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Showing posts from March, 2014

Pecan Spice Cake w/Maple Frosting Redo

The Sous Chef is not a big chocolate ooey gooey fan. He's more of a pound cake, plain kinda guy. Yeah - I know I don't get it either??!! So I had seen this recipe in Cooking Light, apparently from November 2010, and thought he would like it. He's a big maple fan, as well spice cake.

Well first of all I should have went to the Cooking Light website and read the comments before I made this cake. They all mentioned that the icing set up real fast, and boy they were not kidding.  Now I'm a fast icer, but this was beyond fast. It was starting to set up in the bowl before it even made it to the cake! Also as some of the commenters said there definitely was not enough icing either. The icing was so set, the pecans are just resting on top. They are not set in the icing. The icing really did have a nice flavor. The maple really went well with the cake.

I used 9"pans.  Apparently I don't have 8" pans - shocking I know. So the cake was not as tall as in the origina…

Soupe a l'Oignon Gratinee

Sounds fancy huh? Don't tell anyone but it's really just soup with bread in it. But it is so much better than regular onion soup.  I've been making this since it first appeared in the NY Times in 2007 It is one of those warming, rib-sticking, comfort foods. What I really like about it is that you can do a lot of the prep ahead of time. I've made it for Easter Brunch a few times.  You can toast the baguette ahead of time and also make the caramelized onions ahead of time too. Grate the cheese and then you have most of the work done.


Place the onions in a skillet. I think I used the wrong one this time.  I don't think I usually use Griselda* (my cast iron pan) because for a long while the onions just steamed instead of caramelizing. I think she was a tad too small.

Eventually they got there.  I added about a tablespoon of sugar to help the caramelization along.

I didn't have tomato puree. I only had whole tomatoes - so I just buzzed them in the food processo…

Spaghetti con il Tonno

I was looking for a quick cook pasta recipe and came across this one in The Silver Spoon. It's one of those recipes that you basically always have the ingredients on hand. I always hate when a recipe calls for some weirdo amount of pasta like this one - 12oz. What's up with that? What am I doing with the other 6 oz? I always make the full pound of pasta.  Otherwise you would end up with a hodgepodge of pasta sitting around. Doesn't make sense. But I digress...

Spaghetti with Tuna (Adapted from The Silver Spoon)

3 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can tuna, packed in oil, drained and flaked*
3 T tomato paste**
4T water
1lb spaghetti
salt/pepper
Fresh Parsley chopped

Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the garlic. Do not let the garlic brown. Add the tuna and mix well.  Stir the water into the tomato paste (you may need to add a little more water - you want a loose pudding-like consistency). Cook over low heat for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile cook spaghetti in salted water u…

Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Spinach

I was watching A Moveable Feast on PBS a few weeks ago and Jonathan Waxman was on.  He made these potato gnocchi and said that he sometimes doesn't boil them.  He just throws them frozen into browned butter and cooks them that way.  He made them with fava beans, peas, and asparagus. I'm not too into the asparagus thing but I did like the idea of not boiling them. Sometimes they are such a pain to boil. I thought he might be onto a real good thing here for the summer.  You know how it is, the kitchen is about 190 degrees, you're dying for some sort of pasta dish (yeah I know gnocchi is not really pasta but OK you're dying for a real starch dish), and the thought of boiling water just makes you want to keel over right there on the spot.  What if you could just throw on some butter and cook them in that? So off I went experimenting.

Potato Gnocchi

2lbs russet potato
1-2 eggs
1/2 c flour
salt/pepper
nutmeg

Bake the potatoes. Do not boil them because that just leaves them …

Flavored Sugars

I saw this recipe for flavored sugars in Cooking Light and had to try it. The possibilities are endless:  rim of glasses for cocktails, stirred into oatmeal, on top of quick breads or muffins, on toast instead of cinnamon sugar, yogurt and did I say rim of glasses for cocktails?

They do not recommend using a mini food processor.  They recommend using a spice or coffee grinder.  I have a coffee grinder but I only use it for coffee. Once the coffee oil gets in there, anything else you use the grinder for tastes like coffee.  So did I want to buy another grinder just for spices and nuts and then have to store it too? NO! So I thought I would try a little experiment.  I decided to start with strawberry first.

I used the mini prep to get it as fine as a I could and then...



put it in the mortar & pestle to finish it off.

It worked wonderfully. Mix with sugar and there you go!

