Food As A Gift by Deb Forkins

After lamenting my less than stellar rhubarb harvest last year, a dear friend brought me over this homemade rhubarb treasure.  She is a fabulous cook, and the pie was delicious….but it was the big D on that pie that was the most delish!  Edible friendship!

One Sunday, I came home from working at Marcel’s to dinner in the oven.  Marc had made his specialty quiche, adding zucchini to my half.  Again, the best part of that dinner was my name on my half of the quiche in zucchini peel.  Edible love.

Sharing the gift of food is a universal gesture of love and friendship, compassion and kindness.  A meal to a family struggling with challenges, chicken soup to a sick friend, cookies to your new neighbor…food has always been a way that we reach out to one another, to connect.  We all know this.  The food itself may or may not be a fabulous culinary creation, but the gesture speaks volumes.

In her cookbook, Food Gift Love, author and chef Maggie Battista shares some tips to make you the quintessential food gifter:

  • Know your recipient. (always best to play to the audience.)
  • Master a signature food gift so you can make it quickly and have the ingredients in your head.
  • Embrace imperfection. (my favorite tip!)
  • Put a label on it. (ingredients and date created)
  • Summer and fall are the best time to make gifts when fruits and vegetables are plentiful and it’s a less hectic time of the year.
  • Reuse old jars, cups and boxes that can be cleaned and repurposed.

At risk of sounding corny, “what the world needs now is love.”  And edible love is just the best. 

(Check out Chef Kelly Sears’ “Pickling and Preserving Workshop” on Sunday, August 27th to learn the tricks of canning and preserving in anticipation of Christmas 2017 Food Gift Giving!)

Champagne Punch

Champagne Punch
  1. 2 cups apple cider
  2. ¼ cup sugar
  3. 1 mesh teaball with mulling spices
  4. 1 bottle champagne or sparkling wine
  1. Combine apple cider, sugar and teaball with mulling spices in pan and bring to the boil. Simmer until sugar is dissolved. Chill.
  2. Just before serving, add champagne.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies
  1. 2/3 cup butter, room temperature
  2. 1 ½ cups flour
  3. ½ cup sugar
  4. 2 eggs, separated
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  6. 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  7. your choice flavored preserves
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until softened. Add sugar, egg yolks, vanilla and half of the flour. Beat until thoroughly combined, then beat in remaining flour. Cover and chill for one hour.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Slightly beat egg whites. Finely chop nuts. Form dough into 1” balls. Roll each ball in egg whites, then in the chopped nuts. Arrange 1” apart on cookie sheet. With your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in each cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes.
  5. Remove cookies from cookie sheet and cool. Fill in the centers with your favorite preserves.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Gingersnaps in White Chocolate

Gingersnaps in White Chocolate
  1. 1 cup packed brown sugar
  2. 3/4 cup butter
  3. 1/4 cup molasses
  4. 1 egg
  5. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  6. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  9. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  11. granulated sugar
White Chocolate
  1. 1 12-ounce bag white chocolate chips
  2. 4 tablespoons shortening
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with cooking parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  2. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, butter, molasses and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Stir in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Roll in granulated sugar.
  3. On cookie sheets place cookies about 3 inches apart. Bake 9 to 12 minutes or just until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack.
  4. When cookies have cooled, make the white chocolate for dipping. Either in a microwave or a double boiler, melt the white chocolate chips and the shortening. Dip half the cooled cookie into the chocolate.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Deviled Eggs Three Ways

Deviled eggs from Jill, Kelly and Dana!

