Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sunday in New York - Eataly

A few Sundays ago we took advantage of a beautiful day and ventured into NYC. I wanted to see an exhibit in the Guggenheim Museum and decided to walk the 30 blocks ( one way!) from where the free ferry bus dropped us. I didn't realize the only way to be able to ride the city bus was to have exact change of quarters with no other choice but to walk...walk we did!
The first stop to rest some weary feet was Central Park. So many families are out and about on Sunday, playing in the park, sailing their toy boats and having just a great time.

After seeing the exhibit of abstract art at the Guggenheim, next stop was Eataly.
If you've never been, it's a fabulous marketplace of artisinal Italian food and wine. Very upscale, meaning very pricey, but amazing. The place was extremely busy, it was Sunday after all, and I suggest if you ever want to go, pick a weekday for a less crowded market.

The breads , cheeses, pasta...everything looked delicious.
There are several areas to sit down and have a meal, even an upstairs.

Lots of different cookies, biscotti, chocolate and just about anything Italian you can think of.
The place is huge so be sure to wear comfortable shoes!

I can't wait to go back...with plenty of quarters for the bus ride!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Peach Pie..Deconstructed

I love Peach Pie but sometimes a whole pie is just too much! Plus with this idea, no chance for soggy crust bottoms!
Here's a great idea...a kind of deconstruction of a pie, using the same ingredients, just in a different way.

First make your favorite pie crust ( recipe below), or divide the dough into 4 pieces ( for tart shells).
Roll out the dough, dock it ( poke holes in the dough using a toothpick or a fork) and throw it into the refridgerator or freezer.

Then once it's thoroughly chilled, cut out your shapes, such as rounds or squares or free form it and bake it til it's golden brown.
You can then make a delicious filling, such as the mascarpone one I made or even easier, just top with whipped cream and then the sliced peaches...Easy and so good!

I love mascarpone and this filling recipe is quick, light and lemony and not too sweet.

Peach Pie...Deconstructed

Makes enough for 4 tartlette shells* or much more 4"rounds!

Pie Crust

6.3 ozs. AP flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
3.5 ozs. unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. ice water
1. In a small bowl, rub together lemon zest and sugar with your fingers til thoroughly moistened.
2. In a food processor or mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt.
3. Add the lemon zest/sugar mixture and blend.
4. Add the butter pieces all at once and pulse or combine with fingers, pastry cutter or fork til mixture resembles coarse meal.
5. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, mix the egg yolk, vanilla extract,  lemon juice and ice water together.
6. Drizzle the wet mixture over the dry til just combined.
7. Roll out the dough to approx. 1/8" thickness ( or divide into 4 pieces  for tart shells),   flouring if necessary as you roll.
8. Pop the dough into the fridge or freezer and when thoroughly chilled or frozen, preheat your oven to 375 and take the dough out and let it sit on the counter a few minutes, or til it's soft enough to cut into shapes.
* If making tartlettes, place the dough into the shells after rolling out, then freeze.*
   (If your oven isn't yet to temperature, place back in the fridge while waiting.)
Be sure to dock or poke your dough to prevent the dough from puffing up too much, allowing steam to escape.
9. Bake til golden brown, approx. 12 to 13 minutes, depending on your oven.
10. Cool before topping.

Mascarpone Filling:

Mix or whisk in a small bowl:
1/2 lb. ( 8 ozs.) mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Scoop filling onto cooled crust shapes ( or spoon into tart shells)  then top with:
Sliced peaches ( or any other fruit you like), and finish off with whipped cream or even sour cream is great! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring...time for Rhubarb!

Rhubarb will soon be popping up everywhere and I thought this would be a perfect time to revisit some of my rhubarb recipes...just to get you ready and set to bake with this amazing and beautiful veggie/fruit!

The first is this delicious rhubarb mini tart experiment I made that uses a prebaked crust for less crust sogginess!
This shortcake was so so good!

Then the rhubarb and strawberry muffins with a streusel of two rhubarb muffin recipes.

What to do with leftover scones? Make a custardy, light yummy rhubarb bread pudding.

