Tuesday, July 8, 2008

15 minute Lamb Chops...Take That Rachel Ray!

My dad has become a master of meats and one of my all time favorites is his Pesto Lamb Chops. I was amazed when I figured out how he actually made them that they are super easy. I've never been able to cook meats too well since I'm so impatient, but these lamb chops really take no more than 15 minutes to make...now on to the recipe!

Pesto Lamp Chops:

For the Lamp Chops:
  • 4 lamp chops
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • 1 cup store bought pesto or freshly made with the recipe below
Preheat broiler. Run the lamp chops through water and pat dry with a paper towel. Line broiler pan with foil and place lamp chops on top.

Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper on both sides of the chop. Rub in to marinate the meat and let stand for about 3 minutes. Spread a heaping tablespoon of pesto on the top side of each chop.
Broil for 4 minutes or until slightly browned.

Take the chops out and flip. Spread another heaping tablespoon of pesto on the flipped side of each chop. Put back in the broiler for 3 minutes or until slightly browned. Take the chops out and let stand for 2 minutes with a foil covering them so the juices settle.

For the Pesto:
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 2 cups fresh packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pick the basil leaves off the stem and wash under cold water. Chop the pine nuts, garlic, and lemon juice in food processor. Add basil leaves. Gradually add olive oil. Finally blend in the Parmesan cheese.

You can keep pesto in the fridge for about a week. In the freezer it will last about 3 months, but you should not add the Parmesan cheese if you plan on freezing. Add the cheese only after thawing since cheese doesn't freeze well.

And there you have it. No one will ever know it only took you 15 minutes to make.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Queen of Tarts

Since I've been home, I've made 4 fruit tarts already. I guess you could say I've gone a little tart crazy, but I can't help myself with the abundance of summer fruits and berries.

I came across this recipe while watching my absolute favorite Food Network show, The Barefoot Contessa. Her lemon curd is delicious and really brings out the flavor of the lemons, which I had picked that afternoon from my grandmother's garden. I added a pint of fresh raspberries and substituted the crust recipe from the Balsamic Custard Tart (just because that one used a little less butter). The result was perfection--my family couldn't stop eating!

Lemon Curd Tart (adapted from the Barefoot Contessa)

For the tart shell:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch salt

For the lemon curd:
4 lemons, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the tart shell:

Mix the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Press the dough into a 10-inch-round or 9-inch-square false-bottom tart pan, making sure that the finished edge is flat. Chill until firm.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 1 side of a square of aluminum foil to fit inside the chilled tart and place it, buttered side down, on the pastry. Fill with beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans, prick the tart all over with the tines of a fork, and bake again for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature.

For the lemon curd:Remove the zest of the lemons with a vegetable peeler or zester, being careful to avoid the white pith. Squeeze the lemons to make 1/2 cup of juice and set the juice aside. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the sugar and process for 2 to 3 minutes, until the zest is very finely minced. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. The lemon curd will thicken at about 175 degrees F, or just below a simmer. Remove from the heat.

Fill the tart shell with warm lemon curd and allow to set at room temperature.

**Arrange a pint of fresh raspberries. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

I love tarts!


Is it Chocolate? No...it's Balsamic!

When my friend Terra brought this tart to our Cornell Gourmet Club potluck, I thought to myself, "Wow! Chocolate and berries! My favorite combination!" I eagerly took a bite and immediately realized the custard was not chocolate. It was a familiar flavor, slightly tart yet sweet, but I could not for the life of me figure out what it was.

When she told me it was balsamic vinegar, I thought "Of course!" and immediately asked for the recipe. The slightly sour custard enhanced the sweetness of the berries, making it a light and
lovely summer dessert. Everyone at the potluck loved it, including me! Here is the recipe:

Balsamic Custard Tart with Fresh Fruit

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon whipping cream

1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (we generally just use regular baslsamic;
it just looks prettier if you use white)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

(I've also made this with other assortments of fruit (kiwis,
pears, what-have-you), and it seems to work well regardless)

2 large strawberries, hulled, sliced
2 1/2-pint containers blueberries
1 1/2-pint container raspberries
1 T orange marmalade (optional)

For crust:

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns, until coarse meal forms. Add egg yolk and cream. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball. Press dough evenly into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Pierce dough all over with fork. Chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake crust until golden, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 22 minutes. Cool.

