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Hoppin John For Good Luck, A Broken Finger And Happy 2014

hoppin john

hoppin john

Hoppin John which contains blackeye peas is traditionally served on New Years Eve/ Day. They are supposed to bring good luck. I guess I could use it since I fell the other day, it was my own fault, never, especially on the pot hole laden streets of NYC push a shopping cart in front of you, you should drag it in back. I learned the hard way, I had just come from the food coop, cart full of all sorts of good stuff, it was pretty heavy. Crossing the street walking at a brisk pace, the wheels got stuck in a pothole, I went flying over the cart with my finger in one of the grooves, it completely dislocated my finger. I spent the rest of the day in the ER where they had to put it back together. I was lucky it wasn’t fractured. Unlucky for me it’s my right hand index finger. I will adapt. This was a bit difficult to make not because the recipe is hard but working without my index finger is not easy and painful.Vegetables are not cut in the proper size pieces but the results are the same.

Dislocated finger

Dislocated finger

So I thought I better make some blackeye peas for good luck, this is not the way I envisioned starting 2014.

I have not eaten blackeye peas since I was a child. To be perfectly honest, I really disliked them after a very unappetizing school lunch containing the dreaded peas that I was forced to eat. Since then I have tasted them and they were ok, I looked at several hoppin john recipes and decided on one with bacon, because bacon makes everything better!! This recipe is simple to make and so delicious, now why didn’t they serve this at school it could have been spared years of being a blackeye pea hater.

The veggies

The veggies


2 cups dried blackeye peas

1 red bell pepper diced

1 yellow bell pepper diced

1 jalapeno peper cut in half lengthwise seeds removed

1 large stalk celery sliced

1 medium onion diced

2 garlic cloves smashed

1 medium size carrot sliced

6 cups stock (vegetable or chicken) or you can use water

4 thick slices of bacon cut into lardons

splash of olive oil

1 bunch collard greens tough stems removed and cut into thin strips

steamed white rice

hot sauce of your choice

splash of apple cider vinegar (optional)

Rinse peas discarding any rocks or peas that don’t look good. Set aside. In dutch oven set on med/high heat saute the bacon to render the fat, remove the bacon leaving about 2 or 3 tbs of bacon fat in the pot my bacon was lean so I had to add a splash of olive oil, set the cooked bacon aside to add later. Still on med/high add onions and saute until they just begin to soften, add the celery, carrot and yellow and red bell pepper. Continue to saute until vegetables soften, add smashed garlic cloves and cook for another minute or two. Add the blackeye peas, reserved bacon, jalapeno pepper, collard greens and liquid, bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally and adding liquid if it looks too dry. Before serving, remove jalapeno pepper and discard (or you can keep it if you like) I just use for flavor.

Serve over steamed rice, brown or white your choice. Add some hot sauce, an optional splash of vinegar and garnish however you like. I really like some cheddar or manchego cheese grated on top.

A Very Happy New Year to all of you. I wish for all a happy, healthy, successful 2014 and I look forward to blog posts from each and every one of you!!

Taken from Pinterest

Taken from Pinterest

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 30,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Red Kuri And Butternut Squash Soup

Prepped squash

Prepped squash

I just love creamy squash soups, butternut is probably the most well known and it’s delicious. I found some red kuri squash and loved the way it looked, I have never had it before but after quickly googling on my i phone (I love that I can find info in a flash on my phone) I decided that I wanted to try it. Now I love making squash soup, but HATE cutting it, I don’t care how sharp your knife is it’s so hard to cut, serious tough skin. I trim the ends, cut in half and bake in the oven until it’s soft. I don’t have the strength or patience to peel squash.

Red Kuri Squash

Red Kuri Squash

Red Kuri squash is great, the flesh is sweet and when baked has a lovely soft consistency. It is not quite as dense as butternut squash, it’s closer to pumpkin.

The soup takes almost no time at all to prepare since the squash is already cooked. I don’t add spice only salt and pepper. It would be good with spice I am sure, it’s just that I am partial to it straight up with only aromatics (I use onion).

Serves 4-6 depending on Serving size

1 butternut squash cut in half, seeds removed

1 red kuri squash cut in half seeds removed

1 onion (I used yellow onion) diced

1 tbs brown sugar(optional)

2-3 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)

1/4 cup heavy cream or full fat coconut milk

2 tbs butter

splash of apple cider

salt and pepper to taste ( I used a blend of 5 peppers)

Heat oven to 375 place squash cut side down on baking sheet and bake until soft it takes approximately 45-60 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool a little and scoop out flesh into food processor or blender. Puree until very smooth and set aside.

In saucepan or soup pot add butter and melt on medium high, add the onion and saute until soft and translucent add the optional tbs of brown sugar and continue to saute for another minute or so. Add the broth or stock and simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Add the squash puree, splash of cider and salt and pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the heavy cream and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve hot.

Soup and Salad

Soup and Salad

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Izzy And Nando

Izzy And Nando

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Thank you all for your kindness and support. I hope you all have a day filled with joy and love from family and friends and of course lots of delicious food. I look forward to 2014 and more delicious recipes and blog posts from all of you.

