Thursday, May 31, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces non-sweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 cup freshly brewed espresso, or 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 cup water
  • 1 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 8 eggs, beaten to blend
  • Fresh raspberries
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom and the sides of 9-inch diameter pan with parchment paper. Put all of the chocolate in a large bowl. Bring butter, brown sugar and espresso to boil in medium saucepan, stir to dissolve sugar. Add butter mixture to chocolate; whisk until smooth and well blended. Cool slightly; whisk in eggs.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Place pan in a roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up sides of the cake pan.  Bake until the center of the cake is set and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove pan from water. Chill overnight.
  • Using oven mitts as aid, hold pan's bottom over low heat for 15 seconds, warming slightly to release the cake. Place platter over pan. Hold pan and platter together tightly and invert. Lift off cake pan, peel off parchment. Slice and serve with fresh berries.

Recipe is adapted from

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chipotle Buffalo Sliders

  • 1 pound ground buffalo/bison meat 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon minced chipotle in adobo, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
  • 8 small pieces of Monterey jack cheese
  • 8 pieces of sliced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 8 slider buns
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine ground meat, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper and mix well. Divide the meat into 8 equal pieces, roll each piece into a ball and press flat with your hands to form patties. Grill on the oiled rack, about 4 minutes.
  • While the patties are cooking; mash the avocados using the back of the fork, add lime juice and some salt, mix until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, minced chipotle and adobo juice.
  • Fill each slider bun with a slice of cheese, a slice of tomato, avocado, patty, chipotle-mayo, and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Spicy Fruit Slaw

Summer a-coming! Fruit slaw is a delightful companion for your summer barbeque without adding too much calories to your meal. The fruits in this recipe can be substituted with any kind of firm fruits.

  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 firm mango, peeled and julienned
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned
  • 1 large Fuji apple, peeled and julienned
  • Salt to taste
In a large bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients; add fruits and toss gently to coat. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Port-Balsamic Glazed Cherries


For the vanilla panna cotta:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Canola oil
For the cherry sauce:
  • 1 pound frozen cherries
  • 3/4 cup Ruby Port
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


To make the panna cotta:
  • Brush six 3/4-cup custard cups with canola oil (If you're serving the panna cotta directly in the cup, then skip this step). Pour milk into medium bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the milk, let it sit for about 5 minutes, until gelatin softens.
  • Stir cream and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to boil; remove from heat. Add cream mixture into milk-gelatin mixture, stir to dissolve. Stir in vanilla. Working in 2 batches, transfer the mixture into a blender and use only 3 on/off turns to fully blend the mixture. Divide the mixture evenly among the custard cups. Cover and chill at least overnight (up to 2 days)
To make cherry sauce:
  • Stir cherries, sugar, port and balsamic vinegar in a large heavy saucepan over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to boil; reduce to medium and continue cooking until the sauce thickens and coat the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat, and cool down to room temperature.
  • Release each panna cotta onto a plate, shake gently to dislodge. Spoon cherries and sauce onto the panna cotta and serve.

Recipe is adapted from

Linguine and Clams

Classic comfort that never fails to satisfy my crowd.

  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound small clams, scrubbed (I used 1 can of baby clams, juice included)
  • 1 pound dry linguine
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • salt
  • Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 3 tablespoons of kosher salt. Meanwhile. combine the oil and the garlic in a large pot and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the garlic is softened, about 1 minute. Add wine, red pepper flakes, and clams, shaking the pot occasionally, until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Transfer the clams to a bowl as they open. Remove the pot from the heat. 
  • Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  • Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the clam broth and stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated (add a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce). Stir in the clams, with their juice, and toss until just heated through. Stir in the parsley and serve immediately.

Recipe is taken from Mario Batali's Molto Gusto cookbook.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Cherry Apple Galette

  • 1 cup vegetable shortening, or non-dairy margarine
  • 4 to 6 tablespoon ice cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (*), plus more for lining the crust and rolling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons for the pie crust
  • 1 pound firm fresh bing cherries, halved and pitted
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and sliced to 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Ruby Port
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
(*) I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free all-purpose flour, but you can mix your own GF flour by combining   1 1/2 cups rice flour, 1/2 cup glutinous (sweet) rice flour, 1/2 cup potato starch, and 2 teaspoons xanthan gum.

