Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring on a Plate!

For the past month or so we have been getting several glimpses of spring-perfectly ripe fresh berries, delicious crisp green asparagus and beautiful 60 degree weather. Earlier this week, I watched an episode of Everyday Italian where Giada made a delicious looking spring dinner. I was completely inspired and quickly added the dishes to my menu this week.

We were not disappointed with this menu. The best description is spring on a plate. For the main course we had Herbed Chicken with Spring Vegetables. The chicken was a bit step intensive to make but well worth it. I had to make a few substitutions for the vegetables as Whole Foods hasn't quite caught up with my excitement for spring! The whole dish was wonderfully flavorful. The vegetables were really nice and sweet and balanced the dish well. This dish would make a beautiful presentation for company.

I also tried my hand at artichokes. They were not as hard to deal with as I imagined. Instead of making Giada's recipe for artichokes with Gorgonzola, I just steamed ours and served them with fresh butter. My husband who would never have considered eating an artichoke is now a fan. I have several artichoke recipes I can't wait to try, so definitely expect a few more in the coming weeks.

Finally, for dessert I made Strawberry Granita. It was a really nice ending to the meal. It was very light and refreshing. Definitely perfect to enjoy on a spring day!

Herbed Chicken with Spring Vegetables
Recipe as Adapted from Giada de Laurentis
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 boneless, skin-on chicken breasts (I used all breasts)
3 bone-in, skin-on thighs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
6 cipollini onions, trimmed and peeled (I omitted)
8 ounces baby carrots, peeled and trimmed, but leaving on a bit of green tip
1 cup chicken broth
6 ounces snap peas, trimmed (I used frozen, defrosted first)
4 ounces morel mushrooms (I used baby portabella mushrooms)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl combine the thyme, parsley, garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the chicken pieces on a work surface. Gently loosen the skin of the chicken and push the herb mixture under the skin. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down, when the oil is hot. Cook until the skin is crispy and golden, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook the same way on the other side. Turn the heat off the pan and reserve. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish, skin side up again, and finish cooking in the oven, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile return the same pan to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the butter has melted add the cipollini onions and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and golden in places, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken broth and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the snap peas
and mushrooms. Simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon the vegetables onto a serving platter along with the chicken. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Serve immediately.

Strawberry and Mascarpone Granita
Recipe as Adapted from Giada de Laurentis

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
2 cups chopped strawberries, plus 1 cup finely chopped
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch salt
Place the water, 1/2 sugar, and mint in a small pan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Let simmer over low heat to steep the mint. Then strain the mint from the simple syrup. Discard the mint.

In a food processor combine 2 cups of strawberries with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Run the machine to puree the strawberries. Add the mascarpone cheese, lemon juice, and salt. Run the machine until the mascarpone cheese is fully incorporated. Add the mint simple syrup and run the machine to combine. Place the strawberry mixture in an 8 by 8-inch glass dish and place the dish in the freezer. The mixture will take about 4 hours to freeze.

To serve, use a fork to scrape the granita. Spoon the mixture into chilled bowls. Top with the finely chopped strawberries. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pork Chops with Sage and Proscuitto

My husband is absolutely in love with this dish. Its a recipe I created a couple of years ago while browsing for ingredients in Whole Foods. I recently made it again last night and it was as good as we remembered. My favorite sides for this dish are corned muffins, roasted asparagus, butternut squash puree, couscous or steamed green beans.

Pork Chops with Sage and Proscuitto
Thick Cut Pork Chops
One Slice of Proscuitto per Chop
Fresh Sage Leaves
Grey Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Garlic Powder
Smoked Spanish Paprika (I highly recommend Penzys)
Olive Oil

Place pork chops in glass baking dish. Place sage leaves on pork chops and season generously with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Place slice of proscuitto over chops and season with more pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 300 for about one hour and then increase heat to 350 until done.

