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Sunday
Jun192016

Vanilla Genoise with Mascarpone Cream and Fresh Strawberries

I saw a recipe for a Strawberry Cassata on the NYT Cooking website the other day and it looked so appetizing. A light sponge cake, soaked in vodka laced syrup, layered with sweetened fresh ricotta and topped with berries. While that recipe wasn’t a “traditional” cassata – no candied fruit on top and no marzipan. It did get me thinking about making a copycat dessert. So I did.

 

For the cake: 

3 large eggs, room temperature

6 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for dusting

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

1-teaspoon lemon zest

For the Mascarpone Cream:

1-cup heavy cream

8oz. mascarpone cheese, room temperature

3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

16oz. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

     Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper, butter paper and dust entire pan with sugar, tap out excess. Whisk vanilla into cooled, melted butter – set aside.

     Beat eggs, sugar and lemon zest together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on high, until a thick, ribbon forms when the paddle is lifted. This will take at the very least 5 minutes - don’t under beat.

     Remove bowl from stand, sift flour over mixture and fold in until incorporated. Add ½ cup of batter to butter and vanilla, gently fold together until completely mixed, fold butter mixture back into batter. Spread batter into the prepared pan, smooth top. Bake for 25 minutes until top springs back when lightly pressed and a tester inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan until you can handle it, run a knife around the edge of pan, and turn out onto a cake rack. Cool completely then use a serrated knife to cut in half making two layers.

     Whisk cream, sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Whisk in mascarpone until smooth.

     Place bottom slice of cake on a plate, cut side up. Spread with ¾ of mascarpone cream. Place strawberries in a circle starting from the edge, filling in until cream is covered. Cover with top slice, spread remaining cream and decorate with strawberries.

     Keep chilled until ready to serve.

 

Thursday
Jun162016

Moo-Shu Chicken with Pancakes - Better "Take-Out" "In"

 

Mark Bittman's Pad Thai recipe  was a game changer, for me, in the whole scheme of it's possible to make a better "take-out" In, than "taking-out" take Out.

So, when I came across the America's Test Kitchen recipe for Moo-Shu Pork I was intrigued. But when I made it I was like "meh," This. Is. Bland.

I'll get right down to what I did to unbland the Moo-Shu. Added grated ginger and garlic at every step. Obvi substituted chicken thighs for pork, and cut the hoisin sauce with lots of fresh lime juice. 

One thing I'll suggest, don't substitute tortillas for the super thin pancakes that the recipe calls for. They're a little fiddly, but SO easy to get the knack of making, and well worth it. They turn out fresh and light, rather than chewy, and rubbery.  

 

 

 For the pancakes – will make 12 super thin pancakes

 

1 ½ cups flour

¾ cup boiling water

Vegetable oil for frying

 

Mix the flour and water together, in a large bowl, until a shaggy dough forms. Turn out on a floured surface and kneed until smooth, about 4 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.

 

Roll dough into a 12 inch log, cut into 12 one in pieces. With cut side up, press each piece into a 3 inch round. Brush 6 of the rounds with sesame oil, place one plain one on each of an oiled one and roll out to a 7 inch round on a floured surface. Heat ½ teaspoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan, when oil shimmers, wipe almost clean. Cook each pancake about 1 minute on each side. The edges should be crispy and a few brown spots should appear. Let cool slightly and pull apart. Stack moist side up and cover with plastic wrap.

 

For the chicken marinade

 

12 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and sliced thin

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon grated garlic

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine

 

For the vegetables

 

2 tablespoon grated garlic

1 oz dried shitake mushrooms

8 oz fresh shitake mushrooms

1 tablespoon rice wine

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons grated ginger

2 tablespoons grated garlic

2 teaspoons cornstarch

8 oz sliced bamboo shoots

2 eggs, slightly beaten

3 cups shredded green cabbage

6 green onions, sliced, white and light green parts separated

 

Lime Hoisin sauce to serve

 

Marinate the chicken with the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, toss to coat, cover with plastic wrap. Let marinate for 30 minutes.

 

Soak dried mushrooms in boiling water until reconstituted and soft. Drain reserving 1/3 cup of soaking liquid. Add 1 tablespoon rice wine, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 teaspoons cornstarch to soaking liquid, set aside.

 

Trim tough stems from mushrooms and thinly slice. Add a little oil to a wok or non stick frying pan, add eggs and scramble lightly, until moist, about 15 seconds. Set aside in a large bowl and mash with fork. Add fresh shitakes to pan, sauté until dark brown in color, add to eggs.

 

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in same pan, add whites of green onions, cook until well browned. Increase heat, add chicken and spread out in an even layer. Cook until brown, about 1, toss until cooked through. Add chicken to the egg and mushroom mixture.

 

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in pan, add bamboo shoots, dried mushrooms, garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant and heated through, about 1 minute. Add cabbage, 2 tablespoons of greens from onions, and mushroom soaking liquid. Continue cooking until the cabbage has wilted, but still crunchy. Return chicken and egg mixture to pan, reheat. Top with additional green onions.

 

To assemble: spread a little hoisin sauce on a pancake, add filling. Fold bottom of pancake up to filling, fold in sides against filling, then roll up into a package.

 

 

 

Sunday
Nov162014

Buche de Noel - The #1 It's not Christmas Without recipe...

 

 

     This sponge cake is from Betty Crocker circa 1986. It’s the only recipe I’ve used and it’s never, ever failed me. This is really basic, so it’s easy to tweak it any way you like to suit your own tastes. For instance, instead of Chantilly cream you could make a peppermint whipped cream, or add Chambord instead of vanilla to the cake. The variations are endless, just not in this house.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE SPONGE CAKE

4 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3-cup water

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

1-teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Confectioner’s sugar

     Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 15x10x1 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

     Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high until thick and lemony in color (this could take up to 5 minutes). Gradually beat in sugar on low speed. Then beat in water and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until smooth. Do not over beat. Pour batter into prepared pan, spread to corners using a spatula.

     Bake 12-15 minutes until center springs back when pressed with finger. Sprinkle a clean tea towel with confectioner’s sugar. Loosen edges of cake from sides of parchment paper and turn upside down onto a tea towel. Peel away paper; trim any stiff edges from rectangle. While hot, roll cake and towel up from the narrow end. Let cool on a rack for 30 minutes.

FOR THE CHANTILLY CREAM FILLING

½ cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1-tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Beat cream, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until stiff peaks form, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4-4-½ cups confectioner’s sugar

1-tablespoon vanilla

¼ cup milk

     Whisk flour and cocoa together in a medium bowl. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Gradually beat in sugar mixture on low speed until blended. Gradually beat in vanilla and enough milk until the frosting is smooth. If the frosting becomes too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar, if it too thick, add milk by the teaspoon.

 

Sunday
Nov092014

Panforte

 

     Panforte is cross between nougat and fruitcake, a bread and a candy. I think this is one of the Christmassiest desserts ever. For me it's the aroma that wafts around the kitchen when it's baking.

     There's nothing to be intimidated by, it's not tricky to make just a bit sticky to make. The honey syrup hardens really quickly so you have to move fast from mixing to getting the batter into the pan. What’s nice is that this Italian spiced “bread” keeps for ages, easily a month or two wrapped well at room temperature.

 Ingredients

2 cups toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

2 cups candied citron mixture (like lemon, lime, orange, cherry)

Grated zest from one lemon

¾ cup flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-cup sugar

¾ cup honey

     Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Spay paper and sides of pan with cooking spray.

     Mix the almonds, citron, zest, flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg together in a large bowl.

     Heat the sugar and honey in a small pan on low heat stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth, bubbles slightly and reads 240°F on a candy thermometer. Pour honey syrup into nut mixture and stir well, the batter stiffens quickly, so work fast. Scrape into prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula or your fingers when it’s cool enough to handle. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the center feels like soft custard and your finger comes away clean. Do not over bake. The panforte will firm up as it cools. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, run a knife around the edge to loosen, remove pan and cool completely. Remove the bottom and parchment paper, sprinkle heavily with confectioner’s sugar.

It's All Delicious note: I mushed two recipes together; one from David Lebovitz and the other from The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

 

Thursday
Feb132014

Irish Whiskey Bread Pudding with Spiked Apples, Raisins & Vanilla Whiskey Sauce

 

Bread pudding is wonderful.  It’s comfy, warm and delicious when done right.  When not, it’s rubbery and dry.  This recipe is SO right.  Ample amounts of Challah, cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla create a soufflé like pudding.  Apples and raisins soused in whiskey add to the texture and flavor.  The sauce is not too sweet and has a great whiskey bite.  The eggy Challah is perfect for this, but another light bread would work as well, just stay away from the pre sliced bread aisle loaves, the thin pieces would pretty much disintegrate and turn to mush.

So in honor of St. Patrick’s Day make this with a warm, peated, single malt Irish whiskey.

Ingredients

6-8 servings

For the apples and raisins:

2 tablespoons butter

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

½ cup raisins

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup light brown sugar

1 cup Irish whiskey

 

For the bread:

8oz of Challah bread cut into 1 inch cubes (that’s about ½ a loaf)

¾ cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 ½-2 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

For the whiskey sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 cup Irish whiskey plus 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons cornstarch

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Toast bread cubes until golden.

Pour ¼ whiskey over raisins and set aside.

 Melt butter in a medium skillet; add apples, sprinkle with cinnamon and cook over low heat until the apples soften, stirring often. Add sugar, vanilla and raisins with liquid.  Continue cooking until sugar melts and apples become sticky; stir often so the apples don’t scorch. Add ¾ cup of whiskey, continue to simmer until syrupy. Cool to room temperature (can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated – bring to room temperature before using).   

Whisk 1 ½ cups cream, eggs, ¾ cup granulated sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add bread cubes, apple mixture, stir to combine, making sure all the bread is moist – at this point you may need to add that extra ½ cup of cream. Transfer bread mixture into a greased casserole dish or 6 individual spring form pans. Let stand until the bread absorbs the custard mixture - about 20 minutes. Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes. The pudding should be puffed, golden and springy/firm, moist not dry, and a tester inserted should come out clean.

While the pudding is in the oven, make the whiskey sauce – whisk sugar, cream, vanilla and 1 cup of whisky in small saucepan, bring to a simmer over low heat. Mix 2 tablespoons of whiskey with cornstarch in a small bowl, whisk into sauce. Continue cooking until sauce begins to boil and thickens. Serve warm with pudding.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday
Jun082012

Lowcountry Shrimp Mac and Cheese

 

Oh yes I did!  Oh yes I really did!  There are two things this dish ain’t– light and cheap.  No point in even trying to pretend – sure you could use a run of the mill cheddar or even Jack cheese if you like.  But what’s the point – that will only give you a plain Mac and Cheese with some shrimp thrown in.  You really want to experience that creamy, nutty, tangy, salty combo that the fontina, Gorgonzola and taleggio produces – coupled with the sweet meaty texture of fresh shrimp – well you’ve just kicked up Mac and Cheese to a new height! 

     If lobster is your thing and you can get it fresh, fresh, fresh – well then have at it.  This is probably one of the best things I have ever made!  P.S. the picture doesn’t do the dish justice – try it and let me know.

 Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients

1 lb fresh local shrimp – shelled, deveined and roughly chopped

2 large shallots – minced

2 cloves garlic – peeled and minced

1-teaspoon fresh thyme

Splash of sherry

Light olive oil

 ½ cup all purpose flour

6 tablespoons butter

4 cups whole milk

16oz fontina cheese, cubed

8oz Taleggio cheese, cubed

8oz Gorgonzola cheese, cubed

¾ of a 1lb pound box of pasta – like fusilli or elbow

Panko breadcrumbs - optional

 

     Preheat oven to 350°F.

     Cook pasta according to directions – cutting cooking time by 2 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

     Cook onions, thyme and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until translucent and fragrant.  Add shrimp, cook until just beginning to turn pink.  Splash with sherry, turn up heat and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes until shrimp is almost cooked through.  Set aside.

     Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat.  Add flour and whisk until smooth.  Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly until smooth and begins to thicken.  Continue cooking until sauce begins to bubble.  Add cheese, stir until cheese melts.  Add shrimp and pasta stir to combine.  Transfer mixture to a large baking dish, sprinkle with panko, bake until bubbly and beginning to brown.  Remove and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

 

It’s All Delicious notes:  Make sure you get the freshest shrimp possible – they should smell sweet like the sea.  You could make these into individual servings.  Also, try and keep the pasta size the same as the shrimp – you don’t want a big piece of pasta to overpower the wonderful flavor of the shrimp and cheese trio!   

Monday
May282012

Stir Fry Thai Chicken In A Spicy Sriracha Peanut Sauce

 

 

     I first saw this recipe on the Huffington Post’s Kitchen Daily website.  I loved the idea of a homemade peanut sauce and just happened to have a giant bottle of Sriacha chili sauce in the fridge -  thanks to the Bang Bang chicken recipe I posted yonks ago!  I have been a food blogging slacker lately due to a bunch of reasons I won’t bore anyone with. 

     Anyway, I’m back and here we go.  The original recipe called for poaching chicken…I just don’t care to poach my chicken – salmon and shrimp yes.  Even when I make a chicken salad, I always roast it – the flavor is better and I think the texture is better – that’s just me.

     So when I saw this recipe I thought…hmmm…how could I change it up and make it a little bit more mine?  Here’s my go…

 

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 2 inch pieces

1-½ cups low sodium chicken broth

4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2 kaffir lime leaves

½ cup all natural peanut butter

4 teaspoons lime juice

3 teaspoons light agave nectar or 2 teaspoons sugar

2-4 teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce

1-teaspoon fish sauce

Canola oil for frying

Steamed snow peas or sliced green onions for garnish

Steamed rice to serve

     Simmer broth, ginger, garlic and lime leaves in a small saucepan over low heat until reduced to 1 cup – approximately 5 minutes.  Discard lime leaves, transfer broth to a blender and process until smooth.  Add peanut butter, limejuice, agave, chili and fish sauce - blend to combine, return sauce to pan and keep warm – whisking occasionally.

     Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.  Add chicken and cook until the pieces begin to turn opaque and brown – approximately 5-8 minutes.  Pour sauce over chicken and continue to simmer until sauce thickens and chicken is completely cooked – another 5-8 minutes.  Serve over rice and garnish with snow peas. 

     It’s All Delicious Note:  Adapted from Ruth Cousineau Huffington Post Kitchen Daily contributor.  

 

Monday
Mar262012

Bang Bang Shrimp 

 

I know I’m not alone in loving the Bone Fish’s bang bang shrimp!  There’re recipes swimming and crawling all over the Internet about the perfect way to achieve that combination of crispy spicy sweet texture-taste explosion for your mouth.   

 

After making it once, it’s now one of those crowd favorites around here.  And here’s the good thing.  You can make bang bang chicken or bang bang soft shell crabs – which are in season here on the Island – Yahoo!  Back to the ideas - how about bang bang fried oysters?  Or use the sauce for grouper fingers instead of boring old tartar or cocktail sauce.  I’ve even thrown in a handful of finely chopped dry roasted unsalted peanuts for a little more crunch and that yummy satay sort of flavor. 

 

The point being with this sauce is that it’s so versatile, so easy and so so delicious on just about anything!  Oh, just had another thought – how about bang bang crab cakes?

 

Ingredients

For the sauce:

½ cup of mayonnaise

¼ cup sweet chili sauce

2-5 teaspoons sriracha hot chili sauce (or to taste)

1/8 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped (optional but a nice twist)

For the shrimp:

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

Cornstarch

Chopped green onions, white and light green parts, optional

Canola oil for frying

 

     Toss shrimp in cornflower in a medium shallow dish, set aside.  Whisk mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce and sriracha sauce together in a medium bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to use. 

     Heat a little oil in a large heavy skillet or wok until just beginning to smoke.  Add shrimp tossing continuously until they turn bright pink and begin to turn golden brown.  When shrimp are done, add enough bang bang sauce to generously coat the shrimp.  Serve in lettuce leaves and garnish with green onions and additional chopped peanuts if desired.

Local Island Note:  Piggly Wiggly in Coligny and Dave Martin’s Fish Tail Seafood Market has the freshest fish, shrimp, soft shell crabs, oysters, clams around!

 

Monday
Mar122012

Hilton Head Monthly...The Wine Beneath My Wings

 

photograph by Rob Kaufman

In March, as all Islanders know, the festival season takes flight with two big ones: the Wine and Food Festival and Wing Fest.

