Sunday, June 30, 2013

Amanda's Real Parents - Cherry Hill Episode 22

Hello dear readers and welcome to another installment of Cherry Hill! When last we left our saga, Jack, Amanda and the children narrowly escaped detection by Walt Fischer and The Association and made their way to safety in Twin Lakes Forest by ducking into a hidden passage behind a waterfall. As they readied themselves to set up camp for the night, Jack promised to reveal to Amanda the secrets of her birth.

We resume our story there.

Missed an episode? Get caught up here: Cherry Hill Index

***

1921

Victoria Morgaine stood in the tiny kitchen of her cramped New York tenement apartment and sighed as she made soft boiled eggs for her infant daughter Amanda. Adding salt, pepper and a little fresh butter to the soft bright yolks she smiled despite herself as Amanda clapped her hands in anticipation. Soft boiled eggs were her daughters favourite breakfast and despite the many frightening setbacks her small family had faced over the year since Amanda's birth, Victoria was grateful they had enough to eat.

"To the Gods," she said in a cultured Irish brogue, and tossing salt over her shoulder made her way to her daughter.

With the bright blue eyes, glossy raven hair, and luminescent skin of her ancestors Amanda was a beautiful child and Victoria had gone to great lengths to disguise that beauty by dressing her daughter in drab brown clothing and a variety of equally drab hats to throw off any attention or suspicion. Though she and her husband Tristan had no idea before Amanda was born, the signs had been there from the beginning and Victoria cursed herself once again for falling victim to love thus bringing a Chosen into the world.

Her Watcher had been right when she warned Victoria against taking up with Tristan, but he had been so funny and so handsome in that carefree way of the French aristocracy that she had fallen completely under his spell - and she under his.

The wedding had been a joyous event, bringing two of the oldest families of the Zanzibar together and despite the repeated warnings from Watchers, Victoria and Tristan looked toward the future with hope and optimism. Folklore and legend had surrounded their families for centuries and though Tristan and Victoria both believed in and ascribed to the old ways, it was a braver new world in 1920 Europe and both carried hopes for a modern future.

At the same time, nothing had gone unnoticed by The Association. A secret order that dated back to the days before Christ, The Association or La Commande de la Puissance, worked toward a world order based on control and worked tirelessly to quell sources of power from outside its realm. Any fear, doubts, or hardships that the people of earth experienced were entirely in the control of The Association and no old magic was going to stop that.

Every Chosen in the last 500 years had been taken care of and in the modern age, thanks to the vigilance of the Watchers, no Chosen had been born.

Until Amanda.

The bright eyed little girl clapped her hands in glee as Victoria fed her the soft warm eggs and gently sang a song to her in the old language:

Bheir mi óró 'bhean ó
Bheir mi óró, ó 'bhean í
Bheir mi óró ó hó
'S mé tá brónach 's tú im dhíth

And as the power of love and happiness grew in the room a soft tinkling of bells began in all four corners and the air became iridescent in soft hues of gold. And then they were there. The fairies of the protection realm. Beings of the purest light and love that Victoria had heard about all of her life but never really believed existed.

With nothing more than a smile and a feeling of glee, her 1 year old daughter was able to summon them and transform the very essence of a room to one of peace and light and in that moment Victoria understood what it meant to be the mother of a Chosen.

If The Association knew one walked among them they would stop at nothing to destroy the light that child brought into the world.

She and Tristan had left Europe and come to New York. They had given up all ties to the families and the lives they left behind. The Watchers had taken every precaution in staging their deaths so that there was no record a child had ever been born to the family of Morgaine - and still, in that moment as brightly lit fairies in gradient hues of gold flew around the room, Victoria knew it wasn't enough and as Tristan walked in the door, his eyes filled with wonder, she dreaded what she knew she would have to tell hm.

Amanda could not stay with them. She could not be raised in a family of the Zanzibar because as the bonds continued to mature and grow, so would her powers.

