Saturday, March 26, 2016

Anna Sultana’s Puffy Brunch Omelet with Berry Compote and Other Fillings

Tomorrow is Easter and I’ve posted brunch recipes that can be prepared the night before and are great for the family:

I admit it, most of my recipes are for a crowd.
I’ve been asked to post a few recipes that would work for one, or two.
Good idea.

A puffy omelet is festive, simple and a perfect dish for one, or two.
It can be served with fruit for a brunch or a dessert, or with vegetables for a lunch. 


Don’t have time - or berries - to make compote?
No problem.
Melt in a nonstick skillet over medium heat
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 Cup dark brown sugar
1 can of peach slices, drained
Stir the peaches until they are warmed through and the sugar has melted.
Serve on the French Toast.
Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Both the quickie and regular compote recipes would work with thinly sliced fresh apples, peaches or pears - or a mixture of the three.
Compote is also good on waffles, pancakes or chicken.

                        Puffy Omelet

Preheat oven to 350° F 

Place in a 9 inch pie pan
2 Tablespoons margarine
Place the pie pan in the oven to melt the margarine.
Remove the pan and swirl the margarine around to cover the pan.
Set aside.

While the pan is in the oven, place in medium bowl  
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
Beat together.
1/4 Cup flour
Beat until smooth.
1/2 Cup milk
Beat until blended. 
Pour the batter into the pie pan.
Bake 25 minutes. 
Loosen the omelet and place it on a platter.
Spread the filling over the omelet.
Serve as is or fold half over the filling.
Add toppings (optional)

                        Berry Compote Omelet 

Melt in a nonstick skillet over medium heat
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 Cup light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Stir until the sugar has melted.
3 Cups berries (blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries or all of one)
Toss gently and cook for 3 minutes, until the berries are warm. 
Spoon over the omelet.
Serve warm.

                        Berry Omelet 

Combine in a small bowl
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons orange juice

Place in a medium pot
1 package frozen raspberries or strawberries
Heat over low heat.
Add the cornstarch mixture and stir until thick.
Spoon over the omelet and fold over.
Serve warm.

                        Plum Omelet 

Spread on omelet
1/2 to 3/4 Cup plum jam
Roll up and spoon over the omelet
1/4 Cup sour cream
Sprinkle over the omelet
2 Tablespoons toasted walnuts
2 teaspoons sugar

                        Cherry Omelet 

Melt in a nonstick skillet over medium heat
2 Tablespoons butter
2 1/2 Cups canned cherries, drained
Heat and spoon over the omelet.
Roll up and sprinkle over the omelet
confectioners’ sugar
Serve with 
lemon wedges

                        Apple Omelet 

Combine in a small bowl
1/3 Cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Melt in a nonstick skillet over medium heat
1/3 Cup butter
4 Cups peeled apple slices
Cook 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the sugar / spice mixture over the apples.
Cover and simmer 5 minutes.
Uncover and simmer another 5 minutes.
Spoon over the omelet.
Roll up and sprinkle over the omelet
1 Tablespoon sugar

                        Sour Cream Roll-up

Spread on omelet
1 Cup sour cream
Roll up and spoon over the omelet
1/2 Cup sour cream
Sprinkle over the omelet
confectioners’ sugar
4 Tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

                        Spinach Filled Omelet

Wash and tear
2 pounds spinach
Cook gently for 5 minutes. Drain and press out excess liquid.

Cut into small pieces
6 slices bacon
Cook the bacon until browned.
Discard all but 2 Tablespoons drippings.
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 Cup minced onions
Cook and stir until tender.
Stir in 
the drained, cooked spinach
2 Tablespoons parsley
3/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Cook and stir to heat through.
Spread on omelet on platter and fold over.

1 Tablespoon butter
Drizzle on omelet 
Sprinkle over omelet
1 Tablespoon parsley
Serve warm.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Full Worm Moon, Easter, and a Planters' Punch Recipe for the Family

Well, it’s been a bit of an busy time.
A week ago we had Daylight Savings Time.
Sleepy or not, we soldiered on to bake traditional foods to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, then St. Joseph’s Feast Day.
Yesterday was both the First Day of Spring and Palm Sunday.

That’s right, Easter is this Sunday.
I know, you haven’t finished setting all the clocks in the house and car ahead an hour.
Too bad.