Jill’s Deviled Eggs
  1. 8 hard boiled eggs, cooled and peeled
  2. ¼ cup mayonnaise, or more as desired
  3. 1/8 t. cayenne, plus more for sprinkling
  4. 1 T. horseradish
  5. 1 ½ t. dry mustard
  6. 1 t. poultry seasoning
  7. ½ t. celery salt
  8. a few dashes worcestershire
  9. salt and pepper
  1. Cut eggs in half and remove yolks into a bowl. Mash yolks and add remaining ingredients. Taste and season as desired. Fill each egg white with a generous spoonful of the egg yolk mixture. Sprinkle with cayenne.
Marcel's Culinary Experience
Kelly Sears' Deviled Egg Base
  1. 1 cup mayonnaise
  2. ¼ cup Dijon
  3. 1 t. salt
  4. 2 good grinds pepper
  5. ¼ cup buttermilk
  6. ½ t. smoked paprika, if desired
  7. mashed egg yolks
  1. Mix together mayonnaise, Dijon, salt and pepper in a jar. To this add buttermilk. Shake or stir until completely combined. To this add smoked paprika, if desired.
  2. Mix this base with mashed egg yolks to form the basis of your deviled egg filling.
  1. Add-ins: crumpled bacon and chile with adobo, smoked salmon and dill, shallots, chives, etc.
Marcel's Culinary Experience
Dana's Deviled Eggs
  1. 8 hard boiled eggs, cooled and peeled
  2. Deviled Egg Base (see Kelly's recipe above)
  3. La Boite B Marlene seasoning
  4. celery salt
  5. salt and pepper
  6. capers
  1. Cut eggs in half and remove yolks into a bowl. Mash yolks and add enough deviled egg base to form a creamy yolk mixture. Add seasonings to desired taste..
  2. Fill each egg white with a generous spoonful of the egg yolk mixture. Top with capers
  3. Hard Boiled Eggs: Place eggs in sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Plunge in cold water until eggs are cold. For best results, do not use eggs that have just been purchased.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Ricciarelli Cookies

Ricciarelli Cookies
  1. 3-3/4 cups blanched almond meal flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
  2. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 4 oz. (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar; more for dusting
  4. Finely grated zest of 1 large orange (about 1 Tbs.)
  5. 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  6. 1-1/2 T. honey
  7. 1/2 t. pure almond extract
  8. 1/4 t. pure vanilla extract
  1. Line 4 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Pour the almond flour into a large bowl and use your fingers to break up any clumps. Add the granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar, and the orange zest, and whisk to combine.
  3. In a small stainless-steel bowl, beat the egg whites with a hand-held mixer on high speed until they form soft peaks. With a spatula, gently fold the whites into the almond meal mixture. Add the honey and extracts, and mix well. The dough will be stiff and sticky.
  4. Put the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Pinch off about 2 tsp. of dough, roll it into a ball, and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the dough is shaped into balls, placing 12 balls per sheet. Roll each ball in the confectioners’ sugar until well coated, then return to the baking sheet and gently pinch the ball into a diamond shape. Let the cookies sit, uncovered, for 1 to 2 hours to firm up and dry out a little.
  5. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until their tops have started to crack and they are barely tinged with gold around the edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to cooling racks and let cool completely.
  6. Dust with more confectioners’ sugar. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  1. These cookies from the almond-growing region of Siena date back to at least the 15th century. They’re melt-in-your-mouth tender, but with a nice chew. Their cracked, snowy-white tops make a beautiful addition to a cookie platter, and they’re a great option for those on a gluten-free diet.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Grapes and Espresso

Grapes and Espresso
Serves 4
  1. (2) 1.5 oz strong Espresso
  2. 1 T. olive oil
  3. 1 pound red and white grapes
  4. 5 oz. sweet white wine (Sauternes or Gewürztraminer)
  5. 3 sticks of cinnamon
  6. 1 T. honey
  7. ½ T. balsamic vinegar
  8. ½ T. butter
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized frying pan. Add the grapes and sauté for one minute. Add the espresso, white wine, cinnamon sticks and honey. Stir for two minutes and then remove from the heat.
  2. Add the vinegar and butter to the pan and stir until the butter melts. Serve warm.
  1. This elegant dish is a splendid blend of colors and tastes.
  2. Serve as an accompaniment to an Italian meal of roast meat or poultry with polenta or as a light dessert with cheese and biscotti.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

As Easy as Pie by Teri Hiben

We’re in that time of year we call “The Holidays.”  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Day….  Celebrations abound!  We gather with family and friends from near and far.  We have parties and dinners, catch up on the latest news in each other’s lives and reminisce about the years past.  As our families and friend groupings multiply and change, these gatherings help to deepen the love and admiration we have for one another.  At the centerpiece of these gatherings is the food: food from our past, new dishes to share.

For me, many of my family food traditions involve baking.  My mom has already been busy baking the family pfeffernusse (peppernuts) to send to each of us in the next weeks. (I can’t wait!)  Here at home there are cinnamon roll coffeecakes to mix, rise, bake and share with neighbors, as well as gingerbread and snowball cookies (and many others) to make.  There will be sweet potato crescent rolls, stollen and biscotti to create – all filling the house with enticing aromas.  But, first on the list of holiday baking are the Thanksgiving pies.  