My favorite sides for this dish are corned muffins, roasted asparagus, butternut squash puree, couscous or steamed green beans.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Brunch

Happy Easter! Following our egg hunt, we had a casual Easter brunch this morning. I've been under the weather this past week so I wasn't able to do the planning and prep that I would normally do for a holiday event. One of my favorite egg dishes to make is a frittata. I often make them for dinner when I don't feel like cooking. I'm always putting different ingredients in them, usually whatever I have on hand. This frittata had zucchini, tomato and mozzarella cheese in it as well as basil. Surprisingly, despite being thrown together last minute this brunch turned out really well. The cinnamon date rolls will definitely be made again. They may become an Easter tradition at our house.

Italian Herb Frittata
Fruit Salad
Oven Roasted Potato Wedges
Cinnamon Date Pecan Rolls with Maple Glaze

Cinnamon Date Pecan Rolls with Maple Glaze
As Adapted from Cooking Light November 2007


1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 14 1/2 ounces)
Cooking spray

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup chopped pitted dates
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon fat-free milk

To prepare dough, dissolve 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and yeast in 3/4 cup warm water; let stand 5 minutes. Combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons butter, salt, and egg in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Gradually add 3 cups flour to yeast mixture, beating mixture on low speed until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface.

To prepare filling, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and rind in a small bowl. Roll dough into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle; brush with 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle dates and pecans over sugar mixture. Beginning with a long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut roll into 18 (1/2-inch) slices. Place slices, cut sides up, in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, about 1 hour or until rolls have doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Uncover dough. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.

To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, syrup, and milk in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls. Serve immediately.

18 rolls (serving size: 1 roll)

CALORIES 226(20% from fat); FAT 4.9g (sat 2.2g,mono 1.6g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 3.2g; CHOLESTEROL 20mg; CALCIUM 21mg; SODIUM 96mg; FIBER 1.5g; IRON 1.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 43.4g

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rosemary-Citrus Scones

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I wanted to make an Irish dinner. I originally intended to make Irish Soda Bread, however, I found this recipe for Rosemary-Citrus Scones and decided to make them instead. These tasted very similar to Irish Soda Bread and were a cinch to make. We will definitely be having them again. I served the scones alongside a pot roast with vegetables. It was a great compliment to the roast and rounded out the meal nicely.

I tried a new pot roast recipe tonight and wasn't quite thrilled with the outcome. It was good but not amazing. I think I probably needed to cook the roast a bit longer to get it as tender as I would have wanted.I also forgot to make the potatoes! So I can't really fault the recipe completely. I have a Martha Stewart recipe that I like a lot but was looking for one that did not use wine so as to be a little more child friendly. I'm going to try another roast again soon and hopefully will be able to post a good tried and true recipe!

Rosemary Citrus Scones
Recipe as Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Prep: 20 minutes

Bake: 15 minutes

Nonstick spray coating

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel

1 ½ tsp dried rosemary crushed

¼ tsp salt

½ cup evaporated fat-free milk (I used whole milk)

3 tbsp cooking oil

3 tbsp refrigerated egg product (I used 3 tbsp beaten egg)

I added ½ cup raisins

1. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick coating; set aside. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, orange peel, rosemary, and salt. In another bowl stir together milk, oil and egg. Add milk mixture all at once to flour mixture. Add raisins. Stir until moistened.

2. On a lightly floured surface knead dough 10 times. Lightly roll or pat dough into an 8 inch circle about ¾ inches thick. Cut dough into 12 wedges. Carefully transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, serve warm. Makes 12 scones.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Caramel Glazed Blackberry Jam Cake

Yesterday afternoon I had the urge to bake a coffee cake. I wanted to have something to serve for breakfast the next morning. I quickly remembered one of the newest editions to my cookbook collection, Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins and More by Carole Walters. I started perusing the book and hit upon the Caramel Glazed Blackberry Jam Cake. This recipe was meant to be, because I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. The method for making the cake takes a bit of time as there are multiple steps. When finished the batter is a brilliant purple. I was hoping for a pretty lavender cake, it however does not end up being purple after baking! The Caramel Glaze was a bit problematic. My first batch seized. I made a second batch and it still had some problems but I managed to salvage it. I understand that caramel making is a very delicate task. All said, the cake turned out beautifully. It was a moist and delicious spice cake and the caramel glaze added a nice finish. A great cake to serve for a morning brunch or an afternoon tea. I can't wait to try more recipes from this book.

