toasted pine nuts - divided
1 stick butter
1 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 Tablespoons milk
1 cup ricotta cheese
12 ounces St. Andre cheese - rind removed and at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
(Larger amounts of orange flavoring mask the cheese too much)

Process 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts until finely chopped. Add butter and pulse until smooth. Add flour and salt and pulse until crumbly. Add milk, as needed, and run processor on low speed until a ball forms. Remove dough from processor and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine ricotta, St. Andre, sugar, eggs, extract and zest in processor and pulse until very smooth and well combined. Fold in remaining pine nuts.

Press dough into and up the sides of a greased 10-inch spring-form pan or a pan with removable sides. Pour in filling and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 - 45 minutes or until center is nearly set. Shake the pan gently to determine this. A little jiggle in the center is what you're looking for.

Let cool for 20 minutes or so before refrigerating. Serve chilled.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Peep Jousting

Easter is a wonderful holiday rich with the new birth heralded by the coming of Spring, the Resurrection of Christ, brand new Easter outfits, newly bloomed tulips, fuzzy bunnies, baskets filled with candy, glistening glazed hams ... and Peep Jousting.

I happen to live in the Peep capital of the world, the place where the beloved Peep is made; Just Born, Inc. in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Most people enjoy these little guys straight-up and quite a few like them stale, but I prefer them jousting. Yes, it's true - I don't like to eat Peeps. My kids love them and can't seem to get enough, but I like setting up and watching the Peep Joust.

Here's our latest Peep Joust adventure:

Peep JoustJousters at the Ready!

(Laughter and commentary provided by us)

Sadness on both sides...

Bloody Aftermath

Friday, March 27, 2009

Beef: It's What's For Dinner - The Giveaway

It's here! Today is the Beef: It's What's For Dinner Giveaway day.

Before we get to the giveaway I want to share links and a couple photos for other beef recipes we made this week.

Beef & Smoked Mozzarella Stuffed Focaccia with Pesto These were AWESOME! A real must-try.

Classic Fajitas Fajitas are always a favorite here, and these were delicious.

We also made Chili Beef Express, a tasty and fast chili.

On to the giveaway!

I have 3 copies of The Healthy Beef Cookbook up for grabs and one winner will receive a copy of the book and a $100 gift card to make their own beef recipe. Check out the cookbook at and look over the lean beef recipes section as well, you'll need some info from there to help you win!

Here are the rules:

1. Leave a comment with your favorite lean beef recipe from, and your email address if you would like to win the cookbook only.

2. The gift card has been earmarked for a food blogger, so if you have a blog and would like to win the cookbook AND the gift card, leave a comment with your favorite lean beef recipe from, your email address and your blog URL. The winner of the gift card will then use that gift card to purchase ingredients for a lean beef recipe from OR from The Healthy Beef Cookbook and blog about their experience.

3. Entries will be accepted until Midnight EST on March 31st - the winner will be posted on April 1st.

Beef Week at Cooking with Anne has been brought to you by Beef It's What's For Dinner, Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Cookbooks, gift card and stipend for ingredients provided by the above.

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

Here is the Daring Bakers challenge for March, 2009.

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

I LOVE lasagna and I adore homemade pasta. I've made my own pasta for many years, but this spinach pasta was a true joy to work with. It rolled very easily and once cooked was light and tender. I really enjoyed it and plan to make it again - often. I chose to use the bechamel, but not the ragu in a version of Lasagna Rolls on Sauce Bechamel I've made before. The only real change made to my own filling was the addition of garlic because of the lack of any red sauce this time around. The full recipe for the challenge follows:

All recipes below from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (published by William Morrow and Company Inc., 1992).

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)

Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Working Ahead:
The ragu and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.

Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes

Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.

2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Working by Hand:


A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches (60cm to 77cm deep by 60cm to 92cm). Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.

A pastry scraper and a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.

A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick (89cm long and 5cm thick). The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.
Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.

Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.

Mixing the dough:
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.

With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Stretching and Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.

Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.

Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colours. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm). Note: Enza says that transparency is a crucial element of lasagne pasta and the dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. She says this is why her housekeeper has such strong arms!

Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.

#2 Bechamel

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups (approx 570ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

#3 Country Style Ragu’ (Ragu alla Contadina)

Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 30 minutes and Cooking time 2 hours

Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 mL)
2 ounces/60g pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
1 small carrot, minced
4 ounces/125g boneless veal shoulder or round
4 ounces/125g pork loin, trimmed of fat, or 4 ounces/125g mild Italian sausage (made without fennel)
8 ounces/250g beef skirt steak, hanging tender, or boneless chuck blade or chuck center cut (in order of preference)
1 ounce/30g thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
2/3 cup (5 ounces/160ml) dry red wine
1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible)
2 cups (16 ounces/500ml) milk
3 canned plum tomatoes, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Working Ahead:
The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.

Browning the Ragu Base:
Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the pancetta and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind all the meats together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. First the meats will give off a liquid and turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the skillet into a strainer and shake out the fat. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.

Reducing and Simmering: Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.

Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beef: It's What's For Dinner Part 3

Balsamic Marinated Steak & Asparagus

Here we are at the final of 3 awesome beef recipes, and tomorrow is the giveaway. You'll want to stop in then for details on how to win one of 3 copies of 'The Healthy Beef Cookbook' and a $100 gift card to make your own healthy beef recipe.

Today's recipe is Balsamic Marinated Steak & Asparagus. I loved the dual use of the marinade for both the steak and the asparagus. It really brought to two together and made this more of a special meal rather than a usual weeknight dinner.

Balsamic-Marinated Steak & Asparagus

Marinade time: 15 minutes to 2 hours
Total recipe time: 25 minutes
Makes 4 servings


1. 4 beef round (sirloin) tip side steaks, cut 1 inch thick (about 8 ounces each)
2. 1 pound fresh asparagus
3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
4. 1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. 2/3 cup prepared balsamic vinaigrette
2. 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard


1. Combine marinade ingredients in small bowl. Remove and reserve 2 tablespoons. Place beef steaks and remaining marinade in food-safe plastic bag; turn steaks to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes to 2 hours.
2. Place asparagus in shallow microwave-safe dish; add 1/2 cup water. Cover and microwave on HIGH 3 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain asparagus. Add reserved 2 tablespoons marinade to asparagus; turn to coat. Set aside.
3. Remove steaks from marinade; discard marinade. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 12 to 14 minutes for medium rare doneness, turning once. (Do not overcook.)
4. During last 3 minutes of grilling, arrange asparagus on grid around steaks; grill 2 to 3 minutes, turning once. Season steaks and asparagus with salt and pepper.

Nutritional Information Per Serving Nutrition information per serving: 366 calories; 14 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 4 g monounsaturated fat); 149 mg cholesterol; 591 mg sodium; 7 g carbohydrate; 2.5 g fiber; 52 g protein; 8.4 mg niacin; 0.6 mg vitamin B6; 2.6 mcg vitamin B12; 4.4 mg iron; 52.9 mcg selenium; 8 mg zinc. This recipe is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and zinc, and a good source of fiber. Note: Beef Round (Sirloin) Tip Side Steaks are cut from the Beef Round Tip, Cap Off (IMPS/NAMP 167A) by following the natural seams to separate the tip side, tip center and tip bottom. The tip side is then cut across the grain into steaks. Steaks cut 3/4 inch thick average 7 ounces. Steaks cut 1 inch thick average 8 ounces.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Veggie Wednesday: Very Veggie Egg Rolls

Very Veggie Egg Rolls
Very Veggie Egg Rolls

I adore egg rolls, and while I usually prefer the pork or shrimp kind, these all-vegetable version are just as satisfying - maybe even more-so knowing that there's no meat in them at all.

You can do the presentation like I've done here, by blanching julienned veggies and stacking before rolling, or do it the easy way by following this recipe.

Very Veggie Egg Rolls
Printable Recipe
Makes 24

1 small head cabbage - sliced thinly
1 large red pepper - seeded and diced small
1 small zucchini - diced small
1 large carrot - cut into thin matchsticks
8 ounces sno peas - diced small
1 bunch green onions - sliced thinly, tops included
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 package - 24 - egg roll wrappers
oil for frying

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large pan and add veggies. Cook over medium-high heat until soft. Add garlic, ginger, vinegar, soy and sesame oil. Cook until most liquid is evaporated.

