September 30, 2010

Vi Auguro Amore, Felicita' e un bel po' dil Lasagne!

We were discussing the other day with our daughter and son-in -law, what the difference was between a restaurant and a trattoria? JJM, being Italian, stated there is no clear distinction. 

 A visit to The Maine House will illuminate subtle but significant differences. The uniqueness of a " trattoria" experience is apparent in the sights, smells and atmosphere. When you walk through the entrance of  The Maine House,  you are greeted by the fragrant aroma of freshly prepared culinary delights created throughout the day. I love cooking with seasonal and local New England farm fresh produce.

 The inviting  warmth of the keeping room fireplace  and roasting garlic radiates a rustic vibe.  It is a personal dining experience characterized by an intimacy offered by The Maine House.

Italians have an extremely strong sense of family where food plays an integral role in all of their traditions. Our Maine House family gatherings always center on the table where the old favorites never fail to satisfy.

Estelle's Turkey Sausage Lasagna
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lasagna noodles
15 ounces ricotta cheese
3 to 4 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.
Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one 1/3 of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

Today, I pay tribute to a dear friend that I have known for the past ten years...JMLG! I know that all I have shared with you will not be forgotten and will be preserved in your memories. This to me is more important than any legacy. With this, I would like to thank you for all of the good times we have shared together.

"I wish you love, happiness and lots of lasagna!"

September 29, 2010

Autumn Picnic on The Promenade...Can you hear the Symphony?

Listening to the Symphony while spreading your picnic on the Promenade....something The Maine House loves to do.....come join us!

The elements of a perfect picnic menu begin and end with the guests. Consider first the tastes of those who will join you for your picnic. If you're entertaining a friend whose idea of gourmet fare is hot dogs and beer, then your picnic menu should err on the side of simple, flavorful, common picnic food. On the other hand, if you're trying to impress a significant other, go for a romantic menu full of elegant foods such as a salad of baby greens, a delicious dip, or gourmet sandwiches.

Before trying any of these menus, be sure you have a good cooler or ice chest and freezer packs. Nothing spoils the perfect picnic as much as food poisoning. Keep food very cool and eat it quickly after transporting it to the picnic site.
Elegant dishes, whether disposable or reusable, also set the mood and tone. While a checkered tablecloth is the quintessential picnic accessory, any lovely cloth to spread on the table or ground sets the mood too.

Generally, there are four menu categories to consider when preparing a picnic menu.

•Beverages: Classic picnic beverages include freshly made lemonade, home made iced tea, flavored iced tea, or a good wine. Keep it chilled and pour non alcoholic beverages into a good quality thermos filled with ice for a refreshing cold drink.

•Appetizers or snacks: Elegant finger foods such as salsa keep longer than dairy-based dips like onion dip filled with sour cream that can spoil in summer's heat. Be sure to include quality crackers or sliced crudités that go with the dip of your choice. A good pesto would also be a great consideration.

•Main dishes: Midday menus call for sandwiches such as grilled chicken with pesto or perhaps eggplant burgers. For evening picnics, try quiches, tarts, or cold fried chicken as the main dish accompanied by a green salad.

•Dessert: Think about desserts that are easy to transport and handle. Cookies can be packed separately and as long as there's no chocolate to melt in the car, can be kept out of the cooler, leaving room for other foods. Cupcakes, a good cake, or a simple pie work well too.

An elegant Concert in the park picnic hosted by The Maine House will include white wine such as Chardonnay, sliced vegetables and spinach- artichoke dip, Quiche Lorraine with salad of baby greens, and  individual citrus lemon tarts. 
A romantic picnic might include a good Cabernet, crackers spread with soft cheese and topped with thinly sliced cucumber and chives, cold rotisserie chicken, spinach salad, with homemade yeast dinner rolls. For dessert...chocolate cupcakes with buttercream icing.