Victoria looked across the small gold infused apartment at the man she loved and as their eyes met, no words were needed. Amanda would have to go to a family and a place far away from them and the secrets of her heritage and as Victoria held her husband tight, she used her mind to send a thought request to her Watcher...

***

Please enjoy the next installment in the Cherry Hill Saga: The Day Amanda's Mother Said Goodbye

Stay tuned next Sunday for the next exciting installment of Cherry Hill! And if you enjoy reading my food related fiction, pop by and check out my hilarious new web series "Starring Samantha."

Samantha Wentworth's catering business goes belly up along with her marriage to cut throat divorce attorney Alan Wentworth. To recoup her losses she applies to be on a reality TV show, falls in love with the married producer, just about kills the pompous chef host, and gets herself into all kinds of other interesting predicaments. 
Stay tuned Saturdays for this brand new serial on The Kitchen Witch! I'll be basing the characters off of well known food world celebs to keep you guessing! Each installment will come with a signature cocktail, recipes, and a fun question and answer to include you in the plot twists - so be sure to bookmark The Kitchen Witch and come along for a fun, food related, romantic romp through the world of reality TV!

Click here to read Episode 1: Samantha Drowns her Sorrows in a Vodka Gimlet 



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube






Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bloody Mary with Homemade Jalapeno Vodka and a Little Food Network Gossip!

It's cocktail Saturday everyone! And though I don't have a lot of gossip to share this week, I do have a fabulous cocktail!

Jalapeno infused vodka is mixed into a classic Bloody Mary and garnished with cocktail sized taco meatballs, pickled jalapeno pepper, and avocado to make an all in one cocktail and appetizer!

As for gossip... I have a few tidbits...

It's happy news this week for CHOPPED host Ted Allen who announced his engagement on Twitter to long time partner Barry Rice after learning of the Supreme Court's ruling in support of same sex marriage.

He tweeted: "Proud to announce on this historic day that my partner of 20 years, Barry Rice, and I are engaged to be married," and after all of the hullabaloo surrounding Paula Dean this week, it was nice to hear some good news.

Canada also had news of its own when it was announced MasterChef will be coming to CTV and they are currently accepting applications for season 1. In keeping with my promise to retain my sanity, I will not be throwing my hat into this particular ring. People, I was ready for the psych ward after three days on a reality show. I cannot imagine doing it for a prolonged period of time under that kind of pressure! I will, however, be blogging about it and will continue doing my happy little thing here and on Youtube.

Finally, I read a cool, and timely, little bit about Nikki Dinky from Next Food Network Star. Did you know she was in a couple episodes of The Sopranos? Neither did I, but with the tragic passing of James Gandolfini, it seemed fitting to share that today.

Rest in peace James. You were amazing.

On that note, let's take a moment to toast a true original with an original cocktail idea featuring homemade jalapeno infused vodka.



Learn how to make it with my easy to follow step by step video or visit the printable recipe here:

Bloody Mary with Homemade Jalapeno Vodka and Taco Meatballs




 To Make the Vodka

Split a large jalapeno pepper in half and remove the seeds. Place into a 26 ounce jar with a tight fitting lid. Pour 26 ounces of vodka over all. Cover and leave for one week before using.

To make the Bloody Mary

 Ingredients
  • a little sea salt and creole seasoning to rim the glass (optional)
  • 1 and a 1/2 ounces of jalapeno vodka
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • a few shakes hot sauce
  • the juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp horseradish
  • 1/4 tsp creole seasoning
  • 1 cup tomato juice
Directions
  1.  Put all of the ingredients into a shaker. Shake well and pour over ice.
  2. Garnish with cocktail meatballs and avocado on skewers,
Cocktail Taco Meatballs

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup crushed taco flavoured tortilla chips
  • 1 tbsp salsa
Directions
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. 
  2. Roll into small cocktail sized meatballs (1/2 inch in diameter)
  3. Place onto a parchment covered baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated 350 oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through.


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Friday, June 28, 2013

The Ultimate Surf and Turf

Happy Foodie Friday everyone - have I got a treat for you!