And to wash it all about a cool refreshing rhubarb lemonade This lemonade is my favorite. It's a great combo of lemons and rhubarb with just the right amount of sweetness.

How about an unusual combo of tarragon and rhubarb from France's Food and Wine Magazine? Give these a try.

And about a rhubarb cookie? Sounds a bit crazy, but they make a great sandwich cookie...kind of like a rhubarb whoopie pie!

So, there are some great rhubarb ideas to get you started...Happy Baking and Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Coconut Cupcakes with Toasted Coconut Frosting

Our warmer Spring like weather here in the Northeast has everything blooming so much earlier..which is so nice! And it puts me in the mood for something baked with coconut, so I made these cupcakes into jumbo sizes rather than the standard size, which I tend to do a lot.  Definitely a taste of Spring in every bite!

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart and the only change I made was to add a bit of coconut extract to the batter to up the coconut flavor. I also decided that the frosting recipe probably was going to make too much so I not just halved it this time, but I made one fourth of the amount and it was perfect. But keep in mind that we don't like lots of frosting on our cupcakes so you may want to make the full amount.

Coconut Cupcakes with Toasted Coconut Frosting ( adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes 12-14 standard size cupcakes or 6-7 jumbo cupcakes

1 3/4 cup (8.0 ozs.) AP flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter-room temp.
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. coconut extract ( my addition)
2 large eggs plus 2 egg whites- room temp.
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
Preheat oven to 350. Fill muffin pans with paper liners.
1. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
2. Place the shredded coconut into a food processor and pulse til finely ground, then whisk into the dry ingredients.
3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar til pale and fluffy on medium high speed.
4. Gradually beat in whole eggs, egg whites, vanilla and coconut extracts, scraping bowl occasionally.
5. On low speed, add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with coconut milk, beating after each addition, til well combined.
6. Scoop batter into muffin liners, filling about 3/4 full.
7. Bake approx. 20 minutes, or til tester comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Note: I thought this amount of frosting makes a lot so I actually made one fourth but I think if you halve the amounts you'd have enough, but giving you the full recipe and let you decide.
 2 sticks unsalted butter-room temp.
1-2 tsp. coconut extract
approx. 32 ozs. confectioners' sugar
3-4 tbsp. cream or milk or coconut milk
1. Cream butter, then beat in sugar and extract.
2. Add milk til the frosting reaches desired consistency. If too thin, add more milk, if too thick add more sugar.
Sprinkle the tops with toasted coconut flakes or chips. Enjoy!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Whiskey Cake

I had a request to make something for one of my customers for a few St Patrick Day's parties they would be going to this weekend so after we agreed on Irish Soda Bread , I researched online for another idea...and that's when I came across an Irish Whiskey Cake.

I checked out a few different recipes and decided on one called Grandmother Monahan's. It is the same as a few others I found so I'm guessing someone just wanted to make it more Irish with that name, but call it after whomever you wish, this is one delicious and boozy cake!

I used the real thing, Jameson's Irish Whiskey, which is available at every liquor store in these parts.

One step you'll need to do the day before is to soak the raisins in the Irish Whiskey with the lemon zest so there's a little prep to do. Other than that, this is really a very simple cake to make and your guests will love it. It is a nice dense yet moist cake and the whiskey glaze is definitely gilding the lily!

I made this cake for us first to be sure it was a keeper of a recipe...which it is...and the first step should be to beat the egg whites til stiff. Unlike what I did, I suggest you beat them with a hand held beater in a large bowl to keep the standing mixer bowl free.

Once the batter is mixed together, add in a scoop of the beaten whites and stir by hand to lighten the batter, then fold in the remaining beaten whites gently.

Scoop the batter into a parchment lined tube pan and spread the top to even it out.

It gets a nice browned top but only rises about halfway up.
Let it cool about 20 minutes in the pan, then lift out and place on a wire rack and poke holes into the top and brush with..what else..more whiskey!  After it cools completely, then drizzle on the glaze.

