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Archive for March, 2008

Coconut Cake


Difficulty: Easy

This is the easiest, naughtiest cake ever. If you love coconut you have to try it!

1 yellow cake mix, not the pudding kind
Ingredients for cake mix

2/3 cup butter
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups sweetened coconut

1. Bake cake according to package directions.
2. While cake is baking, melt butter in medium saucepan. Add sugar and milk, stir to combine. Add vanilla and coconut.
3. When cake is done, remove from oven and poke holes all over cake with fork, you can get rough and make larger holes, not just little fork pricks here and there.
4. Pour coconut mixture over cake and spread out evenly, making sure liquid gets soaked up by cake. Place under broiler for a few minutes until coconut gets toasted and brown. Let cool and serve!

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Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger

I ♥ this recipe, I usually have all the ingredients on hand and can whip it up in a jiffy!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (16-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 pound whole-wheat fettuccine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Add roasted peppers and saute until heated through. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

2. Place mixture in the bowl of a food processor with stock and all but 2 tablespoons of the feta. Process until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

3. Toss pasta with sauce, adding pasta water by the tablespoon, if needed. Sauce should cling nicely to pasta. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide among pasta bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and remaining feta cheese.

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Difficulty: Easy

These cookies are so yummy, warm and spicy with just a hint of a bite and the orange pairs lovely with the ginger. The cookies above are not glazed yet.

Courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated

Makes about 22 cookies
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time so they develop the nice cracks as seen above. Remove the cookies from the oven when they still look slightly raw and under baked. They will puff and then crack as they approach doneness.

1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for dipping
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
12 TBS softened butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup molasses

Glaze
Zest of 1 orange, tangerine, etc.
2 TBS juice
3/4-1 cup powdered sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup sugar in bowl for dipping.

2. Whisk together flour, spices and salt in medium bowl and set aside.

3. In a standing mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown sugar and remaining 1/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add yolk and vanilla. Reduce to low and add molasses. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl and add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. Give dough final stir by hand. Dough will be soft.

4. Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between your hands, drop into sugar bowl and turn to coat. Place on baking sheet 2 inches apart.

5. Bake, one sheet at a time, reversing position of sheet halfway through baking to ensure even cooking. Bake until cookies have browned, still puffy and edges have begun to set, (will look raw between cracks and seem underdone, about 11 minutes depending on how big the dough balls are.

6. Cool on sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to wire cooling rack. Mix together glaze ingredients in small bowl, using soup spoon drizzle glaze over cookies, let dry 10-15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

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Chicken Salad

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients
1 rotisserie chicken, chopped
1 cup red grapes, halved
1/2 granny smith apple, chopped
1 celery stalk, diced
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup mayo
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
S & P to taste

Directions: Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Adjust seasonings as needed. Serve immediately or chill until ready. Serve with croissants, crusty rolls or with a salad.

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Lemon Meringue Tart

Difficulty: Hard

Sweet Pastry Crust:
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Lemon Curd:
6 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Meringue:
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

TIPS:
Always remove the zest first before halving and squeezing the lemon.
Thin, smooth skinned lemons at room temperature yield the most juice.
Thick, bumpy textured cold lemons give the maximum amount of zest. Use a fine strainer to remove the seeds and pulp from the juice.

Sweet Pastry Crust: In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside. Place the butter in your mixer and beat until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated. Don’t over mix or the butter will separate and lighten in color. Add flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Don’t overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.

Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm.

Have ready an 8 – 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 11 – 12 inch circle that is about 1/8 inch thick. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry. The pastry should be about an inch larger than pan.

When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll. Unroll onto top of tart pan. Never pull pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan).

Gently lay in pan and with a small floured piece of pastry, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan. Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry. With a thumb up movement, again press dough into pan. Roll rolling pin over top again to get rid of any extra pastry.

Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten in the flour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill tart pan with pie weights, rice or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is dry and lightly golden brown.

For Lemon Curd:
While the crust is baking make the Lemon Curd. In a medium saucepan over medium heat whisk together the 3/4 cup sugar, water and lemon juice until blended. Bring to a simmer. In medium bowl whisk together egg yolks, corn starch and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Gradually pour hot mixture into egg yolks stirring constantly until combined. Transfer back to saucepan and continue to cook over medium heat 1-2 minutes longer until mixture has thickend and reached 160 degrees F on a thermometer.

Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest. Immediately pour the lemon curd into the baked crust and smooth the top.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (177 degrees C). Bake the tart for about 10 minutes or until the lemon curd is firm but still a little wobbly in the center. Do not let it brown or burn.

For Meringue: In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

Using a spoon, place dollops of the meringue over the entire surface of the hot lemon curd, starting at the outside edge of the tart. (Make sure the meringue comes right up to the crust and there are no gaps between the crust and the lemon curd.) Then, with the back of your spoon, gently press down on the meringue to get rid of any air pockets and to make sure all the lemon curd is covered with the meringue. If desired, swirl the meringue making a few decorative peaks. Return the tart to the oven and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the meringue has nicely browned.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool, away from any drafts. When cool, serve or else cover and refrigerate.
Serves 6 – 8

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Aunt Elnora’s Peach Cobbler


Difficulty: Easy

For the Fruit Mixture
10 large ripe peaches, pitted, skinned and sliced
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, depending on peaches
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp lemon zest
Sprinkle of Nutmeg (1/8 tsp)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

For the Cobbler Topping
2 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten slightly
12 TBS butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine fruit, lemon juice, sugar and spices. Let sit while preparing cobbler topping to let fruit macerate.

3. Combine flour through salt and stir well. Add beaten eggs and cut dough with fork or pastry blender until dough is crumbly.

4. Place fruit in greased 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes until fruit is hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle cobbler topping evenly over fruit. Spoon melted butter over top and return to oven. Bake for 30-35 more minutes until top is golden brown and fruit is bubbly.

5. Remove and let cool for 20 mintes. Serve with good quality vanilla ice cream on top!

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Chocolate Walnut Fudge

Difficulty: Moderate
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
The quality of the chocolate used will affect the flavor and texture of the fudge. We prefer Ghirardelli semisweet and unsweetened chocolate in this recipe. Don’t be tempted to make this fudge without the walnuts; they are crucial to the texture. If you prefer, you can use toasted nuts in this recipe. Make sure to remove the fudge from the double boiler before the chocolate is fully melted. If the chocolate stays in the double boiler too long, there is the possibility of the chocolate separating and producing a greasy fudge. This fudge will change texture and become drier the longer it is stored. Store the fudge, tightly wrapped in plastic, in a cool place for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months. If frozen, allow ample time to let it reach room temperature before cutting.
Makes about 2 1/2 pounds
16 ounces semisweet chocolate , chopped fine
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1. Cut 12-inch length extra-wide heavy-duty aluminum foil; fold edges back to form 7 1/2-inch width. With folded sides facing down, fit foil securely into bottom and up sides of 8-inch-square baking pan, allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Toss chocolates, baking soda, and salt in medium heatproof bowl until baking soda is evenly distributed. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Set bowl over 4-quart saucepan containing 2 cups simmering water. Stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is almost fully melted and few small pieces remain, 2 to 4 minutes.
3. Remove bowl from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in walnuts. Transfer fudge to prepared pan and spread in even layer with spatula. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Remove fudge from pan using foil and cut into squares.
TO MAKE DOUBLE BATCH:Line 13 by 9-inch pan with two sheets of foil placed perpendicular to each other and double amounts of all ingredients. In step 2, use large heatproof bowl and Dutch oven containing 4 cups simmering water.

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