Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Short comings

So, one thing I have realized over the past few weeks, is that I find it very difficult to work food styling five days a week, get home after 6 or 7, squeeze in an evening yoga class 3  nights a week and blog.  Kudos to all the amazing bloggers who seem to do it all beautifully.

Now that I have added the holiday rush, plus truffle making, and baking  to the above scenario, I have to admit I am defeated by the time machine.  

Of course I could, if I live my life as my former nutty self ,  exist the next few weeks on 5 hours sleep a night and manage to do it all and more.

But, I don't want to do that any more.

So with some regret, no shame or guilt, that I say; you'll probably  not hear from me until the first of the year.

I hope to have lots to talk about and recipes to share.

Until then, have a very Joyful and Happy Holiday.

Take time to enjoy!  xoxo  Kim

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Brownies (eek from a box...)

I am not even sure what possessed me to purchase it.  In the past I've brought left over mixes home from work thinking i'll use them in a pinch.  They sit in the pantry long passed their expiration date.

It was the packaging that caught my eye while I was making a purchase from work.  First, the fact that it was a pouch nestled among the many boxes on the shelf.  Next the name- Marie Callender- really ?  a brownie mix?  I glanced over the ingredients.  Really, nothing artificial or offensive. So, what could it hurt?  I can get past using a box mix. really I can.

Of course as I prepared the package to directions, I could not resist jazzing up the mix.  A teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ancho chili powder and 3/4 cups of chopped pecans.

The moment of truth.  Mike took the first taste. (He had been out of town and had no idea about their origin.)  The first thing he said was, "Are these from a box?"   Ohhh!  There was no hiding the telltale flavor of a mix, even with cinnamon and chili powder.

My impression?  The cinnamon added a nice flavor, but the chocolate itself  tasted  bitter. It did not leave the usually chemical aftertaste of most box mixes, but the bitter flavor was not easy to overcome. Lesson learned.
They did look delicious though.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Eggs in Purgatory

I have been dying to make this dish for quite some time.  Actually, I first thought about the recipe when I was looking of options for samples for my food styling portfolio,  I knew it would be a challenge to make eggs in tomato sauce look pretty for the camera, but i also knew it would probably be quite delicious to eat.

So when my brother-in-law handed me several bags of his homemade tomato sauce, I knew it was time to to make Eggs in Purgatory.  It proved to be a delicious breakfast.  My husband,   who was skeptical was brought to his knees.

I started with the chopped garlic and onions sauteed  in a olive oil.  Add about 2 cups of tomato puree.  It can be canned or if you are lucky enough to have some on hand, use homemade sauce. 

Reduce sauce until thickened slightly.

Make a 4 small wells in the sauce and carefully place a cracked whole egg into each well. 

Season with salt and pepper.  Cover for about two minutes, until the egg is nicely poached.

In the mean time toast 4 sliced of good Italian or French bread .  

When the eggs are finished carefully scoops two eggs and sauce into a serving dish.  Serve with toasts.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Raspberry Jam

A few weeks back my husband and I picked 10 pints of raspberries.  Riding high on the success of my apple butter experience, I attempted raspberry jam for the second venture in canning.

I went back to the good ole' Betty Crocker Cookbook for advice. The package of Ball liquid pectin was also helpful.

Raspberry Jam

10 pints of Raspberries
4 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1/2 packet Liquid Pectin

Place all of the ingredients except pectin, in a large non reactive pan.  Heat to a boil  and stir in the pectin.  Continue cooking until mixture is thickened and translucent. Pour into prepared jars.  Seal the jars and place in a large pot of water covering the jars two inches over their tops.
Boil for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove from the pot and place in a dry kitchen towel to cool. If any jars do not properly seal, (the lid should be tightly indented) refrigerate and use that jar first.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Puttin' Up for the Winter

Well. I've done it!  I've actually been canning.  
I know you might say, "So what."  "Big Deal."  "So!" Well, for me this is big.  I always assumed canning was too difficult, messy, and time consuming for me to want to tackle it.

My mind was changed when I brought a bushel of apple home from my parents house. Challenged by the task of using them before they rot,  I thought, "I'm going to make some apple butter.  And I'm going to can it."  

