Cooking Dreams

Dec. 8, 2019

1 bunch (about 1 pound) small baby beets with tops

1 navel orange, peels and white membranes removed, cut into sections

Extra-virgin olive oil

Red wine vinegar

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese

Fresh dill for garnish


Remove the greens from the beets. Cutting close to the beets. Save the greens for garnish if you wish.

Set up a bamboo or stainless steel steamer and steam the beets until a fork easily pierces the beets, about 10 minutes. (Tiny beets will cook quickly; larger ones will take longer) Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice water.

Remove the beets from the steamer and plunge into the ice bath. The skins should slip off easily (this is so much easier than peeling them).

Slice the beets and arrange them ith orange wedges on a large plate, drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Just before serving, add the cheese. Use the reserved beet greens or dill as a garnish.

Dec. 7, 2019

4 small red apples, cored and quartered

2 stalks celery, Finley chopped 

1/4 cup coarsely  chopped unsalted peanuts

1/4 cup coarseley chopped hazelnuts

1/4 cup golden raisins 

1/2 plain low fat yogurt or mayonnaise, or combination of both

1 tsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp  chopped fresh parsley 


Arrange the apples in a small fruit bowls so that the sides are supported and the apples form rosettes. In a small bowl, combine celery, peanuts, hazelnuts, raisins, yogurt and lemon juice.

Divide the mixture among the four apples and spoon it into the center of each. Garnish with the parsley and servd at once.

Dec. 7, 2019

For the brandied cherries

1 1/2 Cup frozen cherries

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup kirsch (clear cherry brandy) 

For the cake

3/4 Cup plus 2 tbsp cake flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder unsweetened 

1/4 tsp salt

7 large eggs, room temperature 

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperatyre

Filling and frosting

3 pints heavy cream

1/2 - 1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp Kirsh ( clear cherry brandy) 


1 1/2 cup chocolate curls 

Cherries with stems


Brandied Cherries

The brandied cherries  need to be make a day ahead of assembli g the cake. Combine the frozen cherries, 1/3 cup Kirsch and 1/3 sugar in a bowl and let thaw completely . Stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Keep covered and chilled until ready to use


Cake layers

Preheat the oven to 350°F . Line the bottom or three 8"  round cake pans with parchment paper. 

In a small bowl sit together  the flour and cocoa powder .

In another small bowl melt the butter and allow it to cool to room temperature as the eggs and sugar mix.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, mix the eggs and sugar toge on high to 5 to 7 minutes until thick and pale and tripled in volume. Add in the vanilla and salt and whip another minute.

Fold in the flour mixture in two portions into the egg mixture, being careful not to deflate the egg mixture. Take out a cup of the mixture and combined with the melted butter, then add back into the rest of the batter and fold in a few more times. A few streaks of flour is ok, you really don't want the batter  to deflate too much.

Divided amongst the prepared pans then bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until the cakes are puffed and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely in pans, then carefully  run a knife around the edges and invert to a cooling rack, or wrap in plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

Filling- frosting

Whip the cream until soft peacks, then add in 2 Tbsp Kirsch, vanilla extract and powdere sugar, starting with 1/2 of cup and whip to stiff peaks. Taste and add a little at time while whipping  until desire sweetness is achieved. Add in more Kirsch, up to 2 more Tablespoons if a boozier whipped  cream is desire and whip again. Keep chilled before using.

To assemble the cake

Drain the brandied cherries saving the liquid. If the sugar is still no dissolved, heat for about 30 seconds then stir.

Place one cake layer ona cake plate, or on a cardboard cake circle  on a cake decorating turntable, and brush of the top of the cake layer with a little of the reserved  brandied cherry liquid. Spread on a heaping cup of the whipped cream then top with half the cherries. Spread another heaping cup of the cream on top of the cherries. Repeat with another later then with the top layer brush with the brandied cherry liquid then spread a cup of the cream on top and another around the sides to crumb cot the cake. Chill the cake around 30 minutes. Keeping the xream cheese as well.

Check for any leaking of the brandied cherry juice around the edges and dab with a paper towel, then spread another layer of the whipped cream around the sides and top, leaving about a cup and a half for the decorations on the top of the cake.

Carefully press the chocolate curls into the side of the cake, scooping up any that fall off and press again. Leaving about 1/2 a cup or so for the top of the cake.

Put to remaining whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with and open star tip and create a dozen swirls around the top to hold the stemmed  cherries . You can double layer these swirls. Fill the middle of the top of the cake with the remaining chocolate curls, place a cherry on each of the whipped cream  swirl then keep the cake chilled until ready to serve. The cake cuts and serves a lot easier when well chilled.

Dec. 5, 2019

1 (15 lbs) smoked fully cooked bone-in-ham

42 crystallized ginger pieces (¼ x ⅛ in)

1 ½  cup firmly packed light brown sugar

¾ cup ginger ale

½ cup whole-grain mustard

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp chop fresh thyme


Preheat the oven to 325° F. Remove the skin and excess nd excess fat from the ham. Make shallow cuts in the fat 1 inch apart in a diamond patterns. Make a small slit in the center of each diamond. Insert ginger pieces into the slots.

Place the ham on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pour water into the roasting pan. To a depth of ¼ inch.

Cover the top of a ham loosely with aluminum foil. Bake at 325°F for 2 hours and 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion, not touching bone, registers 135°F. Remove ham from the oven.

Increase the oven temperature to 425°F.

Stir together the brown sugar with ginger ale,mustard, vinegar and thyme..

Brush 1 cup of sugar mixture over the ham. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until glazed and brown. Basting every 10 minutes with the remaining brown sugar mixture.

Let stand 10 minutes before carving.

Serves 12

Dec. 4, 2019

2 cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean,split lengthwise or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar, more for topping

Strawberries or Raspberries for garnish


Heat oven to 325° F.

In a saucepan combine, vanilla bean and salt and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean.

In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour sugar and egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into 4 6-ounce ramekins and place the ramekins. In baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.

When ready to serve, top each custard with about. A teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. With a culinary torch mellt the sugar until caramel brown or  place ramekinsin a broilar 2 to 3 inches from the heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens, about 5 minutes.