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Here’s a recipe for a good friend in honor of the green.

Irish Soda Bread

5 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 Tbls caraway seeds

1 cup raisins

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup buttermilk

2 whole eggs

1/2 cup melted butter

Mix together first 7 ingredients (I omit caraway seeds, because I don’t like them). Beat together wet ingredients and add to dry. Kneed 1 minutes. Dough will be sticky. Place in greased cast iron pan (10inch) (I have also baked this on a cookie sheet, the crust doesn’t get as thick) Cut a cross in dough before baking. Bake in 350 degree oven for 35-35 minutes until straw inserted comes out clean.

A Chef of Your Own found this recipe on Facebook, on Living the Country Life page. They looked so yummy, I couldn’t resist making them for breakfast. They were a little messy, but I added plenty of love to make up for it.
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes~~Southern Mama~~
Ingredients:
for the Pancakes:   4 cups all-purpose flour …  8 tsps baking powder   2 tsp. salt   4 cups milk   4 tbsps vegetable oil   4 large eggs, lightly beaten
for the Cinnamon Filling   1 cup butter, melted   1 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed   2 tbsp ground cinnamon
for the Cream Cheese Glaze   1/2 cup butter   4 oz. cream cheese   1 1/2 cups powdered sugar   1 tsp. vanilla
cinnamon panckaeDirections:   To make the Cinnamon Filling:   Mix the three ingredients together. Place in a disposable piping bag and snip the end off or put in a Ziploc bag and snip the corner off.   To make the Pancakes:   Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Stir them together until everything is moistened leaving a few lumps.   Heat your griddle to exactly 325 degrees. You don’t want these to cook too quickly, and you won’t want your cinnamon to burn.   Make desired size pancake on greased griddle and then using the piping bag and starting at the center of the pancake, create a cinnamon swirl. Wait until the pancake has lots of bubble before you try to turn it. You will find that when you turn it the cinnamon swirl will melt. The cinnamon will melt out and create the craters which the cream cheese glaze will fill.   To make the Cream Cheese Glaze:   In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter and cream cheese and then stir together. Whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Add a little milk if needed to make   it a glaze consistency.   Place pancake on plate, then cover with cream cheese glaze.

A Chef of Your Own will be at The Fresh Market in Dr Phillips this Saturday for two demos. I will be making and sharing Chocolate Shop Wine Sauce Fondue and Shaved Fennel and Grapefruit Salad from 11-2 and Shrimp Scampi from 3-6. Please stop by for a taste and a chat, I will have the Chocolate Shop Wine and Alamos Chardonnay out for a taste as well. Hope to see you there.

Chocolate Shop Wine Sauce Fondue

Ingredients:
6  ounces  semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3  tablespoons  TFM Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
3  tablespoons  TFM Heavy Whipping Cream
1  tablespoon  Chocolate Shop Wine
2  quarts  strawberries, washed and dried
Preparation:
Place first 4 ingredients into a saucepan on low heat. Stir constantly until melted and thoroughly combined. Keep warm on very low heat or pour into fondue pot.   Enjoy by dipping strawberries and pound cake cubes in sauce using long toothpicks or fondue forks.

A Chef of Your Own is always looking for fun recipes to share with their villa guests. I found one in the newest magazine from America’s Test Kitchen, Home made Tater tots. Here is the link to the test kitchen site. http://www.cookscountry.com/videos/detail/41127 I will be making these again.

A Chef of Your Own will be doing a demo at The Fresh Market in Dr Phillips, Orlando today from 1-4. Would love for you to stop by if you are in the area, just to say hi.

Warm Indian Spiced lentil Soup

Ingredients:
3  tablespoons TFM Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1    onion, diced
3    carrots, diced
3    celery stalks, diced
1  package  tofu, drained and cubed optional
1/3 cup   Blackstone Chardonnay
1  package  Jaali Bean Lentil Soup Kit
1 1/2 cups TFM Vegetable Stock
1  can  coconut milk
dollop  Greek yogurt, for serving (optional)
1  package  Stonefire Naan Bread, for dipping
Preparation:
Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add 2 tbsp of the olive oil and swirl to coat. Add vegetables and cook until they begin to soften and onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. If using, add cubed tofu and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.Return pot to heat and cook until liquid evaporates, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and the spice packet contained in the soup kit and cook for 40-50 seconds, stirring continuously until fragrant. Add vegetable stock, package of lentils, and coconut milk and bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat to medium low, cover and cook for 25 minutes. Serve immediately with Greek yogurt on top and naan bread

My sister always waits for the holiday season to arrive because along with it come Archway Holiday Nougat Cookies. A Chef of Your Own found a recipe that is pretty close. Make sure to make a double batch, these disappeared pretty quickly.

