Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Individual Tiramisu Cups

Tonight we made individual Tiramisu cups!
Yummy coffee soaked ladyfingers topped with a Zabaglione mixture sprinkled with cocoa, and then finished off with fresh whipped cream and some chocolate curls. I'm not a real 'coffee person' but I enjoyed these quite a bit. My husband, who is, thought they were great.

Keeping them in the little plastic cups keeps them neat. The only thing I would do differently is to pipe out the whipped cream to make them prettier.

The Assembly Line

Ladyfingers soaked with coffee

Zabaglione with a sprinkle of cocoa on top

An individual Tiramisu finished off with some whipped cream and chocolate curls

Making the Ladyfingers for individual Tiramisu
Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Line Cupcake tin with Cupcake liners, or pipe them out in the shape of a circle on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I just used the cupcake tin with liners for mine.

4 eggs, separated
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
7/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Place egg whites in bowl and beat on high until soft peaks start to form. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy. In another bowl beat egg yolks and remaining sugar. Whip until thick and very pale in color.

Sift flour and baking powder together.

Fold half the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
Fold in flour, and then add the remaining egg whites.
Be gentle or you'll end up with flat tough ladyfingers

Fill the cupcake tin liners about 1/4 full. You'll end up with more batter than you need to do 12 individual tiramisu, but you could double the recipe for the Zabaglione and make more tiramisu ... or use the ladyfingers for another desert.

Bake for 8 minutes

While the ladyfingers are cooking make 2 cups of strong coffee, and let it cool

Take the ladyfingers out of the cupcake liners and put them in individual cups.
Soak them with the the cooled coffee, a little at a time. Add a little more until it stops absorbing. I used close to 2 tablespoons per ladyfinger - yours may vary.

For the Tiramisu Custard, sometimes called Zabaglione - but no raw eggs in this one!

6 egg yolks
3/4 Cup Sugar
2/3 Cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 pound Mascarpone cheese

In a saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in the milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil gently for one minute, and then allow to cool. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for one hour.

After cooling, combine the chilled custard mixture with the Mascarpone cheese and whip until smooth. I used my Kitchenaid mixer with the whisk attachment to do this.

Put the custard mixture on top of the soaked ladyfingers

The Final Finish

Whip up 2 cups of Whipping Cream
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Spoon or pipe the whipped cream over the tiramisu custard mixture.

For Garnish: Make chocolate curls or sprinkles.

This week we're linked up to kellythekitchenkop.com Kelly can tell you all about cooking with Real Food and how much healthier it is for you and yours than the McDonalds 'Happy Meal'.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Today we made Cheesecake Brownies. This recipe is adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz. I first found this recipe on his wonderful website, and you'll also see it featured in his latest cookbook, 'Ready For Dessert.' Buy the book and visit his website at: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/
Everything I've ever baked from his website and cookbook has been superb. I ran, didn't walk, to my local bookstore shortly after the release date and purchased this cookbook. I'm so glad I did! If you're always ready for dessert, as I am, (and apparently Mr. Lebovitz is) you should pick up a copy of his book too. You won't regret it. The photography is marvelous and his concise directions will make you look like a professional.

Let's make his famous Cheesecake Brownies!

First line a 9 inch square pan with foil, making sure it goes up all four sides. Mist with a non-stick cooking spray, or grease lightly with butter. Using the foil makes for an easy cleanup and allows you to remove the brownies easily when they're cool.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and beat in the sugar and then the 2 eggs. In the same pan mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt, then the vanilla and chocolate chips.
To make the cheesecake topping: In a separate bowl beat/whisk the 8 oz. cream cheese, the egg yolk, 5 tablespoons of sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla until smooth.
Spread the brownie mixture evenly in the prepared pan
Distribute the cream cheese mixture in 8 or 9 globs/dollops across the top of the brownie mixture.
Take a dull knife or spatula and swirl the cream cheese with the chocolate batter. Resist the temptation to mix and swirl too much or you'll just make the brownies look muddy. You want big pockets of cheesecake.
The finished product. The brownie base is really rich and moist, and the cheesecake topping is just heavenly. Can we nominate someone for Sainthood based on his recipes? I don't see why not! He needs to come home from the sweet life in Paris .... they can't possibly love him as much as we do! Meanwhile I'll visit his website, and devour his cookbook page by page.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch pan with foil (see photo) and spray with cooking spray, or lightly grease it with butter.

