Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lemon Mushroom and Mozzarella Toasts with Oregano Oil Drizzle

Lemon Mushroom and Mozzarella Toasts with Oregano Oil Drizzle
As Shared from the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Serves 2 (but easy to multiply for more servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 portobello mushrooms
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 white or brown mushrooms, halved
2 slices sourdough bread, grilled (or toasted)
4 1/2 ounce fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

oregano oil
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

First make the oregano oil:
Pour oil into a small frying pan over high heat. Add the oregano and cook for 30 seconds or until crispy. Set aside.

Please the plain olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the portobello mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper ~ cook for about 3 minutes on one side. Turn over, add the white or brown mushrooms and cook for addition 3 minutes or so, until golden.

Top the toasts with the mozzarella and mushrooms, generously drizzle the oregano oil and lemon juice over and serve.

Note: Oregano oil is also delicious drizzled over potatoes, chicken, fish, and egg dishes.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cranberry Bliss Bars ~ Similar to Starbucks

Cranberry Bliss Bars (similar to Starbucks)
As shared by Once Upon a Plate
Makes about 16 servings

My changes to the original recipe are noted in italics below.

For the bar batter:
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla or 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract (I used 3/4 teaspoons EACH)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (I omitted and added 1/3 cup finely diced candied crystallized ginger)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup diced dried cranberries (I used 1/2 cup)
6 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks (or 6 ounces white chocolate morsels)

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used 8 ounces & 1 tablespoon butter)
3 cups powdered sugar (I used a little over 1 1/2 cups)
4 teaspoons lemon juice (I used 2 teaspoons orange extract, and scant 1 teaspoon almond extract)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used 1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup diced dried cranberries (If cranberries are small, leave whole)

Drizzled Icing **  (I substituted white chocolate)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
orange zest, garnish (optional)

**I omitted, and used about 2 to 4 ounces (your choice) of white chocolate with with 1/2 teaspoon canola oil, melted & stirred together, then drizzled over.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position rack in center of oven.

Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, and salt; beat well.
Gradually mix in flour until smooth.
Mix diced dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter by hand.
Pour batter into a well-greased 9x13-inch baking pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake is light brown on the edges.
Allow to cool.

Frosting: combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth.

When the cake has cooled, spread frosting over the top of cake.
Sprinkle top with diced cranberries.

Icing: Whisk powdered sugar, milk, and shortening.

Drizzle icing over cranberries in a sweeping motion or use a pastry bag with a fine tip.
Allow cake to sit for several hours, then slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle.
Slice the cake across the width three times making a total of eight rectangular slices.
Slice each of those rectangles diagonally creating 16 triangular slices.

Original recipe from  ~ my changes are as noted in italics.

I hope you enjoy!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Savory Bite-Size Polenta Cakes

Savory Bite-Size Polenta Cakes
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Recipe yields about 14  (1 1/2-inch diameter) cakes

3 cups water
1 cup instant polenta
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and cracked black pepper
7 cherry tomatoes, halved
7 thin strips of any of the following:  anchovy filets, procuitto, or cooked bacon
7 Ciliegini, halved  (small--cherry size, fresh mozzarella balls)
14 small basil leaves, for serving

In a saucepan bring water to a boil over medium heat, gradually whisk in the polenta and cook for two to 3 minutes while stirring, until thickened.  Remove pan from heat, stir in butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 8x8-inch square pan which has been lined with parchment baking paper. Use a slightly smaller pan if you want taller cakes.) Spread the cooked polenta to cover the base of the pan and smooth top. Chill in refrigerator for 45 minutes, or until set.

Use a 1 1/2 (or 2-inch) round cutter to cut 14 cakes from the polenta.  Place each cake on a lightly greased baking tray, top each with a tomato half, salty strip (see choices above) that you prefer, and Ciliegini half.  Broil under a hot broiler for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden and cheese has melted.  Top each with a basil leaf to serve.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Cranberry Crumb Cake ~ Tate's Bake Shop

Cranberry Crumb Cake ~ Tate's Bake Shop
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Yields One 9-inch square pan

This is delicious, warm from the oven, but I thought it was even better the following day as the flavors had a chance to mingle and the cake seemed to be more moist the second day. (Cover tightly if you will be storing it overnight so it doesn't dry out.)

