Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Left-over Gruyère and Cider Fondue Sandwich

This post is in honor of Kathy's Grilled Cheese Pageant at her blog Panini Happy.

She gave plenty of time for all to enter. I had some great thoughts and ideas. Who doesn't love grilled cheese. And it is SO easy! But with my own "Open House", Easter etc... Time danced quickly away from me and the last minute was nearing. I didn't have everything I needed to make a Croque Monsieur like I wanted. I didn't have fresh mozzarella so my favorite tomato, basil, mozzarella was out. Plus that is fairly common. The good news? I had some left-over cheese fondue. Maybe I could do something with that. And I had some homemade bread. But when I woke up, there was NOT much of that even left! Paul had eaten some for breakfast.

So what you see above is ALL of the bread left in the house! The filling is left over fondue from Easter. I had made Bon Appetit's Gruyère and Cider Fondue from the March issue for an Easter appetizer. It was fantastic on Easter and I hated to throw away the left-overs, but each time I stared at the sad lump of cheese in my refrigerator, I was uninspired. The pageant was a good opportunity to use it. It was a more spreadable texture given the alcohol it was cooked with. And it did not look very appetizing at first. As it cooked though, the cheese gained back some of its sheen and melted around my panini press. Still it didn't look all that pretty. I paired it with bacon as originally I served it with sausage and thought it was a nice change yet complimentary. It was good. But something seemed missing. Maybe the bacon should have been inside?

I wish I had taken photos of the original fondue. It was great paired with bread (of course), small potatoes, green apples and kielbasa sausage. But we were so busy with the Easter egg hunt, scavenger hunt, jumping on the trampoline, eating candy, visiting with relatives, swimming, two big birthdays (my sister's 40th and my cousin's 30th, and eating more treats and goodies than anyone needs, that I totally got sidetracked and forgot!

Yes! My son opened all of his Easter eggs and candy onto the trampoline and began to eat and then jump, eat and then jump. Everyone was cracking up! He is SUCH a Dennis the Menace!

Click on the collage to see the images better if you like!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Welcome to Open House Night!

Welcome to the Open House Night! This is a sort of belated blogoversary celebration for me. It has been just over a year since beginning the blog. And what a fun ride it has been. I have learned so much from the new dishes I created and from all of you. Mostly, I am grateful for the new friends I have made and finding such a warm and generous community of fellow foodies!

A big thank you to those who participated in the party and brought something to share. I really appreciate the time and effort. Not to mention the delicious recipes! YUMMY!

As with any party, real or virtual, I would like to start by offering you a drink! Here is a Greek Skinos on the rocks with a slice of lemon.

This beverage is brought by my good friend Peter at Kalofagas. If you you aren't familiar with Peter and his cooking, you are missing out! I highly recommend heading over and sampling some great Greek cuisine. It is all to die for! Today Peter brought the Greek liquer, Skinos which is made from mastic gum. He grabbed a tumbler, threw in some ice and poured us a good shot which is garnished with a slice of lemon. Let's sip and savour this one slowly! It is a sweeter drink, perfect for after dinner. For more on the drink or Peter head here.

How about a cookie to go with your drink? Check out these adorable Butterfly Sugar Cookies.

These were brought over from Kathy at Cooking on the Side. Not only are they delicious looking and cute but I love that they fit in with my stationery style at Miss 'N Nick Designs! How fun is that! Kathy is one ambitious and talented young mother. Not only does she stay at home with her toddler but she manages to now have two fabulous food blogs with a ton of followers. Panini Happy is Kathy's first blog and is devoted to panini sandwiches. Cooking on the Side is her newest. It explores the recipes which are printed on packages we all have at home. How creative is that! Read the recipe and more about these darling butterfly cookies here!

Are you more in the mood for chocolate? Try some of these Walnut & Chocolate Mini Balls!

Coming all the way from Canela's Kitchen in Santiago, Chile, these little spheres of goodness should tame even the fiercest of sweet tooths. I know they are fantastic as Canela certainly knows her way around a kitchen especially in the baked goods department. Note: She is as sweet as her sweets too! Check out her blog for a healthy dose of yum and some beautiful music to listen to as you read. For the how to and ingredients for the Chocolate balls, click here.