Suzanne, Izzy and Nando

NY Daily News Photo of Tree at Rockefeller Center 2013

NY Daily News Photo of Tree at Rockefeller Center 2013

Rosemary Walnut And Plum Rugelach



I make rugelach every year for the holidays and every year I try to come up with a new flavor profile. Last year I did chocolate hazelnut which was really nice. This year I wanted a subtle herbal note and an altogether different jam I was kind of stuck on apricot. I thought that buttered walnuts and rosemary would make a nice combination and I made some spiced plum jam this summer, the combination sounded really good to me so I gave it a go. The walnuts have a very subtle rosemary taste (I am not a huge fan of strong rosemary) and the plum jam with gently spicing was wonderful with the walnuts. The crust is my standard cream cheese rugelach recipe, it never fails.

Rosemary Walnuts

1 1/2 cups walnuts

2 tbs butter melted

1 tbs fresh rosemary chopped

Pre heat oven to 350. place parchment sheet on small sheet pan. Mix walnuts, melted butter and rosemary in mixing bowl, pour onto sheet pan and roast for 15-20 minutes, they are done when you can smell the nuts. Remove from oven and let cool.

Makes 4 dozen

The Dough and filling:

8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar + more for sprinkling on cookies

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cup rosemary walnuts

1/2 cup plum jam

1/4 cup light brown sugar packed

  1. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment cream the cream cheese and butter until light. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla. With mixer on low add the flour and mix just to combine. Dump dough onto work surface form into a ball cut into four quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap, refrigerate for one hour
  2. Chop walnuts and add brown sugar, mix together.
  3. Remove one of the dough quarters from the refrigerator, roll into a circle on floured work surface. I use the lid of my dutch oven to cut an even circle. Spread jam on the dough round, sprinkle nut/sugar mixture on top of the jam and press down gently with your hand. Cut into quarters and cut each quarter into 3 pieces. Roll from widest end to smallest.

Looks like pizza right??

Place each rugelach on parchment lined baking sheet. Put in freezer for 15 minutes before baking. While they are in freezer pre heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove to cooling rack.



Pandoro Bread Pudding

Pandoro Bread Pudding

Pandoro Bread Pudding

I posted this a while back but thought that it’s worth posting again as this is a dessert I make every year at Christmas. I buy the Pandoro at Eataly, it’s the best in my opinion. I am sort of obsessed with custards lately, and thats what you use to make bread pudding.

Pandoro is a sweet Italian Yeast Bread it’s traditionally served around the holidays and every year I buy one that I make bread pudding from. It’s similar in texture to a brioche but a little sweeter, so if you cannot find Pandoro using brioche will also work.  This bread pudding is not heavy, its very light and you can almost characterize it as fluffy. I added a little orange and chocolate because they go so well together and the end result is a creamy bread pudding with melted chocolate and just a hint of orange. This is best served warm so the chocolate is soft. Garnish with some whipped cream if you like, but I found this needs nothing its delicious on its own.

What is your traditional holiday dessert? Is there something you serve every year without fail?

Makes 8 individual small ramekins or one 9×13 rectangular baking dish

Approximately 1/2 of a Pandoro cut into large cubes (about 16 oz)

6 eggs

1/4 cup sugar (If you use brioche increase the sugar to 1/3 cup)

2 cups half and half

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

soft butter for the ramekins

8 tsp orange marmalade

4 oz dark chocolate chopped

Boiling water for the bain marie

Cut bread or Pandoro into cubes, break eggs into large mixing bowl, add the sugar and whisk until combined. Add the half and half, heavy cream and vanilla and whisk well, you don’t want the sugar to pool at the bottom of the bowl. Add the bread cubes and let sit while you prepare the ramekins.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, put your kettle on to boil the water. Butter each ramekin then place a tsp of orange marmalade in each and spread on bottom and half way up the sides. Chop the chocolate and add to the soaking bread and stir. Spoon it into each ramekin. Place ramekins in large roasting pan and pour the boiling water carefully so that it comes a little less than half way up the ramekins. Carefully place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until the custard is set. Remove from oven let cool about 15 minutes and enjoy. Alternatively, you can use a medium size rectangular baking pan if you do not want to use ramekins.



Eggnog- The Quintessential Holiday Beverage



Creamy, sweet, delicious eggnog, I love it and it’s been a part of my holiday repertoire for as long as I can remember. I make it with and without alcohol. I also use a cooked custard because there are children drinking this and don’t want to take any chances with raw egg. The recipe I started out with is Martha Stewarts from quite a few years ago. She did not cook the eggs. The recipe calls for separating the yolks from the whites, using the yolks in the base and whipping the egg whites with some sugar and folding it into the base. It’s frothy and creamy and sweet and really delicious. I have changed it over the years and no longer fold egg whites into my custard, I’ll save those for something else like angel food cake. After cooling the custard before serving I add a pint of vanilla ice cream or Haagen Daz makes an egg nog ice cream which is delicious. This is not a diet drink and it’s loaded with cream and sugar and is very rich. The final presentation is with lightly sweetened whipped cream on  top and a generous grating of nutmeg. I usually make a very large batch using a dozen eggs, divide and add the alcohol to half and leave the other virgin. I like to use rum and cognac or brandy and in the non alcoholic version I add pure rum flavoring which I make myself by simply boiling some rum for 15 minutes to remove almost all of the alcohol. The recipe below makes a quart of egg nog base, add or deduct you really don’t need a recipe.

