What I’m Reading and What We’re Eating: Super Supper Book Club Menu

What I’m Reading and What We’re Eating: Super Supper Book Club Menu

I chose a veggie-forward menu for this Super Supper Book Club, Social-Distance Edition. Safely supp over a good read and prepare for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal!  Click to skip to the recipe

 

In the months before COVID, we started posting a once a month book club guide for you to follow with your group. 

I stopped posting because we couldn’t gather.

But, in today’s environment, with some of the restrictions eased and our ability to safely gather in a socially distance approved way, I thought I would bring it back! My book club has gathered over the summer and we will convene again this week.

For those of you who are still staying home, you might consider starting a virtual book club.

A few of my besties did this over the summer as well, and we found that we gathered (virtually) more often than our in-person club.

I have included the full supper club menu here, but if you wish, just a sampling of one or two dishes works just as well.

Either way, if you are looking for a good read to share with friends (or just on your own), this one’s for you!

 

“The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewel

As I read, I had the same feelings that I had when I read The Goldfinch. The abuse of children is never an easy subject.

However, I loved this read because of the development of the characters from childhood to adulthood, the paths their lives eventually take, and The Baby that brings them together.

There are several twists and turns, many of which I didn’t see coming (which to me is the measure of a good suspense novel).

This is my next pick for our Super Supper Book Club.

Gather your readers, give them the title, and dole out the recipes for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal.

There are three stories woven into the narrative. On Libby’s 25th birthday, she finds out she’s inherited a Chelsea mansion that’s been held in trust.

She soon discovers the house has a dark history based on scant decades-old news coverage. Lucy is living hand-to-mouth in France when her phone reminds her that The Baby is 25.

Without the means or identity, she must resort to some pretty desperate acts in order to get back to England after 24 years. Henry knows everything that happened in the house in the last several years when his family lived there.

He knew why there were so many extra people living there, what happened to the once-opulent residence and its contents, and how and why people were found dead in black robes on the kitchen floor.

I already cooked up some questions for your Super Supper Book Club gathering…

  • Do you think Henry’s lies and violent acts were born out of his need to survive an unimaginable situation, or do you think there is, as Clemency states, “a streak of pure evil” in him?
  • In your opinion, who is the most tragic figure in this novel? 
  • What do you imagine happens to the characters after the book ends?

I chose a veggie-forward menu for this Super Supper Book Club. In contrast to the spartan food the children were given while they lived at 16 Cheyne Walk, this menu celebrates the abundance of the garden with dishes woven into a delicious menu that all your members will enjoy.

Super Supper Book Club Menu

“The Family Upstairs”

 


Fresh Corn, Green Bean and Arugula Salad with Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette •
Canvas and Cuisine,  page 150

Cauliflower Risotto with Cinnamon-Roasted Butternut Squash • Canvas and Cuisine, page 36

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pancetta and Toasted Breadcrumbs (Recipe below) Canvas and Cuisine, page 96

Fresh Fish of the Day in Puttanesca Sauce • Canvas and Cuisine, page 262

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Thyme • Canvas and Cuisine, page 341

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
With Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pancetta & Toasted Breadcrumbs

Best Stuffed Portabello Recipe

Spending quality time in the Farmer’s market naturally leads to veggie-forward main meals. This is one of these. There’s nothing better than meaty mushrooms, with a tangy, crunchy filling! You can serve these mushrooms as a first course, or as a late-night snack. Or you can stuff smaller mushrooms and serve these to your book club! The flavors are fantastic – everyone is a mushroom lover after tasting this dish!

Ingredients

1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 2 more for sauce

1 (3.5-ounce) julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained but save 2 tablespoons of the oil 

4 ounces pancetta, finely diced

4 large garlic cloves, minced, about 2 tablespoons

¼ cup Marsala wine

Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

8 Portobello mushrooms, stem and gills removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

Yields: Serves 4 for a Veggie Main or 8 as an Appy

Time:   30 Minutes

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix the breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons of melted butter in a small bowl. Spread the crumbs onto a baking sheet. Toast the buttered crumbs until they begin to crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes into a skillet over medium-high heat. And the pancetta and cook until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta to a platter lined with paper towels. 