1/2 cup firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon5 tablespoons salted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking pwder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/4 cup walnut oil * (you can use vegetable oil if you prefer)
1 teaspoon grated zest, from one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups cranberries, coarsely chopped (frozen is fine)

Preheat oven to 350* F
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with pan spray or butter

To make the topping:  Combine all topping ingredients --except walnuts-- in a medium bowl. Mix with your fingertips or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add walnuts and toss all together. Set mixture asie in the refrigerator (this step may be done the night before.)

To make the batter:

In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar and set the mixture aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour 1/2 cup of the sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In a large bowl beat the sour cream, eggs, oil, orange zest and vanilla until combined. Add flour mixture to the sour cream mixture and stir until combined. Fold in the cranberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.  Bake cake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.

*Note: I used a good quality walnut oil, but honestly the flavor was not easily discernable because of the the other flavorings in the cake. 


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Friday, December 10, 2010

Crazy-Good Spiced Mixed Nuts

Spiced Mixed Nuts from David Lebovitz
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Makes about 4 cups of spiced nut mix

An Excellent party mix for nibbling, and a jar of these adorned with a pretty ribbon makes a nice gift from your kitchen.

2 cups raw nuts* of any combination; Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds, Peanuts, Cashews, Hazelnuts.  I used Almonds, Cashews and Pecans this time.
1 tablespoon salted or unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar (I use light brown, because that's what I usually have in my pantry.)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder, or smoked paprika
2 tablespoons maple syrup (the real thing, not imitation maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 cups small pretzel twists

Position oven rack in center of oven, preheat oven to 350* (F) 
Line a baking sheet with parchment, foil, or silicone baking mat (for easier clean up)

Spread the nuts evenly on the lined baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, stirring once midway through bake time for even toasting.

In a large bowl, mix melted butter with all the seasonings (except the salt), stir in the warm nuts, tossing gently to coat them completely and as evenly as possible.  A silicone spatula works well for this step.

Sprinkle on the salt, mix again.  Mix in the pretzels then spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes, stirring once or twice until the nuts are nicely glazed and browned.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Once cooled break into clusters and enjoy!

Note:  The spiced nuts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

*If your grocery store does not stock raw nuts, try a health food store.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Clementine (or Orange) Flavored Vodka and Liqueur

Clementine (or Orange) Flavored Vodka and Liqueur As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Makes about 1 quart

This recipe is based on one from the cookbook  Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects by Karen Solomon.

Karen's recipe uses oranges, but I used Clementines ~ and I also suggest a couple of optional  ingredients for the liqueur recipe. 

You may enjoy the flavored vodka, or take it a step further by adding a simple syrup and allowing it to age into a delightful liqueur.

Clementine (or Orange)-Flavored Vodka

1 quart inexpensive vodka
5 or 6 sweet Clementines, or 4 sweet oranges (Navel or Valencia) Organic if possible
1 large jar with tight fitting lid

Wash and dry jar and lid.  Wash fruit and cut each into 4 to 6 slices. Place fruit in the jar and pour vodka over. Tighten lid and store in a cool, dark place for two weeks, shaking the jar once a day. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve or a cheesecloth.  Return the vodka to a jar, and put it back in it’s cool, dark place to age for 3 weeks to mature the flavor.

Clementine (or Orange) Liqueur

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 cups clementine (or orange)-flavored vodka  from recipe above.
Optional:  1/4 cup Mandarin flavored Vodka,  1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other Orange liqueur

To make simple syrup :  In a saucepan combine sugar and water, place over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, set aside to cool completely.

Pour the flavored vodka into a jar, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the simple syrup (and optional ingredients if using), taste.  If you prefer a sweeter liqueur add more of the simple syrup to taste. Secure lid tightly, label jar and store in a cool, dark place for 4 to 6 weeks.

(If you can wait that long!) 