Caramel-Glazed Blackberry Jam Cake

Recipe as Adapted from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins and More

2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup (lightly packed) very fresh brown sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup seedless blackberry preserves or jam
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans (omitted)

Caramel Glaze
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup strained powdered sugar, spooned in and leveled
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350. Generously butter a 9-inch Bundt pan, dust with flour, then invert it over the kitchen sink to remove the excess flour. Set aside. (I used Pam with Flour).

2. In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and cloves. Set aside.

3. Combine the buttermilk and baking soda and let stand 7-8 minutes.

4. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes, until smooth and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the superfine sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, taking 3-4 minutes, then add the brown sugar, taking 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl.

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then blend in the preserves and the vanilla. (The mixture will appear curdled, but will come together when the flour is added.)

6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk mixture, dividing the flour into three parts and the buttermilk into two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until blended after each addition. Scrape down the side of the bowl as needed. Remove the bowl from the machine and gently fold in 1 cup of the pecans using an oversize rubber spatula.

7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with the back of a large soup spoon and bake for 1 hour and 15-20 minutes. The cake is done when the top is firm to the touch, the side begins to release and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes.

8. While the cake is standing, prepare the glaze. When ready to glaze the cake, invert it onto the rack, gently lift off the pan, and place the rack on a rimmed cookie sheet.

9. Immediately pour the glaze over the warm cake, then sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped pecans over the top. Work quickly; the glaze begins to harden as soon as it is poured onto the cake.

Carmel Glaze

1. Have ready a pastry brush and glass of cold water. Combine the superfine sugar and lemon juice in an 8-inch skillet set over low heat. (Wet the brush and gently brush the side of the pan occasionally so as to remove any stray sugar crystals).

2. Continue to cook the sugar on low heat until it is melted and turns a caramel color. AS the edges begin to deepen in color, do not stir the syrup. Instead carefully tilt the skillet and swirl the syrup around the pan until it is evenly browned. Remove from the heat and add the cream, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth. (Caution: the mixture will bubble up at first. Do not touch! It is dangerously hot.) Blend in the powdered sugar, then the vanilla. Keep warm until ready to use in a skillet filled with 1 inch of hot water.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tuexdo Cake

I have mentioned in past blog posts that I am a big fan of the Pastry Queen Cookbook by Rebecca Rather and also love her bakery the Rather Sweet Bakery. I wanted to make a birthday cake for my husband so I pulled out the Pastry Queen Cookbook. As soon as I saw the Tuxedo Cake, I knew that was the one I wanted to make. This cake is the best seller at the Rather Sweet Bakery. It took some time to make and a special expedition to find Lyle's Golden Syrup but it was well worth the effort. The only change I would make next time is to do two layers versus three as we didn't need quite such a big cake.

Tuxedo Cake
Recipe As Adapted from the Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

Yield 12-14 servings


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups water
1 cup canola oil
4 cups sugar
1 cup high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Frosting

4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Chocolate Glaze

4 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped in small pieces
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla

To make the cake:

For a 3 layer cake, place one baking rack one-third from the bottom of the oven and the second two-thirds from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350. Line the bottom of three 9 inch or two 10 inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter, and dust with flour (or spray with Baker's Joy).

Combine the butter, water, and canola oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, cocoa, and flour. Pour the butter mixture into the sugar mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk. Whisk in the baking soda, salt and vanilla all at once. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans. For a 3-layer cake, stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Set two layers on one rack and the third on the other. For a 2-layer cake, stagger the layers on the middle rack with one placed more toward the front of the oven and one toward the back. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each layer comes out clean. Monitor the layers carefully for doneness; each one may be done at a different time.

Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on racks for about 15 minutes before inverting onto baking racks. Cool the cakes completely, at least 2 hours, before frosting.

To make the frosting:

Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream in a large bowl on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and whip until thoroughly combined.

Place 1 cake layer on a platter and spread some of the frosting over the top. Top with the remaining layer or layers, thickly coating the top and sides of each with frosting. Refrigerate the cake until the whipped cream frosting has stabilized, at least 1 hour.

To make the glaze:

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is very hot and just beginning to steam. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until it has melted completely. Stir in the syrup and vanilla. Pour the glaze into a medium pitcher or measuring cup and let cool for 10 minutes. Do not let the glaze sit longer because it will stiffen and become difficult to pour over the cake. Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, ensuring that it covers the top and drizzles down the sides. Cover the top of the cake entirely, but make sure some of the cream frosting shows through the drizzles on the sides. (If the glaze doesn't flow easily over the edge of the cake don't be afraid to add an extra tablespoon or tow of Lyle's Golden Syrup.)

Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set and the whipped cream frosting is firm, at least 1 hour. Slice the cake with a long serrated knife, dipping it into a tall glass of hot water between each slice. The refrigerated cake will keep for about 2 days.

Barbecue Pork Ribs

Ribs happen to be one of my husband's favorite dishes. Since, it was his birthday recently, I knew ribs would be the perfect dish to make. Being from the South, I am very particular about my barbecue. For me a sweet sauce is the only way to go. The sauce recipe is the same one my Mom uses and is my go to recipe for barbecue. Parboiling the ribs is well worth the time as they end up falling off the bone when done. Pair this with some coleslaw, corn on the cob and baked beans and you have a wonderful feast! Here is my recipe for making ribs

Barbecue Pork Ribs

6-8 lbs country style pork ribs

  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Arrange ribs in large pot, add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil, skimming any scum off the top. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer the ribs until tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. With a slotted spoon, transfer the ribs to a large shallow baking dish, pour the sauce over the top, and bake until slightly browned, about 2o minutes. Turn the ribs over and bake, basting several times with the sauce, till the other sides are slightly browned and the meat is very tender, 15-20 minutes.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

My First Blog Award!

What a wonderful surprise to find that Lauren at had awarded me the You Make My Day Award. Lauren just started blogging and already she has some really delicious looking recipes on her blog. I can't wait to read more of her blog and see what she will make next. Thanks for the award Lauren. Now I would like to share this award with a few people whose blogs make my day:

Friday, March 7, 2008

Creme Brulee

Some recipes achieve absolute perfection and for me this is one of them. The first time I ever made this recipe, I knew I would not need to look further for another creme brulee recipe. I found this recipe in one of my Culinary Institute of America Cookbooks, Baking with the CIA. I highly recommend their series of cookbooks. All of the recipes I have used have been wonderful and generally exceed my expectations. This recipe is the best of the best in my opinion. Over time, this has become one of my signature dinner party desserts. This recipe MUST be made using a real vanilla bean, using vanilla extract would be a disservice to the recipe and would not produce the intended results. The book recommends two variations instead of the vanilla bean, one substituting toasted coconut and the other cinnamon sticks. I would recommend taking the alternate route if you don't have a real vanilla bean. Maybe some day I will try the variations but for know I am enamoured with the vanilla bean version and its perfection.

Here is a link to the recipe:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cha-Cha Chicken Salad

Myself, along with a group of friends threw a surprise baby shower today for a good friend of ours who is expecting her second baby. I volunteered to make the chicken salad. I was looking through my recipe file and found a recipe for Cha-Cha Chicken Salad that I clipped from Southern Living a while back. I clipped the recipe mainly because I thought the presentation was spectacular. I was really pleased with the way this recipe turned out. It looked beautiful but was also delicious. Definitely a hit at the shower.

Cha-Cha Chicken Salad

Recipe as Adapted from Southern Living

Prep: 20 min., Chill: 8 hr.