Add the sun-dried tomatoes to the skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and simmer until most of the wine has disappeared, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the lemon juice. Season with some of the salt and crushed red pepper. Turn off the heat and swirl in 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the parsley.

Heat a grill pan on high heat. Brush the mushrooms with olive oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the mushrooms, turning once, until they are just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the mushrooms to a platter. Spoon the sun-dried tomatoes into the mushroom caps. Top with pancetta and toasted breadcrumbs.

How to Turn These Guys into Perfect Scrambled Eggs

How to Turn These Guys into Perfect Scrambled Eggs

The egg is a perfect food, full of protein and loaded with nutrients. It contains zero sugars, no carbs, and they’re cheap! You can build an entire meal plan around an egg, a super food offering 6 to 8 grams of protein at only 70 calories per yummy oval.

To make perfect scrambled eggs…

Break two eggs into a bowl. Use a fork to break the yolks and stir together with the whites. Beaten eggs will be pale yellow (You don’t want to see any of the yolk or whites). Now, melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over low heat. When the butter is melted and foamy, pour in the eggs.

Use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently stir the eggs, creating small curds. This will take a while, about 3 to 5 minutes. You want soft, silky eggs. While you are stirring, you can season with salt and pepper.

If you like your scrambled eggs cooked more well done… just cook them longer! Now that you have perfect scrambled eggs, what can we do with them?

Well, I happen to enjoy creamy French style eggs, garnished with chopped tomatoes and chives. This oldie but goodie recipe was adapted from two recipes in my lifestyle cookbook Gorgeous: The Sum of All Your Glorious Parts.

It’s an incredibly versatile dish. If you don’t have chives, no worries! Use chopped bacon or any veggies you have on hand for a scrumptious veggie scramble. I love to wake up in the morning and say “Bonjour” to this style of eggs because I love the toast part, and creaminess the sour cream and butter lend the taste.

Bon appetite my friends! And don’t forget that in these chaotic times, eggs can be hard boiled, fried, beaten and added as luscious curds in soup, made into soufflés, or added to a malted egg cream dessert. Just save a few for Easter, when we’ll likely still be hunkered down.

Life can still be EGGScellent!

Creamy French-Style Eggs

Garnished with Chopped Tomatoes and Chives

serves 2

20 minute cuisine

 

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons heavy cream

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon sour cream

2 slices Your choice) bread, toasted

1 medium plum tomato, seeded and diced (about 2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork. You want a pale, frothy mixture. Stir in the cream. Season them with some of the salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a pan over medium-low heat until melted and frothy. Pour the eggs into the pan and stir. I like a wooden spoon for this. Continue stirring until soft curds form. Transfer the eggs to the toast slices. Garnish with chopped tomato and chives.

Overboard Tip:

For another topper, consider topping these eggs with a bit of caviar, or perhaps some capers. Instead of tomatoes, try peppered strawberries for garnish. Cut the stem from the strawberry and cut it in half. Dip the cut side into course pepper. It’s yummy!

 

 

 

 

 

“Best Cinnamon Rolls” for Living Your Best Life

“Best Cinnamon Rolls” for Living Your Best Life

While the world can be rough, there is always something to be grateful for, take comfort in and feel good about. 2020 is moving right along. The groundhog predicted an early spring, and colorful Mardi Gras parades are planned as we usher in a new season of Lent.

I tell you what this Catholic will not be giving up: cinnamon rolls! The last Jorj.com recipe this February, a leap year, is one of the oldest one’s in my repertoire. I actually make them so routinely, I didn’t have to dig far into my archives to share these cinnamon-ny, heavenly wonders with you.

