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A Valentine Of Chocolate Ganache

Giving for Valentine’s Day isn’t always easy….unless you’re Justin Timberlake: You start with a box, you put a hole in that box….etc…lol..

I prefer something with more calories. Like chocolate.

Chocolate ganache is a shape shifter and needs to be in everyone’s repertoire. Make exclusively from any good type of chocolate and heavy cream, it is very versatile and a one to one ratio.

When warm, it makes a pourable dip for fruit ( think strawberries) or a drizzle for cakes or pastry. When cool, you can ice a cake. If chilled, the best rolled truffles in the world become within reach. If you fancy hot fudge sundaes , here’s your sauce!

I like to bottle it and give it to my bridal couples with a small paintbrush and the directive that ”this sauce really can go to your thighs!”. Good clean and delicious fun, whether you’re married or not!

Here is there recipe:


16 oz, finely chopped chocolate ( good quality is best) you can use chocolate chips. I prefer bittersweet.

1 cup heavy cream




Parsnip Birthday Cake w/ a Beet tinted Pink Cream Cheese Icing

Hello Everyone!

It’s my birthday week and a time of year that I always look forward to.

Here in Maine, the light is slowly returning. But it’s still a contemplative time in the North . A time to consider the New Year and our resolutions to improve, but also a time to gather and to celebrate ourselves and our friends.

So my birthday, Jan 21, comes at a great time. The holidays are over and there is a bit of a let down. Valentine’s is still a couple weeks away. So why not open some champagne and throw a party?

This year, I plan to invite a half a dozen friends, bring out vintage champagne and bake this cake. It’s built like a carrot cake with cream cheese icing. II like coconut,toasted walnuts and raisins in mine:

Makes one 9 inch layer, I double it for a layer cake.

1 1/2 cup ap flour, sifted to measure
2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp each ginger and cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl

1 stick unsalted butter
1cup light brown sugar
3 large brown eggs at room temp.
1/2 c yoghurt
1 TB real vanilla
2 cups grated parsnip. GRATE THEM SMALL, BY HAND
1/2 cup each h rain, conceit shreds and toasted walnuts

Cream the butter and sugar, adding in the eggs , yoghurt and vanilla slowly.

Combine with dry, ingredients folding in carefully . Add the parsnip,nuts, raisins and coconut last and mix in lightly but thoroughly .

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease 9 inch pan, with amply high sides as the batter is generous.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until done, I use a toothpick as a tester.

Let the cake cool partially before turning it out on a rack .


To cover 2 layers and in between:

Soften 2 1/2 # cream cheese and one stick of butter .

Cook a medium beet, covered and on low heat in a couple inches of water, saving some of the liquid. Cool.

Use a kitchen Aid mixer and whisk, drop in the softened cream cheese and butter. Add a tsp. of vanilla, a 1/4 tsp. of lemon zest ( small grate)and a cup of sifted powdered sugar.

Start the machine slowly until all ingredients for the icing are in corporatated. Then beat on high for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Be sure the icing is thick enough to spread.

If you like pink as much as I do, add a bit of beet liquid to the icing to achieve the color you want. You may need to add some additional powdered sugar to correct the thickness .


Pffeffernusse or Pepper Nuts, a traditional European Christmas cookie

Pffeffernusse or Pepper Nuts,a traditional European Christmas cookie

Thank you Aunt Marie!

Sift together the dry ingredients:
2 c. flour plus 2 tb flour
1/4 tsp.baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. Each nutmeg, clove and cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream together:
1/2 cup each butter and sugar
Add one egg, beating until light.

Add: 1/4 c finely chopped almonds

1 TB each candied orange peel and candied *citron*

Add the flour to the creamed ingredients slowly and alternate with:
1/2 generous cup or Barbados molasses
1/2 cup brandy or Cognac
1 tsp lemon rind, grated
1 TB lemon juice

Combine and beat well, allow to sit covered overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Form the dough into one inch balls.
Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

While warm, roll in powdered sugar Keep tightly covered and the flavor will develop nicely!

* a note on candied citron: I tried preparing my own candied citron one year. It’s a lot of work and a lot of sugar…but worth it if you’re an avid baker. And it keeps!

A citron is a special small melon like fruit,called a Buddha’s Hand (most commonly) which you dice small and cook in a thick sugar syrup, then dry on a rack and add more sugar to coat. A candy thermometer is worthwhile for this endeavor.

Hoppin’ John / Ring in the New Year Right!

Hoppin’ John is classic low country cooking, having originated in South Carolina and probably with roots in African cuisine. I make mine with both thick country bacon and spicy Andouille sausage, but if you just wanted a nice vegetable forward dish, these could be omitted and the seasonings elevated.