For filling:
Stir cream and cornstarch in medium bowl until cornstarch dissolves. Add eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla; whisk to blend.

Boil vinegar in heavy medium saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes. Add 3/4 cup water, sugar, and butter. Stir until butter melts; return to boil. Gradually whisk vinegar mixture into egg mixture; return to pan. Whisk until custard thickens and boils, about 1 minute. Strain
into bowl; cool. Spread custard in prepared crust. Cover and chill tart at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

For topping:
Arrange berries as desired. Cover loosely and chill until ready to serve. (Can be made up to 6 hours ahead.)

I added a glaze to keep the berries fresh. Melt 1 T of orange or apricot marmalade in a saucepan. Brush onto the berries.

Fool your friends and family with this fool-proof, festive tart!


A California Twist on a Classic

In honor of my upcoming trip to San Francisco, I decided to try and recreate a salmon BLTA I had several years ago at the Ferry Building Farmers Market. Even though it’s been ages since I’ve eaten that sandwich, it still stands out in my mind as one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had and a great example of Calfornia cuisine at its best.

For my rendition of the salmon BLTA, I used my friend Eli’s salmon recipe and made extra of his secret sauce (which is not so secret anymore, since I’m sharing it on the blog!). The sweet and spicy tang of the sauce went perfectly with the smokiness of the bacon, the delicate flavor of the salmon, and the freshness of the tomato and avocado. I also toasted the ciabatta bread to add a little extra crunch. This sandwich is perfect for lunch on a hot summer afternoon, with a tall glass of iced tea.

Salmon BLTA

(Serves 1)

Approx. ¼ lb. salmon fillet (can use more or less—depending on how big you want your sandwich to be!)

1 ciabatta (can be any type of crusty bread, i.e. baguette, sourdough, etc.)

2-3 slices center-cut bacon

Handful of romaine and/or red lettuce, washed and rinsed

1 tomato, sliced

1 avocado, sliced

Eli’s secret sauce: 1 T mayo, ¾ T BBQ sauce, 1 t brown sugar

For Eli’s salmon:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. For Eli’s secret sauce, mix together the 1 T mayo, ¾ T BBQ sauce, and 1 brown sugar. (This makes enough for the salmon. For extra to spread on the salmon, I would double the recipe.)
  3. Spoon the sauce over the salmon. Roast in the oven for 7-10 min until center is light pink. Set aside and cool.

To assemble the sandwich:

  1. Cook the bacon in frying pan. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a separate pan, pour 1 t of extra virgin olive oil (and little bit of bacon drippings, optional). When oil is heated, put half of the ciabatta face down onto the pan for approx. 2 min. until lightly browned and crispy. Flip and toast the other side. Do the same for the other half of the bread.
  3. Spread Eli’s sauce onto both sides of the bread. (If you don’t have the sauce, you can substitute plain mayo).
  4. Place salmon, lettuce, sliced tomato, and avocado onto the ciabatta.
Enjoy this tasty California update of a classic--I know I did!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Virginia is for steak lovers

I am visiting my boyfriend, who lives in Northern Virginia, for the week. Making dinner for him is always quite the challenge, as our tastes are very different: he is a staunch carnivore who loves his steaks and hamburgers while I prefer steamed tofu and veggies. I finally caved in, and agreed to make him a steak dinner, but with a few healthy twists. Instead of drenching the steak in A-1, I decided to pair it with a refreshing chimichurri sauce (adapted from Emeril Lagasse), a sauce typically used in Argentina. I also made a black bean, corn, and tomato salad with a lemon olive oil dressing--a perfect summer salad--and brown rice as side dishes. This way, both my boyfriend and I were supremely satisfied and fantastically full after our meal. It can be a great menu for Memorial Day as well. Here are the recipes:

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup sherry wine vinegar (I substituted red wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves (substituted 3/4 T dry oregano)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallots
3/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (1 3/4 to 2-pound) skirt steak

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the olive oil, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, basil, oregano, garlic and shallots. Pulse until well blended but do not puree. Add 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the crushed red pepper. Remove 1 cup of the chimichurri sauce from the processor and transfer to a non-reactive bowl, cover with plastic wrap and reserve at room temperature for up to 6 hours. (If cooking steak another day, refrigerate sauce and return to room temperature before serving.)

