Month: May 2014

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Pear and Cheese Tart

Memorial Day was last weekend here in the USA, it always conjures up images of beaches, boats and barbeques.  Besides looking forward to a nice long holiday weekend, we also remembered  the men and women who sacrificed their lives.  I saw a post just recently with the words “Home of the free, because of the brave”!  How very true!

We got invited to a barbecue, and when I asked the hostess what I could bring to add to the menu, she said “I think we’re ok, but just because it’s you, I’d ask you to please bring something”.  Now I wasn’t quite sure how to take that, was it a compliment I wondered? :).  It’s fairly known around these parts that I enjoy cooking, and that I love cooking for others even more.  I decided to bring my infamous Pear and Cheese Tart – hardly barbecue worthy, but what the heck I thought!  It’s a recipe passed on by cousins Joe & Noreen, and it has forever had rave reviews.

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Assembling the ingredients – a yellow and green pear? I sent my husband out to bring either 2 yellow or 2 green pears. Is he color blind?

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Now for the base ingredients – In a cake mixer, add 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup all purpose flour, blend all ingredients.

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Add to a 10″ or 11″ tart pan with a removable bottom. Make sure you get it up the sides of the tart pan for the ripple effect.

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Now cream the filling in the mixer – 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg. Use spatula to smoothen the filling over the base.

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Thinly slice about 2 pears and add this over the filling in a concentric circle.

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I guess the yellow and green doesn’t look so bad after all – I’ll forgive my husband this time :)

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Last, but not least top with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional).

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake an additional 20 minutes or until edge of cheese mixture is a golden brown.

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VOILA!! Would you care for a slice?… and you can’t tell the yellow/green when it’s all said and done. :D

……And now, I’m bringing the Pear and Cheese Tart to Angie’s Fiesta Friday gathering, it’s a real treat to meet all these wonderful folks who share the same passion.  I’d like to thank the co-hosts too for taking on this brave venture. http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/going-vegetarian-for-fiesta-friday-18/

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Africa Revisited

COME ENJOY THIS JOURNEY WITH ME AS WE EMBARK ON A SAFARI IN KENYA….I wrote this journal about 9 years ago when I re-visited Kenya.  Warning:  It is rather lengthy, but I do hope you will enjoy the spectacular scenery, the wildlife and the warm, wonderful people of Kenya.  The journal is basically based on a wish that I had when I left that dark continent in 1970.  Returning to Kenya 35 years later was truly nostalgic, experiencing a safari and  stepping on that red earth again definitely fulfilled that yearning.  Click on each page, then on the link at the bottom of the page to view the full page,  then on the magnifying glass which pops up to make it as large as you wish.

I’d like to dedicate this blog entry to Selma Jeevanjee.  Selma and I share some commonalities, in that we both grew up in Kenya, but also lived in Canada and England.  Selma now calls London, England her home.  She has an amazing blog, called Selma’s Table.  I met her on WordPress, and she has not only inspired me to write and join various groups, she showed me the ropes and helped me navigate the site.  Thanks Selma, you truly have ignited that spark within me, I had always wanted to write a blog, but was afraid to get it launched.

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An Indian feast with a Spanish twist!

I don’t usually have friends around on weekdays as it gets hectic with work and other gardening chores at this time of year, but isn’t it marvelous when one can just plan an impromptu event and invite a bunch of friends over on a weekday, and  another spontaneous friend walks in with a bottle of wine and wham, boom, bang, we have a party?  It was a wonderful evening of food, friends and laughter, with a subtle aroma of spiciness emanating through the house.  Since the majority of the girlfriends attending were vegetarian and love Indian nosh, that was the menu of choice.  Now Indian cuisine has got to be my favorite, although I cook various types of ethnic dishes, but it is intensely time consuming.  If I happen to be serving Indian cuisine, I usually start planning the dishes and cooking at least 2-3 days in advance.  Curries actually taste a whole lot better if cooked and steeped in those flavorful spices over a day or two.   So here are some of the dishes I cooked for a “weekday girls’ night IN.”

