February 28, 2011

Sipping Champagne in High Cotton! Don't Miss The Swan House!

The Maine House closed it's doors this past week as Darling traveled to England on business, so Estelle's headed down to Atlanta to visit The Mori's! Oh, a week of grandbaby Luke and Mother/Daughter time with "Sweet Melissa" was absolute heaven! Shopping, cooking, sharing stories and chardonnay in the garden..oh yes, and our special treat was to visit The Swan House in Buckhead and then stroll over to The Swan Coach House for lunch!

 The Coach House, which was originally part of the Swan Home Estate of 1928, has been turned into a thriving restaurant, gift shop and art gallery with beautifully appointed rooms, exquisite gardens and spacious terraces. We sipped champagne punch and dined with the loveliest of southern ladies celebrating either birthdays or bridal showers! What a memorable day it was!

Swan House was built in 1928 for Edward and Emily Inman in Atlanta, Georgia. The Inmans had accumulated wealth "by inheritance" from cotton brokerage and investments on transportation, banking and real estate. Mr. Inman, known to be a cigar smoker of great means, actually burned down three of their estates. After their house in Ansley Park burned in 1924, the Inmans commissioned the Atlanta architectural firm of Hentz, Reid and Adler to design a new house in on 28 acres in Buckhead, a northern Atlanta neighborhood. The new mansion's design was executed by Philip Trammell Shutze, combining Renaissance revival styles with a Classical approach on the main facade. The rear facade is less formal, and is sited at the top of a small hill with terraced gardens and a fountain cascading down the hillside.

 A recurring motif are sculpted or painted swans throughout the house and grounds. Miss Emily had a beautiful wedding picture framed of herself which was considered rather risque for the early 1900's as she had removed her gloves and her arm was draped over the sofa as if she definitely was confident with her place in high society!

Edward Inman died in 1931, but Emily collected her family into the house and lived there until 1965. The house and grounds were acquired by the Atlanta Historical Society in 1966. The house is operated as part of the Atlanta History Center and is maintained as a 1920s and 1930s historic house museum, with many of the Inmans' original furnishings.

The tea room at The Swan Coach House has a menu of delightful southern salads, beverages and desserts! Most of the entree's are perfect for hosting ladies luncheons, baby showers or bridal celebrations. Estelle's has a few perfect recipes for these type of occasions and have been served at many of our family celebrations!

 Estelle's Chicken Salad

4 cups chopped cooked chicken
3 celery ribs, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

 Combine first 4 ingredients. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients. Add to chicken mixture, stirring gently until combined. Garnish with fresh fruits and serve on glass pedestal for celebration luncheons!

Estelle's Strawberry Nectarine Salad
4 large nectarines, cut in bite-sized wedges
3/4 cup Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing
1 (10-oz.) package gourmet mixed salad greens
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 (4-oz.) package crumbled feta cheese
1 large green tomato, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 (3.5-oz.) package roasted glazed pecan pieces

Toss nectarines with 1/4 cup Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing. Layer gourmet mixed salad greens, nectarines, strawberries, and next 4 ingredients in a large glass bowl. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 8 hours.

Toss salad with remaining 1/2 cup dressing just before serving. We love adding 1/2 cup of  halved miniature heirloom green tomatoes for a festive southern look!

Our Visit to The Swan House

February 18, 2011

The March Engagement Soiree!

The announcement came early last Monday morning....Hunter is engaged! The Maine House received a call from our dear and long time friend, Mary Jo, in Pensacola announcing the good news that their oldest son, Hunter Pheiffer, and Caroline became engaged last week and are planning a small family wedding next month. Next month?? Mary Jo was in somewhat of a panic wondering how she would plan their engagement party on such short notice!

 Mary Jo is a small, sprite of a southern lady, pronouncing all of her words with multiple syllables, such as, "Hun-tah", rather than "Hunt-errrr." She is among other things, wife, mother, sister, aunt,  realtor, Master Gardener, and a local talented artist. The Maine House is fortunate enough to have three of her paintings. The Pheiffers have a lovely little 1930's circa bungalow home and there could be nothing more beautiful and a perfect setting for the couple's engagement party. The backyard is brimming with lush Florida foliage and an abundance of Mary Jo's rose bushes, azalea's, peony's, gardenia's and camellia's! The pool is surrounded by trees shading the entire yard with Jasmine Vines tucked into every corner. So for a small, intimate, family gathering, they need look no further than their own back gardens.

