Friday, July 31, 2009

Sugar & Spice is Now On!!!

I am SO VERY excited to announce that my blog - "Sugar & Spice by Celeste" - is now featured on, which is a wonderful and popular source of local news in the state of Alabama. If you're an Alabama resident and you haven't been to visit this website, please do! Some of the categories on the site include News, Weather, Sports, Entertainment, Travel, Jobs and Real Estate...just to name a few. If it's happening in Alabama, you'll be able to read about it on!

There is a local blog section that you can visit here:
Please support our local bloggers by checking out their sites and what they have to say. ;)

Of course, you'll find me under the "FOOD" section on the Blogs page.

Also, here's a direct link to my blog on the site:

I want to take this opportunity to thank you - MY READERS! You are the reason that I continue to blog and write about the happenings in my kitchen. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support and for coming back to my humble little blog. When I started this blog a few years ago, I had no idea anyone would actually read it or even like it for that matter. So once again...Thanks for reading!!! :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Julia's Hollandaise Sauce...Made in a Blender!

***Julia Child mentions the sauce chapter in Mastering the Art of French Cooking several times in her memoir, "My Life in France." In fact, there's a really cool photocopy of a piece of paper that contains her hollandaise sauce recipe...that she typed herself. It's marked "Top Secret" in what I assume is Julia's handwriting. I recently finished reading the memoir, and I was definitely curious about this hollandaise sauce. I looked it up in MtAoFC, and it sounded both classic and delicious!

On a side note, if you're thinking about reading "My Life in France," you definitely should! I absolutely loved it!

It's always good to have several good, homemade sauces in your cooking arsenal...ready when you need them. This is one such sauce. Who doesn't like a decadently rich and eggy hollandaise sauce? There are so many things that you can serve it with....poached eggs, bacon, and toast...just name a few. I decided to serve it with a simply baked tilapia.

Now, hollandaise can be extremely tricky to pull off....especially if you don't make it often. It tends to curdle easily. However, this blender version is foolproof! I was blown away by how simple this recipe turned out to be. In fact, Julia describes this sauce as "well within the capabilities of an 8-year-old child." Of course, Julia includes another Hollandaise recipe which is a little more complicated than this one...that one is surely more authentic. However, the simplicity of this particular recipe is what drew me to it. You can't go wrong with it!***

Start to finish: 5 minutes
Makes about 3/4 cup

3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces

In a blender, combine the egg yolks, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium-high, add the butter and heat until foaming.

Blend the egg yolk mixture at top speed for 2 seconds then, with the blender running, remove the cover and pour in the hot butter in a thin stream of droplets. By the time two-thirds of the butter has been added, the sauce will be a thick cream. Continue pouring, but don't pour in the milky residue at the bottom of the pan. Taste and adjust seasonings.

If not using the sauce immediately, set the blender carafe in tepid, but not warm, water.

Source: "Mastering the Art of French Cooking: The 40th Anniversary Edition" by: Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck; Knopf, 2001

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies!

***The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
Homemade marshmallows are one of those things that I've wanted to try for such a long time, but I have just not gotten around to it...and have not mustered up the courage! That's why I was so excited to see the July DB Challenge. I couldn't put it off any longer!!
The process was both really fun and neat! I enjoyed this challenge and actually can't wait to make these again. I didn't have any major snafus, and I was pretty happy with the results. The process of making marshmallows is pretty involved (but not too difficult!), and it was fun making sure each step was done just right. I tried to really take my time with this challenge. After adding the chocolate glaze to my first cookie, I realized that my chocolate was too hot...the fact that the marshmallow started to melt was my first I simply let the chocolate cool a little bit and popped the cookies into the fridge in the meantime. Voila! Problem solved!
I ended up with A LOT of cookies...85 total!!! I didn't have enough marshmallow to cover all of the cookies, so I simply dipped the extra cookies in the chocolate glaze and topped them with a surprise. I even made a heart-shaped cookie for Brad with the extra cookie dough. ;-)

For my toppings, I chose shredded coconut (my favorite!), finely chopped pecans, peanut butter/chocolate sprinkles and multi-colored sprinkles. Mmm, Mmm...GOOD!***
Ready for the oven...
This photo was taken with the sauce pan OFF the heat...notice how the bubbles remain...
Aren't they cute??

Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mouth-Watering Meatball Subs

***I was watching Sandra's Money Saving Meals on The Food Network earlier this morning, and Sandra Lee made these delicious Meatball Subs. The dish looked simple and yummy...and VERY cost effective. Not to mention, Brad loves Meatball's one of his favorites. So, it easily made it onto my "Dishes I Want to Make Soon" list.

