Holiday Gifts – David Rocco’s Pesto

Holiday Gifts – David Rocco’s Pesto


Pesto gift packaged



Here’s a great, simple recipe for pesto from David Rocco.  Once you’ve made the recipe, place it in festive jars or plastic tubs for gifts (keeping a few for yourself of course).  In case you haven’t noticed, I like David Rocco and if you haven’t had the chance to watch his show on the Cooking Channel you really should.  It is not the typical cooking show.  He travels around Italy and cooks with lots of different people in their kitchens and restaurants as well as his apartment.  You get to see a lot of scenery and interesting people with some  Italian history, not just a studio kitchen.  His recipes are simple and delicious and generally quite traditional.

The pesto will last well in the fridge, or can be frozen.  Adding equal measures of the pesto to heavy cream (1 cup to 1 cup for a pound of pasta) makes a wonderful quick pasta sauce.  Just warm the cream and pesto in a saucepan while you cook the pasta, then serve with extra cheese.  You can also add some leftover chicken, chicken strips or shrimp.


The Daring Cooks Challenge – Eggs Benedict “an epic fail”

The Daring Cooks Challenge – Eggs Benedict “an epic fail”

Looks better than it was!

This month Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

I have to apologize in advance, this month’s challenge sort of did me in.  Between being on the losing side of a battle with a brief but very painful illness and trying to prepare for the holidays I did not have time to do this properly, did not follow the really wonderful directions provided in the challenge nor did I take hardly any pictures like I usually do.  In my haste to make this after baking holiday gifts all day trying to catch up, first my Hollandaise broke as I threw in the butter with abandon (after using a pan much too large for the amount of eggs being too rushed to look for a smaller one) necessitating a quick trip to the internet to decide if “this marriage could be saved”.  I found that you can redeem the sauce by slowly adding the mixture to another egg yolk which actually worked very well and according to the food critic (aka spouse who never complains and will eat anything that fits in his mouth) it tasted like it should.  However, he further pointed out that my eggs were overdone (and they had lots of strings hanging off the sides see the picture below), the muffin was underdone and I put the muffin top on it which apparently isn’t the norm (note the strategic cropping in the top picture).  In my defense, I don’t eat any egg that is not completely and thoroughly scrambled and cooked until it starts to brown so I’ve never had eggs Benedict.  I do appreciate the challenge and think it is something that I should learn to make and will give it another try – alas,  as my daughter would say this one was “an epic fail”.

Second Try with No Top but lots of strings

Holiday Gift Recipes – Hot Fudge and Honey Caramel Sauces

Holiday Gift Recipes – Hot Fudge and Honey Caramel Sauces

Hot Fudge and Honey Caramel Holiday Gifts

Today is kind of like a rerun  but not quite – it seemed like a good time to redo my favorite holiday gift recipes, Hot Fudge Sauce and Honey Caramel Sauce as both make excellent gifts.  To make it easier, here is the giant size hot fudge recipe.


The ingredient measurements for the holiday gift giving (10 pints) are:

6 cups heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups butter

1 cup light corn syrup

4 cups sugar

1 cup water

4 1/2 lbs (72 oz) good quality chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate.   Nestles works fine and I use it sometimes for the big batches, but the better the chocolate the better the results

3 Tbs vanilla

Other than the ingredients, the big difference between this and a small batch is that because of the volume, it will take much longer for the sugar to caramelize, maybe up to 1/2 hour so don’t be discouraged that it doesn’t happen right away.

Butter and Cream

1   Combine cream, butter and salt in microwave safe bowl with a spout and heat until butter melts (approx. 2 minutes). Place the chocolate in a large heat proof bowl, a metal mixing bowl works really well.

Sugar, corn syrup and salt

2   In large sauce pan over medium heat, cook the sugar, corn syrup and water stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Coming to a boil


3  Increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil then cook until a dark amber color, up to 30 minutes.  Swirl the pan a little if you must, but don’t stir or it may crystalize. Watch very carefully towards the end because the sugar can go from perfect to burnt in a few seconds.

4   Take the pan off the heat and slowly, very, very slowly, add the warm cream into the sugar, stirring briskly.  As the cream starts to cool the sugar, you can begin to pour more quickly.  This really works best with two people, one to pour (barely a drizzle at first) and one to stir.  When the cream hits the hot caramelized sugar, it will bubble up and steam so watch your hands and if you don’t pour slowly and stir quickly, you’ll get lumps.  If you were making caramel, you would stop here.

Caramel sauce poured over chocolate

5     Pour the hot caramel mixture over the chocolate and mix until smooth.  I pour through a strainer to catch any small lumps of caramel that may have formed.


Cran-Blueberry Sauce for the Holidays

Cran-Blueberry Sauce for the Holidays

Cran-Blueberry Sauce

Unlike most, I’m not really a big fan of cranberry sauce with my turkey, actually it seems very unappealing but put some on a biscuit and it is a whole different story.  Making your own cranberry sauce is actually kind of fun, they pop just like corn once you start heating them, it only takes a few minutes, tastes much better than the stuff in a can and you can choose your own variations.  This time I made it with blueberries, but I’ve done it with apple, orange, lime and pecans before and all of them were great.



16 ounces of cranberries (fresh or frozen)

8 ounces blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 lemon zested and juiced

1/2 cup sugar (this is a little tart, add 3/4 cup if you want it sweet)

2 cinnamon sticks



Put the cranberries in a sauce pan


Add the blueberries


Add the lemon juice and zest

Add the sugar and cinnamon

Cook over meduim heat until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens – about 15-20 minutes.  That’s it you’re done!