 


















With summer officially upon us (because my holidays began today - whoo hoo!!!!) I thought we should kick things off in style with an amazing "Surf and Turf" barbecue featuring tender herb and lemon infused chicken and prawns. Gruyere potatoes, herbed vegetables and the Ultimate grilled rib eye!





Scroll down for all the recipes - and if you're unsure about grilling, pull up a chair, join me in my cottage garden and I'll show you how to put this show stopper dinner together yourself!


Twice Baked Gruyere Potatoes
Click here to visit the printable recipe
 
 
  • 4 large russet baking potatoes
  • 1/2 brick (125 grams) Philadelphia Cream Cheese light or regular at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup(s) of mayonnaise (light or regular)
  • 1/4 cup(s) of milk
  • 1/2 tsp. of white truffle oil (optional but amazing)
  • 1/4 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. of chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tbsp. of melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp. of kosher or sea salt
  • 1 cup(s) of shredded Gruyere cheese
**Note, the above is my preferred recipe to go with the surf and turf but to do the cheddar version, substitute the plain cream cheese with chive and onion, omit the truffle oil, and substitute the Gruyere cheese with extra old cheddar.

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Wash potatoes, prick with a fork, and bake directly on your oven rack for 1 hour until tender
  3. Trim off potato ends, halve, and let rest until cook enough to handle.
  4. Mash potatoes well. Add softened cream cheese, and mayonnaise and whip using an electric mixer. Add milk and continue to whip until potatoes are smooth without lumps. 
  5. Blend in the truffle oil if using.
  6. Add 1/4 tsp salt. Add butter stir well.
  7. Add 1/2 cup of the Gruyere cheese and the chives.
  8. Cover a small baking tray with tinfoil. 
  9. Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato skins and place on the baking sheet. Top the potatoes evenly with the remaining Gruyere cheese. 
  10. These can be covered and refrigerated until you are ready to grill and can be made the day before. 
  11. Grill on the baking tray on main rack of barbecue set to 400 for app 20 minutes until potatoes begin to go golden and bubbly. Remove to upper rack while you grill your meat.
Herb Infused Grilled Vegetables
Click here to visit the printable recipe

Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs like parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/8 cup white vinegar
  • 5 cups vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, onion, cherry tomatoes cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1  tsp kosher salt 
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup feta cheese
Directions
  1.  Toss the vegetables in a vinaigrette made with the first 5 ingredients.
  2. Divide into two even amounts (2 and a half cups each) on 2 large sheets of tinfoil and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and feta cheese.
  3. Double wrap tightly to form two packets.
  4.  These can be done the day before or in the morning. They are best if they have a chance to sit overnight in the marinade.
  5. Put over direct heat on a 400 degree grill and grill for 25 turning every 5-7 minutes.
Lemony Chicken and Prawns
Click here to visit the printable recipe



Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of one whole lemon
  • 1 tsp garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 Jumbo prawns (or 12 jumbo prawns and skip the chicken)
Directions
  1. Divide the chicken and the prawns into two separate ziplock bags.
  2. Marinate the chicken in half this mixture for at least one hour. The longer the better. 
  3. Marinate the prawns for 20-30 minutes. 
  4. Grill breasts starting at 400 and then reducing to 350 for 7 to 8 minutes on each side flipping every 2-3 minutes
  5. Grill the prawns on the oiled grill 3 minutes a side.
The Ultimate Grilled Rib Eye
Click here to visit the printable recipe
 
 

Ingredients
  •  2 Tbsp minced garlic packed in extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4, 6- 8 ounce rib eyes
Directions
  1. Bring your steaks to room temperature.
  2. Make a rub using the first four ingredients and rub evenly into all four steaks. Let your steak stay in this rub for 30 minutes prior to grilling.
  3. Grill on a oiled 400 degree grill for 6 minutes a side for medium.


   


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Thursday, June 27, 2013

MasterChef Season 4 Episodes 10 and 11 Krissi Snares a Cat Fish

In this week's episode the cooks were faced with faces - pigs faces that is - because the first challenge of the evening featured pigs heads on a platter. Each cook was tasked with butchering and creating a dish using the tongue, cheek meat, or ear of the pig and though it felt at times like I was watching Silence of the Lambs, all of the cooks were impressive as they made their way through those heads.

