Archive | December, 2009

Mulled Apple Cider

15 Dec

Mulled cider 009

I love unpasteurized, unfiltered apple cider.  There is a great apple orchard/stand in Utah where we used to buy it, but unfortunately we haven’t found anything like that where we live now.  We managed to get some decent cider at Trader Joe’s and used this recipe to help ring in the holidays.  It was the best mulled cider I’ve had yet!

Mulled Apple Cider with Orange and Ginger

  • 8 cups unpasteurized apple cider
  • A 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and sliced crosswise
  • A 2-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, cut into 6 slices

In a large saucepan combine the cider, the cinnamon stick, the cloves, the orange and the ginger and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a heat-proof pitcher and serve the mulled cider warm.

Source:  Gourmet, Oct. 1991


Sour Cream Pound Cake

13 Dec

Sour cream pound cake (2)edit

 This cake is great topped with berries, lemon curd, whipped cream, or a combination of the three.  I even love it plain.  The recipe fills a 10-inch bundt pan, but you could easily halve it and use a loaf pan.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces and place in bowl of standing mixer; let stand at room temperature 20 to 30 minutes to soften slightly. Using dinner fork, beat eggs, sour cream, and vanilla in liquid measuring cup until combined. Let egg mixture stand at room temperature until ready to use.
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter a 10-inch bundt pan; dust pan liberally with flour and knock out excess.
  3. Sift flour and baking soda together in small bowl.
  4. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter and salt at medium-high speed (Kitchen Aid mixer: #4) until shiny, smooth, and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, gradually pour in sugar (this should take about 60 seconds). Once all sugar is added, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is fluffy and almost white in color, 5 to 8 minutes, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once. With mixer running at medium speed, gradually add egg mixture in slow, steady stream; this should take 60 to 90 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl; beat mixture at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes (mixture may look slightly broken). Remove bowl from mixer; scrape bottom and sides.
  5. In 3 additions, sift flour mixture over butter/egg mixture; after each addition, fold gently with rubber spatula until combined.
  6. Transfer batter to prepared bundt pan and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until golden brown and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 60 to 700 minutes (internal temperature: 212 F). Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes; invert cake onto wire rack, then turn cake right side up. Cool cake on rack to room temperature. Slice and serve.

16 large or 24 medium servings

Make ahead: Once cake completely cooled, wrap in cling wrap, then heavy foil.  Freeze.  To thaw, place wrapped cake at room temperature 10 hours before needed.

Source: adapted from Paula’s Home Cooking and Cooks Illustrated

Lemon Curd

12 Dec

Lemon curd (1) edit

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes.  Not only is it delectable, it’s one of the simplest ways I’ve found to make lemon curd.  I use it to top pound cake, toast, English muffins, pancakes, waffles, yogurt….the possibilities are endless.

Plain yogurt w/ lemon curd and berries

Lemon Curd

  • 3 lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.

Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10-15 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

Yield: about 3 cups

Source: The Barefoot Contessa by Ina Garten

Cranberry Relish

7 Dec

My sister-in-law introduced me to this new take on the classic cranberry sauce.  It’s now a staple at our holiday meals.

1 bag (12 oz) cranberries
Juice of one orange
1 cup sugar

Simply blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until finely chopped.

Candied Yams

7 Dec

This is a family recipe I grew up having at Thanksgiving or Christmas, and sometimes both.  The medallions of sweet potatoes turn out sweet and a little chewy on the edges, hence the reference to candy.  The recipe name is a misnomer, because sweet potatoes are always used (yes, yams and sweet potatoes are two different things), but who cares what it’s called if it’s good, right?

Candied Yams

6 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup orange juice, from concentrate
chopped pecans, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.*  Place whole sweet potatoes directly on oven rack and roast until cooked in the center.  Set them aside to cool.  When potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them into about 1/2 inch rounds and place on a sheet pan or large baking dish in a single layer.

2. Combine butter, brown sugar, and orange juice and pour over potatoes.  Top with pecans, if desired.

3. Reduce on to 250 degrees F.  Bake potatoes for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until the sauce has caramelized, and the potatoes are beginning to crack around the edges.


After completing step 2, potatoes can be refrigerated for 1 or 2 days before baking.

*If you prefer, sweet potatoes can be boiled with skins on until cooked through instead.

Pre-cooked Chicken

7 Dec

Many casseroles, chicken salads, and pasta dishes call for cooked, shredded chicken.  These are my two favorite ways to pre-cook chicken:

Method #1: Roasting (my personal favorite)

Preheat you oven to 350 degrees F.  Place 4 to 6 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on) skin side up on a sheet pan.  Rub chicken with olive oil.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Set aside until cool enough to shred, chop, or whatever your heart’s desire.

Method #2: Boiling

In the case you only have boneless, skinless breasts on hand, boiling is the way to go.  In the past I never seemed to take them out before they overcooked, but this method helps ensure they’re nice and juicy.

Bring 1 part chicken broth and 2 parts water to a simmer in a pot.  Add chicken and simmer for 6 minutes, uncovered.  Remove from heat and cover pot.  Let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate and cool 10 minutes.

Note: You can freeze your precooked, shredded chicken for about 3 to 4 weeks, which is a huge timesaver.  A few mintues in the microwave on the defrost setting, and you’re good to go.

Sweet Mango Lassi (Aam Lassi)

7 Dec

A lassi (LOSS-ee) is basically an Indian yogurt smoothie.  Consequently, it’s my favorite treat to have along side Chicken Tikka Masala.  Don’t skimp on the  fat — the whole milk makes the shake.  You can make this ahead and whip it again just before serving.

Sweet Mango Lassi

2 cups whole-milk yogurt
1 cup frozen mango, cubed*
1/2 cup sugar

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and frothy.  Serve in tall  glasses.  (You can make this up to 3 days ahead, just whip it again right before serving.)

Source: adapted from Julie Sahni’s recipe on