Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Marcus Foster..... coming soon to a blog near you

Well the brilliant plan was to do a small play on words and make Bananas Foster then post it with my photos of my trip to Nashville to see Marcus Foster, which failed miserably as you can see there are no bananas in sight. I even have the brandy, which I may just drink from a glass and call it a day on the recipe.

We did go to Nashville, we saw many great musicians perform, I did meet Marcus Foster, then watched him play an interesting set (we'll just leave it at interesting for the moment), and then he almost fell into our laps as he was trying to leave the stage. Being the sweetheart/spaz that I am I did one of those movie ooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh, and then reached out in slow motion to catch..... his guitar. Oops. Guess we know where my loyalties lie. I probably would have let him all on his face while I saved the guitar. However, I am sure he would want it no other way. In the end it didn't matter because he caught his footing and was fine.

As soon as I unpack, download photos, repack for Christmas travel, travel to various countries, come home, unpack, entertain coming company, and recover I will make sure you get the rest of the Nashville experience.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Ahhhhh... what was I thinking attempting to start a blog the same time I went back to school?  Things have been very busy here.  VERY busy, and to top it all off our oven died about 20 minutes before the turkey was finished on Thanksgiving.  A quick carving and some white wine poaching on the stove and we were back in business.  Luckily all the side dishes were done.  Fried green bean casserole just doesn't have a very holiday ring to it somehow.

Well it has been about a week and a half and we still do not have a working oven, largely in part to the type of oven we have.  This is the world's smallest oven may I remind you.  I'm telling you I've seen toaster ovens that are bigger... seriously!  It's tiny.  How it ever got by me when we bought the house is beyond me.  I think after looking at 40 houses I was so happy to find one that had everything we were looking for I forgot to look at things like the appliances.  Me?  Forgot to check out the oven!  That should tell you how exhausted I was about the whole mess.  However the day we were moving in and I turned around, pointed, and said, "What the hell is that?  What am I going to cook in there a Thanksgiving quail?" 

Well we managed to fit a 6lbs. turkey in there with the side dishes.  Barely.  No that is not a type error.  It was 6 pounds.  Doesn't matter.  We got through the holiday and it was fantastic and relaxing, and since everyone with normal sized ovens have been blogging all their fabulous thanksgiving recipes, and I already gave you the Pumpkin Creme Brulee recipe, we're going to switch it up a bit.

Also, whether or not we got through the holiday seems like a mute point when you are missing your oven for over a week. There are only so many times you can have tacos or omlettes for dinner before you start to think... there has to be some good recipes out there for a cook top! 

Our oven is not even in the house at the moment as they have removed it to try to figure out what is wrong with it.  I'm hoping it's unfixable so we can get a new one!  Although these were pretty easy and tastey so I am thinking that we will make them again regardless of the oven status.

Thai Ground Pork Salad
adapted from Food and Wine December 2009


2 pounds ground pork
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 small shallots, minced
1 large jalapeno, seeded and minced, plus sliced jalapeno for garnish
Juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges, for serving
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (check that you have a gluten-free version if desired)
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Sriracha (Chile sauce) (ditto on the gluten-free... both of mine were)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup mint
1/2 cup basil
Salt and Pepper
1 cup chopped salted peanuts
1 large head Boston or othe rleafy lettuce, separated into leaves


In a bowl, mix the pork, garlic, shallots and minced jalapeno.  In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar and the 1 teaspoon of Sriracha.

In a skillet, heat the oil.  Add the pork mixture and cook over high heat, stirring to break up the meat, until no pink remains, 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice mixture.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Transfer the meat to a bowl; stir in the herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with the peanuts and sliced jalapenos.  Serve with lime wedges, Sriracha and lettuce for wrapping.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

I love the holiday season, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. All those sweets and traditional foods, yet there are times when a tradition calls for an update. About four years ago my husband swapped out old traditional Stove Top Stuffing that I grew up with for a Ciabatta, Chestnut, Prosciutto, stuffing, and needless to say we have never gone back. I mean seriously, high quality, super flavor ingredients for a box of shriveled up pieces of what is supposedly bread? There is no comparison.

This year’s swap came in the dessert department. Every year we have to have Apple Pie for my daughter. For some reason it's not Thanksgiving without Apple Pie for her, I don't really think Apple Pie screams Thanksgiving for many people (not to me at least aside from her association) but what does say Thanksgiving dessert to many, many people is Pumpkin Pie.

When I was younger I was always a Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving dessert girl.  Now that I am older and can (and do) make Pumpkin Pie in the fall it feels kind of like a repeat at Thanksgiving. I know I could just not make it in October but really, I have no will power.

Enter the new Thanksgiving dessert.... ta da da daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.... Pumpkin Crème Brulee. Yum! I really didn't make any changes to the recipe, and I have no idea what size my crème brulee cups are, but this did not come close to making 8 of any size, so I've adjusted the serving to six, but honestly I think it might be more like 4. I tried to make 8 and they came out very thin, too thin. Next time I will fill them twice as full and just make the four.  Note to readers... my 18 month old literally licked his plate on this one.