Season the steak with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt on each side, as well as 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper per side and place in a large, resealable plastic bag. Add the remaining chimichurri sauce from the processor. Seal bag and refrigerate the steak for at least 2 and up to 4 hours.

Preheat a grill to medium heat.

Once the steak has finished marinating, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Brush the excess chimichurri sauce off the steak and set the steak over the hot grill. Cook for 6 minutes on the first side. Rotate the steak 45 degrees, and cook another 6 minutes. Turn the steak over and continue to cook until the steak is done, about 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. Once cooked, lay the steak on a clean cutting board, and allow it to rest for 5 to 7 minutes before slicing across the grain into 2-inch wide strips. Serve with crusty bread and the reserved chimichurri sauce.

**Since I did not have a grill, I seared the steak in a pan with olive oil for 30-45 seconds on each side. Then, I cooked it in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-15 minutes (depending on how you like your steak cooked, I did mine medium well). Make sure, if you have more than one steak, not to put them too close together on the pan. Otherwise the steaks will "sweat" rather than broil.

Even without a grill, the steak came out moist, tender, and full of flavor!

Black Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad (adapted from epicurious.com)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
a 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
1 scallion, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
a pinch cayenne (I added much more than a pinch--about 1 t)
4 large Boston lettuce leaves, rinsed and spun dry (optional)

In a bowl whisk together lemon juice, oil, and salt to taste. Stir in remaining ingredients, except lettuce leaves, with salt and black pepper to taste and let salad stand, stirring once or twice, 15 minutes for flavors to develop. Line 2 plates with lettuce and divide salad between them.

Van a comer! (Let's eat!)


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Who needs the Statler?!

With the school year already over and my departure from Cornell fast approaching, I can only think of one thing---an entire summer without the Statler sweet potato fries! I must admit that I am a sucker when it comes to anything with sweet potatoes--sweet potato pie, candied yams, and most of all, sweet potato fries. Every day I walk into the Statler (one of Cornell's many campus eateries), I try to resist but succumb every time to their crispy yet tender, sweet yet salty goodness.

Since I am going to be without the Statler, and Cornell, for the next few months, I decided to try making sweet potato fries on my own. Instead of frying them in a huge vat of oil (like the Statler does, which made me slightly ill when I found out), I wanted to take a healthier route. I roasted mine in olive oil with a little bit of butter. The results were fantastic! I ate almost the entire batch by myself. These fries make a wonderful, healthy snack and, if you are a sweet potato addict like me, will surely satisfy your next craving!

Sweet Potato Fries
(Makes 2-3 servings)

1 1.5 lb sweet potato
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
1 t salt (plus extra to taste)
1 t pepper (plus extra to taste)
Dash of brown sugar (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise, and then slice into french fries or wedges.
3. Melt 1T of butter. Mix with the 1 T olive oil.
4. Drizzle the butter and olive oil over the fries. Toss together with your hands and make sure the fries are all well coated. Season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle some brown sugar for some added sweetness.
5. Arrange the fries on a baking sheet, and make sure they are not too close together or overlapping one another (this will cause the fries to steam and become mushy). Bake for 18-22 minutes, flipping them over after about 10 minutes.
6. Take them out of the oven and enjoy!



Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fatty Salad, or "There is nothing sexier than cutting into a poached egg."

It's finals week, so I'm doing three things:
1. procrastinating from studying
2. making myself a nice dinner every night to procrastinate from studying
3. blogging about my nice dinner to procrastinate from studying.

Since it's finals my diet has not been superb (read: One day this week I ate a whole bag of potato chips and drank 3 red bulls). Because of this, I've been trying to make my dinners filling and semi-healthy. Last night I made grilled chicken breast and green bean casserole. Tonight, after being inspired by Antonia in the salad challenge on last night's Top Chef, I made a fatty salad with poached egg on top! mmmm, I can't begin to describe how much i love poached egg salads. I'm very picky about my poached eggs - yolks MUST be runny, then you don't even need salad dressing. This is a problem because I can't poach an egg to save my life. But tonight I wanted it so badly I bit the bullet and...lo and behold it came out in one piece!
Here's the construction of the fatty salad:

Step 1: lettuce. Something a fatty salad needs to make it at least a little bit healthy.

