"Of soup and love, the first is best."
Spanish Proverb

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Red Velvet Cake

This is the cake Bobby Flay used in the Red Velvet Throwdown. I don't remember if he won or not, but it is fabulous. I love that it uses both butter and oil, making it rich and moist, and it's less red and more chocolaty than most Red Velvets. I was skeptical about not using the traditional cream cheese frosting, but this unique buttercream frosting is divine. It's a winner, and no matter that it has more than a pound of butter in it. Just take a bite and look the other way.
Red Velvet Cake
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking
1/2 teaspoon
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure
vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
The How-to:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans and line each pan with a round of parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl
Cream the butter, sugar and oil in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla, vinegar and food coloring.
Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches alternating with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pans. Let cool completely before frosting. Slice each cake into 2 layers and frost.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
The How-to:
Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the vanilla bean and discard. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened to a paste, about 2 minutes. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and the sugar is totally dissolved, about 6 minutes. Add the cold paste, a few tablespoons at a time to the butter mixture and whip until light and fluffy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Marscapone Ice Cream

Marscapone is an Italian cheese, a lot like cream cheese. I still prefer Buttermilk Ice Cream, but Mark loved this. It's super rich and elegant.
Marscapone Ice Cream
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 8-oz container mascarpone
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

The How-to:
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until fluffy and lighter in color. Set aside. Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan and just bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
While beating the egg yolk mixture, pour in a small spoonful of the hot milk mixture and continue to beat. Repeat process with a larger spoonful, while beating, then repeat. Next, scoop all the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk mixture. Return heat to medium-low. Cook about 8-10 minutes longer, stirring frequently with a spatula to scrape all corners of the bottom of the pot. Do not let boil. The custard should be just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but have no lumps.
Whisk in the mascarpone and vanilla until smooth in texture. Chill the custard 4 hours or overnight. Follow your ice cream maker’s instructions to churn into ice cream. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for 2 hours.

Marscapone Ice Cream served over roasted peaches in a white wine honey sauce.

Lettuce Wraps or Lettuce Wrap Salad

I had some leftover dressing from the Asian Noodle Salad, so I tried it in this recipe and it worked beautifully. So may I suggest you double the dressing recipe when you make the noodles one week, and use it for these the following week. Two birds with one stone and so yummy. Also, I prefer to eat this salad style because I just couldn't manage to keep the filling inside the lettuce leaf anyway.
Lettuce Wraps or Lettuce Wrap Salad

1 Tbl. Olive Oil
1 lb. Ground Turkey
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 cup Carrots, grated or pre-packaged matchstick
1 can Water Chestnuts, drained and chopped
3-4 stems Green Onion, chopped
1 head Romaine Lettuce, cleaned

Asian Sauce (as used for the Asian Noodle Salad)
Combine in a blender until smooth:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbl. creamy peanut butter
3 Tbl. rice vinegar
2 Tbl. sesame oil
1 tsp. ginger, freshly grated or minced*

The How-to: In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil and once hot, add ground turkey and cook until browned well. Add peppers, carrots and water chestnuts. Cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add sauce and cook until everything begins to caramelize, 3-4 additional minutes. Take off of heat and garnish with green onions. Serve over chopped lettuce or inside and rolled up in a lettuce leaf like a burrito.

Drowned Eggs or Uova in Brodetto or Eggs in Tomato Sauce

One of the greatest discoveries of my adulthood is the runny egg, over toast, in a sandwich, whatever which way, it's amazing. Well, this dish showcases the runny egg, and even better, it is easy and quick to prepare, and you probably have everything in your cupboard. So, what are you waiting for? For extra speedy, warm up a jar of my favorite Archer Farm's Pomodora Sauce and proceed with the egg cracking from there.
Drowned Eggs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 shallots or 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 16-oz can tomatoes and their juice, crushed by hand
3 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
8 large eggs
The How-to:
In a 10 to 12-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot or onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and allow it to evaporate completely.
Add the tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. rd.
Add the basil to the sauce and stir in. Gently break the eggs into the sauce, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with crusty bread, a shaving of Parmesan and if you have them, fresh tomatoes and more basil.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homemade Frozen Burritos and Cilantro-Lime Rice