I found a recipe in an old Betty Crocker cookbook that was appealing, bought a case of jars, and got the vegetable peeler out.  Actually, I got two of them out of the drawer and enlisted my husband to help peel and slice.

The results were fabulous.  Creamy, spicy, sweet and tart.  It is so good, I thought, " hmm, I bet I can make raspberry jam too."  But, we'll talk about that in the next posting.
Apple Butter
4 quarts apple cider
4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 cups brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon, divided
2 teaspoons ginger, divided
1 teaspoon cloves, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat the apple cider in a large dutch oven, until reduced by half.
Add the apples and 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cloves and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Heat to a boil, then reduce heat.  Simmer uncovered, stirring very frequently until apples begin to break apart, about 1 hour.  Continue to cook until no liquid separates from the pulp. You can test this by putting a spoonful on a plate and let sit for 1 minute. Look for liquid seeping from the mound. If  the mound stays solid the butter is finished.

In the mean time, wash 10-8 oz jelly jars, lids and rings.  Place jars in a large stock pot and cover with water to two inches above the jars.  Bring water to a boil and continue boiling for 10 minutes.  In the last minute add the lids.  You don't want to have them in the boiling water too long  or the seal with warp. 

Drain the jars as you need them. Leave hot water for processing.

Immediately pour apple butter into hot jars, leave about 1/4 inch space at the top.  Clean any spills. Seal with the lid and ring. Place finished jars back into the hot water bath and boil for 10 minutes.  Remove one by one and place hot jars on a clean kitchen towel.  Each jar will make a snapping sound, indicating it is properly sealed.  This can take place as soon as is comes out of the water or as long a a few hours later.  Once the jars are cooled, check each carefully to be sure the lid has sunk in and is properly sealed.  Any jar that has not sealed should be refrigerated and used first.

Peanut Blondies

With the kids bake in college,  its time to send cookies and other treats to the hard working (wink wink) students.  I have a variety of recipes to share,  but this is one I'd never tried before.
They were well received.

Peanut Blondies
1 cup roasted peanuts
1/1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, Melted and cooled
1/1/2 light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 9x13 pan with release foil.  Leave hanging over edge a little to aide in removing from pan after baking.

Whisk together the flour , baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar.  Mix to fully incorporate the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla .  Mix thoroughly. Fold in the dry ingredients.  Mix until combined.  Do not over mix.  Fold in the peanut butter chips and peanuts.   Spread evenly in the foil lined pan.   Bake about 22 minutes, until top is a light golden brown.  Be careful not to ever bake-the blondies will be dry.  
Place on cooling rack until room temperature.  Lift out of pan and cut into 24.
The base recipe can be used with any combination of nuts and chips: walnuts and chocolate, macadamia and white chocolate, pecans and cinnamon. 

Fruit Topped Yellow Cake

I have posted about the cake before, back in March.  I looked back at the post and the photo is there , but not the recipe.  I will repeat it.  When I made it last, I did it without the fruit topping. This time I used peaches.  While they do sink into the cake somewhat and it is not "picture perfect", the flavor is great. I would suggest slicing the peaches thinner than I did. It will help to keep the fruit from sinking too far. This recipe is from a fabulous cook book by Abigail Johnson Dodge, called "The Weekend Baker".

Fruit Topped Yellow Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 salt
8 tabelspoon
s unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cups whole milk
1 medium peach sliced
(pears, plums, apricots, apples or berries are also good choices)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a 9"round cake pan.  Line with parchment and grease and flour the parchment as well.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until combined.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium high until smooth.  Add one cup of sugar and beat until well combined. Add vanilla. Beat. Add the eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition. Add half the flour mixture and mix on low until blended.  Add remaining flour and mix until just blended. Scrape batter in to the prepared pan.  Smooth out evenly.
Arrange the peach sliced on top of the batter.  Sprinkle with the remaining two teaspoons of sugar.  Bake on center rack until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Cool on rack for about 15 minutes.  Run knife around edge to loosen the cake. 

Invert onto a flat pan or baking sheet and then re invert onto a serving plate. Enjoy.

