30 September 2007

Bittersweet Chocolate Souffle with Earl Grey Custard Sauce

This recipe was a labor of love. Seriously. I made the lovely sauce ahead of time, as recommended, and put it in the refrigerator to cool. Then Hubs and I decided to go to Old Chicago to watch the Chiefs game, so I pulled the bowl of sauce out of the fridge to cover with wrap (before it got tons of other fridge flavors).

Anyhoo, I start to wrap it in saran wrap, and the bowl tips. And out floods all the thick, sweet, sticky sauce. All over my shirt, my new jeans, my yellow retro (SUEDE) Reeboks. Not only that, but it also covered this self-proclaimed-Neat-Freak's counter, cabinet fronts, floor, splattered against the remaining cabinets and oven, seeped into the cabinets and pooled... Yeah. Yuck. And right before we stepped out the door, too. I wanted to cry, but instead: I stripped off my sticky-soaked clothes, made a bucket of soapy water, and started scrubbing like mad. Yes, I was Lady MacBeth in my kitchen in my panties. It was a sight to behold, let me tell you. But, eventually I got it all cleaned up, pulled myself together, had a few beers while watching the game, and then came home to start all over again.

Now that my drama has been played out on the Blog, I should probably tell you about the actual dessert itself. First I'd like to just get this out: souffle has gotten a bad rap, as a very difficult dessert. But (custard-sauce-tsumani withstanding) it is actually an easy dessert to pull off. It's probably hard to make a grand presentation with, since it falls fairly quickly, but in taste it's hot and puffy and delicious.

This recipe was a good one: The chocolate is intense and rich but the "fluff" of the souffle evens that out. Two kinds of chocolate help to balance it so that it's not overly sweet. The sauce, however, is the real star of this recipe. The tea gives it a distinct flavor (Earl Grey = citrusy), the overall "steeped tea" taste is great in the sauce. I suggest serving this to friends and not telling them about the tea, as they'll never guess that flavor.

Bittersweet Chocolate Souffle with Earl Grey Custard Sauce

6 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. plus 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. whipping cream
1 Tbsp. Earl Grey tea leaves (about 3 tea bags)

1/3 c. whole milk
8 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 oz. bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites

For sauce: Whisk egg yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl to blend well. Combine milk, cream, tea leaves, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture; return to same saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens enough to leave path on spoon when finger is drawn across, about 8 minutes (do not boil).

Immediately strain sauce into small bowl. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, at least 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)
For soufflé: Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter six 1 c. soufflé dishes; coat dishes with sugar. Combine milk and 5 tablespoons sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and milk comes to simmer. Remove from heat; add both chocolates and stir until melted and smooth. Whisk in egg yolks.

Using electric mixer, beat whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 3 tablespoons sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into warm chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Transfer mixture to prepared dishes.

Bake soufflés until just set in center and tops are puffed and cracked all over, 28-30 minutes. Serve soufflés immediately with custard sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

Fish Hash

Now, before you start feeling ill: despite the name, this recipe is really really really good. It's from my trusty copy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, and I make it fairly regularly. It doesn't taste fishy at all, and you can use any type of leftover fish (although I think canned tuna works perfectly, and that's what I put in the recipe instructions below).

Hubs and I have a Sunday morning tradition where we make a nice, filling, tasty breakfast to dawdle over while we plan the rest of our day. And this recipe fits the bill perfectly. It's crispy and bacon-y and... probably terribly fattening, but I don't care. Give it a try! Comes together quick and it's a nice filling start to the day.

Fish Hash

6 bacon slices, diced
1 chopped onion
1 1/2 c. diced boiled potatoes (leftover baked potatoes would be perfect for this)
2 cans tuna, flaked
salt and pepper
In a hot skillet, cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bits of bacon are brown and crisp. Remove, drain on paper towels, and set aside.

Toss together the onions, potatoes, tuna, and salt and pepper to taste (don't oversalt! Lots of saltiness in that bacon grease). Stir into the bacon grease in the skillet and cook over medium heat. Press down with a spatula and cook about 5 minutes, until the bottom is browned.

