Showing posts with label ham. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ham. Show all posts

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Different Corn Casserole

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Last week I gave you the classic corn casserole that I’ve been making for (gasp) thirty years or so. But recently I found myself thinking that I wanted to make something like it, but different. Funny how that happens a lot in this household.

For once I was well-stocked with supplies, so I started reconstructing the recipe.

--I wanted to add some protein and I had a handy ham slice, so I put in a half-pound of ham, cubed

--I decided to toss the whole corn, but I wanted to keep the cornmeal in the recipe because it adds a nice texture (if you use fairly coarse meal) and helps bind the whole thing together

--The original recipe calls for Monterey Jack cheese, which is sort of semi-soft. I didn’t have any, but I had a really interesting Italian smoked cheese called Scamorza with the same kind of texture, so I cubed it, because that too makes the texture a bit more varied, and in that went. I figured smoked ham and smoked cheese should work well together.




--Since I’d eliminated the corn kernels, I needed to replace the volume of the dish with something, and I happened to have some colorful small sweet peppers, so I chopped them and they went in too.

--Rather than use the lovely ceramic casserole dish that has always been home to the original recipe, I tried out the new/old Pyrex casserole I bought at a yard sale simply because I like the shape (it cost $1).

I kept the sour cream from the original, as well as the eggs and salt.



A Different Corn Casserole
Ingredients:

1/2 lb of ham steak, diced


1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cheese*, diced
1/2 cup coarse-ground cornmeal
Assorted sweet peppers, diced 
     (enough to make up about 1 cup)
1 tsp salt



*I’m going to guess that you can substitute any number of different cheeses, but I’d recommend sticking to something semi-soft, that will melt easily. Parmesan wouldn’t work, and I think Brie or a really runny cheese would make a mess. But you could try a nice orange chedder and add more color that way. Feel free to experiment!

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Generously butter a 2-quart casserole dish.

Beat together the melted butter (cooled) and eggs in a bowl. 



Mix the remaining ingredients another bowl. Add the pureed mixture and blend well.

Pour into the casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes, or until lightly browned.




I’ll admit at the beginning I was a bit worried whether this would result in a texture like the original’s, or if I’d end up with a soggy blob (remember there’s not any leavening in it). But it worked fine. It’s not a sensitive dish, so you can add more peppers, or spicier peppers, or whatever you have in your fridge and it should be fine. I liked it. My husband liked it. I think it’s a keeper!


Still waiting for the next book, A Late Frost, to come out--not until November! But don't worry, because I keep busy with at least three other series, including a brand new one (The Victorian Village series) next year.

And right now I'm in Ireland playing, er, doing research. It's a hard job, but somebody's got to do it!







Friday, May 12, 2017

Ham Slices with Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce

Tidy little single-serving ham slices are easy to find these days, and quick to cook after a busy day, so I often have a couple in the fridge. Of course you can simply saute them and serve with a side or two, but if you’re in the mood for a sauce, this one is simple and fast.

The recipe was inspired by one in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and has long been a favorite of mine. But I can’t remember if I’ve ever had a bottle of Madeira handy, and I was out of cooking sherry, which I usually substituted. Then I had a brainstorm: Irish whiskey! It’s got a slightly sweet flavor (less sweet than madeira, though) and a bit of kick, and I figured it should go well with ham.

HAM SLICES WITH IRISH WHISKEY SAUCE

As usual, this recipe serves four, but I cut it in half for the two of us, and it’s the two-person version that you’ll see in the pictures.

Ingredients:

4 individual ham slices (about 2 pounds
   altogether)    or you can use a single    ham steak and cut it into serving        pieces when cooked 
2 Tblsp butter
1 Tblsp oil
3 Tblsp flour
2 Tblsp minced shallots or scallions
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup Irish whiskey
1 Tblsp tomato paste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups heavy cream


Instructions:

Dry the ham slices on paper towels. Melt the butter in a skillet with the oil and brown the ham pieces lightly. Set them aside but keep them warm.


Pour all but about 2 Tblsp of the fat from the skillet. Cook the shallots or scallions for a few minutes over medium heat. Then stir in the flour and whisk. Cook slowly for 2-3 minutes over medium-low heat, to give the flour time to cook.


In a small saucepan, heat the stock to a simmer, then add the whiskey. Let the mixture simmer briefly to evaporate the alcohol, then whisk the liquid into the flour mixture in the skillet. Add the tomato paste and the pepper, whisk some more, and bring the sauce to a simmer. 



Add the cream and let the sauce thicken for about 5 minutes over low heat. Taste and add salt if you think it needs it (remember that the ham will be salty.)



Place the ham slices on plates and pour the sauce over them. If you're in an Irish mood, you can serve the ham with boiled potatoes. I used rice, and noodles would work too.