Pumpkin Crème Brulee
Adapted from Emeril


2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar, plus 4 teaspoons
8 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Arrange 4 (6, or even 8 if you know how big your cups are) (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups in a large metal baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add 3/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the prepared custard cups.

Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Sprinkle each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Alternately, preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, about 1 to 2 minutes.) Place on small dessert plates and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bobby Long... Food for the soul

I haven't cooked anything so I have nothing to post.  However despite not feeding my body (or family... oops) I did a little heart and soul feeding this weekend.  Gregg and I went to see Bobby Long play in Kansas City.  That unassuming, charming young man up there is almost solely responsible for my playing guitar.  I was listening to some of his music when he caved to his friends and played a cover of Bob Dylan's Don't Think Twice.  I am a huge Dylan fan but when you combine that with a much younger, better looking Brit... well.... everything is better with a British accent no?  Well there was no cracking at this show.  Not even when Yours Truly yelled out that he should play it.  Did I mention the show was delayed and we were there having drinks or a total of FIVE HOURS before he came on stage? 

So this photo is actually from Nashville back in April, because we saw  him at the Record Bar while in KC, and the Record Bar is very dark, insanely dark... pitch black dark aside from some orange back track lighting (true story).  My camera was not a fan of the location.

He played some of his new music which was awesome and a little more kickass than some of his older stuff, (not that I don't love most of his stuff, because I do).  You will too, you should check him out.  Seriously... there is no recipe here... get off and go look him up.  You can listen to him free on myspace, or buy his stuff on itunes, I recommend buying it.  Let me know if you become a convert, I am keeping track of how many people I can turn on to his music.  So far I have personally created 5 freaks that I know about, and infected the Hawaiin islands with Bobby Long-lust as well.

PS... the loving husband talked Mr. Long's  very funny manager, Phil, into having Bobby come out after the show to meet me, and sign my guitar strap.  Love it. You're dismissed.... go, google, enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Who likes Indian? Raise your left nostril!

I have been missing my friend Dharini a lot lately.  She moved to Canada a few months back to be with her charming husband, but there is an emptiness here where she used to be.  There is also an emptiness in my tummy!  I miss her food (she is from India and an excellent cook and was always gracious and kind and shared... yum).  However, she did attempt to teach me a few dishes and with that confidence I found this recipe and had to try it. 

Rava Dosas are from Southern India and can be filled with a variety of things or so I understand.  They can easily be gluten-free by substituting half and half rice and lentil flour instead of the third mixture for the rice, wheat, and semolina flours which I read is actually what they are normally made with, but this recipe said they are traditionally made with semolina, I'm more apt to believe the former but it doesn't matter because they were tasty.  (Don't quote me on this, I haven't given it a shot, but if you're gluten-free you probably already know tricks around this.  I will experiment next time and get back to you).

When I made them I omitted the jalapeño  because I wanted the little guy to be able to eat them, and while he likes spicy food I was afraid that would be too spicy.  It turns out that the recipe needed that jalapeño.  It wasn't nearly spicy enough for our crew, we will definitely be kicking this up another notch, but it's probably perfect for a  normal person that doesn't like their food to hurt them.  Oh well next time... which probably won't be too far in the future.

Think of these as a giant Indian soft serve taco.

Rava Dosas with Potato Chickpea Masala
adapted from Gourmet November 2009

Rava dosas—savory, crisp-edged crêpes popular in South India—are typically made from semolina and rice flours. Stuff them with hearty vegetables cooked in a blend of spices, chile, garlic, and ginger.

Makes 4 servings


For masala filling:

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1/3 cup dried grated unsweetened coconut
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 (3-inch) fresh jalapeño, coarsely chopped, including seeds
1 (2 1/2-inch) piece peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups water, divided
1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 (15-to 19-ounces) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen peas (do not thaw)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For rava dosas:

1/2 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
Vegetable oil for brushing


Make Masala filling:

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to a bowl and cover with cold water.

Toast coconut in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and wipe out skillet. Toast cumin seeds in skillet over medium heat, shaking skillet frequently, until fragrant and just a shade darker, about 30 seconds. Transfer to another small bowl. Reserve skillet.

Purée jalapeño, ginger, and garlic in a blender with curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, oil, 1/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon salt until smooth. Transfer purée to skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 8 minutes.

Drain potatoes, then add to onion mixture with cumin seeds and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are barely tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chickpeas and remaining 1 1/2 cups water, scraping up any brown bits, then briskly simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, 16 to 20 minutes more. Add peas and cook, covered, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in toasted coconut and cilantro.

Make dosas while potatoes cook:

Whisk flours, cumin seeds, salt, and water in a bowl.

