A Taste of Morocco

Does the word couscous being to mind fragrant spices and exotic music? Do you smooth a little olive oil over your hands as a skin softener? Does possibility of own a real tamarin clay baking dish make you drool?

If your answer is yes to any, or all, of this questions. I have good news for you!

Williwms-Sonoma is offering a class, “A Taste of Moroccco. Here in SoCal there are numerous locations: Pasadena, Brea Mall, Santa Anita, and Westfield.

The class runs from 6. – 8 PM, the cost is $50. Call a location near you if you are interested.



Wieners and Spaghetti

Have you ever seen something so strange and unnatural looking that you just can’t stop staring?
If not, my wieners and spaghetti dish should do the trick!

While heating water to a boil, slice hot dogs into thick sections.

Take standard size spaghetti pasta and push several strands through each wiener (see photo). Cook as you would normally cook pasta.

Drain and slide into platter. Serve with spaghetti sauce or catsup, garlic toast, and veggies or salad.


Chocolate Eclair Cake

Chocolate Eclair Cake

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter/ margine
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
1 (8 ounce) package low fat cream cheese, softened
1 large box (5.1 ounces) sugar free vanilla instant pudding
3 cups 2 % milk (skim won’t set well)

1 8 oz. container fat free cool whip (just enough for a thin layer. ) or one batch of homemade whipped cream
chocolate syrup or homemade chocolate sauce

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease a 9″X13″ glass baking pan ( or spray with butter flavored Pam).
For the Eclair Crust: In a medium saucepan, melt butter in water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in flour. Mix in one egg at a time, mixing completely before adding another egg. Spread mixture into pan, covering the bottom and sides evenly. Mixture will be very wet. *If the sides of your pan are too greased you won’t be able to get the mixture to stay up the sides so make sure to just lightly grease.

Bake for 25-40 minutes or until golden brown. check it occasionally-you don’t want to overcook the crust, it will ruin the cake! Remove from oven and let cool (don’t touch or push bubbles down).

For the Filling:
Whip cream cheese in a medium bowl. In separate bowl make vanilla pudding by beating the pudding mix and the milk for 3 minutes and put in the fridge until set. Make sure pudding is thick before mixing in with cream cheese. Slowly add pudding to cream cheese, mixing until there are no lumps. Let cool in fridge.When the crust is completely cooled, pour filling in. Top with layer of cool whip and serve with a drizzle chocolate syrup.


Cowboy Kisses

Cowboy Kisses (with Hot, Hot Dipping Sauce)
I discovered there is a restaurant in Manhattan, New York (around Third Ave & 27th) named the Rodeo Bar and Grill. . .Honky tonk.
Oh, so perfect! What more could a western contemporary romance novelist desire in a dinning experience?
Now that I’ve set you up with a lovely teaser, it would be darn right unfair of me to keep all those Cowboy Kisses for myself. Wouldn’t it?
Make at home version:
16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
16 pickled jalapēnos, seeded, washed and sliced in half
16 slices bacon (Oscar Mayer Turkey Bacon is a good choice, too)
Chipotle dipping sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise (I favor low-fat)
1-2 chipotle in adobo, seeded and minced
1/2 lime, squeezed
Preheat oven to 425F.
Place a shrimp inside the jalapēno and then wrap with bacon. Insert 1 or 2 toothpicks to secure. Do the same with all the shrimp.
Place in baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Then broil for 2-3 minutes until crispy.
Serve hot or room temperature with chipotle dipping sauce.
For the finished dipping sauce: place all ingredients in food processor (I use my blender) and pulse until combined. you will still have small pieces of chipotle but dipping sauce will turn pink.
Serve with shrimp and beverage of choice.
I’ll be blogging again in an hour here at Coffee Time Romance/ Coffee Thoughts.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter! http://twitter.com/connie_vines
or read my culinary blog: http://www.naughtynibbles4you.wordpress.com
also at: http://www.novelsbyconnievines.com
Remember Lynx Maddox will be dropping by. I’ll also be telling my own personal western stories.