Step 2: bacon. mmm.

Step 3: Caramelized onions, corn, a shaving of gruyere cheese (this was all leftover from the Cornell Gourmet Club potluck on the weekend).

Step 4: poached egg! Seasoned with a little paprika, pepper, and salt. Yum!

Eggs in one piece? check. Runny yolks? check. A salad so dense I could survive in it for a week? check.

In case anyone else is a foodie who can't poach a proper egg (it's ok, you don't have to admit it, it'll be our secret) here's a great resource that don't demean you:

I hope this brain food pays off in my final tomorrow...

Banana Bread!

My mom makes the best chocolate chip banana bread in the world.
So I stole her recipe and now I make the best chocolate chip banana bread in the world. It's golden and moist and chocolatey and not too bitter and it's perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon. Or for breakfast. Or for dessert. Or for a midnight snack. Any time really. It's so simple yet so delicious!

Here's our secret recipe:

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (it used to be 1/2 cup but the more the merrier)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Add chocolate chips. Spoon batter into loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Eat a lot.



Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Spectactular Slope Day Brunch

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Slope Day, it is an end of semester celebration, where students start the day brunching and bbq-ing (among other things...) and end with a concert on Libe Slope, in the middle of campus. Michelle and I thought what better way to start out the day than with a festive, delicious brunch? We decided on a menu of fruit salad, a variety of pancakes (banana, chocolate chip, and blueberry), scrambled eggs with sauteed onions and grated cheese, and cinnamon coffee cake.

To my surprise, the coffee cake ended up being one of the favorites. The recipe was so simple, and the cake was moist and sweet as can be. I added a streusel crumb topping to the top, which was a lovely addition. Here is the recipe (adapted from epicurious.com):

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking powder, and a pinch of salt and in another bowl stir together the sour cream and the baking soda. In a large bowl cream together the butter and 1 cup of the granulated sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream mixture and stir the batter until it is combined well. Pour the batter into a buttered 10-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl stir together the remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and the cinnamon and swirl the sugar mixture into the batter. (** Add about half of this mixture to the batter. For the other half, soften about 1 1/2-2 T of butter and mix into the sugar. Sprinkle on top for a streusel topping.) Bake the cake in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, transfer it to a rack, and let it cool.

This coffee cake is sure to make your next brunch a success. Happy baking!


Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Gourmet Lunch in Your Kitchen

Inspired by a portabella sandwich I got during my layover in O'Hare Airport and the Michigan Hollow from CTB, I decided to try and play around with portabellos in my apartment. Portobello mushrooms pack so much flavor and automatically transform any dish into a gourmet delight. So here was my attempt at a Spinach Portabella Sandwich. So easy, healthy, and yummy!

Spinach Portabella Sandwich

1 portobello mushroom, sliced
2 slices of Italian Bread (can use any roll or even buns)
1 or 2 slices of Provolone (or any cheese you prefer)
1 cup spinach leaves
2 or 3 slices of tomato
mayonaise (optional)

Heat up a pan on medium-low heat. Coat pan with olive oil and add the portobello mushroom slices. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 4 minutes, or until soft.

Drizzle some olive oil on both sides of each slice of bread. Put the bread on a separate pan, lay the portabella slices on one of the slices bread, and place a slice of cheese on top. Toast on low heat for 2 minutes, or until lightly browned and the cheese has melted into the mushrooms.

Take the slices of bread off the heat. Stack the spinach and tomatoes on top of the cheese. Spread some mayonnaise on the slice of bread without the mushrooms and cheese. Place this slice of bread on top of the stack. Secure sandwich with toothpick.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Trader Joes to the Rescue

Every time I get a serious craving for some pumpkin muffins, I head down to Trader Joe's and pick up a package of their Pumpkin Bread mix. If you have never been to a Trader Joe's, it is an affordable gourmet grocery store--sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? That is the beauty of Trader Joe's, with its 2-buck Chuck (Charles Shaw wines, which sell for $2.99 a bottle) and its fabulous frozen dinners (such as tilapia with pesto and asparagus, yum yum).