Special kudos to Bree. As the only vegetarian in the group she used a "see no evil" approach by covering her pigs head as she cooked it so that it couldn't look at her while she was doing it. For that reason, a part of me was really hoping her dish of a farmer's breakfast with crispy pig's ear would be in the running to win the challenge.

But there were three dishes the judges liked more:

Lynn made a Braised Tongue and Cheek that Graham said was perfectly seasoned. Jessie pulled out another stunner with Braised Cheek and Ear, and Jonny surprised everyone with his Braised Tongue and Cheek Taco.

Krissi Snares a Catfish - The Elimination Challenge

Lynn won, putting him in control of the elimination challenge and last season's winner Christine Ha came back to introduce what it would be. She gave Lynn the option of choosing from her three favourite ingredients: chicken, catfish, and live dungenous crab with tonight's advantage being that Lynn could choose one person to cook one of the ingredients, and the other cooks would cook a second, again of his choosing.

Calling Krissi out as his one achillies heel, he chose the catfish for her and crab for the rest of the competitors. All the while I sat back and thought: "Why does everyone always have to pick on my favorite tough talking women?"

Christine Corley took the heat in season 2 for speaking her mind, Martie did last season, and now the fabulosity of Krissi is set up to be this season's tough talking villainess.

Krissi, as expected, didn't take the catfish swimmingly - but before she had a chance to get into it, madness ensued when the cooks were told they had to do the challenge blindfolded.













I have admit to a moment of panic as a blind folded Luca stumbled around the kitchen with his giant butcher knife at the ready and was relieved when Christine, who has a wicked sense of humour, let them know they could take the blindfolds off. 

In the meantime Krissi, who was cooking an old fashioned fish fry with mashed potatoes, got into a run in with Joe when he said her plate looked like "Sunday night leftover dinner."

Krissi, as much as I love you and your food gangster ways, it is oft the better strategy when Joe looks at you all rattlesnake like not to argue back.

But you know what? I admire you for that. I admire you for sticking up for your dish and calling out the reality TV la la land stuff that was going on because even as the dramatic music welled up I knew you weren't going to be sent home. They need you for the story line because you are interesting and even better than that, you are polarizing, which means that just by the virtue of being yourself, you create lots of discussion. 

That being said, Beth, who I aptly cast as Dorothy this season, went back home to Kansas while the Wicked Witch of the North Natasha was chosen as a winner along with James who is really emerging as a cooking star.

The Team Challenge

Wedding bells were ringing as the team challenge featured the cooks catering a wedding with Natasha and James picking teams. Once again the power house known as Jessie and Lynn or "JessLynn" were on the same team and we had to listen to them wax rhapsodic for yet another week about their unstoppable power as a duo.

At the same time, Krissi and Bree were counting their lucky stars because as the least favourite people on each team, they each got to sit out and were exempted from elimination.

As the challenge got underway the wedding diners were treated to an amazing appetizer of Spring Pea Essence with Whipped Creme Fraiche Pink Peppercorn and Lavender Infusion from Chef Graham Elliot.











Coming up with an entree to follow that had to have been pretty daunting.

Though JessLynn on the blue team were cocky and confident at the start of the challenge, as the heat in the kitchen rose, so did Lynn's stress. In danger of losing his first team challenge, Lynn who Ramsay referred to as "Hey Sweatbox!" in full Hell's Kitchen glory, was sweating all over the entrees. As an aside, Lynn has been accused several times of under seasoning his dishes so perhaps this was part of his master plan to salt up the meat.

What?

Dinner service ended with Gordon Ramsay's Sticky Toffee Pudding.











And as I longed for the power to reach into the screen and have one of these for my very own, there was still a pressure test to contend with.

The red team and their cool, confident, non-sweaty halibut won and Lynn and Jonny from the blue team were sent into head to head battle featuring a culinary cage fight to see who could bake up the best macarons.