Estelle's Roasted Chicken
1  6- pound roasting chicken
Coarse ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
1/4 stick butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, add a few more  sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.
Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Estelle's Citrus Tart
1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Garnishes: fresh mint leaves, lemon and orange slices

Stir together first 4 ingredients. Press mixture evenly into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom; set aside.
Whisk together sweetened condensed milk, orange juice concentrate, lemon juice, and egg yolks until blended.
Beat egg whites at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form; fold into condensed milk mixture. Pour into prepared crust.
Bake at 325° for 20 to 25 minutes or just until filling is set. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. Remove tart from pan, and place on a serving dish.
Beat whipping cream and granulated sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Dollop around edges of tart; garnish, if desired.

"I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself,
 than be crowded on a velvet cushion." Henry David Thoreau

September 28, 2010

The Great Pumpkin...An Autumn Idol!

A bounty of pumpkins amid the apple orchards!
 The Maine House is serving our most requested Pumpkin Stew.

 I normally served this to my little Trick-Or-Treaters but it was so easy and so hearty, that it quickly became a fall recipe I began serving on a Sunday evening in Autumn, when everyone was relaxing after their busy weekend schedules.

How delightful to light the candles on the back porch and present "the great pumpkin stew" to your family!
An evening in autumn.......laughter and sharing memories...Linus was right....the pumpkin is indeed great! After carried Cinderella to the ball in style!

Estelle's Pumpkin Stew
1 9 to 12-inch pumpkin

1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 red pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
4 carrots, thinly sliced into rounds
3 celery sticks, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground  turkey
2 cups cooked rice, preferably Uncle Ben's 
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 large can tomato soup


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. Rinse well. Carve a spooky face onto the pumpkin, without going all the way through the flesh. Rinse well, oil outside of pumpkin. Bake the pumpkin shell for 30 minutes.

While shell is baking: saute the onion, green and red peppers, carrots, celery, and garlic until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Brown ground beef and chicken. Add the veggies and cooked rice and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Remove pumpkin from oven and let stand 15 minutes. Stir the tomatoes and soup into the meat mixture. Place meat mixture into pumpkin. Put back in oven for 20 minutes. Serve on a platter complimented with cheesy biscuits!

I'm doomed. One little slip like that could cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by.
 Oh, Great Pumpkin, where are you?"....Linus

September 27, 2010

Apples, Caramel and Cream.....Oh, Lovely Autumn!

Yet, another new experience for us in New England. Apple Picking! I chose a farm which turned out to be owned and operated with the most beautiful apple orchard surrounded by mountains, and a beautiful sunny September sky.

 Blueberry bushes, apples galore, pumpkins.....the smell in their little store as apple sugared doughnuts were being made fresh, apple cider and their homemade apple pies.....oh such wonderful times!

 I love supporting local farmers and their families. And oh yes, the apples were divine! We had never tasted anything quite so was a very busy day! This recipe will be a must-have for your collection. Not only will your kitchen smell delicious, it will most likely earn you hugs and kisses!!

Apple Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Caramel Sauce and Whippped Cream 
1/2 cup creamed shortening
1 cup Sugar
2 whole Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 cups All-purpose Flour
½ teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Sour Cream
2 cups Peeled And Chopped Apple

½ cups Chopped Pecans
½ cups Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

Caramel Sauce (Homemade)
2 cups Whipped Cream
1 cup Chopped Pecans

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the shortening and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Stir in flour, salt and baking soda. Add sour cream. Fold in apples. Spread into a well-greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
For the topping, combine 1/2 cup chopped pecans with brown sugar, ground cinnamon and melted butter. Sprinkle mixture evenly over cake batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix the water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract). Simmer until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Serve warm, or add another 1/4 cup of heavy cream and serve room temperature.

"Autumn begins with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper blue, and nights that become suddenly clear and chilled. The season comes full with the first frost, the disappearance of migrant birds, and the harvesting of the season's last crops."- Glenn Wolff and Jerry Dennis

September 26, 2010

The Apple of Our Eye!


Apple Picking in New England with The Maine House ....happy are our days!





Cortland Apple (Malus domestica)

As with all McIntosh varieties, Cortland is at its best when eaten soon after being picked. The sweet flavor fades quickly, as does the crispness.
An interesting characteristic of Cortland is that the flesh does not go brown very rapidly after being cut.
The Cortland is a great all purpose apple which was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva in 1898, and is a cross between Ben Davis and McIntosh apples.

