Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ras el hanout Focaccia and Herbed Dipping Oil Recipes

Ras el hanout is a spice mix used in Moroccan cooking. It’s a blend of warm spices, usually containing anise, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, black pepper, sometimes nutmeg or allspice or rose petal.

For the dough:
1 package active dry yeast

1½ cups warm water (110-115 degrees)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 to 3½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt
**I do my dough in my bread machine.**

For the top:
Extra-virgin olive oil

8 or so large thyme sprigs, the leaves chopped

1 teaspoon ras el hanout


Freshly ground black pepper

Pour the warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast, giving it a quick stir to dissolve clumps, and let sit until frothy, about 8 minutes.
Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture. Then add 3 cups of flour and the salt. Stir the mixture until you have a nice soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead quickly, just until it’s smooth and elastic, about 3 or 4 minutes, adding a little more flour if needed to make it easier to work with. The dough will be quite soft.
Oil a large bowl, and place the dough in it, turning the dough once to coat the top with oil. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
Coat a 10-by-15-inch sheet pan well with olive oil. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead very briefly to get out any air bubbles, then place it on the oiled pan. Stretch and pat the dough out to fit the pan. Now make indentations all over the dough with your fingertips. Give the focaccia a drizzle of olive oil, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it sit again until it’s puffy, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Give the dough an extra drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Ras el hanout , salt and black pepper. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 375 degrees, and bake for about 15 minutes longer, or until the focaccia is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Yield: 1/2 cup

Prep. Time: 0:05
1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. parsley flakes

1 tsp. granulated garlic

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 TB Balsamic Vinegar

-Combine all ingredients, except oil, on a shallow bowl or plate.-Pour olive oil and balsamic over.
Notes: Serve with fresh-baked bread for dipping.


5 small lemons

(or limes or oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, etc.)
1 cup Powdered Sugar or more as needed

1/4 C. Caster Sugar

Preheat oven to 275*F.
Line a 15x10x1" baking pan with parchment paper(or wax paper).
Cut 2 small lemons crosswise into 1/8-1/4 inch thick slices.
Arrange in a single layer on pan.
Dredge lemon slices in powdered sugar.
Bake in at 275*F. 45 minutes take out of oven and re-dredge in powdered sugar bake for another 45 mins or until lemons are almost dry and covered with
a sugary glaze. While still warm, loosen slices from paper to prevent sticking.
Drain away syrup from the pan and reserve for other recipes
on a fresh sheet of parchment paper, spread a scant layer of caster sugar, lay a single layer lemon slices and sprinkle caster sugar on top

Store in an air tight container separated by a layer of wax or parchment paper. I then keep it in the fridge.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cinnamon-Pumpkin Empanadas from Texas Monthly

Cinnamon-Pumpkin Empanadas From Texas Monthly

A Mexican Breakfast recipe from Esperanza's Cafe

(Joe T. Garcia's Bakery), Fort Worth

Pumpkin Filling

1 fifteen-ounce can pumpkin

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1/4 teaspoon ginger (optional)

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
Mix ingredients together and set aside.

Empanada Dough

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4-ounce packages dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

2 generous pinches cinnamon

3 cups flour, divided in half

generous 3/4 cup vegetable shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine water, sugar, salt, yeast, baking powder, and cinnamon. Using an electric mixer, gradually blend in half of the flour.

Add shortening and thoroughly mix, then gradually blend in remaining flour.

Divide dough into 4 equal parts, then shape each of those parts into 4 dough balls.

Slap the dough balls between the palms of your well-floured hands until somewhat flattened, then roll on a floured surface into circles approximately 4 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick.

Put about 1 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin filling in the center of each circle, fold over, and seal edges by pressing lightly with a fork on both sides.

Bake on a greased cookie sheet until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes (watch carefully; they can burn quickly).

Makes 16 empanadas.


Makes 1 drink

Cinnamon-flavored syrup* (optional)

Graham cracker crumbs (optional)

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

2 ounces half-and-half

1/2 ounce vanilla-flavored vodka

1/2 ounce butterscotch-flavored schnapps

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1. Dip rim of a martini glass in cinnamon-flavored syrup, then into graham cracker crumbs to coat, if desired.

2. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add pumpkin puree, half-and-half, vanilla vodka, rum, butterscotch schnapps, and pumpkin pie spice.

3. Shake vigorously for 5 to 10 seconds. Strain into prepared martini glass.

Serve immediately.