Still not rich and chocolatey enough for you? Dive on into this Chocolate Covered Oreo Cookie Cake! Talk about sinful! With this around you KNOW it is a special occasion.

This amazing tower of goodness is brought over from Kristen at Dine & Dish. Kristen is a multi-talented, multi-tasking mom of three wows me with all she can accomplish. Imagine pulling off this cake with three young ones! Oh but wait, she is also in her third trimester and expecting a fourth soon! How she manages to maintain such an amazing site, writing and cooking while raising these kids is beyond me. It must be the organizational skills coupled with an amazing attitude. At present she is even organizing the third round of Adopt a Blogger! Check it out on her site. Click here for the recipe on this chocolate masterpiece.

Had your fill of sweets? Would you prefer to start with the savory? Step on over here and try some of this amazing White Bean Dip with Pita Chips.

This white bean hummus is a perfect appetizer for just about any occasion. Melissa at Alosha's Kitchen pitched this one in and I couldn't be happier with how well it complimented all the other dishes. Now if you haven't sat down over at Melissa's blog yet, you must. Melissa claims she only started cooking a few years ago but you wouldn't know it when you look at the dishes this witty writer pulls out from her oven! Wow! She looks like a pro to me. Go check it out and see what you think. For the recipe on the white bean dip made with cannellini beans pop over here.

I made a few made a couple dishes myself too. The first is a Spanish Tortilla (often called tortilla de patatas or tortilla española). I have really been wanting to make one of these for a while. It is basically just potatoes and eggs cooked in a pan until browned. Who wouldn't love that? I read about them in many blogs and magazines and for some reason had never tried it. Even when I was in Spain one time. I thought this party was the perfect occasion to give it a go.

I based my recipe on a very simple one I found at the Food Network site. But I combined ideas and techniques from a few other recipes I read as well.

Spanish Tortilla

  • 4-6 medium-small yukon gold potatoes, sliced thin
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 extra large eggs
  • a few splashes of half and half or milk (about 1/8 cup)

Slice the potatoes evenly and fairly thin. I used a mandolin set at 1/8". Slice the onion in the same fashion.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Cook the potatoes and onions on medium to low heat until they begin to soften. Some may begin to color or turn golden. Continue cooking and turning until the potatoes are cooked through but not falling apart or breaking. Remove the potatoes from the pan and drain in a collindar.

Meanwhile break the eggs into a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in milk. Add the potatoes and onions to the eggs mixture and toss until coated and evenly mixed.

Wipe out the frying pan and return to stove.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil on a high heat and pour in the mixture, moving it around in the pan to make it lie evenly. Fry until golden brown on the bottom side. Turn down the heat and allow to cook for a couple minutes more to set the inside. The top may still be a bit runny. Continue to cook until the bottom is browned.

Slide the tortilla onto a large plate. Place the pan onto the plate and using oven mitts, flip the tortilla so the top side is now on the botttom. Return the pan to the stove and fry the other side until golden brown.

Slice into wedges and serve. DELISH!

Now I needed something to go with the Spanish tortilla. I opted for my famous (in my family) antipasto platter. The star of this platter is Spicy Marinated Mozzarella with Oregano and Capers from Bon Appetit. The first time I made it, I knew it was a keeper. And now it is one of my favorite go-to recipes for parties. EVERYONE loves it! I mean EVERYONE!

Spicy Marinated Mozzarella with Oregano and Capers

  • 12 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons capers, chopped

Overlap cheese slices on medium platter.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed pepper and stir just until garlic begins to color, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in oregano, salt, and pepper. Cool. Stir in capers and remaining 4 tablespoons oil. Spoon over cheese slices.

I like to make a pretty platter with a variety of tasty items that all go together. I often vary what I put on the platter but I almost always place roasted red and yellow bell peppers, a mixture of tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic, salamis, prociutto, and olives. Other options are different meats, marinated mushrooms, artichokes, or different cheeses. Be creative. Use what is on hand and play with the color to make an attractive arrangement.

