Cool as a Cucumber

           We’ve all done enough of that these past few weeks. This is when I say, bring out the cucumbers and start chopping. They’re tasty, low in calorie and can be diced and sliced and thrown into a salad, sandwich or even used as a main course.
           There are three main types of cucumber, slicing, pickling and English. Slicing cucumbers are the most popular and have a dark green skin. Most slicing cucumbers are waxed to extend their shelf life. I always recommend washing the skin to remove the wax. The pickling cucumber (sometimes called a gherkin) is small and crisp and has a bumpy skin. The English cucumber is long, narrow and almost always seedless. English cucumbers are wrapped in cellophane to extend shelf life. Cucumbers should be refrigerated and you shouldn’t wash them until you’re ready to use them.
         There are two really good techniques for making cucumbers “decorative”. The fist is to scrape the length of the cucumber with the tines of a fork before you slice it. The second is to use a zester the same way. The zester (a tool used for removing the colored part of fruit rind) makes a deeper groove in the cucumber. You can also use a melon baller to remove the seeds before slicing. Just cut the cucumber in half, start at one end and scoop away.

The recipes below are a mixture of easy appetizers, salads and main course. Some include herbs and spices. Whenever possible I suggest you use fresh. Fresh herbs enhance the taste of cucumbers and makes the flavors pop.

GREEK SALAD (dairy)

1 small to medium red onion or sweet onion
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
3 to 4 large Kirby cucumbers or 2 medium regular cucumbers
1 large, ripe tomato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small cubes
8 kalamata olives, pitted and quartered, lengthwise

Cut the onion into very thin rings. If using a regular (not sweet) onion, put it in a shallow bowl with 2/3 cup vinegar and marinate 1/2 hour, tossing a few times. Meanwhile, trim cucumbers, halve lengthwise and cut into half moon shapes, about 3/8-inch thick. Put into a mixing bowl. Core tomato, halve, then cut into wedges. Halve wedges and add to the cucumber. Drain and add the onions. Put olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper and remaining vinegar in a small mixing bowl or large cup. Mix and add to vegetables. Toss well and let sit, covered, 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature.  Add feta and olives. Toss. Check for seasoning. Serves 6.

CUCUMBER SOUP (dairy)

4 green onions, trimmed
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
Salt and white pepper to taste
3 tablespoons fried onions (I like Durkees)

Detach the green part of the green onions and mince about 3 tablespoons. Set aside. Put white part of the green onions and cucumbers in a food processor or blender and puree. Add the buttermilk, dill and salt and pepper.Blend until smooth. Refrigerate at least an hour. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Sprinkle the green onion tops and fried onions on top. Serves 4.

ASIAN CUCUMBER SALAD (pareve)

4 large cucumbers; cut in slices
5 green onions white part only, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves (you can substitute flat leaf parsley)
1/2 cup crushed roasted peanuts (I like to use honey roasted)

Put the sliced cucumbers into a bowl with the shallots and sprinkle over the vinegar. Add the sweet chili sauce and soy sauce and toss the salad. Just before serving add the coriander leaves and peanuts and toss again. Serve at once. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

CHEESEAND CUCUMBER SLICES (dairy)

1 large cucumber
1/2 oz. Swiss or Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1/4 tsp. dill weed
1 tablespoon whipped cream cheese
Dash each salt and white pepper

Cut off ends of cucumber. Using tines of a fork, score peel of cucumber. Cut cucumber in half crosswise and using a melon baller or small spoon, remove and discard seeds from both halves; set aside. In small mixing bowl thoroughly combine remaining ingredients. Spoon half of the cheese mixture into cored section of each cucumber half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. To serve, remove plastic wrap and carefully slice each cucumber half into 6 equal slices. Makes 2 servings, 6 slices each.

CUCUMBER DILL SAUCE(dairy/fish)

Wonderful with fish or as a vegetable dip

2 cups sour cream or pareve substitute
2 med. size cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and chopped fine
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill OR 2 tablespoons dried dill weed
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons milk or non dairy substitute
1/2 teaspoon salt
For garnish: 1 jar (2 oz.) red lumpfish caviar, dill sprig

Mix all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, spoon caviar around edges of sauce; place dill sprig in middle. Makes 3 1/2 cups. 