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Ginger Beef or Chicken Patties with Lime Noodle Salad

Ginger Beef or Chicken Patties with Lime Noodle Salad
As shared from the Kitchen of Mari's Once Upon a Plate

Yields 2 very generous meal size servings


4 ounces thin rice "cellophane" noodles* (for alternatives see note below)

Fresh mint leaves, and/or cilantro leaves, a few or up to 1/2 cup
Handful snow peas, sliced and blanched
Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
One or all of the following:
2 or 3 thinly sliced scallions (green onions) (plus extra for patties, see below)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red or other color bell pepper, thinly sliced

For the Gingered Meat Patties:

8 to 10 ounces ground meat: (one of the following: beef, buffalo, chicken, turkey or pork)
¼ cup Chinese oyster sauce, Use Lee Kum Kee Premium Oyster Sauce if at all possible
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 green onions (scallions) finely chopped 1 or 2 cloves garlic minced

Optional (for more flavorful patties):
3 teaspoons very dry sherry (not cooking sherry)
1 or 2 teaspoons soy sauce

For frying the patties:
1 tablespoon  vegetable oil


2 tablespoons fish sauce (May omit and use 1 tablespoon water mixed with 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, instead.)
2 ½ to 3 tablespoons lime juice
1 ½ tablespoon sugar (more if you like) 
Optional If you like it spicy: Add a few drops or more of your favorite hot sauce (such as Sambal Oelek, or Sriracha, etc.)

If using rice noodles: Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 5 minutes or until soft. Drain and run under cold water until cold. Set aside.
If using traditional egg pasta noodles:  Cook until al dente (don't overcook), drain and run under cold water until chilled. Set aside.

Chop half the mint and/or cilantro leaves, and two finely chopped scallions, place in a bowl with the ground meat, oyster sauce and ginger (and sherry and soy sauce if using.) Mix well to combine. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Divide the ground meat mixture into small patties and cook for 2–3 minutes each side or until cooked through. (I make the patties about the size of a half-dollar, or just a bit larger.)

Place the noodles in a bowl with the snow pea, tomato, onion and remaining mint and/or cilantro leaves and toss to combine. Combine the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar (plus hot sauce if using) and stir well to dissolve sugar; pour over the noodles. .Add the patties to the salad to serve.

* Alternately:  Use angel hair pasta or very thin spaghetti (cooked until al dente), and rinsed with cold water until chilled.  I usually use Barilla brand whole grain very "Thin Spaghetti".

Note about the oyster sauce: Of all the brands I've tried  Lee Kum Kee brand is by far the best. And don't worry if you detest oysters ~ this really doesn't taste like oysters at all, it just adds a deeply rich savory and slightly sweet balance to the meat.

Recipe loosely inspired from a Donna Hay recipe

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pan Seared Halibut with Huckleberry Reduction and Hazelnut Brown Butter Sauce

Pan Seared Halibut with Huckleberry Reduction and Hazelnut Brown Butter Sauce
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari

With fresh halibut season coming to a close (the season runs from March through November), we wanted to enjoy it one more time until it becomes available again next March.

I happened to have some fresh, slightly tart huckleberries on hand, and I always keep Oregon Hazelnuts in the freezer, so I devised this recipe (actually a non-recipe), which we thoroughly enjoyed.

My apologies in advance... for those who know me or follow my blog, you know as many times as not, I'll just line up my ingredients and begin cooking without a recipe, just an idea in my head. That TRULY is the pleasure of cooking for me ~ the creative aspect of using what I have on hand, and not being tied to a recipe. 

That is the case with this dish... I can describe how I made it, but there are no exact measurements ~ have fun and prepare it to taste, and in the proportions to fit your family.Feel free to substitute another kind of berry, or other nuts for the Hazelnuts.

Here is how I arrived at this dish ( a serving for two):

Step 1. Make the Huckleberry -or other berry- reduction.
A generous 1/4 cup of fresh huckleberries with a couple of tablespoons of water and a little agave syrup (or sugar), to ease some the the tartness of the berries ~ not to make the sauce sweet. Bring ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low to reduce amount by nearly half. Stir occasionally. Keep warm.

