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Showing posts from August, 2014

Chocolate Creme de Menthe Cake

We were invited to our neighbors for a barbecue and I was charged with dessert. No big deal but several of the members are a foodie crowd. Well I was all set to make this delicious looking crepe cake. What is a crepe cake you ask - it's layers of crepes and in between is a layer of chocolate cream and creme de menthe cream - well in this instance anyway. Sounds great huh? Well it was not so great.

I mixed up the creams to have the flavors blend and I set about making the crepes.  I've made crepes before but not for a while. These were a total crepe-tastrophe. They just stuck to the pan and I couldn't flip them. Now I had these two creams sitting in the refrigerator, the bowls chilling in the freezer and nothing to do with them. I decided to just go with two simple chocolate layer cakes with chocolate cream on the inside and the cream de menthe on the outside. Well talk about making lemonade from lemons - this was totally that and more!
Chocolate Creme de Menthe Cake (choco…

Nectarine Salsa (or is it Seltzer*)

Now that the tomatoes are in full swing, it's time to make salsa. This is a good alternative to plain tomato salsa. I like this salsa a little more on the sweet side so you might want to use less sugar. The Sous Chef says he would like it with a little bit of heat. Either way it's still delicious.

Nectarine Salsa

2 nectarines
2 T sugar
2 tomatoes
1 shallot

Peel nectarines and tomatoes If you don't have this handy-dandy peeler, I recommend you get one. Otherwise you will have to drop the nectarines and tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds.  Immediately put them in an ice-water bath.  They should then slide out of their skins.

Do a large dice on the nectarines and place in a bowl. Sprinkle sugar on the nectarines and allow the fruit to macerate for a few minutes.  Meanwhile slice the top of the tomato off and gently squeeze out some of the seeds. Large dice the tomatoes.  Finely chop the shallots. Add the tomatoes and shallot to the nectarines. Season with salt…

Non-Roasted Potatoes

I love roasted potatoes - or basically anything roasted. It really adds a lot of flavor. But sometimes it's just too hot to put that oven on such a high temperature. This recipes is a good solution but you still have to heat up the kitchen by boiling water.

Non-Roasted Potatoes (Adapted from BonAppetit)

2lb baby potatoes (yukon or tri-color potatoes)
1 c vinegar
2 T butter
2 clove garlic, chopped
2 T fresh herbs - tarragon or chives or rosemary
2 T vinegar (I used Kressi)
Cut potatoes in half or quarter if on the larger size.  Place potatoes in a medium saucepan.  Add vinegar, salt, and then enough water to cover potatoes by 1".  Bring to boil and simmer until almost tender about 20-25 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.

In a skillet, heat butter and add potatoes. Add salt/pepper and fresh herbs. Tossing occasionally until potatoes are browned and start to crisp.  Add garlic and continue to cook until garlic is fragrant.  Add additional herbs and 2T of vinegar.  Add add…

Zucchini Rollatini

Yes I'm still here with the zucchini. I thought why you make eggplant rollatini - why not zucchini rollatini? Other than it being much more difficult to say, it should work.  And it did...

Zucchini Rollatini

2 zucchini (sliced lengthwise 1/8" thick)
2 eggs
1 1/2 c bread crumbs
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1 - 1/2 c ricotta (duh-homemade of course)*
2-3 eggs
1/3 c Parmesan cheese
1/2 t nutmeg
2 c tomato sauce (preferably with fresh tomatoes)
6 oz mozzarella (need you even ask if I used homemade?)

Beat eggs with 1T water in a flat dish. In another flat dish add bread crumbs, cheese, and salt/pepper. Dip zucchini strips in egg, and then in bread crumb mixture.  Place on baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat. Don't worry if they are not totally covered in crumbs. You can also give a little spray of olive oil to the tops of the zucchini to help the bread crumbs brown a little better. Bake at 350 for 1/2 hour. You want them to be softened but still be fa…

Balsamic Reduction

There is no better condiment than reduced balsamic vinegar. I've seen this sold in the store for a ridiculous amount of money.  It is so easy to make yourself.  All you need is a big bottle of inexpensive balsamic vinegar and good ventilation!