 
CUCUMBER ORANGE AND POMEGRANET SALAD (pareve)
2 hothouse cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 large naval oranges, zest and pith removed, halved and thinly sliced
8 ounces young spinach leaves
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

In a large bowl combine the cucumbers, fennel, onion, oranges and spinach in large shallow bowl. Whisk together vinegar, orange juice, honey and olive oil. Toss with salad. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts.  Serves 8

SWEET AND SOUR CUCUMBER SALAD (pareve)

3 cups peeled, seeded and thinly sliced cucumbers
11/2 cups thinly sliced sweet onions
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon dried dill weed

2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a medium bowl toss together cucumbers, onions and carrot; set aside. In a liquid measuring cup combine oil,vinegar, sugar, dill 2 tablespoons water, salt and black pepper. Pour over cucumber mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top serve immediately. If you want to make this ahead of time cover and refrigerate and don’t sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top until ready to serve. Serves 6.

MINI CUCUMBER SANDWICHES (dairy/fish)

1 medium cucumber
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
dash Worcestershire sauce
1 loaf sliced whole grain bread
 paprika

Score cucumber lengthwise with fork (for looks) and slice thin. In medium bowl, combine vinegar and water, add cucumber slices; let stand at room temp. at least 30 min. Drain WELL. Meanwhile, combine cream cheese, mayo, garlic powder, onion salt and Worcestershire. Cut bread slices into rounds (or any shape you want, with a cookie cutter) and spread with cream cheese mixture. Top each with a slice of cucumber. Shortly before serving top with olive slice or paprika, or both. You can also add a little dab of cream cheese/mayo and top with a baby shrimp.

Makes about 48 round tea sandwiches.

To make these the night before, cover with SLIGHTLY damp paper towels, then cover the whole plate with foil. Keep in fridge and they’ll be just great.

APPLECUCUMBER AND WALNUT SALAD (dairy)

For the dressing:
1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about ½ large lemon)
2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup chopped cucumber (well drained)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint or parsley
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

For the salad:
1 head red leaf of bib lettuce, trimmed, washed, and dried
1 cucumber, peeled if you want, diced large
1 Granny Smith or other tart apple, cored and diced large
1/3 cup dark raisins
2/3 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and olive oil. Add lemon juice, honey, cucumber, coriander, min and salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cucumber, apple, and raisins. Stir in 2/3’s of the dressing well, add just enough to moisten the ingredients, and toss to coat.

Place on a serving platter or individual plates, sprinkle with the walnuts and the pomegranate seeds if you have them, and serve.

TOMATO CUCUMBER SALAD (pareve)

2 cucumbers, sliced thin

sea or kosher salt for sprinkling
6 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, sliced
3 to 4 radishes, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and finely diced
1/3 cup minced parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Kalamata, black or nicoise olives for garnish

In a serving bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, onions, parsley, lemon zest, olive oil, lemon juice. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Garnish with olives and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

CUCUMBER MUSTARD AND DILL SAUCE(dairy)

Great with fish or with vegetables

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, or 1 tsp dried dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup peeled, coarsely chopped cucumber
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of finely ground white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well blended. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to serve.Serve cold. May be kept up to 2 days in refrigerator.

ROASTED PEPPERS AND CUCUMBER SALAD (pareve)

1 large green bell pepper
3 6-to 8-ounce tomatoes, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
3/4 cup black olives, pitted, quartered
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Char pepper over gas flame or in broiler until blackened.Enclose in plastic bag 15 minutes. Peel, seed, and cut pepper into 1/3-inch cubes. Place in large bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumber, olives, onion, and parsley. Whisk oil and lemon juice in small bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper, then mix into vegetables. Let vegetables marinate at least 15 minutes before serving. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Serves 6.

