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Showing posts from June, 2014

Why I Don't Buy Garlic...

97 heads of garlic on the shelf, 97 heads of garlic, take one down....You know how the song goes. With 97 heads of garlic on the shelf, I don't need to buy any garlic.

You should plant garlic in the fall late October/early November (keep in mind we're located in the Northeast).  Buy organic garlic - for each clove from the head, you should get one plant. I got the original garlic from one of the docs that I used to work with.  It is really strong - much stronger than what you can buy in the store.

Plant each clove about 6 inches apart from one another. You can leave the skin on. If you want you can cover them with some leaves to act as mulch and to keep them moist over the winter.  About February or March you will notice the garlic begin to pop up out of the ground. If you get a real warm week, you will notice significant growth.  Late May/early June you will see the scapes start to grow. These are the flowers - you need to cut them off. If you do not, the energy in the plant…

Mascarpone Brownies

So now I had 1/2 c of Mascarpone left and I was going away for a few days to a conference. I needed to use up the remainder of the Macarpone. What to do? What to do? Brownies of course!

Adapted from Food

1 c butter (2 sticks)
3 oz semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c cocoa
1/2 c Mascarpone
3 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 t chocolate extract
1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt

6 oz semisweet chocolate
6T heavy cream
3T butter
1 t vanilla
1 t chocolate extract
1/2 t salt

Line a 8" square pan with aluminum foil. Melt butter and chocolate in microwave (or on stove top). Sift in sugar, cocoa. Stir in Mascarpone, eggs, vanilla, and chocolate extract until smooth. Gently fold in flour and salt. Pour into pan and bake for 45 minutes at 325. Let cool.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate, heavy cream, and butter in microwave (or on stove top). Remove brownies from pan. Spread ganache over brownies.  Place in refrigerator until firm.  Slice into serving sizes.  Once the ganache is set there is no need to kee…

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

So now I had the Mascarpone cheese, what was I going to do with it. I know I could have gone with the traditional Tiramisu but I was looking for something a little different. Well Chocolate Mousse sounded like a wonderful idea to me.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (Adapted from Epicurious)

12 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 c heavy cream
1/3 c water
1/4 dark corn syrup
5T dark rum
1 t vanilla
1 t chocolate extract (optional)
8 oz Mascarpone
2 bananas, sliced
1/2 c strawberries, sliced

Place chocolate, 1/3 c cup cream, water, and corn syrup in a saucepan.  Heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Let cool about 20 minutes, stir occasionally. Whisk in rum and extracts.  Whisk in Mascarpone until smooth. Beat 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Gently fold chocolate mixture into cream in two additions. 

Reserve some strawberries for garnish. Place a spoonful of mousse into each serving dish (about 8 1-2 c serving dishes). Top with bananas and s…


Cheese, Cheese, Cheese - is cheese a good thing or what?  Mascarpone is a relatively easy cheese to make. Although I must admit the first time out of the box was a failure - the curds did not form.  I think I heated the heavy cream too high. But I decided to try again and YUM! is all I can say. All you need to buy is the tartaric acid.  I bought mine here. It is pretty cheap and you only use a little so it will last a long time. It says to store it in a cool dry place so I'm storing mine in the refrigerator.


1 quart heavy cream (or half and half)
1/4 t tartaric acid

In a double-boiler (don't worry if you don't have one-you can use a metal bowl placed over a pot of boiling water) heat the cream to 185 degrees. Stir occasionally-especially the sides as they tend to be hotter. Shut off heat. Add tartaric acid and gently stir for about a minute. The cream will begin to look curdled. Remove bowl from heat and let rest for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile set up a strainer line…

Go Gadget Go

Don't you just love a good gadget? I love one that is functional - usually with several functions as a matter of fact.  I don't really like a one-trick pony type of gadgets.  I like multi-taskers. Sometimes you have to settle for a one-trick pony and that's OK. Sorry I couldn't resist - the girls always loved Inspector gadget when they were young. I especially love the intro!
My Mom's friend is moving and she's been clearing out her kitchen.  She knows that I'm a big kitchen person so she gave me a bunch of things that she thought I might put to good use (Thanks Terri).  She's given me some pretty nice things in the past too. She's given me some cake-decorating tools, some copper molds, cookie cutters, spritz cookie gun, etc.

Here's what I got this time around:
I'm excited about the two spatulas.  The one is really flexible. I already have the mini spatula (from Pampered Chef) and love it. Sometimes though when lifting things it's nice…

Parmesan Spinach Dip

It rained all week (or was cloudy) and it was so nice to see the sun out again that we decided to invite a few friends over for afternoon cocktails. I threw some cheese that we had in the refrigerator on a platter, added some dried cranberries and almonds for good measure and picked up some red grapes at the store.

I also picked up some sour cream while I was at the store to make some type of dip for vegetables. I kept it simple - just baby carrots and celery.  I didn't feel like blanching broccoli or messing around with any other vegetables.  I wasn't sure what type of dip to make so I improvised. I went out to the garden and picked some spinach and herbs and got to work.

Parmesan Spinach Dip

10 oz spinach (handy that we had that in the garden)
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
1 t ground nutmeg
1 T fresh tarragon, chopped
15 basil leaves, torn
1T fresh oregano
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
16 oz sour cream
2T lemon juice and zest of 1 lemon

Heat frying pan, ad…

Lemon Pasta Again

I know, I know,  I already posted a lemon pasta recipe but this one is a little different. I had some lemons in the refrigerator and was all ready to make that recipe again but then I realized we had a nice little crop of spinach in the garden waiting to be picked.