A Maine House Mosaic

Estelle's pulled out a few of what we like to refer to as our "go to wedding appetizers!" These recipes are from our friend, Susan Mason, a Savannah caterer. We plan to fly down to Pensacola, do most of our shopping at The Apple Market, our favorite little grocery in Big P, and create a most memorable party for Hunter and Caroline! Susan's philosophy is one I like to remember when hosting a party. "Do what you do well and have plenty of it! The secret to a successful party is to treat it like it is your own!"

Strawberry Lemon Tiramisu Bites
1/2 cup strawberry preserves, at room temperature
1 1/2 (6.3-ounce) packages miniature bite-size sweet tart shells
1 (8-ounce) package mascarpone cheese, softened
1/4 cup Limoncello or lemonade
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 quarts fresh strawberries, halved

Place about 1/2-teaspoon strawberry preserves in bottom of each tart shell; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, Limoncello or lemonade and lemon juice. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
In a medium bowl combine cream, sugar and lemon extract. Beat at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until medium peaks form. Fold into mascarpone mixture, stirring until combined.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon mascarpone mixture into each tart shell. Top each with a strawberry half.

Shrimp Crostini's
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
5 cloves garlic, minced and divided
2 tablespoons minced green onion
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
24 medium fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
24 toasted French bread rounds
Cherry tomatoes, halved, for garnish
Fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

In a small bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, 2 cloves garlic, green onion and pepper; set aside.
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add remaining 3 cloves garlic and parsley. Add shrimp; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until pink and firm. Do not overcook.
Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over French bread rounds. Top each with 1 shrimp. Garnish with tomato halves and parsley leaves.

Estelle's Cucumber Dill Bites
1 package of cream cheese (8 ounce), softened
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 package dry Italian salad dressing mix 
¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
Dill sprigs for garnish
French baguette, thinly sliced

Combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice and Italian mix in a medium bowl. Mix in the dill.
Spread mixture on the baguette slices and top with a cucumber. Place a dill sprig on top of each sandwich. Place on a platter to serve.

The Apple Market in Pensacaola

February 17, 2011

Say Cheese Please!

It can be piquant, peppery, prickly, bitey, intense and yes, even zingy! Artisanal cheeses can be the perfect platters to offer loved ones for your family celebrations!

The varieties are plentiful and can be such
 fun to choose and pair with seasonal fruits.

An Artisanal cheese is simply a cheese product produced in small batches, with close detail paid to the tradition on the cheese maker's art. These cheeses are normally handcrafted and are made from all types of milk, including cow, sheep and goat. The results produce lush cheeses that are a perfect beginning to a meal, as well as a beautiful ending! We love creating a bountiful presentation of cheeses, seasonal fruits, rich nuts and crusty french breads.

Since the possibilities are numerous in selections, it may be best to choose three when planning your buffet offerings. Soft cheese selections might include Brie, Camembert or fresh goat cheese. Semi-hard selections are Gruyere and Comte. Hard cheese selections would offer Cheddar or Manchego. Stronger flavored cheeses, which Estelle's loves, are Gorgonzola and Roquefort. Perfect squares of white and yellow cheeses are beautiful when paired with chunks of honeydew melons and fresh pineapple.

 Estelle's is fortunate to have a local creamery nearby, known as Silver Moon Creamery, located at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook, Maine. Our favorite B&B, right here in the village, offers a delicious appetizer of Silver Moon Creamery Brie, Caramelized Granny Smith Apples And Hand Rolled Sesame Crackers! Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall....become your own cheese connoisseur and awaken your creativity!

These party starters combine classic flavors and were our 
chosen appetizers for
 Rob's Texas A&M graduation party!