Makes 1 quart eggnog base

2 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

6-8 egg yolks (I use 8)

2 tsp vanilla extract

Place egg yolks and sugar in mixing bowl and either whisk or use electric mixer to combine the yolks and sugar until thick and pale yellow. Place milk and cream on stove and heat until scalding (not boiling) add half the hot milk/cream to egg yolks whisking constantly. Pour back into pan with the remaining milk, cook on medium heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. You are making a custard, check frequently when the custard starts to thicken by dipping the spoon in the custard, swipe a line on the back of the spoon and if it stays intact the custard is done. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and transfer to a heat proof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, it should sit directly on the custard and refrigerate at least 4 hours preferably overnight.

custard is done

custard is done

Making the eggnog

1 quart egg nog base

1 pint vanilla or eggnog ice cream (optional)

1 cup heavy cream whipped

fresh nutmeg grated

rum extract to taste

To make boozy egg nog omit rum extract and add rum or I like to add rum and cognac or brandy. You decide how much,  I like to add 1/4 cup rum and 1/4 cup brandy.

Pour the eggnog base into serving container, whip the cream adding just a little sugar. Soften your ice cream and add in scoops to the eggnog, let it melt, it’s ok. Top with whipped cream and generous grating of nutmeg. If you don’t use ice cream divide the whipped cream and fold half into the eggnog base and top with the other half.

Christmas in a bottle

Christmas in a bottle

Decorating For The Holidays And Some Brown Butter Spiced Ale

Decorated Fireplace Mantle

Decorated Fireplace Mantle

I am running behind this year, too much happening on many fronts but I decided I better start decorating. I keep it pretty simple, easily put up and taken down. Icicle lights in the windows with antique beaded wreaths, greenery and some lights and decorations on my mantles. No tree, too much for one person to deal with, putting up and taking down, needles everywhere it’s not for me. There is nothing like sitting in your home, admiring the beautiful lights and having a hot holiday beverage preferably with some alcohol to soothe the frayed nerves.

I plan on featuring some drinks both alcoholic and not that can be enjoyed during this festive time of year. I love opening a bottle of wine or champagne but sometimes you want something a bit different. I love hot toddy’s and hot buttered rum. This drink is my take on a hot buttered rum using ale, I entered this drink in a food 52 contest a while back and it was picked as a CP (community pick) It’s a bit sweet, a bit bitter (from the ale) and spicy and buttery, really different and delicious.

My next post will be eggnog, my absolute favorite holiday drink!!

Photo by James Ransom for Food52

Photo by James Ransom for Food52

Brown Butter Spiced Ale

Serves 2

  • 12 ounces ale of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • splashes brandy (about 1 tablespoon) per glass
  • 1 Cinnamon stick for garnish
  1. Add butter to small saucepan and melt on medium heat. Cook until butter becomes a light brown and has a slightly nutty smell (approximately 3 minutes). Reduce heat to low and add brown sugar and spices — cook until brown sugar is dissolved and the mixture is paste-like. Scrape into small bowl or ramekin and cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. Add the ale to the same saucepan and heat on medium until hot. Spoon two tablespoonds of the spiced butter mixture in serving glass, pour hot ale into glass and add a splash of brandy (about 1 or 2 tablespoons) and stir. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

More Awards, I Am So Thankful!!!





Blog of the year

Blog of the year

I want to thank Fae (Fae’s Twist And Tango) and  Laura, The Seasoned Traveller and The Not So Creative Cook for nominating me for these wonderful awards. I have to be honest, I barely have time to enjoy a cup of coffee and post a blog, I wish I could do all that is required of me when nominated for one of these wonderful awards but I just don’t have the time right now. I read every post of every blog that I subscribe to and enjoy them immensely. I am constantly amazed at how everyone has the time to post often and do everything they do on a daily basis and even though busy come up with such great content on their blogs, sometimes it makes me feel inadequate. I feel it’s very important to acknowledge the bloggers that nominated me and I sincerely appreciate it, I also want everyone to check out their blogs, you will be happy you did. Every single person reading this deserves an award, because you care enough to share your life, your food and your time with all of us, thank you for that. 

Please click on the links and check out Fae, Laura’s and Jhuls blogs, I look forward to every single post.

Thank You!

I am thankful every time one of my fellow bloggers gives and receives an award. We look out for each other, enjoy each others blogs, photo’s, stories and recipes. Nominating a blogger that we know for an award is our way of saying, we think you are fantastic!! So I want to thank The Seasoned Traveller for nominating me for the 2013 Blogger of the year award.  In case you have never visited Laura’s wonderful blog you should rush right over there, you will be happy you did. I love her simple and delicious recipes and gorgeous photo’s. So thank you Laura for this award. I truly appreciate it.

Blog of the year award

Blog of the year award