Lemon Pasta with Spinach (loosely based on Smitten Kitchen)

l lb pasta
1/4 c olive oil
2 cloves garlic
3 lemons, juice and zest
1/4 c  heavy cream
handful of basil
a generous bunch of fresh spinach, chopped into strips
1/4 c grated Parmesan

Cook pasta until al dente in salted water. Remove pasta and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.  Set pasta aside. Dry pot and pour olive oil into pot.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Carefully add lemon juice. Stir in heavy cream.  Add basil and spinach.  Stir and then add pasta.  Stir in Parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper. Add some of the pasta water if you feel that the sauce is a little too thick. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

This dish cooks up so quic…

Smooth Hummus

I never used to like hummus. When you think about it, it's not really the most appealing looking dish. It's sort of tan-ish and the texture can be quite awful. But I'm here to tell you the secret to smooth hummus. It's removing the skins from the chick peas.  I first read about it over on Smitten Kitchen. The first time I tried it, it was revolutionary! Now it may seem a little time consuming to be squishing those chick peas out of their skins, but I tell you, it is well worth it.  You just need to press on them a little and the skin comes right off.

15oz can of chick peas or about 1c dried chick peas (soaked)
juice and zest from 1 lemon
1 shallot
1/4 c Tahini
1/4 - 1/2 c olive oil

If you are using the dried chicken peas go to Hip Pressure Cooking and read how to use your pressure cooker to cook them. It is well worth the effort to use the dried chick peas but if you are in a rush go ahead and use the canned. Skin the chick peas.  You just need to …

Why did I have to clean my oven?

Well I had to clean my oven because I made these Pasteis de Nata. They were well worth the clean though. It all started because my eldest sent me a picture of them from Portugal (trying to make me jealous - which she succeeded). They looked so delicious that I had to look for a recipe to see how they were made.  You make your own puff pastry, let the dough chill, press the dough into cupcake tins, pour in the custard and bake.  That last baking part is what led to the dirty oven.  The dough was so buttery (which is what makes them so delicious), that it began to ooze out of the dough. Well you know once it starts oozing, it goes all over the bottom of the oven, then there is a LOT of smoke, and thoughts that the oven might be on fire, and then a whole big mess to clean up. Did I mention there was a lot of smoke. I mean a real lot of smoke! Would I do it all again?? HELL YES!

I did a few things different from the recipe. I didn't have whole milk for the custard.  I used 1/2 c milk…

Crispy Cod Pistou

I know we do not eat enough fish and I always try to incorporate fish into our meals.  It is difficult (now that I'm working again). Fish is really an ideal weeknight meal - it cooks fast and requires minimal prep.  But the reality is I like to buy fresh which means, in my mind, that I have to cook it that day. The thought of coming home buying fish and then cooking it just negates the ideal weeknight meal concept.

You might be asking what the heck Pistou is? It's basically pesto without the pine nuts. It is often used with pasta, as a spread on bread, or in soup.

Crispy Cod Pistou

1lb cod
1/2 c flour (preferably Wondra)
1 egg
1 T water
1 c panko

1 c fresh basil
1/4 c Parmesan Cheese
juice and zest of 1 lime
3 garlic cloves
1T olive oil

Season flour with salt and pepper in a shallow dish.  Beat egg and water in another shallow dish.  Put panko in yet another shallow dish. Cut fish into two pieces* Dip fish into flour mixture.  Shake off excess…

Nutella Cherry Buns

Fate was calling me to make cinnamon buns. I was listening to a podcast of America's Test Kitchen and they were doing a recipe for cinnamon buns. Then I was hopping around on TV last night and Alton Brown was doing cinnamon buns on Good Eats. My favorite cinnamon bun recipe is from Joy the Baker.  But I didn't have any cream cheese so I decided to adapt it a bit and use Nutella instead. How could you go wrong with Nutella?

Nutella Cherry Buns

1 package of yeast (2 1/4 t)
1/4 c warm water (not over 110 degrees - aaahhh not OOOWW!)
2T brown sugar

2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1/2 c milk, room temperature
1 t salt
1/4 c sugar
2 3/4 - 3 c flour
1 stick butter (8T)

1/2 c Nutella
1/2 c dried cherries, chopped

1 c confectioner's sugar
2 T milk

Mix yeast water and brown sugar together and set aside. Meanwhile in mixing bowl, with the dough hook attached, add the eggs, vanilla, sugar,  milk, salt, and 2 c of the flour.  When yeast mixture has started to bubble up, add it to t…

Blueberry Lemon Cake

Here's yet another recipe I had patiently waiting around since 2006 to be tried. It's quite a simple recipe and it's very moist.

Blueberry Lemon Cake (adapted from Fine Cooking)

1 1/3 c flour + for the pan
1/4 c yellow cornmeal
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t table salt
6 T butter, at room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
1 t finely grated lemon zest
2  eggs
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t vanilla
1/2 c buttermilk
1 cup (about 5 oz.) fresh blueberries, rinsed and well dried
2 T granulated sugar or blueberry flavored sugar
1 T flour
Grease and flour a 9" round pan.  Line bottom of pan with parchment or silicon mat.  In a small bowl mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.  Cream butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy…