Category Archives: sherry

Potatoes Dauphinoise


What is more comforting than ooey, gooey, cheesy potatoes? While I’ve been known to enjoy a bowl of them by themselves, they are also the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats, roasts or even a big green salad. They seem to turn any dish into a meal. And while there are many versions of this potato dish out there, I love this one which I’ve adapted from Cooking Light.

And what isn’t to love? This dish never fails to satisfy and it can easily be reduced in half or doubled in size depending upon the crowd you are serving. It is wonderful piping hot out of the oven and I think it tastes even better reheated the next day. And sometimes when I’m looking to save time, I use a bag of pre-cut and partially cooked potato slices. Doing this will reduce your preparation time meaning you can be enjoying this mouthwatering dish that much sooner.


2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Coat an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Place potatoes in a large saucepan; fill pan with enough cold water to cover potatoes by 2 inches. Place pan over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or just until tender. Drain well.
  • Gently layer one-third of potatoes in overlapping rows in prepared dish.
  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, swirling to coat.
  • Add the onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Combine the flour, milk, half-and-half, salt, nutmeg, and pepper in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
  • Add the milk mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until smooth and mixture thickens slightly, stirring constantly with a whisk.
  • Add the sherry to the mixture and stir well to combine.
  • Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
  • Pour one-third of milk mixture over potatoes in baking dish.
  • Repeat layers twice with remaining potatoes and milk mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.
  • Place pan in upper third of oven; bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until bubbling around edges. Turn broiler to high, leaving pan in oven; broil 1 minute or until browned.
  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 10

Sherry Fig Bread


Fig season is short but wonderful here in Albania. When figs are in season they are everywhere and in addition to eating them as is, I try to incorporate them into as dishes as possible.  There is nothing better than a perfectly ripe fig but a perfect piece of fruit can quickly turn to an over ripe one overnight.  When this happens I turn the figs into fig bread.

Over the years I’ve adapted and tweaked this recipe numerous times and think this version is “the one”. Brown sugar adds both depth and sweetness to the cake and complements the richness of the figs.  The alcohol from the sherry cooks off during baking but the distinct flavor remains as a nice surprise to unsuspecting diners.  The bread freezes beautifully and will keep for several months; simply allow it to cool completely then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil.  I take it out of the freezer the day before I am ready to eat it and allow it to come to room temperature while sitting on the kitchen counter.  You can pop it in the oven to heat it up before serving it or eat it as is.  Either way this treat extends the fig season well into the fall.


1 1/2 cups fresh figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup dry sherry

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

  • Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.  Generously coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Combine the figs and sherry in a small bowl; let stand for at least 15 minutes.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl.
  • In a large bowl, beat the white sugar, brown sugar, oil and eggs on high-speed until light and frothy.
  • Add in the flour mixture and beat on low-speed until combined.
  • Gently stir in the figs and sherry.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until a cake tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then invert the bread onto a rack.

Chinese Spare Ribs


Some people grill year around–I fall into that camp–but come spring my grill really begins to work overtime. In fact, after a long winter of entertaining entirely inside I love nothing more than inviting friends over, firing up the grill and hosting a backyard bar-b-que. This is especially fun to do here in Europe where the tradition of grilling outside is quite different than it is in America. One of the first purchases we made when we moved into our new house last year was a new grill and it quickly became the focal point of most of our get togethers with new friends. To friends whose outdoor cooking experience was mainly over wood or charcoal, our propane fueled contraption was just so novel and well, so American.

For me, the biggest challenge when grilling for a crowd is space and timing. As large as our grill is there is limited surface area for cooking and some foods simply need to be eaten the minute they are removed  from the flames. So what does one cook for a crowd that tastes just as good the minute it is done cooking as well as after sitting awhile? Ribs, that’s what!

This recipe is courtesy of From Away but I’ve taken the liberty of cooking them outside on the grill rather than in the oven. (The ribs are tasty either way but I suspect grilling in Maine in the middle of the winter holds little attraction for these food bloggers). The ribs need to be prepared ahead of time then allowed to sit overnight–or even longer–making them the perfect do ahead dish for entertaining. After your guests have arrived simply fire up the grill, let them all gather around and grill away.


2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
2 full rack St. Louis-style spareribs
1 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
4 cloves garlic, minced

  • Sprinkle five spice powder over ribs, and rub spice into the meat until evenly coated.
  • In two gallon-sized Ziplock bags, combine hoisin sauce, rice wine, soy sauce, honey, and garlic. Squeeze the bag a few times to mix ingredients.
  • Add ribs and mix until evenly coated. Seal bag, transfer to refrigerator, and let ribs marinate overnight, or up to three days.
  • When ready to cook, preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
  • Remove the ribs from the bag and reserve the marinade.
  • Place the two racks of ribs on the grill and cook, turning often until the ribs are cooked through, for about 20 to 25 minutes, depending on their meatiness. Baste the ribs with additional marinade with each turn.
  • When the meat is done, remove the ribs from the grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing into individual ribs and serving.

Serves 6-8


Cuban Pork Roast


For me, winter weekends call for long lazy days of hanging around the house with families. And when the house is filled with the aromas of roasting meats it makes being housebound all the better. And this roast pork from All Recipes is the perfect answer to what’s for dinner this weekend. It does, however, take some planning ahead.

When preparing this roast I start my Sunday dinner on Saturday by making the marinade and allowing the meat to sit for a full 24 hours before putting it in the oven. This ensures that all of the delicious citrus, garlic and herb flavors have a chance to be infused in the meat. And don’t skip the toasting of the cumin seeds and peppercorns. This simple steps makes the spices that more aromatic.