Roasted Chickpeas and Garlic With Swiss Chard

Another delicious  greens and beans combination.

Roasted Chickpeas and Garlic with Swiss Chard
2 cans chickpeas (drained)
10 cloves garlic (peeled)
2   shallots, minced
3 small bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
(The original recipe called for 1 1/4 cup- I thought this was excessive.  Feel free to try it for yourself.)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Combine the first five ingredients in an ovenproof baking dish, about 8X8. Pour oil overt he chickpeas. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover with foil and roast about 45 minutes.

Swiss Chard:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 small bay leaves
2 shallots, sliced
2 bunches Swiss Chard, stemmed and chopped
1 cup chicken stock

Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add garlic, bay leaves and shallots. Cook about 2 minutes until shallots are tender.  Add half of the chard.  Toss until it wilts to half. Add remaining chard.  Toss until all is wilted. Add the stock.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Remove lid.   Cook until stock reduced by half.   Season to taste.  remove bay leaves.
Drain the chickpeas, reserving the oil. Discard bay leaves. Add the chickpeas to the pan with the chard. Add 2 tablespoons of the      reserved oil.  Heat until warm through.  Check seasonings.

Bacon and Swiss Chard Pasta

Add Image
I have been cooking, but I haven't had much time for blogging recently.  Just can't seem to get the balance, of social networking and realtime living.

In an effort to eat more greens and nutritious beans, I searched for a variety of recipes which combine both. This Bacon and Swiss Chard Pasta recipe exceeded my expectations on many levels, number one being taste.  It's delicious, even for someone who tires easily of greens.

Bacon and Swiss Chard Pasta
1 pound linguini
12 slices bacon cut crosswise
1 large red onion halved and sliced thin
2 large bunches Swiss Chard, stemmed and chopped
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons extra virgin  olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Boil water on a large pot to cook pasta.  Season water with salt.  When water is to a full boil, 
Cook the pasta until al dente.

In the meantime,

Cook Bacon in a large heavy skillet until crisp.  Transfer to a paper towel to drain.  Set aside.
Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings.  Add onion and saute until softened. 

Add Swiss Chard.  Season with salt and pepper. Add a few ladles of pasta cooking water to the 
swiss chard mixture.  Cook until chard is wilted and tender.  Sprinkle with vinegar, cook another minute.

Add linguini and oil to the skillet.  Toss to coat.
Transfer to serving dishes.  Sprinkle with bacon and cheese.  Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

We had the distinct pleasure in sharing in my friend Karen's  birthday celebration last weekend.

I wanted to help out a little by contributing an appetizer.  So, what to make for such a special event?  I like to think locally first, seasonal as well, and then review the pantry for what I already have on hand.

Well, what I had on hand was cherry tomatoes,  some goat cheese, phyllo dough, kalamata olives, and garden herbs.  I took a look through my many cookbooks and found nothing enticing, so I hit the internet.  There I found the perfect recipe for my ingredients on hand, Oven-dried Tomato Tart with Goat Cheese and Black Olives. It was originally printed in Bon Appetit in August 2005.

As I have reported in previous posts, oven roasting really concentrates the flavor of vegetables. This is particularly true of tomatoes.  They become very sweet, almost candy like.
The original recipe calls for a puff pastry sheet. Although I had some in the free
zer, I thought the phyllo would be easier when making this as an appetizer for a crowd.  I doubled the filling ingredients to cover the 10 X 15 size of the phyllo.  If you choose to use puff pastry, you can decrease the filling or make two round tarts.

Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
(Makes enough for appetizers for about 20 or so.)
1 pound cherry tomatoes (can substitute sliced roma tomatoes)
olive oil
3 garlic gloves minced
2 tablespoons fresh herbs-chopped and divided
2 cup shredded mozzarella
16 ounces goat cheese
4 large eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup kalamata olives- sliced
4 tables spoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
15 sheets phyllo dough
6 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven 300 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil.  Drizzle with olive oil. Place tomatoes on the baking sheet in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in oven until the tomatoes begin to shrink and dry out. About and hour.  As soon as you remove from the oven, sprinkle with garlic and 
1 tablespoon herbs, toss lightly, let cool.