In the end, that person was Lynn and Jonny was sent home.

***
If you enjoy reading food related fiction, check out my hilarious new web series "Starring Samantha."

Samantha Wentworth's catering business goes belly up along with her marriage to cut throat divorce attorney Alan Wentworth. To recoup her losses she applies to be on a reality TV show, falls in love with the married producer, just about kills the pompous chef host, and gets herself into all kinds of other interesting predicaments. 

Stay tuned Saturdays for this brand new serial on The Kitchen Witch! I'll be basing the characters off of well known food world celebs to keep you guessing! Each installment will come with a signature cocktail, recipes, and a fun question and answer to include you in the plot twists - so be sure to bookmark The Kitchen Witch and come along for a fun, food related, romantic romp through the world of reality TV!

Click here to read Episode 1: Samantha Drowns her Sorrows in a Vodka Gimlet 



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube






Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lemon Chicken Stir Fry (Home Made Lean Cuisines)

Happy Weekday Wednesday everyone!

Today I've got another wonderful, easy to make weekday dinner to share:

Lemon Chicken Stir Fry.




















Tender boneless, skinless chicken breasts marinate in fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and green onion for 30 minutes and then are stir fried to golden goodness in a wok or large pan.

Slather them in an amazing sauce made with fresh lemon, soy sauce, sesame oil, and honey, and you've got a delectable and healthy dinner!

 Better still, this recipe makes a nice large batch - and if you're not cooking for a crew, the leftovers are perfect for a nice, light, portable lunch!

I think of these as my own version of homemade Lean Cuisines!

 The entire recipe, including the rice and broccoli served on the side freezes well. Just package up in freezer safe individual containers, bring to room temperature, and freeze. Pull out your container in the morning and let thaw in your lunch bag. 

Microwave on high for one minute and Voila!

Lunch is served!




















Visit the printable recipe here: Lemon Chicken Stir Fry

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video.



Ingredients
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small strips or pieces
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsps vegetable or peanut oil
Marinade
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine, dry sherry, or red wine vinegar
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced 
  • 2 tsps freshly grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
Sauce
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice and the grated zest from one large lemon
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
Instructions
  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Stir in the chicken, cover, and marinate for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, put all the ingredients in a bowl with 2 tbsps cold water, sitr to combine, set aside.
  3. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil in a wok or pan until very hot. Add the chicken and stir fry over high heat for about 5-7  minutes until golden brown and cooked through. (If the wok gets too hot adjust the heat - the goal is really nice golden brown chicken)
  4. Return the chicken to the wok and add the sauce. Simmer for two minutes stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Serve immediately over rice with steamed broccoli on the side. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over all.





***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube




Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Next Food Network Star, Episode 4 - Big Screen Bites

Tonight's episode of Food Network Star had me fooled. As a long time reality Maven, I can usually predict who will be going home; and tonight I thought it was going to be Nikki. Remember when I mentioned she hasn't been putting up videos on her YouTube channel? I surmised she wasn't uploading because she was probably busy doing "other" things, so when she put up a delicious looking video last week for Burst Tomato Pasta, I was worried.

But Nikki, who looked as though she was in serious trouble this episode because she doesn't have experience cooking in restaurants, impressed the selection committee with her dish and her presentation and...

I'm getting ahead of myself.

Only because I'm excited about this week's challenge as it had the finalists participating in one of the latest food fads: dinner and a movie. Working in teams of three, the finalists were tasked with creating a themed meal for a group of movie viewers and a movie trailer to reflect these themes of Romance, Western, and Musical.

The trailers would be shown at Cinépolis, a luxury cinema where the Selection Committee along with the focus group of viewers would decide which team's menu and performance was their favourite.

