Saturday, March 31, 2012

[Dutch] Bitterballen - Deep Fried Beef Balls

For the meat balls:
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooking oil for frying (make sure you have enough oil to completely submerge the beef balls while frying)
For the breading:
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, add 2 tablespoons of milk or water, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (I used panko for extra crunch)


  • In a large skillet, cook the ground beef until done and no longer pink. Drain the liquid and set aside to cool completely. In a different skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour gradually and stir into thick paste. Slowly add the beef stock, make sure that the roux absorbs the liquid completely. Add onion, garlic, beef, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper, mix well and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a glass bowl to cool down. Store covered in the refrigerator for a couple of hours until the mixture firms up.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan. Place beaten eggs, flour and breadcrumbs into 3 separate bowls. Take a heaping tablespoon of cold beef mixture and roll it into a ball. Roll lightly into the flour, then egg and lastly the breadcrumbs. Place the beef ball onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining beef mixture. 
  • When the oil is hot enough, fry the beef balls, 6 at a time, until they turn golden brown. Serve warm with some mustard. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

[Cuban] Pan Suave - Soft Sweet Bread

The Italians have their Pane Dolce, the Mexican have their Pan Dulce, and the Cubans have their own version of these delicious sweet bread that they call Pan Suave. These sweet rolls are commonly used in Cuban Medianoche sandwiches, but also good eaten by itself or with a little bit of butter.

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus a little more for egg glaze
  • 4 to 5 cups bread or all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (I used poppy seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar and 3 tablespoons warm water in a large mixing bowl. Set aside and let sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast turns foamy. Add the remaining water, sugar, vegetable oil, salt, and all but 1 tablespoon of the beaten eggs. (Beat the remaining egg with a pinch of salt and store in the refrigerator until needed).
  • Add flour to the mixing bowl, one cup at the time and continue kneading the dough until it's stiff enough to pull away from the side of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, continue kneading for about 6-8 minutes, adding more flour as needed, until the dough turns pliable but not sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 
  • Punch down the dough, divide into 12 equal pieces. roll each piece with the palm of your hands to form a ball (or a tube with tapered ends). Arrange the rolls on a lightly oiled baking sheet, leaving about 3-inch of space between each. Cover with paper towel and let rice for another hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the top of the rolls with reserved egg glaze. Sprinkle with sesame seeds/poppy seeds. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Remove from the oven and cool down for 5 minutes. Brush the rolls with melted butter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Make 12 rolls.

Recipe was taken from Taste of Cuba website.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chocolate Wafers and Icebox Cookies


For the chocolate wafer cookies:
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 3/4 unsweetened dark cocoa powder ( I used Guittard dark cocoa powder)
  • 1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey
For the cream filling:
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar until creamy. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, a little at a time, continue mixing until well combined. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or for up to 2 days.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Using round (or scalloped) cookie cutter, cut out the chocolate wafers. Place cookies on the baking sheet, place them 1/2-inch apart. Sprinkle the cookies with some sugar, then bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are firm. Repeat with the remaining dough. Transfer cookies to wire rack and cool completely. (At this point, if you just want chocolate wafers, store them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks).
  • Whip cream with sugar and vanilla until the cream holds firm peaks. Place about a teaspoon full of cream in between the cookies, press down, and stack them as high as you'd like. Store the cookies in the refrigerator overnight to set. They'll soften as they set and will become cake-like.

Note: One batch of dough makes about thirty two 2-inch cookies, or twenty four 3-inch cookies.

Stuart the puppy

No food and no recipe this time. But I would like to introduce you to our newest member of our family. Joining Mom, Dad, big C, little C, Lafayette, Poppy, Gumdrop (the Guinea Pigs), and Pepper the is Stuart! 
He's a 2-month old Airedale Terrier puppy with TONS of energy, plenty of attitude, a whole lot of love, and one small overactive bladder!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Roasted Sunchokes

Because they're in season now! :)

  • 1 1/2 pounds Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dry oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • lime wedges
  • Wash the sunchokes, cut them up so that the pieces are matched for size, otherwise they will cook unevenly. Drop the pieces immediately into water mixed with lime juice, to prevent them from browning.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. drain the sunchokes from the lime water and boil them for 3 minutes, or until slightly tender. Remove chokes from the pot and drain. 
  • Mix the flour with salt and pepper, garlic and onion powder, celery powder, oregano and cayenne pepper in a plastic gallon bag. Shake the bag until all the ingredients is well combined. Melt the butter in a roasting pan, coat the sunchokes in the seasoned flour and roll them around in the butter in the pan. Cook the butter and flour coated sunchokes in the oven for 20-30 mints, or until golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and squeeze some lime juice over the sunchokes, if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe is loosely adapted from Irish Food & Cooking cookbook authored by Biddy White Lennon and Georgina Campbell

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Asparagus Flatbread Pizza with Serrano Ham, Onion and Feta


For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • cornmeal for dusting
For the toppings:
  • Water for boiling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dozens fresh asparagus, bottom parts trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 ounces thinly sliced Jamon Serrano ham
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese


Whisk the warm water, sugar and yeast together in a bowl. Let stand in warm place for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy.

