Monday, December 30, 2013

Kelley's Favorite Shallot Vinaigrette

Makes 1 cup


1/4 cup white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, or aged sherry wine vinegar
2 to 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the shallots. Gradually whisk in the oil to make a smooth dressing. Use immediately or store covered, in the refrigerator, for up to a week.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Dates

This is a really yummy warm appetizer that can be made hours before a party and held in the fridge until 30 minutes before the guests are expected to arrive, when you can pull them and bake them. It is also dairy-free, making it perfect if you have family or friends that can't have milk or cheese. The bacon makes these so decadent, no one will miss the cheese!  These can also be frozen after being assembled (but not baked) for up to one month and popped in a hot oven.


32 good-quality dates (about 10 ounces; I like Medjool dates) - pits removed (I usually do this myself)
2 ounces shelled, salted whole pistachios
16 dried apricots, cut in half
1 pound lean best-quality bacon (I use a center-cut bacon), each piece sliced length-wise


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Stuff each date with 3 or 4 pistachios. Lay a stuffed date and apricot strip on top of each bacon slice; wrap to enclose. If not using immediately, freeze up to 1 month.

Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until bacon is crisp; 20-30 minutes, flipping each wrapped date 1/2 way through.  Serve with toothpicks.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Soup

This was a really nice soup. I loved it. Not too thick, not too thin, full of flavor, very satisfying: a real winner and easy to make too.

1 1/2 pounds eggplant, sliced horizontally
1 large red Bell pepper, sliced horizontally,
   with seeds and stems removed
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 pint grape tomatoes or 2 medium sized tomatoes,

   sliced in half
6 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder (I used my homemade stuff)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes,

   (only use 1/4 teaspoon if you want it mild)
Salt and pepper to taste
Feta, sour cream, cream, or creme fraiche to finish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place eggplant, Bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, and garlic on a sheet pan, Drizzle with olive oil, and roast until until eggplant is soft, about 40 minutes (check to make sure the garlic doesn't burn). Meanwhile, place chicken stock and seasonings in a large pot. When vegetables are soft, scoop eggplant flesh out of shell and add to stock mixture along with the rest of the roasted vegetables. Using an emulsion blender, breakdown vegetables to desired amount of chunkiness. Simmer for about 30 minutes, season with salt and pepper, and serve with crumbled Feta or whatever (nothing works too).

Serves 4-6

Friday, October 04, 2013

Horseradish Cream (Mayo)

Makes enough for 10 regular or 20 small sandwiches

2 2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup prepared white horseradish
2-3 tbs chopped fresh rosemary

Whisk mayonnaise, horseradish and rosemary in small bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Ina's Green Goddess Dressing

As a dip, serves 16-24 people

1 cup good mayonnaise
1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (6 to 7 scallions)
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
2 teaspoons anchovy paste (optional)
2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream

Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste (optional), salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and process just until blended. (If not using immediately, refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve.)

Aunt Shirley's Chopped Shrimp Cocktail

Serves 16

1 cup Heinz Chili Sauce
2/3 cup Heinz Cocktail Sauce
2/3 cup prepared horseradish
3 tsp worcestershire
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp celery seed
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 cups celery, strings removed with a peeler and chopped small dice
2 pounds shrimp (medium-size, peeled and deveined); can be frozen; thaw before use

Combine everything except the celery and shrimp and adjust seasoning (may need more salt, lemon juice, horseradish, etc.).  Just before serving, in a large bowl, combine with celery and shrimp.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Kelley's Super Quick Zucchini Lasagna

Serves: 6


Olive oil, for baking dish
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 container (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 medium zucchini (8 ounces each), halved lengthwise, then sliced thinly crosswise
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
6 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 ounces shredded (1/2 cup) part-skim mozzarella cheese



Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking dish; set aside.


In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese and ricotta; season with salt and pepper. In another medium bowl, combine zucchini, garlic, and oregano; season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.


Spread 1/3 zucchini mixture in prepared baking dish; top with two lasagna noodles, then 1/3 ricotta mixture. Repeat twice with remaining zucchini mixture, noodles, and ricotta mixture, finishing with the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella.