Best Cinnamon rolls are from At Home in the Kitchen and seemed fitting as I explore a food trend of living in the moment. In Denmark and Norway, they call taking pleasure in the simple things, Hygge.

Pronounced “Hue-Gah”, it’s the Danish ritual of graciousness, of enjoying and appreciating life’s simplest pleasures, family and friends.

Where, I live hygge is just something I’ve done my entire life: Appreciating a warm blanket and good book to read on a gloomy day, wild flowers that grabbed my attention on a long walk home, and wound up in a vase in my kitchen, cozy meals shared with my hubby, children and grandchildren….

These are hygge moments; these are my moments, and my loved one’s moments when we’re all together, or enjoying our solitude apart.

Certainly, the world presents its challenges, but great food, friends, art and music are always around to lift our spirits.

BUT BACK TO THESE CINNAMON ROLLS! While they take a little bit of time, I assure you they are WORTH IT! I did some checking, and saw that you can order a loved one a hygge box of candles, scents, chocolates and warm socks, but I think you’d be doing that friend a bigger favor buying them a stand mixer with a trusty dough hook.

They will never tire of baking and breaking bread. One of life’s simplest pleasures is of fresh baking bread, after all….and these melted cinnamon and brown sugar treats, just begging to be glazed, ratchet up the hygge factor a million degrees!

Enjoy them with a hot cuppa and my latest pick for Super Supper Book Club!

Best Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12 to 14 rolls

45 minute cuisine, plus rising and baking time

For the rolls

1 cup whole milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

3 large eggs

1/3 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoons yeast

For the filling

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), chilled, cut into small pieces

For brushing over rolls

1 tablespoon half and half

For the glaze

1 ¼ cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 to 2 tablespoons half and half

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the milk, sugar, softened butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix (in a stand mixer or by hand) until smooth.

Add the yeast. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for up to 10 minutes. Place in bowl coated with vegetable oil spray, cover and let double in size for 40 minutes to 1 hour.

Roll out the dough to a 10 X 14 inch rectangle.

Place the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse briefly until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Spread the filling over the dough. Roll up jelly roll style, starting at the narrow end. Pinch the open ends underneath the roll.

Slice the roll into 1-inch pieces. Arrange the slices, cut side up, into a 13 X 9 X 2 inch baking dish, coated in vegetable oil spray.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and allow to rise for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.

Brush the rolls with half and half. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. If the rolls brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil. Brush the rolls again with half and half after they are removed from the oven.

Make a glaze for the rolls by combining the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and half and half in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the top and serve warm.

 

Sweet Traditions in the Making

Sweet Traditions in the Making

This was so going to be a post about Thanksgiving side dishes…. And then… I had the blessing of having both granddaughters join me on what happened to be National Bread Day this Sunday.

Mallory, 13 and Bookie, 2 have a huge age difference between them, but share a common love for me – reminds me of Sally Field in Soapdish and that line, “they really, really love me!…”

Here’s how making our precious memories together went down. I was looking for something to write about for Monday’s blog, and Mallory inspired me by her quest to bake something. She was looking for edible cookie dough or at the very least, a chocolate cookie skillet.

But Jorj.com just posted a bunch of cookie stuff….soooo, we decided on baking bread instead. Thanks to just placing an order with Carolina Ground, and having a lot of flour on hand, we had an absolute blast.

We baked my recipe, A Tale of Two Loves from Canvas and Cuisine and swirled the bread with a layer of my last jar of highly coveted apple butter.

Totally worth it!

Sweet Mallory spent hours with Brooke in between dough rises, and sweet Brooke abandoned her nap to rise to the grown-girl challenge. Does it get any better than this? I’m not sure. Coming into Thanksgiving, this is what I give thanks for. And I hope you cherish your family moments too.