Reduced Balsamic Vinegar
1 quart balsamic vinegar

Place vinegar in saucepan and let cook down until reduced to about a 1/3 of the original amount.  Let cool.  Pour into squeeze bottle.
If you don't ventilate the kitchen well, believe me the vinegar will make your eyes water. Once it cools, it will thicken up a bit. It keeps for a crazy amount of time. No need to refrigerate either.

See now you can do fancy plate decorations like in the fancy-smancey restaurants. Or just add it to a nice sandwich or sliced strawberries or on a burger or tomato and mozzarella or well you get the idea - the possibilities are endless.

Whipped Cream Pound Cake

This was one of those recipes I got out of the books my mother's friend gave me. I found it so interesting that it used whipped cream. There is really no leavening other than the eggs (and whipped cream).

Whipped Cream Pound Cake (adapted from Family Cookbook-Central Baptist Oakridge Tennesee - circa 1981)

1 c heavy cream
2 sticks butter
3 c sugar
2 t vanilla
zest & juice of one lemon (optional)
3 c flour
1/2 t salt
6 eggs

Grease and flour a tube pan. Whip cream in mixer until peaks form. Set aside.  Cream butter and sugar together.  Add vanilla and lemon. In a small bowl mix flour and salt together.  Add flour and eggs by alternating. Mixing well after each addition. Bake at 325 for 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes and then turn out of pan. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve.

I put my whipped cream in the refrigerator while I prepared the rest of the cake as it was a rather warm day. I do not have a tube pan (…

Blueberry Ice Cream

I bought a whole bunch of blueberries and I so happened to have some heavy cream and half and half in the refrigerator - what to do? what to do? Ice Cream - of course!

Blueberry Ice Cream

2 c fresh blueberries
1/4 c sugar
2 T water
pinch of cinnamon
2 c heavy cream
1 c half and half (or milk)
1/2 c sugar
3 egg yolks
2 t vanilla

In a saucepan heat blueberries, water, sugar, and cinnamon until blueberries are softened. (I mashed them up a bit with a potato masher) Set aside.

Meanwhile heat cream, half and half, and sugar until bubbles just start to form around the edges. Remove from heat.  Temper the egg yolks by whisking a small amount of the hot cream into the egg yolks. Add the egg yolks back to the cream mixture and heat to 160. Stir in vanilla and blueberries. Taste and add additional sugar or vanilla as needed (Remember you want it more flavorful than you think it should be).

Cool saucepan in and ice bath and refrigerate for 24 hours. Mix with an immersion blender or in mixer fo…

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Not only are the zucchini rolling in but the tomatoes have started as well. For some reason I never feel overwhelmed by the tomatoes.There is always something to do with them. It's time for a nice tomato sauce for pasta. This is another one of those non-recipes. It is very easy to make, not too heavy on the measuring, and always tastes great.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
10-12 fresh tomatoes, quartered
fresh basil, oregano, parsley
olive oil

Place onions, salt, and olive oil in skillet.  Caramelize the onions. Add garlic and saute until you start to smell it.  Add tomatoes and herbs. Continue to saute until tomatoes are to the desired consistency. Add additional fresh herbs.

Many times I'm very lazy and don't bother to skin and seed the tomatoes (this was one of those times).  You need to really just chunk the the tomatoes - no need for fussy chopping. Sometimes I don't even bother with the onions.  Sometimes I cook the tom…

Carrot & Zucchini Ribbon Pasta

Yes we're still playing around with zucchini here.  I hadn't made this recipe for a long time and forgot how quick and easy and delicious it is.

Carrot & Zucchini Ribbon Pasta (Adapted from 365 Ways to Cook Pasta)

4 large carrots
1 zucchini
1 stick butter
3 cloves garlic
Shave Parmesan
1 lb pasta (fettuccine works well)

Boil water for pasta. Meanwhile create ribbons out of the carrots by peeling the carrot the entire length.  At some point the carrot will either break or you will not be able to get any further ribbons (these are snacks for the chef).  Create ribbons peeling the zucchini but stop when you reach the seeds, turn zucchini, and continue until all you have left is the center (this is not a snack for the chef - this is for the compost pile).

