Wednesday, July 30, 2008

FILBERT AND THE DARING BAKER DAY


Mele Cotte chose this wonderful cake for the Daring Bakers challenge of the month. My family loves hazelnuts (aka filberts) and we also love cakes that are not too sweet. It is definitely a classic European Cake. Make sure you check out DB Blogroll to see all the beautiful cakes out there.

I so enjoyed making this cake. I waited until there was a cooler day. I made the cake and froze it. I also made the praline. Then on the day we were going to eat I took it out and assembled the rest. It was a breeze to pull together. I think the part that always gets me the most nervous is the cake. I am always afraid of it sticking or not rising or the many other variables that can happen to a cake.

FILBERT GATEAU with PRALINE BUTTERCREAM
Carole Walter, GREAT CAKES

Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

**Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

TODAY I WAS A COPYCAT; Cassata Siciliano

That Tartelette is always posting such amazingly beautiful photos. I am always saying, oh yeah, I am going to make that. Then I never do. She is so very inspirational! Now this Cassata Cake when I saw it, screamed to me. We were expecting company this weekend and I said, "WOW! I have to make that". My husband tells me that this was his very favorite kind of cake growing up. I knew when I saw it, it would be making an appearance at my house.

Of course, Tartelette can never be duplicated because her great skill set and beautiful personality, but I was going to be able to taste this cake nonetheless. I did make a few changes. One, I did not add pistachios because I wanted just creaminess, no crunch. I added orange zest to the cake and almond extract to the cannoli cream (just a touch 1/4 teaspoon). The cake received RAVE reviews. I sent the remainder over to my neighbors and they loved it. Great recipe, I must check out the book.

Cassata Sicilian
Printable recipe here.
makes one 9-inch cake, 10 servings

Sponge Cake Layers
2 cups bleached cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
8 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Rum Soaking Syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup rum

Cannoli Cream Filling

3/4 cup cornstarch
4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup shaved chocolate
3 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup toasted almonds, toasted
1/2 tsp orange zest

In a saucepan, slowly whisk 1 cup of the milk into the cornstarch. Whisk until smooth. Let sit about 20 minutes.Add the remaining milk and sugar to the milk-starch and stir over a low heat. Continue stirring until it is thick and smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in the almond and vanilla extracts. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the filling to avoid "skin" and allow to cool to room temperature. Add the ricotta cheese, cinnamon, shaved chocolate, almonds, and orange zest to the the cornstarch.

Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting

2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin dissolved in 3 Tb. cold water

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the center. Lightly grease two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans with butter or nonstick cooking spray, line them with parchment paper, then grease the parchment.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium speed until very light and pale yellow in color and doubled in volume. Beat in the vanilla extract, followed by the melted butter. Transfer the egg mixture to a large, clean mixing bowl. Fold in the dry ingredient-quickly and lightly, stopping just before they are fully incorporated. Clean the whisk attachment and mixing bowl.
Place the egg whites and the pinch of salt in the cleaned bowl of the electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment on medium-high speed, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter quickly and lightly, incorporate any streaks of dry ingredients that remain.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans, rap the pans against the counter top to eliminate air bubbles. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until they are golden brown, a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cakes have begun to pull away from the sides of the pan. Allow the cakes to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then carefully unmold and set them out to cool on a a wire rack.

While the cakes are cooling, prepare the rum syrup: In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, water, and rum. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the contents to a boil. Lower the heat and allow the syrup to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

Assembling the cake: Have ready a 9-inch springform pan. Using a serrated knife, carefully split each cake layer in half horizontally to make four layers. Place one of the layers in the bottom of the pan and, using a pastry brush, moisten it generously and evenly with some of the rum syrup. Spread the cake layer evenly with one third of the ricotta mixture. Repeat twice with another cake layer, more of the rum syrup, and another third of the ricotta mixture. Place the final cake layer on top and generously brush with the rum syrup. Wrap the springform pan tightly in plastic wrap; this helps the layers fit snugly on top of each other. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Whipped Cream Frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks. Meanwhile, heat the water in the microwave until warm. Sprinkle the gelatin over top. Let cool. Slowly pour the gelatin in one steady stream over the whipped cream and continue to whip until firm.

Decorate your cake with the whipped cream and return the cake to the refrigerator to chill until you are ready to serve it, at least 3 hours.

Friday, July 25, 2008

RECIPES TO RIVAL

I never would have tried this recipe that Belita of Culinary Adventures, one of our lovely Recipes to Rival Chefs picked out. Mainly because of the Hollandaise Sauce. I have never made it before and this was certainly an opportunity to stretch my skills. You know, it was quick, easy and painless. Oh and definitely tastey. I loved the final product, the way everything came together. The flavors melded together to make one delicious dish. I had made this recipe for one of my Sunday dinners. Everyone agreed that it was a keeper.