Step 2. Rinse halibut, blot excess moisture off ~ salt and pepper, and dust with all-purpose flour. Tap off excess flour. Heat equal amounts of oil and butter in a frying pan over medium - high heat until melted and almost sizzling. Add halibut to the pan (don't crowd), allow to cook on one side for a few minutes (about 3 to 5 minutes, depending upon the thickness of fish.) Turn once and cook other side until fish is just firm when you press down upon it. (Again about 3 to 5 minutes.) Remove fish to warm serving plates or a platter. Cover loosely with foil and keep warm.

Step 3. Add another tablespoon or two of butter to the same pan, allowing it to melt, stirring to scrape up any bits from interior bottom of pan. Add chopped hazelnuts (or walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc.)and allow to cook, stirring frequently to avoid scorching either the nuts or the butter. When butter is golden in color but not burned, remove pan from heat and keep warm.

Step 4. Drizzle the warm berry reduction on warm plates, arrange seared halibut on top. Spoon the warm hazelnut brown butter over all, garnish with additional fresh berries, and serve right away.

I hope you enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Apple-Cinnamon Custard Spoons with Crackle Topping

Apple-Cinnamon Custard Spoons with Crackle Topping
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Makes approximately 15 porcelain spoon size portions
Recipe is easily multiplied and may be made in Creme Brulee ramekins, too

Special equipment:  (See original post HERE for sources)
Asian-style porcelain soup spoons, or Creme Brulee ramekins
Butane kitchen torch

Ingredients (for 15 spoon-sized portions):

1/2 cup peeled and chopped apple (1/4"  chunks or smaller)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar (superfine, if possible)
1/3 cup half & half cream
1 tablespoon sugar for crackle topping (superfine, if possible)

Preheat oven to 250* (F)  Arrange oven rack in center position

In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook apple, 1 tablespoon sugar and water together until apple pieces are tender (about 5 to 7 minutes or so), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a small bowl whisk egg yolk, 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar together, whisk in cream until thoroughly mixed.

Place porcelain spoons on a shallow- rimmed baking sheet(s). Divide cooked apple evenly between the 15 spoons, smooth tops. Pour egg-cream mixture evenly over apple mixture in each spoon. (I find it easiest to transfer the egg-mixture to a small pitcher or Pyrex-type  liquid measuring cup to facilitate pouring.)  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until custard is slightly firm.  Remove from oven, allow to cool.

When cool, refrigerate for 30 minutes. (If chilling for longer than 30 minutes, cover with cling film so the filling doesn't dry out.)

Shortly before serving sprinkle remaining sugar evenly over filling in each spoon, caramelize sugar in each spoon with small butane torch.  For easy eating, serve with demitasse or espresso spoons.  Enjoy!

 Recipe adapted from a similar fruit dessert I enjoyed  at a restaurant's dessert tasting tray years ago, made with plums.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Fresh Tomato Salad filled with Vegetables (& Julia Child's Basic Vinaigrette)

Fresh Tomato Salad filled with Vegetables
(with Julia Child's Basic Vinaigrette)
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

4 whole, fresh tomatoes, top one-quarter of each tomato sliced off of each. Tomatoes hollowed out (melon ball tool, or sharp-tipped spoon works well) Leave fleshy wall of tomato intact.

Vegetables of your choice; such as:

Any of the following, finely diced or chopped (cooked or raw)
sweet red or green peppers
hot peppers/chilies, minced

Any of the tollowing:

Cooked black beans, kidney beans, garbanzos, etc. (may use canned, rinsed)
Cooked: rice, couscous, barley or other cooked grains, small pasta such as orzo, etc.

Optional: Fresh herbs of your choice, finely chopped

In a bowl toss vegetables with a few tablespoons (or more) of the vinaigrette, scoop vegetable filling into hollowed out tomatoes.  Place tomatoes on tender lettuce leaves if desired and serve. Pass additional vinaigrette at the table. 

Julia Child's Basic Vinaigrette

1/2 Tbsp finely minced shallot or scallion
1/2 Tbsp Dijon-type mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp wine vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup excellent olive oil, or other fine, fresh oil
Freshly ground pepper


Either shake all the ingredients together in a screw-topped jar, or mix them individually as follows. Stir the shallots or scallions together with the mustard and salt. Whisk in the lemon juice and vinegar, and when well blended start whisking in the oil by droplets to form a smooth emulsion. Beat in freshly ground pepper. Taste (dip a piece of the salad greens into the sauce) and correct seasoning with salt, pepper, and/or drops of lemon juice.

