Monday, November 26, 2007

Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Since the weather here has turned chilly, I have been in the mood to make comfort food. I found this menu from a past issue of Every Day Food. I'm very picky about macaroni and cheese, however, I thought this recipe comes close to a perfect 10. I loved the mix of cheeses and the fact that it was really creamy. I would probably double the sauce next time to make it even creamier. I made the two suggested side dishes of garlic roasted tomatoes and sauteed green beans and mushrooms. Both were superb. The roast tomatoes were very easy and will become a regular side dish on our dinner menus as will the green beans. I had not yet found a green bean recipe that I loved until I tried this one. Next time I make this meal, I will try the apple cinnamon upside down cake which was the recommended dessert.

Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Everyday Food, September 2007

Serves 8.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound medium pasta shells
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces Havarti cheese, coarsely grated (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces Muenster cheese, coarsely grated (1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 slices white sandwich bread
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Butter a shallow 4-quart baking dish (oval or 9-by-13-inch rectangle); set aside.
  2. Generously salt boiling water; add pasta. Cook, according to package instructions, until 2 minutes short of al dente. Drain pasta, and return to pot.
  3. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium. Transfer 2 tablespoons melted butter to a small bowl; set aside for topping. Add flour and mustard powder to remaining butter in saucepan. Cook, whisking, 1 minute (do not let flour darken). Whisk in milk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until sauce is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove sauce from heat. Gradually whisk in cheeses; add Worcestershire sauce, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add sauce to pasta, and toss to combine; transfer to prepared baking dish.
  5. Place bread in food processor; pulse until very coarse crumbs form (you should have about 3 cups). Add reserved melted butter, and pulse just to moisten. Scatter crumbs over pasta in baking dish. (If making ahead, cover and refrigerate up to 1 day.)
  6. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until topping is golden and sauce is bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. (If refrigerated, bake for 30 to 35 minutes.) Cool 5 minutes before serving
Sauteed Green Beans with Mushrooms
Source: Everyday Food, September 2007

Serves 8
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 pounds green beans (stem ends removed), halved crosswise
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, stems trimmed, halved
  • 2 shallots, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rings
  1. Fill a large skillet with 1/2 inch water; bring to a boil, and salt generously. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
  2. Add green beans to skillet; cover, and steam until crisp-tender, 5 to 10 minutes (time will depend on size and freshness of green beans). Transfer to ice water to cool; drain and pat dry (if making ahead, cover and refrigerate up to 1 day). Wipe skillet dry.
  3. In same skillet, heat butter over medium-high. Add mushrooms and shallots; season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover, and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until browned, 8 to 12 minutes more.
  4. Add green beans; cook just to heat through, 1 to 2 minutes.
Garlic-Roasted Tomatoes
Source: Everyday Food, September 2007

4 large beef-steak tomatoes (about 3 lbs), cored and halved crosswise
2 tbsp butter cut into 8 thin slices
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
course salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Place tomato halves, cut side up on a large rimmed baking sheet. Dividing evenly top with garlic and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Bake tomatoes until tender about 40-45 minutes.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Larger Than Life Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake

I couldn't imagine a better excuse than a holiday to try another one of the amazing desserts from my Pastry Queen Cookbook. This cheesecake was really delicious. Unlike other pumpkin cheesecakes I have had this had a very strong pumpkin spice flavor to it. The praline topping was so delicious. It would be great on many other things. Overall, another hit from my favorite cookbook.

"This is a big, gorgeous cheesecake perfect for the most glamorous holiday feast. The spiced pumpkin-cream filling is topped with a deep brown blanket of praline sauce, and underneath lies a buttery gingersnap crust. Remember to make this dessert in advance. It needs to chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving." Rebecca Rather, from The Pastry Queen

Larger Than Life Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake
Recipe: The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

Ginger Crust
  • 2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (about 40 cookies)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pumpkin Filling
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Praline Topping
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Crust: Line bottom of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray or Baker's Joy. In a large bowl, stir together the crushed gingersnaps with the melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Filling: Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl on medium-high speed about 1 minute,until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the eggs,one at a time, beating on medium-high for 20 seconds after each addition. Add the vanilla, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; beat on medium speed about 1 minute,until incorporated.

Pour the filling over the crust. Put the springform pan into a larger baking pan and set it on the center rack of the oven. Pour enough boiling water into the larger pan to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake about 1 hour, until the filling is set and golden brown on top. Cool the cheesecake on a rack about 30 minutes, then chill for several hours or overnight. Remove cheesecake from springform pan and set on a serving dish.

