RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Cherry Tomatoes

Spinach, Cherry Tomato, Feta Bruschetta with Blackberry Balsamic Syrup


One of the things I dearly love to start a dinner party with is Bruschetta, it always brings with it conversation.  Happy conversation with lots of explicatory expressions and too the added wonderful ooh’s and aah’s!  It makes me feel so good!   The variables are as many as you could possibly think up and then add some more.  It is one of those things that goes well with wine and most any kind of drink before dinner.  It is also good as part of a dinner, I love it with a salad or soup… it is as endless of what you can serve this with as the variables of how to make Bruschetta.  I also have been known to eat just Bruschetta when I do not have an appetite, almost always it is just what I needed.

Lemon-Garlic-Herb Dressing   


  • 1 clove garlic finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon mix of chopped basil, oregano, thyme (this can be one or a mix of all three or even other herbs… your choice I prefer to use fresh, but you can use dried, just remember it does not take as much they are more intense in flavor!)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice (I go very light on the lemon mix because of using the blackberry balsamic vinegar later, just a hint)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Flake Sea Salt to taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

I put all the ingredients in a pint size jar with a tight-fitted lid and shake thoroughly.  I usually have some in the refrigerator or make this the morning I need.

I learned something as a young bride.  I had no idea about herbs… fresh or died.  I was finally enlightened… if you did not know about how much seasoning  to add…  then to your mix add just a pinch and taste, you will know if you want more or not and add a pinch more and taste just remember you can never take away a herb once it is added.  I did a lot of pinching and tasting those first few years!

For the spinach, tomato, red onion topping:


  • About 2 cups of assorted cherry tomatoes – I used red and yellow that I had on hand, halved (I quarter if large)
  • ½ small red onion sliced in ½ inch length about half that width
  • Fresh Basil or Oregano, Thyme (your choice, or even something else)
  • One loaf of Ciabatta Bread (I like to cut about 3-4 inch squares and then cut diagonally
  • One garlic clove peeled and halved
  • 3 Cups of steamed (de-stemmed) spinach
  • Feta Cheese
  • Black Berry Balsamic Vinegar


Black Berry Balsamic Vinegar


  • ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar

Put vinegars in sauce pot and bring to boil, reduce to simmer and reduce by half.  It should have a nice thickened-syrup consistency, will lightly cover a spoon.  Let cool and pour into a cruet or small pitcher.  You could also use one of the plastic dispensing bottles (it makes it easier-less messy to drizzle the blackberry balsamic Syrup on the Bruschetta.)

Combine the halved-quartered tomatoes, red onion, and drizzle with the Lemon-Garlic Herb Dressing, set aside and let set at room temperature. You can make this in the morning, just refrigerate.  Preheat oven to 400˚when you are ready to bake-roast the tomatoes and red onions.

Steam the spinach.  Get the Ciabatta Bread sliced and take the halved garlic and rub on the top of each slice of bread.  Place the tomato mix on jelly roll pan, I sprinkle a little of the herb mix and just a pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper on the tomato mix (does not take much you have already added to the tomatoes with the herb dressing.)  Place in oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the skinned are starting to get browned and blistered, take out of oven.

Dip the jelly roll pan until the tomato-juices mixed with the Lemon-Garlic Herb Dressing has went to the one end of the pan.  I set the tomato end of the pan at an angle on a folded pot holder so the juices kind of stay at the other end of pan.  I then take a pastry brush and brush each piece of the garlic-ciabatta bread with the tomato juices.  Place bread under broiler until the bread is nicely toasted.  Lay jelly roll pan with tomato mix flat so the juices blend again.

Put a layer of steamed spinach on the toasted ciabatta bread.  Top with some of the roasted tomatoes and onions.  Scatter some of the feta cheese on top, and then drizzle each with blackberry balsamic syrup.

Roasting the tomatoes concentrates their flavor and intensifies the taste with the lemon-garlic herb dressing adding to that blend the flavor of the feta cheese and the topper of all this is the blackberry balsamic vinegar, what a wonderful mix, united it is a fusion of nothing but pure ecstasy… definitely over the top!  It makes such a wonderful pairing of the whole and makes it so easy to savor every bite… it wakens up your taste buds from first bite.  This is something that I love to serve knowing full well that the instant my guests start eating I can see on their faces what they think of this Bruschetta….

