Archive for June, 2008

Difficulty: Easy

 Fruit is at it’s peak, especially stone fruits and yummy succulent pineapple. Why not throw some on the grill-doesn’t even have to be outdoors, use the Foreman or your grill pan. This was a satisfying and light dessert on a hot summer evening. I actually used my Foreman grill to caramelize the natural sugars in the fruit, layered plain yogurt with honey and sprinkled the whole shebang with some cinnamon and popped it in the fridge for a nice chill. Absolutely simple and delicious. Greek yogurt would be absolutely lovely since it is sooo thick and creamy. Try it and find it at Sprouts or Trader Joe’s or the like.

Pineapple, cut into thick rings
Nectarines or Peaches (or any stone fruit you like!), halved and pit removed
Good quality plain yogurt

Directions: Grill fruit for 3-4 minutes or until juices are just beginning to flow and flesh has grill marks. Set aside to cool and cut fruit into chunks. You may wish to remove the skin of the peaches, it can easily be scooped out with a spoon. Layer honey, yogurt and fruit in decorative glasses or bowls, repeat as desired, drizzle with more honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.


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Chocolate Decadence

Difficulty: Hard due to time and skill level

This sumptuous chocolate concoction is the ultimate chocolate-lover’s dream cake-actually much closer to a baked chocolate truffle than to a cake. It can be stored in the fridge for weeks or in the freezer for months. The richness of this cake contrasts beautifully with a fresh fruit sauce and fresh whipped cream. Chocolate decadence must be cut when it is chilled but should be served at room temperature for a creamy smooth mouth feel, otherwise it can feel grainy if served cold.

This delightful indulgence comes from “The Professional Pastry Chef” book by Bo Friberg. Every recipe yields at least 2 of everything and is in weight. I have given you the “American” version-cups and teaspoons for those of you without a scale and this recipe will make 1 cake.

My father-in-law and I share a love of all things chocolate and not the pansy milk chocolate. Deep, dark, rich and true chocolate. So in honor of him and to celebrate Father’s Day I whipped out my monster book and hoped and prayed it would turn out. It did. Quite beautifully. I have a habit of making recipes for the first time when I am gifting the goods or having people over. It is nerve racking but ultimately turns out well. This one didn’t disappoint.

Melted butter
6 oz dark chocolate
7 oz unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks plus 3 TBS unsalted butter, at room temp

6 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Cocoa powder for dusting

Boiling hot water in kettle for water bath

Directions: Brush melted butter over the inside of 10-inch cake pan or 10-inch springform pan. Place parchment paper cut to fit in bottom and butter the paper. If using a springform pan, wrap the outside of the pan tightly with several layers of foil. Set aside.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. Bring the water and 3/4 cup sugar to a boil in medium saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chocolate; stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add the butter, in chunks and stir until melted. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Whip the eggs with the 1/2 cup sugar at high speed for about 3 minutes. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Do not whip to maximum volume; incorporating too much air will make the finished cake crumbly and difficult to work with. Very gently, fold the melted chocolate mixture in the the egg mixture. The chocolate may be warm but not hot.

Place batter into prepared pan. Place pan in a water bath.

Bake immediately at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until top feels firm. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. The chocolate must completely set before you unmold the cake.

Unmold the cake by briefly warming the outside bottom of the pan (moving it over a gas or electric burner just until the cake moves freely inside the pan) and invert it onto serving platter. I used a springform pan and removed the sides, carefully slid a butter knife under the bottom to separate and then inverted onto cake stand. Dust top with cocoa powder, cut into slices while still cold and serve at room temperature with whipped cream and a fresh berry sauce. 

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Fresh Fruit Tart

Difficulty: Easy!

Another delight adapted from Cook’s Country. This was one of our Father’s Day desserts. Yes, one of them. The other will be shared soon. This tasty treat uses 3 main ingredients: Puff pastry, cream cheese and fresh fruit. Berries are in their prime so take advantage of summer’s bounty and this easy delicious dessert. It is fresh and light but will still satisfy your sweet tooth.
Note: For the strawberry jelly make sure you get the smooth jelly, no preserves of chunks of strawberries. Any ripe fruit may be used-alone or in combination, just change your jelly accordingly.

