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Sunny Simmons Steincamp

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Posts posted by Sunny Simmons Steincamp

  1. gallery_38722_5277_336.jpg

    This is a treat I make for my husband & youngest daughter when I get my hands on some really luscious ripe pears (which isn't as often as I'd like.) Not terribly fanciful, but might be good for a few of your stash. I drizzle peeled slices with melted butter, sprinkle them with brown sugar & blue cheese, then put them under the broiled just until things start to get melty & slightly browned. I finish with a little cracked black pepper. Homey.

    Enjoy the bounty!

  2. Something like this?

    8 lbs. mushrooms

    2 qt. red wine vinegar

    1 cup red wine

    1/3 lb. fresh garlic, diced

    1 bunch parsley, diced

    1 qt. olive oil


    In a large, non-metal container, mix together the vinegar, wine, garlic, parsley, and a little salt. Rinse mushrooms & drain well; trim off ends of stems & any bad spots. Pack the mushrooms in airtight non-metal containers. Add marinade to about 1 1/2 inch from the top, then top with olive oil. Cover & refrigerate. Invert container once a day while storing, to distribute marinade evenly. Can be served after only a day, but it is better if it is older than 4 days.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Seems like 2007 was the Year of Chocolate for a lot of folks. I don't care for it much myself (ok, so I find it pretty disgusting... I think I might be a little allergic,) but my family loves it, so I branched out. Discovered Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies, learned to temper chocolate and make truffles, invented a confabulation that results in what I call a s'mores casserole, discovered the fun of making my own marshmallows (I guess that's not technically in the right category, is it?) and made so many cream puffs I think I could do it in my sleep. I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, too... but it's definitely been the year of sweets... my crew has enjoyed that, for sure!

  4. Anybody else doing the Holiday Anti Bake Off this year or am I the lone Grinch?

    No... but I feel your pain. I wish I had the jocones to beg off of what I've come to be expected to produce, so I say, Viva la Apathie. Take the year off. Buy some great cookies, or make some easy but impressive ones.

    And here's my wish that you have a terrific holiday. :)

  5. Funny you should mention this. If you're talking about the same thing I am, my ex mother-in-law used to make it, and when I made (several times, I might add) <b>merstar</b>'s Cranberry Swirl Coffee Cake, I thought to myself, "If I just put those apple rings in here instead of the cranberry sauce, it would taste just like Elizabeth's apple bread!"

    Be kind to those around you, though, and use either JUST the red ones or the green ones... I was always slightly nauseated when she used a mixture of both, and we wound up with something that resembled brain matter trailing through each slice. :P

    Below is <b>mer</b>'s recipe as written. What I would do is to substitute the mushed-up apple rings for the cranberry sauce and change the almond extract to either vanilla or perhaps rum. I'd also add some cinnamon to the batter, I think. The recipe as written turns out beautifully and was a stunning favorite all four times I've made it so far!

    Actually, I think I may make one of these this evening for our tree-trimming party... will let you know how that goes!

    1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

    1 cup white sugar

    2 eggs

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 cup sour cream

    1 teaspoon almond extract

    1 cup of fresh cranberry sauce


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). (*Decrease the temperature by 25 degrees if using dark pan.). Grease and flour one 9 or 10 inch tube pan.

    2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs just until well blended.

    3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With mixer running, (lower the mixer speed), add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream or yogurt to the butter mixture until just blended. Do not overmix! Stir in the almond extract and mix only until just combined. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Swirl 1/2 of the cranberry sauce into the batter. Repeat, ending with the batter on top.

    4. Bake about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    5. Let cool in pan on wire rack about 10 minutes. Cut around edge of the cake to loosen, then turn out and let cool completely on wire rack.

    Makes 1 - 9 or 10 inch tube pan (12 servings).