McIntosh Apple ( Malus domestica)
McIntosh Apples are available June through December.
Recognized by their classic round shape and sweet taste, McIntosh apples, sometimes called "Macs", offer a delicious white flesh, sometimes tinged with red, that is extra juicy. This popular aromatic apple is wrapped in an attractive deep-red skin brushed with a vivid green. Its texture isn't quite as crisp as other varieties.
In 1888, the Agricultural Experiment Station in Burlington, Vermont, planted its first McIntosh tree. By 1900, McIntosh apples were a popular and favorite apple variety. The final harvest of the original McIntosh tree occurred in 1908. Sadly in 1910 that one hundred year old original McIntosh tree finally fell, but since many McIntosh apple trees and orchards had been planted throughout eastern North America, that awesome apple's tasty legacy carries on and continues to please apple fans' palates. Excellent for eating fresh out of hand, this everyday apple makes a great tasting applesauce. Make great-tasting sauces, cobblers, tarts and scrumptious pie.

Your apple a day health benefits
An apple has no cholesterol and contains pectin, a beneficial fiber. This fiber may actually work to reduce the body's cholesterol level and is claimed to possibly help prevent heart attacks. Pectin also slows glucose metabolism in diabetics. Apples contain potassium, which may reduce the chances of a stroke and have a trace of boron believed to build bones and to increase mental vitality.
Apples offer a small amount of vitamin A and vitamin C and have only a trace of sodium. An average-size apple contains about 80 calories.

Estelle's Best Apple Crisp
4 medium apples, sliced (Cortland and McIntosh combined)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup stale pound cake crumbs (or angel food cake or soft bread crumbs)
4-1/2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup apple cider

Vanilla ice cream for serving

Using 1 Tbsp. of the butter, liberally coat a 1-1/2 – 2-qt. baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine the apples and lemon juice and toss to combine. In a small bowl, combine the cake crumbs, 3 Tbsp. butter, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and salt and toss to thoroughly combine. Place half of the sliced apples in the buttered baking dish. Cover with half of the bread crumb mixture. Add remaining apple slices and drizzle the apple cider over the apples. Top with the remaining crumb mixture. Dot with the remaining butter. Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes until the apples are bubbly and tender and the crumbs are nicely browned. Serve hot with cream, whipped topping, or ice cream.

Interesting Apple Facts
  • Folk hero Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) did indeed spread the cultivation of apples in the United States. He knew enough about apples, however, so that he did not distribute seeds, because apples do not grow true from seeds. Instead, he established nurseries in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
  • Three medium-sized apples weigh approximately one pound.
  • One pound of apples, cored and sliced, measures about 4 1/2 cups.
  • Purchase about 2 pounds of whole apples for a 9-inch pie.
  • One large apple, cored and processed through a food grinder or processor, makes about 1 cup of ground apple.
Libby Farm in Limerick, Maine

"Oh! happy are the apples when the south winds blow."

September 25, 2010

September....Autumn's Best of Cheer

Dining by the Harvest Moon...

Welcome to The Maine House backporch!

 At The Maine House, we enjoy an evening of a long, leisurely dinner on our porch. We love to entertain our guests outside during the crisp, clear, moonlit autumnal evenings. Before the Harvest Moon lights up the evening sky, we serve a Cabernet and Pinot Grigio wine, a variety of cheeses and crisp apples on the side which have been gently gathered in a wooden bowl on our side bench. We place black wrought-iron lanterns around the deck which are ensconced with honeysuckle vines and fall berries while deep-colored autumnal candles glow from within. There is a definite feeling of intimacy, romance and intrigue.

The grand finale is presented at the end of the evening utilizing our little baby pumpkins and this most delectable bread pudding!