**Generously brush a 12-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Pour 1/2 cup batter into skillet, swirling until bottom is coated. Cook, undisturbed, until dosa is set and edges are golden, about 2 minutes. Flip using a rubber spatula and cook dosa until underside is golden in spots, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate. Make more dosas with remaining batter, stacking and covering loosely with foil to keep warm. To serve, spoon masala filling into dosas.

Cooks' note:

Masala filling, without coconut and cilantro, can be made 6 hours ahead and chilled. Reheat before stirring in coconut and cilantro.

** The biggest complaint people had with this recipe was that making the crepe was difficult.  The batter is super thin and can cause some problems.  Too much oil and it will not cook properly, too little and it will stick.  For my small pan I found that 1/2 teaspoon of oil then brushed around the pan was perfect.  Also pour your batter in and DO NOT TOUCH for longer than you think.  I had the bubbles on the first cooked side and then smooth on the top.  I think I had to let my first side cook for about 4 minutes not 2, but I had my heat a little lower because I burned one.  When it is ready it should basically come right up when you put the spatula under the edge.  DO NOT FLIP until the edges are crispy, or it will be a mess.   Good luck.

Proof that Kids will eat them

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vegetarian Potato Leek Soup (or not)

I have a secret.  I wish I had the willpower to be a vegetarian.  I LOVE most vegetarian food, and when I go out to restaurants I try to order vegetarian food because it always tastes so good, and I didn't have to cook it, or listen to complaints from the teenager for daring to serving something vegetable based. 

When I lived in Vermont there was a vegetarian restaurant called The Horn of the Moon Cafe in Montpelier.  The restaurant is gone now but the cookbook lives on.  This was one of my first cook books that I purchased while in college, and living as a vegetarian (it was short lived).  I used to make this soup once a week in huge batches and freeze it.  It tastes the same out of the freezer as it does fresh.  I will admit to you up front that when I went to make the soup I was still getting over the flu and when I opened the pantry I found beef stock and no vegetable stock so mine isn't vegetarian but I almost think it taste better with vegetable stock.  Either way, it's warm and filling and fantastic with fresh bread to clean the bottom of your bowl when you're done, it's so much more refined than licking it clean.


Potato Leek Soup
Horn of the Moon


6 cups of water or stock
6 cups diced potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (washed well and just the white part)
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unbleached white flour (leave out for gluten-free it will still be thick)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley


Bring water or stock to a boil in a soup pot.  Add potatoes.  Cover and cook until tender (20 to 25 minutes).  Turn off heat.

In a 10-inch fry pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and sauté the leeks, celery, thyme, and dill weed until the leeks are well coated with butter.  Cover and cook on low heat until the leeks are tender (10 to 15 minutes).  Add to the potatoes and broth.  Blend in a blender, if you want lumpy soup only puree about 2/3rds of the vegetables.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

In the same pan in which the leeks were sautéed, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then add the flour.  Brown for 1 minute on low heat.  Whisk in cream and turn off heat.  Add to the soup, then add parsley.  Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, uncovered. 

If you're leftover soup gets too thick add a little more water or stock to thin it out as you reheat it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Scones

In case any of you were wondering, Earl Grey Tea does NOT ward off the flu as claimed. I know this because in the midst of my Earl Grey love affair I was ruthlessly struck down with H1N1.  About three days in, my 17 month old also got it, hence, the missing post from last week.  However, I was able to get off the couch for a few hours yesterday and then was able to wake up with the baby (who is running around like a mad man and you would never know he's sick at all).  He slept in and then wanted breakfast so I figured no better time than the present to jump back into Mommy duties.  These are a play on the Starbuck's seasonal scones and the first scones to ever grace my "test kitchen".  They received raved reviews from the husband who was more than happy to sleep in and wake up to fresh baked scones, and the little guy.  I personally couldn't tell you as my sense of taste is still missing, but maybe later when I peel myself off the couch again to make potato leek soup I will clear that problem up.

Pumpkin Scones


2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 large egg

Powdered Sugar Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

Spiced Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ginger
1 pinch ground cloves


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.

Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 14–16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

Plain Glaze
Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth.

When scones are cool, use a brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone.

Spiced Icing
Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Earl Grey Cookies

It has been around 35 degrees here for almost a week.  THRITY-FIVE!  Hello?  It's early October.  Ridiculous!!  I am aVermont girl, and while I expect this kind of weather there, I do not expect it here in the Midwest, but low and behold it is 35 with snow, did I mention there was snow?  No?  There is snow, I am unimpressed.  I also would like you to know that it was in the 70s right before this lovely turn of events so we are not ready for the change, and when I say we I mean myself and my chattering teeth. 

So after coming in and being chilled there is nothing like a hot cup of tea.  However, I can only handle so much caffeine in a day so I opted for Earl Grey decaf tea.  As I sat with my hands wrapped around my steamy cup, I inhaled it's rich aroma and let it's spicy taste hit the back of my throat before setting down the cup in contentment.  As I sat relaxing I realized that there is a flavor I have never had anywhere other than Earl Grey tea and I couldn't place it.  Not surprising if I've never had it anywhere else, but I found it odd that I had never at least made a Google attempt.  It is unlike me to ask a question and not go look for the answer.