These are healthy, easy, meat-free, grab-n-go deliciousness. Throw in your husband's briefcase, bring them to your child's soccer game, or pour some enchilada sauce and cheese over them, bake in the oven until bubbly, and you have dinner.
Homemade Frozen Burritos with Rice and Beans
makes 10
10 whole wheat Tortillas, burrito size
8 oz. tub Sour Cream
2 Tbl. Olive Oil
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 - 1 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 can Black Beans, drained
1 recipe Cilantro-Lime Rice (recipe follows)
The How-to:
1. Make rice according to instructions. Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and jalapeno, and saute until al dente, just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add beans and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. Warm tortillas, covered in a wet paper towel until warm and pliable, about 1 minute. Or, do it my way, set over a boiling pot of water and a baking wrack, about 30 seconds until pliable.
4. To assemble burritos, apply a small spoonful of sour cream on the surface of the tortilla, about 1 1/2 Tbl. Spoon a large spoonful of rice, followed by the pepper mixture. Fold tightly into a burrito, sides in and then roll. Wrap in aluminum foil and freeze to use later or refrigerate for the immediate future.
Cilantro Lime Brown Rice
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2 Tbl. olive oil or canola oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 cups cilantro
1 lime, zest and juice
2 cups water
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon salt

The How-to:
In a heavy sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and, when it shimmers, add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
Add another 1/2 Tablespoon of oil and let it heat thoroughly. Then add the rice and salt and stir to coat. Cook until the rice becomes opaque, about 3-4 minutes.
Pour the water into the sauce pan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low so rice is at a simmer. Cover and cook until rice is tender and all the water is absorbed, about 45-55 minutes, or however long indicated on the package. Combine cilantro, garlic and lime zest and lime juice in blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside. When rice is ready, turn off the heat and let rest covered for 5 minutes.
Add cilantro-lime mixture and fold together. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Hummus Pita Sandwich

The only thing that is mandatory in this pita sandwich is the hummus; it is a hummus pita sandwich after all. (Recipe for hummus follows.) So after spooning a generous amount of hummus in the bottom of your pita, fill with any of the following: bell peppers, matchstick carrots, cucumber, spinach, lettuce, tomato. And there, my friends, is a healthy, easy lunch. Use leftover hummus to dip raw veggies or crackers in for a snack.
Perfect Hummus
adapted from David Lebovitz's Cabbagetown Hummus
2-3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped (depending on how much you like your garlic)
1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 cans canned chickpeas, drained
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/8 teaspoon chile powder or a few dashes of hot sauce, optional
1/2 cup (or more) water or reserved chickpea liquid
The How-to:
1. In a blender or food processor, whiz together the garlic, salt, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice until the garlic is finely-chopped.
2. Add the chick peas, parsley leaves, chile powder, and the water or chick pea liquid, and pulse until smooth. Stop the machine a couple of times during blending to scrape down the sides to make sure everything gets well-incorporated.
3. Taste, and add more lemon juice or salt if desired, and more liquid until it reaches a thick, but spreadable consistency. You can make it as smooth, or as coarse, as you want.
*Hummus will keep in the refrigerator for up to four days. You can also freeze hummus, well-wrapped, for up to two months.

Butterscotch Sauce

This is Smitten Kitchen's ridiculously easy butterscotch sauce. She was right, it is super easy to prepare, but also spectacularly yummy.

Ridiculously Easy and Yummy Butterscotch Sauce
Yield: About 2/3 to 3/4 cup sauce
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or 1/4 teaspoon regular salt), plus more to taste*
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, plus more to taste
The How-to:
Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended. Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally.
Remove from heat and add one teaspoon of the vanilla extract, stirring to combine. Tweak it to your taste, maybe more salt, more vanilla, whisking well after each addition.
*The flaky sea salty really does make a difference and I ended up using an entire teaspoon.
Serve cold or warm over ice cream or cake or go right in with a spoon. The sauce will thicken as it cools. It can be refrigerated in an airtight container for at least 2 weeks and reheated in a microwave or small saucepan. The recipe can be doubled, if you want to be naughty like me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sweet Ginger Zucchini Cake with Lemon-Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

