Tired of endlessly flipping through cookbooks and websites for recipes?

I'm here for you! I try out recipes and post the successes, so you don't have to waste time on failures. I only post the VERY BEST recipes I try out. You can be confident that if you plan to serve any of these, they will be a success! Don't substitute or you will not get the same result!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup and Roasted Tomato Soup with Cream

This is the perfect gourmet soup! It's beautiful to serve and the roasted flavor is wonderful. It takes a little time to prepare, but it's so very worth it. This recipe comes from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Yellow-Pepper-Soup-and-Roasted-Tomato-Soup-with-Serrano-Cream-11554, with some changes (I didn't like the Serrano Cream--way too spicy--the heavy cream is just as pretty and doesn't burn your tongue).

yield: Makes about 3 cups of each soup, serving 6


For the pepper soup:
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (or onion)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 yellow bell peppers, roasted (procedure follows) and chopped coarse (about 6 cups)
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth plus additional to thin the soup
1/2 cup heavy cream
fresh lemon juice to taste

For the tomato soup:
3 pounds plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
3 unpeeled large garlic cloves
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth plus additional to thin the soup
1/2 cup heavy cream
fresh lemon juice to taste


To roast peppers:

1. Using a long-handled fork char the peppers over an open flame, turning them, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the skins are blackened. (Or broil the peppers on the rack of a broiler pan under a preheated broiler about 2 inches from the heat, turning them every 5 minutes, for 15 to 25 minutes, or until the skins are blistered and charred.)
2. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and let them steam, covered, until they are cool enough to handle. Keeping the peppers whole, peel them starting at the blossom end, cut off the tops, and discard the seeds and ribs. (Wear rubber gloves when handling chilies.)

Make the pepper soup:

1. In a heavy saucepan cook the shallot, the thyme, and salt and pepper to taste in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the shallot is soft, add the bell peppers and 1 1/2 cups of the broth, and simmer the mixture, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the peppers are very soft.
2. In a blender purée the soup in batches until it is very smooth, forcing it as it is puréed through a fine sieve set over the pan, cleaned, and whisk in the cream, enough of the additional broth to reach the desired consistency, the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. The soup may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated.

Make the tomato soup:

1. Spread the tomatoes, skin side down, in one layer in 2 foil-lined jelly-roll pans, add the garlic to 1 of the pans, and bake the tomatoes and the garlic in a preheated 350°F. oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the tomatoes are very soft and their skin is dark brown.
2. Let the tomatoes and the garlic cool in the pans on racks.
3. In a heavy saucepan cook the shallot, the orégano, salt and pepper to taste in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the shallot is soft, add the tomatoes, the garlic (skins discarded), and 1 1/2 cups of the broth, and simmer the mixture, covered, for 15 minutes.
4. In a blender purée the soup in batches until it is very smooth, forcing it as it is puréed through a fine sieve set over the pan, cleaned, and whisk in the cream, the additional broth if necessary (both soups should have the same consistency), the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. The soup may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated.

To serve the soup:

For each serving ladle 1/2 cup of each soup into 2 glass measuring cups, pour the soups simultaneously into a shallow soup bowl from opposite sides of the bowl, and drizzle some heavy cream over each serving.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rotisserie Chicken Salad

I wasn't quite sure what to think about making this salad--I've never used Greek yogurt, and tarragon has a very distinct taste. However, I enjoyed the combination of flavors and didn't find them strange at all. The yellow bell pepper is the crowning ingredient for me. This salad hardly takes a half-hour to make! The recipe comes from the Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/spring-chicken-salad-recipe/index.html.


1/2 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 romaine hearts, torn
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded (about 2 cups)
1 Kirby cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced
4 radishes, cut into wedges
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced


1. Place the potatoes in a small pot and cover with water. Season with salt, cover and boil until fork-tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and cool.

2. Meanwhile, pulse the chives, tarragon, vinegar, yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a food processor. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and pulse to make a thick dressing.

3. Toss the romaine, potatoes, chicken, cucumber, radishes and bell pepper with the dressing in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not An Ordinary Lemon Meringue Pie

This recipe comes courtesy of Emeril Lagasse (really loving his stuff): http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/lemon-meringue-pie-recipe/index.html. This pie is sweet, creamy and fluffy--amazing. My husband reluctantly agreed to try it then had two pieces. It's not too difficult to make and will surely impress!