Topping: Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Coarsely chop the nuts.

Stir together brown sugar, cream and butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Boil mixture for about 1 1/2 minutes, adjusting the heat to make sure it does not boil over. Do not stir. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla, salt, and pecans. Cool topping at least 15 minutes before pouring over the top of the chilled cheesecake. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve. The cheesecake will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Yield:14 to 16 servings

Chocolate Pecan Tart

This is another wonderful recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food. It presents beautifully on a holiday table and was delicious as well. Sorry no pictures of my Thanksgiving desserts but I was so focused on getting everything out of the house that I forgot.

Chocolate Pecan Tart

Serves 8

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 teaspoons, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 1/3 cups pecan halves
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • 1 store-bought refrigerated pie crust (not in a pie plate)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie dough to a 12-inch round, about an inch thick. Wrap dough around rolling pin, and unwrap over a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press dough into bottom and up sides of pan; trim edge of dough.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, light corn syrup, 4 teaspoons melted unsalted butter, and the vanilla. Scatter chocolate evenly over tart shell. Pour filling over chocolate. Arrange pecans on top, as desired. Dot with 2 teaspoons chilled butter.
  3. Place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling is set, 45 to 60 minutes. If pecans are browning too quickly, tent pan with foil. Remove from oven; while still hot, drizzle with bourbon, if desired. Let tart cool completely before serving.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Poblano Chicken Chowder

One of my favorite things to eat is homemade soup. This Paula Deen recipe was a little time consuming but turned out fantastic. It is a hearty soup and makes a meal all on its own. It pairs nicely with corn bread. In true Paula Deen spirit it does have a stick of butter! The only changes I made were I used jalapenos instead of poblanos as I could not find the poblanos. I also seeded my jalapenos to remove most of the heat. I also omitted the hot sauce because I don't like my dishes too spicy. The soup had a kick as it was from the jalapenos. I've never used chicken bouillon before and when I investigated the ingredients I couldn't find one that I was willing to put in my soup. I finally found one in the organic section of my grocery store. Its called Not-Chick'n. It has no MSG and contains only a few ingredients all of which are organic and natural. I did use heavy cream this time but next time I would probably use half and half to cut the calories a little. I happened to have heavy cream in the house for some holiday baking I am doing. This soup makes a lot. I have two extra containers frozen now. This would be the perfect snow day soup.

Poblano Chicken Chowder
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 12 to16 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
5 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/8 cup minced garlic
2 to 3 small poblano peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, or more to taste
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
3 quarts chicken broth
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, minced
3 cups diced (large pieces) grilled chicken
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
1 cup heavy cream
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, poblano peppers, salt, white pepper, cumin, and thyme. Saute for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the chicken bouillon. Add the chicken broth and cilantro, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Stir in the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chowder is thick and the chicken is heated through. Shortly before the chowder is done, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes to cook the flour. Do not allow the mixture to brown! Ladle 1 cup of the hot liquid from the stockpot into the skillet, whisking constantly.

When the first cup of liquid is incorporated, add another 2 cups of liquid, 1 at a time. Pour the mixture in the skillet into the stockpot, whisking to blend. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the hot sauce, then the cream, and serve.

Cranberry Banana Oat Bread

I decided to try this recipe because I loved the idea of combining cranberries in banana bread and I had several bananas I needed to use. The texture of this bread was really nice, it released from the pan perfectly. My only complaint about this recipe is that it was not very sweet. Normally, I am not apt to add sugar to a recipe but this one needed a little more. I'm not sure if the addition of some brown sugar or honey would do the trick.

Cranberry Banana Oat Bread

Source: Whole Foods

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups ripe mashed banana pulp (about 3 bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine, melted, cooled
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Ingredient Option: replace the margarine with canola oil, if desired.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with a small amount of margarine.

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix together with a whisk and set aside. Whisk the bananas, eggs and margarine together in a bowl. Add the sugar, cranberries, and lemon juice; mix until blended. Gently stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Do not over mix the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until lightly browned, 45 to 50 minutes. Allow the bread to cool completely in the pan, about 1 hour. Turn the bread out onto a cutting board and, using a serrated bread knife slice the bread into 3/4-inch thick pieces. Arrange on a platter and serve.

