Homemade English Muffins

This recipe is so user friendly and satisfying. I like to use buttermilk for a pleasant, sour tang. The use of bread flour is for an incredible chewy bite. The dough will naturally be sticky, In essence, this is a good sign; the mixture contains optimal hydration, which will yield the traditional nooks and crannies that English muffins are known for. Be sure to split open with a fork to reveal your labor. This dough tastes best when you ferment the mixture overnight, but it is not necessary. Toast them on the stovetop then finish them in the oven. So easy to make, you will be amazed. 

You’ll Need:

5 cups unbleached bread flour

3 teaspoons granulated sugar or honey

2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

1/4 water, room temperature

1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Cornmeal for dusting

Cooking oil

Special Equipment:

Cast Iron Skillet

Scale 

Here’s How:

In a small bowl, add the yeast to the water, stir. Set aside and allow the yeast to begin activation. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients—flour, sweetener, and salt. Fit with the dough hook and mix on low speed to combine. 

Add the activated yeast, all but 1/4 cup of the buttermilk, and the butter. Mix on medium-low speed until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still loose flour in the bowl, drizzle in some of the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk. Continue to knead for about 8-10 minutes until the dough looks soft, but still feels tacky and pliable. 

Dust your fingertips with flour, and remove the dough from the bowl and gently form it into a ball. Spray the bottom of your mixing bowl with cooking spray and place the dough back in the mixing bowl. Turn it once to oil, to prevent a crust from forming. Cover lightly with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise 90 minutes in a quiet, warm location of your kitchen, or place in the refrigerator and allow the dough to ferment overnight for optimal flavor.

Prepare three sheet pans with non-stick liners and dust two with cornmeal. Set aside. 

Wipe the counter with a damp cloth and release the dough gently from the bowl. Flouring the work surface is not necessary. Divide the dough into equal pieces weighing about 3 ounces each. Gently shape the pieces into small rounds practicing special attention not to deflate.

Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pans dusted with cornmeal, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Mist them lightly with spray oil, sprinkle them loosely with cornmeal, and cover with a clean towel.

Set aside and proof the rounds at room temperature for an additional 90 minutes or until the pieces nearly double in size.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F Degrees with the oven racks distributed evenly. 

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, drizzle the pan and a wide spatula with cooking oil. 

Uncover the muffin rounds, slide an oiled spatula under rounds, and gently transfer each one to the hot oiled pan, spacing them about an inch apart. Cook undisturbed for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the bottoms are nicely brown and both sides slightly deflate to the characteristic of an English Muffin. Carefully flip and continue to cook on the other side for 5 to 8 minutes.

Transfer the pan-cooked muffins back to the original sheet tray and immediately place them in the oven. It’s essential not to wait for the remaining rounds to cook; they will deflate further.

Bake in the oven for an additional 7-8 minutes to ensure that the center bakes through. Cool, and cut open with a fork to display the nooks and crannies.

Makes 16

The Brussel Sprout Files!

Below is a formula sure to make your Brussel sprouts are a success no matter what flavor profile you’re after. Sweet, salty, or tangy!

Brussel sprouts are aggressive in flavor. You either love them or hate them. So many ways to cook them too– from baked chips to chopped salads. At my home we love our sprouts pan-fried with crisp pancetta– caramelized with lots of butter and my homemade infused olive oil, & lots of crispy fried garlic cloves.

Brussel sprouts caramelize naturally. On special occasions we make a few variations. Addition of maple syrup, or a sprinkling of brown sugar with a handful of candied walnuts will make your family roar! Sometimes we like to add crispy bacon, a nice citrus finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and lot of lemon zest– then an good dousing of parmesan cheese. I add a fair amount of fresh cracked black peppercorns!

Here’s How : 

To properly sauté brussels sprouts, you’ll need a fair amount of fat in the skillet. While bacon is a classic pairing, use your families favorite flavor. Ground pork sausage,  Italian sausage, apple sausage, duck fat, or –If you’re a vegetarian, good quality olive oil is perfect. As mentioned, I use pancetta. So delicious and I love the little crispy, crunchy salty nuggets. How much to use is up to you- I personally like a lot of Pancetta floating around in my dish- so I use a least a pound or two ( shhhh) per stock/stem of Brussel sprout! about 40- 50 spouts.