In the mean time, mix the mozzarella and  goat cheese together. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each egg.  Slowly add the cream and 1 tablespoon herbs. Stir until smooth.

Cover a 10 X 15 baking sheet with foil. Brush the surface with melted butter.

Once tomatoes have cooled.  Take the phyllo from the refrigerator and work with the sheets covered with plastic wrap or a tea towel,  they dry out quickly.  Working with speed, place a sheet of phyllo in the 
baking sheet.  Working from the edges inward, brush with melted butter.  Place another phyllo sheet on top.
  Brush with butter.  Repeat until all 15 sheets of phyllo are in place and buttered. 

 Carefully pour the cheese mixture on top of the dough. 

Evenly distribute the tomatoes and olives over the cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with parmesan.  
Bake for about 35 minutes.

Cut into 2" squares. Serve warm or room temp.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I've Been Away, but Now I am back and Ready to Cook.

Hello,  I made a valiant attempt to blog from my Iphone while on the road-completely unsuccessful.  My husband and I were driving our son to his first year at college.  I had 18 hours to kill each way. I tried to use blogpress but could not get my post to upload.

Well, I am back.  I am ready to cook, so I will be seeing your soon!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Roasted Tomato Sauce

If the Fried Squash Blossoms, weren't delicious enough...
...next time serve  them with a roasted tomato sauce for a flavor explosion!
Roasted Tomato Sauce

8 Roma tomatoes
olive oil to drizzle
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1/2  cup vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup half and half
Rinse and cut tomatoes in half lengthwise.
Place on a tray cut side up.  (I like to line the tray with non stick aluminum foil.)
Drizzle with olive oil.
Generously sprinkle with salt
Place on the grill or in the oven.
Now you can either high heat roast at 450 degrees or slow roast at 200.

Its a great time to roast tomatoes while you are already roasting something else.  In this case, we were smoking a pork shoulder for pulled pork. (More about that in another post.)  So I put the tomatoes on the grill and smoked them for about 5 hours at 200 degrees. 

The finished tomatoes are decided by site.  You can leave them 
cooking for quite some time, you just don't want to completely dehydrate them or burn them.
The applewood smoke lent a delicious smokiness to this sauce.  
Remove from the heat.  Place in a food processor.
Now you can also throw the onions and garlic on the same pan as the tomatoes and pull them off when they are nicely caramelized.  
I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the tomatoes, so in this case I did not.  
Saute the onions and garlic until translucent.  Place in food processor with the tomatoes.
pulse until smooth. Pour in the chicken stock,  pulse to blend. At this point it should be a smooth thick blend.
Pour tomato mixture into a sauce pan. Warm over medium heat.  Add the half and half. Heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add more stock or cream if necessary to make a smooth medium thick sauce.
This sauce goes well with chicken, shrimp, pasta, and of course Fried Squash Blossoms!

Summertime Delights

One of my most favorite summertime treats is  squash blossoms.  If you've never tried one, seek them out.  Among the cultures that use them regularly are Mexican and Italian.  They are fried, stuffed, sauteed.  They are used in soups, omelettes, and just last week, Mark Bittman of the New York Times, wrote about using them in Risotto.

They are delicate and sublime.
I am pretty sure that once you taste them, you too will search for them every  summer.
I was fortunate enough that they were fresh and available at our Farmers Market yesterday morning. (I had seen them a few weeks earlier at a local vegetable market- they were neglected and wilted.)  You should plan on using them the day they are purchased.  Or if you are lucky enough to have a large plot of zucchini or pumpkins growing in your yard, the male flowers make the perfect feast with out devouring your crop.