1 recipe Sweet Pie Crust, recipe follows
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cold water
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons limoncello
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar


1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, roll out to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan, pressing gently to fit, trim the edge to within 1/2-inch of the pan, turn under, and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dry beans, or rice. Bake until the crust is set, about 12 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake until lightly colored, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before filling. Combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch, milk, water, and pinch of the salt in a large, non-reactive saucepan, whisk to combine, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. As the mixture reaches a simmer and begins to thicken and turn clear, 4 to 5 minutes, whisk in the egg yolks, 2 at a time. Slowly add the lemon juice, whisking constantly, and add the zest and limoncello. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and whisking constantly, return to a simmer. Remove from the heat and pour immediately into the prepared pie crust.

4. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and remaining pinch salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beating constantly, gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until glossy stiff peaks form, being careful not to over beat, as this will make the meringue difficult to spread.

5. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. Working 1 row at a time, pipe the meringue across the top of the hot lemon filling in a zigzag pattern, alternating direction with each row. Cover the pie filling completely, going out to the pastry edges, so the meringue does not draw up or weep during baking. (Alternatively, spread the meringue evenly over the pie filling using a rubber spatula, smoothing out to the pastry edges. Make decorative peaks in the meringue using a dull knife or the back of a spoon.)

5. To quickly cook the meringue, preheat the broiler with the rack in the highest position. Place the pie under the broiler and cook until the meringue is set and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning. (Alternatively, the meringue can be cooked in a preheated 325 degree F oven until set and golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes.)

6. Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Sweet Pie Crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water, or as needed

1. Sift the flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. With your fingers, work the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of the ice water and work with your fingers just until the dough comes together, adding more water as needed, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make a smooth dough, being careful not to overwork the dough.

2. Form the dough into a disk shape, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
Yield: enough dough for 1 (9 or 10-inch) crust

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Frozen Berries with a White Chocolate Sauce

Another recipe from the Barefoot Contessa: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/frozen-berries-with-hot-white-chocolate-recipe/index.html. Very easy and a wonderful gourmet dessert to serve to your guests (or eat almost all of it by yourself, like I did). You have to have a sweet tooth for this one or you won't appreciate it.

You can half this recipe if you like. Good white baking chocolate is expensive!


1 1/4 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 pounds frozen mixed berries or frozen raspberries (I flash froze the berries: washed them and placed them on a foil-covered cookie sheet--cut the strawberries small! Once frozen, I stored them in a plastic bag)


1. Combine the chocolate, heavy cream, and the vanilla in a heat-proof bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate melts.

2. About 5 minutes before serving, remove the berries from the freezer and place them on individual serving plates. Ladle the warm chocolate sauce over the berries and serve.

Chicken Picatta (or Chicken with a Lemon Sauce)

This recipe comes courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa from the Food Network. I recently purchased one of her cookbooks--I was delighted by how easy her recipes were! Simple, but gourmet enough to be very tasty. This is my favorite recipe by her so far. The sauce is heavenly. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/chicken-piccata-recipe/index.html


2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs (or crushed cornflakes)
Good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine  (or white grape juice)
Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

3. Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

5. For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Grilled Beef Braciole with Grilled Tomato-Basil Relish

This recipe comes courtesy of Bobby Flay and the Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/grilled-beef-braciole-with-grilled-tomato-basil-relish-recipe/index.html.  It was to-die for! The tomato-basil relish is the perfect topping for this cheese & herb stuffed meat.

For the grilled tomato-basil relish:

8 plum tomatoes (I would double the tomatoes)
5 tablespoons olive oil (you probably don't need quite this much)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves

For the beef:
1 (2-pound) round steak, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 (8-inch) pieces butcher's twine, soaked in cold water (or toothpicks, soaked in water)
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

For the grilled tomato-basil relish:

1.  Heat the grill to medium-high.
2.  Cut the tomatoes half, then brush with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the tomatoes on all sides until slightly charred and soft. Remove the tomatoes from the grill, chop and place in a bowl. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, onion, vinegar, basil and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For the beef:

1.  Heat the grill to medium.

2.  Place the steak on a flat surface. Combine the cheese, parsley, oregano and garlic in a small bowl. Brush the steak on the side facing up with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cheese mixture evenly over the steak, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the sides.

3.  Starting with the long end, tightly roll the meat up like a jelly roll and tightly tie with the butcher's twine on the ends and in the center. Brush the entire outside of the steak with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill, seam-side up and grill until golden brown on all sides, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the grill and let rest 10 minutes before slicing into 1/2-inch thick slices. Serve several slices per person topped with some of the relish.