Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Chambord Sauce


Perhaps my love of chocolate is hereditary.  I come from a long line of extreme chocoholics.  Or perhaps it's genetics.  Didn't someone, somewhere prove once that being female automatically means you must love chocolate (or maybe I just made that up)?  Either way, a little chocolate in every dish would make the world a happy place.  Im serious... Ever had a chocolate steak?  The most amazing steak I've EVER had was coated in an espresso rub, butterflied and filled with a chocolate ganache!  It simply melted in your mouth.

So, it goes without saying that on the chocolate lovers scale, a flourless chocolate cake ranks at the top.  Extremely simple to make, originally named a "Chocolate Idiot Cake", it paired perfectly with the Strawberry Chambord sauce.  I served it at the family Sedar and was lucky enough to have a small wedge for the next evening... or had piece :p

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Passover Marzipan Cream Tart


On the Jewy Scale, I would rate myself prob around 3-4.  While I dont keep kosher or attend regular Shabbat services (*gasp* my grandmother is going to kill me), I still try to acknowledge the holidays; usually involving food in some way.  So with our family sedar coming up, I have to come up with a Passover-friendly dessert. And because I have a large, picky family, I have to make more than one.  This is easier said than done.  Off the top of your head and besides a flourless chocolate cake, give me one non-chocolate, non-coconut, flourless dessert... yea, see I told you it isnt easy.

For those unfamiliar with matzo (the cracker looking stuff),  the taste is unfulling for any dessert and is CERTAINLY NOT a good substitute for flour.  So my idea for covering up the carboard taste?  Almond Paste!  I used a thin layer over the semi-baked tart crust then topped it all with a decadent pastry cream.  Once the tart was cool and cream was set, I artfully arranged some ripe fruit.

Now for a side note to Matzo: *clears throat*

Matzo,  you have served me well during Passovers of the past.  For breakfast, you are delicious with butter and for lunch pair perfectly with some peanut butter and jelly.  However, you and your devious ways try to trick the everyday baker into thinking you can be substituted for flour when, in fact, you taste like crap.  But I have overcome your bland taste and terrible consistency!  Nice try.  Good luck next year~

* When not Passover, substitute an a regular sweet pastry crust and finish the recipe as written, YUM!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Holy Hell Brownies


*Warning* simply reading this recipe may add ten pounds.

There are brownie recipes and then there is this brownies recipe.  I had been drooling over this find for the past several weeks and I have finally given in to the temptation.  I had been forewarned per Buns In My Oven that "[my] life will never be the same again."  So naturally, something so extraordinary had to be taste tested.

When it comes to brownies, I am simple kind of girl.  I usually prefer the easy-to-prepare, boxed mix.  I know, I usually shun away from these premade mixes but I have to agree with Buns_In_My_Oven on this one.  Boxed brownie mixes turn out perfect, molten, chocolatey treats every time. 

Have you ever heard of a picky brownie eater? Well, I'm one of them.  Let me explain... I know many people love nuts, frosting, and crispy edged brownies but I am not one of them.  To me, nuts overpower and disrupt the pleasantness of brownie eating.  I will pick them out if need be.  And frosting!!! Brownies should not be frosted.  End of discussion on that.  And for those of you that like the crispy edges of the brownies, more power to you.  Personally, I really do not understand that new brownie pan that bakes up only edge pieces.  I thought everyone preferred the center.  Im still scratching my head on that one.

But whatever your brownie preferences are or the variations you prefer, this recipe has changed my view on using only boxed mixes.  The picture does not do them justice. 

The verdict:  holy hell these are good!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Corned Beef Rueben


I know, I know, its just a sandwich right? BUT, You cant deny that there is an art to the Rueben sandwich.  The right amount of each ingredient to every layer is crucial to the overall construction and taste.  Ok, now I just sound like a food nerd BUT those that love Ruebens can back me up.  There's a trust between you, the eater, and the "architect" that the sandwich will live up to your expectations.  Yes, I love this sandwich but only a couple have been labeled amazing... and this would be one of them.

It just made sense, when I had leftover corned beef from St. Patty's Day, to make a Rueben.  There is nothing secret about making corned beef.  I slowed cooked this slab of meaty goodness with a head of cabbage, an onion, cup of water, and spices.  Fast forward to the next night and I was layering the corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing between two pieces of rye bread.  

My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lemon Ricotta Cookies


If waking up in the dark isnt clue enough, Im here to tell you that spring is here! What better way to ring in the season than with a light, refreshing cookie?

