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Monday, December 17, 2007

peppermint bark

It’s so easy that there’s hardly any point in posting a “recipe” for this, but it’s so good that it’s worth pointing out: two layers of melted chocolate topped with crushed candy canes makes a yummy brittle candy that’s difficult not to finish in one sitting.

Start with good dark and white chocolate. You want enough for about one cup of each, whether that’s in chips or shavings. I used a pound each of Callebaut semi-sweet and white chocolate (sold in one-pound blocks at Whole Foods), chopped with a knife into chunks no bigger than about half an inch. Since you’ll be eating it pretty much straight, better quality chocolate corresponds directly to a better final product.
Melt the dark chocolate chunks. Use a fancy double boiler if you like, but honestly, it’s just as well to use Pyrex in the microwave. Melt it one minute at a time at 60% or 70% power, stirring just enough to determine how smooth it is. After two or three rounds in the microwave, it should be very smooth. Add in about a 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract.

Pour the melted dark chocolate into a nine-by-thirteen pan lined with parchment paper. The paper is a little clumsier than foil, but it won’t try to stick to your candy when you try to break it apart. Use a spoon that hasn’t been in your seared mouth to spread it into a thin, even layer across the bottom of the lined pan.

While the dark layer cools and hardens, put 12 peppermint candy canes in a plastic bag and smash them up with a mallet, a heavy glass measuring cup, or a saucepan. You’ll get a fine powder quite easily, but you don’t want to pulverize everything. Stop when the largest pieces are about the size of Chiclets.

For white chocolate, 60% power and a minute at a time should get it melted in about two minutes. White chocolate melts more quickly than dark chocolate, and it also burns more easily. If two minutes in the microwave doesn’t do it, keep trying in fifteen-second increments. It won’t take long..

By now, the dark chocolate should be solid enough in the pan not to mix up with the white chocolate. Pour the white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate as evenly as you can. Spread it gently until it covers the dark chocolate completely.

When the white chocolate is laid out in the pan, you can decide for yourself how to apply the peppermint candy. One approach would be to use a strainer to sift the finest of the candy cane dust onto the top of the chocolate. Another would be to sift the fine particles into something else, then lightly apply only the larger pieces of candy to the chocolate. You could also sift the dust into a bowl, put on the bigger pieces, and then sprinkle the dust over everything. I actually sift the dust onto the chocolate first, and then put the candy on top of that, because it’s the easiest.

If you use the bigger pieces at all, you’ll want to push them slightly into the white chocolate with the back of a metal spoon to be sure they stick. If you don’t, they’ll shake off when you break the candy apart later.

Once everything is in the pan, put the pan into the fridge. In an hour or two, pull it out! Lift the candy from the pan by the paper and break it down into small pieces with your hands. As you snap it into bite-size chunks, lay them neatly into a quaint old-fashioned glass jar. When the jar is full, put a pretty ribbon on it and present it to your grandmother. The remainder you can shove directly into your own face.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

monkey bread

last night i went to a holiday party with my niece. we made her famous monkey bread. when we made the second batch, i felt like i was doing a food network tv show. i was explaining each step to some of the women that were at the party and wanted to know how to make it. it was hilarous.

monkey bread

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 containers of pillsbury grands butter flavored dinner rolls
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

preheat oven to 400 degrees

mix white sugar and cinnamon in zip-loc bag
cut dinner rolls into quarters and toss in cinnamon sugar mixture
pile up in bundt pan

in small sauce pan melt butter, once completely melted add in brown sugar and stir until mixed. let it bubble away until it is nearly carmelized. pour over rolls in bundt pan. bake for 40 minutes in 400 degree oven. take out and turn over onto serving tray. let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving as the carmalized sugar will be VERY hot.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Nutty Brittle

Nutty Brittle
Adapted from Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Gift Goodies Show
Aluminum foil
Non-stick cooking spray
24 soft caramel candies, unwrapped
3/4 cup toffee peanuts
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil with cooking spray and place pan in warm oven. Spray a heavy small saucepan with cooking spray. Add caramels and stir over low heat until melted. Stir in toffee peanuts and continue stirring for a couple minutes. Spray a dull knife or metal off-set spatula with cooking spray. Remove pan from oven and then quickly spread caramel-peanut mixture over prepared pan. Cool completely; cover pan with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Break into bite-size pieces. Store in refrigerator.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mom's Coleslaw

every once in a while i get a hankering for my mom's style of coleslaw. in fact, i made some last night after talking about comfort food on my other blog.

here is how i make it:

1 bag shredded cabbage ( i buy the pre-bagged stuff, just plain cabbage because i don't like carrots in my coleslaw.)
2 bunches of green onions sliced up (i just realized last night that i could use my kitchen shears for this rather than a paring knife. DOH!)

mix cabbage and onions together in a bowl.