Oh, and P.S. When you bake this bread, feel free to add a tablespoon of your favorite spice mix to the flour, like apple pie spice, gingerbread spice, or pumpkin pie spice!

A Tale of Two Loaves

makes 2 yummy loaves

20 minute cuisine, plus 2 hours to rise and 30 minutes to bake

2 cups milk, warmed on the stove top

1 large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon natural cane sugar

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast, 1 package

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 ½ cups white or whole-wheat bread flour

2 ½ to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Stir the beaten egg into the warm milk. Stir in the sugars. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and stir.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

Place the melted butter, salt and whole-wheat flour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour in the wet ingredients. Stir, on slow to medium speed, until the flour and milk are combined. Add the all-purpose flour, about ½ cup at a time gradually increasing the speed of the mixer to form a soft, wet dough. This process will take you about 5 minutes. Once the dough wraps around the hook, continue mixing until you have a smooth, shiny ball of dough wrapped around the dough hook, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been coated with vegetable oil spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for 1 ½ hours to rise. I use my warming drawer set on the proof setting for this.

Coat 2 (8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½-inch) loaf pans with vegetable oil. THIS IS IMPORTANT! If the pans are larger, your dough may not rise. If your pans are smaller, the dough may not cook properly.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Punch the dough down and shape into two round loaves. Place each loaf into a pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 30 to 45 minutes. If you are adding mix-ins into your loaf, now is the time. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board. Fold in your favorite items. (Mine is a brushing of melted butter with cinnamon and brown sugar.) Shape the dough into a loaf and continue with the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the bread until the tops are golden and the bread sounds hollow when you tap it, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks.

 

Book Signing Party Food: You’ll Want This Stuffed Mushroom Recipe

Book Signing Party Food: You’ll Want This Stuffed Mushroom Recipe

Sue and I are excited to introduce our new book, Canvas and Cuisine: The Art of the Fresh Market. We will be holding a series of open houses, showcasing yummy food from our labor of love. We are calling these soirees, “A Taste of the Fresh Market”. We’ll have books to read and Sue’s original art work to take your breath away, plus a sip or two of a late afternoon libation. Most importantly, we will have samples (recipes from the book!) on offer in mini bite-size portions.

I learned a lot converting some of the bigger dishes in Canvas & Cuisine to party appetizers! In redesigning some of my recipes, I ended up producing classic standbys that I – a self-described EXTREME party planner – haven’t tasted in a while. What FUN!

One of the most popular dishes in the book (according to my recipe testers) is Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pancetta and Toasted Breadcrumbs. This dish proved to be a great example of what you can do with a recipe. You can make it your own.

I created the dish as a mostly veggie entrée, featuring meaty grilled mushrooms with a buttery wine sauce over the top. Through my recipe testers, it evolved into a spicy stuffed mushroom, with a crunchy topping of crisp ham and breadcrumbs.

This is one of those dishes a dinner host can easily convert from a first course or veggie main to a simple, satisfying appetizer. By stuffing smaller mushrooms with just a bit of the sun-dried sauce, and sprinkling the toasted topping over the top, they become bite sized delicious versions of the original dish.

I thought I’d share this one with you in advance of the event…. Just in case you are in the neighborhood. If you wanna get a book shipped ASAP, click here and order your copy today!

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

with Sun Dried Tomato Breadcrumbs 

Serves 4

30 Minute Cuisine

1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted plus 2 more for sauce

½ cup julienned sun dried tomatoes in oil

4 large garlic cloves, minced, about 2 tablespoons

¼ cup Marsala wine

Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

8 Portobello mushrooms, stem and gills removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix the bread crumbs with the melted butter in a small bowl. Pour onto a baking sheet. Bake the buttered crumbs until they begin to crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Heat the sun dried tomatoes and the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and simmer until most of the wine has disappeared, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the lemon juice. Season with salt and crushed red pepper. Turn off the heat and swirl in 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the parsley.

