Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Savory Ham & Cheese Dutch Baby

Weekends are for brunch! Whether you hit a downtown hot spot with a kickass bloody mary bar (I'm looking at YOU, Meat & Potatoes!) or stay in your pj's and keep it casual at home, brunch should be a hell of a lot more special than your typical weekday green smoothie, bowl of cereal or a protein bar. Weekend brunch is a time to celebrate making it through the week!

The luxury of time is the key ingredient in any brunch recipe. Homemade brunch goodies (including a home version of a damned good Bloody Mary, Mimosa or even a cool weather Irish Coffee, of course) are best made at your leisure while reading the morning newspaper, sipping a hot cup of coffee, and discussing the previous evening's escapades with a friend, spouse or even (depending of the level of hijinks) co-conspirator. 

So put your feet up on the coffee table, turn on CBS Sunday Morning, sharpen your pencil to tackle the crossword puzzle, all while enjoying a relaxing and special brunch that tastes just like you got up, got dressed, got out and fought the crowd at the Bloody Mary Bar. Your new fave brunch may just be the one you make at your pj's.

Savory Ham & Cheese Dutch Baby - for 2

Preheat oven to 375 degrees before starting batter and filling.

When your oven comes up to temp, put a dry cast iron skillet into the oven to heat while you make the pancake batter and filling.

(This recipe uses a 7-8" cast iron skillet for a 2-serving recipe. To serve 4, double the recipe and use a 9-10" cast iron skillet. Increase the baking time by at least 10 minutes - check frequently.)


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C all pupose flour  (I use gluten free flour (Jules or Tom Sawyer) to make this GF)
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 T honey (I used Bee's Knees Hot Honey for just a little kick)
  • 2 T butter - for the cast iron skillet

Put all the above (except the butter - that's for the cast iron skillet) into the bowl of your electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment (if you have one) beat for 5 full minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Set aside.

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 C half & half
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/4 C diced ham - and a little extra for the top
  • 1/4 C diced smoked gouda (or other cheese of choice)
  • 2 T finely diced onion that's been sauteed in a bit of butter until soft

Prepare the onions and let cool.

In a small bowl, beat the egg, half & half, and seasonings together until well combined. Add the ham, cheese and onions - mix well. Set aside.

Open the oven and put the 2 T of butter into the hot cast iron skillet. Close the oven and wait for the butter to melt. Carefully swirl the butter to completely coat the bottom of the skillet. 

Pour the batter into the skillet and bake approximately 20 minutes or until set and fully cooked. Remove from oven and let cool 2-3 minutes. 

Pour the filling mixture into the center of the Dutch Baby, top with a little extra diced ham, and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes until set. Remove, cut and serve.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pickled & Dirty Tomato Martini

A page from the September 2015 Food Network Magazine that's been sitting in a pile of similar ripped pages, from various sources, has kept being moved to the top of the pile for a while now. For some reason, who knows why, the urge to make them (finally) was so strong it sent me out the door for dill and tomatoes. (And later again for the coriander seeds I was sure were in the cabinet, but were not. (I'm sure they'll appear when I don't need them.)

The pretty tomatoes were tart, tangy, sweet, salty, garlicky, dilly - with just a bit of heat. SO good were they, even the pickling brine was delicious enough to drink. So why not make a pickle martini? I did. Thus, the Pickled & Dirty Tomato Martini graced my glass. (Pickled & dirty...I know there's a wry comment out there somewhere!)

I made a few small changes to the Food Network Magazine recipe - mainly more spices and garlic. Next time I'll try adding jalapeno or serrano peppers for even more heat. One of the benefits of cherry and grape tomatoes is that there are always tasty and colorful baskets of these lovlies year 'round. You (and I) can make them anytime!