TeriPieBlog2My love of baking was passed down from my mom, Della, who was the baker for her family of 7 on her family’s Kansas farm starting at age eight!  She’s an expert baker of many breads and cookies, but it’s her pies that have brought her fame.  She’s affectionately known as “The Pie Lady” and her pies are fervently sought out at work and asked for by friends and family.  I’ve been the willing recipient of much of her baking wisdom so have grown up baking pies of all sorts.  This Thanksgiving I’ll be baking up a few cherry pies for the pie social at church and for our dinner, I’ll be serving both apple and pumpkin pies.   Every bite eaten while spending time with people I love.

I’d like to share with you mom’s pie crust recipe.  It’s an easy, forgiving crust that bakes up flaky and tasty and is truly NO FAIL.

Happy Baking!

Della's No Fail Pie Crust
  1. 2 ¼ c. flour (can use up to half whole wheat flour)
  2. 1 t. salt
  3. 2/3 cup oil
  4. ¼ cup water
  1. Mix together flour, salt and oil with a fork. Then add water and mix. Divide into 2 disks. Roll out between 2 pieces of wax paper that you “stick” to the counter with a slightly damp dishtowel.
  2. After adding the top crust to pie, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you wish.
  1. Yields a 2 crust pie.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Blooming Brie Bowl

Blooming Brie Bowl with Caramelized Pears
  1. 2 T. butter
  2. 2 shallots, minced
  3. 2 pears, peeled, cored and diced
  4. 1/3 cup dry white wine
  5. 1 t. brown sugar
  6. 1/2 t. chopped fresh thyme
  7. 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  8. 1 (8 ounce) round loaf sourdough bread
  9. 1 (8 ounce) round Brie cheese, rind removed and cubed
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a skillet, melt 1 T. butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the pears and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, brown sugar, thyme, salt and pepper. Increase the heat slightly and simmer the mixture until all of the liquid has evaporated and the pears have caramelized, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Cut top third off loaf of bread; hollow out enough bread from bottom to make room for cheese.
  4. Cube removed bread; set aside.
  5. Using a knife, make 2-inch cuts into loaf around edge of bread at 1-in. intervals. Spread inside of bread with 1 Tbsp. butter. Place ½ of cheese into bottom of bread bowl, top with 1/2 of the pear mixture. Place the remaining brie half on top, spread with the remaining pear mixture and sprinkle with remaining slivered almonds. Replace bread top and place on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in preheated 350° F. oven for about 30 minutes.
  7. Serve with reserved sourdough bread pieces and crackers.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Holiday Traditions at the Table by Paul Lindemuth

We’ve turned the calendar page to November and that means that the holidays are here!  Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, with Hanukah, Christmas and the New Year not far behind.  These holidays involve so many traditions. For many of us the most important ones are centered at the holiday table with family and friends.

For the past 16 years I have been so fortunate to be part of both Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners with a family that I’ve seen both grow and grow up. What a joy to bring smiles to their faces with the bounty of their holiday feasts!  Those feasts have come to include some favorite foods that I’ve prepared almost every year….the traditional roast turkey, stuffing, cranberries with apples and pears.

TurkeyWhen you’re cooking for a dinner that has now grown to 40+ guests, the usual roasted whole turkey is no longer feasible or for that matter, really desirable. Even several spatchcocked whole turkeys take too long to cook and take up too much valuable oven space. So my solution is to roast whole, bone-in turkey breasts at high temperature in under an hour. The resulting shatteringly crisp skin and tender, juicy meat is a real holiday treat. You too can create this delicious turkey that is certain to become a tradition at your holiday table as well!

Perfect 55-Minute Roast Turkey Breast
Serves 6
  1. one 5 ½ to 6 pound whole turkey breast, thawed if frozen
  2. olive oil
  3. kosher salt
  4. freshly ground black pepper
  1. Position oven rack to the second level from the bottom. Preheat oven to 500 F.
  2. Place the turkey breast skin side up on a large rimmed baking sheet. Rub lightly with olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the turkey for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and brown and the juices run clear.
  4. Remove the turkey from the oven and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
  5. Using a long carving knife, remove the breast halves from the bones. Carve each breast across the grain into thick slices and serve.
Marcel's Culinary Experience