Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The best of the holidays is the gatherings of loved ones, friends and family.
Feeding them is another story.
But here are two ideas that are really rather simple, although they do require some cooking ahead, and are quite savory. You'll have folks singing your praises rather than carols.

Roanoke's WSLS 10 has had me on its noon time show, OUR BLUE RIDGE, several times the last few months.
Last week, I demonstrated two recipes. The first was for an awesome spread made with artichokes and goat cheese, or chevre. It's a step beyond the typical artichoke, mayo/sour cream and cheese dip, and is a bit healthier. Roast frozen artichoke hearts first with herbs, and you'll find folks in your kitchen drawn to the aromas. Then, while it's hot, add the chevre. Serve bubbling hot from the oven on warm baguette slices or crackers, and you've got one mighty hors d-oeuvre.

A beautiful little package of roasted beet, chevre and rosemary appetizers is also one of my favorite things to serve from THE NEW BLUE RIDGE COOKBOOK.
Roast those ruby red beets, defrost a package of puff pastry, chop some fresh rosemary and slice a log of chevre, then assemble quickly. A bit involved, yes, but really rather simple. Get your guests involved, and what a merry way to spend time in the kitchen - with tasty rewards!
Go to this link for the recipes already printed. And please watch for more helpful hints.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


One of my best presents I received for Christmas last year was home delivery of the Sunday NEW YORK TIMES. I relish curling up on the sofa and diving into the politics, fashion, movies and book reviews, while downing a huge pot of coffee, and when it's the season, having a nice roaring fire going in the fireplace.
A nice breakfast treat just adds icing on my cake. And I am a fool for anyone who wants to cook me breakfast. My husband, bless his heart, has finally mastered eggs-over-easy. But that's about the end of his repertoire.
With Pink Ladies and Golden Spices in my larder, and apples a favorite of the hubby, I tried recently to also make his day by making a breakfast version of an apple pandowny.
Buckwheat is a favorite of mine, especially with maple syrup. Whenever I find stoneground grits, there will usually be pancake mixes available, too. So I've got a stash of buckwheat pancake mixes in the extra fridge in the garage.

The small, six-inch cast iron skillet that was my grandmother's brings back such sweet memories every time I use it. And isn't that what the weekend's more relaxed time should be about? Conjuring up memories of a loved one while stirring up something yummy?
I peeled, cored and thickly sliced two apples. I also used an additional small skillet so that I could cook two pancakes at a time, and melted a pat of butter in each.
The apples slices looked like a pinwheel when added to the skillets. I cooked them over a low heat so that they would not brown too quickly before softening up, then flipped each slice over.
Then I mixed up the pancake batter, and slowly poured it over the apple slices, again over low heat.

I'll confess that flipping the pancakes didn't work with one. The trick is that, just as with regular pancakes, you must wait until the bottom is fully cooked. Usually you can see what looks like popped bubbles, or tiny craters, that indicate that the batter is cooked through. And that's when you can successfully slide your spatula under the apples and batter, and then flip them over.
Good luck. I've had success with that two out of the four times I've made them!
But let me tell matter if it's pretty on top or not, these pancakes are just divine. We splurge with real maple syrup from either Whitetop Mountain in VA, or from Maple Springs Farm near Burnsville, NC.