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple
2/3 cup orange-flavored sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup chopped roasted, salted almonds (I used pecans)
Garnishes: fresh herbs, blackberries, raspberries, sliced peaches

1. Whisk together cream cheese and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in chicken, pineapple, and cranberries just until blended.

2. If desired, spoon mixture into a plastic wrap-lined 8-inch round cake pan; cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Invert chicken salad onto a cake stand, and remove plastic wrap. Gently press chopped almonds onto sides of chicken salad. Garnish, if desired.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach

I have been wanting to try a recipe with Gnocchi for quite a while. I've had it several times in restaurants but never made them at home. I'm hoping to try my hand at making them from scratch soon. This month's Food and Wine has a delicious looking recipe for homemade gnocchi on the cover. I recently saw this recipe for Gnocchi with Spinach and Sausage on The recipe originated from Real Simple Magazine. This recipe was quick to throw together and had nice bold flavors. We rated it a solid 8 out of 10. I substituted Italian chicken sausage for the regular sausage. Next time, I think I might add some tomatoes to it as well. This serves up easily for a nice weeknight dinner but is elegant enough to entertain with.

Gnocchi with Spinach and Sausage
Recipe as Adapted from Real Simple Magazine

2 9-ounce packages refrigerated gnocchi or one 17.5-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed (I used Italian Chicken Sausage)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 5-ounce bag baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmesan, plus more for garnishing

Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling it with a spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Add the drained gnocchi, the reserved cooking liquid, and the Parmesan and toss. Divide among individual bowls and sprinkle with additional Parmesan.

Tip: Gnocchi are small, quick-cooking dumplings, usually made from potatoes. You'll find them with the fresh or dried pasta in supermarkets, or you can substitute a short pasta, such as rigatoni, penne, or farfalle.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

CALORIES 815 (53% from fat); FAT 48g (sat 14g); SUGAR 11g; PROTEIN 36g; CHOLESTEROL 96mg; SODIUM 1,886mg; FIBER 4g; CARBOHYDRATE 58g

Real Simple, MARCH 2007

Juila Child's Semolina Bread

After making homemade pizza dough last week, I was really wanting to make more bread. It didn't help that my google reader this week was filled with homemade French Bread recipes from the Daring Baker's Challenge. I had some time on my hands this weekend, so I pulled out my Baking with Julia Cookbook. I found a recipe for Semolina Bread that was perfect. I had all the ingredients on hand and it wasn't overly complicated. The process of making the bread takes 6 hours. The end result was a beautiful artisan style bread that rivals any bread I have had served in an Italian restaurant. I can't wait to make this for my next dinner party or event.

Semolina Bread
Recipe as Adapted from Baking with Julia

The Sponge

1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

Pour the warm water into a medium bowl and whisk in the yeast. When the yeast has dissolved and is cream, about 5 minutes, stir in the flour.

Cover the bowl and let it rest at room temperature until the sponge doubles in volume, about 2 hours.

The Dough

The Sponge (above)
1/2 to 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tbsp olive oil

To Make the Dough in a Mixer Fitted with the Dough Hook, scrape the sponge into the bowl and add 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour and the remaining ingredients. Mix on medium speed until you have a dough that is smooth and elastic but somewhat sticky, about 5 minutes. If the dough is too soft, add up to 1/4 cup more all purpose flour, a tablespoon at a time.

Turn the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest at room temperature until it doubles in volume, about 2 hours.

Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and deflate it by flattening int with your palms. Pat the dough into a rough oval and then roll it, from one long side to the other to form a plump loaf. tuck the ends under and transfer the loaf to a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover it lightly with oiled plastic wrap and allow it to rest until it doubles in bulk again, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400. Holding a single-edge razor blade (I used a sharp knife) at a 30 degree angle to the loaf, slash lines on each side of the loaf from top to bottom. The slashes should be at an angle and each should be about 1 inch away from the last. Make sure the lines don't meet in the center of the loaf.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until deeply golden brown. Transfer to a rack and cool completely before cutting.

The bread can be kept at room temperature for a day, cover it loosely with plastic wrap. For longer storage, wrap it airtight and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.