Stuffed Pumpkin with Cranberry-Raisin Bread Pudding

1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) pumpkin
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted and divided
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 (16 ounce) loaf raisin bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup fresh cranberries

Cut off top of pumpkin, reserving lid with stem. Scoop out pumpkin seeds and pulp, and reserve for another use. Brush inside of pumpkin shell with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Top with lid. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes.
Brush inside of baked pumpkin shell with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Stir together eggs and next 6 ingredients; spoon pudding mixture into a lightly greased 8-inch square pan.
Bake pumpkin and bread pudding at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Let pumpkin cool; spoon bread pudding evenly into pumpkin shell. Serve with Lemon-Vanilla Sauce.
For individual servings, substitute 12 (1/2-pound) pumpkins. Scoop out seeds and pulp; sprinkle each pumpkin shell with 1 teaspoon butter and 1 teaspoon sugar, and bake with the bread pudding. (Do not pre-bake as with the larger pumpkin.) Spoon bread pudding evenly into baked pumpkin shells.

Lemon-Vanilla Sauce
1 vanilla bean, split
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Cook vanilla bean, water, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until smooth and thickened. Stir in butter and remaining ingredients, and cook until thoroughly heated.

"By all these lovely tokens,
 September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer."
Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885

September 19, 2010

Never Met a Cowboy Cookie I Didn't Like!

I know! It was the smell of these cookies that gotcha' didn't it? You were walking by The Maine House and suddenly, the aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking came right out of our windows as you were enjoying your Sunday afternoon sidewalk stroll. We are so glad you stopped by for a chat. Come right on into our kitchen and join us for the afternoon.

 Estelle's welcomes all of her guests with a batch of these cowboy cookies warm from the oven.

The credit goes to Laura Bush and they have been a family favorite for some time. SO they are the official Maine House cookies!  Oh, milk?

Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter (at room temperature)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened flake coconut
2 cups chopped pecans (8 ounce)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl.
In 8-quart bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1 minute. Gradually beat in sugars; beat to combine, 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat in vanilla extract.
Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Add chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans.
For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup dough onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes, until edges are lightly browned; rotate sheets halfway through.
Remove cookies from rack to cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o`clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap." Al Hutchinson

Divine Decadance!

Please join us for Dessert and Coffee at The Maine House!

If you have a passion for are going to love this dessert. Not only is it easy to assemble, it will win you rave reviews from your family. This one is a must and has been requested many times at The Maine House!

At the end of dinner when the dessert tray is brought out,  it is a French custom to serve the oldest woman first, then so on and so forth to the youngest girl at the table. Then the tray is served to the oldest man and so on and so forth to the youngest boy. We liked that.. so The Maine House serves "the French way!"

Estelle's Frozen Cappuccino Crunch Cake

1 (10 3/4 oz.) frozen pound cake, thawed
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 3/4 cups Milk Chocolate Chips
4 cups (1 quart) coffee ice cream, softened
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 3/4 cups coarsely crushed malted milk balls
Frozen whipped topping, thawed (optional)
Coarsely crushed malted milk balls, (optional)

Slice pound cake into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slices. Place half of the slices on bottom of 9-inch spring form pan; press down firmly. Set remaining slices aside.
Bring cream just to a boil in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add milk chocolate morsels; let stand 5 minutes. Whisk until well combined and smooth. Pour half of the chocolate mixture over pound cake in pan, spreading evenly to within 1/4-inch of edge of pan.
Cover; freeze for 1 1/2 hours or until chocolate is set.
Combine softened ice cream and whipped topping in large bowl. Fold in 1 3/4 cups crushed malted milk balls. Spread over chocolate layer in pan. Cover;
Freeze until ice cream is firm, about 2 hours.
Top ice cream with remaining pound cake slices; press down firmly. Spread remaining chocolate mixture over pound cake. Cover; freeze at least 6 hours
To serve, remove sides of pan. Garnish with additional whipped dessert topping and sprinkle with crushed malted milk balls, if desired.

 To cut cake easily, run a knife under hot water and dry with a paper towel before making slices.

"pour l'amour du chocolat"

September 18, 2010

The Proof is in the Pudding!

Join us at The Maine House for coffee and dessert.....

Wondering what kind of coffee should be paired with a decadent custard pudding?

Africa, the birthplace of coffee, offers many different flavor profiles but most share common characteristics. African coffees tend to be fuller bodied than South American coffees, with smoky, chocolate-y and berry undertones. Many African coffees also have floral notes and a hint of citrus that lend depth to the flavor.

