2011 Culinary Highlights

Is it really, really the middle of January? Wow! 2011 was a great year for me – new adventures, new places, new people and lots of lessons in the journey of life.
And, of course, we can’t forget new recipes!
It was a year ago this month that I started the Penarious Challenge. I’d have to say that the most interesting challenge was the attempt to recreate Heinz ketchup in the kitchen. I learned more about ketchup than I ever wanted to know and came pretty close, but not close enough. Heinz Tomato Ketchup recipe remains a secret.
One of the most exciting moments in my culinary blog world was getting interviewed by Ian Lamont of Slickepott, the fudge sauce company. You can read about all that in this post if you haven’t already.
And, if you haven’t already, click on over to his website and buy some fudge!
Most Complicated Recipe Award goes to the Orange Almond Cream Cake. 
My, was it good though!
Here are the recipes that made the “You Gotta Try” list. No, it’s not every recipe I posted last year either. :D
Sweetness –

Raspberry Cheesecake

Swedish Mazarinmuffins

Cherry Almond Oatmeal

Savory –

Gnocchi with Spinach Cream Sauce


Fresh Tomato Mozzarella Salad

It’s another adventure to take on 2012! I annually wonder what the next year will hold and before we know it, it will all be memories! 
So don’t forget to savor the moments – stop to smell the roses, give a hug, breath in fresh air, try a new recipe, or count your blessings! 
Happy TwoThousandTwelve! 

Slickepott Interview and Recipe of the Month

Dear blog readers,
I know, I’ve been horribly remiss about posting. You see, we no longer have high speed internet at home. However, that’s a lame excuse and I intend to continue blogging at the local coffee and tea shops around town. This particular one is called Rick’s in Guthrie and has amazing chocolates – skip the coffee drinks for me, I’ll take dark chocolate, thank you!
Speaking of dark chocolate…
Ian Lamont, maker of  Slickepott Fudge Sauce,  invited me to do an interview and submit a recipe using the Slickepott fudge sauce for his monthly newsletter. I’ve mentioned this amazing chocolate sauce before on my blog and,  if you haven’t tried it before now, I know that you’ll want to after this blog post. 
I was so excited to be featured foodie and my cranium immediately began working to create the perfect recipe to submit. That, my friends, is a supremely difficult job since Slickepott is just good on almost every dessert imaginable!
My first idea was almond flavored Belguim waffles with ice cream, strawberries and whipped cream…

 …until my sister told me that Ian and his family make waffles at festivals. Nix that idea! I’m sure I couldn’t beat their recipe!
I think I was feeling very reminiscent of our Europe trip that happened just one year ago, so I traveled from Belgium down to Italy and created a Pistachio Orange Biscotti – with a bit of Swedish cardamom thrown in – to go with a chocolate pudding that closely resembles the hot chocolate that Anna and I drank on that rainy day on Cinque Terra trail. Top that with Orange Creme and warm Slickpott Fudge Sauce and you’ve got a dessert for any occasion.
I know it sounds complicated, but I was surprised how easy it really was. Ian demonstrates this in his May 2011 Recipe of the Month video featuring this recipe. Fabulous job, Ian! I could never do that! I know I should get over it, but I am sooo camera shy. :D

So, there you have the video. Here you have the interview. And right here you can put in an order for Slickepott Fudge Sauce. Go ahead, just do it. You know you want to…you know you’re missing out if you don’t. :D Once you have the Chocolate sauce, here are the recipes to try out.

Cioccolato with Pistachio Cardamom Biscotti & Orange Crème


2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cardamom, ground
1 T. orange zest
1 egg yolk
1/3 c. milk
1 T. orange liqueur (optional)
1/4 c. fresh orange juice
1/2 c. roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
extra flour – up to 1/2 cup

Preheat over to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, with electric mixer, gently combine flour, sugar, soda, powder, cardamom, and orange zest.
In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk, milk, liqueur, and orange juice. Add to flour mixture. Beat until dough is formed and stir in pistachios.
Place dough on floured surface and knead several times, adding more flour if needed to prevent sticking. Divide dough in half. With floured hands, form each piece of dough into a flat 2×12 inch log. Arrange logs at least 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
Bake 35 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes.
Place logs on cutting board and slice crosswise and diagonally into 3/4 inch thick slices. Arrange slices on baking sheet and return to oven and turn off heat. Let dry in oven for 30 minutes to an hour.
Cool and store in airtight container for up to 1 month.
Makes 3 dozen

Orange Creme

1 1/2 c. whipping cream
1/2 c.  fresh orange juice
2 T. powdered sugar

Whisk all ingredients until well combined. Use whipped cream whipper for best results, or beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Italian Chocolate Pudding 

2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. organic corn starch
1/4 t. salt
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 c. milk 4 lg. egg yolks
2 T. butter
1 t. vanilla

In a large sauce pan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cocoa powder. Whisk milk and egg yolks in a separate bowl and add to dry ingredients. Place on med/high heat and whisk constantly until mixture thickens. Add butter and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and chill for later use.
Assembly of dessert –
Spoon warm chocolate into dessert dishes. Place a piece of biscotti in the pudding. Top with orange creme, drizzle with warmed Slickepott Fudge Sauce and garnish with whole or chopped pistachios.