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Ice Cream Float

Birch Beer FloatWe are keeping it simple tonight.  An ice cream float.  Being back in New England I have great access to Birch Beer, so that is tonight's flavor.  Feel free to substitute Root Beer, Coke, Orange soda, Black Cherry Soda or your favorite other flavor. 


2 big scoops (or 3 little scoops) Vanilla Ice cream

1 can soda, tonight Birch Beer


Into a nice big glass, plop the ice cream.  Top slowly with soda.  YES, it is supposed to fizz up like that, and if you have done it right it is going to fizz over and make a mess on the counter...remember you are channeling your inner kid.  Wipe it up later! 


Snails En Surprise

If you are afraid of not proceed! 

As I have mentioned in the past Escargot were a right of passage at The Playhouse, for even the youngest guests.  Imagine its 1975 and you can go back to school after summer vacation and say, "I ate snails."  How cool/scary are you.  The precurser to the food challenges of reality TV today.

So lets get started: 


For Butter:

1 stick butter, room temperature

1/4 parsley, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 a preserved lemon, finely chopped (optional)

Note:  If you don't have the preserved lemon, try the zest of 1/2 a lemon, 1 tsp salt and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.

For Snails/Escargot:

1 can of escargot, 4.25 oz

24 to 30 snail shells or 1 oz ramekins

1/4 sheet of prepared, frozen, puff pastry

1 egg

1 Tbsp water

2-3 cups salt

To Make Butter:

Mix together butter, parsley, garlic and lemon.  I like green butter for the escargot.  Once well combined set aside.

To assemble the escargot:

Pour salt into a small baking sheet or casserole dish.  Line up the snail shells so that the openings face up and are level.  We don't want any butter or juice to escape.

snail shells, all lined up ready to go

Place 1/2 tsp of butter into each escargot shell.  Top with one escargot each, and push into shell.  Place another 1/2 tsp of butter on top of escargot. 

ahhh garlic and parsley, oh and butter

Beat egg and water to create an egg wash.  Cut pieces of puff pastry to fit over opening of escargot shell.  Dip in egg wash and seal over escargot opening. 

Snails en Surprise

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes till puff pastry, has puffed and is golden brown.  DO NOT OVERCOOK.  Believe it or not they will get dry and leathery if overcooked. 

Have plenty of bread for dunking into leftover butter. 

So, tell about your first time, with escargot that is...




Olive and Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade

Believe it or not, 4 of the 5 kids put olives down as a favorite thing to put on a sandwich.  I was impressed.  They are one of my favorite things too.  I decided to have some olives on hand for our lunch.  I got a can of plain black olives, and I stopped by the olive bar and the grocery store.  Since I had the olives on hand, I thought they would also be a nice salty contrast to our first hors d'oeuvres (see two posts down).  So Zachary and Nicholas were charged with making a Tapenade.  First they had to learn how to put together the food processor.  Carolanne had to learn earlier for her dessert so she was a great teacher to the boys. 

Once put together Zachary did the measuring and Nicholas dealt with safety and using the food processor. 

Zachary measured out:

15 Sun-dried Tomato halves, packed in oil

5 Artichoke hearts, marinated

1 cup of mixed olives from the olive bar, NO pits

Nicholas whizzed it all together and it was great!  Keep in mind, they started with 10 tomato halves and 1/2 cup of olives but it just didn't taste right.  They added tomato, still wasn't quite right.  More olives and it was perfect.  They learned to taste as you go and adjust till you like it.  There was enough olive oil on the tomatoes, olives, and artichokes that we didn't need to add any.  Also the olives were salty enough that we didn't need to add any salt. 

Shaan and I loved it at lunch in our sandwiches.  I knew the Mom's would like what we had in store. 

Once Nicholas had finished with the home made Crostini (see post directly below), he was ready to make our second hors d'oeuvre. 

10 (or so) slices of crostini

3 oz (or so) of goat cheese

3 Tbsp (or so) of Tapenade

NOTE:  Goat cheese can be crumbly!

Spread 1/2 oz or less of goat cheese onto crostini.  Top with a tsp of tapenade.  Perfect, you are done.  Ooops, don't forget, if you made a mess, you need to transfer your crostini to another plate, carefully!



Yesterdays Bread Bin, or Crostini

I love going to the grocery store and nosing around the "yesterday's bread bin".  You never know what you will find.  Stale bread is better for so many things than fresh ever could be.  Need to make bread crumbs? Stale bread.  Bread pudding?definitely yesterdays bread, or danishes, or croissants.  French toast? Stale Challah please.  Then there is Crostini?  Yes please, yesterdays bagels or dinner rolls or parker house rolls, or, or, or....  You get my drift. 

I wanted the kids to try to understand that there is a use for everything.  This may need reinforcing, one conversation did not cover the gamut.  BUT the boys all got involved.  Zachary and Shaan used my (new to me) German manual bread slicer to slice the 6 day old parker house rolls. 


NOTE:  Gisela, my best friends Mom and the spaetzle queen, has had a bread slicer forever.  I have never seen one to purchase and told her that I would love one the next time she saw one in Germany.  She had an old one in the basement, now mine.  Think of a meat slicer, but much smaller and with a hand cranked wheel/blade, and most importantly a gauge to set the thickness of the bread. 

Then Nicholas seasoned and toasted the bread.  A broiler or a toaster oven is best here.  Nicholas put the bread slices on a cookie sheet, then drizzled a little olive oil over the bread, then sprinkled some kosher salt, and some herbs on top.  He then transferred the toast slices onto the toasting rack and into the toaster oven they went.  Normally they took about 3 minutes.  Nicholas got really good at judging if they needed another 30 seconds or so. 

Out comes a crunchy toasted and flavored crispy pieces of bread, perfect for topping with your favorite treats.   Nicholas was happily surprised with his creation.  See above for what we topped it with.

Today we used

6 day old poppy parker house rolls

olive oil, for drizzling

Kosher salt, for sprinkling

Herbs de Provence, but pick your favorites.  Sometimes I use Rosemary, other times Thyme, and a friend uses cumin and all works.


Cream Cheese and Hot Pepper Jelly Hors D'Oeuvres

We wanted to give the Mom's just a little nibble before dinner.  We were making Strawberry Lemonade for cocktails, yes two versions, one with and one without.  I wanted to find a couple of easy snacks even the little kids could make unsupervised.  This was the first, and our youngest apprentice Shaan did a bang up job. 

10 Carrs water crackers

3 Tbsp cream cheese, give or take

3 Tbsp Hot pepper jelly, I got mine in a Christmas basket, but you can find jalapeno (green instead of red)jelly in most regular grocery stores

Pull the cream cheese, spreadable is easier for young hands, out of the fridge about 30 minutes before ready to use. 

Spread each cracker with a little less than a tsp of cream cheese.  Top with a little less than a tsp of hot pepper jelly each.  Voila, done.  A little kick, and little cool.  A tasty little zip, and mmm for your taste buds.