I decided I must know what this flavor was but first I needed cookies to go with my tea, and since Early Grey has such a fantastic flavor I thought why not make Early Grey cookies?  But how?  How to go about making a cookie with tea in them.  Do you just throw some tea leaves into a cookie recipe?  I am not really a baker, however after starting this site I have baked more in a few months than I have in the past five years.  I realize it's easier to cook and photograph when the baby goes to sleep.  However, I am not normally in the mood for an entire meal at 10pm, but I can eat baked goods the next day.

So how would someone with a limited baking repetoire go about inventing a cookie?  Ummm, steal it of course.  Who better to steal from than Martha?  She has yet to let me down for baking goodness.  She did have a lot of explaining to do after a Putunesca recipe that flopped after a whole lot of time, but that is for another day.

These are the easiest cookies in the world.  Another easy find and fall back for busy Mom's on the go.  SCORE!!  You can make these guys and leave them in their log in your freezer for months, then you can slice off a few cookies at a time and make them for drop in guest or dessert for the family when the mood strikes.  That is convient.  Even I have time to bake cookies somwhere inside of a span that covers months of time.  If you don't have time to bake a cookie that takes under 15 minutes in a three month span, then stop reading right now, get off your computer, and go enjoy your 5 minutes of freedom, I can't help you.

As for the flavor, I was a little surprised to find that the flavor is Bergamont, which is a citrus fruit.  It has been used throughout history to treat fevers, as a disinfectant and as an antidepressant (no wonder I feel warm and fuzzy after drinking a cup, well the warm part is probably from boiling water), a nerve calming agent, and helps fight the flu, fevers, and colds.  So apparently this Bergamont is some kind of super fruit, and I will be drinking a cup of Earl Grey every day all winter, or just eating the tea in these cookies.  Tomorrow  morning?  Probably both.

Earl Grey Tea Cookies

Adapted from
Martha Stewart, Weddings, Spring 2009


2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves, (it was 4 bags for me)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (8 ounce) sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest


Whisk together flour, tea, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

Put butter, sugar, and zest in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; slowly mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Divide dough in half. Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper; shape into logs. Roll the logs into parchment twist the ends ala tootsie roll. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake until edges turn golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beef Tenderloin with Shallot, Port, and Bacon

It is the last week of classes and we had house guests so since I took time to actually cook a meal (only one though we ate out the rest of the time...oops) I do not have time to write.  However, this is a fantastic dish for Fall/Winter and falls under the request for me to make something "easy that my family will eat."  Even my super picky teenager asked if we could have this more often.  If you have young picky eaters serve the sauce on the side to dip the meat in, cut it up small and tell them it's steak, and you're not really even lying.  See you after finals.

Beef Tenderloin with Bacon, Shallots, and Port

adapted from Bon Appétit December 1997


6 large shallots , halved lengthwise, peeled
¾ tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups canned beef broth
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons cups tawny Port
¼ tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ pound beef tenderloins (large ends), trimmed
½ teaspoons dried thyme
2 bacon slices, chopped
1 ½ tablespoons butter
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons all purpose flour


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. In 9-inch-diameter pie pan, toss shallots with oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until shallots are deep brown and very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Boil broth and Port in large saucepan until reduced by half. Whisk in tomato paste. (Shallots and broth mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.)

Pat beef dry; sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. In large roasting pan set over medium heat, sauté bacon until golden, about 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Add beef to pan; brown on all sides over medium-high heat, about 7 minutes. Transfer pan to oven; roast beef until meat thermometer inserted into center registers 125°F for medium-rare, about 45 minutes. Transfer beef to platter. Tent loosely with foil.

Spoon fat off top of pan drippings in roasting pan. Place roasting pan over high heat. Add broth mixture and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer to medium saucepan; bring to simmer. Mix 3/4 tablespoons butter and flour in small bowl to form smooth paste; whisk into broth mixture and simmer until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Whisk in 3/4 tablespoons butter. Stir in roasted shallots and reserved bacon. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Cut beef into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Spoon some sauce over. Pass remaining sauce.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chocolate-Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

I have been very busy this week with the end of my first class, however, I have my study group coming over tonight which was a perfect excuse to make this recipe.  I would highly recommend using canned pumpkin for this one.  For some reason when I pureed the fresh pumpkin little chunks did not break up, and while that may be able to hide in say a pie, not so much in a brownie.  I am hoping no chunks made it into the brownies I dropped off at the babies daycare this morning.  Happy eating.

Chocolate-Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Martha Stewart Halloween 2004
Makes 16


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish (I am thinking this is suppose to be 9X13, because I used a 9-inch and if you can tell from the photos I have brownie bread it is so thick). Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter lining.

Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.