I love friends with gardens, especially when they share. My friend Christie gifted me with two beautiful zucchinis, so it was either something healthy or cake, and presented with the option, I always, always go for cake. Most zucchini cakes call for chocolate, but I didn't want to hide the zucchini, so I tried this trio of flavors and I think it worked. It's an easy, one-bowl cake and perfect for those summer picnics, or breakfast. I love cake for breakfast.
Sweet Ginger Zucchini Cake
2 cups Sugar
1 cup Vegetable Oil
3 whole Eggs
3 tsp. Fresh Ginger Root, peeled and finely grated* (I just pull it out of the freezer and use my micro plane grater)
zest of one Lemon
juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 cups All-purpose Flour
½ teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 cups zucchini, grated (about one medium zucchini)
Preparation Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350*. Mix together the sugar, oil, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest and ginger in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Gently fold together, and then add zucchini and mix well. Pour into a greased sheet cake pan or 9 x 13 Pyrex and bake at 350* until done, 25 minutes for the sheet cake to 35 minutes for the 9x13, depending on the pan you use. Cool completely.

Lemon-Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick Butter, softened
1 8 oz. package Cream Cheese
1 pound Powdered Sugar
juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 tsp. Fresh Ginger Root, finely grated
2-4 Tbl. Milk or Cream
1 cup Pecans, finely chopped, optional (I opted out)
Preparation Instructions:
In large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese. Add sugar, lemon juice, ginger and blend until smooth. Add milk or cream until you reach desired creaminess. Spread on cooled cake.
*If you're a big fan of ginger, by all means, add more ginger. I just wanted a tease of it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Asian Noodle Salad (Take Two)

I know I've previously posted a recipe for Asian Noodle Salad, but this one is a lot better for a lot of reasons. It's easier to prepare and it can sit in the fridge overnight without getting gloopy or stiff. * It's a crowd pleaser. Thanks for the inspiration, Christina.
Asian Noodle Salad
1 lb. Linguine
1 bunch green onions, cut on angle
1 large red pepper, julienned
1 large green peeper, julienned
1 large carrot, peeled, julienned
1-2 Tbl. sesame seeds, toasted (toasting is optional but optimal)

Cook noodles until al dente. Rinse with cold water to shock. To toaste sesame seeds, heat over medium heat in a saute pan 2-4 minutes until they smell nutty.

For the dressing, combine in a blender:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbl. creamy peanut butter
3 Tbl. rice vinegar
2 Tbl. sesame oil
1 tsp. ginger, freshly grated or minced*

Blend until smooth.
Combine dressing with vegetables and noodles and toss until well coated. Garnish with green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
*If preparing the day before, wait and toss noodles and veggies with dressing immediately before serving.
*One of my new favorite tricks and to insure I always have fresh ginger at my disposal: peel a nob of ginger and throw it in a freezer bag in the freezer. Then it's always ready and even easier to grate.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This is a slightly tweaked version of Smitten Kitchen's Cream Cheese Pound Cake, otherwise known as the very best pound cake I've ever had and the only one I'm going to make for the rest of my life. It's easy to prepare, and boasts that crackly top and moist crumb. It's perfect. Serve with berries and cream, ice cream and chocolate sauce or layer in a trifle.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 package (8 ounces) Philadelphia brand cream cheese, at room temperature

3 1/4 cups sugar

6 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter a 10-inch tube pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper. Alternately, you can use a 12-cup bundt pan, and simply butter and flour it.
2. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar, increase the speed to high, and beat until light and airy, at least five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla, almond, then the flour and salt all at once. Beat just until incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and shake lightly to even out the top. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, 1 1/4 hours.
4. Place the pan on a cake rack and cool for 20 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

Tuna Melts with Lemon and Capers

This is a 15-minute meal. Beat that, Rachel Who? The lemon and capers make this so fresh, not your Momma's stinky tuna. My girls asked, flabbergasted, "This is fish?!" Enjoy.

Tuna Melts with Lemon and Capers
makes 8 half sandwiches

4 5-oz. cans best quality White Albacore Tuna, drained really well
zest of one lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
3-4 Tbl. capers
1-1 1/2 cups Mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Crusty French rolls or bread, sliced
2-3 Tomatoes, sliced
8 slices Munster or Swiss cheese

Gently fold together tuna, lemon zest, lemon juice, mayo and capers. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon about 1/4 cup of tuna mixture on each half of roll or sliced bread. Top with sliced tomato and cheese. Place under broiler for about 5 minutes or until golden and bubbly.