If using something like bacon or sausage, start by browning the meat in a very large skillet  – I use two of my largest skillets, and split the recipe between them. (Brussel sprouts contain lots of water– so, if you over-crowd the Brussel spouts in the pan, they will steam not caramelize. Tragic.)  Always halve the sprouts and trim the root-end clean.

Sauté the pancetta or your choice of fat, over medium-high heat. Render the fat. Once the meat is cooked, remove it with a slotted spoon set it aside for later addition. Add the halved brussels sprouts to the fat, shaking the skillet so that as many as possible landing cut side down or use tongs to ensure the sprout is positioned for optimum caramelization. Now, step away from the pan. Resist the urge to move them around. Distribution will prevent them from cooking through and becoming crispy golden brown  and delicious. They need to stay in contact directly with the surface heat. Cook until they have a nice  brown sear on one side, about 8 to 10 minutes. If a knife runs easily through, they are done.

Just before removing from the heat, add in  your favorite seasonings–like chopped garlic, sliced onions, fresh thyme, sprinkling of brown sugar, maple syrup, honey  or lemon juice  with lots of zest. Return the sautéed meat you rendered the fat from and toss to coat nicely. Cook for an additional 1- 2 minutes. If making an addition of candied nuts, now is the time to do so. Toss well and serve. (The candies nuts will remain crunchy if not added to the cooking process.)

Salt and pepper. Serve!

Steaming Method: 

Clean Brussels sprouts and slice in half lengthwise. Fill a large stock pot with about 2 inches of flavored stock and water combination– place a metal steamer basket on top. Bring the water to a simmer, add the brussels sprouts to the basket, season with salt and pepper and cover. Steam until the brussels sprouts are bright green and just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the lid from pot and let them cool slightly before removing. I like to shock my sprouts in cool ice water so they retain a bright green color. Then right before serving I dunk in hot boiling water or toss quickly in a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper until warmed trough. About two minutes. See my method here for retaining color and nutrition in steamed veggies.

Baking Method:

Halve brussels sprouts (or quarter them, if they are especially large), making sure to hold on to any leaves that fall away (these get the crispest) and toss with plenty of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and scatter them onto a rimmed baking sheet, making use of every inch. Brussels sprouts contain a good bit of water, and if they’re too crowded on the tray, they’ll steam instead of brown. If you need to use two or three sheet pans, do it.

Roast in a hot pre heated 450’F degrees oven, tossing every 10 minutes or so, until the outer leaves have begun to almost char, and the innermost part of the sprout is just tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Finish growing by making sure the cut side of the sprint is face down on the baking sheets surface so they get nicely caramelized. While they caramelize well on their own, tossing the sprouts with a tablespoon or two of maple syrup, honey or light brown sugar will give them a bit of holiday flavor. Remove from oven– add your favor flavors to finish, like lemon zest and fresh thyme, or fresh rosemary, or pine nuts with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese — toss well and return to the oven for an additional five minutes. Remove, set aside to cool. You can even toss with a bit of reduced balsamic reduction –. Whatever flavors you’ve decided on — enjoy– it’s all you!

I’d love to hear about your favorite way to make Brussel sprouts. Leave me a message and tell me how.

Happy Holiday!

The BEST Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. 

I have ever so slightly adapted the very, very famous- New York Times, chocolate chip cookie recipe. Enjoy! 
Ingredients:

8½ ounces cake flour

8½ ounces bread flour

1¼ teaspoons fresh baking soda

1½ teaspoons fresh baking powder

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

10 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

10 ounces dark brown sugar

8 ounces granulated cane sugar

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 Tablespoon Vanilla bean paste

20 ounces good quality dark chocolate chunks,( at least 60% cacao content) chopped into 1/4 -1/2 inch nuggets

Maldon salt, for garnish on top

Method
Step 1: In a medium size bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt. Incorporate well to ensure ingredients are evenly distributed. 