Pulled Pork Sliders with Grain Mustard Orange Sauce

We had a wonderful pork sirloin roast last evening.  I was trying to decide what to do with the left over’s and sliders came to mind.  An easy, quick dinner with little clean up.  I would make a salad for the side.  I love pork and orange together so decided to make a grain mustard-orange sauce to put on the pulled pork instead of the usual barbeque sauce.  It is a quick and easy sauce to make.  I was glad I decided to bring a little different blend/mix to the table.

Last evening before I put the left over pork in the refrig, I removed all fat; it takes little effort when it is still warm.  Today, I sliced the pork and put it in a steam basket.  It is much easier to heat the meat this way and two it steams off any leftover fat/grease all going to the water below the basket.

Once heated completely through I placed on a sheet pan and brushed on the grain mustard-orange sauce.  When everything was just about done I put this under the broiler until bubbly and just turning a golden color.

The rolls, I cheated, I used the frozen dinner rolls that you let rise until double and then bake.  I did not want to make a trip to the market, nor did I feel like making rolls from scratch.  I wanted a quick and easy dinner.  I baked them per package directions.  Once done I brushed them with a little melted compound butter with sage added.  They were the perfect size and really delicious.  They actually taste just like home made from scratch and they too fill the house with the smell of bread baking.

There are a few steps to make these little sliders but well worth it.  I made the rolls per package direction.  Once the rolls were in the oven I started first with the sauce. While it was simmering I got the meat cut and heating in the steam basket.  Then moved on to the fresh spinach beds for the bottom of the slider and peeled and sliced the oranges.  Once I had this done I put the orange slices on the griddler and the meat under the broiler.

Sauce ~ Grain Mustard – Orange Sauce:


  • 1 ½ Cups Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice (can use regular orange juice)
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Coarse Ground Mustard  (I used Grey Poupon)
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, just a pinch


Mix all ingredients in a heavy sauce pan; bring to boil turn heat down.   l then simmered and reduced to about one cup of sauce.  I simmered mine for around 30 plus minutes, stirring once in a while to make sure it did not scorch.   It coated the spoon when done.

I then pealed two oranges’ making sure I removed all the pulp and sliced them a little thicker than a quarter inch, you want them all even in depth for cooking on the Panini/Grill press pan.  I put the slices on my Cuisinart Griddler and grilled until they were showing grill marks.

Bed of Salad:


  • Around ½  Cup of Fresh Spinach Leaves sliced in quarter inch ribbons
  • 8-10 Cherry Tomatoes sliced in thirds
  • Purple Onion a few thin slices
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Pinch of Fresh Ground Pepper

I cleaned and de-stemmed the spinach and then took the spinach leaves and stacked them on top of each other.   I sliced through all making ¼ inch wide ribbons.  The cherry tomatoes are cut in thirds and several thin slices of onions that are halved.  I mix all this in a bowl and put just a small pinch of sea salt and pepper.  Set aside until ready.

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 Oranges for slices
  • ½ cup Shredded Gouda ~ I used a Holland Import  Gouda Lite

Once I had the meat broiled, the rolls cooked, the sauce was ready and I had the spinach salad readied for the bed of the sliders, the oranges were grilled it was time to make the sliders.  Once I compiled the slider I then crowned each slider with some shredded Gouda Cheese.  The heat from the grilled orange slices helped to melt it some.  Each step of the way was easy, did not take much effort and well worth the little bit of work that needed to be done.


They were delicious, we enjoyed every bite and there were no leftovers.  We will do this again.  If you enjoy a spinach salad with orange slices with an orange mix dressing you will love these sliders.  Now the clean up….

Fettuccini w/ Tomato Bruschetta, Chicken and Spinach



This dish came about because I had some left over Double Tomato Bruschetta from dinner the other night.   I did not want it to go to waste and had a part of a pint of Cherry Tomatoes that needed to be used.  I too knew there was at least one grilled Chicken breast in the freezer that could be used.  Will not need a trip to the market, I am glad.  It will be a quick and easy dinner that I know will be enjoyable, I am already enjoying knowing that it will not be much work and quick cleanup. 