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook and mix well. Add the yeast mixture and oil. mixing well. Continue to mix, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and give it a few turns by hand to finish kneading it. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, turning to coat, cover with kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, boil some water in a large saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Put the asparagus in the boiling salt water for about 10-15 seconds. Remove from the pot, drain and let cool completely.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a well floured surface. Stretch dough into 2 circles (or 2 rectangles like I did). Use rolling pin if necessary, to make sure that the dough is thin. Sprinkle cornmeal onto the baking sheet and place stretched dough on the sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil, spread Serrano ham all over the dough, followed with sliced red onion. Arrange the asparagus on the dough, and lastly, sprinkle the Feta cheese over the pizza.
Bake the pizza in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the crust turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and slice into wedges (or sections)

Thin Raspberry Vanilla Cheesecake


For the crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups Graham cracker crumbs (about 12 whole Graham crackers)
  • 1 1/4 cups Hazelnuts (about 5 ounces)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 ounces fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch


To make crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Finely grind graham crackers, hazelnuts, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and process until moist crumbs form.
Put the crumbs in a 10-inch pie pan and press in an even layer on the bottom. Bake in the oven until dark golden brown and firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Leave the oven on.

To make filling:
Add heavy cream into heavy small saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans and add to heavy cream. Bring to boil. Cool completely and discard beans.

Using electric mixer, blend cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add vanilla cream mixture and continue mixing. Add egg, one at a time, beat until well blended.

In a separate bowl, mix in fresh raspberries and corn starch. Pour 2/3 of the filling into the crust. Sprinkle the berries over, pour the remaining filling over the berries to cover. Bake until the cake is golden and firm around the edges, but still wiggly in the middle when gently shaken, about 60 minutes. Cool down for 10 minutes. Keep in the refrigerator overnight. Drizzle with raspberry syrup, or sprinkle powdered sugar on top, if desired.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pork Stew with Fennel and Butternut Squash

  • 3 pounds 2-inch trimmed pork shoulder (Boston butt)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped thinly sliced pancetta (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 large fresh fennel bulbs; fronds chopped and reserved, bulbs cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
  • 20 1 1/2-inch cubes peeled butternut squash (part of 3-pound squash)
  • Place pork in a large bowl. Mix next 6 ingredients in small bowl; sprinkle over pork, turning pork to coat evenly. Let stand 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat oil in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to medium bowl. Add half of pork to pot, sauté until brown, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl with pancetta. Repeat with the remaining pork. Add onions and garlics to pot, sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, broth, wine and pork mixture. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits.
  • Cover pot, place in the oven. Cook stew for 1 hour. Add fennel bulbs, chopped fronds and squash cubes to stew. Cover and cook in oven until pork and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer meat and vegetables to large bowl; cover. Boil sauce over medium-high heat until thickened enough to coat spoon, about 25 minutes. Return pork and vegetables to sauce; season with salt and pepper. Serve over cooked noodles or by itself.
Note: Recipe was adapted from

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chinese Style Chicken and Shrimp Fried Rice

After almost a week of heavy meals (usual St. Patrick's day related dishes, and lots and lots of desserts), I'm ready for some lighter and more simple meals this week. 
Today, Chinese style fried rice, really hits the note.

  • 12 ounces (2 platefuls) cooked medium grain rice, preferably cooked a day beforehand
  • 4 ounces chicken breast, diced
  • 4 ounces shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 ounces green peas, cleaned and halved
  • 2 eggs, cooked and scrambled
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Heat up the cooking oil on a wok or a large skillet over high heat. Add shallot, garlic and ginger, and stir fry until they turn fragrant. Add chicken breast, shrimp and green peas. Continue cooking until the chicken is no longer pink.
  • Add steamed rice into the wok, followed by soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, salt and pepper. Stir to combine for a couple of minutes. Add scrambled eggs into the fried rice, mix well. Transfer to plates and serve immediately.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Guinness, Baileys, and Whiskey Cupcakes

Another St. Patrick's day (themed) dessert that I attempted to bake. Who can refuse Guinness infused chocolate cupcakes filled with whiskey chocolate ganache, and topped with Baileys cream frosting? I know I can't...

