Caramelized Pearl Onions from Trish Gomez

Every year I seem to discover a “break-out” recipe. This is definitely a winner for this year. Thanks to my wonderful, lovely friend, Trish, for sharing this dish with me. It sparked lots of chatter on FB, and she is gracious to let me post it here.

All my family went crazy over it at Thanksgiving. Wanted to just roll around in it! It is a beautiful dish and I served it in my cute iron skillet to add even more visual appeal.

I can imagine that it will go fabulously well with grilled steaks. Sweet Bill spooned it on top of his mashed potatoes. My dear gluten-free girl also spooned the sauce on her potatoes and I think on her cornbread dressing.

So I’m thrilled to get to share Trish’s recipe with you. Enjoy and let me know how you serve it.

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

Judie’s note are in parentheses.

2 pounds pearl onions or boiler onions (I used boiler onions)

1 stick butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used 2 teaspoons dried thyme instead of nutmeg)

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper or to taste

3 cups heavy cream

  1. Peel onions: Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil and add onions. Simmer 1 minute, then remove onions with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water. Use a paring knife to cut the root end off each onion, then pinch each one at the stem to slip it off. You can use a paring knife to remove the skin if it doesn’t slip off easily. Note: if you use frozen pearl onions, you can skip this step since they are already peeled.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet and when hot, add onions. (I did this in two batches to keep the onions in one layer.) Slowly cook until onions are becoming golden brown. Stir gently only when they are ready to turn. You don’t want the onions to completely fall apart.
  3. Add brown sugar, nutmeg (thyme), salt and pepper. Continue to cook onions until very golden and caramelized. (At this point I added about 2 tablespoons brandy and cooked it down a few minutes. This is not necessary.)
  4. Add heavy cream to the level of the onions. (I used extra cream since we like lots of sauce.*) Cook slowly until sauce is thickened and nice and creamy brown. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

*The amount of cream you use doesn’t need to be exact.

Pithivier

Pithivier with Chicken, Ham, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Herbs (Pee-‘tee-vee-a)

Yield: One, 9-inch pie with 6 – 8 servings

This simple-to-make French pie is beautiful and as delicious as it looks. Use store-bought puff pastry and it’s a snap to put together. This recipe is for a savory chicken pie and you can also make sweet pithiviers. One example is the apricot filling below.

1 package Pepperidge Farm puff pastry dough, defrosted

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, chopped

2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cups chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons flour

1 ½ cups chicken stock

Meat from 1 deli chicken

About 6 ounces chopped ham 1 – 1 ½ cups

½ cup chopped, cooked red bell peppers and/or ¼ – ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 egg, beaten

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, lightly roll one piece of puff pastry to about 1/8-inch thickness. Use a 9-inch cake pan to cut out a circle. Dock the surface (bottom crust). Repeat with remaining piece of puff pastry, except make this one 10 inches diameter and do not dock. Freeze rounds on prepared baking sheet while preparing filling.
  2. Filling: Heat butter in a large skillet and add onion; cook and stir until onions begin to soften. Add garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add flour; cook and stir a minute or two. Slowly whisk in chicken stock; bring to a simmer, and whisk at a simmer for a minute. Stir in chicken, ham, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, and parsley. Refrigerate mixture until cold.
  3. Remove crusts from freezer and position bottom crust in center of baking sheet. (Set top crust aside.) Pile filling in middle of bottom crust, leaving a 1-inch border clean. Lightly and carefully brush just the top of this border with the beaten egg, being careful not to let the egg drip down the sides of the puff, which would seal the sides and keep the puff from rising.
  4. Now place the remaining round on top, carefully forming around the mounded filling. Press the two edges together lightly to seal. Use a paring knife to score the top crust in the traditional spiral pattern or crosshatch or a pattern of your choice. Make a hole in the very center of the top crust. Place in freezer for 30 minutes while oven preheats to 400º.
  5. Remove Pithiviers from freezer and brush the top with egg wash, again being careful not to let the egg drip down over edges of dough. Place in preheated oven. Turn oven down to 375º and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 45 minutes.

 

Apricot filling:

12 ounces dried apricots, chopped

1 cup water

½ cup sugar

Simmer apricots and water 15 minutes. Stir in sugar and return to simmer. Cover, simmer on low until very thick, about 15 minutes.

Pithivier constructed and ready for the oven.