Nutrition Info

Per Serving (94g-wt.): 250 calories (70 from fat), 8g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 5g protein, 42g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 20g sugar), 45mg cholesterol, 380mg sodium

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pumpkin Roll

I'm pretty adventuresome in the kitchen and feel like I can conquer most projects. However, for some reason the roll cake has always intimidated me. I tried to make one several years ago and it completely fell apart. I had some leftover pumpkin from the pumpkin waffles so I thought I would try the traditional Libby pumpkin roll cake. I'm proud to say my pumpkin roll was a success! It came out absolutely perfect and was delicious as well. I now look forward to conquering the pumpkin roll cake in my Pastry Queen Cookbook and maybe even a Buche de Noel for Christmas.

Libby's Pumpkin Roll Cake


  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)
oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.

Slow Cooker Braised Sage Chicken and Stuffing

I found this recipe in one of the flyers at Whole Foods. I liked that it was a pretty simple recipe and didn't require lots of ingredients. This recipe turned out really well. I will definitely make it again. This was the first time I put the chicken in the slow cooker frozen and it cooked perfectly. I think I will use that method from now on instead of trying to defrost ahead of time. I used chicken tenderloins instead of thighs but breasts would work well too. I substituted Penzey's poultry seasoning for the fresh sage. I also used the recommend 365 Organic Stuffing. I highly recommend it. It really didn't taste like an instant stuffing. I made the recipe with chicken broth instead of water. You could really dress this stuffing up with apples, etc. I was wanting a simple throw together meal tonight so I made it plain.

Slow Cooker Braised Sage Chicken and Stuffing
Source: Whole Foods

  • 1 organic yellow onion, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 3 cups Whole Fields™ Organic Petite Carrots
  • 1/2 cup organic chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 clove organic garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 6–8 (1 1/2–1 3/4 pounds) bone-in, skinned chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp 365 Everyday Value™ Paprika
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 package (10-oz) 365 Organic Everyday Value™ Stuffing Mix with Cranberries

Place onion in a lightly greased 6-quart crock pot/slow cooker and top with carrots. Combine broth, wine, garlic and sage and pour over vegetables. Generous season chicken thighs with paprika, salt and pepper and arrange on top of vegetables. Cover and cook on LOW heat setting 8 hours or until chicken and vegetables are tender. Prepare stuffing according to package directions and serve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

Every now and then I love having breakfast for dinner. I saw this recipe for pumpkin pie waffles and it sounded like a perfect addition to my menu this week. The recipe did not disappoint. I made the batter ahead so in the evening I could quickly get the waffles made. The waffles were so delicious-they tasted like pumpkin muffins. I topped them with a drizzle of pure maple syrup and dollop of whipped cream. The only change I made to the recipe was to omit the rum.

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

These may never replace pumpkin pie at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but they'll give tradition a good race. Like pumpkin pie, they are comforting, custardy and filling. They're made with the same spices used for pumpkin pie along with sour cream for smoothness; the dark rum is there for extra flavor and a little mystery.


5 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup pumpkin puree (you can use canned
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. double-acting baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 Tbs. dark rum
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream and/or maple syrup for serving


Preheat a waffle iron. If you want to hold the finished waffles until serving time, preheat an oven to 200°F.

Melt the butter; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, brown and granulated sugars, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Using a rubber spatula or handheld electric mixer, mix together well. Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. The mixture will be thick and a little lumpy. Don't try to smooth it out; just mix until the ingredients are incorporated.

In another bowl, beat together the milk, sour cream, eggs, rum and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir until combined. Fold in the melted butter.

Whether or not your irons grids are well seasoned or made of a nonstick material, it is best to lightly butter or spray the grids for these waffles because the batter is quite sticky. Brush or spray the grids again only if subsequent waffles stick.

For a Belgian waffle iron, spoon out 2/3 to 3/4 cup of batter (or the amount recommended by the manufacturers instructions) onto the hot iron. Use a metal spatula or wooden spoon to spread the batter evenly over the grids. Close the lid and bake until golden. If the waffle is hard to remove from the iron, peel it off gently and carefully. Serve immediately or keep the waffles, in a single layer, on a rack in the preheated oven while you make the rest.

Serving: Serve these warm and golden, one to a diner, topped with vanilla ice cream and/or maple syrup. They're great with a cup of hot or cold cider. Makes about six 4 1/2-inch square Belgian waffles.

Adapted from Waffles from Morning to Midnight, by Dorie Greenspan (Weldon Owen, 2001) as found on William Sonoma's website).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Steak with Wine Sauce and Potatoes Au Gratin

One of my favorite go to meals is steak and a baked potato. I saw this recipe from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and thought I would try something new. We loved this recipe. As usual with Martha's recipes all the flavors melded perfectly. I used rib eye steaks instead of the flat iron and I omitted the capers from the sauce. The gratin was so easy to make and came out perfect. It would be a great side for entertaining. The goat cheese gives the gratin a really nice tanginess. We will definitely be having this again.

