Monday, February 11, 2013


Some of you may remember that in the Fall we took on making meals of soup, salad, and tart as a fun way to push ourselves to try new things.  Now we've got a new one: sauce.  Often the main difference between a weeknight home meal and something I'd order at a nice restaurant, or droll over the chefs making on some cooking show,  is sauce.  We can't do the whole one sauce to drizzle on the side of the plate, another for the meat, and yet another for the veggies on any regular basis, but we can certainly make up a sauce or two to add panache to any weeknight meal.  And just the way many families make salad dressing but serve the kids before tossing it onto the salad, we can keep the sauce as a special adult treat.  We both feel strongly about not making separate meals for kids and adults, but simply leaving the sauce off kid plates is a great way to dress down (to kid-sized palates) the very same meal we are happily dousing and dabbing.  So this is our first try, and from the reaction of all at the table, 1-40, it counts as a total success.

Pommery Cocktail
serves 2
5 jigs gin
1/3 jig syrup from cocktail cherries
1/3 jig pomegranate molasses
2 cherries

Place a cherry in the bottoms of martini glasses.  Pour other ingredients into a shaker filled with ice.  Shake well.  Pour through strainer top into martini glasses.

Shrimp Stir Fry
Serves 4-6
2 T toasted sesame oil
1 T minced garlic
1 T chopped ginger
1 dried red Chinese pepper
6 large raw shrimp per person
2 medium heads broccoli, broken into florets
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks

Warm the sesame oil to medium-hot.  Toss in the garlic, ginger, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.  Toss in shrimp and cook until pink all the way through (5-10 min.).  Toss in broccoli and carrots and cook another 5 minutes.  Serve with rice and dipping sauce (below).

Asian Dipping Sauce
Serves 4
1 T black sesame oil (or toasted sesame oil)
1 T pomegranate molasses (or agave syrup or sugar)
1 T mirin
1 T black rice vinegar (or more mirin)
2 1/2 T soy sauce
2 T chopped ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil then simmer, low, for about 10 minutes.
Serve in individual dipping bowls and dip the shrimp and any appetizers into it, or simply pour over the shrimp stir fry.

Strawberry (Sprinkle) Cake
2 1/4 c. white flour
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 cup strawberry puree (I put 1 1/2 cups of frozen strawberries in the cuisinart to get this)
2 tsp. strawberry extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients.  Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Butter a pan, springform if possible, and "flour" it with powdered sugar (toss about 1 T powdered sugar over the butter and then shake it around, this helps the cake not to stick to the pan). Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
This cake is dense and moist.  The sprinkles are just for fun and can be omitted.  If you want the cake to look strawberry-red, you'll have to add red food coloring.  You might make a strawberry frosting for this cake, or you might offer kids a dollop of ice cream on top and for the adults spoon over it a fantastic sweet-tart strawberry-cherry sauce!

Strawberry-Cherry Sauce
Serves 4
2 cups whole strawberries
1 cup cherry juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar or 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Pour all ingredients into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then turn flame down low and simmer, low, 20-30 minutes, until the strawberries are broken down and the sauce is thickened to almost gooey.


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