Serves 4-6

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed overnight in refrigerator
2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 TBS sour cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 TBS strawberry jelly
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups fresh berries

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold thawed pastry onto baking sheet and follow the following pictures.

1. Brush a 1/2-inch border along the edges of the pastry with water. Fold the long edges of the pastry over by 1/2 inch, then fold the short edges over by 1/2 inch.

2. Working lengthwise, lightly score the outer edge of all folded edges of the tart shell with a paring knife.

3. To prevent the center of the tart from puffing up in the oven, poke the dough repeatedly with a fork.

Combine cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over inside of tart shell. Bake until golden brown about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool at least 1 hour. While crust is baking, stir softened cream cheese, 2 TBS jelly and vanilla until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Spread cream cheese mixture over inside of cooled tart shell. Place remaining jelly in large bowl and microwave until jelly melts, about 30 seconds. Add berries to bowl and toss gently until berries are coated with jelly. Spoon berries over cream cheese mixture and refrigerate until jelly is set, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes and serve. Leftovers will keep for 1 day.

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The Ultimate French Toast

Difficulty: Moderate due to a few extra steps that are soooo worth it!

Want to make the best french toast ever? My husband considers himself to turn out a mean toast, well, I kicked his trash with this recipe. As soon as he cut into it’s crispy outer crust and bit into the creamy center he declared it the best french toast ever. And it is. And you will never think of french toast the same way again. This requires a few more steps than the usual dip and griddle. A good weekend breakfast or special occasion meal.

It gets it crisp outer shell from sizzling in the oven with a bit of oil and has a caramelized, golden exterior thanks to a mixture of brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon sprinkled on top. Heaven! The cooking method is from Cooks Country and I adapted the ingredients to suit our fancy. We love sourdough bread and I find it cuts down the sweetness of this recipe so your teeth aren’t aching.

Serves 4 (2 slices each)

8 slices good quality, thick sour dough bread or white bread
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 TBS vanilla
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake bread on rimmed baking sheet until dry, about 8 minutes per side. Let cool 5 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees.

Whisk eggs, buttermilk, milk, and vanilla until combined. Soak bread slices until just saturated but not soggy, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to wire rack and let drop off excess and repeat with remaining bread.

Pour oil onto rimmed baking sheet, turning sheet to coat. Transfer to oven and heat for 4 minutes. Using fork, combine brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon in small bowl until it resembles wet sand.

Arrange soaked bread on hot baking sheet and bake until golden brown on first side, about 10 minutes. Flip bread and sprinkle evenly with sugar mixture. (Pinch off pea-sized bits) Cook until sugar is deep brown and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Cool toast on wire rack for 2 minutes and serve immediately.

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Salsa Verde

Difficulty: Easy

This salsa is sooo good. Sweet with a spicy background. Incredibly easy to make. You can make it as sweet and hot as you like just adjust according to your personal tastes. I love the brightness of the fresh cilantro and do yourself a favor and use fresh lime, never bottled. Keep your citrus on the counter at room temperature for maximum juice.

Again, this was part of the salsa demo I did for an Enrichment activity for my ward. I learned that whole tomatillos are best, they taste fresher than their crushed counterparts. When shopping for ingredients I needed lots of tomatillos and the store only had a #10 can of crushed, I grabbed a smaller can of whole tomatillos for me to test it out at home. Incredible difference! The crushed has added starch and has been cooked down so much it takes away the fresh loose texture of the whole ones. If you have to use crushed in a pinch it is fine, no one will ever know because they don’t have anything to compare to. You would use about 2 cups of crushed tomatillos or 1 28 oz. can and up the onion to 1/2 and make sure you taste before serving, I found that the crushed needed more fresh ingredients to combat the cooked flavor. Or just stick with whole canned tomatillos to spare you any grief, then no adjustments are necessary, just follow the recipe.

1 28 oz. can whole tomatillos, drained, ½ cup juice reserved
1/4 to 1/3 bunch fresh cilantro
¼ cup canned jalapeños or 1 fresh jalapeno, stemmed and seeded according to taste
4 TBS sugar
3 cloves garlic
1/4 white onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
from 1/2 fresh lime

Directions: In bowl of a food processor, pulse onions and garlic until combined, about 5 pulses. Add tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro, sugar and salt. Pulse until smooth; add reserved tomatillo juice and fresh lime. Pulse one more time and serve. Refrigerate leftovers, makes about 2 cups and will keep about 1 week.