Roll about 1/4 to 1/3 cup filling in an eggroll wrapper and cook in a deep fryer until golden brown or in a pan over medium-high heat, turning frequently, until golden.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beef: It's What's For Dinner Part 2

Easy Steak Diane

The second recipe in my Beef Week set is something I really love; Steak Diane. Using a smaller, leaner cut and adding more veggies to the plate is the perfect way to keep this meal healthy without losing any flavor. The sauce was perfect and although I wasn't able to find the medallions called for, the still lean sirloin steak worked very well here. The steak was fork-tender and the seasonings right on. Yes, the kids all loved it and several of their growing tummies needed refills.

A note on steak doneness; when I was in culinary school we were taught to check for doneness in several ways. The most common is to use a thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the meat is correct before serving. We also learned how to check by 'feel'. Although I still do it this way, I recommend using a thermometer for safety reasons. The way that meat looks inside is not always an indicator of proper doneness; a piece of beef can look 'done' and still be under temp and, likewise, a pink piece of beef may be at the proper temperature for service. Don't let color or feel fool you - go with the thermometer check. Please check for more information on cooking with beef.

Remember to keep checking back for a chance to win a copy of The Healthy Beef Cookbook and a $100 gift card!

Easy Steak Diane

Total recipe time: 40 minutes
Makes 4 servings


1. 1 pound beef shoulder petite tender medallions, cut 3/4 inch thick
2. 2 to 3 teaspoons lemon pepper
3. 2 teaspoons olive oil
4. Chopped fresh parsley
5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
6. 8 ounces mushrooms
7. 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or onion
8. 2 tablespoons brandy
9. 1/2 cup whipping cream
10. 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce


1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add mushrooms and shallots; cook and stir 3 minutes or until tender. Remove from skillet; set aside. Wipe skillet out with paper towels.
2. Press lemon pepper evenly onto beef medallions. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in same skillet over medium heat until hot. Place 1/2 of beef in skillet; cook about 5 to 7 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally. Remove; keep warm. Repeat with remaining 1 teaspoon oil and beef.
3. Add brandy to skillet; cook and stir over medium heat until browned bits attached to skillet are dissolved. Stir in cream and Worcestershire sauce. Add mushroom mixture; cook and stir until sauce is slightly thickened. Add beef; stir to coat with sauce. Sprinkle with parsley, as desired.

Fresh ingredients

Shallots and mushrooms sauteed

Searing the beef for the finished product (top of post)

Nutritional Information Per Serving

Nutrition information per serving: 465 calories; 56 g protein; 5 g carbohydrate; 23 g fat; 230 mg sodium; 151 mg cholesterol; 12.5 mg niacin; 0.9 mg vitamin B6; 3.8 mcg vitamin B12; 5.6 mg iron; 10.4 mg zinc.

This recipe is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron and zinc.

Cook's Notes

Note: Beef Shoulder Tender Medallions are cut from the Beef Shoulder Tender Petite Roast, a small separate muscle that rests on top of the shoulder near the top blade. The shoulder tender is separated by following the natural seam. It is then cut crosswise into 3/4-inch thick medallions.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Beef: It's What's For Dinner

Ancho Chili Rubbed Roast - that beautiful dark color is not burn - it's the delicious rub.

It's 'Beef Week' here at Cooking with Anne, but not like you may be thinking. While many of my recipes come from the family and comfort food angle, the beef recipes I'm sharing this week are actually healthy ones. Be sure to stay tuned all week long for your chance to win one of 3 copies of The Healthy Beef Cookbook and a $100 gift card so you can make your own fabulous beef dinners.

I bet you're thinking what I've always thought; "Beef can't be good for you, no matter what." Well, I have been delightfully proven wrong. Consider this: A skinless chicken breast has 3 grams of fat and a skinless chicken thigh has 9.2 grams of fat. There are 29 cuts of beef that fall within the 3 gram to 9.2 gram fat range. No ... really. Go on and check it out for yourself! Amazing, isn't it?