Divide batter between two medium bowls (about 2 cups per bowl). Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don't set.

With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with nuts.

Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Twice Baked Goat Cheese Souffle

Come closer my little friends. Let me tell you about a recipe that is little work with big results. A recipe that is so delicate and flavorful, I am considering asking it to be my secret boyfriend. I doubt the husband will mind, he too fell in love with this dish. This falls under one of those dishes that I always shied away from because it just sounded daunting. The soufflé. Ooohhh.

I think it might have something to do with going to restaurants where the waiter tells you, “… and if you want the chocolate soufflé for dessert you should have ordered it when you made your reservation.” Okay that might be a big of an exaggeration, but you do need to order it at the beginning of your meal. What kind of work must a dessert take that you need to order it before you pick your first course? What if you’re not hungry after you meal? Obviously this delicate dessert will not travel, it would be like asking for a crème brulee to go, it’s probably not going to work.

Well maybe not for those restaurant fussy soufflés, but this is a tough soufflé, like a chocolate soufflés scrappy little sister. It doesn’t achieve the insane heights that other soufflés have but you can make it ahead of time, and even in our house where things are crazy and very VERY loud it didn’t fall in the oven, and like so many dishes and articles of clothing in our house, if it survives…. It’s in!

This is the type of dishes I always want to post, something that looks fancy and impressive, sounds fancy and impressive, but can be made the night before you plan on serving it, after the kids are in bed, and the dishwasher is humming away on the dinner dishes.

The next night you throw it in the oven for 5 minutes while you make a quick cream (which I found totally unnecessary), and ta da…. you get a wonderful first dish for your dinner guest… or if you are me you eat two of them as a main course and call it a night. Serve this over greens with your favorite vinaigrette.  I used a warm bacon vinaigrette.

Now if you went to someone’s house for dinner and they served you a soufflé wouldn’t you be impressed? Now if you serve it to your friends, they will be impressed with you. Seriously, the husband helped me make them and it was so good I still got all the praise.

Twice-Baked Goat Cheese Souffles with Salad

Gourmet December 1998
Serves 6 as a light main course


1/2 pound aged (firm) goat cheese
4 large eggs
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
3/4 cup heavy cream

Accompaniment: salad greens tossed with vinaigrette


Preheat oven to 375°F and butter six 3/4-cup ramekins (3 3/4 by 2 inches). Crumble goat cheese and separate eggs. In a saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes and whisk in milk. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add yolks, mustard, 1 teaspoon thyme, two thirds cheese, and salt and pepper to taste, whisking until cheese is melted. Transfer yolk mixture to a large bowl.

In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat whites with a pinch salt until they just hold stiff peaks. Stir one fourth whites into yolk mixture to lighten and fold in remaining whites and remaining cheese gently but thoroughly.

Divide soufflé mixture among ramekins and arrange in a large baking pan just large enough to hold them. Add enough hot water to baking pan to reach halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake soufflés in middle of oven until slightly puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes, and transfer to a rack. Let soufflés stand, uncovered, 30 minutes (soufflés will fall slightly).

Lightly butter a baking sheet. Run a thin knife around edges of soufflés. Invert each soufflé onto palm of your hand and carefully put, right side up, onto baking sheet. Soufflés may be made up to this point 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.

Increase temperature to 425°F.

In a small saucepan bring cream with remaining teaspoon thyme and salt and pepper to taste to a boil. Remove pan from heat and keep cream warm, covered. Bake soufflés in middle of oven until slightly puffed and heated through, about 5 minutes.

Transfer soufflés to plates. Spoon 2 tablespoons cream over each soufflé and arrange salad decoratively alongside.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Welcome to the test kitchen! Well the temporary test kitchen, while I try out new pumpkin recipes this year. I enlisted some help for ideas on what type of pumpkin recipes to make. The first response was Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, which I immediately put on the list as the first thing to make.

This recipe was really easy. Getting the ingredients for this recipe? Not so much. Are you aware that there is a canned pumpkin shortage this year? Neither was I, but I am now. I went to the store to pick up my pumpkin and was met with a little sign that stated that due to a whole lot of rain at the Libby pumpkin patch there is no pumpkin. What? How can that be? How can there be no pumpkin this close to Halloween and Thanksgiving? And apparently Libby is the only supplier of pumpkin because there wasn't even an empty space on the shelf where the other brand of pumpkin should have been. I was lucky enough to spot a space on the very bottom shelf way in the back that had a few cans above the listing: Organic Pumpkin Puree, $1000. I snatched up the last two cans. I am a fan of organic stuff and I figured the time it would save me would make it all worth it. And it might have... please continue.

I got home and went about my directions until I got to the part where I was to add the pumpkin. I opened the can and immediately knew that something was wrong. Where there should have been a lovely orange puree, with nice texture, there was a dark, sickly, runny, mess with large specks of spice. Not good! I picked up the can as I remembered that I had not actual read the label while at the store, and found exactly what I thought I would find.  Organic Pumpkin Mix!  $&#%! Pause. Breathe....................... breathe again........ *%^#^!