  • 1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes (it need not be a pint, and you do not need to add these unless you want, it does add a lot of flavor and color to the dish, if not using you can add more canned diced tomatoes)
  • 1can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Diced cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Basil
  • 1 Teaspoon Parsley
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 ½ Cups Tomato Juice
  • 1~2 Precooked Chicken Breasts
  • 1 ½ Cups Striped Fresh Spinach
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper, Sea Salt to taste
  • Fettuccini Noodles ~ how many are you feeding?
  • Sour Cream
  • Shredded Parmesan and Romano Cheese Blend

I put the garlic cloves in the mini food processor and pulsed until they were pretty well diced up.   I added the cherry tomatoes that I had and pulsed until they were diced well.  What a beautiful color this makes all natural.  I put this in my Windsor pan on low heat and added the tomato juice, can of diced tomatoes, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes and the left over Bruschetta.  I added the freshly ground black pepper and a little sea salt to taste.  I put it on low heat and simmered for around 30 or so minutes. 

The garlic was very fragrant and the juice was cooked down by half.  I pulled my chicken meat into larger pieces (As you can see in the picture I added the chicken too soon it ended up shredded instead, next time I will remember to add them just in time to heat through good, too, sometimes I will put the meat in a steam basket and steam it until hot and then add at the last minute.  This method is good for two reasons, one it stays in the size pieces you want and if there is any grease, fat on it will melt into the water in the bottom of the pan and with the chicken above the water in the basket it makes it grease free) and the spinach I have ready to add at the last minute.  Chicken is already cooked and the spinach only takes a couple of short minutes to be done.  When the sauce has reduced by half I will put on the water for the noodles and I cook per directions of package. 

Once the noodles have only a couple of minutes (I then will add the steamed hot chicken) and spinach to the tomato sauce.  Put lid on so that everything is heated through and the steam it makes will cook the spinach.

Once all is done I drained the noodles and placed a serving on plate and added the sauce.  I put a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheese blend on top and dinner was ready.

This was a quick dinner that packed a significant amount of flavor and to top it off I used up all the food that needed to be eaten…. 

Valentine Dinner Menu of Roasted Lola Duck ~ Pavlova



Roasted Lola Duck, Potatoes and Carrots with

     Sage, Blood Orange and Blackberry Glaze Sauce




The Valentine Dinner turned out fantastic with a group of amazing friends.  Nothing was meant to be fancy, just wanted it to be a good home cooked meal.  Being together as one with good food that was (in the end) superb without a lot of work is everything a cook could ask for.   All of it was full of flavor and just good old home cooking.  I did this over a few days, working on different dishes for a few hours each day and in the end it did not feel as though it had been a lot of work. 

Anytime I want to roast meat I almost always turn to a cookbook that I have had for several years.  It is called Roasting A Simple Art’ by Barbara KafkaIt is an amazing cookbook.   I have used her recipes and tips more times than not when I have a special meal to prepare. 

I agree with Barbara Kafka that those of us who like duck love the old-fashioned, simple, crisp roasted duck.   She poaches the duck before roasting and it eliminates most of the fat from under the skin.  She uses high-heat roasting to complete the duck.  Poaching and then roasting does keep it from getting dried and stringy and the end results are you do have a nice broth after simmering it. 


For Simmering:

  • One duck, cut wing tips and add to pan
  • Duck Neck
  • Any giblets and such you have add to the pot
  • I added thawed duck stock and bones from my freezer and then added enough water to cover duck by an inch or:
  • Chicken stock if using (enough to cover duck by an inch)
  • 2 Quartered onion
  • 2-3 Crushed cloves of garlic
  • 3 or so large carrots chopped into large pieces
  • 3 or so stalks of celery chopped into large pieces

Into a small stock pot (with one duck you do not need a big pan and this makes for better stock) I added the neck, wing tips and a couple of quartered onions, a couple of crushed cloves of garlic, three large carrots chopped into large pieces, and a couple of stalks of celery chopped into large pieces.   I only added the veggies because I would need to add a little water and wanted more flavor for my stock.  I could have used chicken stock with the duck stock so I had enough fluids to simmer Lola in but decided on the veggies with the water instead.   I now added my thawed duck bones and duck stock from my freezer to the pan.  At this time, if you have any giblets and such add them to the pot, they give so much more added flavor.    I then placed Lola in the pot once everything started to boil.   Making sure the duck stayed submerged under the fluids, I placed a heavy plate on top of the duck when I added it to the pot; I checked it often to make sure she stayed submerged.  When Lola came to a boil I turned the heat down and simmered her for around 45 minutes. 