*We tested with Monin cinnamon syrup, available where Monin syrups are sold or at


Makes 48 to 60 mini cakes

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

3 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups sugar1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

Garnish: decorative skewers or picks

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

Line a rimmed 18x12-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until ingredients are well mixed. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and salt, whisking until well blended.

4. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, beating until just combined. Pour batter onto prepared baking sheet, smoothing with an offset spatula.

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 18 minutes. Cool in pan. Freeze for 4 hours.

6. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cutter, cut as many circles from frozen cake as possible, avoiding edges. Slice frozen cake circles in half horizontally. Set aside.

7. Place Cream Cheese Frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. Pipe frosting onto bottom halves of cake circles. Top with remaining cake halves. Pipe a star on top of each mini cake.

8. Garnish each mini cake with a decorative skewer or pick, if desired.


Makes 4 1/2 cups

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup butter, softened

6 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt, beating until smooth.


I read a post about a Bakery in Buffalo New York

making Pumpkin Ale cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

Since I own " Texas Tipsy Cakes" and formulate all the recipes personally.

I was excited to try and use Pumpkin Ale.

This cake came out wonderful, it is now my favorite Fall Cake.

I made a Pumpkin Spice Cake with Golden currants ,

chopped pecans , and whole pecans for the top ,

I added butterscotch and the Pumpkin Ale to the mix.

The cake came out Intensely flavorful and moist.

I then glazed it with a blend of Pumpkin Ale and Pumpkin Pie Syrup.

I can't wait to debut this cake for my friends and family at the next big event.


is now on the Menu at



I read about Pumpkin Ale and became obsessed with trying it in some recipes. I tasted a teaspoon full it tastes just like beer, after you swallow you get a nice delicate taste of pumpkin pie spice in the finish.
I am a big fan of World Market.
I love all the interesting seasonal items they put out.
This soup mix looks very interesting.
All you need to add is pumpkin puree and heavy cream.
I plan to make one as directed with the heavy cream,
the other I will use Pumpkin Ale


I made this today using the Pumpkin Ale and the Heavy Cream. It came out incredible. This soup and a nice artisan bread, Perfecto!

Last year I made Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
from Scratch and it was wonderful.
I picked up these seasonal pasta sauces
for the pantry so I have a quick fall meal on hand.
I like tossing in crumbled bacon or diced pancetta
into the pasta.
Last Thanksgiving I made a fall
Harvest Butternut Squash Lasagna with Italian sausage.
Everyone is still talking about how good it was
and asking me to make it again.

I have a pretty good collection of Torani Syrups at this point. They always have unique flavors that can be used for more than flavoring coffees and Italian sodas. This Pumpkin Pie syrup was a must have for the Fall season. I didn't notice til I got home it was sugar free. So to me its flavor is weaker.

I happened to be walking thru WalMart and saw the Fall Baking display they had up. I had never seen this Pumpkin spice pudding so I picked up 8 boxes to have on hand. I am thinking I can layer vanilla wafers (just like you would making banana pudding) and make mini pudding pumpkin pies. I had to pick up the Pumpkin Pie Spice just because...

Monday, October 24, 2011


1. Unpackage your Gummy Bears spread them out in a single layer in a pan or sheet of wax paper. You want them to dry out a little bit to take away some of the stickiness. Let them dry out from at least 8 hrs to a day.

2. Put the Gummy Bears in a glass baking dish in a single layer.

3. Pour rum over them until there's enough to coat, but they're not swimming in it. Stir it all up, cover it, and leave it for a little while. As they absorb the rum, add a little more and keep stirring

4.Repeat this until they're no longer sticky.

5.They'll be finished in about 24 hours, but you can leave them to soak for maybe 36 hours max.

6.After that, they turn to a more Jello-like consistency.

7. Use a slotted spoon to remove Bears from alcohol, line a tray or cookie sheet with wax paper and place bears individually on waxed paper. You want them moist but not puddling. Place tray with Gummies in freezer til ready to serve You can soak your Gummies in

Flavored Rums, Brandies, Vodkas , Whiskey

Anything your heart desires
This is how much you can expect the Gummy Bear to swell once its absorbed the alcohol

These Gummy Coke Bottles would be great soaked in Whiskey

Try soaking Peach rings in Vodka, Gin, or Schnapps

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I can't believe this late in the season I am still picking tomatoes,

all kinds of peppers, okra, eggplant and herbs.

I got new fish for the Thai water garden and changed out the water in the turtle pond.

I added the new fish on Friday and not one has died. I am so happy about that.

Now if I could just get the turtle to go in her pond every so often, for some reason she prefers to live in a tree.