Brownie Base

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces (only use real butter)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped. (use good quality chocolate)
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 Cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cheesecake Topping

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the brownies melt the butter, then add the chopped bittersweet chocolate and stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, followed by the 2 eggs. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Then add the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.

To make the cheesecake topping: In a medium bowl beat or whisk together the cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla until smooth.

Distribute the cream cheese mixture in 8 or 9 dollops across the top of the brownie batter. Take a butter knife or spatula, and lightly swirl the cream cheese mixture into the brownie batter. Resist the temptation to mix and swirl too much or you'll make the brownies muddy. You want to have big pockets of cheesecake.

Bake the brownies until they're just set in the center. About 35 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan before lifting out the foil to remove the brownies.

Eat and enjoy! If you're feeling generous, share with friends. These are pretty rich, so you can get your full share of chocolate addiction in a small piece, and still have some to spread around to your friends and acquaintances. If they didn't love you before, they'll love you now.



Naked Chef?!! He might have a point!

When I first heard the term 'Naked Chef', referring to Jamie Oliver, my mind flashed to the time I spilt a glob of brownie batter on one of my favorite tops, or the many times I've splashed EVOO on my clothes .... and I thought, "Eureka! What a great idea! Cook while you're naked and you'll never ruin any of your clothes!" When I had time for a 2nd thought I knew it'd never work for me.... Not with my WASP, Puritan, New England upbringing. "What would the neighbors think" replayed in my mind. It was one of my Mom's favorite sayings when we'd want to do anything the least bit scandalous. She had such a good sense of humor in so many ways .... but not in that one area.

If you can't see yourself cooking in your birthday suit you might like the new Tide Stain Release In-Wash Boosters. I've gotten out the brownie batter and the EVVO by tossing one of them in with the regular wash. They're pretty pricey though, so look for them when they're on sale.

My apologies to Jamie Oliver for my wicked thoughts. I originally wouldn't watch his PBS show because I thought it was a publicity stunt with a Chef actually cooking in the nude. Once I got to see his show I thoroughly agreed with him. I'll take fresh made unprocessed food over a chicken nugget any day!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese

I have family coming to visit this week. Since 2 of them are children, I thought it'd be a good idea to have some homemade macaroni and cheese on hand. It's the one food all children seem to like. I'll tell you a secret ... I kinda like it myself.
Here's a look at the ingredients you'll need to get started.
Excuse me while I help myself. Just for testing reasons. I never indulge in anything that's illegal, immoral or fattening. Okay, you've got me on that fattening thing.


2 cups of dried elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons of real butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1-1/4 cups of whole milk
1 tablespoon of dry mustard
1 egg, beaten
1/2 pound of freshly grated cheese (I used medium cheddar)
Pinch of salt
Several shakes of ground black pepper
A pinch of Paprika

Cook macaroni until al dente. Drain
In a small bowl or cup beat an egg and put aside
In a medium pan melt the butter and then sprinkle in the flour. Whisk together at med-low heat for 5 minutes. (This is called making a roux) Whisk constantly and avoid burning it.
Reduce heat to low. Pour in the milk, add mustard, salt, pepper, and paprika. Cook for 5 more minutes, whisking often

Now you need to temper the egg. Take about a quarter cup of the roux/milk mixture and slowly pour it into the egg, whisking all the time you're pouring. If you don't do this slowly while whisking you could end up with scrambled eggs. Once this is done you can pour it back into the pan and whisk until smooth.

Add in all but 1/2 cup of the cheese, and stir until melted. Then put the cooked, drained macaroni in the pan and stir till well combined.