I spooned off about one tablespoon of fat from pot and I spread this in the roasting pan.   Now I spooned off as much of the fat in the pan as I could.   I removed the plate (or whatever you used to weigh the duck down with) and I then spooned as much of the floating fat that was left in the pot as I could.   I removed Lola from pan and drained (hold the duck over the stock pot and drain all the liquids from her cavity.) I then patted the duck dry and sat her in the roasting pan at room temperature.   I salted and peppered to taste and pressed them gently into the skin.   Be careful, she is hot and the skin is tender.     I let Lola sit and rest in the roasting pan at room temperature for about thirty minutes; this dries the skin out some.   You can roast the duck now or do as I am doing, she will sit in the bottom of my refrig until tomorrow.   I let the temp of her come down before putting in refrig. 

I placed Lola lightly covered in the bottom my refrigerator; she will continue to dry out some more.  I will take the covering off mid- morning or later and let dry in refrig until just before I am ready to roast.  I then stained the stock twice making sure that it was completely clear and placed in refrigerator too.  This makes it easy for me and there is not as much work if you divide it up some.


For Roasting:

To roast preheat to 425 degrees 

  • Lola 
  • 2 quartered blood oranges 
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic  
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste 

I got Lola out of refrig and left her on the counter to come to room temp.  I removed the broth from refrig and spooned off all congealed-hardened fat.  This can be frozen to be used for roasting veggies and such in the future.  I only saved a small portion of the duck fat.   I pre freeze in small teaspoon drops and once frozen put in a container in the freezer and then I can get just what I need when needed.  This is only used for special treats and such, I would not recommend duck fat on a daily basis for anyone.

I preheated the oven to 425 degrees.  I put into Lola’s cavity a couple of blood oranges sliced in quarters and the crushed garlic cloves.  I cooked her on the second level from bottom; I have a convection oven so it cooked differently than a regular oven.  After 10 minutes or so, I started to spoon out the fat that accumulates in the bottom of the pan.  Be very careful, this is very hot; I take the duck out of the oven to do this.  At this time move the duck around a bit to keep it from sticking to the pan. 

I roasted Lola around 45 or so minutes, each duck weighs differently.  When the juices were running clear she was done, for me anyway. 

Roasting Veggies:

Roast at 425 degrees ~ same as duck

The amount depends on how many are sitting at your table.  I get these ready before getting Lola out of the refrigerator.  It makes it easier when you do a small amount of the work at a time. 

  • Fingerlings if you have them if not ~ I used Yukon Gold quartered
  • Whole small carrots
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste  

I had Yukon Gold so this is what I used.   I quartered the Yukon Gold and washed and scrubbed the carrots. I put them in a plastic bag with less than a teaspoon of the grease from cooking duck.  I shook the bag until all were covered with a little of the fat.  I placed them in a shallow pan, put a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper on them and put in oven with duck.  I turned them every 10 minutes or so, they would not get burned and or stuck to pan (can be done as you spoon the grease from duck pan.)  They are done when tender, depending on temp of oven and size of veggies and how many you are roasting can be anywhere from 35-40 minutes give or take.  They are golden, delicious and the duck fat gives them a wonderful flavor without being greasy.  It takes very little fat to cover the veggies especially when you do it with the bag.  You only get what you want. 

Once Lola is done let her rest on counter for a few minutes before slicing.

I made a gravy/sauce from: about ¾ to 1 cup of duck broth.

 Sage, Blood Orange and Blackberry Glaze-Gravy-Sauce 

  • ¾-1 cup of broth
  • 2 Sage leaves
  • Add the Blood oranges and garlic used in cavity of duck
  • 1blood orange cut into wedges
  • 6-10 blackberries
  • Cornstarch ½ to 1 teaspoon

The amount of broth depends on how many are eating.  You would have to change amount of cornstarch to be used up or down depending on amount of broth being used.  Too, increase the number of blood oranges and blackberries needed to be about equal to the amount of broth.  Heat the broth and add the blood oranges and garlic from the duck cavity.  Now you add the slices of the blood oranges and the blackberries and bring to boil and then turn heat down a little for a few minutes.  Let it reduce just a little.  Remove the orange slices, blackberries, and garlic and squeeze them through strainer and put just the juice back in the broth.  Mix cornstarch with a little cooled broth and add to the pan whisking constantly for a couple of minutes, you do not want to taste raw cornstarch.   Keep temp at a beginning boil until thickened.  Remove from heat.  This sauce is very similar to the old fashioned raisin sauce my mom use to make. 

Serve over sliced duck or can be put in individual little sauce cups for dipping.