Easter has to be held on the first Sunday following the first Full Moon of Spring, which is happening this Wednesday.
March 22 is the earliest Easter can occur, and April 25 is the latest.
No real reason, it just was decided to do Easter this way in the Fourth Century.
If you’d like to plan ahead, here are the dates for the next four Easters:
2017    April 16
2018    April 1
2019    April 21
2020    April 12
So, yes, it’s a bit early this year.
Too bad.

If you’re in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, thanks to the Julian calendar, you can ignore all of the above.
You usually have a bit more time.
Don’t gloat.

If you’re not so lucky, you might be hosting the family Easter dinner this Sunday.
I know, it just gets better and better.

I’ve posted a page with links for Easter Recipes.
Also a page that has some of Carmela Soprano’s best family dinner menu items: appetizers, vegetable and pasta courses, main meat courses, and desserts.
Hopefully they’ll help you plan your menu.
You’re welcome.

But, since the family is coming, it might be a good idea to have something on hand to, well, smooth over the rough edges.
Like when everyone's favourite uncle comments on the fact that a certain nephew is still living with his parents.
Back in his day, a man that age was a man…
Yeah, family… gotta love it.

Planters' Punch is a simple cocktail made of dark rum, lemon juice, Grenadine syrup and a dash of Angostura bitters.
So it’s quick and easy to make more of  this punch to keep those glasses filled.
This recipe has been around a while.
The September 1878 issue of the London magazine Fun mentioned it.
The recipe is a classic that everyone will most likely enjoy.

In the 1942 spy thriller Across the Pacific Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor both order a Planter's Punch at a bar in Panama.
The movie's plot was set on the eve of World War II.
If the writer thought a glass or two of Planters' Punch could help Humphrey Bogart get through an oncoming world war, well, who am I to disagree?


Some people also add orange juice and pineapple juice.
The glasses can be garnished with a cocktail cherry and a pineapple slice.

                        Planters' Punch

In a large pitcher pour
a fifth of dark rum
1 Cup lemon juice
3/4 Cup Grenadine syrup
1 teaspoon Angostura bitters
Stir well.
Pour into tall glasses filled with ice.
Garnish with 
a cocktail cherry and an orange slice

About the sky this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

On March 20 we welcomed spring with the Vernal equinox. This marks the change of seasons where the length of daylight hours begin to win out over the length of nighttime hours.

On March 21 the waxing gibbous Moon is very close to the planet Jupiter, which will be just northwest of the Moon.

On March 23 we’ll have the first Full Moon of Spring. 
See the video on how March's Full Worm Moon got its name.

On March 25, and for the next two weeks, look to the western sky for the Zodiacal light or “false dawn,” in the early evening.

On March 30 the Moon reaches its southernmost point, sometimes referred to as lunar standstills.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Anna Sultana’s Żeppoli ta' san Ġużepp II / St. Joseph's Zeppole

St. Joseph’s feast day is this weekend.
Funny to think Carmela and Ma have something in common.
But, yes, if you’re from that part of Europe, you just have to celebrate St. Joseph by enjoying a pastry.

Since then I’ve posted a few other recipes that would be suitable for St. Joseph’s big day:

           - Fried choux pastry with sweet ricotta filling and honey coating

Carmela Soprano's Sfingi (St. Joseph's Day Zeppole)

Carmela Soprano's Cream Puffs / Baked Sfingi and Ricotta Cream Filling

Cream Puffs - Baked Sfingi / Zfineg ta San Guzepp 

Okay… those are the recipes that most Moms would make.
But then, of course, there’s a more elaborate Zeppoli.
It’s kind of like Sfogliatelle, better known as Shfooyadell’. 
Great to eat, hell to make.

This is not something for a beginner - or a sane person - to make on a regular basis.
But, if you want to show off, or put an in-law in her place, this recipe could do it.
And all the while that your in-law is fuming, you could smile sweetly and say you went to all that trouble for good old St. Joseph.
Yeah, right, like the Blessed Virgin would’ve done the same.


If you don’t want to peel the fruit use
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
This also saves the mess of fishing the peels out of the pudding.

The peeled fruit could be added to a pitcher of sangria.
The egg whites could be used for the cookies, Dead Man's Bones, or Baked Alaska, or a healthy egg white omelet.
Waste not, want not.

If you don't have a deep-frying thermometer, test the oil by slipping a bit of the dough into the oil.  It should sizzle and turn brown in 1 minute.

Try to not fill the Żeppoli until you are ready to serve them.
They really don’t age well.
Well, the same could be said about that in-law.

                        Żeppoli ta' san Ġużepp


2 lemons
1/2 orange
Set aside.