Steak with Wine Sauce and Potatoes Au Gratin
Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Serves 4

  • Butter, for baking dish
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes (about 3)
  • 4 flatiron or top blade steaks (6 to 8 ounces each and 1 inch thick)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square (2-quart) baking dish; set aside. In a large saucepan, combine cream, goat cheese, and garlic; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Peel potatoes and slice crosswise 1/8 inch thick; add to cream mixture as you work. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cook until potatoes are crisp-tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish; using a spatula, press potatoes into cream to cover. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until golden and potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Fifteen minutes before potatoes are finished baking, heat a large skillet over medium-high. Season steaks on both sides with salt and pepper; cook, 6 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare (if browning too quickly, reduce heat when cooking second side). Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and set aside. Keep skillet with any browned bits for wine sauce.
  5. Make wine sauce: Add wine to skillet; boil over medium-high heat until syrupy, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in mustard. (For a smoother sauce, pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, discard any browned bits, and return liquid to skillet.) Stir in capers and any juices from resting steaks; season with salt and pepper. Serve steaks with wine sauce and potato gratin.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Homemade Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

I got a KA Pasta Attachment for my birthday and finally decided to try it yesterday. I learned a lot from my first round of pasta making. My pasta was certainly very rustic looking! I used a recipe I found on William Sonoma's website and I had a lot of trouble with the dough. I've since looked at other recipes and I think my dough was too dry. Next time I will make a dough that mixes in the food processor rather than the mixer. Despite the learning curve involved, I can't wait to try my hand at homemade raviolis and more fresh pasta, maybe even spinach pasta! For the sauce recipe, I tried Marcella Hazan's bolognese sauce. I saw lots of rave reviews for this recipe and it involved ingredients I had on hand. Overall, the recipe was good but a bit involved to make timewise. I can't really find any criticisms as it was a good solid meal but I just don't think it was the most amazing sauce I have ever had. I actually have 2 or 3 recipes I like much better.

Fresh Pasta


2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 eggs
2 Tbs. water, plus more as needed


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the all-purpose and semolina flours, salt and olive oil. Beat on low speed just until combined, about 30 seconds.

In a small pitcher or other pourable container, whisk together the eggs and water. With the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the egg mixture and beat until the flour has been absorbed into the egg mixture, about 2 minutes.

Stop the mixer and, using your hands, squeeze a small amount of dough into a ball. It should be moist enough to hold together but not sticky; if it is too dry, add more water, 1 tsp. at a time.

Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into 2 balls. Wrap separately with plastic wrap, then flatten each ball into a disk. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Attach the pasta roller to the electric mixer according to the manufacturers instructions.

Unwrap 1 dough disk and dust lightly with all-purpose flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick and no wider than the pasta roller. Roll the dough through the rollers once at the widest setting, then lay the pasta on the work surface and fold it into thirds. Repeat the process 2 more times, rolling out the dough, rolling it through the rollers at the widest setting, and folding it into thirds each time.

Now thin the dough by rolling it through the rollers at the second-to-widest setting. Repeat, setting the rollers one notch narrower each time, until the desired thinness is reached. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and roll out the other dough disk.

Attach a pasta cutter to the mixer according to the manufacturers instructions and cut the pasta into the desired shape. If not cooking the pasta immediately, transfer it to a baking sheet and dust lightly with flour to prevent sticking. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Makes about 1 lb. dough.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

Recipe: Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Sauce

Makes 2 heaping cups sauce; 4 to 6 servings

- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

- 4 tablespoons butter, divided

- ½ cup chopped onion

- 2/3 cup chopped celery

- 2/3 cup chopped carrot

- ¾ pound ground beef chuck

- Salt

- Fresh ground black pepper

- 1 cup whole milk

- Whole nutmeg

- 1 cup dry white wine

- 1-½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, torn into pieces, with juice

- 1-¼ to 1-½ pounds pasta (preferably spaghetti), cooked and drained

- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table

1. Put oil, 3 tablespoons butter and chopped onion in a heavy 3-½-quart pot and turn heat to medium. Cook and stir onion until it has become translucent, then add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat well.

2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble meat with a fork, stir well and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color.