Step 2: In the bowl of your stand mixer or large mixing bowl with paddle attachment; cream together the butter and both sugars until mixture is pale in color and creamy in texture.

Step 3: Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time- mixing well after each addition. 

Step 4: Add the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. 5 to 10 seconds. Do not over beat.

Step 5: Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom of the bowl and mix an additional 10 -15 seconds. Fold in the chocolate by hand.  

Step 6: Chill in an airtight container over night or up to 72 hours. Using a 3 1/2 ounce portion scoop. Portion onto cookie sheet immediately before baking. 
Step 7: Preheat oven to 325’F.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18-20 minutes. 

Notes
Makes approximately 1 1/2 dozen large 5 inch cookies. Or approximately 40 smaller, 2-3 inch. 
I like to use a 1 ounce portion control scooper and scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet, wrap and freeze individually overnight. Once frozen, I pack into one larger airtight container- store in the freeze and use as needed straight into the oven. Bake 1 ounce cookies for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown, and no signs of shimmering sugar crystals on top. 

This recipe works well in a parchment log and sliced in 1/2 inch rounds prior to baking.

Dough should always be baked when chilled.

Variations with nuts or white chocolate chunks or both combine are delicious. 
Photo credit: NYT

10 Minutes to Creamy! Chocolate Avocado Mousse! 

Chocolate Mousse has never been healthier …or faster! When choosing Avocados use Haas variety- they tend to have a rich creamy finish. 

You’ll Need: 

4 ripe avocados

3 Tablespoons honey, maple syrup or optional liquid sweetener. ( do not use granulated sugar) 

3/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Small pinch of Himalayan or your favorite salt

4-5 Tablespoons cow or nut milk

1 cup washed berries for garnish 

Cocoa for dusting 

Here’s How:
Split the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pits.

Using a spoon, scoop out the meat and place into your food processor. Add honey, cocoa, vanilla, salt, and milk.

Blend until very smooth. About 1 minute. Taste and adjust sweetness. Add additional milk to adjust consistency. 

Place mixture into serving bowls or glassware, and chill until ready to serve. 

Top with fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of cocoa. 

Makes Approximately 4-6 servings   

Eat it all up! 

Stromboli- Dinner in 30! 

Unlike a calzone, a stromboli does not contain sauce. Invented in the 1950’s on the east coast in Pennsylvania.

An Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria claims to be the first to have used the name, Stromboli. Rumor has it the pizzeria owner had experimented with “pizza imbottito”, or “stuffed pizza”, and added ham, salami, cheese and peppers into a pocket of raw bread dough. A family member suggested he name it after the recently released movie Stromboli, which, at the time was notorious for an off-screen affair between married actress, Ingrid Bergman, and married director, Roberto Rossellini that resulted in a love child. Remember, it was early in the 1950’s. Can you imagine how scandalous this must have been back then?

Traditionally, Stromboli’s are filed with layers of thinly sliced salami, pepperoni and smoked Provolone cheese then baked in a flaky crust that was rolled into a log. Often referred to as a turnover. Serve with additional sauce on the side for dipping. Today- you can use any filling imaginable.

Personalize your Stromboli !

Ingredients:

1 pound ready made pizza dough

1 cup spicy pizza sauce

1 cup grated smoked provolone or substitute with mozzarella cheese

2 dozen slices of good quality salami

20 slices thin cut pepperoni substitute with deli ham

1 egg, beaten for egg wash

Additional pizza sauce for dipping, warmed.

Method:

Preheat oven to 375’F. Prepare a high sided baking sheet with parchment and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

Place the dough on a clean lightly floured work surface roll out to approximately 10×16 inch rectangle. Roll up onto the rolling pin and transfer the dough into the parchment- lay flat.

Spread pizza sauce over 2/3’s of the dough lengthwise, leaving a 3×16 rectangle of plain dough along one of the edges.

Top the sauce with half the grated cheese, salami and ham. Top with remaining cheese.

Brush the blank strip of dough with the egg wash. Fold in the ends ( sorta like rolling a burrito ) about an inch, and brush them with egg wash as well. This will assist with the Stromboli from oozing out all its goodness in the oven.