The Challenge

Viet, Chad, and Demaris were on Team Romance and made a menu featuring a chicken wing, shrimp and grits, and berries with whipped cream. Remembering feedback from previous challenges, Demaris worked hard not to be overly flirtatious, which must have been difficult since Chad and Viet took what was supposed to be Breakfast at Tiffany's and turned it into Nine and a Half Weeks. Demaris, however, did well this challenge and managed to look sweet and innocent despite Chad's uncomfortable (but hilarious) channeling  of Dirk Diggler while he introduced his chicken wings.   
















In the meantime, Stacey, Nikki, and Russell were charged with creating recipes with a Western theme, and though Russell expressed concern over Nikki's lack of restaurant experience, his Western Spaghetti (get it?) didn't quite make the mark.

Finally, Team Musical  featuring Lovely, Rodney, and Chris created a robust trailer featuring the three finalists channeling their inner blues singers. Unfortunately none of them tapped into their inner cooks and three dischordant courses were put up - with the most off key note being Lovely's beignets which were made with prepared pizza dough fried up and coated in sugar.

As I watched the judges turn up their noses on this dense creation - poor Giada could barely take a bite - I shook my head and wondered who could ever conceive of making such a dish. 

To me, it sounded like one of those viral Pinterest recipes that never really translate as actual food - so imagine my surprise when I googled Pizza Dough Beignets and found the leading recipe on Google to be from none other than Giada! Prominently featured on the Food Network website: Giada's Italian Doughnuts.

Oz. 

It was Lovely's night to learn the Wizard is just a guy standing in front of a green screen and stars, no matter how bright and shiny, can still occassionally fall from the sky.

On that note, she was sent home. 

As for me, after all that, I need a drink! 

In keeping with the theme of romance, how about a Cupid's Kiss Cocktail?


Until next week everyone, here's wishing you all a CHARMED life! You can get caught  up on all of my Food TV reviews here: Food TV Index.

If you enjoyed this blog be sure to subscribe for more Food TV reviews, great recipes, how to videos, and much more!


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Monday, June 24, 2013

How to Make Balsamic Strawberry Compote

 I saw this recipe for strawberry compote on the Epicurious website a few years ago and have been making it ever since.


 This incredibly easy to make strawberry jam is wonderful to give as a hostess gift or to have on hand during the summer months when strawberries are in season. And don't let the ingredients scare you. The flavours of balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and strawberries go perfectly together making this strawberry masterpiece incredible for both sweet...



 Or savoury dishes.

Homemade Crostini with Chevre and Strawberry Compote

 Whether you use this as a marinade for chicken, the base for a vinaigrette, or in a multitude of beautiful desserts, today's recipe is a good one to have in your back pocket and I hope you enjoy.


 Visit the printable recipe here: Balsamic Strawberry Compote

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video.





Original recipe from Epicurious


Ingredients
  • 2 cups strawberries, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Directions
  1. In a small heavy saucepan bring all ingredients to a boil, stirring, and skim surface. 
  2. Simmer mixture, stirring and skimming foam occasionally, 15 minutes, or until thickened and translucent. 
  3. Remove pan from heat and cool preserves completely. Preserves keep, covered and chilled, 1 month.


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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Amanda Learns the Truth About Her Parents - Cherry Hill, Episode 21

Hello dear readers! Welcome to another installment of Cherry Hill.

When we last left our not so sleepy little hamlet, we learned that town matriarch, Mrs. Wilson, has far more up her sleeve than party planning! Mrs Wilson knows more about the secrets of Cherry Hill than anyone, and as a Secret Keeper has kept her silence well.

But with the disappearance of Jack and Amanda, Marjorie Wilson knows better than anyone that the days of peace and tranquility for Cherry Hill would be coming to an end if Jack was unable to keep Amanda safe.

We resume our story with Jack, Amanda, and her two children, Sally and Bobby as they prepare for another night time trek through Twin Lakes Forest. At the next drop off point, Jack has promised to tell Amanda everything.

Missed an episode? Click here to get caught up! Cherry Hill Index

***

With Jack in the lead and the children between them, the four travelers made their way quietly over the rocky trails using nothing but the moonlight to guide them. Although Jack knew the woods well, he was on alert for sounds of bear or wolves, and as if to reassure himself, patted the shotgun he had slung over his shoulder.

