My sweet tooth and I just love this time of year. One of our family’s favorite treats is homemade chocolate-covered cherries. Like the jolly old elf himself, they show up just once a year – making them extra sweet and special. Here’s a tip…they are tasty the day they are dipped, but the longer they chill the better they become. The recipe officially suggests up to two weeks of chill time. They never make it that long in our house, but they would probably be amazing by that time. Let me know, will ya?
Yield: 3 dozen
2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 jars (8 ounces each) maraschino cherries with stems, well drained
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, butter, milk and extract. Knead until smooth and pliable. Shape into 1-in. balls and flatten each into a 2-in. circle.
Wrap one circle around each cherry and lightly roll in hands. Place with stems up on waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
In a microwave, melt chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth. Holding on to the stems, dip cherries into chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper until set. Store in a covered container. Refrigerate one to two weeks before serving.
Originally published as Chocolate Covered Cherries in Country Woman November/December 1995.
Several years ago a friend invited me to dinner and asked if I liked duck. My silence on the line quickly revealed my unfamiliarity with the then-foreign foul. But, she took a chance and kept duck in our dinner plans – and I am so glad she did. Ever since that time, duck on the menu meant duck on my plate. So, it is no surprise that I jumped at the chance to attend last Thursday’s duck dinner at the Grange restaurant in downtown Sacramento.
It was a special night at the Grange – although, having now experienced it, I believe every night may be a special night there. The setting is lovely and the service was the proverbial “over the top.” But, let’s talk about the real star of the show: the duck.
The custom menu was a collaboration between Grange Executive Chef Michael Tuohy and local “Hunter Angler Gardner Cook,” Hank Shaw. Earlier that afternoon, they challenged each other with a friendly, “duck off” cooking competition followed by the five-course duck-themed dinner in the evening. A portion of the proceeds from the dinner went to the California Waterfowl Association.
The meal started with a duck charcuterie plate, featuring duck prosciutto and rillette, followed by fresh, local greens with duck confit, a house-made tagliatelle, duck cassoulet, and a pear tart with a crust made with duck fat.
After each course, the only thing left of my plate was the pattern. While every bite was amazing, let me dwell a bit on the tagliatelle with duck sugo. It was like my mom’s home-made beef and noodles…but, not at all, really. It evoked that same comforting, can’t-get-enough taste, but with a deep flavor and freshness, that was second to none. I hope it – or a version of it – is a permanent addition to the Grange menu, because I’m quite sure it will be at the top of my “new things to crave” list.
It was truly a memorable meal with amazing food, fine company, and a special remembrance of a fine foodie friend who shared the spirit of culinary adventure so many years ago. No doubt about it; the whole experience made me feel like one lucky duck.
926 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
The sign outside read El Indio since 1940, but after one taste of the carnitas burrito, I would vote for a name change to El Carnitas Nirvana. This Mexican food hot spot in San Diego had a lunch-time line coming out the door, and after one bite, I knew why.
We had seen El Indio featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-in and Dives, and the images alone made my mouth water, so while on vaca in America’s finest city, it was a must-eat destination for me and the boys. Tamales, burritos and taquitos…oh my, everything was amazing. El Indio is just a stone’s throw from the San Diego airport, so next time you are visiting or passing through; I strongly suggest a stop, a planned lay-over or even a re-scheduled flight to make your way to burrito bliss.
3695 India Street
San Diego, CA 92103
It was Saturday afternoon in San Francisco’s Mission District and my little family was right smack dab in the middle of La Taqueria ordering up a trio of carnitas, carne asada and pollo tacos along with a couple of ice cold Coca-Colas.
In walks a cool dude carrying his bongo drum. Then, a nattily dressed businessman on what looked like his way home from some weekend power meetings – poor soul. A group of teenage girls in line looked up from their texting just long enough to place their orders, as singles, couples and families milled in and around the taco joint as if there was no better place to be in the world that day.
I think that very well may have been the case.
Here in this little corner of the universe was at least a half dozen or more ethnicities along with what appeared to be people who had done well and those who were just, well…done. One and all – just being and eating and enjoying great tacos, a great afternoon and a great moment in time.
Last Saturday we were making our way back from the coast, and we found ourselves at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher in St. Helena. While much of the free world associates Napa with its world-class wines, we credit Taylor’s as being the real gem of the Valley. The grass really is greener on their back lawn; the sky more blue, the burgers more tasty and the milk shakes? Well, let me just paint the picture….
On this day we ordered a trio of chocolate, coconut and pistachio shakes. Each more tasty than the former, and it really didn’t matter which one you started with. They were fine, fine shakes. As I was relishing every last drop, I was thinking to myself that if an angel on high could mix up a milkshake, it would taste exactly like the glorious example I was so enjoying.
As I was elevating my shake to the status of divine, a fellow diner walked by our picnic table, and while glancing at my son, made the off-hand remark: “He’s in heaven.”
Coincidence? I think not.