The Goddess on the Go® visits today with the most delicious grilled cheese sandwich to help celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month.
This past Saturday I enjoyed the most delicious three course dinner at Arethusa al Tavolo in Litchfield CT. It is a farm to table restaurant that partners George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis opened. Mr. Malkemus and Mr. Yurgaitis also happen to be executives at Manolo Blahnik.
It all started with the purchase of their own dairy and they bought the name Arethusa. There was a wood nymph in mythology named Arethusa and I wonder if that is where the inspiration for the name came. The partners make the most unbelievable cheeses, milks, butter and ice cream which are found in their store which is alongside the restaurant.
The products from the farm are incorporated in many of the dishes at their restaurant Arethusa al Tavolo. Here my husband, I and two friends had the most superior meal this Saturday, better than any renowned restaurant in Manhattan.
It was here I came to learn it was National Grilled Cheese month. One of the Farmer’s Cheeses I purchased had basil and pine nuts and it led to the inspiration for one of the many grilled cheese sandwiches I intend to make this month in honor of this magnificent toasty gooey delight.
Today I bought delicious and crusty Italian bread.
Then a spread of farmer’s cheese with basil and pine nuts.
I layered on a picante provolone.
After that I added some ham and rosemary and sautéed the sandwich in a mixture of light olive oil and butter. I cooked it on a very low flame covered so the cheese would have a chance to melt. I checked it frequently and turned it only once. When it was golden brown and the cheese was starting to ooze, I took it out of the pan and sprinkled on some course sea salt. With a glass of Italian white wine it made the perfect dinner!
Make it for yourself and a friend. Remember to always BE Goddess.
Van Gough Citrus Cake©
My artist nephew Colin and I are always looking for ways to inspire each other. He reminded me that March 30th is Vincent Van Gough’s birthday and thought that I should in some way pay homage to him a birthday cake.
What better way to pay tribute to Vincent Van Gough than to make a sunflower cake. The colors of these paintings inspired citrus flavors and so this recipe was born.
I used a Williams Sonoma sunflower mold. It is dark in color so it must be baked at 325 degrees. It is a deep mold so it will take 55-65 minutes. You need a long cake testing stick to get to the very bottom. Since the cake bakes for so long the pan should be greased with Crisco® or it will be too dark on the outside. Lightly flour the pans too.
10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
Duncan Hines® (and only Duncan Hines®) lemon cake mix
1 box instant lemon pie pudding mix
1 1/3 cups orange juice
1 teaspoon lime juice fresh or bottled
3 lightly scrambled eggs at room temperature
powdered sugar for garnish and
lemon curd or Sweet Orange marmalade for the center
semisweet chocolate morsels for the center
Cream butter. Add cake mix, pudding mix, orange juice, lime juice and eggs and blend. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Spoon into prepared pan.
Bake thoroughly testing for doneness frequently near the end or suggested baking time. Remove from oven and cool 25 minutes. Invert onto plate and garnish when fully cool.
Happy Birthday Vincent!
What Came First?
Sometimes you have to bake a sweet treat inspired by the dish. In this case, the decorative plate inspired this coffee cupcake with caramel buttercream. The idea alone deserves a spot in the next book!
Heart Healthy Strawberry Chocolate Milkshake
with Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
I decided to make a heart healthy Valentine’s Day dessert was simple and sweet.
Strawberry Chocolate Milk Shake:
3 scoops Breyer’s(C) fat free French Chocolate Ice Cream
1 cup Frozen whole strawberries no sugar added
1 tablespoon good Chocolate Strawberry
Low Fat Whipped Cream for Garnish
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries:
12 Long Stemmed Chocolate Strawberries
8 ounces Ghirardelli(C) Semisweet
Earlier in the day I melted some semisweet cholesterol free chocolate on 50% power in the microwave oven, stirring every 30 seconds until it was just about melted.
I found these beautiful long stemmed strawberries at Shoprite. I dipped them three quarters of the way into melted chocolate and laid them on waxed paper to dry.
After dinner I put 3 cups of frozen strawberries, 3 good sized scoops of the fat free ice cream and the chocolate syrup in the blender. First I pulsed It on crushed ice and them I used the blend option.
Pour into 2 - 8 ounce glasses and top with the light whipped cream. Serve on pretty plates and surround with chocolate dipped strawberries. At the last minute top with another.
Enjoy without worry and Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
New Year’s Resolution- Kitchen Safety or What I Learned From My Cracked Ribs
Yes, I cracked some ribs on Saturday, right before our Christmas/Holiday Family Party. I was rushing around at warp speed when my rubber soul got stuck on water on the floor and my head hurdled toward the granite countertop. I threw myself to avoid a concussion and crashed into it with my ribs instead, knocking the wind out of myself. I was instantly in excruciating pain.
The doctor said as long as I am breathing well the lungs are not punctured and I shouldn’t even bother going through a painful X-ray. I definitely had all the symptoms necessary to diagnose cracked ribs. They don’t tape ribs anymore because the tight tape constricted lung function and people got pneumonia. It will be a 6 week recovery period.
I can walk but bending, twisting and turning are painful. Driving is out, so my husband took me to the nail salon! I let out a yelp every time we hit a little bump but the gesture was appreciated. I have to sleep in a sitting position.
Lesson learned I am never going to rush again. After I fell down the stairs a couple summers ago I mindfully go slowly when going down stairs since I am so petrified of falling again. It seems to take a major incident for me to get more Zen about life, take things slowly, and carefully, but that is the last time.
This accident compelled me think of other things we should all be careful about in the kitchen to avoid accidents. There are so many things to be mindful of and I thought I should list some as important reminders to you and me. No one of us is exempt from accidents.
1. Be mindful of and wipe up all water and oil spills immediately, and don’t rush around in the kitchen. Clean up slippery food particles as well and don’t use scatter rugs that can make you slip.
2. Keep kids and pets out of the kitchen.
3. Never where loose clothing that could catch fire. Wearing a loose fitting robe with baggy long sleeves to make breakfast could be very dangerous.
4. Never put sharp knives in a sink with water so that you cannot see them when you reach in. Keep knives sharp side down in dishwasher. Know how to use knives properly.
5. Pot handles should be turned in.
6. Never wear jewelry that could catch onto pots.
7. Keep a cover handy to cover grease fires. Keep flames low, never allowing them to extend up over the sides of the pot.
8. Make sure you own and can operate a fire extinguisher. Read the directions now before a fire.
9. Keep paper towels, towels, pot holders and mitts away from the stove top. Make sure stove and oven are off after cooking anything. Check again before you go out.
10. Always puncture or peel back plastic covers before microwaving things and never cook eggs in shells. Very important, do not overheat liquids as they can bubble over onto your skin like a volcanic reaction when you touch the sides of the cup and cause severe scalding. Heat all liquids in small increments of time.
11. Do not make your pot heavier than you can handle when boiling water of liquids.
12. Know how to operate all your appliances and do so carefully.
13. Keep your foods fresh by covering and refrigerating promptly and throw things out after two or three days.
14. Keep your countertops disinfected.
15. Disinfect your sponge by washing it in the dishwasher and change frequently.
Now we can start fresh cooking safely this year. Share your experiences and safety tips. Remind your family and friends about safety – BE Goddess.
T’was the Night Before Christmas
T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
I was constantly stirring with help from my spouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
filled with fudge and big cookies, for the family to share.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of chocolate cakes danced in their heads.
And dad in his sweat suit and I in my cap,
had just settled down to enjoy a nice frappe.
When down in the kitchen their arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see was the matter.
Away down the stairs I flew like a flash,
Ran into the kitchen and tripped on the trash.
The icing on the cake of the just frosted dough,
had the luster of wet chocolate on cakes high and low.
The cookies with sprinkles!
The desserts looked so merry!
The chocolate ganache cake was topped with a cherry!
Santa had put them all out
to taste them for fun.
Before I knew it he had eaten each one!
He was happy and cheerful a right jolly old elf,
as he ate all the cookies in the jar on the shelf.
He sprang to his sleigh,
to his team gave some candy
and away they all flew
feeling happy and dandy.
But I heard him explain,
as he drove out of sight,
Merry Christmas to all,
eat cake and cookies all night!
Decorating for Dessert: Sugarplum Table
Sugarplum tables are what I call my dessert tables. In the view of The Chocolate Goddess, you can never have enough desserts. I set the main table for the savory food and two dessert tables several days ahead (yes I said two).
I take sheer delight in composing them. I have one table with Santa standing by a cupboard of sweets. The other table I have set up with gingerbread houses. I put down a table cloth under them and add some cotton snow.
Then I add my favorite holiday cake plates and some with pedestals and some oval and round platters for visual interest. I set the base of one pedestal with a candy wreath and I sometimes a real wreath or berries. After putting them all out I plan what desserts I will make to put on them after, garnering inspiration from the plates themselves.
This year I am making a chocolate raspberry cake with chocolate raspberry buttercream frosting covered with a smooth and shiny ganache. I am making chocolate chips, orange, raspberry, mint and marzipan chocolate truffle cookies for my cookie platter. I plan on an Irish Cream chocolate Bundt cake, and fudge too. All these recipes will be in my book.
Plan and set up your sugarplum tables this weekend so you are not harried Christmas Eve and Christmas!
Deck the Halls!
It is time to trim the tree, bake, invite friends and family – yes it is crunch time. So far the season is a little too crunchy for me. To start of the season with a bang, last week my puppy Truffle must have eaten some mums or tulip bulbs and was very ill. We had to take her to the emergency vet and she had to stay two days on an IV because she was very low on fluids. Poor truffle, her leg is shaved where she had the IV – she looks as though she is wearing one UGG boot.
Then of course Thanksgiving came so late and really shortened the Christmas season. Can somebody tell me why we cannot set Thanksgiving at second week of November every year? It would be so much better for the economy to extend the shopping season.
It was seriously time to deck the halls. The new flip tree I bought went up this past weekend and looks beautiful. It was time to ring in the new so I splurged on some large ornaments and beautiful ribbon from Frontgate. I added favorite ornaments from past Christmases and our tree really came to life.
The decorations I had from my colonial style house just don’t seem to fit in this contemporary/traditional home here on the mountain. I walk around decorations in hand, trying different to work them in. They are perfectly beautiful, many were Christmas decorations I sold in my store The Gourmet Goddess so I think I will take them to Good Will and make some families Christmas a little more festive.
I baked 5 kinds of cookies that will be in the cookbook, I will bake my raspberry chocolate ganache sweetheart cake, make fudge and a few other goodies before the weekend is here since the neighbors are coming Sunday. Now it is time to make sure I have just the right gift for everyone I love giving. What are you giving this season – BE Goddess and think of others!
Goddess Thanksgiving Menu & Other Helpful Hints
The goddess wants everyone to be happy and enjoy the bounty of the earth this Thanksgiving so I did not take composing this menu lightly. Even though I am making more dishes than I really should, I will us steam trays with sternos and Crock Pots® to help keep things warm without drying out as leaving them on warm in the oven often does.
Remember if you are not entertaining yourself but travelling to family and friends with food as I often do, cover your containers properly. Then be sure to wrap everything with Reynolds® Wrap or other aluminum foil. Things will stay at ready to eat temperature if you then wrap them in several layers of newspaper. Then place foods in coolers (yes I did say coolers for they are wonderful insulators for heat as well as cold). Stuff the empty space with balled up newspaper. It is much neater and cleaner if you purchase print free paper from your local moving company or truck rental store the week before.
Some dishes on this menu can be eaten by the vegetarian, as well as the omnivore.
Pumpkin Ravioli (Veg)
Tossed with Alfredo Sage Sauce and garnished with Grated Amoretti
Basted in Butter and White Wine
Homemade Turkey Gravy
Cranberry Orange Herb Stuffing (Veg)
Roasted Butternut Squash, Parsnips, Carrots and (Veg)
With Honey and Butter Glaze
Candied Sweet Potatoes (Veg)
Greens with Cranberries, Pears Macerated in Port Wine, Pecans and Goat Cheese
With Pear Balsamic Vinaigrette
Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake
Chocolate Fudge Cake
Make sure to order your fresh turkey or get your frozen turkey immediately. Some frozen turkeys take a few days to defrost in the refrigerator. Make your list now, don’t delay. Make a time chart of when you will make your dishes. Set the table (a few days before). DO all your food shopping by Monday. Remember some dishes and gravy can be made the day before. Desserts can be made a couple days before and wrapped in airtight containers.
Enjoy entertaining your family and friends and keeping everyone happy. It is what it means to BE Goddess.
Planning Ahead for Thanksgiving
Oops I did it again! I made too many dishes for company Sunday and it was way too hard to keep them all warm for serving time. Let that be a lesson to me and to you for Thanksgiving!
I tried to keep the dishes warm rotating them in my two ovens, but that tends to dry things out, especially if your guests may be late or you are going to sit down to an appetizer first. I felt the tension and strain trying to keep everything at the perfect serving temperature.
This Thanksgiving, I want to make it less hectic and nerve-racking on myself - I need a game plan. Hot plates and chafing dishes could work but they still have a tendency to dry things out. So I think the solution to a moist and delicious dinner this is to set up a table in the back hall or somewhere out of your guests’ way and use 3 sterno trays with half pans (giving you the ability to keep 6 dishes warm).
Keeping the trays covered with aluminum foil will keep the moisture from the steam in. I will put serving bowls and large spoons to dish them out in place the day before. I intend to either cook as many things in the trays and things prepared on the stove will be placed gingerly in a pan. Everything needs to be ready and in the trays at least an hour before guests arrive.
Of course we all need to plan our serving bowls, napkins, tablecloths, cutlery and centerpiece well in advance. Next we will talk turkey and side dishes that will please all. BE Goddess, and get those invitations out!