Beat together
2 Cups Milk
6 egg yolks
Place in a small pot
1/2 Cup and 2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 Cup and 2 Tablespoons flour
Stir them until they are well blended.
Gradually stir in 
2 Cups Milk
Gradually stir in the milk / egg yolk mixture.
Add the lemon and orange peels.
Place the pot on the stove over low heat.
While stirring constantly, cook until the milk thickens.
Remove the pot from the heat and discard the peels.
Set the pot aside and let the pudding cool to room temperature.
Stir occasionally to prevent a thick skin from forming.


2 Cups flour
1/2 Cup sugar

In a large pot place
1 3/4 Cups water
4 ounces butter
Place the pot on the stove over high heat.
Heat to boiling.
When the butter has melted, reduce the heat.
While the pot is still on the stove, gradually stir in the flour / sugar mixture.
Stir until the mixture forms a ball.
Continue stirring the dough on the stove for 10 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat.
Let the ball of dough cool completely.

While the dough is cooling, cut a dozen 4 x 4 inch squares foil.

Beat into the dough, one at a time
6 eggs
Beat until smooth.
The dough will become softer, almost like a batter.
Place the dough in a pastry bag.
On each square of foil, starting from the centre, squeeze the dough from the pastry bag to form a bird's nest with a hollow space in the middle. 
The bird’s nest is called a Żeppola.

In a deep saucepan or deep fryer pour
about 2 inches vegetable oil
Heat to 375º on a deep-fry thermometer or test with dough (see hints).
While the Żeppola is still on the foil, put 2 or 3 into the hot frying oil. 
Don't crowd or they won't fry properly.
The paper will separate from the Żeppola and you will be able to remove it.
Turn them several times until they turn golden-brown on both sides, about 3 minutes.
Remove the Żeppoli with a slotted spoon.
Drain on paper towels.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
Cool the Żeppoli thoroughly.

Arrange the Żeppoli on a platter.
Put the filling in a clean pastry bag.
Fill the centre of each Żeppola with some custard.

Garnish the custard centre of each Żeppola with
a maraschino cherry
Dust with 
Confectioners’ sugar

Serve, sit back and expect compliments.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Anna Sultana’s Colcannon and Irish Cream for St. Patrick’s Day

Back in January I posted two recipes for Shepherd’s Pie.
One recipe was a handy way to use leftovers.
There was also a hint for a vegetarian version.

But there’s nothing like an actual vegetable recipe to round out a meal.
Colcannon is a great Irish vegetable dish.
Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.
As are a serving of boxties or a slice or two of Irish Soda Bread.
And a glass of Irish Cream would hit the spot!

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made from mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage.
It means white-headed cabbage and is usually served with boiled ham or Irish bacon.

Just like the drinks Margarita and Piña Colada there’s a song for Colcannon:

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I'm to cry.
Oh, wasn't it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

No, I don't know the tune.


About the Colcannon…
An old Irish Halloween tradition is to serve it with a ring and a thimble, or small coins, hidden in the fluffy green-flecked dish. 
I don’t suppose the cops would come if you wanted to do this for St. Patrick’s Day.
But it might be a good idea to warn your guests before they tuck into their veggies.

If you have leftover shredded cabbage: 
heat a knob of butter and cook the cabbage for 5 minutes.
It should still be just a little crunchy.

About the Irish Cream…
Some people use coconut extract instead of the almond extract.


3 green onions

Peel and quarter
2 pounds russet potatoes 
Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes

While the potatoes are boiling, shred
kale or cabbage 
Shred enough to make 3 - 4 Cups. 
Blanch in boiling salted water for 2 - 3 minutes.
Drain and set aside. 

In a small pot melt
1/4 Cup butter or margarine 

Drain the potatoes and mash them in the same pot they were boiled in. 
Beat in
2/3 - 3/4 Cup light cream or milk 
Add enough to make them smooth.
Don’t forget you’ll also be adding butter, so don’t make the potatoes too thin.
Place the pan over low heat.
Stir in the blanched kale or cabbage, the melted butter and the minced onion.
Beat together until well blended. 
Taste for seasoning and add salt and / or pepper if desired.
Serve hot.
Spoon out a portion and make a small indentation on top.
Add a pat of butter or margarine in the well.
Don’t mash it in, but dip a forkful of the potatoes into the melted butter.