  6. Bummer is today, a few days before the party, I find out one guest is a vegetarian! UGH!

    Oh, gods, I HATE when this happens! (And it happens to me several times a year.) One thing I try to do is to make sure there are "filling" things... I spent several years eschewing meat, and a lot of times your options are limited to rabbit food... salads, sprouts, raw veggie trays, etc. I like to give vegetarians at least a couple of options that are hearty. Here are a few I've done in the past with success:

    Veggie Pizza Pies - either buy those little tart shells or you can make your own (I usually do; it's not that hard... just press pie crust dough into greased muffin tins,) bake them off slightly, and fill with a mixture of sauteed or (my preference) roasted veggies, marinara or your favorite pizza sauce, fresh grated parmesan, and chunks of buffalo mozzarella. I like to include eggplant in the mix; it's meaty and lends itself well, I think. Also roasted peppers, mushrooms, etc.. you know the drill. Top them off with a little more cheese & bake til bubbly. Not terribly fancy - unless you go nuts with the filling - but a general crowd pleaser. I have to mark them, visibly, as "vegetarian" or the general hordes will wipe 'em out.

    Mini Pitas - I make them about 3 1/2" in diameter, flatten out the poof once they've cooled, and top them with whatever strikes my fancy. A few that stick out in my head - hummus, a pile of red pepper & onion relish, and a dab of yogurt. A curried dry dal I make from lima beans (had that for dinner last night!) with a slice of hot pepper and some chutney & a sprig of mint. Spread with Boursin (or equivalent homemade herby cheesy spready stuff) and top with sliced avocado & alfalfa sprouts (not sure you can get decent avocados this time of year.) I've also done the refried beans/lettuce/cheese/mexi-rice/sour cream thing. But you get the idea... the possibilities are pretty wide open.

    Tabbouleh or large-gauge couscous salad, pea salad, or some other "hearty" salad with grains, beans, legumes, or something... served in endive or other pick-uppable leaves.

    If you have little cups, maybe single servings of vegetarian red beans & rice would work; I've never done it this way, but it's usually a hit with vegetarian guests when I just put it in a big chafing dish on a buffet.

    Hope everything goes swimmingly for your party... and I hope you share pictures after!

  7. It's that time again to think about caviar. Since the GOOD Russian stuff first became unaffordable and then unavailable, it seems that no matter what I taste is not even comparable.

    Anytime of year is time for caviar! I'm so glad to see this thread. :)

    I buy everything from Hansen Caviar. They used to have a shop in NYC, but moved up to Kingston a few years ago. They do a very big mail-order business (but  I am lucky since I can drive there)

    Click for caviar

    Perusing Hansen's website, it *looks* like you can order Beluga to be shipped anywhere in the US... have the regulations changed in the past, say, couple of weeks? Because Mom & and I were surfing the heck out of everywhere over Thanksgiving weekend, trying to find a source for it, and every single place that HAD Beluga noted that its shipment was restricted to "Florida delivery only." Can anyone explain?

    <b>adeqiulio</b>, lucky you. We've yet to find *any* place local to Richmond, VA that sells any type of caviar other than the Romanoff stuff -- you have to mail order anything else!

  8. I am terrible with desserts and was considering a platter of purchased chocolates. Any suggestions for a platter or passed desert that wouldn't require silverware?

    I've really only started getting better with desserts over the past few years... I've not much of a sweet tooth, so it's never been a huge priority for me. But I still tend to want to focus on the other goodies, so my dessert offerings tend to be low-key. While I'm still hashing out my holiday party menu, I do have the desserts all but picked out...

    White chocolate truffles, rolled in different goodies and with different flavors (hazelnuts w/Frangelico, chopped pecans with Tia Maria, chopped Heath bars with B&B - my personal pick.) These can be made ages in advance and frozen; just my style.

    Mini cheesecake tartlets in those teensy phyllo cups

    Fudge brownies, precut in nearly bite-sized pieces

    Cream puffs - super easy to make, elegant, and ready to be filled with a variety of squooshy stuff (vanilla cream, chocolate mousse, preserves, and ice cream)

    And, lastly... cookies. LOTS of different cookies.