On the 12th of March, more than three thousand wine aficionados will swirl and swill close to one thousand bottles poured at the 24th Wine and Food Festival.  Two weeks later another four thousand attendees will convene and commence to chomp their way through six thousand pounds of chicken wings at the 17th annual Wing fest in Shelter Cove Community Park.  

Now I know that buckets of ice-cold brewskys are generally the accepted libation of choice when it comes to wings.  Which is fine, but is it written in stone?  Why not take a walk on the wine side and put a glass beside your wings?  Mash it up a bit with an oaky chardonnay, a fruity sauvignon blanc, or a spicy zinfandel.  Now that really appeals to me. 

 So with that in mind I thought I’d pair these two popular Island events in my own little wing and wine taste test and see how it flies.  

Ways to cook your wings

To bake:  Preheat oven to 425°F.  Cook wings for 35-40 minutes on a baking tray (do not over crowd) turning them halfway through cooking time.

To grill:  Prepare grill for medium-high heat.  Cook wings for 15-20 minutes.  Keep a squirt bottle by the grill to douse any flare-ups.

To deep-fry:  Heat oil to 375°F.  Cook wings (in batches) for 5-8 minutes until crisp and golden.  Drain on paper towels.

Winging it…how many will you need?

Usually there are eight to ten wings per pound depending on size.  Four pounds should give you six appetizer or four main course servings.

 

Wings and wines

photograph by Rob Kaufman 

Chili Garlic Wings


Slightly sweet sauce with a mild bite and garlic taste.  Pair these with a Pinot Noir

Ingredients

1 28oz can of tomato puree

8oz chili garlic sauce

½ cup sugar

½ cup cornstarch

Whisk the above ingredients together in a large bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Marinate wings at least 20 minutes before baking or grilling.  This is also a great stir-fry sauce.  

photograph by Rob Kaufman

Orange Chipotle Glazed Wings

The ever-popular hot and sweet combination.  Pair these with a Chardonnay

Ingredients

1 32oz jar of orange marmalade

3 tablespoons chipotle puree*

Stir the marmalade and puree together in a medium saucepan.  Heat on low until glaze simmers; stir to prevent sticking and burning.  Re-heat gently to a brushing consistency when ready to glaze wings.  Bake or grill wings basting often with glaze.

*To make chipotle puree process a can of chipotles in adobo sauce in the bowl of a food processor until smooth.  The puree will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.

 

photograph by Rob Kaufman

Hoisin Lime Wings

Lime cuts through the sweetness of this traditional bean paste based sauce.  Pair these with a Zinfandel.

Ingredients

2 cups Hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons garlic puree

1 tablespoon ginger puree

½ cup limejuice

Whisk the above ingredients together in a large bowl.  Marinate wings for at least 20 minutes before baking or grilling.

photograph by Rob Kaufman 

Classic Hot Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing

The tried and true original.  Pair these with a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling

Ingredients

¼ cup butter

1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon chipotle or cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)

4-6 tablespoons hot sauce (like Texas Pete)

Heat the above ingredients together in a small saucepan until the butter melts.  Transfer to a large bowl and add the piping hot cooked wings.  Toss to coat.  Serve with blue-cheese dressing on the side.

 

Blue Cheese Dressing

Ingredients

½ cup olive oil

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

¾ cup crumbled blue cheese

Place the above ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.  Dressing keeps in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.  


Saturday
Feb112012

The Flavor Of Love At Michael Anthony's - Hilton Head Monthly

 

 

Ostriche con Prosecco

Oysters with Prosecco Mignonette

Light a few candles, pour some champagne and celebrate the day of hearts with a seductive dinner…Italian style

 

When I think romance I think Italian, and when I think Italian on the Island, I think Michael Anthony’s.

 

 Obviously I’m not alone.  Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana has achieved “Hall of Fame” status with six wins in our Readers’ Choice Awards. What better place to go then straight to Executive Chef Michael Cirafesi?  I asked him to create an intimate dinner for two. 