THANK GEORGE'S BANK FISH CAKES recipe

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PUCKER UP

I went picking raspberries with my friend the other day. The vines were loaded with huge raspberries. Wow I couldnt believe how big they are. Of course they are kind of expensive compared to other berries, at least in this area. But for me they are well worth it. I wanted to make some fresh, homemade raspberry jam. I figured the cost of each jar of jam, including the pectin and the lids was about 1.66... not bad. While we were there I saw they had currants. I had never had currants before so I thought I'd pick a basket and make something with it. I found this recipe on Food Network for Semolina Pudding with Currant Sauce. Sweet pudding with a sour sauce... delicious.

Monday, July 21, 2008

SPICY ORANGE HUMMUS


That Ivonne over at Cream Puffs in Venice is quite the idea Queen. Of course she is the founder of Daring Bakers but she also has been doing these Magazine Mondays for quite some time. She has had a lot of interesting and yummy dishes as a result. I have been wanting to join her for quite some time. So this Monday, I finally did. You may see the date on this one and think wow, she has a lot of old magazines laying around. Actually I clip the ones that sound interesting and recycle the rest of the magazine. These clippings make their way, eventually, to binders. I enjoy cutting and pasting into pages. Kind of a recipe scrap book of sorts. It's relaxing. You know your world really changes when you have children. Things like this become fun for you. (Or maybe it is just me).

This wonderful Spicy Orange Hummus (click on spicy orange hummus for the recipe) is from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 1996. It is a change from the normal hummus and uses a little less fat then the original. So make some pita and enjoy this lovely recipe.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

NICE in my KITCHEN


Okay so maybe they aren't exactly like the Socca you would find in Nice but hey I am a Polish Italian American who has never been to France. I would love to travel to France and try some there. I took one year of French in high school and absolutely loved it. My mother strongly discouraged me from taking more years of it. Why you ask? She felt French was just not really spoken in the North East, save for Canada, Montreal, Quebec). She thought I should take Spanish or Italian. I listened to her advice and took Italian. I just wasnt into it. I did not continue and poor Genevieve never learned a language : ( Genevieve was my French name, oh I just loved how it sounded, the French way. So pretty. That's the thing about the French language, it's beautiful. And so are their pastries, wine and cheese.

I found out about socca in Patricia Wells book, The Paris Cookbook. I also read about socca on David Lebovitz blog. Both the book and the blog are very good reads. The recipe I made was kind of a combination of what I read and my own ideas. The family enjoyed it, so I guess I can call it a hit and well worth making again.

Socca
(based on Patricia Wells, The Paris Cookbook)

2 cups chickpea flour (available at health food stores and Indian markets)
2 cups water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Whisk one cup of water with chickpea flour and slowly add remainder of the water in to avoid lumps. Stir in olive oil, salt and garlic powder. The batter should be the consistency of crepe batter.

Ladle mixture onto hot greased griddle and heat until socca is a nice golden color, flip and heat other side the same way.

Sprinkle with additional salt if desired. A great snack or accompaniment to almost any meal.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

MARTHA and ME


I love Martha. Previously , not so much, now, I do. Ever since her jail term, I like her. She became real to me I guess. I think she took the jail experience well and I admire the fact that she has spunk to bounce back from such an event. Does it matter whether she was guilty or not? Naw. Thats between her and her maker. I am willing to bet that if she was guilty she was just the fall person because I am quite sure insider trading happens all the time. Anyway, that's old news. And this dish, well this is some good news on a plate. Lots of nutrition, low in fat and high in fiber.

For Martha's Version, you can check it out here at What Did You Eat blog!

Here is what I did. I am allergic to scallops so I switched to shrimp.

SHRIMP with EDAMAME SALAD and PUREE

Puree:
2 1/2 cups edamame
juice of 1 1/2 limes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 garlic cloves 1 T garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup mint
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Salad:
1/2 cup edamame
juice of half of a lime
1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

Shrimp:

1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined

Make the puree. Place garlic in food processor first, pulse until it is minced up. Add the remainder of ingredients and process until a nice puree is formed. Set aside.

Make the salad:

Combine chopped red pepper, soy beans, black sesame seeds, salt and lime juice. Set aside.

Make the shrimp:

Prepare shrimp. You can grill it or fry it in butter. You can even boil it. Use whatever method you prefer.

To plate:

Place puree in a circle. Lay shrimp on top. Finally place soy salad on top.

Bon Appetito

Friday, July 11, 2008

STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES

I was checking out Serious Eats when I saw this recipe for strawberry cupcakes. The recipe sounded really good and the book sounded like something I would like. I went to the library and borrowed, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, by Martha Hall Foose . I bookmarked all of the recipes that I wanted to try and lo and behold discovered I liked nearly the whole book. This is when I know I must own the book. I highly recommend it folks.

I made a few changes to the recipe because I either didnt have it or felt it would work better for me and my taste. So here is the recipe with my adaptations in red.

Ponchatoula Strawberry Cupcakes

- makes 24 cupcakes -
Adapted from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose.