Heat a grill pan on high heat. Brush the mushrooms with olive oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the mushrooms, turning once, until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the mushrooms to a platter, cap side down. Divide the breadcrumbs into the mushrooms. Drizzle the sundried tomato sauce over the crumbs.

 

 

 

 

 

What to Feed Your April Fool? How About Dinner for Breakfast?

What to Feed Your April Fool? How About Dinner for Breakfast?

There are so many savory breakfast classics that seem better suited to dinner, am I right? Steak and eggs, Quiche Lorraine, a mound of white grits that could be your April Fool’s Day mashed potatoes in the right light….

I wasn’t sure how to usher in the first Monday of this month. To help me brain storm, I got out my bullet journal. Bullet journals are trending lately. It differs from keeping a regular old diary, in that you just make lists and outline your goals in fun colors, adding little drawings in the margins.

Ideal bullet journal entries are grocery lists and recipes. When I embarked on note taking for Jorj.com’s Monday offering, I drew a Spanish sun first. Light was streaming through my kitchen window, warming my skin. I thought of the chapters in my new cookbook that were inspired by mine and my co-author, Sue Fazio’s trips to Spain.

I then decided that a perfect, savory dinner for breakfast is the Tortilla Espanola. In Spain, it’s just a tapa, but on April Fool’s Day in my house, it’s dinner!

You can make it in a cast iron skillet – any skillet – but be warned. It’s HOT!!! There are a lot of fiery bites on tapas plates. I guess the thought is the more blazing your taste buds, the more you require a swallow of chilled aperitif to put out the flames.

SANGRIA, anyone? Oh, and April Fool’s Day Tip – maybe make one side of the tortilla extra spicy and tell people to take their chances, wink, wink…

And remember – all days of the year, not just 4/1/19, this is a terrific dish for a pot luck. It’s good old-fashioned comfort food!

Tortilla Espanola

(Potato Torte)

serves a crowd

40 minute cuisine

5 to 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Vegetable oil for frying

2 large yellow onions, diced, about 3 cups

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 3 tablespoons

6 large eggs, beaten

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Chopped, fresh parsley

Use a mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the potatoes into thin rounds. Place the potatoes into a colander and toss with salt. Pour enough oil to come halfway up the side of a deep skillet. Heat the oil over medium high heat. You will know that the oil is ready when you place the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and you see bubbles. Fry the potatoes in the oil until they are tender in the middle and just beginning to brown on the edges, about 5 to 8 minutes. You can do this in batches so that you don’t crowd too many slices into the pan. Use a slotted spoon or wire skimmer to transfer the potatoes onto a paper lined baking sheet.

Carefully add the onions and garlic to the oil. Lower the temperature to medium low and cook until the onions are soft and beginning to turn golden, about 5 to 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or wire skimmer to transfer to the baking sheet holding the potatoes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully pour all but 2 tablespoons of the oil into heat resistant bowl. (When cooled, you can strain and re-use the oil for another recipe.)

Place the eggs into a large bowl using a fork to blend.  Gently slide the potatoes, onions and garlic into the bowl. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper and gently blend trying not to break the potato slices.

Heat the oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Pour in the potato and eggs using a spatula to spread evenly in the pan. Cook for 30 seconds to brown the (soon to be top) of the torte. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the center is set, about 5 to 8 minutes. Use the spatula to gently loosen the edges from the pan as it cooks. Shake the skillet to make sure the center is setting. Turn off the heat. Take a plate, that is large than the skillet and place it upside down over the skillet. With one hand on the plate and the other on the skillet handle, invert the pan so that the torte comes out and onto the plate. There might be a little loose egg around the edges. Use your spatula to scrape any bits back into the torte. Gently slide the inverted torte back into the pan and turn the heat to medium. Cook until a tester inserted into the center of the torte comes out clean, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Transfer the torte to a clean platter and keep warm. The torte can be served warm or at room temperature.