Cover baking dish with aluminum foil; bake until bubbly and noodles are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove foil; bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

SOURCE: Everyday Food, September 2006

Friday, September 27, 2013

Gin, Tonic, & Cucumber

G, T, and C

1 shot of Hendrick's Gin
1 cup of tonic water
2 ice cubes
2 slices of cucumber to garnish

No need for instructions on this one, just put it all in a glass and stir.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Kelley's Quick and Lemony Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta


Salt and pepper
3/4 pound angel-hair pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice (from 2 lemons), plus wedges for serving
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions, then drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add shrimp and cook until opaque throughout, about 3 minutes, flipping once. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Add butter and garlic to skillet and saute until garlic is soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook 1 minute; season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Add pasta and shrimp and toss to combine. Serve with lemon wedges.

Everyday Food, June 2012

Cowboy Burger

'Cowboy' Burger
Inspired by Whole Foods
1 lb ground beef (buy a chuck roast from Costco and grind it yourself for the best results)
1 seeded jalapeño (pointy bottom = spicy, rounded bottom = less spicy)
4-6 slices of center cut bacon
3/4 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
If using already ground hamburger, pulse bacon and jalapeño in food processor until jalapeño is chopped finely (or alternatively, chop both very fine with a knife) . Mix everything together in a bowl. Form 4 patties.


If grinding your own hamburger using a chuck roast, trim and cube meat and place in the the freezer for 20-30 minutes (it will go through the grinder easier if lightly frozen).  Grind meat (I have a meat grinder that attaches to my KitchenAid, it works great!).  Once meat is ground, run bacon and then jalapeno (minus the stem) through the grinder.  Finally, to the meat mixture in the bowl, add remaining ingredients (the cheese and spices).  Form 4 patties.

Grill to perfection, or heat canola oil in cast iron skillet over medium high heat until smoking and sear patties until perfection; let patties rest for a few minutes to ensure juices get reabsorbed and serve (preferably on a grilled bun).

Note, recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rustic Penne & Shrimp Pasta in a Parmesan & Red Pepper Cream Sauce

An entertaining worthy make-ahead meal

1 pound of Camppanelle pasta
2 tablespoons of sea salt
1/4 pound of pancetta, thickly sliced and diced into cubes
   (or use 1/2 a package of Trader Joe's--what I did)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pound of shrimp, peeled
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of rosemary
1/4 cup of roasted red peppers, sliced
1/4 cup of white wine
2 cups of cream
1 cup of parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of cracked pepper
parmesan cheese
fresh thyme or rosemary

Add sea salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, brown the pancetta. Cook for 4-5 minutes on medium high until brown, then add olive oil and shrimp. Cook for 1 minute, then add garlic.  Turn down heat to a low simmer.

Deglaze the pan by pouring in the white wine and stirring to bring off the browning on the pan. This will add great flavor to the sauce.

Add cream, red peppers and rosemary.  Simmer on medium low until the cream thickens slightly, about 5-6 minutes.  At this point, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 6 minutes - under-cooking it so when it bakes it will not be too done.  After sauce has simmered, remove it from the heat and add Parmesan cheese.

When pasta is done, strain it from the water and add it to the pan without rinsing.  Toss together with the sauce and season with pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pasta with Roasted Summer Vegetables and Basil

This recipe is incredibly easy and offers a big dose of healthy fresh summer vegetables that are delicious roasted.  You could easily modify this recipe to use any vegetables that are in season.

Source: Everyday Food, June 2007

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4

4 summer squash (about 2 pounds), halved lengthwise if large, sliced crosswise 1 inch thick
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
2 red onions, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/8 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces "brown rice" pasta - I use the "Tinkyada" brand - it is delicious.  You can also use any regular pasta shape, long such as spaghetti or short such as campanelle or fusilli
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 cup firmly packed torn fresh basil leaves



Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place squash, tomatoes, onions, and garlic on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat and then spread evenly. Roast (tossing minimally) until tender and starting to brown, 30 to 40 minutes.


Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain, and return to pot.