The only ingredient that I didn't already have on-hand was the ground beef. After a quick stop at The Fresh Market while we were out shopping today, that problem was remedied.

I found this dish to be very simple, and Brad loved it, too! Plus, it's always great to find a cheap meal that will save you money these days!! This is definitely a winner and a dish that I will be making again and again!!!***

For Meatballs:
1/2 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 egg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup tomato sauce, jarred or homemade, recipe follows
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

For Sub:
2 sub rolls

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For meatballs, in a large bowl mix together all ingredients (including the beef), except the canola oil, tomato sauce and mozzarella, until well combined. Using wet hands, form walnut-size pieces into balls. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and fry the meatballs until browned on all sides.

Slice the rolls in half lengthwise and put on a baking sheet. Top each half with 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce, 4 meatballs and some mozzarella cheese. Put in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Chunky Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium pot, add the oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Yield: 4 cups

Source: Sandra's Money Saving Meals television show on The Food Network

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lobster Rolls w/Lemon Vinaigrette & Garlic Butter

***After coming home from work one night, Brad brought the latest issue of Gourmet to me and pointed to the cover photo, saying "THIS looks GOOD...Can you make it??" It was a gorgeous photograph of this dish - Lobster Rolls with Lemon Vinaigrette and Garlic Butter. It's not often that Brad requests a very specific dish, so I was determined to make looked too scrumptious not to!

Because I had never cooked lobster before, I was excited to try something new! I quickly bookmarked the recipe and bought the ingredients on my next grocery trip.

Every once in a while, a dish comes along that you just wish you could eat at least once a week. This definitely falls into that category!!! I'm serious...the flavors are amazing, and the phrases "Mmmmm", "WOW", and "Oh my gosh!" are sure to escape your mouth while you're busy scarfing it down! Haha.
First of all, what seafood is there that tops lobster?? It's definitely the main star here. The fresh parsley also really makes this dish. Don't even think about using dried won't be the same! The crunch of the celery and green onions really add a nice element to the sandwich, and the garlic butter really pushes it over the edge!
If you're looking for a scrumptious lobster dish, stop right here...You've found it!!!***

Lobster Rolls with Lemon Vinaigrette and Garlic Butter
Serves 6
Active time: 25 min
Start to finish: 50 min
Source: Gourmet magazine; July 2009

4 (1 1/4- to 1 1/2-lb) live lobsters
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled celery
1/4 cup celery leaves (I left these out)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, smashed
6 hot dog buns, preferably top-split

lemon wedges

Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-high heat. (I simply put the buns under the broiler in the oven....instead of using a grill.)

Plunge 2 lobsters headfirst into a large pot of salted boiling water and cook, partially covered, over medium-high heat 8 minutes (for 1 1/4-lb lobsters) to 9 minutes (for 1 1/2-lb lobsters) from time they enter water. Transfer with tongs to an ice bath and let stand until completely cooled. Return water to a boil and cook and cool remaining 2 lobsters. Remove meat from claws, joints, and tails. Save carcasses, shells, and any roe for another use (see "To Make Lobster Stock" and "To Make Lobster Oil"). Coarsely chop meat.

Whisk together lemon juice, oil, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Whisk in scallions, celery, celery leaves, and parsley, then add lobster and gently toss. Season with salt.

Melt butter with garlic in a small saucepan over low heat, mashing garlic with a spoon.

Brush inside of buns with garlic butter. Grill, buttered side down, until golden, about 1 minute.
Fill buns with lobster.

Cooks’ notes:
Lobsters can be cooked 1 day ahead. Remove meat from shells and chill.
Buns can be grilled in a lightly oiled hot 2-burner grill pan over medium heat or toasted in a 350ºF oven 5 to 7 minutes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Julia Child is on TV...again!!!

I've got some exciting news for all of the Julia Child fans in the USA...I was recently contacted by our local PBS station to let me know that the show "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" will be aired on Saturday afternoons. It's on at 1:00PM CST here in Birmingham, AL. Click HERE for more info...and be sure to check your local listings to see when it will air in your city!!!

Here's an excerpt from the website:
"Two of the world's best known and most loved culinary stars, Julia Child and Jacques Pépin, join each other in Julia's home kitchen for this popular Emmy Award-winning public television series.

America's favorite cooking duo takes you to the heart of good home cooking and shows you that while there are traditional ways of preparing a dish, nothing is written in stone.

These two legendary cooks play off one another like The Odd Couple, joking, even bickering good-naturedly, over kitchen technique, demonstrating that cooking is deeply personal and that there's often more than one way to get great results.