Pickled & Dirty Tomato Martini

  • 2 1/2 oz. Uncle Val's Peppered Gin (or gin of your choice)
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin Blanc vermouth
  • 1/2-3/4 oz. pickled tomato brine (pickled tomato recipe below)
  • ice


  • pickled cherry and/or grape tomatoes - recipe below (I like the multicolored ones)
  • fresh dill sprig

In a shaker tin (yes, I commit the sin of enjoying a shaken martini), add the gin, vermouth and pickled tomato brine. Add ice halfway up tin, cap and shake until tin is frosted. Strain into a chilled martini glass,  add a spear of pickled tomatoes, slap the fresh dill sprig to release the fragrance and garnish. Mmmmmmm....pickle-y.......

My own Quick Pickled Tomatoes

Quick Pickled Tomatoes
(adapted from the September 2015 Food Network Magazine)

  • 1 pound cherry and/or grape tomatoes - I like lots of colors and sizes for a pretty jar full of pickled tomatoes
  • 1 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1 C water
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 T Kosher salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 1/2 t coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 t mustard seeds
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 t black peppercorns
  • 3/4 t pink peppercorns
  • 3/4 t green peppercorns
  • 3/4 C fresh dill

Have a clean 1 quart canning jar ready.

Bring vinegar and water to a boil. Add sugar, Kosher salt, coriander, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, and the various peppercorns. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool while you proceed.

Put a couple of dill sprigs into the bottom of the quart jar, add a layer of tomatoes and a smashed clove of garlic. Repeat the layers until the jar is nearly filled. Pour the warm liquid into the jar, cap and allow to cool completely on the counter. Refrigerate. The tomatoes will be ready to serve the next day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Smoked Garlic Fettucine Alfredo

Fettucine is a simple dish perfectly suited to being a quick and easy dinner. Don't have smoked garlic on hand? Use roasted garlic instead. Smoked or roasted, the garlic flavor in this easy dish is mellowed out and lush. Don't like garlic? Leave it out. No biggie.

Whether you smoke or roast your garlic, the prep is the same. Taking a whole head of garlic, cut the very top off the head, just exposing the meat of the garlic cloves. Wrap the bottom of the head with foil, leaving the cut surface exposed. Drizzle olive oil over the surface and either pop into the smoker along with whatever else you're smoking that day or into the oven with whatever you're roasting that day. Simple!

Now about that fettucine. I didn't use the traditional fettucine noodle because I didn't have the gluten-free version on hand. Just about any good noodle or pasta shape works well. Come on, it's the rich and creamy, cheesy and buttery sauce that's the star of this show. Along with smoked garlic, of course!

Smoked Garlic Fettucine Alfredo

  • 1 pound fettucini noodles or other pasta - I used penne (gluten-free, of course) - cooked al dente and drained
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1 head smoked (or roasted) garlic (see method below)
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 C freshly grated parmesan - use the GOOD stuff!

Squeeze the soft smoked (or roasted) garlic from the head of garlic into a small bowl. Add the salt and pepper and use a fork to mash it all into a paste. Set aside.

In a saucepan, warm butter and cream together over low heat until the butter is melted. Add the garlic paste and whisk until combined. Let simmer gently while you cook the pasta.

When the pasta is done, drain well and pour it into a large bowl. Add half the parmesan, the sauce, and gently toss. Add the rest of the cheese and toss gently again.

Serve by itself with a green salad or topped with grilled chicken and portobello mushrooms.

Smoked or roasted garlic: Slice the top of a head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Wrap the bottom with foil, drizzle with olive oil. 

Smoke at 225 degrees (in your smoker) along with whatever else you're smoking at the time. I regularly smoke several meats, onions, tomatoes, garlic and other veggies for later use. I make the most of firing up the smoker! And I do several heads of garlic at a time. Wrap the heads in foil completely when done. Stores in the fridge for a week or so. Or you can separate the cloves and freeze in a small freezer bag.


In the oven, roast at 400 degrees about 20-30 minutes or until the center is soft. Wrap completely in foil until ready to use. Stores in the fridge for a week or so. Or you can separate the cloves and freeze in a small freezer bag.