I kid you not, our turtle lives in a banana tree.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Texas Bellinis
Recipe from executive chef Michael Thomson,

of Epicure in the Park, Dallas.
Makes 8 drinks
2 cups fresh chopped Parker County peaches

1 cup peach nectar

1 cup peach schnapps

2 cups crushed ice


Fresh fruit
To make base, combine peaches, nectar, and schnapps in blender, and mix until well blended but still pulpy. To serve, place 2 cups base and 1 cup ice in blender; purée until well blended. Fill champagne flutes 1/2 full, and top with champagne to 3/4 full. Garnish with fresh fruit.

Sunday, October 2, 2011




Canteloupe vines entwining in the handle

of this lantern.

I love nature embracing art.

I like how the sun casts spectrums

on the wall from the irridescent glass.

Its like living light.

Yes my canteloupe vines have gotten out of the garden ,

but I just cant bring myself to hinder there wanderlust.


Last of the summer harvest

Eggplants, bell pepper, tomato

add an onion and 4 cloves garlic.

Dice and saute in olive oil


lightly oil pan and put in pre-stuffed shells

add 1 lb ground beef cook til done
then add 1 jar pasta sauce
and I put in a can of black olives

cover pasta shells with the ragu

and top with grated mozzarella

Bake at 325 for 35-45 mins.

***serve with a nice hot loaf of french bread


from Cottage Journal

Makes 6 servings

3 cups half-and-half

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

6 egg yolks

1 cup sugar, divided

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1. Preheat oven to 300°.

Place 6 (8-ounce) ramekins in a large baking dish. Fill baking dish with 1/2 inch hot water.

2. In a large saucepan, combine half-and-half, pumpkin pie spice, and ginger. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a low simmer. Remove pan from heat.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar. Using a ladle, pour 1 cup hot half-and-half mixture into beaten eggs, whisking constantly. Add another 1 cup hot half-and-half mixture to egg mixture whisking constantly. Add egg mixture to remaining hot half-and-half mixture in pan, whisking constantly until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin. Pour into prepared ramekins. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until set and firm. Let stand for 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.

4. Remove ramekins from baking dish. Cover, and chill for at least 8 hours.

5. Preheat broiler. Sprinkle custards with remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Broil 5 1/2 inches from heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until sugar melts. Chill for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Saturday, October 1, 2011







Gourmet Finds.....

While shopping at World Market today ,I came across these items . Torani syrups in Toasted marshmallow, Honey Vanilla, Caramel, and Chai Tea. I think these will be great glazes for my holiday cakes.These flavors are ones that I don't regularly see.
How could I go wrong with dark chocolate filled with sweet espresso. Nice little after dinner sweet.

Truffle oil has been a love since my husband and I visited La Buena Tavola in Seattle Pikes Market District. The value for size seemed pretty good on this product. I haven't used it yet to see if I really got a deal. In the fall I love making soups such as Potato, Butternut Squash, Mushroom even White Lima Beans and drizzling a few drops of truffle oil on top . It definitely adds an elegant dimension to each dish.



Tom Kha Shrimp
Delicious Shrimp with lemon grass, galangal,

mushroom blended in lime juice and coconut milk.

Shrimp Mermaid

A Mixture of crab meat, shrimp wrapped and grilled on skewers with homemade sauce.


Thai Cottage

565 w. Bay Area Blvd


I arrived there a little after 2pm. The place seemed to have alot of customers. No one greeted me, so I walked over and sat at a table. A couple came in shortly after I did and sat across from me. They got waited on first. Finally a waiter walked by and handed me a torn menu and snarkily asked what I wanted to drink. Everything absolutely everything on the lunch menu had chicken in it. I don't care for chicken so I had to order from the dinner menu.

I ordered the Tom Kha soup with Shrimp which took awhile to come out but I understood as it was probably cooked fresh in back. The soup was very good.

The Shrimp Mermaid sounded really good and was beautifully presented. How ever the homemade dipping sauce was nothing more than sweet and sour sauce. The crab mentioned in the description was non existent. Instead it was more a like ground chicken meat coat around the shrimp.

No waiter asked if I needed anything or offered to bring me another drink. Instead the only other contact I had with the waiter was when he put the bill on the table and said you wont be ordering anything else will you? I took it as more of a statement than a question.

The kitchen crew began coming out with plates of food and sat at nearby tables and began eating. The waitstaff had all pretty much walked out the door. There were still many tables of customers. I paid my ticket at 3:13pm sans tip.