Add roasted vegetables, butter, parmesan, and basil to pot; season with salt and pepper, and toss gently with pasta to combine. Reheat over medium-low if necessary before serving.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Herb-Stuffed Pork Chop

From Cook's Country
February/March 2010

Baking our Herb-Stuffed Pork Chops on a preheated sheet in a hot oven was an easy way to achieve a seared exterior and an evenly cooked interior. We found that tenting the chops with foil for a few minutes after they are done cooking helped them retain heat while they rested. Tasters preferred fontina cheese for our Herb-Stuffed Pork Chops, but we found Monterey Jack or Gruyère cheese worked equally well.
Serves 4

Monterey jack or Gruyere cheese can be used instead of fontina.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, toasted and torn into pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cup shredded fontina cheese (see note)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless pork chops, about 1 inch thick

  • 1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 475 degrees. Combine oil and garlic in bowl. Pulse bread, parsley, thyme, fontina, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and 2 tablespoons oil mixture in food processor until coarsely ground. 
  • 2. Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Using paring knife, cut 1-inch opening into side of each chop to make pocket for stuffing. Spoon herb mixture into pocket and seal by threading toothpick through pork about ½ inch from opening
  • 3. Coat chops with remaining oil mixture and transfer to preheated baking sheet. Bake until brown and meat registers 145 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. Transfer to platter, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve.

Radicchio with Pappardelle

Adapted from Saveur

1 head radicchio
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (I used half of a 4 oz. precut package from Trader Joe's)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces pappardelle (I used Trader Joe's dried)
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

1. Core, then julienne radicchio.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and brown, stirring occasionally, for 5–10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden, about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook pappardelle in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Add radicchio to onions and pancetta and cook, stirring, until radicchio is wilted, about 3 minutes. Add pasta and reserved cooking water, mix well, season with salt and pepper, and serve topped with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side course

Friday, July 05, 2013

Sausage And Bell Pepper Pizza With Basil And Mozzarella

2 large cloves garlic, minced 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes or tomatoes packed in puree, chopped coarse

2 red or yellow bell peppers, halved, cored, seeded, and cut into thin strips

Salt and ground black pepper

1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaf

4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (1 cup) into bite size pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil 

1. Heat garlic with oil in saucepan over medium heat. When garlic starts to sizzle, add tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, until sauce is thick enough to mound on spoon, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes a lot; freeze for future use.

2. Put sausage and 1/4 cup water in medium-large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until water evaporates and sausage cooks through and browns, about 7 minutes. Remove sausage with slotted spoon. Add enough oil so that amount in skillet equals about 1 tablespoon. Add peppers and sauté until softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove and set aside.

3. Top pizza dough with a portion of sauce. Scatter a half of sausage pieces, peppers, and mozzarella on pizza.

4. When cooked, sprinkle with basil, a little kosher salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Enough topping for 2 medium-sized pizzas and a lot of sauce.

Gelato di crema

The Chimney Sweep’s Gelato - from Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”


For the Egg Custard Gelato (gelato di crema)

• 6 egg yolks
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• 2 cups milk
• The peel of ½ orange (with none of the pith underneath)
• 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
• An Ice-Cream maker

For Assembly

• ½ cup ground espresso coffee beans
• 8 tablespoons (one per serving) of Scotch or Bourbon


Make the gelato:

Put the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat the yolks until they become pale yellow and form soft ribbons.

Put the milk and orange peel in a saucepan, turn the heat on to medium, and bring the milk to a slow simmer, being careful not to let it break into a boil.

Add the hot milk to the beaten yolks, pouring it in a thin stream through a fine strainer. Add a little at a time, stopping to beat it into the yolks. (You want a custard, not scrambled eggs)

Add the Grand Marnier, stirring well.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan, turn on the heat to medium, and beat constantly for about 2 minutes without letting it boil, then take off the heat and allow it to become completely cold.

Freeze it in your ice cream maker per your manufacturer’s instructions, and put in the freezer to allow to become firmer if you wish.

Once firm to your liking, scoop the gelato into 8 individual bowls, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of ground espresso coffee over each portion, and pour into each bowl enough Scotch/Bourbon to pool at the bottom, about 1 tablespoon. Serve at once.