Turn the hash over and cook until the underside is nicely browned. Tip out onto a warm platter, and sprinkle with bacon.

29 September 2007

Sorry for no updates!

Been going a million miles a minute for the past few days, only enough time to get online for a few secs. Definitely no time to post! But: will get a post out soon, promise. Tomorrow. No later.

For the time being, please enjoy this lovely image of my niece Mahni (my sous chef extraordinaire), gettin' her green tea frapp fix the last time we went to Target. She takes after her Aunt Nemmie, obviously.


27 September 2007

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

My first attempt at homemade "pot pie", and it's a winner. These came together easily, baked well, and were really tasty. The recipe calls for crème fraiche but I used sour cream instead - melted right into the mixture and still gave it that tangy taste like crème fraiche. Not to mention, it was tons cheaper. Super awesome.

Mini Chicken Pot Pies


5 bacon slices

1 ½ c. chopped onion

12-oz. peeled whole baby carrots (about 2 ½ c.)

1 8-oz. package trimmed haricots verts (I used 8oz. of frozen French-cut green beans, thawed)

4 tsp. chopped fresh marjoram

1 ¾ c. low-salt chicken broth

2/3 c. crème fraiche (or sour cream)

1 Tbsp. cream or milk

3 c. cooked chicken meat, diced or coarsely shredded

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed

Preheat oven to 450 F. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Chop bacon. Add onion to drippings in skillet; sauté until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add next 3 ingredients; stir 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil until vegetables are almost tender and some liquid is reduced, about 8 minutes.

Add Chicken and bacon to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Season with pepper. Remove pan from heat, and stir in 2/3 cup crème fraiche (or sour cream). Divide among four 2-cup soufflé dishes.

Unfold puff pastry onto work surface; roll out to 12-inch square. Cut into 4 equal squares. Top filling in soufflé dishes with pastry; fold edges down onto rims of dish. Brush top of crusts (not edges) with tablespoon of milk/cream. Cut small "X" in center of crusts; pierce all over with fork. Bake until crusts are golden brown and filling is heated through, about 22 minutes.

**You can also make one large pot pie. Place the filling in a 9-inch-diameter deep-dish pie dish. Set the 12-inch pastry square over the filling, then fold down the edges onto the rim. Baking time will still be about 22 minutes.

26 September 2007

Catfish with Cilantro Chutney

We had TONS of the pear salsa left over from Chicken and Pear Salsa (see 9/23/07 post), and I wanted to find a way to use it up. I also had lots of cilantro in the fridge, and catfish I needed to use soon. And voila – found this recipe online, only with different ingredients. Some tweaking, and you get this lovely dish. Works in a pinch and comes together quickly. Good use of leftover pear salsa!

Catfish with Cilantro Chutney

1 c. (packed) chopped fresh cilantro
½ c. leftover Pear Salsa (see Chicken with Pear Salsa recipe, 9/23/2007)
¼ c. canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 large garlic clove, peeled
2 6-8-oz.catfish fillets
Ground cumin
Salt and pepper
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Coarsely puree first 4 ingredients in food processor. Season chutney with salt and pepper.

Place flour in a shallow bowl; mix cumin, and some salt and pepper (to taste) into flour. Dredge fish pieces in flour. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish. Fry until just opaque in center, about 5 minutes per side.

Transfer to plates; top with chutney. Good with rice as well – I made basmati rice, using the leftover canned coconut milk instead of water, and topped it with chutney as well.

24 September 2007

White Chocolate and Lime Cheesecake Bars

Limey cheesecake chocolate bars– another recipe from the latest issue of Bon Appetit, but much more summery than the other desserts in the issue. I love key lime pie, so this recipe seemed perfect to try this past weekend. I made this with the intent that it would be my"good-bye to summer" dessert (DID YOU HEAR THAT HOT WEATHER?? TIME TO GO!).

I had problems with the crust, though. Two tablespoons of white chocolate just didn't seem like enough to keep the crust together, mine was a big crumbly mess (as you can probably a little in the pics, as much as I tried to mask it). So melt another ounce or two of white chocolate to add to that crust mixture. Also, I love my lime desserts super-tart. Will probably double the lime zest next time.