                        Irish Cream

Place in a blender
1 cup heavy cream 
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 
1 2/3 Cups Irish whiskey 
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules 
2 Tablespoons chocolate syrup 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 teaspoon almond extract 
Blend for 20 to 30 seconds.
Pour into a jar that has a tight lid. 
Store in the refrigerator for 8 hours. 
Shake well before serving.
Serve over cracked ice.
a dollop of whipped cream (optional)

Serve with a nice Irish toast:
May you always have 
Walls for the winds, 
A roof for the rain, 
Tea beside the fire, 
Laughter to cheer you, 
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire! 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Anna Sultana’s Cinnamon Monkey Bread, A Solar Eclipse and Jupiter

We’re in the middle of Lent.
Hot Cross Buns are traditional and delicious.
But, after you’ve reached your mid-sixties, you’ve been through quite a few Lents.
And even a good recipe can get boring after eating it for more than sixty years.

Monkey bread is a different way to serve buns.
It isn’t very sweet, so it doesn’t seem like a non-Lent dessert.
And it’s always okay to have bread, even during the season of Lent.
At least that’s my opinion.

If you’d like even more variety, try these Monkey Bread variations:


You can also bake this in 2 9-inch spring form round pans or in 2 9x5-inch loaf pans.

If you’re in a rush, you can use 2 cans (340 g each) of refrigerated country biscuits.
Cut each biscuit into quarters, coat with spiced sugar and continue.
These balls don't need to rise before baking.

If you prefer nutmeg or allspice or a spice mix, substitute 2 Tablespoons of the spice of your choice for the cinnamon in the original recipe.

You can also sprinkle a cup of chocolate chips over the first layer of balls.
Or a cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, or diced apples, or cranberries or raisins.
For a bit of a surprise, you could put a spoon of apricot or raspberry jam in each ball.

If you want to have this recipe for breakfast the next day it’s easy.
After you have placed the small balls in the pan, wrap the pan tightly with plastic wrap, then place it in the fridge overnight. 
In the morning take the pan out and let the dough finish rising before baking.

For an icing that can also be a dipping sauce you can combine in a small bowl
1/4 Cup cream cheese
1/4 Cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons milk
You can also drizzle the icing over the cake.

Or you could use a caramel sauce as an icing.
If you don't want the icing, skip it.
You could also put the icing in a bowl and let the kids dip their balls in it.

A dusting of confectioners’ sugar before serving is pretty and quick.

                        Monkey Balls

Grease a 10-inch tube pan and set aside.
Place the oven rack in the medium low position.

In a medium bowl combine
3 1/4 Cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl mix together
1 Cup milk, warm (around 110º F)
1/3 Cup water, warm (around 110º F)
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 Cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
Gradually stir the flour / salt into the liquid ingredients. 
Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead about 10 minutes. 
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl.
Rotate the dough around to grease all of the surfaces.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and leave it in a warm place for 1 hour.
The dough should be doubled in size.

On a floured surface roll the dough into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. 
Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into about 60 pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into a ball. 

                        Cinnamon Monkey Bread

Combine in a medium bowl
3/4 Cup granulated or brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

Melt in a small pot
1/4 Cup butter

Place batches of the balls in the sugar / spice mixture.
Toss to coat.
Place half of the balls in the prepared 10-inch tube pan.
Drizzle with half of the melted butter.
Repeat with the remaining balls. 
Sprinkle any remaining cinnamon sugar over the top of the balls (optional)

Cover the pan with a damp towel and leave it in a warm place for 1 hour.
The balls should be doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350º F
Bake 30 - 40 minutes until the top is golden brown. 
Remove them from the oven and cool 5 minutes.
Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a large platter.

While the cake is cooling, combine in a small bowl
!/4 Cup confectioners’ sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice or water (more or less)
Sprinkle over the top of the cakes (optional)
2 Tablespoons chopped toasted pecans or walnuts or almonds

About the sky this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

On March 8 there’s a New Moon at 8:54 p.m. It’s completely invisible.
There will also be a Total Solar Eclipse, but for most of you this isn’t important.
To see it you’ll have to be in Indonesia, which is west of the International Date Line, where the calendar date is March 9.
So the eclipse begins on the day after it ends.
Be warned - do not look at the eclipse. You could go blind.

Also on March 8, Jupiter is opposite to the Sun in our sky. 
So, Jupiter rises around the time the Sun sets, and shines at its highest about midnight and sets around sunrise. 
Jupiter is also at its closest to the Earth for the year, and will appear at its biggest and brightest. Look for it in the east as the blue sky darkens.
Jupiter burns at magnitude -2.5, nearly three times as bright as Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.
You can safely look at Jupiter all you want.