Save all bones and the broth and freeze for use another time.  I will be making a simple Roasted Duck Soup for tomorrow evenings meal with some of the broth and a little bag of left over duck already in the freezer from our last duck.  (All duck products from my freezer were leftover from a dinner at a friend’s house, her insisting I take home with me.  What a nice treat! )    Adding the stock from previous roasts each time you roast duck makes for a delicious future combo of anything you can possibly cook up! ….

 Steamed Baby Spinach with Pearl Onions and Almond Slivers

  • Spinach ~ amount you would need for how many you are feeding 
  • Pearl Onions ~ For this I use the frozen Pearl Onions, amount by how many you are feeding
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Slivered Almonds  

I put spinach mixed with the pearl onion in steamer and steam for a few minutes and turn then turn off heat.  Do not left lid, the steam will finish the spinach to a nice crispness without being overdone.  I put it in a dish and did a slight trickle of Pomegranate Balsamic.  Scatter slivered almonds on top of spinach.  It was perfect.  Spinach is one of my favorite veggies….




Bruschetta for Sliced Baguettes:

Since I had the pates’ it made my work of preparing the different appetizers’ that much easier.  All I had to do was put out some different crackers and I mixed some nuts with dried tart cherries and cranberries which were all a hit.  A few different kinds of cheeses and some grapes, with some sliced apples and I was almost finished.  I made a quick dish of double tomato for Bruschetta for the baguettes’ slices.  First I sliced the baguette at an angle.  I placed the slices on a jelly roll pan and drizzled Black Truffle Oil on and then toasted under broiler until they were getting just a little color and I then added Havarti and Dill cheese on top and broiled a little more until cheese was melted.  I did not cook too long to make them easier to spread the Bruschetta on.   Bruschetta is normally toasted after you put the tomato spread on the baguette, but with the company and the mix I decided to do it this way.  It was delicious.  

Double Tomato Bruschetta:

  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes diced (needed to be used and sure made a difference)
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 Cup of Spinach striped (when I use fresh Spinach in the bag I always remove the long stems, I wish they would do that when packaging and in the end how much do we pay for all those stems? I love it when it is season and I can grow my own)
  • 2 cloves of garlic diced really small
  • Teaspoon plus of diced Parsley
  • ½ Teaspoon Basil
  • ½ Teaspoon Oregano

Place all but spinach in sauce pan and bring to boil, turn down heat and cook until almost all the liquid is gone.  I stir this frequently so it does not scorch; it does easily when the liquid is almost gone.    Add the spinach and stir in and put in small dish for use.  Heat from the tomatoes will cook the spinach to the right doneness.  Delicious as a spread on baguette slices.  (It is also good on cooked Angel Hair Pasta!) This is full of flavor and color….  




Pavlova Nests with Pastry Cream, Fruits and Chocolate Ganache:

The evening ended with desserts of Pavlova Nests filled with pastry cream, whipped cream, strawberries, blackberries, and with a choice of chopped macadamia or pistachio nuts.  I then drizzled chocolate ganache over each nest.  There too were large strawberries dipped in chocolate ganache for those that wanted just a small taste of dessert. 

While cooking the meringue nests you do not want to open and close the oven door; the meringue nests will get cracks in them.  If you do get cracks and it bothers you, fill cracks in with whip cream later.


Preheat oven to 275 degrees


  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 cup of Castor sugar, also known as “Berry sugar” ( I did not have any Castor sugar so I made my own, I put the amount needed in regular sugar in my mini processor and processed until it was very fine, it works perfect)
  • 1 tsp of white vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp of cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cups of whipping cream


Preheat the oven to 275F and place the rack in middle of the oven. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.  Trace around a circle of something that is the right size for your nests with pencil, turn paper with pencil marks underneath.  Set aside.

In a clean, medium-sized metal bowl, (make sure that anything you use to make the meringues is grease free) beat the egg whites with a clean electric mixer on medium speed. Beat until the whites form soft peaks.  Continue to beat the egg whites and gently sprinkle the sugar into the egg whites, one teaspoon at a time.  Your egg whites should now be glossy stiff peaks.

Sprinkle the cornstarch and vinegar on the meringue and fold in gently with a plastic spatula. Add the vanilla and gently fold the mixture again.  Put some meringue in a pastry bag with a star tip on the end.