Estelle's Roasted Stuffed Figs
12 fresh Mission figs, trimmed of any hard stem
1/4 pound Gorgonzola cheese, cut into 12 pieces
12 slices prosciutto
Honey, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Slice each fig halfway down the center lengthwise; you want the fig to remain whole. Stuff a piece of cheese into the slit of each fig, wrap with prosciutto and transfer to a baking sheet. Roast the figs until heated through, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with a drizzle of honey on top. Top with a roasted walnut. 

Estelle's Goat Cheese Tomato Tartlets
3 T. good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 large garlic cloves, cut in thin slivers
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
3 T. white wine
2 t. minced fresh thyme
1 package puff pastry sheets, thawed , Use cold.
4 T. grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz. garlic & herb Montrachet goat cheese
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 T. julienned basil leaves
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, shaved 

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly. Unfold each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11-by-11-inch square. Using a six-inch-wide saucer or other circular object as a guide, cut 2 (six-inch) circles from each sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry.
Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, score a circle 1/2 inch inside the edge of each pastry. Prick the pastries all over with the tines of a fork and place them on the sheet pan. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border. Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edges. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart. If the pastry is warm, chill for 15 minutes.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Garnish each with a sprig of thyme and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm.

Rob's Texas A&M Graduation Celebration in Pensacola! Gig Em'!

February 16, 2011

Elizabeth's Ranch!

One fine November day, while visiting "the boys" in Texas, we took a trip out to Miss Elizabeth's ranch. I was able to breathe in that Texas ranch air, play with the horses and sit a spell on the porch, just taking in all the quietness of the country and the scenery of the ranch. Miss Elizabeth has a beautiful Texas style ranch home that sits on several acres outside of Weatherford, Texas. You feel instantly at home when entering her front door. Family pictures surround you in every room and her kitchen is full of pottery, yellow ware bowls and worn out cookbooks. There is a huge antique dining table that belonged to Elizabeth's parents, right off of the kitchen. As we sat down to enjoy an evening meal, Elizabeth invited us to kick our shoes off  and share a glass of sweet tea as we watched the sunset! This chili cornbread reminds me of Texas and walking through the front door at Elizabeth's ranch! 

A Maine House Mosaic

Chili Cheese Cornbread
1/2 lb. chorizo sausage
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
2 T. baking powder
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (4 oz.) can mild green chilies. drained and chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Estelle's uses Miss Helen's black iron skillet, however, if you do not own a black iron skillet, use a 9x2 inch baking pan and spray it with cooking spray. Remove casing from choriozo and coarsely chop. Add chorizo to a frying pan and saute' until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Remove chorizo from pan and place on paper towels to blot any excess grease. Place flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, vegetable oil and sour cream until smooth. Whisk egg ingredients into dry ingredients until well combined. Stir in chorizo, cheese and green chilies. Place batter in prepared pan and bake 35-40 minutes. Top should be golden brown. Serve warm with lots of butter!

"If my granpaw didn't git cornbread once a day, he said he couldn't live.
 I'd bake him a cake at night, he'd eat half of it hot.
Then he'd git up in the night and eat what was left,
crumbled up in milk."


"Stayed a string bean all his life, too.
 He said preachin' the word of God kept the fat wore off!"

"It has never served me in that particular way, I regret to say!"

Excerpt from At Home in Mitford

February 15, 2011

Digging Into Garden Chic!

The Maine House hosted a Garden Party last month in order to share expert advise from local New England gardeners and pull together a few of our favorite things to get a head start on Spring! Each guest was to bring a package of their favorite plant seeds, garden tools and design plans which will help us all shake the "snow doldrums" and update our garden journals!

The Cloche Gardens

 One of the fun things I learned was to create a succulent garden which could be moved from place to place in your home. Pull together a trio of your favorite species of succulent plants, a colorful container and mineral mulch! You can admire your little garden creation in a sunny window all winter, then relocate to your deck or patio in warmer weather!

I learned to grow flowers that will last, such as Lavender, Hudrangea, Globe Araranth and Yarrow which are a few summer flowers that retain their shape and most of their color when dried. I love hanging these dried florals in the kitchen or tucking them into wreaths for the front door. This year, The Maine House, is adding the Pink Sensation Tree Hydrangea! 