As much as he had prepared for this moment, Jack had never really believed it would all come to this. In his deepest heart he had hoped never to hear the word Zanzibar but now that it was happening, there was no turning back and he knew he had to make good on his promise at the end of tonight's journey to tell Amanda the truth about who she was.

As Jack led the way, Amanda marveled at her children; at their stamina and bravery to take such an arduous trek with no complaint. In many ways she wasn't sure how they were doing it because she was so exhausted herself she could barely put one foot in front of the other.

But they all managed to keep the pace with Jack as he led the way under the light of a full moon, and with every step closer to the lakes, the draw toward them Amanda had experienced earlier grew stronger. Without knowing why, Amanda had a deep sense of understanding that she and the children needed to get to the lakes.

There were other thoughts swirling in her mind as well. Thoughts she didn't understand that kept repeating themselves over and over again: "For the good and for the light, we embrace the night. In the purity of water the earth returns her daughter."

Amanda chalked it up to a lack of sleep and the shere craziness of the situation, but deep down she knew there was more to it. With every step closer to the lakes, the voices got louder and more of more of her being began to feel as if it was opening up.

As the first rays of sunlight began to push back the darkness, Amanda could have sworn she heard the faint sound of drums but before she could ask if the others heard anything Jack stopped short. He turned around, a look of alarm on his handsome face, put a finger to his lips to indicate they were to be silent, and motioned for them to follow him uphill into a stand of trees. In a voice that was almost imperceptible he said "Don't make a sound. Move as quickly and quietly up this hill as possible, come on move now!"

As quietly as possible, they made haste up a large steep hill through the thick forest until they came to a large stand of boulders.

"Come, quick, everyone," whispered Jack, we should be able to hide here.

"Hide?" said Amanda in alarm but before Jack could tell them who they were hiding from they heard voices coming from way down hill.

"Did you call in the other specialists?" asked a voice from down below.

"Yes," said Walt Fischer, another team is on its way. I've let them know the four are still alive." He grinned slightly as he clutched the tiny toy soldier in his palm. Finding it last night had been a boon because it told them they were looking in the right direction.

Jack swore under his breath. They were closing in on them and as Walt Fischer and his men continued through the woods below, Jack motioned for the three to follow him.

He continued to lead them uphill until they reached a long, rocky, overgrown path going straight down. From somewhere below, Amanda could hear water and she looked at Jack with a question in her eyes.

"It's going to be a tough trek," he said, "We need to make our way straight down, grab branches for support if you need to. There's a waterfall at the bottom of this hill. That's going to take us to an alternate drop off that will hopefully be enough to throw them off."

With her heart pounding and legs aching, Amanda followed Jack and the children down the long steep hill and she had never felt more relieved in her life than the moment she set foot in front of the waterfall. It was majestic and large and booming and as the water rushed and crashed against the rocks, she began to hear the drums.

"Do you hear that?" she asked Jack.

He turned around and looked deep into her eyes with a tenderness that made her catch her breath, "No Amanda, I don't. Only you and the children can hear the drums. That is why I'm protecting you."

Amanda looked at her two children in wonder. They were both standing wide eyed, staring at the waterfall, entranced by the sounds of ancient drums.

"Come," said Jack holding out his hand, "This is a good sign," and leading the way, he stepped into the back of the waterfall into a large cave that sat behind it. "This cave goes on for about 2 miles and will take us almost to the far edge of one of the twin lakes. We'll walk to the end and set up camp there."

The group continued walking until they reached the final drop off. At the end of the cave was a large open cliff that looked down on a large lake below.

"We're here sighed Amanda."

"Almost," said Jack, "When we set up camp it will be time to tell you about your parents."

Amanda looked at Jack in alarm, "My parents! Oh no!! Jack, please tell me they're okay."

Jack looked at her sadly. "Amanda, this is very hard for me to tell you, but the people you know as your parents adopted you. Your real parents are dead."

***

Stay tuned next week for another exciting installment of Cherry Hill!




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