Pictures of how to make the Gelato

Angel Food Cake (Betty Crocker, 1970)

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 12 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  1. Preheat oven at 375°
  2. Combine cake flour and 3/4 cup sugar plus 2 Tablespoons sugar.
  3. In another large mixer bowl beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until foamy. Add second amount of sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating on high speed until meringue holds stiff peaks. Remove mixer bowl.
  4. Gently fold in flavorings. Sprinkle flour/sugar mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, over meringue, folding in gently until flour mixture disappears. Push batter into ungreased tube pan. Gently pound the bottom of the pan on a hard surface (countertop) to remove air pockets.
  5. Bake 30-35 minutes until top is browned and springs back when touched with finger. Invert pan over bottle until completely cool.

Strawberry Gelato by Giuliano Hazan

Strawberry Gelato by Giuliano Hazan

SummaryA light, airy strawberry gelato of the Gods, from Giuliano Hazan in “Hazan Family Favorites.”


  • 3/4 pound fresh strawberries (I used about 14 ounces, so anywhere from 12-14 ounces would work)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream


  1. Remove the green tops of the strawberries and rinse the berries in cold water.
  2. Place the berries and sugar in a food processor and blend until puréed. Add the water and lemon juice and continue blending until all the ingredients are mixed together thoroughly.
  3. Whip the cream with a whisk until it begins to thicken and acquires the consistency of thick buttermilk. Add it to the puréed strawberries and mix thoroughly.
  4. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve right away or store, tightly covered, in the freezer.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella Pizza

  • Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella Pizza

    (Makes enough for half of my pizza dough recipe)

    1 whole Large Eggplant (or Two Medium Eggplants), peeled
    Kosher Salt, For Sprinkling
    1 pint Grape Tomatoes
    2 cloves Garlic, Minced
    8 ounces, weight Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced Very Thin
    1/2 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil For Drizzling
    Freshly Ground Black Pepper

    Preheat oven broiler.

    Slice the eggplant thinly.

    Sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and place into a strainer in the sink. Allow to sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse eggplant lightly in cold water, then pat the slices dry between layers of paper towels.

    Slice grape tomatoes in half lengthwise and toss into a bowl with minced garlic.

    Slice mozzarella very thin.

    Cut eggplant slices into fourths, and toss with olive oil. Arrange on a baking sheet and place 8 inches under the broiler. Broil for 3 minutes, then toss around and broil another 3 minutes. Remove pan from oven and add tomato/garlic mixture. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove and set aside. (May do this 1 hour in advance.)

    Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on a large baking sheet and use fingers to coat thoroughly.

    Remove HALF the pizza dough from the bowl. Cut in half and form each pizza dough into a circle pressing (dimpling) with fingers to finish forming. Dough will be very thin.

    Lightly drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and use fingers to spread. Lay mozzarella slices over the surface of the dough. Spread vegetables all over the surface of the cheese. Top with Parmesan cheese.

    Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Remove from pan and slice with a pizza cutter. Sprinkle finished pizza with a little kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Mom's Thin Crust Pizza Dough

Dough is enough to make 4 medium pizzas (which will serve 4-6 people)


1 3/4 cups water divided, 1/2 cup warm, remaining at tap temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (1 envelope)
2 tablespoons olive oil , plus extra for brushing dough
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
Vegetable oil (or cooking spray) for oiling bowl


Measure 1/4 cup of warm water into 2-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand until yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup warm water plus remaining 1 1/4 cups tap water and olive oil.

Meanwhile, pulse flour and salt in workbowl of large food processor fitted with steel blade to combine.

Add liquid ingredients (holding back a tablespoon or so) to flour and pulse together. If dough does not readily form into ball, stop machine, add remaining liquid, and continue to pulse until ball forms. Process until dough is smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds longer.

Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead by hand with a few strokes to form smooth, round ball. Put dough into medium-large, oiled bowl, and cover with damp cloth. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and use chef’s knife or dough scraper to halve, quarter, or cut dough into eighths, depending on number and size of pizzas desired. Form each piece into ball and cover with damp cloth until ready to use.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto

Adapted from Tyler Florence's recipe.  We made this risotto as a first course for our Easter dinner, and it was divine!


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
1/4 to 1/2 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 fresh bay leaf
2 cups vermouth or white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups vialone nano rice or arborio rice
6 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 ounce fresh white truffles or white truffle and porcini mushroom cream (Urbani brand), optional

Warm a wide large heavy-bottomed pan over a medium-low flame. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter and melt together. Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes, or until translucent, and then toss the mushrooms, thyme, and bay leaf into the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and begin to turn golden brown.