You know Cruel Winter, the fifth in the County Cork series,
was released in March. The next book in the series will
be released next January. It has no cover yet, but I think
we have a name: Many a Twist

Here's just a hint of what's to come in Many a Twist:
Why is rich, successful American entrepreneur John Byrne
found dead behind the most elegant hotel in
Skibbereen--that his company has just bought?
Yes, you can expect many twists in this story!

www.sheilaconnolly.com




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Italian Easter Pie Palmiers: Little Heart-Shaped Quiches by Cleo Coyle




Every year at Pasqua, my beloved Aunt Mary would make an Italian Easter Pie. Her version of this rustic pie was amazing to me because it was so satisfying yet so simple. She called it a "pizza," but Americans would recognize it as closer to a white calzone.

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She would fill her rustic Easter pie with ricotta; diced ham; fresh parsley (always fresh!); strong, grated Italian cheese; and raw eggs for binding. She'd mix up a delicious, slightly sweet dough using just her hands on a big bread board. Then she'd roll our the dough, mound in the filling, fold over the dough, seal it, and bake it. After it was baked and chilled (yes, chilled!), we would cut thin slices and eat it at all hours, for breakfast, lunch, snacks, as an appetizer before dinner, or a savory dessert after.

My Aunt
Mary Capaccio
I greatly miss my Aunt Mary. She came to the USA from Italy with my mother. During my childhood, she lived with us and was like a second mother to me and my sister. Aunt Mary passed away over ten years ago, and I still yearn for all the wonderful foods she made for our family. Although I do try to duplicate her recipes, it's the cooking from her heart that I miss the most.

That's why I am once again sharing this Easter recipe with you today, which folds all the flavors of her Easter Pie into a little palmier. The French palmier (a cookie made of sugar-dusted puff pastry) is actually named after a palm leaf, but the shape reminds me more of a heart and that seemed just perfect for my memory of Aunt Mary and her Easter Pie. 

I can also testify that a bite of this palmier (after it is baked and chilled) will give you an almost identical taste to what my aunt made every Easter.

Buona Pasqua, Aunt Mary!

Happy Easter, everyone!

~ Cleo



To download this recipe 
in a free PDF document 
that you can print, save, 
or share, click here.


Cleo Coyle's Italian 

Easter Pie Palmiers


Little Heart-Shaped Quiches


Makes 10 savory palmiers

Serve as an appetizer or snack; taste can be compared to a quiche.


Ingredients

1 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk)
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup flat leaf Italian parsley (fresh!), finely chopped down to 1/4 c.
1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry (or 10 x 10-inch homemade)
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 thin slices of good quality ham or prosciutto

Method

Step 1: Mix the filling - In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, grated Romano, and finely chopped fresh parsley. (I just use a good handful, which is about 1/2 cup. When you chop it finely, the volume measure goes down to 1/4 cup.) This filling should be very well mixed--be sure to work in all of the grated cheese and parsley. Set aside in the fridge to keep it cold.

Step 2: Prepare the pastry - Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. The paper is mandatory. Not only will it help prevent your palmiers from scorching on your pan's hot spots, it will help you fold the puff pastry when the time comes. Lay the puff pastry out on the parchment paper. Use your favorite recipe or go with the Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry sheets. If you've never used these before, see the photo below...


Two folded sheets of puff pastry come in one package. Take out one sheet and allow it to thaw about 30 minutes (or you can cheat and microwave it on low for no more than 10 seconds to thaw it slightly). Now unfold the dough. If there are any cracks, wet your finger and press the dough together to mend it. TIP: Handle the dough as little as possible and keep it cold during the assembly process by returning it to the fridge to re-chill.

Step 3: Brush and layer - Lightly beat the egg and brush it over the entire sheet of puff pastry. Then mound the ricotta cheese mixture onto the egg-washed pastry. Use a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth the filling into an even layer. Now lay your thin slices of ham (or prosciutto) over the top layer of ricotta and fold.



Step 4: Fold - You want to fold this 10 x 10-inch sheet like a letter, into thirds, and then a final time so that the two folded layers are stacked. I like to use the parchment paper to lift and fold, which prevents my hands from warming the puff pastry.





Step 5: Chill and slice - Chill the dough for at least 20 minutes and then cut into 1-inch slices. 

WARNING: The chilling is necessary for the best result. If the dough is warm, it will begin to give and bend as you cut it, and you're palmiers will not hold their pretty shapes. Set the slices on their sides, leaving room between each to allow space for expansion while baking.

Step 6 - Bake and cool - Bake 15 to 20 minutes in an oven that is well pre-heated to 400 degrees F. The Easter Pie Palmiers are done when the pastry has puffed and turned golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the palmiers to cool a bit before carefully transferring to a rack. Allow these savory goodies to cool to room temperature before eating. If you want to experience the true taste of a traditional Italian Easter Pie, then chill these a bit in the fridge, take them out, and...eat with joy! Love, Cleo





To download this recipe
in a free PDF document,
click here, and...



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Happy Easter, Everyone!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 


Alice and Marc in Central Park. 
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