Irish Whiskey Cake ( adapted from allrecipes)

1 1/2 cups golden and  dark raisins combined (the original recipe calls for 2 cups but I think this is too much)
3 tbsp. lemon zest
1/4 to 1/2 cup Irish whiskey
12 tbsp. (6 ozs.) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar (I used light brown)
3 eggs, separated, room temp.
1 1/2 cups (6.8 ozs.) AP flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups confectioners' sugar
Juice of one lemon
Enough whiskey and a little warm water to make the correct consistency.
*Note: This is the original recipe amount for the ingredients for the glaze but I halved the amounts above and it made plenty of glaze.
The day before: Place the raisins and lemon zest in a shallow bowl and pour the 1/4 to 1/2 cup of whiskey ( depending on how strong you want it) over the raisins and zest and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.
The next day:
1.  Preheat oven to 350. Line a tube pan with parchment paper by cutting a square piece large enough to fit down into the tube pan, cutting out a circle for the center of the pan. Press the folds as best you can to make the parchment stay in place.
2. Beat the egg whites til stiff. Set aside a minute.
3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar til light and fluffy.
4. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, cloves and baking powder.
5. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork or whisk.
6. Gradually add the egg yolks to the butter mixture, alternating with the flour and raisin/whiskey mixture.
    Mix well but don't overmix.
7. Add a few scoops of the beaten egg whites to the batter to lighten it up a little, then fold in the remaining beaten whites gently.
8. Scoop the batter into the pan and using an offset spatula, even the top.
9. Bake til cake is nicely browned on top and a tester comes out clean.
10. Cool the cake in the pan about 20 minutes, then lift out and place on a rack. Poke holes in the top with a toothpick and brush a little more whiskey over the top.
Cool completely before drizzling on the glaze.
*To store:I found this cake kept well for several days in a covered tin.
To make the glaze:  
Combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice, then add the whiskey and warm water, a little at a time til you get a nice smooth glaze consistency. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day! Well, I bet you would have thought I'd make a sweet pie rather than a savory one...but Chicken Pot Pie can be so delicious and this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa is just a great one.
The crust is light and flaky and the filling is rich and creamy...real comfort food!

I decided to have some fun decorating the crust so I cut out the "Pi" symbols with the left over dough and cut out the word "Pi".  It actually turned out so cute that we hated to dig in to it...but dig in we did and we managed to finish the entire pie.

I have to mention a few notes. I did halve the original recipe and still wound up with about one cup of filling left over and I even omitted the whole small onions. I used leftover chicken I had from the night before. Also, Ina's recipe was for 4 individual pies and I made one big one, using a glass pie dish.

So, here's hoping you have a great "Pi" Day! ( And Happy Birthday Einstein!)

This crust is really easy to make and so delicious...light and flaky. See those tiny bits of butter in the dough? That's what makes a great crust.

I almost left the pie like this...then I got the brilliant idea to add the "Pi" symbols.

Comfort food at its best.

If you're going to make a pie about this one!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cranberry Streusel Pound Cake

I'm continuing to make my way through all the Fine Cooking back issues, given to me by a generous customer last summer. There are so many great recipes and this wonderful quick pound cake recipe is no exception.

It is moist and full of orange flavor from the orange zest and extra boost I gave it with a little extract. I switched out the walnuts for pecans because I love the combo of pecans, dried cranberries and orange. I left out the glaze for the top on mine but I'll give you the recipe for it. I think it would have been "over the top" with sweetness.

A perfect snack cake...anytime!

Beat your butter and sugar and throw in the orange zest.

Once all the ingredients are combined, stir in the dried cranberries.

Spoon half the batter into your prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the pecan streusel over it. Then spoon the remainder of the batter over this.

Cranberry Streusel Pound Cake ( adapted from "Fine Cooking" Winter 2005 issue)
Makes one 8 1/2" loaf.