 

He selected ingredients deemed “foods of love” through the ages – oysters, truffles and chocolate.  So for those who prefer to skip the rigmarole of dining out on Valentines Day or just want to make an evening a little special…pop that champagne cork and settle in for a lovely romantic meal oozing with Italian influence and laced with amore.

 

Just click on the titles for the recipes

Risotto ai due Tartufi con Taleggio

Black and White Truffle Risotto with Taleggio


Sformata di Cioccolata

Chocolate Soufflé Cake

Photographs by Rob Kaufman

Tuesday
Jan032012

Pecan Brandy Cookies

 

 

Pecan Brandy Cookies

     Over the holidays this year I invented the “six days of cookies.”  The name is self-explanatory – each day Sophie and I made a different type of cookie.  Easy right?  Well not really.  Our first cookie from “Tasteofhome Cookies” was a total disaster.  If you have the magazine don’t bother with the “tender Italian sugar cookies,” they were tasteless even with doubling the vanilla (actually I think I tripled it) and they were anything but tender (very dry and floury).  The only way we sort of saved them was by dipping them in mint chocolate.  I was so spooked by our first attempt that I chucked the magazine in the bin and went back to my tried and true books; Cookies by Nick Malgieri, my ages old Betty Crocker’s Christmas book, and Martha Stewart’s Holiday Handbook.  So while the holidays are over and the cookies are gone the recipes are here…finally.

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons brandy

2 ¼  cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons

1 ¼ cup finely chopped pecans

½  cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for rolling

¼  teaspoon salt

     Cream butter and honey until fluffy in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle

attachment.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add brandy,

and beat to combine.  Whisk flour, pecans, confectioners' sugar, and salt together in a

medium bowl.  Add to butter/brandy mixture and beat to combine.  If dough is too soft,

refrigerate for 30 minutes.

      Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.

  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough into balls using 1-tablespoon

measure or small ice cream scoop.  Place on baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake until just

browning about the edges about brown 12 to 13 minutes.  Be careful not to burn the

bottoms.  Cool completely on wire racks.  Roll cookies in confectioners' sugar to coat.

Store in an airtight container. 

 

  It’s All Delicious Notes:  This cookie melted in your mouth and would be a perfect

 treat for Easter as well!  Adapted from Martha’s recipe for Noel Nut Balls.

 

 

Monday
Dec052011

Lowcountry Seafood Chowder

 

When I order seafood chowder, I have certain expectations.  I expect it to be creamy, chunky and for a few key ingredients to be in the bowl like: potatoes and fish especially if it’s inferred in the title.  Each time I dip my spoon into the bowl I like to see and taste a little bit of every ingredient including, that’s right, fish.  Not just all potatoes or carrots, or more potatoes.  Fish is key, in fact there almost can’t be too much fish in my opinion but there certainly can be too many potatoes!  This recipe is chocked full of fish, it’s creamy, chunky and there’s only one potato – which is plenty!

 

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

8 oz bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 cup celery, finely chopped

1 cup fennel, finely chopped

1 cup carrots, finely chopped

1 large baking russet potato (think Mr. Potato Head), peeled and diced

¼ cup flour

Cayenne pepper

1 cup white wine

Fresh thyme sprigs

28 oz can chopped tomatoes

2 cups clam juice

5 cups vegetable or fish stock

1 cup whipping cream

3 1/2 lbs assorted raw fish/shellfish (shrimp, scallops, haddock, monkfish, cod, clams, etc)

Canola oil

Tabasco sauce (optional)

 

Clean, peel and devein shrimp.  Cut all fish into bite-sized pieces, set aside.

 

Heat a little oil in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add bacon and cook until browned, remove with a slotted spoon, set aside.  Drain all but four tablespoons of bacon fat from pan.  Add onion, celery, fennel, carrots and potatoes, season with cayenne pepper.  Cook until vegetables are softened and potatoes are almost done, about 15 minutes.  Stir in flour, cook for a few more minutes stirring to prevent sticking and burning.  Add wine, stir then add a few thyme sprigs, clam juice, stock and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Add the fish, reduce heat and simmer until the fish is almost cooked through.  Remove thyme sprigs (if you feel like it), add cream and bacon to pan.  Stir and continue cooking until chowder thickens.  Serve and season with Tabasco sauce if desired.