African coffees are ideal for pairing with richer desserts like carrot cake, tiramisu and trifle. They have both the acidity and body to offset creamy, sweet desserts, and the undertones of chocolate and spice tend to enhance the flavors of desserts like cheesecake and custard desserts.

Estelle's Double Chocolate Pudding


6 eggs
3 cups milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Chocolate shavings, optional


In a medium bowl, whisk eggs; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, granulated sugar, flour and salt until well blended. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat.

Whisk about 1 cup hot mixture into eggs. Slowly pour egg mixture into saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until very thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Spoon 2 1/2 cups hot pudding into medium bowl; stir in semisweet chocolate until smooth. Add white chocolate to remaining pudding in saucepan; stir until smooth. Let cool for about 30 minutes, whisking each puddings occasionally to keep a skin from forming.
Spoon half of semisweet chocolate pudding into a 6-cup, straight-sided glass bowl; refrigerate for 10 minutes. Top with white-chocolate pudding; refrigerate for 10 minutes. Spoon remaining chocolate pudding on top. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
Whip heavy cream and confectioners' sugar until mixture is stiff. Spoon on top of pudding and sprinkle with chocolate shavings, if desired.

I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process.... It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?

September 17, 2010

Company's Coming!

Welcoming the long awaited visit of family is finally here! Memories of visiting our own home and Mother and Daddy will forever be etched in our minds. The anticipation of being HOME, of walking into the kitchen and being greeted with hugs and enthusiasm that we were finally there....grandchildren running into their grandparents loving arms. Yes, this is what memories are made of.

One thing I most remember, are the smells. The wonderful and comforting aroma of my childhood home and looking forward to Mother's cooking. Sheer bliss! There was always something ready to snack on. Daddy had been busily baking cookies and Mother was preparing a delectable dinner of roast chicken and dressing, creamy and piping hot mashed potatoes and fresh green beans, along with one of her famous fruit salads which were usually loaded with whipped cream....I can still picture this...and smell the coziness of her kitchen!

Tomorrow we will welcome children and grandchildren. We want to make it easy, yet rich and memorable. The frost is on the pumpkin as we gather round the table to catch up on the latest funny thing the grandbaby is saying and how the job is going. We shall pour a glass of wine, light the candles and enjoy this wonderful seafood fondue!

Estelle's Seafood Fondue

4 shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 oysters blackened seasonings, to taste
Melted butter as needed
1 cup chopped spinach
4 mushrooms, sliced
2 ounces lump crab meat
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
5 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
French bread Loaf
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 onion, chopped
1 cup shrimp stock or water
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whipping cream

Make sauce and set aside.

Season shrimp and oysters with blackened seasonings (available in most supermarkets). Melt butter in hot saute pan, and saute shrimp and oysters, about 2 minutes per side. Add spinach, mushrooms, crab and green onion. Saute until mushrooms and spinach soften. Fold in sauce and bring to a simmer. Pour into heatproof dish; top with grated cheese. Place under a broiler until cheese melts. Use french bread slices as dippers.
Melt butter in a saucepan; whisk in flour and chopped onion. Cook over medium heat until onion is tender. Slowly stir in stock and wine; whisk until smooth. Add cayenne and salt; Simmer 10 minutes. Add cream; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare shrimp stock by boiling down 1 cup of shrimp shells in 4 cups of water. Boil shells for 30 minutes.

"Laissez les bons temps rouler"

September 16, 2010

Sitting by my Laughing Fire.....September in The Village!

"I love the way the colors change, how you can spend time outdoors and then go inside and light the fire, and how the food you want to eat and serve gets a little bit cozier."

The gatherings often begin with late afternoon cocktails in the yard of The Maine Home and end with dessert indoors, often around the living room fireplace. I serve the foods and even the colors of fall, and for hours we talk about the big and little things in life -- kids, money, world peace, work, love, food, spirituality, what's at the movies!

Hot Mulled Wine
4 cups apple cider
1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zested and juiced
4 whole cloves
3 star anise
4 oranges, peeled, for garnish

Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve.

For as long as the evening long as the embers glow....the conversation we sit by the laughing fire!