Modified recipe from epicurious.com

CUCUMBER AND PINEAPPLESALAD (pareve)

2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (2-inch-long) fresh serrano or jalapeno chili, minced, including seeds
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
2 cups fresh pineapple, cored, peeled,  and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
2 to 3 medium tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges

In a large salad bowl whisk together lime juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved, then whisk in the oil, garlic, chili, and soy sauce (to taste). Add the cucumber, pineapple cilantro mint and tomato. Toss to coat and then season with salt. Let set in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour for the flavors to blend. Serves 6 to 8.

GARLIC CUCUMBER CHICKEN (meat)
1lb boneless chicken breasts, skinned
1lb cucumber
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 green onions sliced
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or white wine
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes and set aside.  Peel the cucumber, halve it and remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Then cut it into 1 inch cubes, sprinkle with salt and put the cucumber into a colander to drain for 20 minutes. (This removes the excess moisture from the cucumber). Next rinse the cucumber cubes in running cold water and blot them dry with kitchen paper. Heat a wok or large frying pan until very hot.  Add the oil and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the chicken cubes and stir-fry them for a few seconds.  Add all the other ingredients except the cucumber and continue to stir-fry for another 2 minutes.
 Now add the cucumber cubes and keep stir-frying the entire mixture for another 3 minutes. Serve at once. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

SUPER EASY GOURMET CUCUMBER CHICKEN SALAD (meat)

1 lb. cooked chicken, diced (leftovers are great for this)
1 cup seedless red or green grapes, halved
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup diced cucumbers
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
3/4 mayonnaise or salad dressing

In a salad bowl combine the chicken, grapes, pecans, celery, cucumber, oranges and salad dressing. Toss to coat and serve. Makes 6 servings

 

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The Always Amazing (and now afordable) Asparagus

            Available, affordable (for now) and incredibly versatile asparagus is often considered the quintessential spring vegetable. With spring just beginning ‘NOW” seemed like a great time to indulge. Serve it hot or cold depending on your mood it only takes about 10 minutes to wash it, cook it and eat it.

Eating asparagus is really good for you. Five spears contain only 20 calories, have 400 milligrams of potassium are a great source of folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins A, C and B6.  While most asparagus is green, the purple and white varieties are becoming increasingly popular. White asparagus is created by growing the stalks under mounds of earth so they don’t produce chlorophyll (hummm Albino asparagus?) Although more tender than the green variety, in my opinion, white asparagus has a somewhat bland flavor. It is also WAY more expensive than the green variety. When choosing asparagus you should look for thin, medium-sized spears that is firm and green (except for the white asparagus) with tightly closed tips. Avoid asparagus with wrinkled stalks and wilted tips

            When you store your asparagus wrap the bottom of the stalks in a damp paper towel and put everything it a plastic bag. Refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.  As an alternative, trim the bottom of the spears and stand them, covered, in a glass container, in an inch of water, in the refrigerator, for a few days

To prepare your asparagus for cooking take each spear by its ends and bend it gently.  It will snap at approximately where tenderness begins.  You can save the stem ends (freeze them) or pitch them. If the stalks are at all thick, peel the portion of the stalk below the tip with a vegetable peeler so that the tips and the stalk cook evenly.

       This year, with a bumper crop available I’m planning on “stalking” the asparagus and trying as many new recipes as time and my waist line permit. The following tips and recipes should help you join me in the hunt.

 

Cleaning and Cooking Tips:

Soak the asparagus in cold water for several minutes. Swish it to remove dirt and grit.

To boil, tie the asparagus in bundles (this makes them easy to remove all at once) and immerse in boiling, salted water. Blanch for about 10 minutes, or just until tender. Remove bundles immediately, remove strings, and keep warm.

If using an asparagus cooker or tall pot, tie and stand the asparagus upright with the spears above water, then cover and cook just until the stalks are tender but still firm.

To microwave, arrange the spears in a round baking dish with the tips toward the center. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook on HIGH (100% power) for 8 minutes or until crisp-tender, rotating the dish a half turn after about 4 minutes.