Roll up like a jelly roll lengthwise starting along the long edge of dough topped with all the fillings and ending with the plain strip of dough on the bottom of the roll. Bake seam side down to keep closed.

Brush the entire Stromboli with the additional egg-wash and gently cut thin slits on the top of the dough every 1-2 inches.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake 8-10 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.

Remove from oven, cool 5-8 minutes and slice into pieces. Serve with additional pizza sauce for dipping or drizzling.

Authentic Fried Israeli Falafel 

Here I am, an Italian-American trying to grasp the depths of an authentic Israeli Falafel recipe. Here is how I did it. I’ve turn to my favorite Falafel expert, and adapted from Joan Nathan’s book The Foods of Israel Today. Amazing book ! Read what Joan has to say about the authenticity of Falafel. 

Joan writes

“Every Israeli has an opinion about falafel, the ultimate Israeli street food, which is most often served stuffed into pita bread. One of my favorite spots is a simple stand in the Bukharan Quarter of Jerusalem, adjacent to Mea Shearim. The neighborhood was established in 1891, when wealthy Jews from Bukharan engaged engineers and city planners to plan a quarter with straight, wide streets and lavish stone houses. 

After the Russian Revolution, with the passing of time and fortunes, the Bukharan Quarter lost much of its wealth, but even so the area retains a certain elegance. There, the falafel is freshly fried before your eyes and the balls are very large and light. 

Shlomo Zadok, an elderly falafel maker and falafel stand owner, brought the recipe with him from his native Yemen.

Zadok explained that at the time of the establishment of the state, falafel — the name of which probably comes from the word pilpel (pepper) — was made in two ways: either as it is in Egypt today, from crushed, soaked fava beans or fava beans combined with chickpeas, spices, and bulgur; or, as Yemenite Jews and the Arabs of Jerusalem did, from chickpeas alone. But favism, an inherited enzymatic deficiency occurring among some Jews — mainly those of Kurdish and Iraqi ancestry, many of whom came to Israel during the mid 1900s — proved potentially lethal, so all falafel makers in Israel ultimately sopped using fava beans, and chickpea falafel became an Israeli dish.

The timing was right for falafel in those early years, with immigrants pouring in. Since there was a shortage of meat, falafel made a cheap, protein-rich meal — and people liked it.

Rachama Ihshady, the daughter of the founder of another favorite Jerusalem falafel joint, Shalom’s Falafel on Bezalel Street, told me that her family recipe, also of Yemenite origin, has not changed since British times. 

Using the basics taught to me by these falafel mavens, I have created my own version, adding fresh parsley and cilantro, two ingredients I like and which originally characterized Arab falafel in Israel. 

Give me mine wrapped in a nice warm pita bread, swathed in tahina sauce an overflowing with pickled turnip and eggplant, chopped peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, amba (pickled mango sauce) — and make it harif, Hebrew for “hot.” The type of hot sauce used, of course, depends on the origin of the falafel maker.”

With all this research I decided to adapt Jones recipe without cilantro to suit more my own liking. Feel free to add it or omit. 

Joan Nathon’s Falafel Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup dried chickpeas

1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro ( optional) 

1 teaspoon salt

1/2-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper

4 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon baking powder

4-6 tablespoons flour

Soybean or vegetable oil for frying

Chopped tomato for garnish

Diced onion for garnish

Diced green bell pepper for garnish

Tahina sauce

Pita bread ( see my recipe here

Method:

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.

Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.

Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle-Eastern markets.

Heat 3 inches of oil to 375ºF in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled turnips. Drizzle with tahina thinned with water.

Notes

Egyptians omit the cilantro and substitute fava beans for the chickpeas

Tahina (also called tahini) is an oily paste made from ground sesame seeds. It is available in Middle Eastern markets and at Amazon. 
To garnish your falafel in true Israeli style, try adding one or several of the following condiments: harissa hot sauce, pickled turnip (both also available at Amazon or ethnic grocer – add mango amba (pickle), or sauerkraut.

Me- I like to add chopped Cucumber, onions, tomatoes and lots of tzatziki and hot sauce ( see my tzatziki sauce recipe here) I know – don’t say it! My toppings are not authentic, but an awesome combination of a Italian-Greek-American twist ! 