I had thought I would do a couple of different flavors. The only thing is you have to wait in between batches. …

Cinnamon, Caramel, Chocolate Ganache Cake

This cake sounded so good.  I love cinnamon, caramel, and chocolate so this sounded like it would be great. It's been on my to-make list since 2008. So was it worth the wait?  I think the caramel overpowered the cinnamon flavor and you couldn't taste the cinnamon at all. I think next time I wouldn't even bother with the cinnamon. The cake was very light and tasted good. I think I would  maybe use a different chocolate for the icing.  I used Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72% Belgium dark chocolate. It was a little too strong tasting. I generally use this for dark chocolate in baking but for some reason, it was a little too dark for this recipe. But the Sous Chef said he liked the contrast.



A few hints:

1.  They didn't say to grease the pan. To grease or not to grease - GREASE.  I was so glad I did. I think the sides would have really stuck had I not.

2.  Seriously be careful when you pour the caramel into the cream mixture. You could totally end up in the burn center.  I…

Fish Sticks, Chips (Fries) and Carrots

Now once I get a job don't expect so many posts in one week and don't expect to see two new recipes tested out in one go. That just isn't going to happen. But it was a big cooking day (I also made bread and mayonnaise - those will be other future posts).

First out of the box was fish sticks.  Yeah, yeah I know sounds real boring but they really came out good.  This would be a real good gateway recipe to get a kid to like fish. Now I technically started out using this recipe from Cooking Light that I've had sitting around since 2011. I adapted it quite a bit. I liked the idea of the pumpkin seeds and panko but wasn't too enthralled with the rest.  Plus it uses two egg whites - ugh not those pesky left over yolks again! So I decided to just use whole eggs. How much fat are you really saving by just using the whites - not enough. Now maybe if it were warmer and I was interested in making some ice cream, those extra yolks would be worth it, but not today.

Fish Sticks (…

Have Brownies will Travel

Usually when the eldest visits from the UK or we visit her, I try to send home/bring her some baked goodies.  She was a little concerned about luggage weight this time since she was bringing back a bunch of books. I probably should have done cookies because they are lighter, but I decided to make brownies instead.  The boyfriend is a big chocolate fan too and I thought these would work. They are just ooey and gooey - the way brownies should be.  I hate brownies when they are cakey.  If you want cake, eat cake.  If you want brownies, they have to be gooey or they just aren't brownies.

I've made this recipe for brownies many times before using peppermint patties as the recipe calls for but I didn't have them. I thought perhaps I would do some chocolate chips.  But then I remembered I had some dinner mints and thought those would work.

Peppermint Brownies (adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 stick butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoo…

Cornish Pasty

Since I've already offended a bunch of people with my entry on Irish Soda Bread, I figured why not offend some people from Cornwall too.

Be careful how you pronounce Pasty-it's Pahs-TEE not pastey - that's another blog not mine. Cornish Pasties were supposedly created as lunches for miners.  They needed something that would fit in their lunch boxes and be easy to eat - guess they got tired of sandwiches.

The first Cornish Pasty I ate was a few years ago at the West Cornwall Pasty Co in Covent Gardens in London. I know it's a chain and I generally don't like chain restaurants (if you can even call chain restaurants-restaurants) but in Europe they seem to have some good chain restaurants. After I came home, I was craving Cornish Pasties. I tried to find a recipe and could not find one that got the pastry right. I finally found one in Nigella Lawson's book. She doesn't call it a pasty, but that's what it tasted like to me.

Here is where the offending …

Chocolate Banana Bread

I have a recipe for banana bread that I basically know off the top of my head. I've been making it for such a long time now. I usually make it when I have some bananas that are getting a little overripe (which apparently is pretty often).  I got it from The Book of Bread. I never realized that the book was by Judith Jones of Julia Child fame until quite recently. So little wonder there are such good recipes in it.

I decided to change it up a little this time and make it chocolate banana bread (besides the name of this blog is about chocolate and I haven't posted one recipe with chocolate yet!).

Chocolate Banana Bread

4 T butter (softened)
3/4 c sugar
3 medium bananas
1 egg (room temperature)
1/3 c yogurt (room temperature)
1t vanilla
1 3/4 c flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 c chocolate chips (I'm usually a little more generous than that)

Grease a loaf pan. Cream butter and sugar together. While butter is creaming, in a separate…