I loved the taste of this, both tart and creamy, tangy and sweet. Great combination. The chocolate crust is different but goes surprisingly well with the lime filling (the white chocolate might have something to do to help the pairing). This one was simple to pull together, all finished in about 30-40 minutes then popped in the fridge. A perfect dessert when you don't want to slave all day in the kitchen.

White Chocolate and Lime Cheesecake Bars


7 oz. high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt), chopped, plus white chocolate curls (garnish)

27 chocolate sandwich cookies (about 11 oz.)

1/2 c. chilled whipping cream

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature

3 Tbsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. lime juice

1 1/2 Tbsp. finely grated lime peel

Lime slices or lime twists (garnish)

Line an 8x8x2-inch square baking pan with foil, extending over all sides. Stir chopped white chocolate in small metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water.

Finely grind cookies in processor. Add 2 Tbsp.* melted white chocolate and blend until mixture clumps together. Firmly press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Chill while making filling.

Beat whipping cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Beat cream cheese, sugar, lime juice, and lime peel in large bowl until smooth. Beat in remaining melted white chocolate. Fold in whipped cream in 2 additions; spread over prepared crust. Chill until filling is slightly firm, at least 2 hours. Using foil as aid, lift cheesecake out of pan. Cut into 9 bars. Garnish with chocolate curls, if desired, and lime slices or twists.

Makes 9 servings

* I recommend adding more than 2 Tbsp.! Maybe more like 4 Tbsp., to make the crust stick together better.

23 September 2007

Chicken with Pear Salsa

I saw this recipe in my latest issue of Bon Appetit, and just had to make it. Even though this was their official Fall Issue, this recipe was more summery with the salsa and chicken. So off I ran to the grocery store to gather the ingredients.

Well, I obviously ran off too quickly, because I totally missed the "pear nectar" needed to make this. Instead, I squeezed pears (yes, squeezed pears. For juice. Yes, it took a long time. Stop laughing). I also minced up the pear to throw into the sauce as well. It still tasted great, but yeah. I totally recommend not forgetting the pear nectar.

This dish was WONDERFUL. We made a simple salad to eat on the side, but the salsa itself is good enough to eat tons of it as a side with the chicken. I can't quite describe the taste: the sauce for the chicken is warm and very autumn-like, with the mustard really rounding things out (love that piquant bite it brings to the sauce). But the salsa is more summery, with the sweet fruit and cilantro and peppers and lemon. All in all a keeper recipe for our household.

Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Pear, Pepper, and Cilantro Salsa


For Salsa:
2 ripe Anjou or Bosc pears; peeled, cored, and diced
1 c. finely diced bell pepper
1/2 c. finely chopped red onion
1/4 c. finely chopped jalapeno chiles (about 2 small)
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
For Chicken:
3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut in half again horizontally (so breasts are very thin)
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp. butter, divided
2/3 c. low-salt chicken broth
2/3 c. pear nectar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. lemon juice

For Salsa:
Mix all ingredients except cilantro in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Stir in cilantro.

For Chicken:
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour in a wide shallow bowl. Dredge chicken in flour, shaving off excess. Place on a plate.

Melt 1 Tbsp. butter with 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add 3 chicken breast pieces to skillet and cook until brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to clean plate. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. each butter and oil and cook remaining chicken.

Transfer last of chicken to plate, and tent with foil to keep warm. Add broth to skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Stir in pear nectar, mustard, and lemon juice. Boil until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate:
Place 1 chicken breast piece on each plate. Spoon sauce over. Top with a generous serving of salsa.

22 September 2007

Chicken Salad Veronique

A goodie compliments of FoodTV. I thought it would be perfect for this late summer heat. Although I must make a request right now: hot summer weather, it is time for you to go. You have definitely outstayed your welcome. This is Kansas, not Alabama. Enough with the 90-degree days. I'd like some lovely fall weather (you know, crisp and chilly and time to break out the old college sweatshirts?) so I can cook some soups/stews/homey cakes. Thanks, much appreciated if you can work something out.