Their deep friendship and the high professional regard in which Julia and Jacques hold each other make the show a pleasure to watch."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In Celebration of Julia

'Julie and Julia' movie trailer

Before Giada, Ina, Paula, or Emeril came along, there was the Culinary Queen...the original....Julia Child. Her wit, charm...and that unmistakable voice. She was truly a force to be reckoned with.

August is going to be a very exciting month for Julia fans. First, the much-anticipated new movie Julie & Julia will be released on August 7th. And month from today, on August 15th, foodies around the globe will celebrate Julia's birthday.

I can honestly say that there's no celebrity out there that I can really relate to...except for Julia. You've probably been asked the question, "If you could meet one famous person, dead or alive, who would it be?" There's no doubt that I would choose Julia. There are so many questions I'd like to ask many things that I'd love to discuss with her. I'm currently reading her memoir, My Life in France. It has quickly become one of my favorite books I've ever read...and I'm not even finished with it yet. She is so inspiring. She has certainly inspired me and taught me to never give matter how hard that recipe...or life in general!...seems.

I had no idea that she started her career so late in life. I guess I always just assumed she always loved cooking. Surprisingly, that was not the case! Did you know that she didn't really even start her career in the culinary world until she was 39 years old?? She discovered herself...and her love for Paris. There's something magical about that city. I constantly find myself daydreaming about our visit there this past February. The food...the people...the culture...the markets...the "joie de vivre". Oh, I would love to live there for a year...or 2...or 10!

There are so many quotes from Julia in My Life in France that I love. There's one in particular that stands out in my mind and sums things up:

"By now I knew that French food was it for me. I couldn't get over how absolutely delicious it was. Yet my friends, both French and American, considered me some kind of nut: cooking was far from being a middle-class hobby, and they did not understand how I could possibly enjoy doing all the shopping and cooking and serving by myself. Well, I did! And Paul encouraged me to ignore them and pursue my passion."

It's quotes like these that make me love her and inspire me to "pursue my passion" as well.

There's one other quote that reminds me of how I felt after going to Paris...

"...I felt a lift of pure happiness every time I looked out the window. I had come to the conclusion that I must really be French, only no one had ever informed me of this fact. I loved the people, the food, the lay of the land, the civilized atmosphere, and the generous pace of life."

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about the new movie, Julie & Julia. A few months ago when I saw the trailer for the first time, I was like a little kid. The preview in the theater was the first I'd even heard of it. When it came on and I realized what it was, I leaned forward in my seat, squeezed Brad's hand tighter and tighter as the preview went on, and I couldn't take my eyes away from the screen. I was SO excited and happy about the movie...I know that sounds dorky, but darn it...I was thrilled! LOL. You better believe I'll be one of the first people in line on August 7th to buy my movie ticket!

So, in honor of through the end of August, I'm going to conquer several recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And of course, I'll post all about my experiences here! Stay tuned for more Julia!

I'll leave you with one final quote from Chef Bugnard in Julia's memoir that is so true:

"You never forget a beautiful thing that you have made...even after you eat it, it stays with you - always."

Photo of Julia Child courtesy of

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tomato & Corn Scramble - "Gourmet" Magazine

***While on Facebook the other day, I noticed a little questionnaire on the right-hand side. It was small and inconspicuous, but it caught my eye because it had a movie still from the upcoming Julie & Julia movie (which I am SO excited about that I can hardly contain myself!!!...stay tuned for several Julia-related posts from me!!!). The question was something like: "What has been your worst kitchen disaster?" Among the choices were "Burning something" and "Live lobster attack". The lobster one made me giggle.

Now, I've certainly had my share of mishaps...searing kitchen towels by laying them on the eye of the stove, breaking a casserole dish on Thanksgiving day, etc. However, I've never really injured myself until last night. I just had to laugh at myself! I was in the process of making OUR FAVORITE PIZZA...I was collecting all of the ingredients from the fridge...olives, cheese, prosciutto, mushrooms, and that darn glass jar of artichoke hearts! I had several containers in my hands...all teetering perilously on top of each other. I should have seen it coming. The artichokes tipped off the top of the pile and shattered all over the floor. It hit with such force that several tiny pieces of glass cut right through my foot. Now, it wasn't anything serious...don't get worried! It was just one of those things, I guess. Needless to say, our pizza was artichoke-less...Hah.

Brad came into the kitchen to check on me, and there I was...standing in the middle of a sea of glass shards and artichoke hearts...and the entire kitchen smelled of vinegar...yuck!!! It was a pretty funny sight. Anyways, my sweet husband brought me some shoes so that I could move, and cleaned up the mess for me. A few band-aids later, and I was good to go!