 My neighbor brought one of her favorite skin care products which would be perfect for gardeners called Jurlique's lavender, and is made from botanticals grown organically! It smelled lovely and was very moisturizing. Check out their website for wonderful skin care products!

My favorite item to share was this new bird feeder....I could not resist her whimsy! She can be found this at Wind & Weather....
one of my favorite catalogs!

Estelle's shared this muffin recipe with the gardening club guests....
a most requested recipe and a Maine House Favorite!

Estelle's "Oh, Baby These Are Good" Muffins
1 cup flour
1 cup Quaker Oatmeal
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 ripe banana
1 egg, plus rest of egg left from cream cheese filling
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 t. vanilla extract
 3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chunks
3 ounces of peanuts, chopped finely
3 ounces of butterscotch chips
Cream Cheese Filling
4 ounces of cream cheese
1 1/2 T. beaten egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 t. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in small mixing bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. Melt butter and set to the side to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt & sugar. In a separate mixing bowl, mash your banana, and mix in the egg, plus the left over beaten egg from the cream cheese mixture. Add buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to this banana mixture and gently fold together. Do not overmix. Fold in chocolate pieces, peanuts and butterscotch chips. Fill each muffin tin to the halfway mark. Place 1 T. cream cheese filling onto the center of each muffin tin. Then top of with the remaining muffin batter, covering the cream filling. Bake for 15 minutes! Divine!!

"No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow." ~Proverb

February 14, 2011

The Elegance of Sleigh Rides & Warming Winter Soups!

The Maine House took visitors over to Vermont last week to experience a romantic winter wonderland sleigh ride in the snow-covered hills of southern Vermont. Those gentle draft horses can simply whisk you away into sheer beauty and quietness. If you ever are fortunate enough to enjoy a sleigh ride, know that you can schedule your ride during the day, or in the evening under the stars and moonlight.  Either way, it will create a lasting memory that will stay with you for years to come! It is both romantic and magical....just dress warmly and take along your favorite blanket or quilt.

 Heading back to Maine, we chatted away about our experience and looked forward with anticipation as to what was on the evening menu.  Estelle's had prepared the dining table for us knowing we would all be ready for our warm winter soups and freshly baked breads. It proved to be a perfect winter weekend!

A Maine House Mosaic

Estelle's French Onion Soup
8 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
2 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
1 1/2 T. sugar
1 1/2 T. salt
3 cans  Beef Broth
32 oz. chicken broth
1/2 cup good Marsala wine
1 dried bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme, tied with kitchen twine
2 t. pepper
1 baguette, cut into 1/2 thick slices
1/2 shredded Gruyere cheese for each serving

Combine oil and butter in a frying pan and put all 8 cups of onions(sliced thinly) in pan. Add sugar and salt and toss to coat. Cook onions on medium low heat for 40 minutes to 1 hour stirring occasionally.  Add onions to your  slow cooker. Top with broth, wine, bay leaf and thyme. Cook on high for 2-3 hours.

While your soup is cooking, slice one baguette into slices about 2 inches in thickness. Place baguette slices on your baking sheet and place in a 350 degree F. preheated oven for 20 minutes.

 Once your onions are tender after 3 hours, put a baguette slice in a soup bowl. Ladle the soup on top of the baguette slice. Grate Guyere cheese generously over the top. Put soup bowls on cookie sheet and bake in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and gooey!

Estelle's Butternut Squash & Pear Soup
2 T. unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled, chopped
1 leek (white part only), chopped, rinsed well
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, chopped
2 Bartlett pears, peeled, chopped
6 cups vegetable stock or water
2 bay leaves
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1 T. kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 t. pepper, or to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil
Toasted pine nuts
Crumbled chèvre

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium. Add onion, celery, carrot and leek. Cook, stirring, 10 minutes until vegetables soften and start to brown. Add squash, pear, stock or water, bay leaves, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Raise heat to high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Discard bay leaves. Using immersion blender or hand mixer, or in food processor or blender, purée until smooth. Pour soup into bowls. If desired, drizzle with oil, or sprinkle with pine nuts or cheese!

"Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the withered air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, and housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

February 13, 2011

The Kitchen Window!