 

Friday
Nov042011

Buttermilk Biscuits - Better Homes and Gardens

 

I’ve had a “history” with making biscuits that were cute little golden rocks.  Hard and dry enough to chip a tooth if you could gnaw your way through them!  I finally got it right back in February with my Blue Cheese Biscuits but, still the light flakey good ole plain southern biscuit eluded my repertoire.  Well not anymore…I went back to the basics, pulled out my Better Homes and Gardens bible and voila – a lovely flakey golden perfect round biscuit that melts in your mouth and doesn’t threaten your dental work.  Some things are tried and true and best to be kept simple.  Thank you America’s #1 Cookbook since 1930.

 

Makes 12-14

Ingredients

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup butter

1 ¼ cups buttermilk

 

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  “Cut” in the butter using a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles crumbs.  Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk.  Stir with a spatula or fork until combined.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, kneed and fold until the dough holds together (do not over work).  Pat into a round about ¾ inch thick.  Cut out dough using a 2 ¾ inch round cookie cutter dipped in flour and place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. 

 

Thursday
Oct272011

Apple Pie Pillow Puffs

  

These pillow puffs are just the cutest little things to make!  They’re perfect to whip up if your short on time but longing for an apple pie.  Cooking the apples for about 15 minutes or so before hand makes certain the apples are tender, not too mushy and the pastry has a chance to brown, not burn.  Using the pre-made pastry cuts down on the prep time so these can be whipped up in about 45 minutes…tops!

 

Ingredients

Makes 5 pluse a few more little ones

4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 tablespoons butter

2 nine inch ready made pie crusts

cold water, a few tablespoons

Confectioner’s sugar

 

Special equipment:  4 ¼ inch round cookie cutter

 

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Melt the butter in a medium sized skillet.  Add the apples, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.  Cook over medium heat until the apples are very tender but not mushy (you don’t want applesauce!).

Un-roll crusts on a floured surface, cut out ten “pillows” using the cookie cutter, place five  on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Spoon apples on to  “pillows.” 

 

Roll out the remaining five “pillows” so they are slightly larger than the bases.  Brush a little water around the edges of the “pillow” bases.  Top with remaining pastry and use a fork to crimp down the edges of each “pillow.”  Bake for 15-20 minutes until the “pillows” are golden brown.  Cool then sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.  Serve with ice cream!!!

 

It’s All Delicious notes:  I used my ravioli cutter and made little apple squares with the scraps of pastry.  They were so cute too! 

 

Monday
Oct102011

Pecan Praline Cake from the Charleston Cake Lady

 

I do believe I have found one of the best cake recipes – EVER!  I came across an out of print book called Special Recipes From The Charleston Cake Lady by Teresa Pregnall.  Sadly Mrs. Pregnall passed away in 2008 but her recipes live on.  They’re old-fashioned and remind me of my Great Grandmother Florence’s original (typed on a Royal typewriter) recipe book I treasure.  Anyway, the Pecan Praline Cake is not only dead easy to make, it received high marks from all the household critics here.  Make it once, and you’ll make it again, and again.  It will be one of your “go to” cakes and will now be included in our list of favorite family recipes – it’s that good!

 

For the cake:

2 cups flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

½  cup butter

2 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

Cooking spray

 

For the frosting:

¾  cup butter, melted

1 ½  cup dark brown sugar, packed

½ cup whipping cream

2 cups pecans, finely chopped

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray.

Whisk flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a medium bowl.  Melt butter into buttermilk in the microwave or on very low heat in a small saucepan.  Let cool slightly.  Beat eggs, sugar and buttermilk in a large bowl on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes.  Add flour mixture and vanilla, beat until batter is smooth.  Pour into prepared pan and spread batter to corners using a spatula.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until a tester comes out clean.  Let cool about 10 minutes.

 

To frost the cake:

 

Preheat broiler.  Lower the oven rack.  Stir melted butter, dark brown sugar, whipping cream and pecans together in a medium bowl.  Spread frosting over warm cake and broil.  “Cook” no more than 5 minutes just enough to allow the frosting to bubble – check often to prevent burning!

Frosting before sticking it under the broiler 

It’s All Delicious Notes:  sorry the pictures aren’t better – but the cake was gone before I could get an individual shot!