Anyway. This went over well; the small bit in the pics is all that was left from a potluck. Yummy stuff.

Classic Chicken Veronique features delicately poached chicken breasts in a creamy sauce with mushrooms and seedless green grapes. In this chilled chicken salad version, the mushrooms are swapped out for celery (for some crunch), and the creamy sauce is replaced by mayonnaise. Also, the chicken is roasted rather than poached, which personally I think keeps the chicken more moist and gives a bit of flavor. The fresh tarragon has a very unusual taste, I've never used fresh tarragon before but it has a licorice-like flavor I've never noticed with the dried spice. Quite nice.

Chicken Salad Veronique


4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 c. good mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 c. small-diced celery (about 2 stalks)
1 c. green grapes, cut in half

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.

When the chicken is cool, remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into a 3/4-inch dice. Place the chicken in a bowl; add the mayonnaise, tarragon leaves, celery, grapes, 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and toss well.

21 September 2007

Review: Free State Beer Banquet 2007

Ya know, it's just one of those weeks. I feel like I'm going a million miles an hour and pulled in eighteen different directions. Not like that's necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean I'm light on blog updates. No time to cook new and exciting recipes, let alone post them on the blog!

So instead, you get a recap. Last night we attended the Left Hand Brewery Beer Dinner at the Eldridge Hotel (held in the same ballroom where Hubs and I got married, how sweet!). No I didn't get any pics, although I wish I had because whew, those were some great beers paired with awesome food. The Eldridge staff never disappoints, that's for sure. The third course was a sticky braised short rib with roasted baby porcinis and a Maytag cream sauce. Mmmmmm.

Anyhoo, if I was just going to rehash an old post from my old blog, I thought this Restaurant Review would be perfect. Without further ado, my review of the 2007 Free State Beer Banquet.

Oh and P.S.: sorry for the crappy shots, my camera was dying and the flash was a nightmare in that place...

Free State Beer Banquet, 2007

First, a little background. Free State Brewery in Lawrence has an annual Beer Banquet to celebrate the brewery's birthday, and we've been lucky enough to attend for 6 years. Free State is a consistently good restaurant anyway, but they bring it all out for the annual banquet: Four courses plus an intermezzo, with all courses matched to hard-to-find brews. They throw a few of their own special brews in there as well; it's three hours of wonderful beer, great food, and lots of fun. Tickets sell out in a day: People come in from all over (JoCo, KC, Hays, we even met a retired couple from GA who RVs here in the winter for the Beer Banquet) and there's only 40 people allowed per night (over 3 evenings), so you need to be quick to get a seat.

This year it was all Belgian beers, a repeat theme from a few years ago but with different brews. Each table seats about six, and when seated you find a bin of ice filled with your beers for the evening (and pitchers for the Free State originals). There are generally 1-2 beers with a matching course, about 8 beers total. We tried to sit with friends this year but were separated, instead sat with two retired Air Traffic Controllers and their wives. A very fun bunch! You always meet the most interesting people at this thing.

On to the Banquet! First off: Dulle Teve and Pomme Lambic beers, the first a tart/sour Tripel-style beer and the second tasting EXACTLY like green apple cider . They were paired with a chicken liver mousse, served with microgreens, smokey bacon, toasted country wheat bread, and a molasses malt reduction. Very yummy! A bit of a secret: I absolutely adore liver and onions. My dad used to make it occasionally for me and Beah when we were younger and still living at home, we'd gobble it up. This liver was just as good, and the beers delicious too. Great match.

Second course was the salad: Frisse and arugula with coriander oil, tamari shitake relish, dried fruit, and smoked pistachios. Not bad, but my goodness: Salty! I think it was the tamari. Anyhoo, served with Duvel. I've had this before and forgot how good it was, a perfume-y light brew, very crisp. Didn't really cut through the salt though. Gah, that salad was salty.