Yield: About 2/3 cup, serving 6 to 8


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts

Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Recipe adapted from "How Easy is That?" by Ina Garten

6 servings

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups couscous (12 ounces)
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup minced fresh parsley

In a large saucepan melt butter and add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the chicken stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a full boil. Stir in the couscous, turn off the heat, cover, and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, stir in the pine nuts, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot.

Note:  I always add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to couscous, and a few shards of fresh Parmesan Reggiano cheese.  In the photo above I also added some fresh, chopped basil to the parsley, as it was in season. ( You can any favorite fresh herb that you like.)

Recipe adapted from "How Easy is That?" by Ina Garten

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cream Cheese Pastry Dough (Easy, forgiving, flaky and tender, too)

Cream Cheese Pastry Dough
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Yields enough dough for one-10" double-crust pie, or two- 10" single-crust pies, or 10 small pocket pies.

If you have trouble with traditional pastry dough I urge you to try this one, it's hard to mess up, and it can be made in the food processor in minutes. So simple-- the key is to just mix until blended, don't over process  the dough.

This recipe has been around for years; I believe it was originally meant for savory vegetable or meat pastries, but I like to use it for sweet things as well. It's that play of sweet filling and slightly salty crust that piques the flavors of both.  Most recently I used it for an Apple Crostada I made, it was delicious!


8 tablespoons butter (room temperature), unsalted if you wish - I use salted butter
4 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1/4 cup heavy cream (whipping cream),  no substitutes
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Additional all-purpose flour for rolling out the dough
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt (I use the full 1/2 teaspoon)

Place the butter, cream cheese, and cream in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until thoroughly combined and smooth.

Add the flour and salt to the bowl, pulse until just combined and dough just comes together in a mass.
Flour a work surface generously, turn the dough out onto the flour and divide into two equal portions. Shape two round discs from each portion and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or longer before rolling out. Sometimes I make the dough a day ahead.
If the dough has chilled longer than an hour, take it from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before rolling.  Process just until combined and the dough holds together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Divide into 2 pieces. Flatten each into disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out so it becomes easier to work with.
When ready to roll the dough, flour a work surface generously and completely flour a rolling pin. Working with one dough disk at a time, begin rolling from center of dough to outside edge, lift dough turn 1/4 turn making sure the work surface remains well floured so the dough doesn't stick. Continue rolling from center to edge of dough and turning dough 1/4 of a turn each time until dough is desired thickness.
Form pastry as desired for your chosen recipe. This dough looks especially pretty if brushed lightly with an egg wash, or heavy cream before baking. It adds a nice sheen to the finished product, but is an optional step.
If you try it, I hope you enjoy!
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Lemon Cream Pots and Lemon Wafers

Lemon Cream Pots and Lemon Wafers
As shared from the kitchen of Mari's Once Upon a Plate
4 servings

If you like lemon flavors, I think you'll like this one. Creamy and not too sweet, it's very easy to make.  I used Meyer lemons, but regular tart lemons work perfectly well.
2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream, preferably not "ultra-pasturized")
½ cup superfine sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
¼ cup lemon juice
whipped cream, to serve ~ slightly sweetened if you like

Lemon Wafers
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
2 egg whites
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind

Place cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon rind and juice and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Pour into four ¾ cup-capacity containers and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or until set.

To make the wafers:
Preheat oven 355º (F)
Place flour, icing sugar, egg white, butter and rind in a bowl and mix well to combine. Place a teaspoonful of mixture on a lightly greased baking sheet (I used silicone baking liner), and spread to create a 5-inch strip (or any squiggly shapes you desire. Repeat with remaining mixture, leaving space for wafers to spread. Bake for 6–8 minutes or until light golden. Cool on baking sheet.