1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ozs.) unbleached AP flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup ( 1 stick or 4 ozs.) unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. orange extract (my addition to boost the orange flavor)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnut pieces (I used pecans), finely chopped
2 tbsp. light or dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. heavy cream ( or more as needed)
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325. Grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan with nonstick cooking apray or butter and dust with flour. Tap out the excess.
1. In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed 1 minute, then gradually add in the sugar, beating til slightly fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl well.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
4. Beat in the orange zest and vanilla.
5. With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding in the buttermilk and flour mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
6. Stir in the dried cranberries.
7. Spoon half the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread evenly.
8. Combine the streusel mixture together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the batter evenly.
9. Spoon the remaining batter over the streusel.
10. Bake til golden brown and tester comes out clean, about 1 hour or 10 to 15 minutes longer, depending on your oven. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes, then turn out of the pan and cool completely on rack.
In small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, cream and cinnamon with a spoon til there are no lumps.
The glaze should drizzle in a thin line. Add in a little more cream if the consistency is not yet thin enough.
Drizzle glaze over cake and allow to set at least 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Sorry...a little late for Valentine's Day! But it doesn't have to be a special day for anything chocolate. Right?

I made these for that certain day so I thought I'd share the recipe with you. These cupcakes are chocolatey and so delicious and with the espresso...yum!  I threw in a handful of mini chocolate chips, rather than the regular sized chips and I actually liked the smaller size better.
The frosting is made with sour cream, which I think helps cut down that overly sweet frosting taste.

The recipe is pretty straightforward to make and, as my usual way, I baked them jumbo size! Sometimes you just want a good sized cupcake and it's really even a little less than a slice of cake, too!

First you need to melt the chocolate over gently simmering water.

Once the chocolate has melted, set it aside to cooled slightly.
Next beat the butter and gradually beat in the sugar, followed by the eggs, vanilla and melted chocolate.
Add in the flour in stages, alternating with the espresso mixed with water.
Place the batter into your paper liners and bake 20 to 22 minutes.

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting ( from "Fine Cooking" magazine)
Makes 12 regular ( standard) size or 6 jumbo cupcakes

3 ozs. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup (4.5 ozs.) unbleached AP flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. table salt
1/2 cup (4 ozs. or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips)
2 ozs. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup sour cream (not low-fat)
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups (6 ozs.) confectioners' sugar
Milk, if necessary
Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin cups with paper liners.
1. Put the unsweetened chocolate into a bowl set over gently simmering water and stir occasionally til melted. Set aside to cool.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter 30 to 60 seconds or til smooth. With mixer running, gradually pour in the sugar, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times. Then beat in medium high til light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping the bowl after each addition.
5. Beat in the vanilla and melted chocolate til smooth and blended.
6. On low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 installments, alternating with the espresso in 2 additions.
7. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
8. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Don't smooth the batter.
9. Bake the cupcakes til they spring back when gently pressed in the center, 20 to 22 minutes.( a little longer if making jumbo cupcakes). Let them cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove and cool on a wire rack before frosting.
1. Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl over gently simmering water and stir til melted and smooth. Set aside to cool til barely warm.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, vanilla and salt.Gradually whisk in the confectioners' sugar til smooth.
3. Add the chocolate/butter mixture and beat it in with the whisk til smooth and creamy.
The frosting must be thick and spreadable. If too thick, thin it with a few droplets of milk. If too thin, chill it briefly, stirring occasionally, til adequately thickened.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana either love it or not! One of my kids wouldn't touch this cupcake, and the other loved it. I have to admit, there was a time when I didn't really care for banana anything. Just give me a straight banana, please, with a side of peanut butter! But, alas, all things change in time and I, too, have become a banana convert.

This simple old fashioned recipe was found in one of our local Bucks County magazines recently. It was a family recipe and I was taken by how quickly and easily it went together. Basically you just throw everything into the mixing bowl  and beat it together til it's easy is that? ( Wait...I stole that line from..?!)

The original recipe was to make a two layer cake but I made a few changes.  I chose to halve the recipe and make 6 jumbo cupcakes. I can see that it would make a great cake, though. And, to the frosting I added a little cinnamon to give it a tiny boost of flavor. One last addition, which I didn't use but would next time, would be to include some nuts. I think walnuts would be a welcome addition and give it that ever lovin' crunch that I'm always craving! But that's just me. You may not love walnuts and want to leave them out. That's up to you. That's the fun part about baking. Throw in what you love...leave out what you don't!