One of my favorite items is, of course, their pumpkin bread mix. I make it in muffin form, and the muffins always come out perfectly--bursting with sweet, slightly spicy pumpkin flavor and moist as can be. And they are sooo easy to make--just add the mix, a couple of eggs, a cup of oil, and some water (these are approximations. follow the recipe on the box.) I also like to add in a handful of cranberries, or chocolate chips. Then bake them for about 20 minutes, and ta-dah!

My friends always ask me for the recipe for these muffins, and I always tell them it's my secret. Well, the secret is out. Who knew muffins from a mix could be so delicious? Once again another success for Trader Joe's.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tired of the same old pasta and Prego?

...Then spice it up with a delicious and easy Pasta Carbonara Florentine. The key is to get all your ingredients chopped and prepared because cooking only takes about 10 minutes. Perfect for a dinner with friends or put the leftovers in a tupperware and you have dinner for the next couple of days!

Pasta Carbonara Florentine
(modified from Rachel Ray's The Only Recipe You Need: Carbonara)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound rigatoni ( I used penne instead)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped (can substitute with bacon)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
5 or 6 cloves garlic, chopped
Half a large onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 large egg yolks (I used 3)
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese (can substitute with parmesan)
A handfull of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add a liberal amount of salt and rigatoni; cook to al dente, about 8 minutes

Meanwhile heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add extra virgin olive oil and pancetta. Brown pancetta 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and garlic. Then add onion and mushrooms and cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Add wine and stir up all the pan drippings.

Beat yolks, then add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. This tempers the eggs and keeps them from scramling when added to the pasta.

Drain pasta well. Add the spinach and pasta directly to the skillet with pancetta and oil. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Toss rapidly to coat the pasta without cooking the egg. Remove pan from heat and add a big handful of cheese and lots of pepper and a little salt. Continue to toss and turn the pasta until it soaks up egg mixture and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and extra cheese.

Serves 4.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Home SWEET Home

While I didn't get to go to an exotic island for spring break, I did get to go home to San Fran and help my parents move into our newly remodeled house (with a new kitchen!). Needless to say, I spent much of my week playing in our new kitchen. I had been craving madeleines all semester, so I decided to bake some orange madeleines to break in the new Thermador oven. The orange zest is a refreshing take on the classic madeleine.

These madeleines give a hint of orange. If you want a more overwhelming orange flavor, you can add more zest and juice.

A Hint of Orange Madeleines Recipe (modified from www.joyofbaking.com)


1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (140 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon minced orange zest
1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
Note: If you make miniature madeleines, reduce the baking time to about 7-9 minutes.

First, melt the butter and allow it to cool while you make the batter.

In a small bowl place the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until well blended.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until the mixture has tripled in volume and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted (about 5 minutes). Add the vanilla extract, orange zest, and orange juice and beat to combine.

Sift a small amount of flour over the egg mixture and, using a large rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the beaten eggs to lighten it. Sift the rest of the flour over the egg mixture and fold in being sure not to overmix or the batter will deflate.

Whisk a small amount of the egg mixture into the melted butter to lighten it. Then fold in the cooled melted butter in three additions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or several hours, until slightly firm.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Generously butter two 12-mold madeleine pans. Dust the molds with flour and tap out the excess. (Could spray pans with Bakers Joy instead.) (Make sure the pans are well greased or the madeleines will stick and be hard to remove.)

Drop a generous tablespoonful of the batter into the center of each prepared mold, leaving the batter mounded in the center. (This will result in the classic "humped" appearance of the madeleines.)

Bake the madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes or (8 to 10 minutes in a convection oven), until the edges are golden brown and the centers spring back when lightly touched. Do not overbake these cookies or they will be dry.

Remove the pans from the oven and rap each pan sharply against a countertop to release the madeleines. Transfer the madeleines, smooth sides down, to wire racks to cool. The madeleines are best served the same day but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 1 month.

When serving dust with confectioners sugar.



Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring Fever

For the past couple of weeks, I've had limes (leftover from another dish) sitting in my fridge and have been wracking my brain for what to do with them. I came across this recipe for Spring Lime Cookies, which seemed appropriate as spring is right around the corner. The cookies are incredibly moist and have a light, refreshing tangy sweetness to them. They would go perfectly with a warm cup of chamomile tea, on a rainy spring night.