To serve:
Top pots with whipped cream and serve with wafers.  YUM and I hope you enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Powder Puffs

Powder Puffs
As Shared from the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Yields about 16 Powder Puffs, depending upon the size of each little cake

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup superfine (Baker's) sugar

For the filling
Raspberry jam; about 1/2 cup or more
About 3/4 cup vanilla-flavored heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

Powdered/Confectioner's sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Arrange rack in center of oven and preheat to 425* (F)
Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, and baking soda into a bowl.  Separate the eggs, whites from yolks, into two bowls.  Beat the whites to soft peaks. Add the sugar to the egg whites, 1/3 at a time--beating well after each addition. The egg white mixture should form a stiff, glossy meringue. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Sift the dry ingredients together, then sift the mixture over the egg mixture. Fold the flour very gently into the eggs with a spatula so as to lose as little egg volume as possible.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the parchment lined baking sheets, leave room between each as they will spread. Place in oven and bake until lightly golden colored, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the cakes to a rack to cool. They will harden slightly as they cool.

Make sandwiches with the little cake rounds--bottoms together; spreading a bit of raspberry jam, then a layer of whipped cream in between, top with another cake round.

Allow the assembled cakes to rest about an hour or so to soften before serving. (They will not be spongy right away, and you want them to be sponge-like before serving.)  Dust tops lightly with powdered/Confectioner's sugar if desired.

Recipe adapted from Laura Calder

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Favorite Fresh-Herb Rolls

Years ago these rolls were the signature bread at a wonderful organic restaurant and farm near our home. Through the years the restaurant has progressed adding a professional bakery on site, which produces mainly artisan breads. I don't think they offer the herb rolls anymore, but these remain my family's absolute, all-time favorite recipe for dinner rolls. The whole wheat flour and oat bran give them a wonderful depth of flavor, while the white flour keeps them light and tender.

Summer Jo’s Herb Rolls
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Friendly warning---This recipe makes a restaurant-size quantity  (4 dozen rolls!) 
I always half the recipe, and there are still plenty to freeze. (I freeze after baking and cooling ~ wrap them airtight.)  It would be easy to quarter the recipe if you would like.

Be generous with the fresh herbs you use, for half a recipe of dough I usually  use 2 to 3 tablespoons in total. Use any combination of fresh herbs that you like.  I usually use fresh thyme, rosemary, chives and a bit of oregano.


3 tablespoons yeast (the original recipe used old fashioned slow-rise yeast. To substitute instant see notes below)
1 cup sugar
4 cups warm water
4 each, whole eggs
1 cup olive oil (I prefer a mild flavor for this recipe)
8 cups enriched white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oat bran *
2 tablespoons salt

To taste: Fresh seasonal herbs, chopped
Extra flour for kneading ; this is a soft dough and may take quite a bit more flour than expected.
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water (120-130 degrees) for 5-10 minutes.

Add the eggs and oil, mixing them into the dissolved yeast. Add all the flour and bran to the mixture 2 cups at a time, then add the salt and chopped herbs.
Note: If using instant yeast,  mix the warm water, oil and eggs until well combined. Don't bother dissolving yeast in the water-- just add the yeast and sugar to the flour.
Knead the dough into a ball and set it in a large covered bowl, storing this in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.
Butter or oil baking sheet(s).
Butter or oil your hands. Form the dough into 2-1/2-inch balls. Let rise, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the rolls for 12-20 minutes or until just golden brown and baked through. (Baking time will depend upon the size of the formed rolls.)

Delicious served warm with butter~ and even good split and toasted a day or two later.

* If oat bran is difficult for you to find, you can just whir some old-fashioned rolled oats in a blender or food processor (until slightly chopped, leaving some texture. Don't over blend to a powder)  as a substitute.

I hope you enjoy!

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Spinach Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Bacon, Walnuts and Maple Vinaigrette

Spinach with Roasted Butternut Squash, Bacon, Walnuts
and Maple Vinaigrette
As Shared from the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Notes: You can adjust the amount of ingredients according to your preference. I just eyeball the amounts. Increase the amount of dressing as needed, it keeps well, refrigerated, for a week or two. The salad is wonderful served while the squash and dressing are still warm, but it is perfectly fine at room temperature, too. Add dressing just before serving.