So, tonight I used some caution while cooking dinner...I didn't want anymore artichoke disasters. I whipped up this recipe from the current issue of Gourmet magazine. The ingredient list really sounded good to me. I mean, what's better than yummy corn and tomatoes fresh off the vine in the middle of summer? Honestly though, I would probably leave the cider vinegar off the list next time I make this. Brad and I just weren't crazy about the taste it added to the dish. I still really liked it, though....I think you will too!***

Corn-and-Tomato Scramble
Serves: 8
Active time: 25 min
Start to finish: 30 min
Source: Gourmet magazine, July 2009

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 1/4 lb tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped, keeping white parts and greens separate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups corn kernels (from about 8 ears)

Whisk together oil, vinegar, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Toss tomatoes with dressing.

While tomatoes marinate, cook white parts of scallions in butter with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add corn and sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

Stir together corn, tomatoes, and scallion greens.
Cooks’ note:
Corn can be cooked 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Roasted Black Sea Bass with Tomato & Olive Salad

***I was so excited to get the new issue of Gourmet magazine (July 2009) in the mail I always am. It continues to be my favorite magazine. I love everything from the great articles to the scrumptious recipes to the delectable food photography. I just love it!

The beautiful photo of this dish in the magazine is what first grabbed my attention. Also, I'm a sucker for any recipe with sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives. When I saw that this dish had both, I was immediately intrigued.

A friend of ours has an amazing garden...with everything from oregano to sage to lavender. She was so sweet to give me a whole bag of these gorgeous orange tomatoes...Aren't they so CUTE?!? They had such a fresh and robust did this entire dish. I prepared the salad that the flavors would have time to meld and come together properly. Once the salad was ready, I prepared the fish and put it into the oven. The taste was nothing short of awesome! The fish remained tender and moist (I did use tilapia instead of sea bass!), not to mention the great flavor that the fresh oregano added. I couldn't have been happier with the results.

I had fun taking photos of this dish...can you tell? Hah.
You've GOT to try this one!!***

For salad:
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (I left this out!!)
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound grape tomatoes (preferably mixed colors), halved if large
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes (preferably mixed colors), quartered if large
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
4 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped oregano
For fish:
4 (6-to 8-ounce) black sea bass fillets with skin, any pin bones removed (I used tilapia fillets!)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
6 (3-to 4-inch) oregano sprigs

kitchen string
Make salad: Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in anchovy paste, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Whisk in oil. Toss with remaining salad ingredients. Let stand, stirring occasionally, while fish roasts.

Roast fish: Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Oil a 1 1/2-to 2-quart gratin or other shallow baking dish.

Rub flesh sides of fish with 2 teaspoons oil (total) and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (total). Divide onion slices and oregano sprigs into 2 portions and sandwich each portion between 2 fillets, skin sides out. Tie with kitchen string crosswise at 2-inch intervals and transfer to baking dish. Score skin on top in several places with a sharp knife and drizzle with remaining 4 teaspoons oil.

Roast fish until just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Cut off string and cut sandwiched fillets in half crosswise. Serve topped with salad.

Cooks' note: Salad can be made 6 hours ahead and kept at room temperature.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Quiche with Spinach, Bacon, Onions and Mushrooms

***After purchasing a new quiche pan at Williams-Sonoma the other day, I just had to try it out! I came across the following recipe over at Carmen Cooks. It looked delicious in her photo...and pretty easy too! So, I decided to give it a whirl.

Brad and I had this quiche for dinner, but as you know, quiche makes for a perfect brunch as well. This recipe really caught my eye because of the ingredients - spinach, mushrooms, onion, Gruyere and was just what I had in mind! I did cheat and use a store-bought pie crust. I do like using them whenever I just makes it much easier!

The great thing about quiche is that you can toss in any of your preferred ingredients. One thing I never substitute in quiche is the Gruyere's just my favorite in quiche and is more traditional in the dish. If you're looking for a yummy quiche recipe that is sure to please, give this one a try!***

1 pie crust, rolled out and fitted into a 9″ pie pan
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 cups spinach, chopped (I used baby spinach, no need to chop)
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups cheese (Gruyere or Swiss), shredded
1 tbsp flour
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the pie crust for 5-7 minutes, until very lightly browned. Remove from oven and reduce oven to 325°F.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Saute the mushrooms and onions for about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and saute until the spinach is wilted. If there is a lot of extra moisture in the pan, drain the vegetable mixture.

In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, milk, onion, bacon, spinach, mushrooms, and salt. In a separate bowl, toss the cheese and flour together. Add the cheese to the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Pour into your partially baked pie crust and bake 45-55 minutes, until set. Let it cool for about 20 minutes before slicing. It can be served warm or at room temperature.