Turning up the heat!


Oh the weather outside is frightful.  But the aromas of that warm crispy chicken that just came out of a hot over?   Why, that’s just plain delightful.

When the snow starts falling and the temperatures begin to drop, it’s time to turn up the heat in the kitchen.   Crank up the oven and start doing some serious high-heat cooking.   And let’s start with a chicken!

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High-Heat Roast Chicken
Serves 4 generously

 One 4 ½-to 5-pound roasting chicken
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 orange
1 onion
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
kitchen cooking twine

Remove wrapping from chicken.   Remove any giblets and discard or save for future use.   Use paper toweling to dry inside and outside of bird.   Place chicken on paper-towel-lined platter.  Refrigerate chicken for one hour or up to 8 hours to dry out skin.

Remove chicken from refrigerator.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees.    Cut onion and orange in to quarters and stuff in chicken along with rosemary sprigs.   Use kitchen cooking twine to tie chicken legs together.    Place bird on a pan fitted with a roasting rack.   Tuck tips of wings under bird.

 Combine butter and parsley.   Use fingers to smear butter mixture under chicken breast skin.   Season outside of bird with salt and pepper.

Roast chicken for approximately 50 minutes.   Insert meat thermometer between leg and thigh.    The temperature should read 155 degrees.   If needed, continue roasting chicken, checking temperature every five minutes.  Chicken will continue to cook approximately 5 degrees during rest with final temp of 160 degrees. Rest chicken for 15 minutes.   Remove twine and carve.


The dough recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas.   If only making one, after rising the dough, knead, divide dough in two and place one in a freezer bag.    Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and bring to room temperature.

Heirloom Tomato High-Heat Pizza

Pizza dough:
makes two 12-inch pizza crusts

1 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups flour plus 2 tablespoons for dusting work area
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cornmeal

Pizza topping:
makes one 12-inch pizza

½ cup premade pizza sauce
2 to 3 large heirloom tomatoes, various colors (can be substituted with vine-ripe tomatoes)
6-ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼-inch slices
½ cup grated mozzarella
6 large fresh basil leaves, julienne cut

Make pizza dough:  Place warm water in a small bowl.  Sprinkle yeast and sugar into water.   Let stand 10 minutes.  Mixture will become bubbly as it proofs.2.  In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, place 2 ½ cups flour and salt.  Mix briefly to combine.   With mixer on medium-low, add yeast mixture.  The dough will be slightly sticky.   Add enough of the remaining flour to create a dough that clusters around the dough hook.    Alternately, the dough can be prepared in a food processor or by hand in a mixing bowl3.  Dust work area with 1 tablespoon flour.  Turn dough on to work area.   Knead by hand for 2 to 3 minutes.   The dough should be smooth and firm.   Using a paper towel, grease a large clean bowl with olive oil.  Place dough in bowl and turn once.   Cover with plastic food wrap.  Place in warm area of kitchen.  Let rise until double in size; about 2 to 3 hours.

One hour before finishing pizza, place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 500 degrees.   Thirty minutes before baking, dust work area with remaining 1 tablespoon flour.   Place raised dough on work area and knead into a ball.  Divide in half.   If not making two pizzas, one dough half in a freezer bag and freeze for later use.

Make topping and complete pizza:  Cut tomatoes into ¼-inch slices.   Place slices between two paper towels to extract excess liquid.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cornmeal on work area. Use rolling pin to form dough into a 12-inch round.     Dust a pizza peel with remaining 1 tablespoon cornmeal.   Roll dough halfway around rolling pin and lift up round.  Place on pizza peel and reroll as needed.  Use fingers to make a 1/8-inch rim around dough.

Top with pizza sauce followed fresh mozzarella.   Place drained tomatoes on top followed shredded mozzarella.

Turn preheated oven to a high broil.  Use peel to transfer prepared pizza to the hot pizza stone.   Tilt peel and give it a slight jerk to gently move pizza to stone   Once pizza is on stone do not try to move it.   The pizza crust will begin to cook immediately.
Broil pizza for 3 to 4 minutes until bubbles begin to form on crust.  The crust will have small areas of char.   Turn oven back to 500 degrees.  Bake for an additional 8 to 9 minutes.   Remove pizza by using oven peel.   Top with fresh basil.



Look for a variety of carrot colors.   Cut larger carrots in half for even roasting.  Lay cut carrots cut side down.

Roasted Whole Carrots
Makes 4 servings

16 medium whole carrots
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon coarse black pepper
3-ounces goat cheese
¼ cup coarsely chopped unsalted shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.   Line a baking sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Spray foil lightly with nonstick food spray.

Peel carrots.  Cut large carrots in half lengthwise.    Place carrots in a mixing bowl.   Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.   Place carrots on prepared pan, placing cut carrots cut side down.  Carrots should not touch each other.

Roast for 10 to 12 minutes or until carrots are just cooked through and lightly charred on tips.  Remove from oven.  Place on serving platter.   Garnish with goat cheese and pistachios.