Spring Time Lime Cookies
(adapted from allrecipes.com)

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 10 min.

  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine the 2 teaspoons of lime juice with the milk, let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the lime zest and milk mixture. Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda, blend into the creamed mixture. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are light brown. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the glaze, stir together the remaining lime juice and sugar. Brush onto cooled cookies.
Notes: The cookies don't really become golden brown when they are baking, so make sure to check the bottoms so they won't get burnt. Also, I made smaller cookies, about the size of a ping pong ball, and those turned out much better than the bigger ones. I definitely would not skip on the glaze; it adds much more of a limey flavor.

Happy baking!


Monday, March 10, 2008

Cranberry Almond Biscotti and Hot Chocolate

There's nothing like a cup of Ghiradelli hot chocolate and biscotti (especially on a brisk wintery night while studying for a midterm). I am not much of a coffee person and prefer to get my caffeine fix in the form of cocoa. However, these biscotti would be a perfect match for your morning coffee as well.

Here's the recipe for the Cranberry Almond Biscotti (adapted from the Food Network):

Holdiay Biscotti
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped (I substituted whole almonds, that I coarsely crushed)
2/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.

Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.



Saturday, March 1, 2008

Gimme Gimme S'more

These may look rough but that's because all the ingredients are hidden inside!
It may seem like I'm obsessed with baking in mini muffin pans, and I am. Everything is better bite-sized! This week I did a take on s'mores cookie bars from Baking Bites. It has all the best ingredients of s'mores - graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. With a tall, cold glass of milk these are so delicious you'll want to curl up and sleep in one. Make sure to use marshmallow cream or fluff, as melted marshmallows will not bake well.

Hint: VERY SWEET! I would definitely suggest adding less sugar to the graham base as the marshmallow fluff and chocolate make it sweet enough. We also changed the amount of graham from 3/4 cup to 1 1/4 cups, and used 1/3 cup less flour.

original recipe: http://bakingbites.com/2007/08/smore-cookie-bars

S’More Cookie Bites
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 king-sized milk chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff (not melted marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an baking pan (square or mini muffins)
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

With a small spoon scoop mix into the bottom of cups until 1/2 full. Break each piece of chocolate in half and push into each cup. If using a square brownie pan place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick.
Spoon marshmallow fluff over chocolate. To make the fluff stay down, spray a knife with oil and use to flatten out the marshmallow.
Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff. This is most easily done by rolling out remaining dough 1/2 inch thick and cutting to the shape you need. We found cutting out rounds with a shot glass fit perfectly on the mini muffins.

If using mini muffin pans, bake for 15-20 minutes. If using a brownie pan, bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Let cool before removing from pan.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Want a Wonton?

Being that I go to college thousands of miles away from home, I don't get to have mom's Chinese home cooking very often. So, I had her send me some easy recipes so I could try them on my own! One of my favorite recipes is wontons because not only are they super convenient when you don't have time to cook, but they are also tasty. It's also really fun to make. Here's the recipe:

Mom's Wonton Soup


For the wontons:
  • About 1lbs. Ground Pork
  • 1 lbs. Shrimp (Or about 30 large shrimp)
  • 1 1/2 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 4 tbsp Soy Sauce (or to taste)
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Corn Starch
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp White Pepper
  • 3 tsp White Cooking Wine
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 100 Wonton Wrappers (found at most Asian Markets)
Defrost wonton wrappers. In a separate bowl mix the corn starch, soy sauce, sesame oil, white cooking wine, white pepper, salt, and sugar and set aside.

Lightly puree the ground pork in a food processor or blender. Un-shell and de-vein the shrimp and cut into bite sizes (1/2 inch pieces). Transfer the pork and shrimp into a large mixing bowl. Add the corn starch mixture, chicken broth, and water. Combine thoroughly.

Take one wonton wrapper in your palm, and add one small spoonful of the pork mixture in the middle of the wrapper. Dip your finger into water and wet all four edges of the wrapper.

Then fold one edge of the wrapper over to form a triangle. Wet the two tails of the triangle with your finger. Lightly press the middle of the long side of the triangle to make a small indentation.