Pour it into a buttered baking dish, top with the reserved cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blueberry Cream Danish Pastry Braid

Calling all cooks! It's time to ban packaged mediocrity! This is a million times better, so just throw out the danish you just bought from the local supermarket, and bake this now! You'll moan and groan over every wonderful buttery bite of this pastry!
This recipe is adapted from a recipe by Beatrice Ojakangas, from the wonderful cookbook "Baking with Julia."
Things you need to make the dough
What the dough will look like before you put it in the refrigerator to rest. Did you ever wonder why the dough needs to "rest" overnight? Me too. Seriously, I'm the one that's doing all the work, so what does it need to rest for? Crazy Danes! They may be crazy, but they know a bit about danish pastry, so just do what they say. You won't regret it. I know I didn't.

The blueberry preserves I made in the microwave. Simple! 2 cups of blueberries, 1 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Cook on high for 18 minutes, stopping to stir every once in awhile.

Spreading out the preserves in the center
The Confectioners Cream is on top of the berries, and I've started braiding.
I'll just eat this piece while I'm typing up the directions.
This recipe will make enough dough for 2 braids. You can share with a friend - like me!

Danish Pastry Dough

1/4 Cup of warm water (105ºF - 110ºF)
2-1/2 Teaspoons of active dry yeast
1/2 Cup Milk, at room temperature
1 Large egg, at room temperature
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
2-1/2 Cups of unbleached all purpose Flour
2 Sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter (Do NOT use anything but real butter)

Pour the water into a large bowl, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let it soften for a minute or two. Add the milk, egg, sugar and salt. Whisk to mix, and put aside.

Put the flour in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Cut the butter into 1/4 inch slices and drop them on the flour. Pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is cut into pieces that are small. Don't overdo this. The pieces should be about a half an inch in diameter.

Empty the contents of the food processor into the bowl with the yeast, and working with a spatula, very gently turn the mixture over just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Don't be too vigorous with this. The butter must remain in discrete pieces to produce a flaky crust.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Rolling and folding the dough: Lightly flour a cool work surface, such as marble. Turn the dough out onto it and dust it lightly with flour. Pat the dough into a rough rectangle. Roll it out to a square, about 16 inches on a side. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter, and turn it so the closed fold is to your left - like the spine of a book. Put it back in the refrigerator and chill for 1/2 hour. Take out the dough and this time roll it into a long narrow rectangle, about 10 inches by 24 inches. Fold the rectangle in thirds again, and turn it so the closed fold is to your left. Chill it again if it gets sticky. Now roll it into a 20 inch square. Fold the square in thirds like a business letter, so that your have a rectangle, turning it so that the closed fold is to your left. Once more roll it out into a long narrow rectangle 10 inches wide by 24 inches long. Fold the dough in thirds again, wrap it well, and chill for at least 30 minutes or for as long as 2 days. If you're going to make 2 braids you can divide it in half now and wrap separately.

Confectioners Cream

You can make the confectioners cream anytime during this process while the dough is resting.
Take 1 cup of Heavy Cream
Add 1-1/2 Tablespoons of Cornstarch
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
Mix Separately in a small bowl:
1 Large Egg Yolk
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla

Whisk the cream with the cornstarch and sugar together in a large microwave-safe bowl. Put the bowl in the microwave and cook for 1 minute on high. Stir the mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes more, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly.

While the mixture is cooking whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla. Very Slowly pour a little of the hot liquid into the yolk, whisking all the time. Pour too fast and you might have scrambled eggs. Once you tempered the egg mixture you can pour it all into the cream mixture and cook it for another 30 seconds. The consistency should be like lemon curd. You should put a piece of plastic wrap over it to prevent it from forming a skin. Cool to room temperature. You can store this up to 3 days ahead. It must be kept refrigerated.

Fresh Berry Jam Filling

2 Cups crushed fresh berries. (I used blueberries)
1 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed Lemon Juice

Stir the berries and sugar together in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cook for 10 minutes on high, and stir. Then cook for 8 more minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is glossy. Stir in the lemon juice. Seal the container and chill until you're ready to use.