Archway Holiday Nougat Cookies

1 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups finely chopped nuts (I made it once with cashews and once with pecans) Both yummy!

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add in flour and salt and blend thoroughly. Add nuts and mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees about 20 minutes. DO NOT brown. Cool cookies and roll gently in confectioner’s sugar. Makes about 6 dozen/

Seven Layer Cake

layer cakeThis recipe comes from the December issue of Food and Wine. A Chef of Your Own has reworked the recipe to resemble a childhood favorite. Named a Seven-Layer Dobos Torte, we just called it a seven layer cake. It actually has 14 layers, but I think they only count the cake layers. This is pretty easy, but takes a little time and effort, but the over the top results are worth it. (having it at a holiday party this past weekend, my mom said it was better than the original from Katz’ bakery, What a compliment!) this is my adapted recipe.

Seven Layer Cake

Cake

8 large eggs, separated plus 3 large egg yolks

1 pound confectioners’ sugar (4 cups)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup all purpose flour

2 Tbls milk

Butter cream

5 ounces semi sweet chocolate

3 large egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup half and half

2 Tbls unsweetened cocoa powder

5 sticks butter (1 1/4 pound) unsalted butter, softened

Ganash

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup semi sweet  chocolate chips

1/8 cup sweetened coconut + drop green food color (optional)

To make the cake: Preheat the oven. Spray two 12×17 inch baking pans with vegetable spray and line with parchment paper. Spray paper. Put the e whites in the bowl of a mixer, with 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat with a whisk at medium high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy, about 5 minutes. Scrape out and set aside. Add the 11 yolks along with the remaining 2 cups of sugar in the bowl and with a whisk, whip until pale yellow. Fold in flour and milk. Then fold in whites in three parts until no streaks remain. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pans and bake 12-15 minutes until golden and set.

To make the buttercream: Put the chocolate chips in large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the 3 egg yolks with the sugar until pale, about 2 minutes. In a  medium saucepan, heat the half and half with the cocoa powder until hot. Whisk the hot liquid into the yolks, then scrape the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened and a thermometer registers 160 degrees, about 4 minutes. Pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth and melts. Let cool completely. Beat butter in a bowl until creamy. Scrape chocolate mixture into butter and beat until smooth and creamy. Cut each cake layer crosswise into 4, 12 X 4 1/2 inch strips. Layer cake and icing until you have used 7 of the cake layers, ending with buttercream.

To make the Ganash: Heat heavy cream to boiling, pour over chocolate chips and stir until melted. Place cake over cooling rack and pour slightly cooled ganash over cake. Combine food coloring and coconut and use as a garnish if desired.

 

Please help me welcome Rachna, to my blog sharing a little of this great city I live in, Orlando.

Orlando Concerts

The home of Mickey Mouse, Orlando attracts tens of millions tourists every year for its world-class theme parks, white sand beaches, fabulous cruise trips, notable shopping malls and concerts. Universally known as The Theme Park Capital of the World because of Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando is also called “Hollywood East” as there are a number of movie studios.  Family vacationers find no better place than Orlando to escape from the boredom of daily hectic schedules and rejuvenate themselves with rock music, reggaeton, hip hop and Latino music concerts after a day at the thrilling rides and spectacular shows of the world’s best theme park.

The Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival, The Harriett Lake Festival of New Plays, and Orlando Cabaret Festival take place during spring, yet Orlando welcomes the lover of art and music in the months from Jan to March too. There are various venues that host concerts regularly, such as House of Blues and Hard Rock Live. Orlando tour without attending a concert in House of Blues or Hard Rock Live is incomplete, especially for music aficionados.

Spring and summer months are the best time to visit Orlando and most of the headlining concerts take place during these months. However, concerts in Orlando take place year round and keep the entertainment live in the city in all the seasons. Both of the venues, Hard Rock Live and House of Blues, offer an exceptionally delightful experience round the year to make sure the tourists have an insight into Orlando’s love for music, no matter what time of the year they visit.