Ingredients for the Salad

Fresh, washed baby spinach leaves, stems removed. (Preferably organic spinach)
Butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes/dice (about 3/4-inch)
Slices of bacon, sliced crosswise into thin strips and fried until just crisp, drained
Handful of walnut pieces or halves, toasted
Olive Oil
Kosher or Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400*(F), with rack in center of oven

Place diced butternut squash on rimmed baking sheet, toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil to coat, then sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast in hot oven turning pieces once or twice until just tender but not mushy. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Arrange spinach leaves on platter or individual plates, sprinkle with roasted butternut squash, crispy bacon and walnut pieces.

Drizzle with Maple Vinaigrette, and offer additional freshly ground black pepper when serving.

Makes about 1/2 cup dressing

1/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup (no substitutes)
1/4 cup Sherry Vinegar (or Apple Cider Vinegar)*
1/2 cup Olive or Grapeseed oil (I use less; adjust to your own taste)
1/4 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place Maple syrup in a small pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and allow syrup to reduce by about half.

In a small bowl, whisk together the reduced maple syrup with the vinegar, whisk in the Dijon mustard, then whisk in the oil until mixture is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Don't be stingy with the salt.

Alternately, shake ingredients in a small jar with a tight fitting lid, in the order indicated above. Or, blend in a small food processor or blender.

*Note Apple Cider Vinegar is generally stronger, so adjust amount accordingly.


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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Not Quite Brandade Cakes (Salmon)

Not Quite Brandade Cakes (Salmon Cakes) with Caramelized Tomatoes, Peppers and Garlic
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Recipe as shown here makes 20 small cakes
Note: I quartered the following recipe
, exact measurements are not necessary just try to keep the ratio of fish to potatoes at about 50/50, then season as you wish.
Brandade is a French dish using dried cod, reconstituted then pounded and seasoned, with cream or milk added. These cakes are loosely based on that method of preparing fish, except I used freshly poached salmon, then shaped portions into cakes and coated with coarse Panko crumbs and sauteed until deeply browned and crispy.

For the caramelized tomatoes and peppers:
4 sweet (Bell) peppers, assorted colors
1 big handfuls cherry or tiny pear tomatoes
1 head of garlic, separated, cloves peeled and sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salmon cakes:
1 and 1/4 pounds salmon (I use boneless, skinless filets for this recipe)
2 large potatoes such as Russets/Bakers (to equal the weight of fish you use),
peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
For the cooking water:
5 or 6 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 bay leaf
sprig fresh thyme
a few sprigs fresh parsley
For the cake mixture:
1/4 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon espelette pepper or hot paprika
Nice handful of chopped, fresh parsley leaves
Nice handful of snipped fresh chives
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Grape seed or Peanut Oil, for frying
Flour or Panko (Japanese) to bread crumbs to coat cakes

For the Peppers
Preheat oven to 300* (F)
Seed pepper and cut into thin strips, toss with the tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper and arrange on a rimmed baking pan. Drizzle the olive oil over all, tossing vegetables with your hands to coat.
Bake until as caramelized as you like, 30 to 90 minutes. Turning once or twice.

For the cakes
Place the potatoes, bay leaf, thyme sprig and parsley in a pot and add cold water to cover by about 1-inch. Cover pot and bring to a boil, poach until the potatoes are just barely tender (about 10 to 15 minutes), then add salmon filet pieces and continue poaching until fish flakes easily.
Drain liquid and discard herbs. Separate potatoes from the fish. In a bowl mash potatoes with the cream. In a separate bowl finely flake the salmon. Combine the potatoes with the salmon and stir in the espelette pepper, chopped parsley and chives. Taste for seasonings, add salt and pepper and more hot pepper if desired.

To fry the cakes:
Pour a generous inch of cooking oil into a frying pan/skillet and heat until sizzling. Form the salmon-potato mixture into 20 small cakes. Just before frying dip them into a shallow dish of flour or Panko crumbs, pressing lightly to coat. Fry each cake on both sides until very brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels or brown paper to rid of excess oil.

To plate:
Arrange cakes on warm plates and top with a bit of the caramelized tomato-pepper mixture and enjoy!

Recipe very loosely adapted from Laura Caulder

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