Faux Rocky Mountain Oysters

Faux Rocky Mountain Oysters

I have a very broad appreciation of the unusual when it comes to food. I have tasted Rocky Mountain Oysters with a horseradish dipping sauce while vacationing in Colorado. And I enjoy offering a ‘not frequently prepared’ food item at my dinner parties. Faux Rocky Mountain Oysters will be the highlight of a very memorable dinner party. The dish is inexpensive, unusual, fun and tasty.

Turkey gizzards is the main meat ingredient–nothing at all like real Rocky Mountain Oysters but your friends won’t know that.

Turkey gizzards are available year round if you ask. 4 pounds yielded 32 “oysters” ( I am picky about the shape). Left over meat makes a nice stew.

1. Wash the gizzards and put them in a large pot.

2. Add finely diced vegetables, equaling 1/4 the weight of the meat. Onions, carrots and celery. Bell peppers, garlic or leeks may also be included. This is strictly personal preference.

3.To punch up the flavor add your favorite sauce. The one I would suggest in *ANY* variation is the Oyster flavor sauce. It is a great flavor and it is one that many people don’t have in their every-day foods. The trick here is a light hand with any one sauce. Too much of any one flavor detracts from the experience for your guests.

Use just enough water to cover the meat and veggies with water. Start the pot on the stove, bringing it to a simmer. This will take an hour off the cooking time.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Cover the pot and bake in the oven for more than two hours. When the halves pull fairly easily by hand, they are ready. If you need a knife or even if you need to pull too hard, cook an hour longer. Let the pot cool on top of the stove for two hours to re-absorb some liquid and flavor. After they cool pull apart the pieces and grade them by roundness and size.

Pick the largest and roundest of the pieces for the next stage. We need to do everything we can to maintain the illusion that these pieces of meat are Rocky Mountain Oysters (steer testicles). 8 to a pound are the average.

4. The most fun is beer batter coating. Select any oven bake coating, shake and bake or the equivalent. Follow the instructions to coat and bake your Faux Rocky Mountain Oysters. The oven baked has a very interesting texture if you are serving a person who *won’t* eat fried food but *will* eat testicles.

5. My Horseradish Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup nonfat sour cream

I hope that you will try making Faux Rocky Mountain Oysters. Besides being fun, they are really quite tasty.


Faux Foie Gras



Foie Gras is unavailable in California (I do agree with PETA) but this is a good substitution. Delicious with chilled Champagne!

1 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound chicken livers, trimmed
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 seedless cucumber (usually plastic-wrapped)
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 to 2 drops Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: 4 (8-oz) ovenproof ramekins
ACCOMPANIMENT: crackers or baguette slices
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 300ºF.
Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a small heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cream and simmer, covered, until onion is tender, about 6 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 3/4 sticks butter, then return to heat and stir until butter is melted and mixture is combined.
Purée livers with onion mixture, sea salt, and pepper in a blender, scraping down sides as necessary, until smooth. Force mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup. Bring a teakettle full of water to a boil.
Evenly space ramekins in a 13- by 9-inch roasting pan. Divide liver mixture among ramekins, then cover each ramekin with foil and place roasting pan in oven. Pour enough boiling water into pan to fill pan halfway. Bake until mousse is just set, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and transfer ramekins to a rack to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, then chill mousse, covered, at least 3 hours.
Chop half of cucumber and reserve remainder for another use. Purée chopped cucumber in a food processor until liquefied. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup (You should have 1/2 cup cucumber water. If not, chop and purée more cucumber.)
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cucumber water in a small saucepan and let stand 1 minute to allow gelatin to soften. Heat gelatin mixture over low heat, swirling pan, until gelatin is liquefied, then remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, sugar, Tabasco (to taste), parsley, and remaining 1/4 cup cucumber water until sugar is dissolved.
Cool gelée 5 minutes, then spoon about 2 tablespoons over each mousse. Chill until gelée is set, about 1 hour.
Bring mousse to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before serving.
COOKS’ NOTE: Baked mousse with gelée can be chilled up to 3 days.