Now gently spread the meringue in the circle on the foil to make a circular base. Make sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center so you have a very slight well in the middle.  I use a pastry tube # 43 and put two ~ three rings of meringue around the edges of bottoms to make the nest. 

I bake the meringue for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it got a very light color and a slight matt finish.   Turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar to let the meringue cool completely. As the meringue cools, it will crack slightly.

I made these the day before I needed them.

Pastry Cream:

This recipe comes from Pastry Chef.  Pastry cream is a basic in a bakery, it is used in so many ways, pies, fillings add some whip cream and the lists goes on and then add nuts, fruits, it has endless possibilities. 


  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 oz sugar, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla or can use beans of one whole vanilla bean
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1.9 oz of cornstarch
  • 2 oz butter (unsalted)

In bowl whisk together the eggs, corn starch and the half of the sugar and vanilla.  Put aside for now. 

In heavy saucepan cook milk, half the sugar, if using vanilla bean add now, (if using vanilla it is added to egg mixture,) and salt until just below boil.

Temper the milk into the egg mixture (with whisk in hand add a little of hot milk mixture to egg mixture and whisk rapidly and constantly, add a little more of milk mixture to egg mixture ~ do this until you have added all the milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking the whole time, you do not want to cook the eggs) and then put everything back in saucepan on the stove and cook over medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly and quickly, until the mixture has come to a boil, letting boil at least 30 seconds, it will be really thick.  If you undercook it, it will taste like raw starch.  Be careful while it is cooking it could bubble up and burn you.  Remove from heat and strain into a bowl.   Place plastic wrap directly on top of pastry cream.  Let cool down to refrigerate. 

I made this the night before.

Whipped Cream


  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • 2~3 Tablespoon of Splendid
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla

I placed my mixing bowl and whisk blade in refrig for an hour or two to chill them before making Whipped Cream. 

When ready I got my mixer ready with bowl and whisk that are now well chilled.  I poured the heavy cream into mixer bowl added the sugar and begin to beat on low with mixer for about 30 seconds or until mixed well.  I added the vanilla and increased the mixer speed to medium high. 

I then beat the cream mixture until soft peaks form.  I put the whipped cream in a pastry bag with star tip # 43 and placed in glass and then in refrigerator until I would need it.

Chocolate Ganache


  • 8 oz of Semi Sweet Chocolates Pieces
  • ¼  Cup Heavy Cream
  • ¼ Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter

Heat the butter and cream just to boil.  Pour over chocolate pieces and stir until all chocolate pieces are melted.  Pour into to squirt bottle.  Set aside until cooled to room temp.   If you need to thin this down when ready to use all you need to do is place bottle of Ganache in a glass with warm water.  It will thin out quickly.   Be sure to wipe any water off bottle, you do not want to drip water on the desserts you are making.

Strawberries, Blackberries, Macadamia, and Pistachios’:

Wash blackberries then wash and slice strawberries; they are now ready for completing the Pavlova Nests.  You can do this right before you are putting the nests together. 

Chop up the macadamia or pistachio nuts.  Put in separate bowls.

Making the Pavlova Nests:

Gently spread pastry cream to top of each nest with spatula.  Pipe the whipped cream around the edge of each nest.  Now add the sliced strawberries and arrange in a decorative pattern in pastry cream edges.   Place blackberries in center. 

Drizzle Chocolate Ganache over each of the nests.  They are now ready to serve.  Putting these together when you have everything ready takes very little time at the last minute and everyone loves them and thinks it is really hard to do. 

If I can make these anyone can.  I have a shake in my hands from a bad neck and back and they are not perfect by any means but taste just as good as if a Pastry Chef had made them….



Mushroom~Pepper~Spinach Quiche

©….RaeDi 2011





There are some days when even this cook does not want to put too much effort into cooking dinner.   With my new kidney diet we cannot order a pizza and KFC is definitely out, I did not eat KFC anyway so no big lost for me.  I decided to see what I had in the freezer that would be quick and easy.    I had some frozen pastry dough that I needed to use so a quick decision was made to make Quiche.  This is the same pastry dough I use for some of my small tarts.  I will include the Pastry Dough Recipe below.    I had some veggies that needed to be used and there was a little Smoked Gruyère Cheese I should use too; it worked out well and it was the quick dinner just that I wanted.   

A bonus with the refrig all cleared out I can clean my refrig tomorrow, tackling the inside, outside and even below (dust bunnies here I come.)  And it is not spring yet, it is not often that I get ahead of myself these days.