I continued my little number and symbol venting while I put my shoes on and went back to the store (make that three stores) with the baby in tow to find that no one has any pumpkin. Apparently Libby has a monopoly on pumpkin, which should be illegal! Just saying.

So I went to the produce section and there they were. The little pie pumpkins. I cracked and decided it really would be easier to just make my own, plus I was halfway into the recipe already and I really wanted a pumpkin whoppie pie. I picked up the small pumpkin and began to load them into my cart but was interrupted by chubby little hands that really wanted the orange "ball". I handed one over and it was immediately held out over the floor, dropped, and saved (by me), and replaced in the cart, to the protests of "baaaaallll, ball, ball, ball." I spied a small yellow and green gourd that looked a lot like a pumpkin and handed it over to delighted squeals. He carried his "pumpkin" with him all night giving it kisses, and trying to eat it like an apple, funny little person. He was very upset when we wouldn't let him sleep with it.

If you do not have time to roast your own pumpkin you can wait until October 1, when Libby has promised to grace the shelves of supermarkets everywhere once again with their canned pumpkin. However, it's not hard to roast it yourself. It took a little longer but now when I have grandkids and I propped them up on the chair next to me to make Pumpkin Whoopie Pies at Halloween I can break out the Great 2009 Pumpkin Shortage story. I'm thinking of throwing in an uphill walk in a snowstorm to fight my way through crowds to get the pumpkin just for a little spice.

How to Roast a Pumpkin:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper. Cut off the tope part of the pumpkin, cut pumpkin in half. Remove seeds and nasty stringty stuff. Place pumkin cut edges down so you have a little pumkin cave or sorts. Cook for about an hour or until the flesh of the pumpkin is soft. (someone do a pumpkin word count on this post and get back to me). Remove the pumkin from the oven and flip over so that the cut side is now facing up so it can cool.

When cooled enough to handle scoop out the flesh. I put mine just like that in the refridgerator overnight since I was running out of time thanks to the trip to the store. Then I pureed it the next night and baked with it. If the puree is too dry add a tiny bit of water until it is smooth. If it is too wet, bring to a boil on the stove in a pot. Still too wet, strain through cheesecloth. If you bake the pumpkin instead of boiling it, it probably won't be too wet. Voila! See? Easy.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling
Adapted from Matt Lewis of Baked Bakery


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
2 large eggs
1 taspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In a LARGER bowl, whisk togehter brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.

You can use a small ice cream scoop here with a releasing mechanism, (but I just used heaping tablespoons to make smaller pies). Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick i nserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, aobut 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.

Sift confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be make up to a day in advance, bring to room temperature before using).

Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag (or a plastic sandwich bag like I did, works the same and you probably have one of those) cut the end off the bag (or the corner of the sandwich bag). When the cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of teh cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before servings and up to 3 days.

Makes 18 small or 12 large pies

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Honeyed Fig Crostatas

It is Fig season, and I have never cooked with Figs before this year. I did find some very cute mini green figs a little while ago, which I quickly smothered in goat cheese, topped with honey and popped in the oven. Which was good, but this time I wanted to try something different.

So how convienent that I went to my mailbox and found a subscription to Food and Wine. A surprise little gift from my fantastic foodie brother-in-law that shares my love of new recipes and yummy ingredients. Thank you Robert, I promise to make you something tasty when you visit.

I have no quirky stories to go with this recipe since I have stumbled through this last week in a frantic dance of being late, and not having enough time to breath. Thankfully this recipe came together in about 5 minutes and there were no unexpected surprises (stay tuned for the Pumpkin shortage of 2009 for next weeks post).

The Crostata recipe was very yummy (cannot even be creative in my descriptions tonight sorry) and was a nice compliment to the light fruit. The one issue I had was with the thyme, I’m not sure what that was supposed to do but it tasted way to earthy for the rest of the flavors for me. I would leave it out; I’m actually thinking maybe black pepper next time instead… I will have to do a little research on whether or not those two flavors will mesh. Should be easy when my Flavor Bible shows up this week, just ordered it via suggestion from the Gluten-free Girl, and I’m also thinking I will retry this with apple and on a separate Crostata raspberries…. Totally predictable I know. Enjoy.

Honeyed Fig CrostatasAdapted from Food and Wine October 2009

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 pounds fresh green and purple figs, each cut into 6 wedges
5 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus small sprigs for garnish
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water


In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of peas. Add the water; pulse until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut out eight 5-inch rounds, rerolling the scraps if necessary; transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a bowl, toss two-thirds of the figs with 3 teaspoons of the honey, the lemon juice, thyme leaves and a pinch of salt. Arrange the figs on the dough rounds, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Fold the edges over the figs and brush the dough with the egg wash. Chill for 30 minutes.