And, if you want to know more about eating beef and your health (beyond just the fat label) check out Healthy Eating with Beef at and also read 'Read Meat, Reclaimed', By Sara Dickerman in the February 2009 issue of Bon Appetit.

Need recipes for all those lean cuts? You can find more than you need for a year's worth of meals HERE. Now, on to the first of 3 recipes I chose for this week.

Yesterday's Sunday Dinner was Ancho Chili Rubbed Roast. I think the flavors of chili, cocoa, cinnamon and garlic belnded together perfectly and the beef itself was divine. This was great with the accompanying sweet potatoes and bright green beans. Everyone loved it, including Monsieur Picky (a.k.a. hubby) and the two smallest noseminers asked for thirds.

Ancho Chili-Rubbed Beef Roast
(photo above)

Total recipe time: 2 to 2-3/4 hours
Makes 6 to 8 servings


1. 1 beef round (sirloin) tip roast (about 3 to 4 pounds)

Ancho Rub:
1. 2 tablespoons ground ancho chili powder
2. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
3. 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6. 2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
7. Salt


1. Heat oven to 325°F. Combine Ancho Rub ingredients in small bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons rub for potatoes. Press remaining rub mixture evenly onto beef roast.
2. Place roast on rack in shallow roasting pan. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of beef, not resting in fat. Do not add water or cover. Roast in 325°F oven 1-3/4 to 2 hours for medium rare; 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours for medium doneness.
3. Remove roast when meat thermometer registers 140°F for medium rare; 155°F for medium. Transfer to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature will continue to rise about 5°F to reach 145°F for medium rare; 160°F for medium.)
4. Meanwhile combine reserved rub with oil in large bowl. Add sweet potatoes; toss to coat evenly. Place potatoes on metal baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 1 hour. Uncover potatoes; stir and continue roasting 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.
5. Carve beef roast into thin slices; serve with potatoes. Season beef and potatoes with salt, as desired.

Nutritional Information Per Serving

Nutrition information per serving (1/6 of recipe): 472 calories; 14 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 5 g monounsaturated fat); 150 mg cholesterol; 139 mg sodium; 36 g carbohydrate; 6.1 g fiber; 50 g protein; 9.7 mg niacin; 1.0 mg vitamin B6; 2.6 mcg vitamin B12; 5.9 mg iron; 53.7 mcg selenium; 8.6 mg zinc.

This recipe is an excellent source of fiber, protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and zinc.

Nutrition information per serving (1/8 of recipe): 367 calories; 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 3 g monounsaturated fat); 112 mg cholesterol; 124 mg sodium; 29 g carbohydrate; 4.5 g fiber; 37 g protein; 7.1 mg niacin; 0.8 mg vitamin B6; 1.9 mcg vitamin B12; 3.9 mg iron; 40.5 mcg selenium; 6.5 mg zinc. This recipe is an excellent source of fiber, protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and zinc.

This recipe is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and zinc; and a good source of fiber.

*If it helps you to feel any better about reading on, I bought organic grass-fed beef for this week's posting.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our St. Patrick's Day

Nary a year passes here without our family celebrating St. Patrick's Day. My husband's family couldn't be more Irish (on his father's side) and my own has a good helping of Dear Old Eire in there, as well.

This year, as in many past, it was all about the food. We started the day off with a Full Irish Breakfast - minus the black and white puddings as I would be the only one to eat those, and the cost wasn't something I was willing to pay just for me. Not one of us could finish the whole thing and there were quite a few leftovers from it. No matter, we put those to good use later.

Dinner was Corned beef and Cabbage (with potatoes and carrots) and Irish Soda Bread.

Corned beef with cabbage and Irish soda bread peeking out from it all.

Irish Soda Bread

After that enormous breakfast, but before dinner, those of us at home walked downtown to Donegal Square and Moravian Book Shop - two of my favorite places in Downtown Bethlehem. On the way we noticed quite a few glorious signs of spring.