This cookie is a tried and true Giada recipe.  The lemon isnt too overpowering but the ricotta makes this cookie so light its almost cake.  My brain wheels are turning as Im typing... wouldnt this cookie be delicious as a a sandwich cookie with a lemon creme center...oooh.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Anything Better?


Doesnt this look delicious, crisp, and colorful? This isnt a recipe but rather something I had to share.  To you, it may be a simple bowl of fruit (and it is) but this bowl of fruit is a creation by Mr. F!  I dont mean to belittle his abilities, however...wait, who am I kidding, he tries but cooking is, how shall I say, a learning process.  He has mastered the art of the microwave, boiling water for mac 'n cheese, and *chuckle* does a dead-on Julia Child's impersonation but following a recipe usually involves planning to eat a late meal. So when he found this fruit at the grocery store and came home to clean and chop it, I couldnt be more proud *tear*.


AND LOOK!!! Here is the appetizer that was waiting for me when I came home from work.  Notice the cut bread on the bottom far right with dipping oil and the artfully arranged celery, carrots, and ranch.  This man knows my heart

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nut Tart


Phyllo dough can either be your best friend or your worst enemy.  It all depends on how its handled.  Trust me, I have had my fair share of phyllo catastrophes.  Usually, my problem is in the thawing of the dough.  I become so impatient that I figure "hey, Ill unroll it anyway", this is a big no-no.  Most of my other failed attempts are because I let the dough get too dry.  Ever had cracks in your dough? Yep, thats why.  To make a long story short, my usual attempts with phyllo result in a smooth start with me quickly losing patience and balling up bad dough to throw into the trash.  Get the picture?

So when I came across this recipe on The Way the Cookie Crumbles, I was partly thinking good idea, I can do that and crap, I have go through phyllo dough hell.  But I was determined to master the technique. The trick to keeping the dough moist is to place a layer of plastic wrap followed by 2 layers of damp paper towels over the completely thawed phyllo.

While the orginal recipe says that this can be a main dish, I prefer to have a little substance as the main attraction to my meals.  So I would have the tart to either be an appetizer or side dish. 

Ultimately, the end result was a little dry and bland for my taste buds.  For future use and to the posted recipe, I added some sour cream and salt/pepper.  Otherwise, the presentation was phenominal and the spinach mixed with the feta and pine nuts was perfect!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beef Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta


Have you ever had heaven on plate?  Well, if heaven was meat, I think it would be this dish.  I do not make or eat red meat that often but when I do I tend to remake tried and true recipes.  So what led me outside my box?  So glad you asked...

Mr. F and I were having company...my parents.  And just like my mothers birthday, a meal for them must meet a few requirements.  Each parental unit has their tastes and while this may not be difficult for most, my usual repertoire of recipes was not going to work.  In any case, I found what I was looking for on The Pioneer Woman (thank you, thank you!)  I was taking a chance with the beef but I figured the tenderness of the meat would cancel out the cut of meat.  In other words, my mother isn't big on meat in general but if it falls apart and can be mixed with something, she's willing to try it (pain, I know). 

PW has earned my trust from here on out.  I cooked according to the directions (oven not slow cooker) and it turned out perfect.  Per the recipe, I paired the ribs with a creamy cheese polenta and...voila, heaven in your mouth!

FYI, PW has goat cheese in the polenta recipe.  I wasn't about to spend the money on goat cheese but boursin cheese is a great substitute.  If you don't know what polenta is, it's similiar to grits.  If you dont know what grits are, then you aren't from the south and I can't blame you; HOWEVER, mixed with cheese they are delicious.  As a kid, I used to eat cheese grits for breakfast so I might be biased.  However, polenta tends to have a smoother consistency than grits (grits not a grit, I always think of Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Snickerdoodles


Im amazed at the number of people who do not know what a snickerdoodle cookie is!  I thought they were as mainstream as chocolate chip cookies, but boy was I wrong.  Maybe its a southern thing?

For those who have been left in the dark about this addictive sweet, let me describe this cookie to you.  Essentially, they taste like a soft shortbread cookie that has been baked with sugar and spices (usually cinnamon).  Need a better reason to make these? Mr. F isnt a dessert person (shocker I know) but these have to top his cookie list.

Yes, Snickerdoodles are simple and many might consider them nothing more than an stylized sugar cookie; yet, the fact remains that these are good.  So if you are looking for a quick cookie and like me have the ingredients already in your pantry...try them.  Snickerdoodles will not disappoint.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chicken Pesto Calzones


Instead of our weekly pizza night, I went out on a limb and created a calzone.  During a hungry spell, I ran across this recipe on Annie's Eats and I just couldn't resist putting my spin on it.  I already had the pizza technique and white sauce recipe down, so how difficult could it be?