If using asparagus in a cold dish, plunge into cold water immediately after cooking.

Avoid cooking asparagus in an iron pot. Asparagus contains tannins which react on contact with iron, altering the vegetable’s color.

 

ASPARAGUS APPLE AND CHICKEN SALAD

This is a great main course salad that helps make left over chicken or turkey

1 cup fresh asparagus cut in 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup cubed cooked chicken or turkey

1/2 cup diced red apple

2 cups torn mixed greens

1/2 to 1 cup toasted slivered almonds

Cook asparagus in a small amount of water until tender crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes; drain and cool. In a bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, honey parsley, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and then add the chicken, apple, almonds and asparagus. Toss the mixture to coat it with the dressing. Serve immediately over greens.  Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

ASPARAGUS MARINARA WITH FETTUCCINI

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup minced onion

2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

1 pound Asparagus; cut into 1″ pieces, tips separated

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 to 4 teaspoons sugar, to taste

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Fettuccine; or other pasta, cooked, drained and kept warm

In a large skillet heat the olive oil for 2 minutes and then add the garlic and onions. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes over a medium heat and then add the crushed tomatoes and basil. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the cut asparagus but not tips. Simmer the asparagus in the sauce until tender and then add the tips. Cook 3 to 4 more minutes and then add the white wine and sugar. and salt and pepper. Serve over hot pasta. Serves 4

ASPARAGUS PARMESAN TART

This versatile quiche can be served a brunch, lunch as a quick dinner or a simple appetizer.

1 uncooked ready made pie crust room temperature or 1 recipe of homemade

1 teaspoon flour

1 lb. asparagus, each spear trimmed to 3″

1 cup half and half

2 eggs

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 450.  Bake the pie crust till golden, about 15 min.  Cool on rack.  Reduce oven temperature to 375.  Cook asparagus in boiling salted water till just crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.  Drain well. Place the asparagus on paper towels and pat it dry. In a bowl combine the half & half, eggs, cheese, tarragon and salt and pepper.  Arrange asparagus in spoke-of-wheel fashion in crust, tips toward edge and ends meeting in center.  Pour the egg mixture gently over the asparagus and return the filled crust to the oven.  Bake till tart puffs and top browns, about 35 minutes.  Cool slightly to set and serve. Serves 4

ASPARAGUS AND PISTACHIOS

3 lbs. asparagus

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon marjoram

1 cup chopped pistachio nuts

Cook the asparagus, uncovered, in boiling water until just barely tender when pierced, 5-8 minutes. Drain and place it on a serving platter.

In a sauce pan melt the butter or margarine and add the lemon juice, marjoram and nuts until the mixture is sizzling. Immediately pour the mixture over asparagus and serve. Serves 8

ASPARAGUS AVOCADO WRAPS

These are fabulous as a quick lunch, easy dinner or simple appetizer

24 spears asparagus, cooked crisp tender and cooled and patted dry

1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 1/2 cups cooked cold white rice

3 tablespoons plain yogurt or mayonnaise

3 whole wheat tortillas, 10 inches in diameter

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

In a small bowl combine the avocado, lime juice, parsley and garlic. Mash to combine into a coarse puree. Set the mixture aside. In another small bowl, combine the together the rice and yogurt or mayonnaise and mix to mix well.

Heat the tortillas for 10 seconds in the microwave to soften them. Lay the tortillas flat the cutting board. Spread the avocado mixture equally among the tortillas. Top each tortilla with an equal amount of the rice mixture, asparagus, cilantro, and onion.  Fold in both sides and the bottom of each tortilla up over the filling; then roll to close. If made in advance, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour. Return to room temperature before serving. To serve, cut each wrap in half crosswise. Makes 6 servings

SIZZLING HOT ASPARAGUS AND SHRIMP (or MOCK CRAB) SALAD

1 pound asparagus, trimmed, and blanched to crisp tender

1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon red onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of salt
1 to 2 teaspoons pepper flakes (depending on how hot you like it)
1 pound cooked and peeled shrimp (or mock crab if you keep kosher)