Place the dry ingredients into your mxing bowl and add the butter, buttermilk, mashed banana and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes.
Add the eggs and beat another 2 minutes, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl once or twice to be sure everything is well combined. If you're adding nuts, just stir them in now.
That's it!

Scoop the batter into cupcake liners, filling them equally.
Bake approx. 20 minutes or til tester comes out clean.

Let them cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting by just combining the ingredients in a small bowl and beating til it's all combined.

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 6 jumbo cupcakes or 12 regular size cupcakes
Note: To make this recipe for a two layer cake, double all of the ingredients below and pour the batter into 2 grease and floured 9" cake pans. Your baking times will be longer

1 1/4 cups ( 5.7 ozs.) AP flour
3/4 cups sugar
generous 1/2 tsp. baking powder
generous 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup ( 5 tbsp. plus 1 tsp.) softened butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup mashed bananas ( approx. 1 1/2 bananas)
1 large egg
Frosting, see below
Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350.

1. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Make sure it's all mixed thoroughly, then add the butter, buttermilk, vanilla and mashed bananas and mix on low to start out to combine, then increase speed to medium high and beat for 2 minutes.
2. Add the egg and continue to beat for an additional 2 minutes.
3. Scoop the batter into your prepared muffin liners.
4. Bake for approx. 20 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness.
5. Cool a few minutes in the pan, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.
4 ozs. cream cheese, room temp.
3 tbsp. softened butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
dash of cinnamon ( approx. 1/4 tsp.)
In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter til smooth. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice, then beat in the confectioners' sugar til it's a nice smooth consistency, adding more sugar if too thin. Decorate and enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dense Fudgy Brownies

In my world, there's always room for one more brownie recipe, especially a dense and fudgy one and this one is the fudgiest ever!

These are appropriately named "Luxury Brownies" and they are so luxurious, using the best dark chocolate you have, along with a good quality cocoa can you beat that? The original recipe calls for your choice of nuts, either one kind or an assortment but instead of nuts, I used  threw in a handful of Ghirarrdelli bittersweet chocolate chips, since no one in my family likes nuts in their brownies except me...and goodness knows I don't dare make them just the way I alone like them! That would be dangerous!

Just remember to cut very tiny squares for serving. They're that rich.

Luxury Brownies ( adapted from here)

7.1 oz. unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temp. and whisked
8.1 ozs. dark chocolate ( good quality), chopped into very small pieces.
4.9 ozs. AP flour
Scant 1/2 cup (1.4 ozs.) cocoa powder ( good quality, like Valhrona)
Pinch salt
Approx. 7 ozs. nuts of your choice (technically this comes to roughly 2 cups, depending on which nuts you choose, but I think one cup is more than enough)
You can use a combination of pistachio, walnut, hazelnut, pecans or just one kind that you like.
Butter and line with foil, an 8" x 8" pan. Preheat oven to 350.

1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, melt butter completely.
3. Add the sugar and stir til the sugar is dissolved.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the chocolate pieces and eggs together, making sure it's all well mixed.
5. Pour the piping hot butter/ sugar mixture into the chocolate/eggs mixture, mixing quickly and thoroughly. If there's still some chocolate not totally melted, just put the bowl over some gently simmering water and stir til it's all melted.
6. Scoop spoonfuls of the flour/cocoa powder into the mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula just til no traces of flour can be seen.
7. Gently stir in the nuts (leave some out to decorate the top, if you want it to look pretty!) or add the chocolate chips, if going that route.
8.Pour the batter into your prepared pan and decorated the top with your nuts, if using.
9. Bake 18 to 22 minutes.
The brownies are cooked when the edges are slightly dry, the top is shiny and has cracked. The center of the brownie should not be wobbly when shaken. Important! The toothpick method of testing does not work on this fudgy brownie!
Let the brownies cool completely before cutting...or better yet, wait til the next day to cut. These brownies get better with each passing day! Remember to cut very small squares...they're that rich. Enjoy! And please, if you make them,  let me know what you think, which nuts you prefer...or if you used my handful of chocolate chips adaptation.


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