  9. Now, how to get them out before 4am????

    If you figure that out, please let me know... I'm still working on how to get my overnight guests out of here before it's dinner time again EVERY week! :)

    I'm having an appetizer & cocktail party for New Year's, and haven't decided on a menu yet. Your choices sound terrific to me... kinda rustic & hearty... which I guess is a *really* good thing if your guests are going to be imbibing in quantity! The only thing I'd add is some sort/form of bread... again, something I learned to do when there is going to be a good deal of alcohol consumption. To be fair, the folks I usually feed are extremely partial to getting their "homemade bread fix" when they come here, so we may go through a larger amount than is usual & customary, as they say. I do know that I'll have made focaccia, pita, teensy versions of my everyday dinner rolls, and homemade "wheat thins" to be included in my holiday spread.

    Do you make your own dukkah?

  10. Berta, Mom and I rebelled several years ago for similar reasons... two or three days' worth of work, gone in a 60- 90-minute sit-down dinner, and then another three hours of hand-washing all the good china & silver while everyone else plays with their toys? No, thanks!

    Our solution? We go out to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant for dinner, and we keep light, snacky things around for grazing during the day.

    We do wind up with a lot of buffet-style goodies on Christmas Eve, however, and since we only started doing things this way a few years ago, we've been able to get away from the "must haves" we are stuck with at Thanksgiving. You might look over at the thread about things to make <a href="http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=109596&hl=">Before the Feast</a> for lots of good ideas.

    A few things come to mind that I've done for buffets that hold well in chafing dishes for extended periods: dirty rice and/or jambalaya, chili, almost any pasta dish (ravioli does especially well,) saltimboca, moussaka, pulled pork (bbq), my 5-cheese spinach & artichoke dip and/or hot crab dip, chicken & dumplings, and my favorite main-dish style baked beans. I'm sure everyone here will have tons more ideas (and I'm always looking for new ones, myself!)

  11. I once helped a friend bake 100 rolls for a community dinner. They were all wrapped in foil & ready to go when I left for home and my friend took off to pick up her kids from a neighbor's house. When she returned, the rolls were GONE. They looked all over the place... no sign of the rolls... until that night when my friend's son got ready for bed. Jake, their massive chocolate lab, had stolen all of the neatly packed rolls, eaten them all up, and hidden the foil in the covers of her son's bed!!

    What made it even funnier was that Jake left a great huge pot roast untouched, that was sitting on the stove top resting!!! Crazy dog.

    My dog Woody once scarfed a cooling pizza off the kitchen counter. He'd been suspected of doing so before, but we could never really pin it on him due to the number of people in my house. The time he was caught, it was because the pilfered pie was so hot it made him yelp when he burned his mouth on it. ;)

  12. Sunny, I have never seen oysters packed in barbeque sauce,  although it makes sense when you think about how smokiness seems to match so beautifully with oysters!

    Yup, they sure were yummy. :)

    In general, I'm curious about how people fry their oysters (coating, fat type and temperature, etc.) David, I never thought about a buttermilk bath for oysters, but I'm definitely going to try it!

    I do both oysters and fried chicken with buttermilk. For chicken, my grandmother taught me to turn the heat down & cover the skillet after browning on both sides, which I guess keeps the crust from getting too dark. You're right, though... it's a lot simpler process with oysters. I do flour + buttermilk + seasoned cornmeal for mine, and use corn oil. 375°F til they "look right."

    This thread is making me hungry, which is saying something coming off a 3-day stomach virus!

  13. My favorite way to eat oysters is to eat them raw, but there are a lot of other yummy preparations, too... many of which have been covered here.