  • Place shortening or margarine in a plastic bag and roll out flat (about 1/2-inch thick), and put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Combine flour, salt and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a food processor, pulse 5-6 times. Add pieces of frozen shortening and continue pulsing until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea size butter chunks. With processor running, add water until the mixture starts to clump together. Remove the dough from the processor and form into a disk. Wrap tightly in a plastic bag and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. 
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cherries, apple pieces, 2/3 cup of sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, lemon juice and Port until well incorporated. Set aside.
  • Line your countertop with wax paper and sprinkle some flour mixture on it. Lay the chilled disk onto the wax paper, sprinkle some more flour on it and cover with another piece of wax paper. Roll out the dough into a circle approximately 15-inch wide. Remove the top sheet of wax paper, and carefully transfer the crust onto the lined baking sheet, then remove the second wax paper. Sprinkle the crust with some more flour, leaving about 2-3 inches on all sides of the crust. 
  • Mound the cherry-apple mixture on the floured crust. Fold the sides of the crust up around the edges of the fruit mixture, carefully not to pierce the crust. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until the crust turns golden brown, rotating halfway throughout the baking. Remove from the sheet to wire rack to cool down. Slice and serve.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Crab and Corn Chowder with Bacon and Sautéed Mushrooms

  • 6 ears fresh yellow corn
  • 4 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 medium)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 3/4 pounds white skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 ounces fresh mushrooms (chanterelle, oyster, etc)
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 pound fresh crab meat
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Cut kernels off corn cobs. Set kernels aside. Combine cobs, broth, and cream in a heavy large saucepan. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and sauté until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towel to drain. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons pan drippings; add onion, leeks, celery, and fennel seeds to pot. Sauté until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in potatoes. Discard cobs from cream mixture; strain cream mixture into potato mixture. Simmer until potatoes are almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in corn kernels. Simmer chowder until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes longer.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in sherry and thyme. Add mushroom mixture to chowder. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Sauté crab meat in the same skillet over medium-low heat just until heated through, about 3 minutes. Divide crab meat, reserved bacon, and parsley among bowls. Ladle chowder over and serve.
Make 6 to 8 servings 
Recipe was taken from Bon Appetite magazine January 2003 edition

Cheddar and Green Onion Drop Biscuits

Easy, quick, and scrumptious biscuits for some people (like me) who are too lazy to bring out the rolling pin and cookie cutter.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar 
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center, add milk all at once. Add cheese and chopped green onions. Stir until the dough is well incorporated. 
  • Drop a generous tablespoon of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, repeat with the remaining dough, keep 1 or 2-inch space between them. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.
Make about 12 biscuits

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Onion-Simmered Shanks and Celery Root Puree


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds veal shanks (can be substituted with beef shanks), cut into 8 thick slices
  • all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 4 brown or white onions, sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Coat the shanks in flour, and add to the pan a few at a time, cooking for 4 minutes each side or until well browned. Place the shanks in a large baking dish.
  • Heat the extra oil in the frying pan and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the onions are soft and golden. Add the garlic, bay leaves, beef stock, wine and lemon juice to the baking dish containing the shanks and cover with lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 85 minutes, then turn the shanks. Bake uncovered for another 30 minutes or until the shanks are soft. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on celery root puree and with steamed vegetables.

Celery Root Puree

  • 2 large celery roots, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into smaller pieces
  • salt and pepper 
  • Bring water and salt to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add celery roots and potatoes, bring to boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the vegetables and discard the cooking liquid.
  • Combine vegetables, milk, and butter in a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, season with salt and pepper
Serve 4
The recipe for Onion-Simmered Shanks is taken from Donna Hay's 'Flavours' cookbook.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hazelnut Cookies with Blueberry Ganache Filling

Colorful and fruity version of Italian hazelnut cookies (Baci Di Dama).


For the cookies:
  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts. toasted, any loose skin removed, and cooled
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 drops blueberry flavoring
  • 2-3 drops food coloring (optional)
For blueberry ganache:
  • 1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Grind nuts and sugar in a food processor until powdery. Beat together butter, zest, salt, blueberry flavoring, food coloring, and nut powder in a large mixing bowl with rubber spatula until creamy. Add flour and keep mixing until well incorporated and forms a dough.
  • Roll about 1/2 teaspoon of the dough into tiny balls and arrange 1-inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes or until they turn light brown. Transfer to wire rack and let them sit to cool completely.
  • Place the fresh blueberries in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat , stirring occasionally, until the thick sauce forms and reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove from the stove and set aside. 
  • In a double boiler, melt the chocolate, then add blueberry sauce and heavy cream. Stir until the ganache is smooth. Transfer ganache to a piping bag, snip off the bottom of the piping bag to form a small hole. Pipe small mound of ganache onto the flat side of a cookie and top with other cookie, pressing 2 cookies together to help adhere. Repeat with the remaining cookies. 
Make about 25-30 cookies

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peels

If someday I turn fat, I mean seriously fat, you can blame it on this bittersweet goodness. 
It leaves me wondering, is there some sort of therapy to battle chocolatey orange peel addiction?