House of Blues vs Hard Rock Live

The House of Blues located at the Walt Disney World Resort is renowned widely for the intimate performances it hosts; Universal’s Hard Rock Live is in itself the best because it enjoys the title Orlando’s “Coliseum of Rock.” With double capacity and versatility to adapt the seating arrangement as per the acts, Hard Rock Live enjoys more patrons.

Second to none, Hard Rock Live is host to other performances as well besides just music concerts. Performances of top comedians such as Wand Sykes at Hard Rock Live catch the attention of tourists and locals alike. Over the years, it has become a top-notch nighttime hub in Orlando.

House of Blues is fine dining restaurant too that serves lip-smacking American and international cuisine. The Sunday Gospel Brunch at House of Blues is just amazing: buffet of Southern cooking as well as music performances by top gospel groups. Whether you visit the place during day time or at night, rest assured you would get to enjoy the best of gospel, jazz, rock and reggae performances by renowned and up-coming performers.

 

Author Bio: Rachana is an adept travel writer. She writes travel tips, guides and news. Presently, she is working with CheapOair – Cheap flights.

A Chef of Your Own would like to welcome guest blogger, Kevin Maw from Total Orlando, Editor of Orlando’s Premiere Travel Guide.

 

Linda’s remarkable success as Orlando’s best personal Chef service connects beautifully with the origin of our Orlando Travel Guide.

After years of visits to Orlando, punctuated with frustrating lunches and dismal dinners, our family vacations swiftly became a little seed for our pet project!

Our passion for great food gradually evolved into our humble but ‘almost tasty’ Orlando vacation guide that now fills our entire working day (and many evenings)!

We didn’t originally set out to spend our vacations in Orlando’s finest (and worst) restaurants, but, inadvertently, we quickly amassed a huge catalogue of restaurant reviews that we thought might be fun to share on the Internet.

We felt it only appropriate to add in some detailed theme park information, complete with some really nice photography and then a section of activities ‘beyond the parks’ and www.totalorlando.com was swiftly born in the Spring of 2012!

Our restaurant section is the most fun and is of the most comprehensive Orlando Restaurant Guides out there as far as we are aware!

Our tech guy; James has made it really easy to pick out the very best restaurants by selecting ratings or cuisine types to find your perfect places to eat.

Our food qualifications are minimal, but our decisions can be trusted we feel.

We are consistent, never accept free meals, we never announce ourselves to the restaurant staff and we only consider the very highest of standards to be worthy of a 5 star rating only!

The most difficult part of any restaurant review is splitting that final decision down.   Many great restaurants complain that we only rated them as a 3 star.  In our book, a 3 star is a great achievement, as it literally means ‘good’.

So many guides have in our opinion gone astray and that is perhaps reflected in our rating system!

Now, if we dare leave the table briefly, and move off to those all-important theme parks, we have also tried as hard to be factual and objective.

With young children in our team, we were often frustrated by expeditions deep into a park just to face being ‘split up’ unexpectedly as a result of pesky ride height restrictions!

Our Find Your Park tool fixes so many problems for families like ours.  Enter your kid’s height and all of Central Florida’s rides show up in a flash!  If you want to narrow that down a little by ride speed or just pick out the shows, again, they appear right in front of you, all of them!

One thing that we have learned as a result of our many trips to Orlando, is that planning and preparation is the key to success, an opinion that is very much shared by Linda as she creates her amazingly tasty dishes!

121207_003Here is a easy holiday entertaining idea from a Fresh Market demo, recipe from Chefs USA this past Friday. This time of year, The Fresh Market, comes out with a booklet of easy entertaining Holiday Recipes. This is the third year A Chef of Your Own has participated.

The PB Crave is an amazing product. It is a creamy, smooth, all natural peanut butter with the addition of yummy ingredients, chocolate chips, raspberry swirl, honey. Pick some up today!

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Cheese Ball

1 Block (8 oz) TFM Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature

1/4 cup powered sugar

2 Tbls Madhava Raw Agave Nectar

3/4 cup PB Crave Cookie Nookie Peanut Butter

1 cup vanilla wafers, crushed, plus additional for serving

1 cup chocolate chips

1 Honeycrisp apple, sliced

Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, agave nectar and peanut butter in a bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Form mixture into a ball, place on plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. To serve, unwrap and roll ball in crushed wafers and chocolate chips. Serve with wafers and fresh apple slices.