Finally fold the tails towards each other and you've made one wonton! You will get better with the folding with each wonton (it's like origami with food!). Boil some water and cook one wonton for 3 minutes to test if you like the taste and texture. If not, add more soy sauce, broth etc.

This recipe will make close to 100 wontons. If you are not making all of them, separate each of them and cover so they don't get smushed. Put them in the freezer and they will last you up to a month.

For the wonton soup:
  • 1 1/4 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 cup Water (for the broth); approx. 4 cups Water (for large pot)
  • 5-8 Wontons (or as many as you like)
  • 2 Shiitake Mushrooms (or bella mushrooms, if you don't have any) optional
  • 2 or 3 branches of Chinese Broccoli (or any other vegetables you prefer) optional
  • Handful of Noodles optional
  • Soy Sauce to taste
  • White Pepper to taste
Fill a large pot half way with water and bring it to a boil. Add the noodles and stir occasionally. After 5 minutes of cooking, add the wontons and cook for another 3 minutes until the wontons float. Strain and place in the serving bowl.

Add the chicken broth and water to a small pot. When the broth has boiled, add the vegetables and mushrooms into the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Then pour the broth, vegetables, and mushrooms into your bowl. (You can always just have wontons by themselves with broth.)

Serve and Enjoy!
- Michelle

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Chili and Chocolate?

This past weekend was the 10th Annual Chili Cook-Off and Winterfest in Ithaca, where local restaurants and caterers serve up their best chilis and compete for various awards, including best meat chili, best vegetarian chili, and best chili presentation. The 25 degree weather didn't keep the crowds away and proved very conducive to eating lots and lots of chili.

In my opinion, the most inventive and best tasting chili by far was the portobello mushroom chili with M&M's (pictured above). Although I was a little skeptical at first (I thought to myself, why does my chili look more like an ice cream sundae? that can't be good), the spiciness of the chili and the sweetness of the M&M's balanced each other out beautifully, creating a comforting, warm flavor. Another booth made their chili (not pictured) with belgian chocolate and served with zesty orange bread. Who knew the chocolate and chili combo could be so delicious?!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cake Love

When I got home on Valentines Day, a huge box wrapped in Food Network wrapping paper was waiting for me on my doorstep. Inside the box was a heart-shaped bundt cake pan--the perfect V-Day gift for any foodie! Needless to say, I had to put this this cake pan to use. My friends and I decided to host a post Valentines Day potluck, and a heart-shaped chocolate chiffon cake seemed like a festive and apropos addition. Here is the recipe, adapted from allrecipes.com

V-Day Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Raspberries (adapted from Emma Fox at allrecipes.com)

Prep Time: 25 Min.
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Ready In: 1Hr. 25 Min.

  • About 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 7 eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. In a bowl, combine cocoa and water until smooth; cool for 20 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add oil, egg yolks, vanilla and cocoa mixture; beat until smooth. In another mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form; gradually fold into egg yolk mixture. Pour into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Bake on lowest rack at 325 degrees F for 60-65 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Invert pan to cool; remove cake from pan.
  2. Arrange fresh raspberries around the cake and sprinkle powdered sugar over before serving.


This weekend I went to a potluck dinner thrown by my favorite foodie, so I knew I had to impress. There was more food than I think we could have eaten in 2 weeks, so of course we ate way too much. I made a dessert, a little east-meets...brownies.
Brownie recipe is from epicurious, hands down the best brownies in the world. I put some matcha green tea frosting on top for some flavor, found at the cupcake bakeshop (http://www.cupcakeblog.com). Here are the recipes:

Best Cocoa Brownies
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray and flour the bottom of your pans (I used mini muffin pans!)

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the pans

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 15 to 20 minutes for mini muffins, 20-25 for regular brownie pans. Let cool completely on a rack.

Matcha Green Tea Frosting

2 sticks butter
8 ounces or 1 package of Philly cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
~5 tablespoons matcha powder

1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
3. Sift 3 cups of powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of matcha powder into the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat to combine.
4. Taste. Add more matcha if desired (Cupcake Bakeshop used only 2 tbsp, and i found that it needed at least 5 for the flavor of the matcha to be heard over the cream cheese)