8 oz sour cream (or plain yoghurt if you prefer)
1 cup of mayonaise (my personal favorite is best foods)
2 T red wine vinegar
1 dash worchester sauce
lawry's garlic salt and lemon pepper to taste

mix in separate bowl and pour over cabbage and onion mixture. stir together and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

when exactly did i become a martha stewart wannabe?

last year i made this for the "pumpkin pie" contest at work. they said it didn't actually have to be pie, as long as it was made with pumpkin. i called this my pumpkin - pumpkin cake.

this year i stuck to the rules. i made this from scratch. i cooked the pumpkin, i seasoned it, i made the crust, i cut out those freakin leaves. i did it all.

Monday, October 1, 2007

the wilton rose...

these are my first attempts at the "wilton" rose. the teacher said they were perfect.

surprisingly, i went with yellow and my classmate went with pink. :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

iron chef masaharu morimoto...

i snuck out of work a few minutes early this afternoon so that i could get to santana row by 5:00pm. my friend mrs. L had told me that the iron chef was going to be at sur la table for a book signing. she was unable to make it due to a prior commitment so i went in her stead.

this first picture is from the cooking demo that chef morimoto did.

this picture is from the book signing portion of the night. i was number 3 in line. when i thanked him in japanese, he got a huge smile on his face and shook my hand again and said "thank you so much..." :) how cool is that?

TV chefs coming to town...

tonight iron chef masaharu morimoto will be at sur la table in santana row for a cooking demo and book signing.

december 15th rachael ray will be at sur la table for a Q&A session and book signing.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

not exactly duff goldman...

but everyone has to start somewhere. :)

the base of this cake is a family recipe for a chocolate cake. after piping on the dam between the layers i filled it with chocolate pudding and then topped that with heath toffee bits. then i put the top layer back on and iced it.

next i learned how to do the shell border and the sweet pea flowers & bow. finally i added the star border to the top and it looks like this.

this is a close up of the sweet peas on the top.

next week we will be learning roses!! yay!

Monday, September 17, 2007

i'm a wilton whore...

saturday was my first in the series of 4 classes in course 1.

i can't wait for next saturday!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

this is what happens...

when you give me a new cookbook.

every one of those post it notes represents a recipe i want to try. and that's just ONE cookbook.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

after my allergy shots tonight i went by the cambrian farmers market. i got a nice box of squash blossoms that was supposed to be $3.00 for 10 but ended up being $3.00 for 13. i guess someone at the farm can't count. anyway, i have been wanting to try this since i read about it in one of my italian food magazines. i had some mozzarella medallions in the fridge.

after gently washing the blossoms i stuffed them with mozzarella, then i made up a batter from flour, pellagrino, an egg, garlic salt, and fresh ground mixed peppercorns and dipped each one in it.

i fried them one at a time in a small pan of vegetable oil and drained them on a paper towel.

once the excess oil was drained i plated them and sprinkled them with a little gray sea salt.

the taste testers of team barbie have pronounced them yummy and requested more. :)

i just might need to buy these...

hockey candy molds

Sunday, August 12, 2007

who's got napastyle?

the city of Los Gatos does now...

Mrs. L says over here that the adorable michael chiarello was going to be in Los Gatos at the opening of his new store Napa Style. Mrs. L was not able to go because it was her mother's birthday so i went instead. :)

michael was charismatic and charming. and oh so cute!

Friday, August 3, 2007

rocky road snack cake

Rocky Road Snack cake
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup soy flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup cubed reduced-fat firm tofu (about 6 ounces)
1/2 cup vanilla-flavored low-fat soy milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup miniature marshmallows, divided
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, divided
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°.
Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flours, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Combine sugar, tofu, soy milk, and butter in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in 2/3 cup marshmallows and 1/4 cup walnuts.

Spread the batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with the remaining marshmallows and walnuts. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Cut into squares.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Better Than Sex Chocolate Cake...

my neighborhood block party was held this past saturday night. one of my neighbors brought this cake as a dessert to share. it is SO good and easy as pie! i made it last night to bring to work today.


1 (18 1/2 oz.) pkg. German chocolate cake mix
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 jar caramel sauce
12 oz. carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
3 Heath bars, crushed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9x13x2 inch pan. Prepare cake mix as directed on package; pour into prepared pan. After 10 minutes of baking, sprinkle with chocolate chips. Continue baking until cake is done.
While cake is still hot, poke holes in it with handle of wooden spoon. Pour sweetened condensed milk over cake; let cool. Top with caramel sauce, then whipped topping. Sprinkle with candy bars. 12 to 16 servings.

Chinese Chicken Salad

For this recipe I added chopped up romaine lettuce because I am not a big fan of bell peppers of any color.

Adapted from Ina Garten, “Barefoot Contessa Parties!” cookbook.

Serves 12

8 split chicken breasts (bone in, skin on)
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound asparagus, ends removed, cut into thirds diagonally
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted

For the Dressing
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large, bite-sized pieces.

Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers into strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the shredded chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ginger Apple Galette

1/2 of a 17-1/2-ounce package (1 sheet) frozen puff pastry
1 slightly beaten egg white
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
2 tablespoons butter
3 large apples, halved, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
Whipped cream (optional)
(ed note: i used honey sweetened mascarpone instead of whipped cream.)
Crystallized ginger (optional)

1. Thaw puff pastry according to package directions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to a 14x11-inch rectangle. Trim to a 12x10-inch rectangle. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick pastry with a fork. Build up the sides slightly by folding in about 1/2 inch of pastry on edges. Brush edges with egg white. Crimp or decorate edges with cutouts from pastry trimmings. Brush again with egg white.
2. In a small mixing bowl stir together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon ginger, and lemon peel. Cut in margarine or butter until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle half of the ginger mixture over pastry. Arrange apple slices on top, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with the remaining ginger mixture.
3. Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree F oven for 18 to 22 minutes or until pastry is golden and apples are tender. Serve warm. If desired, top each serving with whipped cream and additional crystallized ginger. Makes 8 servings.

Kahlua Cheesecake...

1 1/2 c. chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
1/3 c. butter melted
1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
4 tbsp. Kahlua
1/2 tsp. vanilla
12 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. sugar
1 c. sour cream
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Blend together crust ingredients in a mixer or food processor. Press into an 8- 9 inch springform pan. (ed note: I don't have a spring form pan so I used a foil pie tin and it worked just fine.)
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs. Add sugar and vanilla. Break cream cheese into small pieces and add to mixture one piece at a time. Blend well. Add Kahlua. Pour into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Blend together topping ingredients. Spread on top of cake while still warm. Bake 3-5 minutes at 450 degrees. Cool and chill overnight or all day before serving.

Caramelized Matzoh Crunch with Chocolate

4 to 6 sheets of matzoh
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted or salted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup (firmly-packed) light brown sugar
optional: fleur de sel, or coarse sea salt
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, or coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Line a 11" x 17" baking sheet completely with foil (making sure it goes up the sides) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line the bottom of the sheet completely with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.

In a medium-sized heavy duty saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar and cook over medium heat until the butter begins to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof utensil.

Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the syrup darkens and gets thick. (While it's baking, make sure it's not burning. If so, reduce the heat to 325 degrees.)

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips or chunks. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread smooth with an offset spatula.

Sprinkle with a flurry of fleur de sel or coarse salt, then scatter the toasted almonds over the top and press them into the chocolate.

Let cool completely, break into pieces, then store in an airtight container until ready to hand out to anyone you feel worthy.

The Espresso Martini...

1 oz cold espresso
1 1/2 oz Absolut® vodka
1 1/2 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur
1 oz white creme de cacao

Pour ingredients into shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into chilled martini glass. It should be somewhat frothy. You can garnish this in a number of ways. I use a mixture of sugar and cocoa powder on the rim and sometimes a froth of steamed milk foam.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ravioli

16 wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten to blend
1 cup Nutella (Chocolate Hazelnut spread)
Vegetable oil, for frying
16 fresh mint leaves
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Granulated sugar, for dredging
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Place 1 wonton wrapper on the work surface. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with egg. Spoon 1 tablespoon of chocolate-hazelnut spread into the center of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper diagonally in half over the filling and press the edges of the wrapper to seal. Place the ravioli on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers, egg, and chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Add enough oil to a heavy large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F.

Working in batches, carefully add the ravioli to the hot oil and cook until they are golden brown, about 45 seconds per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Then, transfer the cooked ravioli to another baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven while frying the remaining ravioli. (The fried ravioli can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool them completely, then cover and refrigerate. Before serving, place them on a baking sheet and rewarm in a preheated 375 degrees F oven just until they are heated through, about 7 minutes.)

Spray the top side of the mint leaves very lightly with nonstick spray. Working with 1 leaf at a time, dredge the coated side of the leaves in sugar to coat lightly.

Frosty Latte Dessert

2 cups whipping (heavy) cream
¼ cup coffee liqueur
½ cup chocolate-flavor syrup
½ cup butter or margarine (firm)
1 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
½ cup finely chopped nuts

1 . Place whipping cream, liqueur and syrup in large bowl; refrigerate.
2 . Heat oven to 350ºF. Cut butter into flour in medium bowl, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until evenly mixed. Stir in nuts. Press evenly in bottom of ungreased square pan, 9x9x2 inches. Bake about 15 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
3 . Beat whipping cream mixture with electric mixer on high speed until stiff; spread over crust. Cover and freeze at least 4 hours until firm. For serving pieces, cut into 3 rows by 3 rows; garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint, serve immediately. Store covered in freezer.

Chocolate Dipped Madelines

4 eggs
2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. clarified butter
1 tbsp. vanilla
Confectioners' sugar
Stir eggs and sugar into top of double boiler until creamy and lukewarm. Remove from heat and beat until cool; add flour gradually, mixing well. Fold in butter and vanilla.

Use special shell-shaped Madeline molds that have been buttered and floured (or small 1 1/2 inch muffin pans). Fill molds 2/3 full; fill muffin tins less than 1/2 full. Bake in a 425 degree oven for ten minutes or until lightly browned. Dust cooled tea cakes with powdered sugar. Yield: 5 dozen.

I dipped these in chocolate instead of dusting them with powered sugar.