Cherry tomatoes tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar become caramelized during a 15-minute visit in a high-heat oven.

Balsamic Roasted Tomato Soup
Makes 4 servings

1 ½ pounds fresh cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
1 medium white onion
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 tablespoons julienne-sliced fresh basil leaves

4 sprigs fresh basil leaves

 Preheat oven to 500 degrees.   Line a baking sheet pan with aluminum foil.   Spray with nonstick food spray.

 In a mixing bowl, toss whole cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar.   Season with salt and white pepper.   Place tomatoes evenly on prepared pan.   Place in oven.  Roast for 12 to 15 minutes or until tomatoes are lightly caramelized and skins begin to burst.

 While tomatoes are roasting, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a 2-quart saucepot.   When hot, add onions.   Reduce heat to medium low.  Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they turn a light brown, about 10 minutes.

Remove tomatoes from oven.   Transfer to pot with onions.    Add stock.   Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.   Turn off heat.    Add 3 tablespoons julienne-sliced basil leaves.  Puree soup in food processor or high-speed blender. Divide among 4 soup bowls.   Garnish with fresh basil leaf sprigs.


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Getting Crafty with Beer

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Adding beer to your recipes can add some terrific flavor.  But how do you select which beer goes with which dish?   Here’s a handy cooking-with-beer guide along with some of my favorite beer-infused recipes.

For a more pronounced flavor of hops, put an extra splash of beer in at the end of cooking. Giving the dish a final brief simmer rather than a boil will retain the essence of the hops.


This culinary beer guide suggested by “The Craft Beer Cookbook” author Jacquelyn Dodd will help kick-start your craft beer cooking.

Stout and porter: Stouts tend to use roasted barley. Porters do not. Porters also tend to have a hoppier taste. Many stouts and porters have chocolate and coffee undertones. Use these beers in recipes that feature chocolate and red meat.

Pale ales: Pale ales get their name from the pale malt used to brew them. With a more even ration of malt to hop, the flavor is better balanced than some stronger brews. Pale ales are a good choice for fruit, poultry and seafood recipes.

Brown ales: Brown ales have a rich, malty flavor. Look for the nationality associated with this beer. American brown ales tend to have more hops. English brown ales tend to be sweeter with a maltier flavor. Try brown ales in recipes that have roasted root vegetables and red meat as ingredients.

Wheat ales: Wheat beers are brewed with wheat and tend to have a yeast-forward taste with a lower hop undertone. Flavors of citrus, cloves and coriander are often present in wheat ales. One of the most popular wheat ales is Blue Moon, a Belgian-style white wheat ale.

Wheat ales work well in recipe with apples, pears and citrus as well as with seafood and white meats like chicken and pork.

Lagers:Lagers are known for their clean, crisp taste and longer fermentations, making the yeast settle to the bottom. Lagers and pilsners are another good choice for shellfish, fish, white meats and citrus-based recipes.


Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Brown Ale Vinaigrette


Keibasa and Mussels Steamed in Lager


Beer Marinated Steak with Herb Sauce

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Chocolate Stout Cake


Beer-Infused Beef Stew with Puff Pastry Topping


Warm Brie with Beer-Braised Dried Fruit


Chocolate Stout Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted in Desserts, Entrees, Holiday & Entertaining, Recipes, Soups & Salads, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , ,

Celebration Spring Supper

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Spring has finally sprung!   Time to get all of your family and friends out of hibernation and into the dining room to enjoy a special Spring celebration dinner.   This delicious menu also is terrific as an Easter buffet.  (Find my story with additional recipes in the front page of the April 9, 2017 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel food section)

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Spring Pea and Preserved Lemon Mash Crostini

For starters, wow your guests with a bright green crostini made with smashed spring peas and preserved lemons.   Although preserved lemons are easy to make, they do take about 6 weeks in the frig before they are ready.  Luckily many specialty food stores carry this delicious tart Moroccan culinary treats.

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Roast Salmon with Herbes de Provence Bread Crumb Coating

For a change of pace from the traditional lamb or ham spring dinner, try your hand at preparing a delicious roast salmon.    Roasting the fish makes it easy to prepare for a large group.   The addition of herbes de Provence (a French blend of savory, thyme, rosemary, basil and lavender) adds a nice crunch to the dish.


Spring Easter Egg Nest Cake

Finish off the meal with a stunning dessert – a spring Easter egg nest cake.    A simple white cake with white buttercream is transformed into a spring showpiece complete with an edible nest made with green candy straw and filled with speckled malted milk ball eggs.   Who knew that edible Easter grass existed?   I found mine in the Easter candy section of my local Walmart.   It even came with cut-out edible bunnies.

Wishing you and your family all the best for a delicious spring supper.   Bon Appetite!

Posted in Appetizers, Desserts, Entrees, Favorite Things, Holiday & Entertaining, Recipes, sides | Tagged