Pour 1 cup of the vermouth or white wine into the pan, and bring the liquid to a simmer, allowing the liquid to evaporate. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are dry, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Discard the bay leaf.

Reduce the flame to low, and add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and melt. Stir in the rice and coat with the oil until the kernels are shiny, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the remaining 1 cup of vermouth or white wine and let evaporate.

Add the chicken broth, 1 ladle at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid. Do not add too quickly so as to prevent the kernels from exploding. Stir over a gentle flame until each ladle of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until most of the broth is incorporated and the risotto rice is al dente, about 25 minutes.

Fold the mushrooms back into the rice, stir in the Parmesan and parsley, and finally season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with with slices of white truffle or a dollop of truffle cream, if available.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Not Too Sweet Almond Cake with Chocolate Ganache Icing

I adapted this recipe from the almond cake recipe in Jacques Pepin's cookbook, "Fast Food My Way."

The genius of this cake is two-fold; it is not too sweet, even though it is rich; especially if you make the ganache with a little bittersweet chocolate. Additionally, the ganache icing, which gives the cake a sophisticated, shiny and smooth finish, is super easy to make and is simply poured over the cake to finish there is no fuss over having to “frost” a cake.

I got the idea for this cake from a decadent lunch I recently had with my sister and brother-in-law at a restaurant called "Navarre" in Portland. Navarre is absolutely wonderful; I highly recommend it if you are ever in the area; they serve small plates, family-style, of food influenced by Catalan / Southern France & Spain. The lunch that day, which included a coarse pate with prunes, lamb "lollipop" chops with sautéed mediterranean olives, and finished with this decadent not-too-sweet almond cake and a cup of good Portland coffee has now gone down in my dinner hall of fame memory book. It was a special day that inspired me to develop this special recipe (which, incidentally, can be made dairy-free). My sister's birthday is in a few days, and I think she is going to make it for herself to mark the occasion.

Easily serves 8-10

7 oz (1 tube) almond paste, cut into 1 in pieces
1 1/4 cup sugar
16 TBS (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room-temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk (substitute unsweetened soy or other non-dairy milk if you like)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups (10-12 oz) cake flour

Ganache Icing
8 oz semi-sweet and/or bittersweet chocolate (I like to use 75% semi-sweet chocolate chips and 25% bittersweet chocolate)
Scant 1 cup heavy cream (substitute coconut cream if you want to make it non-dairy)

To Make the Cake:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 in round cake pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment; butter the parchment. (You can also use a 9 in round cake pan if you like).

In a food processor, pulse the almond paste, sugar, butter, and vanilla for about 10 seconds. Add the eggs, milk, salt, and baking powder and process for 10 more seconds. Add the flour and process for another 5-10 seconds or until smooth.

Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean). Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 5 minutes; then, turn out onto a rack and remove parchment paper; allow to cool completely before icing.

Note: while the cake is baking, start the icing, as it will need sufficient time to cool!

To Make the Ganache:

Bring cream to a simmer in heavy-bottom sauce pan. Add chocolate (if bar form instead of chips, rough chop it before adding it to the cream). Turn off the heat and let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes; then stir until glossy. Let the ganache cool completely to room temperature, so it will pour “thickly” over the cake when you are ready to frost it!

When you are ready to frost the cake, put the rack with the cake over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake starting in the middle; wait for it to run down the sides of the cake. If needed, pour extra ganache close to the edge of the cake to ensure the cake is completely coated.

Note: If you want a thicker frosting, put the cake in the fridge for a few minutes (rack and all) until the first ganache sets. Then pour a second layer of ganache over the cake. (Note: if doing two layers, you may want to double the ganache recipe). When the icing has set, carefully use a spatula to remove the cake from the rack and place on a decorative plate! This cake is great served with a cup of coffee!

Alternative Garnish to Chocolate Ganache: If you are not a chocolate fan, this cake can also be lightly brushed with a simple syrup (made of 3 tbs water, 3 tbs whisky (or rum or cognac) and 1/4 cup sugar simmered together and cooled). Once syrup is brushed on, garnish the top of the cake with 1 1/2 pounds of berries (slice any big pieces of strawberries, if using), then spoon 1/2 cup good apricot jam diluted with 2/3 cup boiling water over the top of the fruit and cake to glaze it. Serve each slice of cake and fruit with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Peter Reinhart's Stollen from Artisan Breads Everyday.