Ingredients

For the cake:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract , 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed fresh or frozen strawberries
1 teaspoon grated orange zest, 1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the frosting:
1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen strawberries
2 tablespoons strawberry jam, 2 tablespoon black raspberry jam
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, 1 stick butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted or more until it is stiff.

Procedure

1. Make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line with foil baking cups.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. In another medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, and almond and vanilla extracts; set aside.

4. In an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture. Beat for 1 minute at medium speed.

5. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in the strawberries and the orange zest. Spoon into the prepared muffin tins, filling them two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or when cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold the cupcakes and cool on racks.

6. Make the frosting. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the strawberries, jam, and lemon juice. Cook and stir for 5 minutes, or until the jam is melted and the strawberries are soft. Press any big pieces with the back of a spoon to mash.

7. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy. At low speed, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until combined. Add the strawberries and mix at low speed until blended.

8. When the cupcakes are completely cool, spread with the frosting.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Toast To The Past


This brings back my days in Arizona, sitting by the pool on a Friday night with my friend S. Talking about men and fashion. You know the important things in life. We drank way too many strawberry daiquiris. They were usually smothered in whipped cream as well. Something about the milk element really kicks it up. So there I was eyeing my strawberries and I thought what the heck I don't really drink that much. I might as well make my husband and myself one and enjoy the fresh strawberries in a more spirited way ; ) So glad I did, it was a nice blast from the past and it went down super easy. Always a bonus to enjoy these with some chips and pico de gallo.

Two Big Strawberry Daiquiris

3-4 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
4 oz rum
1/2 cup milk (whatever you have, the more fat it has the tastier it is)
some ice

Blend. Pour. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

GREENS CAN'T BE BEET



No, I did not spell that wrong. Beet greens have lots of nutrition for you. Well, any greens do really. Beet greens are high in Vitamin A and they also have more than half of the daily recommendations for Vitamin C. So don't throw away those beet greens. Cook them up in borscht or just saute them with some olive oil and garlic.


Taste the yummy flavor when you mix lentils, feta, green onions and this wonderful dressing.

Lentil Salad Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 teaspoon cumin
s an p to taste

Thursday, July 3, 2008

SQUASH BLOSSOM DELIGHT

(Kind of looks like a Degal painting). Have you ever noticed the way you gravitate toward the dishes of your youth as you get older? When you are younger you just don't see food like your parents do. It takes maturity to appreciate the finer things in life. Food is no exception.
Take these squash blossom fritters. I absolutely did not like them as a kid. Now here I am with a garden growing out back, calling my Mother, Mom how did you make those blossom fritters? I think we eat deep fried food one to two times per year. I would have to say that these are worth it. They arent big on flavor, they are quite delicate but its something about the texture that really takes you.

See how light they are with the blossom whole on the inside? YUM.

So if you are lucky enough to grab some at the farmers market or you have them in your garden, here's how you do it. There are two kinds of blossoms, male and female. The females are the ones with the zucchini or other type of squash growing out of them. The males are just the blossom. Leave the females alone, just pick the males (leave some behind in the garden). Unless the squash is a couple inches long then you can take the female. Once you have picked them, clean any bugs out of the flower and pluck the stamen out. You are now ready to use them. They do not keep for long so use them right away. If you need to store them for a couple hours, wrap them in paper towel and place in a plastic bag and refrigerate.

The Batter

1 cup ap flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup peccorino romano
1 egg
1/2 cup to 3/4 of a cup of water, beer or milk

Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. The batter should be the consistency of ketchup. Hold squash blossom at the bottom and dip into the batter, coating all over. Place in about an inch of hot oil. I use canola. Fry till a light golden color and turn over. Place on paper towel and salt lightly.

Bon appetito!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

THE OVER ACHIEVERS strike again

On to chocolate biscotti, Dorie Greenspan style. Let me say right up front I have made a whole lot of different kinds of biscotti in my time. I was going to sell it a few years ago. So I consider myself somewhat of a person in the know about biscotti. This recipe is my second favorite. Thats pretty good! My first favorite is William Sonoma orange pistachio biscotti. Oh, its good. However in a chocolate mood, Dorie's chocolate almond biscotti would switch to number one. They were incredibly good. I ate two, my kids ate two each and they were promptly shipped out of the house after that! They are on the list to be made again as we approach the holidays.

The only change I would make the next time is to toast the almonds before hand to bring out some more of their flavor. I know other DB'ers did changes to theirs but I liked them as is. However I do really like the toffee idea that Ivonne from Cream Puffs In Venice did.

CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI
Baking from My Home To Yours

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 TBSP instant espresso powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts, almonds
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Working together with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl , add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate, then turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead un any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into a 12 inch long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand, so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular, then carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.

Bake the logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack-and that’s fine. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put it on a cooling rack and cool the logs for about 20 minutes.(Leave oven on)
Working with one log at a time, using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Stand the slices up on the baking sheet-you’ll have an army of biscotti-and bake the cookies again, this time for just 10 minutes.

Transfer the biscotti to a rack to cool.

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