Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Homemade Marshmallows

I started experimenting with homemade marshmallows a couple of months ago and they've been a big hit. I bring sweets into work from time to time and they are the perfect taste testers. These marshmallows are delicious on their own and even better toasted and charred under the broiler or of course roasted in front of the fire. The recipe below is from Martha Stewarts website. I've tried a couple variations and haven't found too much of a difference to make one superior than the other, but I'll keep hunting. They come together in no time and the flavor combinations are endless!! Homemade Marshmallows 3 cups sugar 1 1/4 cup light corn syrup Pinch of salt 1 1/2 cups water, divided 4 envelopes gelatin 2 teaspoons vanilla extract confectioners sugar In a medium sauce pot combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 3/4 cup of water. Bring this to a boil and cook without stirring for 8 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees. Meanwhile add 3/4 cup of cold water to the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the gelatin. Let sit to soften about five minutes. While this is taking place spray a 9x13 dish with cooking spray. Once the sugar has reached the correct temp turn the mixer on low and pour the sugar down the side of the bowl in a slow and steady stream. Once all the syrup has been added, turn up the speed on the mixer and beat for twelve minutes. Add the vanilla extract. Once combined turn the mixer off and using a spatula sprayed with cooking spray pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sift powdered sugar over the top and cover with Saran wrap. Let sit at room temperature for several hours or over night.Turn the marshmallows out on a clean surface and with a lightly oiled knife cut them into squares. Toss with powdered sugar and store in an airtight container. Try them homemade! They are so much better than the store bought!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

French Tea Cakes - Madeleines

The first time I had these pillowy soft, slightly sweet tea cakes I was hooked. I was working in Hawaii as a Nanny and my boss had a batch on the counter. They are perfect when you're craving something on the sweet side and are the perfect compliment to a warm cup of coffee. I enjoyed a few just that way sitting on the Lanai of the second story home over looking the Pacific and watching the Humpback whales breach. Perfection!

3 eggs
2/3 c sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick of butter
1 c flour
1/4 c cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of one orange
Confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 375
Mix the eggs, sugar, vanilla and zest together until pale yellow. Melt the butter, cool and set aside. Mix the dry ingredients and fold them into the wet in two additions. Gently fold in the butter. Spoon the batter into a greased Madeleine mold about 3/4 of the way up. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan, shell side up and dust with powdered sugar. 

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Caramelized Onion Gruyere and Potato Tart

This tart is the perfect pairing with a spring mix salad for a light dinner or as a side dish for a charred grilled steak with asparagus. It's the perfect combination of favors. Sweet deep caramel onions, creamy potatoes and gruyere held together by a divinely buttery crust. I played around with this recipe a bit because I love tarts, but am not a huge fan of quiche, unless it's filled with delicious add ins and not so eggy. That's what's perfect about this tart. Where as many recipes call for multiple eggs to hold the tart together, this one only has one, leaving a tart that is full of flavor and still holds together well. The tart would freeze beautifully for a quick weeknight meal. Enjoy! Caramelized Onion and Potato Tart Pie Crust 1 1/2 c flour 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 stick of cold butter 4 tablespoons ice water 1 teaspoon vinegar 1 egg white Tart Olive oil Butter 1 1/2 lbs. Onions, diced 3 medium Red potatoes, cubed small 1 Egg 1 egg yolk 1/2c Sour Cream 3/4 c Gruyere Cheese, shredded Rosemary and/or thyme Salt and pepper Bay leaf To make the Pie Crust Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Mix the flour and salt. Cut the butter in until it resembles wet sand. Add the vinegar. Add the water one tablespoon at a time, just until the dough holds together. Form into a flat disk and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Remove from the fridge and roll out. Fit the dough in a round tart pan. Trim the edges and prick with a fork. Brush the bottom with egg white and make for 12 minutes. For the Tart filling Oven temperature 375 Heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions and season with salt. This will draw out the moisture and prevent them from browning, which you do not want. Cook the onions over medium-low heat until they are golden brown. Remove from the heat and cool. While the onions are cooking, cube the potatoes and par-boil them in water seasoned with salt and bay leaf. Drain the potatoes and let cool. In a large bowl mix the sour cream, egg and all but 1/4 cup of the cheese. Add the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Fold in the onions and potatoes gently so the potatoes don't break apart. Pour into the ore-baked tart shell. Top with the remaining gruyere and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling. Let the tart rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Add some flavor to that baked potato!

This is a fast and easy way to add a little flavor to your baked potatoes. You cut open that steamy potato and add lots of toppings...cheese, sour cream, and butter, but once all that is gone, the rest of the potato tends to be pretty bland. The flavor of bay leaf is a great addition to your baked potatoes!

Simply make a deep slit in your uncooked potato and tuck a bay leaf as far down as you can go.
Wrap and bake as you would normally do. Remove the bay leaf before eating. Sometimes I will bake the potato for a couple of minutes just to soften it slightly, which makes it easier to get the bay leaf in there. The fragrant aroma of the bay leaf permeates the flesh of the potato. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Black Pepper and Parmesan Biscotti

I must have thousands of recipes piled into binders, file folders, ripped out of magazines, and bookmarked in the small cookbook collection I feel is worth taking up space on my bookshelf. I've decided to start pulling a handful of recipes out at a time, trying them, and if they are keepers, they'll get filed in my recipe book. These biscotti are delicious. A nice peppery bite and the salty kick from the parmesan cheese. I cut the recipe in half, but you could easily make the entire recipe, and freeze the formed dough or half baked biscotti for a quick snack when unexpected guests arrive. These would be good on their own, but I'd serve them with a quick white bean dip. The creamy subtle flavor of the dip pairs perfectly!

Black Pepper and Parmesan Biscotti
from Gourmet Magazine

1 1/2 T whole black peppercorns
4 cups AP flour, plus additional for dusting board
2 t. baking powder
2 t salt
4 1/2 oz. Parmesan (2 1/4 c)
1 1/2 sticks cold UNsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 L eggs
1 c whole milk

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
Pulse peppercorns in a spice grinder, or place in a Ziploc and bang out some aggression until they are coarsely ground. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups of cheese, and 1 T pepper in a large bowl. Blend in the butter with a pastry cutter or your finger tips until it looks like course meal. Whisk THREE of the eggs with the milk and combine with the flour, using a fork, until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and quarter the dough. Form each into a slightly flattened 12 inch long log. ~ 2 inches wide and 3/4 inches high. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart. Whisk the remaining egg and brush over the top of the logs. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and black pepper. Bake 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half way through. Remove from the oven, cool about 10 minutes, until easy to handle. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Cut the biscotti into 1/2 inch slices and arrange, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake, turning the biscotti over once, about 35-45 minutes. The recipe says the biscotti will keep in an airtight container at room temperature approx. 2 weeks. Serve along side this delicious white bean dip! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Strawberries and Fresh Whipped Cream

Strawberries and whipped cream has to be one of the most underrated desserts! So simple, fresh, light and easy to whip together. I bought some strawberries from the local grocery store last week and they are sweeter than candy. Ripe and ruby red, so delicious. I whipped some heavy cream with a bit of powdered sugar and vanilla and dolloped it on top of freshly sliced strawberries. So good!

Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 T sugar

1/2 tspn. vanilla extract

Beat the heavy cream until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar followed by the vanilla and beat until soft peaks form. Do not over beat, or the cream will break and you'll get butter! Which isn't bad, but not with our berries. Dollop over fresh cut strawberries, just before serving. Indulgent!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sofrito Revisted

In Puerto Rican cooking Sofrito is a pureed blend of peppers, onions, and garlic. It is used to season just about any dish you cook. I make enough sofrito to last me a few weeks and keep it in the refrigerator because I go through it so quickly, but it can be portioned in ice cube trays and kept in the freezer until you need it. It's a delicious base flavor for spanish rice, soups, Carne Guisado (beef stew), black beans. You name it! It comes together very quickly and saves you the hassle of dicing onions and peppers for every dish you make. Don't even think about the jarred stuff in the ethnic aisle of the grocery store. Try it, you'll love it!


1 large green pepper

1 aneheim chili pepper

1 bunch culantro

1 bunch cilantro

1 head of garlic (about 12 cloves)

1 large yellow onion

Olive oil

If you cannot find culantro just substitute with a bunch of cilantro, making two bunches total for this recipe.

Cut everything in pieces small enough for your food processor or blender to puree. Add just enough olive oil to keep the blender moving. Puree until smooth and store in a jar in the fridge, or freeze in smaller portions until ready to use.