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Difficulty: Easy (More time needed to roast veggies)

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Last night I did a salsa demo for my ward. This recipe is so good and easy to make. You do need about 25 minutes to roast the veggies but after that is it smooth sailing with your food processor. In preparation for my evening I roasted the tomatoes and such the night before and let them hang out in the fridge, they released some wonderful juices and I did not need to add any water to the salsa to thin it out.

With salsa everything is according to taste. Don’t like it hot? Take out the seeds and ribs of the jalapeño but be careful! The oil from the chile gets on your hands and you are burning for a good 4 hours or so. Wash your hands well, do not touch your face or eyes or just use latex gloves, saves you every time!

Adapted from Rick Bayless

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 10 medium), preferably plum
1 medium-large fresh jalapeño chile (1 to 1 1/2 ounces), stemmed
Half of a white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 TBS oil
1/4 cup water, as needed (none if your tomatoes have rested overnight and released oodles of juice)
1/3 bunch fresh cilantro
1 generous teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Juice from 1/2 fresh lime

1. Heat the broiler. Lay the whole tomatoes and jalapeños out on a broiler pan or baking sheet. Set the pan 4 inches below the broiler and broil for about 6 minutes, until darkly roasted — even blackened in spots — on one side (the tomato skins will split and curl in places). With a pair of tongs, flip over the tomatoes and chiles and roast the other side for another 6 minutes or so. The goal is not simply to char the tomatoes and chiles, but to cook them through while developing nice, roasty flavors. Set aside to cool.

(In the pic below, I was roasting for all 4 recipes I was making, so don’t freak out about how many tomatoes and onions there are!)

2. Turn the oven down to 425 degrees. Separate the onions into rings. On a similar pan or baking sheet, combine the onion, oil and garlic. Roast in the oven, stirring carefully every couple of minutes, until the onions are beautifully browned and wilted (even have a touch of char on some of the edges) and the garlic is soft and browned in spots, about 15 minutes total. Cool to room temperature.

3. In a food processor, pulse the jalapeños (no need to peel or seed them) with the onion and garlic until moderately finely chopped, scraping everything down with a spatula as needed to keep it all moving around. Scoop into a big bowl. Without washing the processor, coarsely puree the tomatoes — with all that juice that has accumulated around them — and add the onion mixture back to the food processor bowl. Stir in enough water to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency if needed. Add cilantro leaves, salt, vinegar and lime juice, pulse until cilantro is chopped and ingredients combined.

4. Taste and adjust accordingly if needed. If you’re planning to use your salsa right away, simply pour it into a bowl and its ready, or refrigerate it covered and use within 5 days.

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Shrimp Kabobs

Difficulty: Easy

I was so excited for this dinner, all of my favorite things: Sweet juicy pineapple, red onion, crisp tender red pepper and succulent shrimp all with the smoky grill flavor and a fabulous easy marinade throughout. This makes enough for 4 kabobs, serve with Jasmine, Basmati, brown or white rice. You may leave the tails on the srimp or off, when I peeled mine, some came all the way off and others just peeled right up to the tail, don’t waste any meat!

1 pound jumbo raw shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined
1/4 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
1/4 large red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
S & P

1 cup dried rice of your choice
Green onions, minced

1/2 cup soy sauce
1 TBS Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions: Fire up the grill! Whisk together marinade ingredients in medium bowl, reserve 1/4 cup and set aside. Place shrimp in marinade while you prepare the other ingredients. Cook rice according to package directions and set aside, season with salt and pepper and toss with green onions.

Thread bell pepper, pieces of red onion, pineapple and shrimp onto metal skewers. Repeat 3-4 times, you should have 3-4 shrimp per skewer, end with a bell pepper piece to keep everything in place. Season with salt and pepper.

Place kabobs onto grill and brush with reserved marinade. Cook 3-5 minutes per side or until shrimp are pink and have curled brushing each side with marinade as you turn them. Serve immediately with rice. If you have remaining marinade you can drizzle it over the rice. Delish!

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