Bake the crostatas for 35 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until the crusts are golden. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Gently toss the remaining figs with the remaining 2 teaspoons of honey. Transfer the crostatas to plates, top with the figs and thyme sprigs and serve.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Empanadas Done Two Ways (or if you're under 10... hot pockets)

The problem with always making new recipes is that very few get remade often. It’s not that we don’t like those recipes because we do, we really do. It’s just that there are so many new ones I want to try when I have free time (which is very little these days) and the recipes that make it into frequent dinner rotation tend to be easy, quick, or low labor intensive and not ridiculously expensive, this is one of those recipes.

I have about 30 minutes to get dinner on the table before the baby has a hunger melt down or snacks on baby puffs to the point where he has no intention of eating what we just put in front of him so I like things that can be pre-prepped or half cooked the night before I intend on serving them, so that I can do the work after the baby goes to bed, so I can cook without a little monkey hanging on my leg chanting up, up, up, up, up.
I pre-made the dough for these and froze it until the night before I planned on cooking them. Took it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. When we got hom from work I stuffed the little disks and cooked them right before dinner and had food on the table in 40 minutes.... and they reheat well in a microwave... ahhhhhh..... lunch for the next day.

Note if you are not familiar with dough. This is not cookie dough. If you roll it out and it’s not quite perfect make due, it will get more elastic after the first roll and not want to stay rolled out in order to be filled. When I removed the dough from the fridge I cut it into equal portions, balled it up in my hands then flattened briefly before rolling into a slightly oblong shape to be filled, it worked perfectly.

PS. if you tell your kid they are hot pockets instead of empanadas they will eat them right up.

Chicken Empanada with Chorizo and Olives
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Gourmet, January 2005
Makes 24 small or 12 large empanadas

Dough: (I used this dough with both fillings because it was sooooo good and buttery)

4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs
2/3 cup ice water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar


3 whole chicken legs, including thighs (2 to 2 1/4 lb total)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1/3 cup finely diced Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage; 1 1/2 oz; casings discarded if desired)
1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (not hot)
1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

Egg Wash:1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Make Dough: Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.) Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Separate into two flat disk and chill them, each wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 8 hours total.

Make Filling: Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken, turning over once, about 6 minutes total, and transfer to a plate. Sauté onions, garlic, and bay leaves in fat remaining in skillet, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add chorizo and paprika and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add olives, wine, and broth and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits. Return chicken to skillet along with any juices accumulated on plate, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer chicken, covered, turning over once, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes total.

Transfer chicken to a clean plate. (Sauce in skillet should be the consistency of heavy cream; if it’s not, briskly simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.) When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and coarsely chop meat. Stir chicken into sauce and discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, then cool filling, uncovered, about 30 minutes (or refridgerate overnight).

Form Empanadas: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Divide first dough and half of second dough into 18 equal pieces and form each into a disk. (The remaining dough can be stored in the freezer for future use.) Keeping remaining pieces covered, roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 5-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick).

Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling (for large 2 teaspoons for small) onto center and fold dough in half, enclosing filling. Press edges together to seal, then crimp decoratively with your fingers or tines of a fork. Transfer empanada to a baking sheet. Make 17 more empanadas in same manner, arranging on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.

Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Beef Filling

Adapted again from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Gourmet September 2007.... must branch out more so that I am not always remaking her recipes... but they are so good!
Makes 24 small empanadas or 12 large


2 hard-boiled farm fresh eggs, or whatever kind you have, chopped into bits
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 pound ground sirloin
2 tablespoons raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped pimiento-stuffed olives (I finely chopped these but I think a bigger chop next time will produce more flavor)
1 (14-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving 2 tablespoons juice
1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water (for egg wash)


Cook onion in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up lumps with a fork, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
Add raisins, olives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tomatoes with reserved juice, then cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist, about 5 minutes. Stir in hardboiled egg and spread on a plate to cool.

Lower your racks to the bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees to cook right away or place in container in fridge overnight if you are cooking them the next day like I did.
Flour work area. Pull out your dough, cut into equal pieces. I used 1.5 oz. pieces for my small empanadas. Roll into a ball in your hand like you used to when you were a kid with play dough. Or like you do now when playing with your kids ;) Flatten ball by smushing onto counter with the palm of your hand. Flour your rolling pin and gently roll out into an oblong shape. Eyeball the half way point in your oblong and fill with 2 teaspoons of filling for small disk and 2-3 tablespoons for large. Fold disk in half (SK recommends using water to help seal edges, didn’t see that until just now so I don’t think it’s necessary but can’t hurt). Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle, then crimp with a fork, or fold over with fingers like you’re tucking in the edged on top of the half moon, stuffed, disk. Make more empanadas in same manner.

Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake in lower third of oven, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mascarpone Gelato with Macerated Berries

I would like to welcome back my friend Alex from her honeymoon with her new husband, Kevin. They spent ten days in Italy, lucky ducks. Here's a little recipe to remind you of the Italia when you miss it. Welcome home and congratulations.