In a bowl combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, parsley, red onion. Whisk to combine and set aside Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic and asparagus. Cook until heated turning frequently to prevent the asparagus and garlic from burning. When the asparagus is hot, add the shrimp, stirring constantly until the shrimp warm. Spoon the shrimp asparagus mixture in a serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the top, toss to coat and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

Mother’s Day Truffles

 

Quick Mother’s Day food thought. This year, instead of fighting the crowds for a mediocre buffet or making the same pancakes, waffles and burnt toast breakfast in bed is your present mistake, why not put a little extra effort (and chocolate) into the food portion of your present and makes truffles and/or fudge for your favorite mom. Ok, so you may need to add a little  bling bling to round out the specialness of the day but you’ll be surprised at how easy (and fun) it is for the family to create confectionary masterpieces for mom.

A truffle is an intensely rich ganache (a chocolate/cream mixture) covered with chocolate and fudge is, well, fudge You can use milk or bittersweet chocolate for either and both the truffles and fudge  can be combined with “extra ingredients” like cocoa powder, candied fruits,  coconut, or chopped nuts or what ever your mom likes best.

Most people assume that truffles are complicated and fudge is easy to make. They couldn’t be more wrong. Truffles and fudge are actually the perfect candies for kids to test their kitchen skills. Unlike a lot of commercially made chocolate candies, homemade chocolate truffles and fudge don’t necessarily require tempered chocolate (temperature controlled melted chocolate). In fact, you won’t need a candy thermometer at all for any of these recipes. All you need to create gourmet tasting candy is time and the best-quality chocolate you can find. I like Ghirardelli, Godiva, or Callebaut. Yes they are a little harder to find and cost a more than Hershey but the taste of the truffle (and mom) are worth the bigger bucks.

The Great White Chocolate Debate

Because it doesn’t contain any part of the cocoa bean except the fat, white chocolate is not actually chocolate! If you’re going to use white chocolate be sure to use one where the only fat in it is cocoa butter

Quick Tip

I form my truffles with a melon baler but you can use a small ice-cream scoop just roll the centers between the palms of your hands

Truffles are best when served at room temperature

 

CLASSIC CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

11 ounces chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
 cocoa powder for dusting (or another top-quality cocoa)

Finely chop 8 ounces of the chocolate and put in a bowl. Bring heavy cream to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. Pour the cream over the chocolate, mashing any big pieces with a wooden spoon. Then stir with a whisk in concentric circles, starting in the center and working your way to the edge, until the ganache is smooth. (Don’t beat, or you’ll incorporate air.) Let the mixture stand at room temperature until thick enough to hold its shape, about 1 hour. Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Using a melon baller scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheet. If the mixture starts sticking to the melon baller dip it in the cocoa powder before scooping out the balls.  Freeze the chocolate balls until firm, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 3 more ounces of the same chocolate and smear some your hand (you can use disposable plastic gloves if you prefer) gently rub a chilled truffle in the melted chocolate to coat lightly. Toss the truffles in unsweetened cocoa powder (a fork is the best tool for tossing truffles in cocoa). Shake truffles in a sieve to eliminate excess cocoa.  Repeat until all the filling is gone.  You can store truffles in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. Makes about 60 truffles.

BITTERSWEET TRUFFLES

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup rum
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder

 finely chopped nuts, and/or toasted coconut, for coating truffles
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

Place the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process 1 more time. Set aside. Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate mixture; let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, starting in the middle of bowl and working in concentric circles until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the rum. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baller, scoop chocolate onto the prepared cookie sheet pan for 30 minutes.

Place the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut each in its own in pie pan and set aside. In the meantime melt the 8 ounces of chocolate and remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator. Using a melon baller scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheet. If the mixture starts sticking to the melon baller dip it in the cocoa powder before scooping out the balls. Shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves if desired. Then place the truffle into the dish with either the cocoa powder, nuts or coconut. Move the truffle around to coat; leave truffle in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds before removing. In the meantime, continue placing the chocolate-coated truffles in the cocoa or other secondary coating. After 10 to 15 seconds, remove the truffle to a parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 50 to 60 truffles.