Serve with fresh bread. In this instance I once again made Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

But wait! Don't forget! There is a giveaway too! The winner can be found at this post on the
Miss 'N Nick Design Blog! Or leave a comment here asking me and I will reply posthaste!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Don't Forget!!! The Virtual Open House Extravaganza + a Giveaway!

You are ALL invited! In honor of Art and Aioli's ONE year anniversary, I am hosting a VIRTUAL Open House night with food, wine, art and great company!

I would love for you to participate! Bring an appetizer, beverage, or dessert to share. Or send me some artwork to hang on the wall. I will need your food and art submissions by 6am April 13th.

Please send entries to missNnick [at] gmail [dot] com. Include "A and A Open House" in the subject line. Make sure your photos are at least 150 x 150 pixels (square). You will need to include your name, blog name and URL, the name of your entry (dish), the permalink to your entry, and a link back to Art and Aioli!
(Note: There are TWO "N"s in the email address)

Don't forget the giveaway too!
2 Individuals (drawn at random) will each

In order to be eligible for the drawing to win the invitations, you must pop on over to my Stationery Blog at Miss 'N Nick and leave a comment there. You can reach the proper post here: http://missnnick.com/blog/2009/03/spring-celebratory-giveaway.html

Tell a blog buddy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Onion Soup - Comfort Food at its Best!

Spring has been a little funny this year. We have had a few warm days, some mild days and a few down right chilly days (for California that is). I also have read that a lot of you in different parts of the country or the world are facing a really cold spring, possibly some snow even. I really cannot imagine. But given the pending rain in the next day or two here, I thought I would offer up one of my very favorite comfort foods which is perfect for a chilly night. Although, unless temperatures are over 85°, I am happy with it any time.

French Onion Soup! Simple and so easy to make and it never fails to make me happy. You can look around at recipes and may have a favorite of your own. Frankly they all seem pretty similar to me. If you taste and add as you go, you should get it just right for your taste. Here is what I put in.

French Onion Soup (adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

2 Tbls unsalted butter
2 Tbls olive oil
5-6 onions sliced thinly
1-3 cloves of garlic diced
1-2 Tbls. fresh chopped thyme (tarragon also works really well)
1/4 cup dry sherry, cognac, or wine (I use sherry usually)
4 cups beef stock (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

French Bread (stale or toasted works best)
Cheese (I prefer a good Swiss cheese such as Gruyère or Emmenthaler. But Mozzarella or provolone also work well. I also think it sometimes melts faster when grated but is prettier if you slice it before putting it under the broiler.)

Melt the butter with olive oil in large stock pot. Add onions, thyme or tarragon and garlic. Cook on medium to low heat until the onions begin to color and turn golden. This will take some time. Stir occasionally and allow at least 20 minutes or more. At this point you can put a lid on the pot and allow the onions to continue their slow cook until brown. Check it often and stir occasionally. Once again, this may take time. Up to another 30 minutes to an hour.

When the onions are the desired color add the alcohol and cook down for a minute or two. Add your stock and bring to a boil.. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or more. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon into individual bowls or cruets. Place a piece of toast or bread onto the soup, top with the cheese and place under the broiler until cheese is browned. Serve right away.

BE CAREFUL! I know you are aware that things from the oven are hot but something about these bowls with cheese under the broiler. REALLY hot and easy to burn yourself on. It is also very hot when you take that first bite. I don't know how many times, my tongue has been numbed with burns from onion soup!

To take comfort to an even more comfortable level (especially with little ones). On this particular evening I paired the soup with a simple burger. The kids love theirs with mustard. Normally I want my hamburger with the works but with such a substantial soup, good meat and....

Freshly made rolls created from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day recipe, simple was just right!