Heavenly Yeast Rolls

Heavenly Yeast Rolls

Yield: 2 dozen large rolls, or more if smaller

½ cup warm water (Not over 110º)

2 packages dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup warm milk

½ cup melted butter

¼ cup sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

4 ½ cups flour

¼ cup soft butter

About ¼ cup vegetable oil

 

  1. In a mixer bowl, place the water and then sprinkle on the yeast and sugar. Stir mixture and then allow it to sit until bubbly. Stir in milk, 1/2 cup melted butter, sugar, eggs and salt, and mix well. Add flour and beat.
  2. Knead, either with a dough hook or by hand, until smooth and very elastic. The dough will be very soft. Cover and let rise until double, about 45 minutes.
  3. Stir down dough and turn out onto floured surface and knead several times. Roll out to about 1-inch thickness. Spread dough with ¼ cup soft butter. Fold dough over so butter is in the middle. Cut out rolls with biscuit cutter.
  4. Pour vegetable oil into a 9” x 13” baking dish. Place rolls in baking pan, turning over once to coat tops with oil. Let rise until double, about 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375º and bake rolls 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Chocolate Ganache

 

Chocolate Ganache

It’s easy to make any cake look totally “Hollywood,” when you frost it with Chocolate Ganache. It doesn’t have to be a three-tired Groom’s cake. It can be a single-layer cake you just whipped up. Or even cupcakes.

My recipe is simple … just two ingredients; heavy cream and semi-sweet chocolate. My recipe calls for 2 pounds of each, but you can use any amounts. The formula is equal parts heavy cream and chocolate.

I usually make more than I think I will need, and freeze the extra. It’s very convenient to have ganache on hand for last-minute desserts. Heat to a liquid and drizzle over pudding, ice cream, or just about any dessert.

Chocolate Ganache

Yield: enough to fill and frost 2-layer, 9-inch cake

2 pounds quality chocolate, chopped or 2 pounds chocolate chips

2 pounds heavy cream

  1. In a heavy saucepan, heat chocolate and heavy cream until chocolate is melted. Beat with a wire whisk for at least 1 minute to insure every bit of chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. If there are bits of chocolate left, the ganache will be lumpy.
  2. Cool to room temperature. Ganache is now ready to be used as frosting.

Tips: Use a kitchen scale to measure the chocolate and the heavy cream. Chocolate recommended: Ghirardelli chocolate chips.
If finished ganache is not thick enough, place bowl of ganache over second bowl of ice and beat with a metal spatula until thickened.

 

When first melting the chocolate into the heavy cream, it will look swirly. Keep stirring.

When the mixture looks completely mixed, I whisk for about 1 minute to make sure all lumps of chocolate are melted.

Beautiful! When the mixture comes to room temperature, it will have the consistency of frosting. If it is a little thin, place over a bowl of ice and beat a few minutes to help the ganache set up.

 

Spaghetti Sauce

Judie’s Spaghetti Sauce

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

As my granddaughter, Taylor, says, “A recipe is just a guideline.” Especially true of my sauce recipe. The amounts don’t need to be exact. You might not have Italian sausage – Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage is fine. You might need to stretch the amount and add extra tomatoes. You can add more red wine, or leave it out. I bet you end up making this your own version!

It’s an all-purpose sauce. Use it as-is on spaghetti, as sauce for Chicken Cacciatore, on meatball sandwiches, or wherever you need Italian sauce. In my kitchen, leftover sauce often finds its way as a base for vegetable soup (non-vegetarian).

Freezer in freezer bags up to 2 months.

1 pound Italian sausage (hot or mild or a mix)

1 pound ground chuck

1 onion, diced

2 – 5 cloves garlic, finely minced (amount depends on your taste and size of cloves)

1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1, 12-ounce can tomato paste

1 tablespoon dried Italian mixed herbs (or several tablespoons chopped fresh herbs*)

1 tablespoon A-1 Sauce

1, 10 ½ -ounce can beef broth

½ cup red wine

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook sausage and ground chuck in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, chopping with a spoon or spatula as it cooks. When meat is almost done, drain off fat and liquid. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is tender.
  2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, A-1 Sauce, beef broth, and red wine. Simmer on low heat for 30 to 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

*Such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, savory, marjoram.

Extra: Depending on what I’m using this sauce for, who will be eating it, and what I have on hand, I like to add capers (about 1 tablespoon), Kalamata olives, and/or extra slivered garlic.

Glazed Fresh Fruit Pie

Glazed Fresh Fruit Pie

Yield: 1, 9-inch pie to serve 6

For this pie, I used blackberries from Bill’s garden, raspberries, golden kiwi, blueberries, grapes, and oranges.

 

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1, 3-ounce package dry peach gelatin

2 quarts summer fruit, stemmed, washed and dried

1, baked pie crust (9-inch, deep-dish)

 

Place water, sugar, and cornstarch in a saucepan and whisk to combine. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking often. Lower heat; whisk and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin. (If there are any lumps of cornstarch, pour mixture through a fine sieve.) Cool mixture until just warm. (If I’m in a hurry, I place the pan over a bowl of ice and whisk.)