2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/3 cup orange juice

1/3 cup dry sherry

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed

  • Place the cumin seeds and peppercorns in a small heavy skillet set over medium heat. Stir constantly until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Cool.
  • Using a mortar and pestle, crush the toasted spices with the garlic, salt and oregano until a paste forms.
  • Transfer the mixture into the small bowl of a food processor and add the orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, sherry and oil. Puree the mixture until smooth.
  • Place the pork in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour the citrus marinade over the meat and seal.
  • Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning the bag over occasionally.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Transfer the pork and the marinade into a foil lined roasting pan and place in the oven.
  • Roast for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, basting with the pan juices occasionally, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 degrees.
  • Transfer the pork to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Carve and serve.

Yields: 10 servings

Sherry Marinated Duck Breast


Here’s a recipe for duck inspired by Duck is one of my favorite meats and is incredibly versatile which makes it a fun food to cook with. This recipe produces a rich and flavorful dish and while it does involve a bit of planning ahead, actually requires minimal hands on time. You can marinate the duck first thing in the morning or even the night before you plan on cooking it then simply let it sit. The duck then sits in an herb infused bath of sherry. Be sure to use a good tasting sherry since the flavor is noticeable even after the alcohol cooks off.

Depending upon how much fat your duck has, you may end up with quite a bit of herb infused rendered duck fat. You can either use it as the base to saute some Brussels sprouts (as I did here) or you can save it for another dish…..perhaps some duck fat roasted potatoes. Add a starch, wild rice complements the dish nicely, and you have the perfect autumn dinner.


2 duck breasts, skin on

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup dry sherry

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

2 teaspoons basil

Salt & pepper

  • Using a sharp knife, score the fatty side of the duck breast into a grid pattern, cutting all of the way through the fat but not into the meat.
  • Combine the olive oil, sherry, brown sugar, oregano, rosemary and basil in a large sealable, non-reactive container. (A large plastic Ziploc tub works well).
  • Add the duck, fatty side down, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.
  • When you are ready to cook, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Remove the duck from the marinade and pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Set aside.
  • Pat the duck completely dry, sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place fat side down, on a cold cast iron skillet.
  • Turn the heat to medium-low and allow the fat to render from the meat for about 5 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to medium and continue cooking for an additional to 4 minutes. The hash marks on the duck should have contracted into a crispy brown diamond pattern.
  • Drain the fat from the pan and reserve for another use.
  • Flip the duck breasts over and pace the skillet in the oven for about 10 minutes for medium-rare meat (130 degrees on a digital thermometer) or to your desired level of doneness.
  • Remove the duck to a cutting board and allow to rest for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • While the duck is resting, bring the reserved marinade to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the volume is reduced by half.
  • Serve topped with the marinade.

Serves 4

Shrimp & Corn Chowder

photo 2-191

It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

As regular readers know, I love soup. It is warm, comforting, and in most cases a complete meal that you can put on the table quickly. This shrimp and corn chowder that I adapted from a Three Many Cooks recipe is no exception. The original recipe called for using homemade lobster and clam broths as the soup base. This is fine if you happen to have lobster shells on hand but if you don’t feel free to substitute a mild vegetable broth instead. It is just more practical and no one will be the wiser. If you can find shrimp that have been peeled and deveined, use them and you will save even more time. Add some crusty bread, a green salad and a glass of crisp white wine and dinner is ready.


6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 large white onion, diced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 quart mild tasting vegetable broth

1 cup water

3 red potatoes, scrubbed, (peeled if desired) and diced

1 cup fresh, frozen, or canned corn

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 dry sherry

Salt & pepper to taste

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

  • Fry the bacon in a large heavy soup pot set over medium heat until it is crisp, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the onions and continue to saute until the onions are soft and opaque, about 5 minutes.
  • Whisk in the flour and stirring constantly, cook until it is lightly browned, about 1 minute.
  • Gradually whisk in the broth and water.
  • Add the potatoes and thyme and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the corn, cream, and sherry. Raise the temperature to medium-high and cook until the soup simmers
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the shrimp, salt, and pepper.
  • Cover the pot and let stand until the shrimp turn opaque.
  • Stir, adjust the seasonings and serve.

Serves 4-6

Figgy Chicken


It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Chicken and figs are the perfect combination and this dish is the perfect way to use up the last of the season’s fresh figs.  (Figs are so plentiful here in Albania that I often find myself struggling to find a variety of uses for them).  This dish only appears to be complicated and time-consuming.  Carmelized onions add depth to the dish and cook down while you are preparing the chicken.  Using thin chicken breasts allows the meat to cook quickly.  You can also make this dish up to two hours ahead of time and allow it to sit, covered over low heat on the stove top or in a 200 degree oven.  I served the chicken over orzo but you could easily substitute brown rice, mashed potatoes, noodles, or any starch that will absorb the yummy sauce.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt & pepper to taste

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon sugar

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup dry sherry

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 fresh figs, quartered lengthwise

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over high heat.  Add the sliced onions and sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top.  Once the onions begin to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium and stirring occasionally, cook until the onions are brown and carmelized, 10-15 minutes.
  • While the onions are cooking, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Using mallet, pound the chicken breasts until they are thin and even in thickness.  Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper and cook until brown and cooked through, approximately 4-5 minutes per side.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Once the onions have cooked, add the chicken broth, sherry, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and stir to combine.  Raise the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes.
  • Add the figs and stir gently being careful not to break them up.  Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Gently add the cooked chicken to the skillet and cook until the chicken is heated through, approximately 2-3 minutes.

Serves 4

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