While pasta is cooking, melt butter in large skillet.  Add garlic and cook until you start to smell it. Add zucchini and carrot. Add basil.  Using tongs, gently turn and cook until tender. Add salt/…

Zucchini Bread

Yes it is zucchini time.  I managed to give some away to my neighbor and my Mom so far but that still leaves me with quite a few.  Zucchini bread will be coming with me tomorrow to work to unload on unsuspecting coworkers - uh I mean coworkers. Here's the recipe:

Zucchini Bread (adapted from The Book of Bread*)

1 1/2 c flour
1 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 t fresh ginger, grated
2 eggs
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c oil
1 t vanilla
2 c grated zucchini
1 c raisins

In a small bowl mix all dry ingredients. Mix eggs, oil, vanilla, and zucchini together. Stir in dry ingredients. Stir in raisins.  Place in a 9" greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake for 50 minutes at 375 or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto rack to cool.

You don't even need to drag the mixer out for this one. It's so easy. It's such a great way to use up that zucchini great recipe. The only thing I did wr…

Chocolate Mud Cake

This mud cake is not a heavy cake but it is rich. So get the milk ready as a side. I know it sounds strange to say that it's not heavy but it isn't. The cake is really light in texture.  It was so good that the Sous Chef had a second piece and you know the Sous Chef is not one for ooey gooey stuff (although he lied and said it was still his first piece - he "was just eating slow").

Chocolate Mud Cake (Adapted from JoePastry)
8 oz butter (2 sticks)
8 oz semisweet chocolate
1 c flour
2 t instant espresso powder
1/2 c cocoa
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
2 c sugar
4 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk
1 t vanilla
1 t chocolate extract

Grease a 9" springform pan. Line the bottom with a round of parchment. Combine the chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Melt them in the microwave stirring every 15 seconds or so.  Stir until completely smooth.

Sift and combine flour, cocoa, espresso, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir in sugar.  Whisk eggs and buttermilk together.  A…

Carrot & Zucchini Slaw

Once the zucchini starts rolling in from the garden, you start to feel overwhelmed with zucchini.  You stuff it, bake it, tomato it, juice it, and bread it. You don't know what the heck to do with them all.  Well this is a nice and quick recipe that uses up a bit of it.  I first found the recipe in Cooking Light back in August 2010. It was just a side blurb about what to do with zucchini. I was desperate to use up zucchini so I tried it.  It is really a nice summery side dish.

3 carrots (about 1 cup)
1 zucchini (about 4 cups - see 4 you're using up 4 cups of zucchini it 1 go!!)
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/4 c mayonnaise*

In a food processor, grate the carrots and empty them into a serving bowl.  Next grate the zucchini. Add them to the carrots.  Add the raisins.  Stir in the mayonnaise.

*I made my own mayo. I added a lot of fresh herbs since they are all growing like mad.  I used parsley, basil, thyme, and oregano. If you are not using homemade mayonnaise, you will want to add 2…

Homemade Mozzarella

No I didn't forget about you. It's just poor planning got me.  I don't know what I was thinking when I booked a trip to Aruba with two days home before leaving for a conference in Chicago!

So let's talk mozzarella. When we got back from Aruba there was a few ripe tomatoes. They seemed a little early but I wasn't going to complain.  Fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella. It doesn't get any better than that.  All I needed was the fresh mozzarella.  And I mean FRESH.  Once you realize how easy it is to make fresh mozzarella you WILL NOT buy that stuff in the stores any more at exorbitant prices like $8.99 a pound!  The curd is fairly cheap - I bought it for $4.99 a pound (Do the math - it's half the price!).  I bought 3lbs and that will give me a little less than 3lbs of cheese. You can make your own curd but the store bought stuff is pretty good. I have to ask for it at my local Italian store. They do not have it out on display anywhere.  I think…