Place a layer of fruit into the baked pie crust. Spoon cooled gelatin mixture over the fruit. Add remaining fruit, adjusting pieces to make a pretty dome. Top with as much remaining gelatin mixture as needed for a generous glaze. I end up using about ¾ of the glaze. Refrigerate at least an hour, but DON’T cover with plastic wrap – it will stick to the glaze.

Judie’s Paella with Sausage, Chicken, and Shrimp

Judie’s Paella with Sausage, Chicken, and Shrimp

Yield: 4 big servings with leftovers

1 pound bulk sausage (I use Jimmy Dean regular)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (or to taste)

2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional)

½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Large pinch of saffron

1 tablespoon paprika

1, 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, hand-crushed

3 cups deboned deli chicken meat, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces

2 cups short-grain rice (Often suggested is Spanish rice, Bomba, but it’s easier to find Arborio.)

4 cups chicken stock plus more as needed

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup frozen peas or lima beans

24 raw large shrimp, peeled

 

  1. Brown sausage in a Paella pan or very large skillet. When done, remove to a platter. To the pan, add onion, garlic, and mushrooms and cook until soft. Add saffron and paprika and stir well to spread flavors.
  2. Add tomatoes and simmer until thickened and slightly caramelized. Add chicken and rice and stir to coat everything well. Stir in cooked sausage and chicken stock. Simmer over low heat for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring often and adding more stock if needed. (Cooking with rice is not exact – some rice may absorb more liquid than others.)
  3. When rice is tender, stir in peas and then place shrimp on top, pushing down into hot mixture. Cook 5 – 10 minutes, or until shrimp is done.
  4. Turn heat to medium and cook, without stirring, for a few minutes to allow the rice to form a crust on the bottom of the pan. This crust is called “socarrar,” which means “to toast.” Don’t worry if you omit this step – your paella will be  delicious no matter what.

Strawberry Pie

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Yield: 1, 9-inch pie to serve 6

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1, 3-ounce package dry strawberry gelatin

2 quarts whole strawberries, stemmed, washed and dried

1, baked pie crust (9-inch, deep-dish)

 

Place water, sugar, and cornstarch in a saucepan and whisk to combine. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking often. Lower heat; whisk and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin. (If there are any lumps of cornstarch, pour mixture through a fine sieve.) Cool mixture. (If I’m in a hurry, I place the pan over a bowl of ice and whisk until cool.)

 

Place a layer of strawberries into the baked pie crust. Spoon cooled gelatin mixture over the berries. Add remaining strawberries. To make a smooth dome, cut a few berries in half and stack on the sides. Top with as much remaining gelatin mixture as needed for a generous glaze. Refrigerate at least an hour, but DON’T cover with plastic wrap – it will stick to the glaze.

 

 

 

Braided Bread

Breakfast Braided Bread

Braided Bread

Yield: 1 loaf

 

1 loaf frozen bread dough, unthawed

Filling of your choice

Egg glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350º Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12” x 15” rectangle.
  3. Place filling down center of rectangle, going the long way.
  4. Use a pastry scraper to make 1/2-inch cuts along the edge of the dough on either side of the filling.
  5. Starting at one side, criss-cross the cut strips over the filling. Pinch ends together to keep in the filling.
  6. Transfer braided dough to prepared baking sheet. Brush dough with egg glaze.
  7. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

 

Sweet Fillings:

Cream cheese: 8 ounces cream cheese beaten with 1/3 cup sugar

Fruit: Solo brand fruit pastry filling (available with pie fillings at the grocery store)

 

Savory Fillings:

Sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and chopped basil

Pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella

Ham and cheddar cheese

Salade Nicoise

Make this beautiful, yet simple salad for your family and friends. It’s so easy (uses canned tuna), healthful, and so interesting, it can also be your centerpiece. You don’t have to stick with this exact recipe – add any vegetables you like to eat raw with salad dressing, such as zucchini, asparagus, celery, or carrots.

Herb Dressing:
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon dried mixed French or Italian herbs
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
½ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
Salad:
1 ½ pounds new potatoes, boiled until tender
1 pound Roma tomatoes, quartered
½ pound fresh green beans, blanched
4 – 6 scallions, sliced
1 can whole beets, drained
1 cucumber, lightly peeled and thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped or sliced
½ cup pitted Nicoise olives (or other black olives)
4 – 6 hard-cooked eggs, halved
3 – 4, 4-ounce cans oil-packed tuna, drained

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, herbs, salt, pepper, and mustard. Continue to whisk while slowly pouring in the olive oil. Store in refrigerator until time to serve salad or up to 3 weeks.
  2. Arrange all salad ingredients on a large platter. Just before serving, drizzle on Dressing. Serve extra Herb Dressing on the side.