    One fond memory I have is from my childhood, when my father would buy (raw) oysters in huge glass jars, in barbecue sauce. I figure they came from our family friend who was a butcher (although I guess they were unlikely to have come from his shop.) We'd either grill them or fry them (for assembling po boys or just eating as-is.) We always took these on our weekend (or longer) trips to our lake house in Arkansas. I'll never forget my filet & fried oyster "celebration" dinner on the occasion of my 100th tarantula bite... *grin*

    Another of my favorites is a dish I had in New Orleans at a restaurant (the name of which I can't for the life of me recall... hey, I was there for Mardi Gras, ok?) where we ate several times. They called it oyster "casserole," and I made a bet with my travelling buddy that I could go home and recreate it. I made a thick sauce with cream, oyster liquor, and white wine, kinda layered the oysters in with the sauce in a baking dish, topped the whole thing with corn flake crumbs tossed with lots of cayenne pepper (I swear that's what they used, too!) and baked it until it was bubbly. I won the bet, even though I had to use canned oysters since I was living in Memphis at the time, and never could find a reliable source for good fresh ones. I've made it better since with the addition of fresh shucked oysters, which I put into the "casserole" raw... they cook a lot more delicately, I guess you'd say, that way... so yummy. Kind of "expensive" in the calorie department, but hey... ;)

  14. The first way I learned to make sprouts so that my family (well, most of 'em, at least) would enjoy them was to poach them in homemade beef stock, well salted, until tender but not overcooked. I never thought to cut them in half, although I did always trim off the stem. The biggest complaint the kids had before was that they were bitter, but trimming the bottom & using stock seemed to fix that.

    Later I tried creaming shaved Brussels sprouts... sauté shallots in butter then add shaved sprouts and toss for about 2-3 minutes, then add some good white wine (for the record, I used Gewürztraminer the first time, and it worked perfectly, so I never tried anything else, but I'm sure it could be substituted) and reduce until it's almost gone. I then add prepared horseradish (about 1/4 cup per pound of sprouts) and cream (about 1 cup per pound,) season with salt & pepper, and reduce slightly. This won over another few of the holdouts, since we love anything with heat, and horseradish is a favorite. I think the shaving of the sprouts helped take away some of the "prejudice" as well!

  15. Recently I sat with my management team and talked about the usefulness of our websites, one for each restaurant. Both websites average 145 unique visits a day with over half of our reservations coming from the sites or Opentable.

    I have no experience in running a website for a restaurant, but I *can* say that if your web hosting provider is so expensive that you feel the need for ads to keep it viable without passing those costs along to your customers... you may just need to look into a new web hosting provider. Ours gives us so much bandwidth we are highly unlikely *ever* to go over it... and we have multiple sites, two of which have traffic that is higher than what you indicated yours was getting. We also get fabulous service and have recommended our provider to many other site owners who've switched and been very happy that they did. Soo.... if I were you, I'd shop around.

    Daily I search out Restaurant Blogs, Restaurant Websites and anything else I can find of interest on the internet. But what does the regular customer really appreciate?

    And the investment in time…I do it because it is part of my life and I have known no other way. As an employee of a restaurant how much time should you be expected to invest in a project like this? Is it a term of employment, even if you are not comfortable with internet/blogs?

    Do you have a webmaster? If so, get him/her to set you up a form in PHP or a similar format that will allow your employees to add blog entries, photos, etc. without needing any technical know-how. Seems like a few minutes spent a couple of times a month wouldn't be an onerous task, and a few minutes coaching on how to use such an interface, if the forms are properly constructed, will usually be sufficient to train even the most reticent technophobe to add content to your site.

    One last comment... while I don't know how feasible it is to "require" employees to contribute to your site, I can tell you that the bane of any editor, be it for print or web publications of any sort, is <i>finding content</i>. Having a policy that requests periodic contributions would definitely help you in this department... and once your guests and web visitors get used to seeing updated content on a regular basis on your site, they'll check back frequently... which is probably likely to translate into more frequent dining visits to your restaurants, as well.

    Good luck!

  16. Ok, Sunny - no fair!  You get me all hungry and drooly and give me enough details to excite me, but I need more info :biggrin: !!  How long do you cook the Breakfast Platter Muffins?  And how many of them does it make? And at what temperature?