I chose to stuff and fry yesterdays' bunch.  
Fried Squash Blossoms
1 dozen fresh squash blossoms
2 tablespoons pinenuts
2 cloves garlic minced
1 small onion minced
4 oz goat cheese, softened
1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (I used oregano, parsley, and basil)
2 eggs- separated
1/2 cup rice flour
1 cup cold club soda
salt and pepper

Remove the piston from the flowers
(I do this with a pair of hobby tweezers, which I keep  in the kitchen, 
you'd be surprised how handy they are.)
Trim the stems leaving about 1/2 inch. Chop the re
maining stems finely and set aside.
Lightly toast the pinenuts in a pan. Remove and set aside.
Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan.
Saute garlic and onions until translucent. Add the chopped stems. Saute until softened.
Add the herbs and salt and pepper..  Give a few quick stirs. Allow to cool. 
In the mean time, cream the softened goat cheese.
Add one egg yolk. Mix well in a small bowl, with a spoon.
Add the cooled herb mixture. Mix well.
Now I usually place the mixture in a pastry bag.
This makes it easier to load the cheese into the flowers.
If you have none available, a ziploc with the corner cut off will work.
A spoon will suffice, but will be a little messier.
Squeeze about a tablespoon of filling into each flower top.

Gently twist the top closed.  Set all aside when finished, while the batter is made.
Heat about an inch of olive oil in the pan.

In a medium bowl, whip the two egg whites until very frothy.
Add the remaining egg yolk and rewhip.  Add the rice flour and blend until smooth.  Add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the club soda and stir.  This should made a thin crepe like batter.
Dip the flower blossoms in and coat thoroughly.  

Carefully transfer to the oil and cook about1  minute on each side. Until golden.  Remove and drain on a paper towel.

Enjoy immensely as they are or with a tomato sauce.  
I will give a recipe tomorrow for a Roasted Tomato Sauce.

Heavenly Truffles

I have been making chocolate truffles for 25 years.  I have made them for family, friends, teachers and clients.  I have sold them to florists, bakeries, friends who have given them as gifts, people who have gotten them as gifts.  

A long time back I thought about having an internet chocolate business.  I searched the name heavenlytruffles.com, but over the past several years the domain was taken. That is until now. For whatever reason, it was available when I did a search last month.  I now own the rights to the domain. 

I am very happy to have it, but now I am not sure what I want to do with it. I am no longer sure I want an internet chocolate business.  ah! maybe I do...   
In the back of my mind I have been thinking about revamping my chocolates. You know giving them a little face lift.  New designs, new flavors, new packaging.  New logo!!! Blasphemy!
How much time do I want to dedicate to chocolate?  My hours at food styling can be long and taxing.  What about my blog?  I already feel pressure when I don't have time for new posts.
Well for now, there is a place holder at the sight.  www.heavenlytruffles.com  Since I don't make chocolates during the summer season I have a little time to think, and plan and prepare.
Any suggestions?

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Over the weekend, some of my siblings and my family went blueberry picking.  Great fun.  Lots of berries.

On Sunday morning, we were all together (27 of us) at my parents home inthe country.  I cooked up several batches of  Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes. They were fantastic.  The recipe I used is from the current  issue of Cooks Illustrated Magazine,  www.cooksillustrated.com .  

For those who are unfamiliar with this magazine and website, it is a great resource for all things related to cooking.  The staff at Cooks Illustrated exhaustively tests every recipe until the find the best approach to the final dish.  I subscribe to the online version, for about $40.00 per year.  This affords me access the the archives of the magazine.  I have available recipes, equipment reviews, how to videos...
Can say enough good things.

Best Blueberry Pancakes

Makes sixteen 4-inch pancakes; Serves 4 to 6.   Published July 1, 2009.   From Cook's Illustrated.

The pancakes can be cooked on an electric griddle. Set the griddle temperature to 350 degrees and cook as directed. The test kitchen prefers a lower-protein all-purpose flour like Gold Medal or Pillsbury. If you use an all-purpose flour with a higher protein content, like King Arthur, you will need to add an extra tablespoon or two of buttermilk.


2cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces) (see note)
2tablespoons sugar
1/2teaspoon table salt
1teaspoon baking powder
1/2teaspoon baking soda
2cups buttermilk
1/4cup sour cream
2large eggs
3tablespoon unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
1 - 2teaspoons vegetable oil


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Spray wire rack set inside baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; place in oven. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, ba

    king powder, and baking soda together in medium bowl. In second medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, eggs, and melted butter. Make well in center of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients; gently stir until just combined (batter should remain lumpy with few streaks of flour). Do not overmix. Allow batter to sit 10 minutes before cooking.