For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup Guinness beer
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Guittard dark chocolate powder)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
For the chocolate ganache:
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons Irish whiskey
For Baileys frosting:
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6-7 tablespoons Baileys
  • To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners. Bring 1 cup Guinness and 1 cup butter to simmer in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
  • Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl to blend. Using a mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add Guinness butter mixture to the egg mixture and continue beating until just combined. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on low speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on wire rack completely. 
  • To make the chocolate filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer to the heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work). Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.
  • To fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom - aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
  • To make Baileys frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer for several minutes. You want to get it light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys and whip it until combined. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag with the wide tip. Pipe the frosting onto the top of the cupcakes.
Make 24 cupcakes.
Recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Baileys Panna Cotta

Light and airy.
Contains happy drink (...or two...).
St. Patrick's day appropriate
Unbelievably delicious.

This awesome recipe from this amazing blog meets all of my requirements. And more....

For the Panna Cotta:
    • 1 vanilla pod
    • 2 cups (500 ml) cream
    • 1 packet (3 teaspoons) gelatine powder
    • 1/2 cup (150 ml) Baileys Irish Cream (I could not find Coole Swan Dairy Cream Liquer as the recipe suggested, so I used Baileys instead)
    • 1 or 2 drops of green food coloring (optional)
    • Neutral-tasting oil for greasing the ramekins
    For the mocha ganache:
    • 4 oz (100 grams) milk chocolate, broken into pieces
    • 1/2 cup (125 ml) cream
    • 1 tablespoon Espresso, or very strong coffee, cooled
    Fresh raspberries or strawberries, to serve.

    • To make the panna cotta, scrape the vanilla seeds into the cream (or add the vanilla extract) and gently bring to the boil in a saucepan. Immediately remove from the heat and sprinkle over the gelatine, stirring briskly until the gelatine has completely dissolved. Allow the cream to cool slightly, then add the Baileys and food coloring and stir well.
    • Lightly greased 4 ramekins (or cups, or jars) and pour in the mixture. Keep Panna Cotta in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until set.
    • To make the mocha ganache, melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. Add cream and coffee gradually, keep stirring gently until the ganache is smooth. Allow the ganache to cool slightly, and pour a layer of ganache on top of each Panna Cotta, carefully trying to smooth it out evenly across the top. Return Panna Cotta to the refrigerator for another 1 hour, to allow the ganache to firm up, before serving. Top with fresh raspberries/strawberries.

    Saturday, March 10, 2012

    Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken

    • 2 cups cultured buttermilk
    • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 6 chicken thighs
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • Cooking oil for frying
    • In a blender, mix the first 10 ingredients until well blended. Pour the spiced buttermilk into a gallon sized freezer bag, add chicken thighs into the bag. Push as much air as possible and seal the bag. Refrigerate overnight.
    • In a gallon sized freezer bag, add flour, garlic powder, chile powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Close the bag and shake to combine. Take the chicken thighs out of the buttermilk marinade, pat dry chicken with paper towel. Transfer the chicken, one at the time, to the flour bag, and shake to coat. Shake off the excess flour and let sit on the wire rack to dry for about 1 hour.
    • Add oil into the frying skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat (should reach the temperature of 320 to 340 degrees F). The amount of oil should be enough to completely submerge the chicken while frying. Add chicken into the hot oil, frying them for about 15 minutes or until the center is done and the outside turns golden brown. Remove the chicken from the oil and drain on paper towel. Serve hot.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    Grilled Shrimp with Charmoula

    One delicious recipe from my old Williams-Sonoma 'Mediterranean cooking' cookbook. This simple dish is one of many favorite dishes that often show up on our family dinner table and so far has not failed to please the crowd. They work as appetizer by themselves, or as main course together with rice pilaf and steamed vegetables.

    • 24-32 large shrimp
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • salt and freshly ground pepper
    • Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the last segment of the tail fin intact. Set aside.
    • In a large bowl, whisk together lightly the lemon juice, paprika, cayenne, cumin, garlic, parsley, cilantro, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the shrimp into the bowl, mix with the marinade to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. 
    • Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill or preheat the broiler (griller). Slip the shrimp onto bamboo or metal skewers (6-8 shrimp on each skewer). Grill the shrimp, turning once, until pink, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Brush with the remaining marinade if desired. Serve immediately.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Graham Crackers

    Another great recipe from Miette cookbook, authored by Meg Ray with Leslie Jonath.

    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • Sift together both flours, the salt, and cinnamon into a bowl. Set aside.
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar and honey and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
    • Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, beating just until combined after each addition. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling, or for up to 2 days.
    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap the dough and place between two sheets of waxed paper. On a clean work surface, roll out to the thickness of about 1/4 inch. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the crackers. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1/2 inch apart. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to the wire rack and let cool completely. They should snap crisply when cooled.
    • Gather up the dough scraps, re-roll, and cut out to make more cookies. Bake as directed and let cool. Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.