WHITE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Because the flavors need time to mellow these truffles taste best if you make them at least 3 to 4 days before you want to serve them.

6 squares (6 oz.) white chocolate
8 oz. pecans, about 2 cups, ground
1 cup finely ground vanilla wafer crumbs
1/3 cup orange liqueur
finely grated peel of 1 orange
powdered sugar

Melt the white chocolate in microwave or in top of a double boiler. Stir the pecans into the melted white chocolate. Add 1 cup of the cookie crumbs, liqueur and peel. Mix well and let set until firm. Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baller scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheet. Roll the balls in powdered sugar. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1 week before serving, so flavors blend.  Truffles will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Makes 40 to 50 truffles.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER TRUFFLES

1 cup peanut butter chips
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
14 oz Can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

optional coatings:

chopped Nuts, milk chocolate, graham cracker crumbs, confectioner’s sugar

In heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt chips with the butter. Stir in the cocoa and mix until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened and blended, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Chill for at least 2 hrs. or until firm enough to handle. Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baller scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheet.  Roll the balls in any of the above coatings. Chill until firm; about 1 hour. Store covered in the refrigerator. Makes 40 to 50 truffles

CHOCOLATE APRICOT TRUFFLES
12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
7 ounces of apricot jam (the highest quality with the least sugar)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
enough bittersweet chocolate to use for covering the truffles (12 to 14 ounces)

In a bowl combine the cream, jam and vanilla. Whisk well to combine. Melt the 12 ounces of chocolate. Stir in the cream mixture and blend. Chill the mixture for an hour. Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baller scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheet and chill for an hour. Melt the rest of the chocolate in a bowl, and dip each of the truffle centers and return to the waxed paper and chill until hard. Makes 40 to 50 truffles.

SNICKER FUDGE

This recipe for fudge is a tad more complicated that most but the end results is worth the extra time you need to make it.
Bottom Layer:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Filling:
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups marshmallow cream
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts

Caramel Layer:
14 oz pkg. caramels
1/4 cup whipping cream

Frosting:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Bottom layer: Lightly grease a 9X13 pan. In a sauce pan combine the 1 cup milk chocolate chips, 1/4 cup butterscotch chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter. Over a low heat cook, stirring until melted and smooth. Spread the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate until set.

For the middle layer: Melt the 1/4 cup butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the cup of sugar and 1 1/2 cup milk. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil and stir constantly for 5 min. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla. After the ingredients are combined add the peanuts. Mix to combine and spread the mixture over first layer. Refrigerate until set.

Top Layer: In a sauce pan combine the caramels and cream. Heat over a low heat, stirring until melted and smooth. Spread the mixture over the filling. Refrigerate until set.

Frosting:
In another saucepan, combine 1 cup chocolate chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter; Heat until melted and smooth. Pour the frosting over the caramel layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cut into 1 inch squares. Store in the refrigerator

MICROWAVE FUDGE

Easy chocolate fudge made in the microwave oven.

3 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
Grease an 8 in. pan and set it aside. In a bowl combine the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter. Cook on high power until butter is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Blend in the vanilla and pecans. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and refrigerate until firm. Cut fudge in 12 to 16 squares.

MARSHMALLOW FUDGE

4 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons butter

 pinch of salt

10 to 12 ounce can evaporated milk

12 ounces semisweet chocolate

12 ounces German sweet chocolate

1 cup marshmallow cream

2 cups chopped nutmeats

In a sauce pan combine the sugar, butter, salt, and evaporated milk. Cook over a low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 6 minutes then remove it from the heat. Put in the semi sweet chocolate, German chocolate, marshmallow cream, and nutmeats in a bowl. Pour the boiling syrup mixture over the chocolate in the bowl. Stir until the chocolate is all melted, then pour the mixture in a 9X13 pan. Let stand for a few hours before cutting into 24 squares