The Maine House had an incredible week. Sunday evening is approaching and we reflect on what blessings we have been given. Of course, we had snowy days and very cold temperatures. I believe you must have to be somewhat bipolar to live in New England. During the winter months you must become reflective and introspective and then when Spring and Summer arrive, you enter a manic phase of being out of doors and going as fast as you can to experience all the beauty and warmth this area offers. However, in the mornings, when I have gazed out of the kitchen window (having learned to keep my camera close by) I was greeted with not only squirrels, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Chickadees, but the most beautiful red fox and our family of deer! We first saw the deer last Sunday afternoon, after a year of living in the village. I did not have the camera at hand, but squealed with glee when Darling first spotted them out of the living room glass doors. There were very  beautiful! Then, lo and behold, Mr. Fox arrived on Wednesday morning darting quickly in and out of the back woods with his large bushy tail and the most beautiful black leggings.  Friday morning rolled around and as I  sipped my second cup of New England coffee, came the deer, one by one...until there were four. I snapped away while Mae Mobley wondered what all the commotion was about! Oh happy day! They were all is definitely a WOW factor.....out our kitchen window! 

A Maine House Mosaic

Sometimes on Sunday evening, we have a light supper fare at Estelle's! As it is again snowing, I felt it was just the setting for a little old -fashioned treat Mother used to make. It was a perfect ending!

Tapioca Pudding
1/3 cup sugar
3 T. Minute Tapioca
2 3/4 cups milk
1 egg, well beaten
1 t. vanilla

Mix sugar, tapioca, milk and egg in saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a full boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pudding will continue to thicken while cooling! Estelle's adds golden raisins and a sprinkling of nutmeg!

February 12, 2011

Sweethearts in Winter Storm Mode!

Here we are, the second week in February, Valentines Day approaching, and Old Man Winter is making another appearance. Forecasters are predicting a band of heavy snow moving up the East Coast, 
 followed by frigid temperatures.
We might as well embrace it....this winter storm mode.

We shall gas up the car. Haul out the snowblower, gather more kindling, line the boots up by the door, along with scarves, mittens and hats! I think I shall put on the coffee and bake some biscuits for breakfast. In the past, while living in Texas, we were able to go out on the deck and cook a steak while savoring a glass of wine for our Valentine's celebration. This year, living in the New England village, we have to revise our tradition, and have opted for Steak Diane and a company potato casserole. But, the "piece de  resistance" will be Estelle's Cherry Chip Cake! 

I checked my stock of tapered candles, realizing that they have dwindled down to nubs. Every night, during winter, I place lighted candles on the dining room table and mother's sideboard. I then carefully place votives along the fireplace mantel as dusk falls. As daylight turns into the gloaming, candlelight never fails to soften the frenzy of work or the dullness of routine, signaling a time for reflection, for recognizing graces received, challenges accepted, of opportunities missed or seized. I could not enter another month of winter without candles. 

True to predictions, the snow begins to fall, powdery and light with crystals twinkling in midair as they circle round the lantern that illuminates our front walkway. We gather at the dining table and savor the delightful dinner. We take our cake plates and move into the living room to toast yet another Valentines Day together. Darling winks at me as we sit down in front of the fire. We have decided that the grand essentials of happiness are...Something to do......Something to love.....and Something to hope for! After a few moments of silence....we both decide that come spring....we will drape twinkle lights in the garden! 

Estelle's Cherry Chip Sweetheart's Cake
1 cup milk
6 large egg whites
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still firm
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling
2 cups mini chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries with stems , drained and wiped dry
Red food coloring
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped

Estelle's Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter , softened
2 1/2 cups Confectioners’ sugar (10 ounces)
1/8 tablespoons table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Whipped Cream Frosting
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Red food coloring

 Whipped cream frosting: In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When chilled, beat the mixture until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Buttercream frosting: In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice. Beat 5 drops red food coloring into buttercream; add more coloring as desired.

For the cherries: Melt remaining 1 1/2 cups chips and shortening in bowl. Holding stems, partially dip maraschino cherries into chocolate and place on parchment-lined plate. Refrigerate until hardened, at least 10 minutes.

