Vodka instead of Gin.

Yes, I like gin martini’s but there is nothing wrong with vodka martini’s either, James Bond likes them. It was one of those things that got me thinking about some old time drinks.
A Pink Lady, it’s usually made with gin and applejack, grenadine and an egg white. I’ve also seen it without the applejack or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead of an egg white. It’s also not bad if you switch from gin to vodka especially with the ice cream version.
Can you think of some others that might be good with vodka instead of gin?

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Squash Soup….nice in the winter.

This was a discussion in the making. My teacher asked about a good squash recipe. Well I said usually I put things like all spice and cinnamon and heavy cream in mine. So I polled some friends and and we agreed on some basic things.

About 6 cups of squash which could be acorn or butternut. The squash itself should be either cut in half’s and cooked faced down or up with butter some spices and maybe some brown sugar (without the seeds). About 400 degrees for about 30 mins or so.

Now either a chicken or vegetable stock about 3 to 6 cups, how think do you like it. Also the other reason is you might want to add water or a nice white wine. Remember when you add the squash puree it first.

Here is where we came up with some many ideas on what to add to it after that. For spices the list included salt, pepper, allspice, dill, sage, bay leaf, thyme, basil, garlic, cayenne pepper, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Think of what you like to taste, be creative, use what you like.

Next other items to add, we all agreed that we hadn’t had great luck with normal potatoes, but sweet potatoes were a plus, other things you might use. Celery, Fennel, Carrots, Apples could be Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, Onions could be yellow or white caramelized or lightly brown. Honey or cream even Mascarpone cheese or Gruyere, even Swiss is a nice accent to the soup. Don’t forget croutons, favored or not.

Make it your way, see what you can come up with and let us know.

Authentic food from India created by Tandoor Chef has a good cause this week.

Recently I was introduce to a festival that is part of  the heritage of India. This festival is called Diwali (pronounced Di-vali-i) and it celebrates the Hindu New Year and is a weeklong festival of light in India. It runs from October 24 to October 28th and one of the companies that produces India authentic Indian food for grocery stores around the country is sharing information about some of the traditions of this country. The company is Tandoor Chef, there food can be found a Whole Foods and King Soopers as well as other stores in the area. This year Tandoor Chef is helping the Deep Kiran Foundation, which helps to educate and care for impoverished children in remote villages of India. With each new Facebook fan, Tandoor Chef, the leader in all natural Indian frozen cuisine, is donating $1 to the foundation.

Some information about each day of this celebration has been passed along to me and includes a wonderful recipe that I will share with you.

Diwali is marked by five days of celebration. Each one has it’s own story, meaning and traditions:

The Days of Diwali

Day 1: Happy Dhan Teras

The first day of Diwali celebrates Lord Rama’s return from exile after defeating evil and restoring goodness and virtue. On Dhan Teras (day one), many prepare and shop for items symbolic of the week’s festivities. These include new clothes for the dawning year, candies for gifts and fireworks to scare away darkness and evil.

Day 2: Happy Naraka Chaturdas

This day pays homage to Lord Vishnu and his triumph over the demon Narakasura. Many celebrate this day by bathing before dawn or dusk, donning new clothes and lighting only a few candles or fireworks.

Day 3: Diwali!

This is India’s New Year’s Eve and the center of the week’s festivities and celebrations. This day is also known as Lakshmi Puja (after the Goddess of Light and Prosperity).

Many celebrate by cleaning their home, praying and lighting their homes and streets with every candle, lantern and firecracker available. It’s a time to welcome a new year with the hope of coming wealth, goodness and light — which is why Diwali is known as the

Festival of Lights.

Day 4: Happy Annakut

Annakut is a day for remembering Krishna’s defeat of evil and the protection of shepherds through lively and brightly colored decorations and feasts. This day is for giving thanks and looking forward to the promise of eating well throughout the new year.

Day 5: Happy Bhayiduj

This is a powerful day for many Indian siblings. Indian legend says brother and sister gods, Yama and Yami, visited each other to strengthen their familial bond, feast, exchange tokens of affection and make promises of care and protection. Many siblings follow these steps with each other on the final day of Diwali.

A Feast for Annakut

You can celebrate Annakut with a traditional Indian feast of your own. Here is a three course meal you can enjoy with loved ones to mark the special occasion:

Appetizer: Tandoor Chef Palak Paneer Samosa, which is creamy, spiced spinach and paneer cheese cooked in traditional style; stuffed into crispy pockets.

Main Course: Lamb Vindaloo with termeric-infused basmati rice is a traditional Indian meal to enjoy throughout any Diwali celebration. Enjoy the succulent lamb marinated and simmered in a rich, traditionally-spicy sauce; served with turmeric-infused basmati rice.

Dessert: Fruit Kheer (Fruit Pudding)

Ingredients:

2 large Bananas (peeled and thinly sliced)

2 large santras (peeled into segments with pipe removed)

1/2 tsp saffron strands

2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp red chili powder

1 tsp salt

2(140 ml) cartons curd (plain yogurt)

Directions:

Mix the sugar, pepper, chili powder, salt and curd together. Then, add the bananas and santras and mix together for 2 minutes. Dissolve the saffron in a tsp of water and sprinkle it over the dish before serving.

I would like to thank Renee and Lesley for passing this along to me. Everyone should check out TandoorChef.com and the Facebook.com/TandoorChef

Really old recipe before dinner shrimp.

I was digging through some old recipe books and came across one of my favorite old cooking with wine book.

Here is one recipe I used to make alot when we had friends come over.

Shrimp appetizer spread.

Ingredients: 1 large package (8 oz.)  cream cheese (at room temp.), 3 tbsps dry Sherry, 1 clove garlic mashed, 1 green onion (white part only) finely minced, 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1/4 cup milk, 1 cup (6oz.) small cooked shrimp, plain or onion-flavored crackers, raw vegetables like carrot sticks, zucchini slices.

Instructions: Mix cream cheese and Sherry together until smooth and blended. Stir in the garlic, onion, curry powder and milk, then lightly mix in the shrimp. cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight to blend flavors. Allow shrimp mixture to stand at room temp for about 30 mins. to soften before serving. Arrange crackers and vegetables around the bowl of spread. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

They also suggest for fewer calories, omit cream cheese and milk and replaced them with 1 pint cottage cheese, whirled smooth in a blender with Sherry. It makes 2 1/2 cups.

If you can find this old book its called “Cooking with Wine” by the Editors of Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine, 1972

It also had a good main dish recipe that went with the curry theme, “Curry-Honey Chicken.”

Serve this curry-honey chicken and onions over hot steamed rice. Use a wine such as a Rhine or a White Riesling.

Ingredients: 1 broiler-fryer chicken (about 3 lbs.) quartered, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp. pepper 1 medium sized onion thinly sliced, 2 tbsp soft butter, 3/4 cup dry white wine, 4 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp curry powder.

Instructions: Rinse chicken quarters: dry each section well. Combine salt, ginger and pepper, and rub over the chicken sections. Place onion slices in the bottom of a well greased, 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Put chicken on onions, skin side up; dot with butter. Pour wine over top; bake at 400 degrees about 50 mins. During the last 20 mins, baste several times with a mixture of honey and curry. Makes 4 servings.

One of the first books I learned with and started experimenting with. Enjoy!

Dipping the Artichoke!

Artichoke Dip, Spinach Artichoke Dip and the list goes on and on. So people don’t like the taste of artichokes, but there is a trick that makes some of the naysayers say yes. The little trick is marinated artichoke hearts. Reese’s makes marinated artichoke hearts that will take the taste they don’t like away and make you the hit of the party.Two basic ingredients in every artichoke dip are artichoke hearts and Parmesan cheese, and then it gets interesting.

Simple Basic Dip

1 14oz can of artichoke hearts, drained and diced

1 cup mayonnaise

2 cups Parmesan Cheese

Salt and Pepper

Mix large bowl and then trasfer to large glass pie plate.

Microwave or Broil for a 5 mins, if broiling don’t let it get too brown.

Creamy Simple Dip

1 8oz Brick Cream Cheese

1 10oz Original Philly Cooking Cream Cheese

1 cup Parmesan Cheese

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

¼ teaspoon Litehouse brand freeze dried garlic

¼ teaspoon Litehouse brand freeze dried red onion

½ to 1 teaspoon paprika, for added kick

½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

a little parsley for added color

2 14oz jars of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and diced

Mix in large bowl then trasfer to large pie plate. Baked or broil till the top is lightly browned. From this point you can add things like green pepper, jalapeños, crab, chicken, spinach, mozzarella or whatever you what to try.Serve with sliced baguette, bagel chips, crackers, tortilla chips, go with what you like.

Just remember to have fun with this dip and don’t make it a challenge.