Once again, let me reiterate that I do not make my own pizza dough.  Yeast does not like me and my past attempts have only failed in mega proportions.  So I buy my dough, and in an effort to save time, I also bought my own pesto.  *Gasp*  I know, I know, pesto is incredibly simple to make but being a weekday evening I was just looking for a quick dinner.  However, I did make the sauce and cooked the chicken.

I think Fork 2 would agree with me in claiming this recipe a success! Just like pizza, you can add your own ingredients.  I chose, pesto, a cheese white sauce, and chicken.  I was hoping to use mushrooms but, alas, if you read the previous post, I let them sit in the veggie draw too long.  oh well, this was fantastic on its own.

The only trick is sealing the edges.  I tried two ways.  First, I didn't use any liquid around the inner edges.  Using a fork, I pressed firmly around the dough crescent.  This didn't not work as well as my second attempt using olive oil around the inside.  From now on, I will go with the olive oil.  It takes 2 extra seconds and was completely worth it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Honey Ginger Carrots


If you cant already tell, I am not the pickiest of eaters but the few foods I do not enjoy have changed over the years.  One of those foods happens to be carrots.  You heard correctly...carrots; especially, sweet carrots.   Honestly, they were not on my "ugh, no thanks you" list, I just never found them that appetizing as a side item.  I never found them appetizing that is until now, or rather, until this recipe.

I cant put my finger on what is so addictive about this vegetable. Its simple to make (of course I love that) and flavored perfectly with honey, ginger, and butter.  Need I say more?
Ok, I will...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Szechwan Shrimp


I needed a fast, healthy dinner for tonight and I knew some sort of seafood was on the ballot.  We've had enough chicken, pasta, and pork.  Yes, I made pork and didnt post it!  Dont worry, I will.

So when I found this recipe for shrimp, I knew it was the choice.  Shrimp can be expensive but luckily my grocery store has affordable, frozen seafood that is surprisingly fresh tasting. To make the dish complete, I added broccoli, red pepper, and brown rice.

In fact, the only ingredient I needed to purchase was the shrimp.  See, I have this problem of buying everything that looks good in the produce section thinking I am going to make incredible dishes with them. The reality is that they usually sit in my veggie drawer going bad.  So this dish was a huge step for produce dilemma!

Now, I love spicy food; of course, szechwan by definition had alot of red pepper and ginger making the sauce somewhat hot.  However, I found that after doubling the ingredients for the sauce, it wasnt spicy at all.  It could have used another dose of red pepper to meet my taste buds.

All in all, this was another success in the Mr. F dinner book.  Now, after a long workday, plate in hand with a glass of wine, the evening is complete.

Monday, March 1, 2010

S'more Cake Bites



This idea was stemmed from Bakerella's adorable cupcake pops and a variety of marshmallow frosting recipes.  A moist chocolate center concoction with a bottom surrounded by a hard chocolate/graham cracker shell and topped with a toasted marshmallow frosting.  Ooohhhhhh, they are so good!

I wish I could tell you that these bite-sized mounds of s'more deliciousness were my ultimate goal.  But alas, these are the product of a failed attempt (see everything I make doesnt always work!) So I improvised. Was it the chocolate cake center? Nope, the chocolate cake mixed with chocolate frosting was so perfect that I will definitely try the same technique to create future treats.  Was it my placement of the graham cracker? Again no, I played around with a few ideas on placement but adding crushed graham crackers to the hard shell was a great choice. So where did my fantastic original idea stray?

Let me clarify when I say "failed attempt".  I am NOT referring to taste.  In the taste arena, these were PERFECT.  I failed in my vision which was the same product, shaped as a cupcake and on a lollipop stick.  As you can see the shape is more acorn than cupcake. The other half of the problem was the size. I made the cakes too big resulting in a weight bearing issue with the lollipop sticks.  Simply put, the cake was too heavy to stay on top of the stick.  Lastly, a problem encountered later (which I forgot to mention) was the marshmallow frosting.  While delicious, the frosting was...marshmallow.  And marshmallow tends to be sticky.  So how was I to package these things once finished!  Luckily, the frosting dried a bit and I was able to lightly wrap them for travel. (Due to my poor self-control and husband who isnt big on sweets, I get these out of the house ASAP)

Good? no, Amazing is a better description. Will I make again with some alterations? Definitely.

 
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