Poor little Lara wanted to go, but she didn't want to be in that stroller!

Ian is happy to go wherever!

Donegal Square - we've been shopping here for years!

Irish dancers in front of Donegal Square.

The Gourmet Market section of Moravian Book Shop - my favorite spot.

Snow Drops - Beautiful

Buds on the trees.


Purple Crocuses

More buds on the trees

Not a hugely celebratory day - just good time with family - and if you're Irish, that's better than anything.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Grandma's 'Sketti

Grandma's Sketti
Grandma's Sketti

This is another of my grandmother's recipes that was never written down and never submitted to a church cookbook. She made it very often when we were younger and it was such a favorite of ours that when she didn't make it one of my brothers would get upset about the missing 'sketti.

This is a true comfort food to me. Each time I make it I'm transported to Grandma's summertime kitchen. The chef in me wants to embellish it; add garlic and Parmesan. If I did that, though, the flavor would change enough that it wouldn't be Grandma's and the comforting effect would be lost.

This was beef-a-roni way before it was ever a boxed or canned mainstream product and I refuse to call it goulash, no matter what everyone else says.

Grandma's 'Sketti
Printable Recipe

1 small onion - chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 can (46 ounces) tomato juice (Grandma always used sodium-free because of dietary restrictions, I use the real deal)
2 cups uncooked macaroni (elbows) If you want specifics, Grandma used Mueller's.
salt and pepper to taste

Cook onion and beef together until beef is well browned. Drain any fat. Add tomato juice and macaroni. Cook over low heat, covered, until macaroni is tender about 10-12 minutes or so.

Serve with buttered bread and love.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Humble Pie

pie 018
My maternal grandmother played a very large role in forming who I’ve become, and although she is no longer with us, she continues to impact me in positive ways.
One way is the legacy she left behind with recipes. Grandma didn’t have a book that she kept for herself, but she did often submit recipes to various churches for publication in their fundraising cookbooks.
None of her recipes were ever very fancy or spicy or complicated; it was humble food, reflecting the era she belonged to and the area she grew up in.
Grandma was a true Midwestern cook; heaping portions of hearty food filled with local ingredients (corn and pork) and served with love.
Born in 1908, she came of age at a time when the nation’s economy was at its worst – a bit like today. Much of her cooking was influenced by lack rather than abundance and this recipe for buttermilk pie reflects that era very well.
I will share the recipe how it was originally written and add deciphering notes at the end for anyone who may need them.
pie 019
Buttermilk Pie
Printable Recipe

Sift 1 1/2 c. sugar together with 2 1/2 Tbsp. (rounded) flour and add 1 c. buttermilk. Beat 3 egg yolks separately and add to first mixture. Melt butter (size of egg) and add. Then add juice of 1 lemon or season to taste. Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake 20 minutes at 425 deg. Reduce heat to 325 deg. and bake 20 minutes longer. Add meringue (made from egg whites) and brown.

Icebox Pie Crust:
Mix together 5 c. flour, 1 tsp. salt and 1lb. lard. Beat 1 egg in mixing cup and fill cup with water and add to above mixture. This recipe makes enough crust for 3 – 2 crust pies. Keep unused crust in refrigerator.

Add 1 Tbsp. water to each egg white and beat until they form peaks and add 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar and continue beating until the sugar is dissolved. (This almost doubles the amount of meringue.)
Printed in “What’s Cookin’ In South Bend, Indiana” 1954
  • Recipe used to be written with the mindset that the person reading it would already have some knowledge of cooking, and the fact is, there used to be more knowledge about cooking 50 years ago than there is today. Many people just don’t know how to do it because of all the shortcuts offered nowadays.
  • People also used to cook with lard on a regular basis. Certain Hispanic communities still use lard frequently, but I’ve left it behind for slightly healthier fats. This does change the flavor of many foods, though – so be careful about which choices you make for substitutes. Sometimes Grandma’s pies, cookies or cakes just don’t taste the same now because lard is no longer used as a fat.
In the pie recipe: ‘butter the size of an egg’ is about 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Use whichever you like.
‘Season to taste’ for a buttermilk pie can be any extract or flavoring you like – so long as it doesn’t equal more than 2 or 3 Tablespoons of liquid.
‘Add meringue (made from egg whites)’ is the 3 egg whites left after separating the yolks used in the filling.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lime Cupcakes

A couple friends of mine had a KitchenAid mixer that was given to them by their aunt. Neither of these girls wanted it (can you imagine?!) so they asked if I would like to take it off their hands. Would I? I don't think I will ever be able to afford a KitchenAid mixer in this lifetime, so I accepted and tried not to squeal like a schoolgirl.