It was delicious.

It is the same recipe as the panettone; just shape and bake without letting it rise.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

From Cook's Illustrated: The Best Skillet Recipes.

I served it over a bed of baby Arugula and topped it with a piece of fried Serrano ham.
Serves 4.  


Working with our skillet pasta method when developing our skillet macaroni and cheese recipe, we brought a mixture of water and evaporated milk to a simmer in a skillet, stirred in the macaroni, and cooked it until tender. Evaporated milk was key to making the sauce silky smooth. To make a quick sauce for our macaroni and cheese recipe we mixed an additional amount of evaporated milk with cornstarch to thicken it, and for flavor we added dry mustard and hot sauce. As for the cheese, we got the best results from equal parts cheddar, for flavor, and Monterey Jack, for meltability.
You can substitute small shells (about 3 1/2 cups) for the macaroni.


  • 3 1/2cups water , plus extra as needed
  • 1(12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 12ounces (about 3 cups) elbow macaroni (see note)
  • Salt
  • 1teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4teaspoon hot sauce
  • 6ounces cheddar cheese , shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 6ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Ground black pepper


  1. 1. Bring 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, 9 to 12 minutes.
  2. 2. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk, the cornstarch, mustard, and hot sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into the skillet. Continue to simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  3. 3. Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack, one handful at a time, adding water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (I needed almost an extra cup of water for the shells). Stir in the butter, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Wild Mushroom Soup with Arugula and Crispy Serrano Ham

By Bobby Flay


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (portobello, cremini, shiitake, oyster, porcini), wiped clean and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 6 cups homemade Rich Chicken Stock, recipe follows, or low sodium canned chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon porcini powder (make by grinding porcini mushrooms to a fine powder)
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 8 slices serrano ham
  • 1/4 pound wild or regular arugula
  • White truffle oil, for drizzling

  • Rich Chicken Stock:
  • 4 pounds chicken bones, chopped
  • 3 large Spanish onions, quartered (skin left on)
  • 1/2 head celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup whole peppercorns
  • Small bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems only
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme

  • DIRECTIONS for Soup

    Heat 3 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot over high heat. Add the wild mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are golden brown and their liquid has evaporated, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl.

    Heat 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the cremini mushrooms and cook until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock and porcini powder and cook for 20 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Strain the stock through a strainer into the stockpot that you sauteed the wild mushrooms in and discard the onion and mushrooms.

    Cook stock over medium heat until thickened slightly and then stir in the sauteed wild mushrooms and cook for 15 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

    While the soup is cooking, heat the canola oil in a high sided saute pan over high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Carefully add the ham, in batches, and cook until crispy, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.Ladle the soup into bowls, add a handful of arugula, top with a slice of the crispy ham, and drizzle with a teaspoon of white truffle oil.

    DIRECTIONS for stock

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

    Combine chicken bones, onions, celery, and carrots in a large roasting pan; toss with oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast until the bones and vegetables are a rich golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

    Transfer the bones and vegetables to a large stockpot, add 12 cups cold water, and the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 4 hours, skimming the scum that rises to the top with a ladle every 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a mesh strainer into a clean pot. Place back on the stove over high heat and cook until reduced by half. Use immediately or let cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

    Yield: about 6 cups 

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Cheesecake Anne

This light, crustless cheesecake is a favorite of the home economists who develop and perfect recipes for Sunset Magazine. It is excellent with strawberries and other fresh fruit.

Cheesecake Anne

3  (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
6  eggs, separated
1  cup sugar
2  tablespoons flour
1  cup sour cream
1  teaspoon lemon juice
1  teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese with egg yolks until smooth.  Beat in sugar, flour, sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla.  Whip egg whites until they hold short peaks.  Fold into cheese mixture.

Pour batter into a parchment lined (bottom and sides) 9 or 10-inch springform pan with high sides. 

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until center no longer seems soft.  Cool, then refrigerate.

Before serving, remove pan sides.

NB: tried this in a convection oven and wasn't happy with the results (tasted great but didn't look so hot).

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