August 27, 2010

Savory Palmiers (italian pastries)


  • 1 package frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto, store bought or homemade (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, such as Montrachet
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • Kosher salt


Lightly flour a board and carefully unfold one sheet of puff pastry.

Roll the pastry lightly with a rolling pin until it's 9 1/2 by 11 1/2-inches.

Spread the sheet of puff pastry with half the pesto, then sprinkle with half the goat cheese, half the sundried tomatoes, and half the pine nuts.

Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Working from the short ends, fold each end halfway to the center. Then fold each side again towards the center until the folded edges almost touch.

Fold one side over the other and press lightly.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat the entire instructions for the second sheet of puff pastry using the remaining ingredients.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the prepared rolls of puff pastry in 1/4 inch thick slices and place them face up 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

Homemade Pesto:

  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
  • 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups good olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 30 seconds.

Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper.

With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is finely pureed.

Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute.

Serve, or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Yield: 4 cups

August 19, 2010

Homemade Refrigerated Dill Pickles

  • 6 cups sliced cucumbers (slice how you like them)
Pickling Mixture:
  • 1/2-cup (packed) fresh dill (from your garden or the grocery store's fresh vegetable dept)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, honey, agave nector or Splenda
  • 1-1/2 cups white vinegar (5%)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (canning or kosher is best, but not vital)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • **optional grape leaves

Bring the pickling mixture and 2 cups of vinegar to a near-boil - just simmering!
Be sure to use a NON-metal pot - or a coated metal (teflon, silverstone, enamel, etc.) without breaks in the coating. The metal reacts with the vinegar and makes the pickle solution turn cloudy.
Pack the cucumbers, whole or slices in and pour the simmering pickle mix liquid over them. Fill them to within ¼-inch of the top, set the lid and hand-tighten the ring around them.
***To make your dill pickles crispy, put a fresh clean grape leaf in the bottom of each jar. Continue with the process as usual!
Cool at room temperature. About 2 hours. Put into the fridge and wait at least 24 hours!
It takes some time for the seasonings to be absorbed into the pickles. That's at least 24 hours, but for best flavor wait 1 week.
Be sure to keep them refrigerated!!! Lasts about 2 months.

August 17, 2010

Fight These 4 causes of Aging
You can slow down your aging process and help stave off heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. U.S. News & World Report offers some tips on how to do it:

  1. Free radicals. Free radicals are chemically unstable molecules that attack your cells and damage your DNA. You can limit your exposure to them by avoiding cigarettes, trans fats, charred meats, and other sources.
    Organic fruits and vegetables will also limit your exposure to pesticides and herbicides, which contain the harmful molecules.
  2. Inflammation. Inflammation is a major player in many diseases of aging, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer's. One way to avoid it is to follow a Mediterranean-style diet.
    Other great anti-inflammatory foods include turmeric, dark chocolate, and the anti-aging chemical resveratrol. Exercise is another great way to lower inflammation.
  3. Glycation. Glycation is what happens when sugar mixes with proteins and fats to form molecules that promote aging. Advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, are thought to accelerate your aging process by churning out free radicals and promoting inflammation. One way to avoid ingesting AGEs is to turn down the heat when you cook. The browning effect of high-heat cooking causes these molecules to form. Limiting your intake of sugar-filled foods in general will also help.
  4. Stress. Stress initiates the release of a variety of hormones that make your pulse race and cause your blood pressure to rise. The hormone cortisol, released to lessen these effects, also creates problems when it remains chronically elevated. Try practicing relaxation techniques to help manage stress, and get enough sleep every night.
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