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Setting the table

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My favorite serving dish

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Getting the wine glasses out

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Oddly enough, some of the wine glasses match the serving dishes

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Cauliflower and roasted green peppers doused in olive oil with sizzling cumin, coriander, lime juice, tumeric and mango powder

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Curried chickpeas sauteed in ginger, garlic, onions, garam masala, cumin, coriander, sweet paprika, chilli powder and yellow mustard seeds, with a splash of coconut cream.

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Pulao, or rice pilaf cooked in a seasoned broth with whole cardamom, whole cinnamon, whole cloves, ginger, garlic and topped with sauteed rasins, almonds and fresh cilantro.

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Salmon curry and roti (Indian flatbread).

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Caramel flan

And now for the Spanish twist.  What better way to end a spicy, flavorful meal, but with this decadent, and oh so simple Caramel Flan. There aren’t many ingredients, and when one is slaving over a hot stove for the better part of the day, this is a quick, effortless, dessert to culminate this girls’ evening “IN”.

Since it is also Fiesta Friday time at Amazing Angie’s, I’m bringing the Caramel flan.  http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/fiesta-friday-16/

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 3/4 cup water

1 (14oz) can Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed Milk (not evaporated milk)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350deg.  In heavy skillet or pan, over medium heat, cook sugar, stirring constantly until melted and caramel-colored.  Pour into ungreased 9 inch round layer cake pan, tilting to coat bottom completely.  In medium mixing bowl, beat eggs, stir in water, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt.  Pour into caramelized pan; set in larger pan.  Fill larger pan with 1 inch hot water.  Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool.  Chill thoroughly.  Loosen side of flan with knife; invert onto serving plate with rim.  Garnish as desired.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Almond Shortbread cookies with raspberry jam centers for Fiesta Friday #15

Hi FF friends,

This is my first attempt at blogging on Fiesta Friday – thanks to Selma who very kindly invited me to partake.  I’ve just started blogging, so I hope you will forgive any issues that may arise as a first time blogger; I am learning slowly but surely and hope to join in more frequently.  I’ve seen so many amazing food blogs on WordPress and am excited at the thought of getting to know you all individually.

Thanks and recognition for this recipe goes to a dear friend Susan D. for actually inviting me over to bake these cookies with her a few years ago.  I’ve made these a few times over and tend to make them on special occasions.  The stars looks pretty festive and striking especially around Christmas with the red jam peeking and oozing through the cut-outs. They are positively melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious!  There aren’t too many ingredients, and it is basically a shortbread recipe,  but I warn you, it is labor-intensive.

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I used both star and round cut-outs. The house smells just heavenly when these are baking. With the little star and round remnants, I sandwich these together with a little jam for miniature cookies.

…..And here folks is the finished product – it was my first attempt at making these little beauties, so they were a bit well-done. I lower the temperature a tad now, and they turn out just perfect! Can you find the miniature stars in the galaxy? :) And now for the recipe and my first Fiesta Friday entry.

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http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/fiesta-friday-15/Ingredients:

Ingredients:

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 cup butter, unsalted (2 sticks) brought to room temperature

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup ground blanched almonds

2 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour

seedless raspberry jam or any jam of your choice

Method:

In a mixer, sift sugar, add to butter gradually and cream.  Add vanilla and ground almonds.  Knead flour by hand or wooden spatula until mixed (this part is probably the toughest and messiest). Chill dough and roll it to thickness of 1/8″.  Cut into shapes (I used a star cut out and a round cut out, using the round as the base and the star as the top).  Bake on cookie sheet with parchment paper in a pre-heated oven @ 350 deg for about 15 minutes (check to make sure as oven times vary). Cool on rack.  Spread a layer of raspberry seedless jam on bottom and sandwich another cookie on top.  Dust with more confectioners sugar.  It is particularly striking to make a hole of any kind on top of the cookie to have the jam show through. Mine were stars as I usually bake these around the holidays.