Pirate Kitchen

Cinnamon Rolls

Frosted Cinnamon Buns

Good morning, Cinnamon Rolls. I ate two of them as I was blobbing and smearing the rest with sweet and yummy cream cheese frosting.  Of course the two I ate were frosted, what kind of question is that?

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Strawberry Romance

Strawberry Extravaganza

Strawberry Extravaganza

I started to think about and remember, strawberry wine. A few years ago, I was given a bottle of homemade strawberry wine. I never really thought about it before and had no idea what to expect. Given the talents of its maker, I had no doubts, but never dreamed it could be so good. It looked pale in color like a beaujolais, and tasted like a light, strawberry merlot. I was really surprised and loved every last drop. I would like to make it someday and give it to a select few individuals in my life to make them feel extraordinarily special.

Strawberries

Strawberries

Strawberries are a very beautiful, earthy, sexy and romantic fruit. They are the stuff of myth and legend. I love the Italian legend that states when Venus wept for Adonis, her tears fell to earth and turned into heart-shaped strawberries. The French believed they were an aphrodisiac and made sure they were served to newlyweds. What do you believe?

I happily settled for making butter, preserves and compote instead of the wine. The butter has a slightly curdled look to it (it should) and is sweet and the little jewels of strawberry burst on your tongue while you’re eating it. Wow. The preserves are quick and easy and of course there’s nothing like homemade. And the compote can be poured on just about anything. I decided to pour it on store-bought pound cake, but try pancakes or angel food cake. For the truly fearless strawberry lover and romantic:  bread with the preserves, butter AND compote! Just make sure you’re not planning to drive anywhere for a while and the love of your life is close by.

For all you fearless romantics out there…
Strawberry Butter
Makes about one cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 pound very soft unsalted  butter

Puree the berries in a food processor. Add the sugar. With the machine on, gradually add the butter in bits. Whiz until well blended – about 30 seconds. The mixture looks curdled at first, but will pull together. Pack into a crock or jar and chill until ready to serve. If you’re feeling fancy-shmancy, put it into a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe rosettes (or blobs) onto a large plate covered with plastic wrap and chill.
Strawberry Preserves
Before you do anything, you need sterilized jars. Use either jars straight from the dishwasher while still warm or fill them 1/4 full with water and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Drain and use while still warm.

Makes 3, 8 ounce jars

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups whole strawberries, hulled
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Stick a saucer into the freezer. Put all the ingredients into a wide saucepan, over low heat, and stir with a wooden spoon to make sure all the fruit is coated. Continue stirring occasionally and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 5-8 minutes and start testing by taking the pan off the heat and dropping a teaspoon onto the saucer from the freezer. Let it cool a bit and if the preserves wrinkle when you push it with your finger, it’s ready. When you’ve reached this point, leave it in the pan to cool for 20 minutes before pouring into cleaned, prepared jars.
Strawberry Compote
Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 pints strawberries rinsed, hulled and sliced
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup strained orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (grand marnier or triple sec)

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Over low heat, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Cool then refrigerate, covered, until needed.

And let’s not forget Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries: dip whole, perfect ripe strawberries into melted bittersweet chocolate. Set on waxed paper to dry.

Credits: The Frog Commissary Cookbook, Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess, Nick Malgieri’s How to Bake and Susan Branch’s The Summer Book.

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Frittata Cups

Frittata Cups

Frittata Cups

I am a huge fan of rituals. I don’t normally eat breakfast, but my weekday breakfast-type ritual centers around coffee. My most favorite thing in the world is that timer on the coffee maker.  I adore waking up to the smell of coffee.  Aaaaaaaahhhhh. But after I drink my coffee and head to work, I usually start to feel hungry and wish my very own personal breakfast buffet was waiting for me. I don’t want breakfast as soon as I get up, but at some point between coffee and lunch I’m ready for eggspancakesbacontoastpotatoesetc. Sigh. I can dream, can’t I? The reality is if I ate all that, I would fall into a languid stupor, go back to bed and roll up in the covers. Who knows when I would emerge? Reality check: I’d like to keep my day job AND fit into my clothes. But, there are such things as weekends and I try to linger if only for just a little while. We (in the general sense) are sometimes just a bit too busy, aren’t we? Breakfast can be a way to sloooow down and put off some of the inevitable.

There is a happy middle ground: Frittata Cups. A frittata is an Italian, egg-based dish sort of like an omelette, but everything is mixed together instead of folding the eggs over their fillings as in an omelette. Just about anything can go into a frittata (my grandmother’s version had pepperoni and ricotta cheese-YUM!) and traditionally they’re made in a pan and then broiled a bit on top, but I’ve made it much easier. These wonderful creations are baked in cupcake tins and are so quick and easy. They can be eaten hot or at room temperature, are immensely satisfying and can also be made low-fat and low-carb by using egg substitute and low-fat cheese. I make a bunch, store in the fridge in a ziploc bag and take them to work with me. When it’s time for lunch, I pop one or two in the microwave (just enough to get the cheese a little melty), grab the hot sauce and dream of lingering…

Frittata Cups
Great for breakfast, snack or light lunch.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs or 1 1/2 cups egg substitute
  • 1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (your favorite or low fat cheddar)
  • 1/4 cup diced red peppers
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with foil baking cups and spray the cups with cooking spray. Unwrap the spinach and microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes. Squeeze the excess liquid from the spinach (the best way to do this is with your hands until it’s a tight ball). Place in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and combine well. Divide evenly among the baking cups. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

These can be frozen and reheated in the microwave. Any combination of vegetables, cheeses, herbs or meat can be used – the sky’s the limit!

Credit: inspired by the South Beach Diet’s Vegetable Quiche Cups to Go.

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