Time for two more beers, La Chouffe and Free State's own Double Gold (a special batch of Wheat fermented with Belgian yeast, aged since 2005). I had the La Chouffe at my first beer banquet and it's yummy, a hint of coriander and very light. The Double Gold was strong (wooooo!) and also very good. Both beers were followed by the intermezzo, a peach-ginger sorbet with rosemary and black pepper. Hubs thought it was odd but I liked it, except the black pepper was fresh-ground so there were some big chunks. If you skipped them though you were fine. It was refreshing and spicy. Loved it.

On to the entrée and beer! The beer was McChouffe, the dark counterpart to La Chouffe. You could taste molasses and fruit. The entrée was pork tenderloin with a porcini/ancho crust and Mexican cocoa demi-glace. Served with wilted greens and celery root custard (like mashed potatoes), all with organic orange coulis. Oh, yum. The pork was tender but crispy outside; the sauces were both perfect with it. I absolutely loved the celery root, so much flavor. My second-favorite of the night (see dessert below).

And finally, on to the dessert course. Two beers, Gouden Carolus Classic and Free State's Chocolate Porter. The Gouden was a strong Belgian, hints of raisins. The Chocolate Porter was very nutty with a chocolate base (it's brewed with cocoa nibs). Mmmmm, my favorite kind of beer. The dessert, my goodness: Tart cherry bread pudding with a pilsner crème anglaise, mascarpone ice cream, and green tea syrup. Sprinkled with "vanilla caviar". I gobbled this down, even on a diet but man I demolished it. I love fresh cherries and this was soooo good with whole tart cherries and the right bread pudding consistency and the cold creamy mascarpone. The green tea syrup was a surprise but worked well with the dish. If Free State added this to the menu, I'd order it every time we went there (which is often).

What an awesome meal. We left and met back up with friends, for a nightcap at The Bourgeois Pig. Then off to bed for us, as it was late. Again: if you ever come across the Beer Banquet, you must go.

19 September 2007


Albuquerque, the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World! This one was a business trip, but still lovely. Really enjoyed the weather – I was there in June, and even though it was 90 degrees, thanks to the dry air it felt more like low 70s. It was a whirlwind trip of several editorial meetings, obligatory social events, a ghost tour, a trip to the zoo, two semi-celebrity sightings, and a car accident. Oh, yes, a car accident: this car totally slammed into our rental at a red light (while we're heading for the airport to fly home, no less). Luckily not a soul was seriously hurt, only a few bruises from those in our car. And amazingly, we still made our flight! By two whole minutes!

The green chiles in everything? Yum. When I got back to the hotel late one evening and had to order room service for dinner, I ordered the green chile tortilla soup. It was thick and filling and hot hot hot.

We ate at a few authentic New Mexican restaurants when taking clients out. The Church Street Café in Old Town was amazing, big fat chile rellenos and homemade tamales. Green chile salsa was smothered on EVERYTHING, and they made sure every plate had a healthy portion of rice included (much needed). The margaritas were also a lovely heat-killer :) Plus the restaurant structure itself is pretty cool - supposedly haunted by a ghost named "Sarah", it was once a residential home and was built during the founding of Albuquerque, in 1706.

We also had a few quick lunches at this place across from the main UNM campus, called The Frontier. Best cinnamon rolls I've ever had, you MUST try this place if you find yourself in Albuquerque! And for being a college hangout, The Frontier has great food - their tortillas are made from scratch at the restaurant, and believe me, you can tell. Mmm.

By the end of the trip, I came to the conclusion that I adore green chiles. Granted, my (dry, chapped) lips regularly ballooned up to the size of Angelina Jolie's while I was there from the heat of said chiles, but it was oh so well worth it. I'd go back to Albuquerque just for the food, man.

18 September 2007

Black Forest Cookies

Ever had Black Forest Cake? So, so good. It's named for the region of Germany where the dessert originated, the Black Forest (found in the southwest area of the country). An area also world renowned for their cuckoo clocks! The cake itself is a lovely, light chocolate sponge cake with layers of Bavarian cream and sour cherries within, and oh yeah - usually a generous sprinkling of Kirsch liqueur on each layer of cake as well. A nice dusting of chocolate shavings on top. Yum.