Cake Directions: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, cover the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment (If you don’t have 3 cake pans, use two 9-inch rounds instead). Mix milk, egg whites, and vanilla together in 2-cup measuring cup. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Continue beating, gradually adding the sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add 1/3 each of flour mixture and milk mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Add the remaining flour and milk mixtures in two separate batches, beating between additions to fully incorporate. Scrape down sides of bowl and stir by hand to finish.

Drain and rinse cherry pie filling under running water. Press cherries between several layers of paper towels until very dry. Chop cherries fine. Gently fold cherries and 1/2 cup chips into cake batter. Divide batter among pans. Bake on middle rack in 350-degree oven until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

 Assembly of the cake: Spread 1 cup buttercream on bottom cake layer. Repeat with 1 cup more buttercream and second cake layer. Top with final cake layer and frost top and sides with pink whipped cream frosting. If using two 9-inch layers, cut each layer in half and divide the buttercream evenly among the 4 layers. Decorate with whipped cream and cherries. Refrigerate until serving or serve immediately.

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You...........

February 11, 2011

N'awlins Classics!

You can boil them, fry them, stuff them.....or barbecue them! As I have stated many times, we spent lots and lots of weekends visiting The Big Easy! I remember tasting Oysters Bienville at Commander's Palace, Stuffed Shrimp at Galatoire's and the most marvelous champagne brunches at The Court of Two Sisters (where Miss Judy held her wedding reception)! Well, not that I participated in the champagne part until I was a little older.....but, I did get to experience all of the wonderful sights, smells and tastes of New Orleans often!

Who would not be drawn to the Crescent City are just bowled over by the depth of flavor and richness of the food. Anytime of day, you can wander into a small little neighborhood grocery and order Red Beans & Rice, an overstuffed Shrimp Po' Boy, Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce, along with an ice cold Dixie Beer. Good lawd...think I gained ten pounds just thinking about it! The original Magnolia Grill featured a chili omelet of all things, served by waiters in crisp white jackets and black bow ties. They had been long, long time employees of the Magnolia which is no longer there. At that time, in the 50's and 60's, it was off of St. Charles Street...just an old-fashioned neighborhood diner. We never went home without a trip to Schwegmann's to load up on Blue Runner Beans for Daddy!

There was one place that stands out in my memory....Pascale's Manale Restaurant and Bar. They served the best barbecue shrimp....just pooled in melted butter, Worcestershire sauce and spices....sensational! Did you know that most of the flavor of the shrimp is in the head? Estelle's does serve this dish with the tails left on, but we buy our fresh shrimp with the head removed. This is one dish we serve on every beach trip....on our big seafood night after a trip to Joe Patti's!

Estelle's Barbecue Shrimp
4 lbs unpeeled, large shrimp
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
2 fresh lemons, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T. Creole Seasoning
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. fresh chopped parsley
1 t. paprika
1 t. oregano
1 t. ground red pepper
1/2 t. Tabasco sauce

Spread shrimp in a shallow broiler pan. Combine butter and next 12 ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until butter melts.
 Pour over the shrimp.
 Cover and chill two hours, turning shrimp over every 30 minutes.
Bake uncovered at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes.
 You must serve this with crusty french bread for "Soppin' up the sauce!"

This recipe was made famous by our family friend Raymond DuPuy, who owned and operated The Mayflower in New Orleans for many years. Raymond also threw Miss Judy her wedding reception at
 The Court of Two Sisters, where he served as manager at that time in the early 1970's!

Fat Man's Misery
14 Chocolate Wafers
1 Stick of Butter
1 Cup Confectioner's Sugar
1 Egg
1 t. Almond Extract
1/2 pint Whipping Cream, Whipped
1/2 T. Sugar
1 t. Vanilla
1 Cup Chopped Pecans

Crush chocolate wafers. Line a pie pan with the crumbs. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and cream again. Add almond extract. Spread this mixture on top of the crumbs. Whip cream with sugar and then add vanilla and pecans. Fold these until well blended. Spread this on the first mixture. Cover with more crushed wafers and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Take just one bite of this yummy creation and I promise, you will break into song..."Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars".............