And to make the children (and big adult kids) happy, I worked up a batch of homemade fries as well. Remember when I said I was going to blanch a bunch of potatoes and freeze them in this post? Well let me tell you! I did it. I must have cut and blanched about 15 or more potatoes in my deep fryer. When they had cooled enough I put them in ziplock bags and placed them in the freezer. The result was a much quicker homemade fry on the night desired and it was SO crispy! It is my new method. If I have any potatoes and spare time, I will blanch and freeze for the future. The kids love them. I know fries aren't very healthy but it has to be better than fast food right?

Don't forget to RSVP to my virtual Open House and stationery give away! The deadline has been extended until April 12th. Just email a good party recipe to missNnick [at] gmail [dot] com (missNnick@gmail.com) and include your name, blog address, permalink to the entry and a link back to me! Can't wait to see you there! (Note: There are TWO "N"s in the email address.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Caramel Rolls- A breakfast treat, dessert or indulgent snack

WARNING! Proceed with caution and continue reading at your own risk. If you are an individual who has chosen to sacrifice something for lent such as sweets, sugary substances, pastries, junk food, dessert, over indulgences or carbohydrates-- discontinue reading now and come back April 12th or later. In the event that you do choose to continue reading, note that Art and Aioli and all associated with this blog are in no way responsible in any way, shape or form for you breaking any resolutions, diets or promises to yourself or anyone else. I am in no way to be held liable for what you may or may not do with this recipe and the final product.

Are you still reading? I owe this recipe to Kristen over at Dine and Dish. And at this point I don't know whether to thank her with the biggest hug ever or to be very angry as these things are so addicting and delicious, I could not stop eating them. And the thing is they are so easy to make. Aside from needing just a little patience for the rising time, it came together in minutes! It was so much easier than when I made these cinnamon rolls! Do you remember them? Oh yes. They were great! But a little time consuming. And you know what? These are ALMOST as good if not just as good and so very very simple. I couldn't believe it. I've got to hand it to Kristen for always finding simple and utterly scrumptious recipes. Go check out her site!

Mom’s Caramel Rolls (from Sidd on Recipezaar)

Like Kristen did, I halved this recipe since it was just for my family and it yielded PLENTY. 12 very decent sized rolls! Kristen used her bread maker for much of the beginning but I just used my hands. Sometimes it is soothing and really, it was just so simple.

Actually I halved MOST of the recipe. I did go ahead and make ALL of the topping and felt it was the right amount. We love that gooey, drippy, luscious stuff and if you are going to be this bad, you might as well go all the way! I also added nuts to the topping of one pan of rolls. I just love nuts with this kind of thing. But my kids prefer it without. Next time I think I will roll some nuts up inside the rolls when I sprinkle the cinnamon sugar onto the dough.

2½ hours | 2 hours prep



  1. Mix water and yeast and wait 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in sugar, salt and 2 cups of flour.
  3. Add egg and butter and mix.
  4. Stir in rest of flour by hand, if dough is still sticky add just enough to make it not sticky anymore.
  5. Let raise until dough is double in size.
  6. Sprinkle flour on surface and roll dough out until is approx 18 X 12 inches.
  7. Spread a very thin layer of soft butter on dough and sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on it.
  8. Roll dough from the long side, it should look like a log.
  9. Cut into 1 inch pieces.
  10. Should be 18 pieces.
  11. Place brown sugar and butter into microwave dish and heat until butter is just melted; stir well.
  12. Stir in 3 T water.
  13. Divide mixture into 3 pans (8-inch cake pans).
  14. Place 6 pieces in each pan.
  15. Let raise for about 45 minutes.
  16. Bake for 20 minutes in a 325°F oven.
  17. When you take out of oven, turn each pan of rolls over on a plate, otherwise you will have a hard time getting them out when they cool.
  18. If you can, let them cool slightly and enjoy them when they are still warm.
It is killing me to even write this post. I want one so bad. Perhaps I should make these for Easter Sunday! YUM! My extended family would love them.

Thanks Kristen!

Don't forget to RSVP to my virtual Open House! Just email a recipe to missNnick [at] gmail [dot] com and include your name, blog address, permalink to the entry and a link back to me! Can't wait to see you there! (Note: There are TWO "N"s in the email address.)