That being said, I found a recipe online for Black Forest cookies and it definitely peaked my interest. I decided to make a ton of food for my sister Tonia, she and her husband just welcomed their 2nd child and probably would appreciate some home cookin' to just reheat when they're feeling too tired to cook. Among other goodies, I made these cookies. And I gotta say? Even though I had to use cherry-flavored dried cranberries (ah, the horror! Not even real cherries!) the cookies were very reminiscent of the cake itself. Even Katlyn, their 3-year-old, and her ponies (and dinosaurs) loved the cookies, as she so artfully represented in the photo below:

Okay, enough blathering. Without further ado, the recipe. Try them! Very easy cookie recipe, very unique and good results. These cakey cookies have a lovely milk-chocolate flavor, with big chunks of cherry and chocolate nestled within. Yum! All it's missing is the cream (and liqueur). I will definitely make these again.

Black Forest Cookies

1 (11.5-oz) package milk chocolate morsels, divided
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 (6-oz) package Ocean Spray Craisins,Cherry Flavored (or if you're rich or have them, use dried cherries instead)
1 c. pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped (and totally optional; I left them out for my dear Muzzy who can't have nuts)

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Pour 3/4 cup morsels into an uncovered large microwave-safe bowl. Set remaining morsels aside. Microwave morsels for 2 minutes on high. Stir until chocolate is smooth.
Stir in brown sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder, mixing until thoroughly combined. Stir in remaining morsels, cherry flavor sweetened dried cranberries and pecans.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until cookies are puffed and set to the touch. For a firmer cookie bake for 14 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

17 September 2007

Whopper Cookies

Found this recipe online, it was one of my "Baking Saturday" creations. This recipe baked up a delicious and very unique-tasting chewy, crispy, malted milk cookie of goodness. They are great when warm and gooey,, but resist the temptation to eat them all right out of the oven - they are even better the next day. After sitting, you can really taste a lot more of the malt flavor.

Whopper Cookies

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. roughly chopped Whoppers/malted milk balls

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in milk and vanilla, then gradually blend in the flour mixture. Do not overmix; stir only until no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the chopped Whoppers/malted milk balls.

Drop into 1-inch balls (Tbsp.-sized balls) on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, until lighty browned.Cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

16 September 2007

Orange and Chocolate Chunk Cake

Tons of baking this weekend, I spent most of Saturday in the kitchen (when I wasn't getting my butt kicked in my new "Body Sculpting" class, whew. Still feeling that one). This was one of my accomplishments.

Yet another Barefoot Contessa recipe. A very dense cake, it's the same basic pound-cake base as Ina's lemon cake. Only instead, you have a sweet and tart orange flavor with spots of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chunks. Top with the chocolate ganache, of course (nothing else would do for such a rich cake). The recommendation in this recipe is a bundt pan, but I used my lovely Williams-Sonoma "personal cake" flower pan. You can't see the darling patterns of roses and sunflowers and daisies due to the thick ganache, but who cares with all that chocolatey goodness??

Orange and Chocolate Chunk Cake, with Chocolate Ganache

½ lb. unsalted butter at room temperature
2 c. sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
¼ c. grated orange zest (from 4 large oranges)
3 c. all-purpose flour, + 2 Tbsp.
½ tsp.baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ c. freshly squeezed orange juice
¾ c. buttermilk at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. good semisweet chocolate chunks

¼ c. sugar
¼ c. freshly squeezed orange juice

8 oz. good semisweet chocolate chips
½ c. heavy cream
1 tsp. instant coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.

Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 2 tablespoons flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.

14 September 2007

Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne

So obviously, I used gobbetti instead of penne. Also? The darling Hubs got home from work a wee bit later than usual, so this beauty was sitting on the stove on super-low for an extra half an hour, waiting for his arrival. Hence the kinda chunky look to the sauce.

But! It was still quite delicious. I love the taste of lemon in dishes, it sure wakes things up, but it seemed overpowered by the cream in this dish. Next time, I'll probably add more zest and a wee-bit more juice.

Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne

(from Everyday Pasta, Giada deLaurentiis)


16 oz. penne pasta

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, diced

1 tsp. herbes du Provence

Pinch of salt, plus 1/2 tsp.

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 tsp.

1 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 c. heavy cream

Zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/4 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the cubed chicken breast with the herbs de Provence and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside. Pour off any excess oil from the pan.

Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook over medium-high heat, using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the cream, lemon zest, and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the pasta, chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, chopped parsley, and lemon juice. Toss to coat the pasta and chicken with the sauce and serve.

12 September 2007

Pepperoni English Muffin Pizzas

Busy, busy week. Not much time to post, or cook for that matter. This recipe comes together quickly and surprisingly (for English muffin pizza) it's pretty tasty. Ten minutes tops, no joke, to get these things pulled together and on the table. Rock on.

More and better posts tomorrow, I promise.

Pepperoni English Muffin Pizzas


4 English muffins, split
1 c. tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, etc.), chopped
2 oz. pepperoni slices
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

Preheat the broiler. Toast the English muffins in the broiler or toaster until they are golden brown and crisp.

Arrange the muffins, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Stir the chopped herbs into the tomato sauce and spread 2 Tbsp. of the sauce over each English muffin half. Top off the pizzas with pepperoni, cheese, and oregano.

Place pizzas under the broiler for about 2 minutes, until the cheese is melty and the pepperoni is sizzling. Serve warm.

10 September 2007

Malaysian Style Curry

My favorite things to eat Zen Zero downtown are the curries. I love love love curries, and here is my first attempt to make it at home. This curry - creamy from coconut milk, simmered with shallots and garlic and ginger, and fragrant with spices - is very good. Don't be intimidated by the number of ingredients, it's actually very easy to pull together. I found a lovely rice recipe as well, both courtesy of my trusty copy of "The Gourmet Cookbook" (Ruth Reichl is a god). See both below.

I no longer have a fear of making my own curries, in fact I'm already looking for new recipes to keep trying. Now all I have to do is find a good Tom Kah Gai recipe, and I'll never need to go to Zen Zero again...

Malaysian Style Chicken Curry

3 shallots, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2-in. piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. water
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
1/2 c. chopped carrot
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 Tbsp. curry powder
7 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 c. chicken stock
1/2 of a jalapeno chile, slit lengthwise
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole clove
1 star anise
Garnish: 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Finely chop shallots, garlic, and ginger in a food processor, scraping down sides frequently. Add water and puree to a paste.

Season chicken with salt. Heat oil in a 5-quart wide pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown chicken pieces, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. Add onions and carrot to the pot, and saute about 5 minutes as well. Transfer to large plate.

Reduce heat to moderately low, add shallot paste, and cook (stirring constantly) for about 1 minute. Add curry powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add chicken, onion, and carrot back to the pot. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes.

Remove lid and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened (about 10 minutes). Discard jalapeno, cinnamon stick, clove, and star anise.

Serve over rice. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Basmati Rice with Cilantro

1 c. basmati rice
1 3/4 c. water
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Place rice and water in a saucepan. Soak for 20 minutes. Bring to a boil on stovetop, then cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes. Toss rice with remaining ingredients, and serve.

09 September 2007

Cornbread Panzanella

I got this recipe out of Giada DeLaurentiis' "Everyday Pasta" cookbook (thank you Beah!). This recipe was sooo quick, very easy to pull together, and delicious.

This is a very versatile recipe. I added a few things, namely diced cooked chicken (we ate this as dinner rather than a side dish) and some mustard and vinegar to the dressing. I also made the cornbread the same day (thank you, cheap box of Jiffy cornbread mix), so to give it the necessary stale quality, I toasted cubes of cornbread in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 F.

This recipe is definitely a keeper and this, coming from a person who isn't too fond of cornbread. The cornmeal in the bread gives the salad a grainy texture, and the cucumber gives a good crunch. All the flavors melt perfectly, sweet cornbread with smooth cheese and fresh veggies, plus a lemony vinaigrette. Mmmm.