From the May 2009 issue, I used the Best Blueberry Muffins, recipe this morning.  
It is a very good recipe.  But I am not convinced that you need the extra step of cooking some of the blueberries and swirling them into the batter.  As a matter of fact, I hat more batter than the 12, muffins it was supposed to yield, (my muffin cups may have been smaller than theirs) so I made six muffins with out the added swirl and they were equally as delicious.  
Make them for yourself and let me know what you think.

Best Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12 muffins.   Published May 1, 2009.   From Cook's Illustrated.

If buttermilk is unavailable, substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned w

ith 1/4 cup milk


Lemon-Sugar Topping
1/3cup sugar (2 1/3 ounces)
1 1/2teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
2cups fresh blueberries (about 10 ounces), picked over
1 1/8cups sugar (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon
2 1/2cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
2 1/2teaspoons baking powder
1teaspoon table salt
2large eggs
4tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
1/4cup vegetable oil
1cup buttermilk (see note)
1 1/2teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. 1. FOR THE TOPPING: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

  2. 2. FOR THE MUFFINS: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, un

    til berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

  3. 3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 11/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

  4. 4. Following photos below, use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divid

    e batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

  5. 5. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rota

    ting muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

The Next Generation in a Baking Family

I have three sisters and one brother,  3 brothers in law and a sister in law on my side of the family. (My husband is from a family of six kids).  When ever there is a family gathering, there is food, LOTS of food. 

Baking was the forte of my maternal grandmother, my paternal grandmother was a fine cook and excellent baker.  Of my generation, we all have our specialties, siblings and spouses alike.

So, needless to say, I was delighted when my 13 year old niece expressed a strong desire to learn how to bake pies and cakes.  Last summer she took a decorating class through Wilton. She has done some really great work since then.

Most recently she made her cousins 8th grade graduation cake.  She baked a double layer sheet cake from scratch, and then decorated it.  She did a fine job.  I look forward to her future as a baker.  She's well on her way.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake

It's hard to say if it was the shortbread or the sublime combination of deliciousness that makes up a strawberry shortcake, but this one was the best I have ever made!

First I must say that I am not sure my son realizes yet that you don't walk into most homes at 9:30 pm and request strawberrry shortcake for a crowd and get it delivered fresh from the kitchen.  In his defense,  I did offer to make shortcake for his friends earlier in the evening , fully expecting to make it about 7 or 8.  That said, one day I know he will realize just how lucky he is.

I adapted the shortcake recipe from Chez Panisse Desserts, by Lindsey Remolif Shere. (It is a great book for pastry basics and frozen treats  followed by individual fruits, herbs and nuts used in those pastries.)

The salt on sugar in these biscuits were balance perfectly and drew out the sweetness of the less than perfectly ripened strawberries.  The chantilly cream took it over the edge.

Strawberry Shortcake
12 servings
preheat oven to 425
2 c flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon  baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter cold and cut into pieces
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons half and half
Fresh strawberries about 2 quarts
whipping cream for Chantilly cream about 1 cup

Mix flour,  salt, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter until  the mixture looks like corn meal.  Add the cream and mix until dough just comes together.  Turn out on a flat surface and pat out to about 1/2 inch thick.  At this point you may cut into square or use a round cutter.  Gather left over dough gently and re pat into shape. Cut remaining biscuits.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

In the mean time wash and slice the strawberries.  Sprinkle with sugar to taste.  (I used the vanilla syrup I had made in a previous posting.) Set aside.

When biscuits come out of the oven let cool and prepare the chantilly cream.

Chantilly Cream
Place cold whipping cream in a mixer with the whip attachment.  Add about 1 tablespoon of sugar. Whip until cream begins to take shape.  It will be about double in volume, but peaks will not yet be forming.

Assemble the shortcake by splitting the biscuit in half lengthwise. place bottom on a plae.  Top with a generous scoop of strawberries, followed by a generous scoop of chantilly cream. Top with the remaining biscuit half.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Olive Oil Baby Cakes

I wanted something interesting to serve with coffee and the New York Times this morning, so I took a look through my file of "saved" recipes and came across this one by Michael Recchiuti, www.recchuiti.com.