  • 2 large oranges, 1/4-inch top and bottom cut off
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Cut peel of each orange in 4 vertical segments. Remove the peels from the orange, and cut into 1/4-inch strips. Using the tip of a paring knife, remove the white pith from the back of the peels. Mix water and 1 1/2 cup of sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stir to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and add the orange peels into the sugar water. Let simmer until the peels are soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain.  Toss peels and 1/2 cup of sugar in a large bowl, separating the peels. Transfer to a lined baking sheet, arrange them in a single layer. Set aside and let sit for 1 or 2 days, until the coating is dry. 
  • In a double boiler, mix chocolate chips and heavy cream. Melt the chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly, until it turns smooth and creamy. Dip each candied orange peel into the chocolate, transfer to a lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set.
Make about 48 pieces

Orange Strawberry Shortbread Cookies

Don't be fooled by their humble looks. These babies are so good, even if I were deathly allergic to them, I would still eat 'em!

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons fresh orange-strawberry juice 
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, orange-strawberry juice, and orange zest until smooth and creamy. Add flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix by hand until the dough is well blended. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap the dough. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch-thick. Cut the dough using cookie cutter and transfer to line baking sheet. Bake for about 10-12 mines, or until they turn golden brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool down. Store in airtight container.
Make about 24 2 1/2-inch cookies.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Meyer Lemon Curd

  • 5 egg yolks
  • Juice from 2 large Meyer lemons, about 1/3 cup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Add enough water to a medium saucepan to cover about 1 or 2 inches from the bottom. Simmer the water over medium heat. 
  • In a smaller saucepan, combine the egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice, whisk until well blended. Reduce the heat to low, place the smaller saucepan on top of the larger one. Whisk the egg mixture until thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes (the curd will turn light yellow and coats the back of the spoon). Remove from the stove, and add butter one piece at the time, allowing the piece to melt completely before adding another. Transfer to clean sterilized jars. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Sweet Pepper, Fiddlehead, and Goat Cheese Tart


For the tart shell:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 egg, beaten
For the filling:
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled soft goat cheese
  • 12 mini sweet peppers, seeded and quartered
  • 12-15 fiddlehead ferns, top part only


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • To make the tart shell: Place the flour, salt and butter in a food processor. Process until the flour mixture resembles cornmeal. Add ice water and process until the dough just begin to stick together. Remove the dough from the food processor and press together to form a ball. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a thin sheet; then transfer the dough to a 10-inch tart pan. Press into the sides of the pan. Brush with beaten egg.
  • To make the filling: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs well, beat in the milk, then stir in the garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Stir half of the cheese into the mixture. Set aside.
  • Place a layer of quartered sweet peppers across the tart. Add a layer of fiddlehead on top of the sweet peppers. Pour the egg mixture over the sweet peppers and fiddleheads until it just rises to the top edge of the tart. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Place the tart on a baking sheet, bake in the preheated oven until the tart begins to bubble on the top and turns light brown, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gougères Filled With Goat Cheese and Smoked Salmon


For the gougères:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino-romano
For the filling:
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese, beat with electric mixer to make it creamy
  • 35-40 1-inch square pieces of smoked salmon
  • 35-40 1 1/2-inch pieces of fresh chives


  • To make the gougères: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water, butter and salt to a boil. Add flour and keep stirring until the dough dries up and pulls away from the side of the saucepan. Immediately transfer the dough to the mixing bowl. Mix with the electric mixer, adding one egg at the time, until well incorporated. Fold in the grated cheese. Pour the dough into the piping bag with half-inch tip and pipe the dough onto the prepared baking sheets (about 1 to 1 1/2-inch in diameter), an inch apart between them (Alternatively, you can drop a teaspoon full of dough onto the baking sheet). Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove form the baking sheet and cool down completely.
  • With a pastry knife, make a slit on the side of the gougères. Spoon about half of a teaspoon of goat cheese into the pastry, add a piece of smoked salmon and a chive. Repeat the process with the remaining pastry. 
Makes about 35-40 gougères.