    And regarding the Hash Brown Casserole - well, I'd just like an actual recipe for that one please - I am always looking for breakfast recipes!!

    Oh dear, I always pale when asked for specific recipes, but I think in this case I can help... and I know you're a good enough cook to fill in for any ambiguities. :)

    Breakfast platter muffins (I really need a better name for those; they just always remind me of any diner's version of a "breakfast platter") go in for 20-25 minutes at 350°F. If I remember correctly, the proportions I mentioned makes 24 muffins (or lots more minis, but I quit making those because I think people will eat MORE if you give them little ones, and I HATE running out of food!)

    Regarding the hash brown casserole, the biggest problem I have is knowing how many potatoes it takes... I bake these in foil pans that fit my pseudo-chafing dish racks, approximately the same size as a normal (say, Pyrex) 9x13" baking dish but much deeper. Ok, maybe they're more like 12x 15? Anyway, I cut enough potatoes (diced, with skins) to fill one about halfway... big russets, I'd estimate maybe five or six? I drizzle the cubes with olive oil & kosher salt and roast them at 400°F until they're done through and nicely browned... I'm sorry I can't tell you how long exactly, but you can probably figure it out.

    My version of white pepper gravy is, as I said, evil. It's just a standard white sauce, really. Melt a stick of butter (I always use salted, for reference) and whisk in 1/2 cup of flour then cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes. The "evil" part comes in with the liquid... 3 cups half & half plus 1 cup homemade chicken stock. I've made it with only half & half in a pinch. Then you just simmer it until thickened, like any sauce, and add salt to taste and LOTS of very coarsely ground black pepper. Say, close to 2 tbsp? (I'm a southern girl, what can I say?)

    When the potatoes are done, I put them in my big wide mixing bowl, toss with the gravy, and mix in about 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I like Vermont white extra sharp,) 1 lb. of cooked & well-drained breakfast sausage (or ham, if you prefer,) and 4-6 eggs, depending on if my egg-sharing neighbor graces me with her gigantic XXX size darlings, or I have to resort to store-bought "large" ones. I also forgot to mention that I really like to add (depending on the crowd I'm feeding) about 1/4 cup of chopped fresh sage leaves (or an equivalent amount of dried,) and perhaps some sauteed onions and/or peppers (we really like red bell peppers in this when it's just my family.) Mushrooms are another lovely addition... I kinda dig the baby portobellos. I then get a little nuts with the topping cheese, probably another 2 cups in those big pans.

    I bake this casserole at 350°F until set and nicely browned... here, I'm sorry to say, I can't even begin to estimate, but I'm sure you'd know how to tell when it's done. I can also say that this darling thing can be frozen (unbaked) with very little damage, and while my personal persnicketiness deems the potatoes to suffer mildly in the texture department with this treatment, I've never had a complaint from guests. :)

    Hope this helps... if you have any specific questions that I may have missed, feel free to ask and I'll see if I can help. I'll also be making this for my daughter's 17th birthday party brunch on Saturday, so I'll try to write things down as I go this time! I'll also take some pictures, but honestly, it's not a particularly attractive thing to see... just yummy to eat.

    I bake the casserole at 350°F until nicely set and browned on the top.

    Oh, and once I got an additional wild hair and stirred in about 1/4 cup of tomato paste into the white sauce... that wasn't half bad, either, and made it a little different.

    Have fun! And if you are a collector of breakfast/brunch recipes, feel free to share some with me... I'm always looking to expand beyond what I now have in my repertoire, and sometimes I'm just too lazy and overworked to venture outward!

    PS: Worst case, I'll make YOU one and drop it off sometime... we're not very far away from one another; I'm actually in Richmond right now spending the week with my Mom, but my home is just a little past Powhatan!