Cornbread Panzanella

8 oz. cornbread, cut into cubes (about 2 cups)
1/2 c. halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 c. cubed fontina cheese
1/2 c. cubed cucumber
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. diced cooked chicken

1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cornbread, tomatoes, cheese, cucumber, basil, and chicken in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients. Whisk together and pour over the salad. Toss gently to combine. Place in a serving bowl and serve.

08 September 2007

Krispy Kreme and Cherry Bread Pudding with Buttered Rum Sauce

Yes, Krispy Kreme bread pudding. With a rich sauce to pour on top, to boot. Yes, I realize your arterties are already hardening in horror. Just go run a few miles and come back to read.

I bought some on-sale Krispy Kremes today because I can't pass up a super bargain, but then again they were a wee-bit dried out. And on a sad note, this afternoon when I went to pick up Hub's and my joint Birthday Cake of Delight (Ben and Jerry's-style), the store told me that they unfortunately lost the order, and never made the cake. So I moped my way home, but then cheered up when I remembered the el-cheapo donuts plus a bread pudding recipe I read about once long ago.

This is kind of a culmination of a few different recipes. There was a Krispy Kreme bread pudding recipe I read about years ago in Food & Wine magazine that I never forgot about, and used that recipe as a base. I decided to add dried cherries, to add a touch of tart to cut through all that sugar. And, I found a buttered-rum sauce by Paula Deen that sounded divine for topping.

This recipe turned out rather well. It definitely has the components of a classic bread pudding: custard-like yet spongy, nice and thick. The sauce tastes just like rum butter LifeSaver candies. But I will warn you: this is terribly sweet. I am not used to eating a bread pudding that is this sugary; if you make this, you might want to try evaporated milk instead of condensed milk. This recipe is made for 3-4 servings, and Hubs and I barely made a dent in it (we will be eating off it for a LONG time). So good luck my pets!

Krispy Kreme and Cherry Bread Pudding with Buttered Rum Sauce


8 glazed doughnuts, cut into sixths
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. milk
3 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1/4 c. sweetened condensed milk
1/3 c. dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 250°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the doughnut pieces on baking sheets and bake for about 30 minutes, until dry on the outside and semifirm in the center. Raise the oven temperature to 350°.

In a large bowl, whisk the cream with the milk, egg yolks, whole egg, condensed milk, and cherries. Add the doughnut pieces and let soak until the pieces are softened, about 1/2 an hour; stir half-way through soaking.

Lightly butter an 8X8-inch baking dish. Spoon the doughnut mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Set the dish in a roasting pan and add enough water to the pan to reach halfway up the side of the baking dish. Bake the bread pudding for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about 20 minutes longer, or until the bread pudding is set.

Preheat the broiler. Broil the bread pudding for about 2 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Let cool for 30 minutes.

Buttered Rum Sauce:
1/2 stick butter
1/2 pound confectioners' sugar
Rum, to taste (I used 1 shot)

Melt butter and slowly stir in confectioners' sugar. Add rum and heat until bubbly. Pour over each serving of Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding.

Breakfast Carbonara

I woke bright and early-ish this morning, without much in the fridge. Remembering a recipe a saw on FoodTV not too long ago, I dug through the fridge/cabinets and miraculously, had most ingredients. So I improvised a wee bit and came up with the recipe that follows. Perfect for breakfast. Thank goodness for Giada DeLaurentiis!

Breakfast Carbonara


A few handfuls of frozen peas
8 oz. dried linguini
1/2 c. Basil Aioli (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 large eggs
Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the peas and cook for 3-5 minutes. Drain and toss into a large bowl.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the large pot of salted water used to cook the peas, and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally (about 12 minutes). Drain pasta and toss into the bowl with peas. Add the Basil Aioli and toss well. Plate and lightly dust with grated parmesan cheese.

Place the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggs and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fry the eggs to your liking (I love over-easy for this recipe). Place the eggs on top of the pasta and serve immediately.

Basil Aioli:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 to 1/4 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the garlic, egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a food processor and run the machine to mix. With the machine running slowly drizzle in the vegetable and olive oil. Basil Aioli can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.