Once the pastry dough was thawed out I rolled it out to about ¼ inch thick and placed in my tart pan.  I lined the pastry shell with parchment paper and filled it with baking weights or you can use dried beans or rice.  I baked it for 10 minutes at 325 degrees.  I removed the weights and paper and set aside.  I then prepared the Quiche filling.

You can adjust this recipe for a smaller Quiche or even if you want to make a couple of 4~6” tarts.  If you choose to do smaller, cut the veggies a little smaller to adjust to the size of pan you are using too. 



Oven temp 375 degrees for the Quiche

1~2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

  • 1 medium onion sliced ¼”
  • 2 small cloves of garlic well diced
  • Full ¼ cup sliced Porcini Mushrooms’
  • About two cups of spinach stems removed
  • Full ¼ cup sliced black olives
  • Two eggs
  • 1 ½  cups Egg Beaters
  • ¼ cup cream
  • ½ ~ ¾ cup  shredded Smoked Gruyère Cheese  (it does not have to be smoked or you can use whatever kind of cheese you like or no cheese at all, I like cottage cheese in mine at times)
  • One long thin Red Pepper, cut into ¼ “ slices
  • Enough Cherry Tomatoes halved to cover top of egg custard
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Smoked Paprika

Put 1~2 tablespoons of olive oil in pan and preheat.    Place onions in pan and sauté for just a few minutes, add the garlic, keep stirring, when it becomes very fragrant add the mushrooms, you will sauté each for just a few minutes.  Then add the spinach and mix well.  Take the pan off heat and stir until it just starts to cook, it will look a little wilted.  I prefer that it have a nice crunch still.   Put in a dish so the spinach does not keep cooking from heat of pan.    It will cook just enough more in the Quiche to where it still has a little crunch and the color is perfect.    

In a bowl beat the two eggs well and then add the egg beaters whipping it with a whisk, add the cream, whisk thoroughly.  Then stir in the onions, garlic, spinach, and mushrooms.  Add the black olives.  Add the salt and ground black pepper to taste and stir just until everything is incorporated.  Spread the shredded cheese in the bottom of the tart shell and pour the mixture over cheese in the tart shell.  Place the sliced peppers on top and put the cherry tomatoes around all the peppers and sprinkled a little smoked paprika on the top of the tart. Put the whole thing in the oven (375 degrees for 30~40 minutes.)  I have a convection oven and it cooks faster than a normal over so I start watching it at about 30 minutes or so, the top will be golden in color and the center should be set.   

I used a 10 by 1.5 inch tart pan, if your tart pan is smaller or larger you will need to adapt the amount of egg and cream you use to be the amount for you tart pan. 

We had some left over Sage~Cheddar Whole Wheat Angel Biscuits’ from the night before and I fixed a nice tossed salad to go with the Quiche and biscuits’.  I too had a little sour cream left in refrig so used it up too; with a dollop on top of the Quiche it was perfect.   I will get the angel biscuits’ recipe posted soon.

Tonight’s dinner was light, delicious and easy.  Good thing, I will need that extra energy in the morning when I tackle the refrig and those dust bunnies.  I feel pretty good I have used up almost everything that was left in the refrig, with no waste.  Like Mom always said waste not want not.    She would be proud.  Spring is just around the corner and I will have a head start….


Pastry Dough:



  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1-2 tablespoons ice-cold water



Preheat oven to 325 degrees F   (I preheat when I am starting to roll out the pastry for the tarts)

Place flour, sugar and butter in food processor.  Pulse until pastry is coarse crumbs, pea size is good.  Add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of ice-cold water and pulse until dough comes together, you can add a little more water as needed until the dough comes together.

Pat the dough into disk shape and put into Ziploc bag and refrigerate for thirty minutes or so or until you need.   Any leftover pastry can be kept, frozen for up to 1 month. 

I divide the dough by how I am using it, if it for a tart or pie or pie with top or small tarts.    Roll out pastry to the thickness of ¼ inch.  Line the tart pan (with removable bases) or tart or pie pan with the pastry.   Once pastry is in place I take my rolling pen and roll over the top of the tart pan to cut off excess pastry.  Line the pastry shells with parchment paper and fill with baking weights or you can use dried beans or rice.

Bake 10 minutes.  Remove pastry shells from oven.  Remove the weights and paper and set aside.  Fill with filling and put top on if using then continue to bake for time recipe states….


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