They were a nice treat.  Served with jam and butter.
I made some as directed in a mini muffin tin. The rest I baked in a regular sized muffin pan.
The cups can be filled 3/4 full without any fear of overrun.  The mini muffin size would be great for a brunch or afternoon tea.  The larger sized muffin worked best for 
a morning muffin.
They are much like a toothy piece of cornbread, although with a slight citrus taste.

Olive Oil Baby Cakes

2/3 cup (150g) whole milk

3/4 cup (150g) extra-virgin olive oil

Zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of kosher salt

3/4 cup (115g) all-purpose unbleached flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 cup (115g) yellow cornmeal, medium coarse ground

2 extra-large eggs

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (120g) granulated cane sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line mini muffin cups with paper liners or coat with oil. (You may also use a silicone mini muffin pan and omit the paper liners.)

Combine the milk, olive oil, lemon zest and salt in a medium bowl and whisk by hand until mixed. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the bakin

g powder. Stir in

 the cornmeal. Set aside.

Put the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until creamy and doubled in volume. Add the milk mixture gradually and beat until combined.

Switch the mixer to low speed. Add the dry ingredients all at

 once and mix until just incorporated. Over-mixing will result in a tough cake.

Using a tablespoon, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them about three-quarters full.

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans 180 degrees after 5 minutes. When done a skewer inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

Let cool completely on a wire rack.

When cool, remove the babycakes, still in their paper liners, from the muffin cups. Serve at room temperature with a garnish or your choice.


Food, Friends and Fireworks

Some of my favorite summer evenings involve pulling things from the refrigerator and whipping something together worthy of sharing with friends who have likewise done the same.

Yesterday, the 4th of July was one of those nights.

As luck would have it, I had just roasted a bunch of tomatoes the night before.

(Cut tomatoes in half lay out on a baking sheet drizzle with olive oil, Sprinkle with salt and pepper. roast for 4 hours at 270 degrees.)

I had some fresh mozzarella and pesto in the fridge, and some nice quality premade pizza crust in the freezer, left over from a food styling job.

The combination made for a tasty appetizer.

Next, I had some beautiful scallops in the freezer,  I wanted to try something a little different.

I remembered reading about a recipe for cocoa seared scallops.  I looked up a recipe on line and gave it my own twist.

Cocoa Seared Scallops with a Caramelized Orange Sauce

Cocoa Crust

3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1 tablespoon Anch
o Chiile powder
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
combine the above ingredients in a shallow bowl.  Set aside.

Caramelized Orange Sauce

2 shallots minced
2 gloves garlic minced
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
juice of 3 oranges
1 cup white wine 
1/2 cup seafood or chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Saute shallots and garlic  a large saucepan until translucent. Add parsley and pepper. Saute about 5 minutes. Add the orange juice. Cook until think and caramelized. Deglaze the pan with the wine. reduce by half.  Add stock. 
Slowly reduced by half.  Add cream. Simmer until slightly thickened. Finish with butter, salt and pepper.  Cool slightly and strain.  Hold for plating  with scallops.

Both the cocoa mixture and the sauce are enough for 4 dozen scallops.

Rinse and drain scallops.  Pat dry.
Dip scallop top and bottom in the cocoa mixture. repeat until all scallops are coated.
Heat a frying pan or griddle with a little oil. place scallops on hot griddle. Searing the surface.
Cook for about 2 minute depending upon the size of scallops you are using. With a pair of tongs carefully  the scallop turn over. Cook 1 to 2 minutes on the other side.  Be careful not to overcook or scallops will be tough.


Spoon sauce onto individual plates,  Place the desired number of scallops on top and serve.

Nancy and Burt served up some tasty grilled sausages and turkey burgers.

Peter and Gretchen contributed a fruit crisp which offered up a delicious combination of berries and peaches. The crisp was topped with oats and crumbled sugar cookies.  Yum!

And then there were the fireworks.  The official ones the village sent up, and those set off by various groups of neighbors.