3. Add milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating, about 1/8 teaspoon, fresh nutmeg and stir.

4. Add wine and let it simmer until it has evaporated. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.

5. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it will begin to dry out and the fat will separate from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add ½ cup water as necessary. At the end of cooking, however, the water should be completely evaporated and the fat should separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

6. Add remaining tablespoon butter to the hot pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

From "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan

Friday, November 9, 2007

Christmas with the Pastry Queen

Several years ago I purchased the Pastry Queen Cookbook by Rebecca Rather. It quickly became my favorite cookbook. This is high praise considering I have an extensive cookbook collection. Last month, I finally got to visit the Rather Sweet Bakery in Fredericksburg. The food was so good we ate there twice. I considered it a mission to try several items from the bakery so I could find out what other items I should try from the cookbook. My next mission is definitely going to be making the Mexican Chocolate Cake. I was really excited when I learned Rebecca was putting out a new cookbook, Christmas with the Pastry Queen and even more excited when I found out she would be teaching a cooking class. When I called to sign up for the class I was told it was sold out and I could be placed on the waiting list. I took a spot on the waiting list but didn't have high hopes. Two days before the class, they called and said there had been a cancellation and I could have a spot. Last night I attended the class and Rebecca did not disappoint. She was entertaining to watch and very down to earth. She is an amazingly talented chef. It was interesting to learn that she came up with names for several of the recipes in the new book and then just whipped up the recipes to match. We sampled five recipes from the new cookbook and each one was absolutely delicious. I can't wait to make each of those recipes and try more from the new book. Below is a review of the recipes sampled:

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Brandy Butterscotch Sauce-This dessert was very rich. It had a wonderful caramel/butter taste. It would be the perfect ending to a dinner of beef tenderloin. Interestingly it is not made in a pudding mold but a glass Pyrex dish.

Blue Corn Blini with Crab and Avocado Creme-This dish had so much flavor in each bite. It was a fun little appetizer. I think you could easily leave the crab out or even substitute different fish such as salmon.

Warm Pear Upside Down Cake with Amaretto Whipped Cream-This was a decadent dessert and surprisingly easy to prepared. The candied ginger gives the cake a nice bite. I cannot wait to make this dessert.

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Cranberry Pecan Salsa-This would be a wonderful Thanksgiving appetizer or great for dinner with a salad. The Cranberry Pecan Salsa was a show stopper. I am looking for ways to incorporate it into other dishes. I'm thinking of trying it on a baked brie. I know this dish will become a regular on our menu.

Chocolate Chewies-I recently had cookies similar to these at a bakery and was looking for a recipe and now I found it. Even better these cookies have no butter or flour, are gluten free and if you omit the nuts-fat free. These cookies did not taste like they were missing anything. They were very light and chewy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Paula Deen's Shore is Good Seafood Dip

I was looking for a fun appetizer to bring to a girl's night get together and found this in my Lady and Sons Cookbook. The recipe was really easy and delicious. I couldn't find cream of shrimp soup at the store so I substituted cream of asparagus. The other great thing about this recipe is unlike other Paula Deen recipes, it doesn't have three sticks of butter. Sorry no picture, but I took it straight out of the oven to the get together. There is a picture on the food network site. It would be fun to serve this fondue style at a party.

Shore is Good Seafood Dip:
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 of a 10 3/4-ounce can cream of shrimp soup (discard top half and use bottom part of soup)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 pound freshly grated Parmesan
1 (6-ounce) can crabmeat, picked free of any broken shells, drained
6 ounces shrimp, fresh or canned, drained
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, and celery and saute for 2 minutes. In a bowl, combine the soup, mayonnaise, Parmesan, crabmeat, shrimp, and pepper. Stir the sauteed vegetables into the seafood mixture and spoon this mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 11-inch casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with toast points or crackers.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Spiced Carrot Muffins

I had carrot muffins at a friend's house the other day and was inspired to make some this morning with some leftover carrots I needed to use up. I found this recipe from an issue of Everyday Food. I made mine as mini-muffins. I served them plain but they would be good with a cream cheese frosting also. Not only did the muffins turn out really well but they make your house smell good while cooking too!

Spiced Carrot Muffins
Recipe from Everyday Food


Makes 12.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt (I used vanilla yogurt)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded (about 5 medium) carrots

  1. Line twelve cups (each 2 1/2 inches wide) of a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, pumpkin-pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, butter, and eggs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add yogurt mixture. Stir until just combined. Fold in carrots.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. (If desired, muffins can be baked immediately in a 375 degrees oven for about 20 minutes.) Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes, then cover tin with plastic wrap, and freeze until ready to bake, up to 3 months.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake muffins (still frozen) until a toothpick inserted in center of one comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.