Loaded – Jalapeno Popper Potato Skins!

unspecified-15

Ingredients:

3-4 jalapeños

2 pounds small round baby potatoes, about 2 inches in size.

2 Tablespoons organic canola or vegetable oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 pound pancetta or center cut strip bacon, cooked crisp, drained of excess fat, and crumbled

Garnish Toppings

1 cup sour cream

1 bunch chives, chopped fine

1 tomato, small diced

10 black olives, chopped fine

Lime wedges

Method:

1-Place oven rack to top position and preheat your broiler to high.

2-Place the jalapeños onto a foil-lined baking sheet and broil,turning occasionally. Broil until skins are black and blistered on all sides. Or place on your outdoor grill for the same affect. Once skins are blisters and blackened,remove peppers to a brown paper lunch bag, or a plastic gallon- sized food storage bag. Seal.

3-When peppers are cool enough to handle, peel away skin with the sharp part of a paring knife scraping away from you onto a paper towel. Slice open and remove seeds. Discard skin and seeds. ( I wear gloves when handling peppers and seeds- do not touch your face. If you get caption on your skin and it is burning, wash with whole milk or anything high in fat. )

4-Dice peppers fine, and add to a small mixing bowl. Add cream cheese and mix well. Set aside at room temperature.

5-Place an oven rack to center portion of your oven. Adjust temperature to 400′ F degrees.

6-While oven is warming. Wash and dry potatoes. Place into a large food storage bag or bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the garlic salt. Toss to coat all sides.

7-Place potatoes on a foil lined, high-sided baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center goes in easily. Remove from the oven and set to cool.Turn oven heat up to 450’F degrees.

8-When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. With a teaspoon gently scoop out warm potato flesh, leaving 1/8″ potato inside the skin — ( save potato flesh, and use for mashed potatoes  during another mealtime)

9-Brush the inside of each halved potato with remaining oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper and place facing up on the foiled lined high sided baking sheet again and place back into the hot over for an additional 10 minutes until dry and edges are getting crispy. Remove and cool slightly.

10- Fill each potato skin with 1 teaspoon roasted jalapeño cream cheese mixture, top with pancetta or bacon and grated cheddar cheese.

11-Broil for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

12-Remove from oven, and serve with sides of sour cream, chopped chives, diced tomatoes, black olives and lime wedges

Serve warm and crispy!

*Make variations by adding grilled and finely chopped, Carne Asade steak or ground taco seasoned cooked ground hamburger to the bottom of the potato skin before filing with cream cheese mixture.

Pumpkin Spiced FlapJacks with Bacon Maple Butter

This recipe is best when made with fresh pumpkin puree. Pancakes won’t be so orange and the batter will result in a lighter, fluffier pancake. If pumpkins are not in season, or you are rushed for time– it’s fine to use canned pumpkin.

pumpkinpancakes

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour or, all purpose flour or gluten free flour

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup  fresh pumpkin puree or good quality canned pumpkin puree

3 large eggs, separated

1  cup whole milk or nut milk

1/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Organic Canola for the cooking pan

Maple syrup or honey, warmed

My bacon maple butter recipe ( see my recipe here )

Preparation:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda with the salt. Mix well to combine.

In a medium bowl whisk  the milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla with an electric mixer beat on high speed two minutes to blend well.

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin and egg mixture and beat on low speed until batter is smooth but thick. About 1 minute. Set aside. Wash beaters with soapy water and clean well of any remaining batter. In a large bowl using your electric mixer with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry.

With a rubber spatular, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the pumpkin batter in 2- 3 additions.

Brush large nonstick skillet with oil; heat over medium heat.

Working in batches, with a large ladel pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into skillet. Use the back of the ladle to make a circular motion in the batter and shape the pancake to about a 4-5 inch circle.

Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with oil between batches.

Top with my recipe for, Bacon Maple Butter and serve with warm maple syrup or honey.

 

French Onion Soup, from an Italian Nona’s Kitchen! 