Assembling the Braid
You'll need 1/2 recipe for each braid you want to assemble.

To shape the dough: Work on a lightly floured cool surface. Roll the chilled dough into a rectangle 10 inches wide by 16 inches long. Left onto a sheet of parchment paper. Spread some of the fruit filling down the center. Then spoon some of the confectioners cream on top of it. Using a pizza cutter cut 12-14 slanting lines down each side, angling the cuts from the center of the pastry to the edge. Then fold the strips of pastry into the center, crisscrossing the filling by alternating one strip from the left side of the pastry with one from the right side. Lightly press the ends together to seal.

Brush the pastry with the some egg white. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes at room temperature. It will NOT double.

Cook at 400ºF for 15-20 minutes until golden.

You can glaze it now if you want. I didn't because I felt it was already pretty sweet with the confectioners cream inside. I know this has been a lot of work with all that rolling and folding, but it's totally worth it. You'll see!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ribeye steak with onion, garlic and blue cheese sauce

This sauce is so tasty, you may want to have steak every night!
First chop up 1 small onion
Then saute them in 3 Tablespoons of butter, until they're richly carmelized. During the last minute of cooking, add 1 clove of finely minced or crushed garlic. Garlic will burn easily.
Then turn the heat to low and add 1 cup of cream. Cook for about 5 minutes until the cream is reduced by half.
Then add in 1/2 cup of blue cheese, stirring until it's melted. That's all there is to it.
You can cook your steak anyway you want to while the sauce is cooking. Grilled, broiled or fried... it's all good

Let's eat!

We also had green bean casserole with this meal. This recipe was adapted from a recipe on the Pioneer Woman Website. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/

The potatoes on the plate are Crash Hot Potatoes, also adapted from her site. I like to take recipes and change them up to our own tastes. Sometimes I change them so much that you wouldn't recognize them, and other times just a little tweak is needed.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

French Toast Casserole

This is a favorite when you're going to have company over, or if you just want to bring it all to work and make your co-workers as plump as could be.

The praline mixture before you scoop it over the bread that has been pre-soaked in the custard mixture.
The bread soaking in the custard mixture overnight, or at least an hour or two.
Ready to eat!

French Toast Casserole:

1 loaf sliced sweet Hawaiian Bread
8 eggs
2 Cups milk
1 Cup cream
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Teaspoon salt

1 Cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 to 1-1/2 Sticks of very soft butter
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg
1 Cup chopped pecans

Place bread slices in a 9"x13" buttered pan. Mix the first 8 ingredients and pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate up to overnight

Drop praline mixture over prepared bread.

Bake @350 degrees in 9"X13" PAN on top of a cookie sheet 35-45 minutes (custard should be completely set.) It took 40 minutes in my oven.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Breasts

Chicken was on sale. Being a woman, I have to buy it if it's on sale. It's in my DNA. That same DNA that has gotten me in trouble in the past. Think ugly red shoes that pinched my feet fiasco. This time it was not disastrous at all! It was yummy to the 4th degree! Expect to mess up some bowls and silverware, but that will give you something to do to work off the calories you consume. It wouldn't hurt to jump on the treadmill for an hour either. I'm just saying.... not that I'm going to do it, but I know it's a good idea. Enough of that 'should do' stuff. Let's get cooking.

Rinse your chicken and pat dry. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts.
In one bowl Mix 1 cup of flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper
In another bowl beat one egg.
In the 3rd bowl mix up 3/4 cup of dry plain breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a few sprinkles of granulated garlic, or a finely chopped clove of garlic.

Heat up 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in your frying pan.

Now dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture and lastly the breadcrumb and Parmesan mixture. Put them into the frying pan with the heated oil and cook until it's golden brown on both sides. The length of time will vary according to the thickness of the meat you're using. If they're thin cut, 3-4 minutes on each side will fine. When you plate them put some freshly shredded Parmesan cheese on top.

I served this with salad, pasta, and bacon, onion, cheddar biscuits.