Once I had my hands on it, I needed to use it. It's like a clean sheet of paper and a new pen, you MUST create - it's simply not possible to leave it alone. So, I created. Nothing fancy or fabulous, but I can tell you this; icing was never so easy to make. These cupcakes are so easy that I feel a bit guilty posting a recipe for them.

Here is the 'recipe' (and I use that term very loosely here) for these fabulously delicious (because, they really were) cupcakes.

Lime Cupcakes

Makes 18 to 24
Printable Recipe

1 box (oh, yes I said BOX - close your eyes and get on with it) white cake mix
2 whole eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 1/4 cups water
zest of one lime
juice of one lime (2-3 Tablespoons)


3/4 cup butter - softened (1 1/2 sticks)
zest of one lime
juice of one lime
powdered sugar (3 -4 cups depending on how much juice your lime holds)

Mix up the BOXED cake mix with the eggs, oil, water and first lime - zested and squeezed. Pour into muffin tins, lightly greased or set with cupcake wrappers. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and springy when touched in the center. Let cool.

Beat the butter until fluffy and add zest and juice from the second lime. Pour in powdered sugar, a cup at a time, and keep beating until icing forms and is of a nicely spreadable consistency. Frost cooled cupcakes.

I bet you're wondering why I used a white cake mix and then adulterated the thing with whole eggs? Well, BOXED yellow cake mix tastes different than white mix, which I like better, but I wanted a bit of color to these so I added the egg yolks as well. There you go - whip some up and enjoy!

Royal Foodie Joust Entry: Pork and Asparagus Rolls on Wilted Spinach

Here is my entry for this month's Royal Foodie Joust for which the 3 ingredients are, lemongrass, almonds and asparagus. Even the littlest noseminers liked this one.

Pork and Asparagus Rolls on Wilted Spinach
Serves 2
Printable Recipe

12 spears asparagus
4 one-inch thick slices pork tenderloin
2 four-inch lengths of lemongrass
1/4 cup whole unsalted almonds
2 teaspoons orange marmalade
6 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 Tablespoon thinly sliced green onion
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon Sherry
2/3 cup beef stock
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
neutral oil such as canola for frying

Remove woody ends of asparagus spears and tie the spears together. Cut the outer leaves of the lemongrass away from the tender centers and set aside. Steam asparagus spears with water prepared with these outer lemongrass leaves and salt. Steam lightly for 2-3 minutes only. Set aside.

Pound tenderloin slices thin. Do this very gently. Pork tenderloin is already very tender and over-pounding will cause them to break up. Spread 1/2 teaspoon orange marmalade on each pounded filet.

Cut asparagus spears into 3 inch lengths. Set 3 cut spears (the end with the top intact) onto the smaller end of the filet. Roll up tightly and set aside, seam side down while you roll the other filets and asparagus.

Grind 1/4 cup almonds fine. Add salt and pepper to taste and roll each pork and asparagus roll in the almonds.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add each coated roll, seam side down, to the pan and cook
until well browned on each side. This takes 6-8 minutes for each roll. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Chop one length of lemongrass (with harder outer leaves removed) and add to the oil. Heat briefly until fragrant - just a few seconds will do it. Add spinach and stir just until wilted. Remove to 2 plates and top each mound of spinach with 2 asparagus and pork rolls.

For sauce - stir together soy sauce, 1 Tablespoon thinly sliced lemongrass stalk, green onion, garlic, Sherry, stock and cornstarch. Pour sauce ingredients into the same pan used for the spinach and heat until thickened.

Pour sauce over rolls and serve immediately.