Ingredients

4-6 Tablespoons unsalted cold butter, divided

12 yellow onions. Peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch rings

1 Tablespoons good quality olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 -1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

6-8 cups the best quality, low-sodium beef broth

1 large bay leave

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

4 sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley, bundled  

1 large fresh baked loaf of French bread

4 garlic cloves- cleaned. 2 minced very fine / 2 cut in half-lengthwise

4-6 teaspoons good quality Sherry

4-6 ounces Gruyère cheese

Method

In a large Dutch oven, or 6-8 quart stock pot-melt 4 Tablespoons of the butter over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the onions. 

Sauté onions until they are soften stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. 

Add the salt, black pepper and finely minced garlic. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally-until onions are turning a deep brown and beginning to caramelize. ( Reduce heat slightly if onions seem to be browning too quickly – onions contain a large amount of sugar– and sugar can quickly burn over high heat.)

 Cook an additional 20 minutes until all onions are a deep rich chocolate brown. 

Add one cup of stock to the pot and quickly deglaze the bottom of the pan by stirring and scraping, making sure to release all the delicious flavors that are stuck on the bottom. Add the remaining beef stock. 

Tie the thyme, bay leave and fresh parsley into a bundle with twine. Add the herb bundle to the pot. 

Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered, until broth is reduced, thickened and flavorful- about 20 minutes. 

Remove from heat and whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons cold butter. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Heat the broiler. Cut a 1/2-inch slice of French bread for every serving of soup.

Place bread slices on a rimmed and lined baking sheet- toast bread slices in the oven until crisp, but not too brown. About 1 -2 minutes per side.

Remove from the oven and generously rub one side of each piece of toasted bread with a fresh raw cut garlic clove. Set aside.

Place oven safe bowls, or large soufflé ramekins on the rimmed baking sheet, add 1/2 teaspoon of sherry to the bottom of each, and ladle soup on top. Top each serving of soup with garlic-rubbed toast. Divide cheese among the bowls, covering the bread and some of the soup.

Carefully transfer baking sheet to oven and broil until cheese is melted and bubbling, 5 to 8 minutes. 

Serve hot.

Spicy Gingered Chicken Bites, with Honey-Orange Glaze! 

These bite-sized appetizers own it! The flavor parings are a match made in food heaven – garlic, ginger, orange, and honey. Oooo yeah ! Perfect to carry off to a game day tailgate party! 

Ingredients
1/2 c local honey, warmed ever so slight 

3 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger 

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice 

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce 

2 Tablespoons sesame oil 

Juice and zest of one orange  

6 garlic cloves, minced 

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 8 pieces per breast 

Cooking spray 

1 teaspoon Kosher salt 

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 

1 teaspoon cornstarch 

1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice 

2 teaspoons orange zest

2 teaspoons local honey

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

5 scallions cut diagonally in 1 in chucks for garnish ( optional ) 

Method: 

Combine first 9 ingredients at room temperature with the warm honey in a large zip-top plastic food storage bag; seal and shake well. 

Remove 1/2 the liquid –including 1/2 the garlic and set aside in additional container. Seal and set aside.

Place the chicken pieces inside the first plastic food storage bag containing the honey marinade. Seal and toss to coat. Refrigerate a minimum of 2 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

When ready to cook. Preheat oven to 425°F ( or outdoor grill would be optimal just make sure the chicken is cut large enough not to fall through the grill grates or use special grill equipment intended for this purpose ) remove chicken from marinade and disguard and reserved liquid. 

Cook Chicken to 160’F internal temperature about  10-12 minutes depending on the size of your pieces. 

While chicken is cooking, strain the reserved marinade through a sieve into a high sided saucepan. Discard any solids. Bring to a boil. Cook 1-3 minutes to slightly reduce. 

Combine cornstarch and orange juice in a small bowl-stir with a fork to remove any lumps. Add cornstarch mixture to pan, stirring with a whisk; cook 1 minute until sauce thickened.

Brush glaze onto chicken during final three minutes of cooing time –on the grill, or in oven -turn to coat well and brown to caramelize. 

Place on serving plate, sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Serve skewered with trendy cocktail sticks and a diagonal cut scallion ( optional ) ! 

Yum!