  17. I'm always looking for new brunch items, myself, since I wind up making it for company every week, and for a slew of folks several times a year. While I don't mind more time-intensive dishes for the weekly group, at our big festival events I always need low-maintenance ideas. A few that have gone over very well:

    Breakfast Platter Muffins - Brown a pound of breakfast sausage with chopped onion & garlic, mix with 2 dozen eggs and 8 oz. or so of cheddar cheese, season, and ladle into greased muffin cups. These turn out surprisingly well; just be sure to use high end breakfast sausage... the cheaper stuff is way too greasy. I keep them rather plain because we always have some picky & not-overly-sophisticated eaters; if you don't have that issue, you could add some ingredients to up the interest, make them with a mixture of cheddar and blue cheeses, stir in some chopped red peppers or mushrooms, etc.

    Savory Bread Puddings - There are any number of combinations that work well this way... ham, smoked salmon, shrimp, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, leeks, whole roasted garlic cloves, and peppers are some of our favorites. Gruyere is my personal choice for cheese here!

    "Hash Brown" Casserole - you could use shredded potatoes, but I like mine diced, with skins left intact. I toss them with olive oil & kosher salt & pre-bake them in the oven until they're crispy and tender first, then mix with white pepper gravy, lots of cheese, a few beaten eggs, and browned sausage or chopped ham. Top with more cheese & refrigerate until you're ready to bake it off. Massive favorite if you don't let on how many grams of fat and calories there are thanks to the eggs & my evil gravy recipe... :)

    Cinnamon rolls - I make them the night before, put them on sheet pans, cover 'em with plastic wrap, then take them out enough ahead of time to rise & bake at brunch time. Never seem to have enough.

    Our all-time biggest crowd-pleasing brunch surprise, however, is peach cobbler! I had the idea in a sleep-deprived moment of desperation one Sunday morning when I discovered it was 6am and I had not managed to get to bed yet... I knew there was no way I could do so and still feed everyone, but I was too exhausted to make what I had been planning, so I pulled out my full sheet cake pan and made a mega-sized version of my grandmother's peach cobbler. It's now expected at every festival on Sunday morning. No less healthy than coffee cake, I guess!

  18. Our family's pre-meal snacks aren't terribly elegant or inventive, but are well-loved and pretty much set in stone... but we've been doing them the same way since my kids were tiny, and they are (like me, I guess) sticklers for family rituals & traditions. A few are, obviously, sweet bites and not classic hors d'oeuvre. :) It looks like a lot, but we have a HUGE clan (four generations, now... and I contributed five children to the bunch) and even though we have a big breakfast of eggs benedict every year, we never have a whole lot of this stuff leftover. We have:

    * Stuffed eggs (kinda like deviled eggs)

    * Caviar pie (caviar spread over a mixture of cream cheese w/seasonings with chopped parsley, red onions, capers, and chopped hard-boiled eggs)

    * Spinach-Artichoke-Cheese dip w/crackers (a very rich recipe; we don't make too terribly much because you can make a meal of this in itself)

    * Crab Dip (also a very small batch of a very rich dip)

    * Parmesan-Mushroom Poofs (Mousse-like filling in those tiny phyllo shells)

    * Cold Plate - crackers, homemade bread rounds, etc.; with assorted cheeses, always to include baked Brie, a good blue, homemade boursin, and a few others; homemade bread & butter and half-sour pickles; various sliced sausages; smoked salmon; pickled vegetables (okra is always there); and the like.

    * Homemade chocolate truffles

    * DIL Ashley's pumpkin squares

    * Assorted cookies (Dorie's World Peace Cookies are going to debut this year!)

    PS: My mind blanked trying to remember all of these... my husband & 17 year old had no trouble filling in the blanks. Nobody ever lets us forget any of these!

  19. Now I have leftover lemon icing.  Suggestions?  Otherwise I may just start eating it with a spoon  :wink:

    I'd vote for the spoon method. ;) Although I've used lemon cream cheese icing to make sandwich cookies (using thin shortbread rounds.)

    Hoping to post something fun I'm cooking up for our Halloween festival dinner-dance tomorrow (yes, I know it's after Halloween, but it's always over too darn fast!)

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