And now on to my slightly less exciting life. One of my new favorite things to do after dinner, when the baby has been fed and bathed, smelling great and being all cute in his jammies, is to strap him into the stroller and take the 30 minutes walk to the local co-op. I get an hour worth of walking in, the baby gets some fresh air, and we come home with yummy food. A win all around I would say. Just this past week on one such walk I found freshly picked, local, organic raspberries, and farm fresh eggs. Both of which I snatched up greedily. Only when I went to pick up the eggs, they were the smallest eggs I have ever seen. Or they seemed to be, I don’t remember Vermont farm eggs being so tiny. I mean seriously they were cute. See?
On the left is the farm egg and on the right is the leftover grocery store organic egg from the refrigerator (there is actually more of a size difference than is apparent in the photo). Doing a quick calculation in my mind, I decided I would need three eggs for any recipe that called for two. Meaning if I grabbed a dozen I would only have enough for four recipes. That doesn’t last long around our house despite my lack of baking skills (I still blame our stupid little oven, more on that to come at a later date.) so I decided I would get two dozen. Which seemed like a completely logical idea to me, until I got home and my husband asked what we were going to do with two dozen eggs.

Little did he know how amazing fresh eggs are. I won’t bore you with my rambling about fresh eggs, but if you’ve never had them they are a completely different experience than the bland, rubbery stuff you buy in the grocery store. They are flavorful and tender and crumbly. They aren’t even the same color as grocery store eggs… and now I’m going on. So back to the what to do with the egg dilemma. We had left over ciabatta rolls from the pulled pork so my husband made us bird in a nest with fresh cheddar and bacon and those were so good, but he laughed that it took two birds to fill the tiny nest, when normally it would only take one… might my calculations have been off? *Note to self, possibly two farm fresh eggs = one nasty grocery store egg.

Then there were the raspberries. Oh raspberries (insert image of grown woman doing the happy dance here)… how I love thee. I mean I really LOVE raspberries. They are my favorite food in the world. When I get those stupid questions like what would I eat if I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life…. I usually answer cheese, because that is my indulgent food, but honestly I would pick raspberries over cheese. That is a collective gasp of shock you hear from my friends and family who know me fondly as a cheese-a-holic. This recipe however could be the best thing in the world because it combines my two loves above with…… ready for it….. ice cream! Well Gelato to be exact but to be honest I can’t seem to get a straight answer from anyone or even the web as to what constitutes the difference between gelato and ice cream other than some sketchy information about air content. Some say gelato contains no egg, and other recipes that claim to be ice cream have no egg so does that make that really a gelato? Then some say cream versus milk but again I found both nomenclature with both cream and or milk. Since I am using an automated little ice cream maker I have no control so I suspect the “ice creams” and “gelatos” I make both have about the same amount of air in them, so we’re just going to play along and call this a gelato since that is what the original recipe called it.

This recipe is adapted from Emeril’s Marscapone Gelato with Macerated Strawberries. The only difference other than the obvious swap of berries was that I halved the amount of marscapone from his 16oz. to 8oz. Partly because I just wrote marscapone on my grocery list not noting how much I would need (they come in 8oz containers, and I only bought one) and partly because this weeks blog was suppose to be Avacado gelato, which I had heard was fantastic but really just ended up tasting like frozen guacamole, so I didn’t want the marscapone flavor to be too strong. I also added the vanilla where his recipe didn’t have any. And my finally adjustment was to add 5 egg yolks instead of 4 because of their miniature nature, I probably could have gotten away with 6 but I figured egg flavored gelato would probably be as tasty as frozen guacamole so I went light. Here is a regular yolk next to the original three to see how many of my little orange beauties would make up one large yolk.

Mascarpone Gelato with Balsamic-Macerated Strawberries

Adapted from Emeril on Food Network

1 container raspberries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup simple syrup (boil 2 parts water to 1 part sugar until dissolved)
4 egg yolks (or 5 mini farm fresh yolks)
8 ounces mascarpone
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract (if you go to put it in and it says imitation vanilla... throw it in the garbage and go to the store and buy some real vanilla extract)

In a small, non-reactive bowl toss raspberries with balsamic vinegar and sugar and set aside to macerate while you prepare the gelato.

In a metal bowl whisk together simple syrup and egg yolks, set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk continuously until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage (thick, pale yellow and forms a ribbon when the whisk is lifted). Mine got REALLY foamy first so if it does that and still thickens don’t worry.

Remove the bowl from the heat, transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at low speed until cool. Whisk in the mascarpone, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and lemon juice and strain mixture through a fine sieve.

Chill thoroughly, then process in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's directions.

Serve with macerated berries.

This is a seriously rich dessert, but it is not horrendously sweet and the raspberries were fantastic. If you’ve never had balsamic and berries before be brave and try it, it’s not what you think. It was just yummmy.... and only made me want to go to Italy more, if only to ask.... What the hell makes it gelato?