Stories abound about how the name of this dish came to be. Some tales reference children “hopping happy” to see this meal coming their way, others speak to a crippled peddler who sold this food as a street vendor. One can only guess how Hoppin’ John became the lucky New Year’s Day meal of choice. Maybe it’s good for a hangover. This could be the year to find out!

HOPPIN’ JOHN / Serves 6 Generously

1/2 lb. thick bacon, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces

1/2 lb. Andouille sausage

1 medium white onion, chopped fine

4 celery ribs, spiced medium

1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped

Chicken stock, if desired

1 bunch green onion, trimmed, chopped and set aside for garnish

1-1/2 uncooked long grain rice white or brown

Basil, thyme, cayenne, oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste

1 or 2 cans (15 oz) of black eyed peas, rinsed and drained. It depends on the ratio you like, it’s a personal thing. You may also cook your beans from scratch if not pressed for time.

Cook bacon and sausage in a large cast iron skillet with a tight fitting lid, set aside, slice sausage when cool. 

Combine and sauté all vegetables in the bacon grease, stirring in salt and seasonings. Stir in the rice to coat with the pan drippings and spices.

Cover with chicken stock to the first knuckle on your index finger (good Grandma tip…first knuckle for rice, second for beans)

Cover and cook until rice has absorbed all liquid and appears to be done. If you need to add a bit more stock, please do.

Then add in the rinsed beans, bacon and sausage, gently folding in.

Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes on a very low flame while preparing the side dishes or salad you’d like to have to accompany the rice and peas.

Top with lots of green onion and have the hot sauce handy! 

Everyone is lucky since this is a highly nutritious one pot meal that’s also economical.

Happy New Year!

Nestle’s Finest Achievement ….The Chocolate Chip

Here is a classic recipe my family always made at Christmas time for gift giving, the Toll House Cookie from Nestle, modified by me with more vanilla and chips.

 I prefer to roast the walnuts ahead of time for additional depth of flavor. In fact, the batter may be doubled and saved in the fridge, then scooped and bake as desired. Makes 5 dozen melty chocolate chip cookies.


2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 TSP. Baking Soda
1 CUP Softened Butter
3/4 C White Sugar
3/4  Light Brown Sugar
1 TB Real Vanilla
2 Large Eggs
3 Cups Chocolate Chips
1 1/2 Roasted Chopped Walnuts, optional 

Preheat oven to 375°

Sift / Combine all Dry Ingredients

Beat sugars,  softened butter and vanilla together until well creamed

Add eggs gradually.

When well combined, begin to add dry ingredients.

Finally stir in nuts and chips.

Drop desired size onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake about 10 minutes or until browned around edges.

Cool on wire racks, then package for holiday cheer!

Grilled Vegetables

Tips for perfect grilled vegetables:

CHOOSE your vegetables. Make sure they’re young and in season.

CUT them into uniform sizes, and not too small…

BLANCH tougher veggies, then dry them.

COAT all vegetables with oil and good salt. Don’t over do it.

PREHEAT the grill and make sure the rails are clean.
Grill vegetables with similar cooking times together.

ARRANGE artfully on an attractive platter, serve immediately.
Makes a nice, plant forward and substantial side to any picnic!

Fiddlehead Quiche/ A May Pine Cone Cafe Tradition


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Have ready one unbaked pie shell, your favorite recipe


2 tb soft butter
1-1/2 cup chopped white onion, pinch of salt
2 cups fiddleheads, cleaned of all brown papery stuff, washed twice, drained and steamed until bright
2 cups shredded farmhouse sharp cheddar
Salt, pepper and freshly ground nutmeg
6 eggs, beaten well
1-1/2 cup half and half or light cream


Make a custard of the beaten eggs and cream. Set aside.

Saute the onion until lightly browned, add salt , pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Toss with the cooled, cooked fiddleheads.

Pile into the uncooked pie shell, top with the cheese.

Pour the custard over all, don’t overfill if the custard is too generous. Dust lightly with paprika.

Bake at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet for about 40 minutes or until puffed and set in the center.

Let it rest for a half hour before slicing. Goes well with a crisp salad.

Enjoy a taste of spring!

Pennsylvania Dutch Hot Bacon Dressing

Serves six

6 slices bacon, cooked till crisp then crumbled, save the fat
1 egg, well beaten
2 tb flour
1 generous cup milk
1/4 cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion

Have your foraged greens triple washed and dried, rough chopped and quickly steam wilted, then cooled.

In a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, prepare a roux with all the other ingredients except the bacon, whisking until thickened and the flour cooked.

Add the bacon fat, continue whisking.

Toss the just wilted green and bacon until all are combined.

Some like this topped with hard cooked eggs.

This was Granddad Reigel’s end game when he taught us to “hunt dandelions.” Also good over lettuces,in which case steaming the greens first is not necessary.

Remember what you say to a child. It’s possible that 60 years later they’ll still be hanging on your words.