Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Tara-misu

September 23, 2017

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Everyone knows I love anything Italian. One of my favorite desserts to order at an Italian restaurant is Tiramisu. If you have never had it, it is a delicious combination of sponge cake soaked with coffee liqueur and a creamy custard like filling, sprinkled with shaved chocolate. It has bitter notes of coffee with sweet notes of chocolate and sugar and it is the perfect marriage of flavors that tingles your tastebuds. It represents Italy in dessert form and there are many versions of it, not all of which succeed. I have always wanted to make it but I was intimidated by it. My mom makes an amazing version and I have her recipe but I decided to use Gabriele Corcos’ version. I have been enjoying lots of his recipes for their simple and authentic Italian flavor. I have a great post about his eggplant incaciata I am going to post soon. So if you are a tiramisu lover and have never attempted it at home I recommend you try his version. It is simple and with impress your guests with its sophistication.

TIPS: I found the lady fingers in the refrigerated section of my grocery store bakery, but you can also use the ones in the cookie aisle. Also I used Marsala wine as he suggested for the liqueur, which surprisingly tasted great, I assumed you had to use something like Kahlua. I used one part Marsala and one part licor 43, a new liquor i found that has over 43 different flavors blended into it, like vanilla and citrus, among other things. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and choose something you like since it is such a small amount, it won’t hurt the flavor. I think even rum would be tasty, like a rum cake.

Tiramisu

Ingredients

  • 3 cups brewed coffee, cooled
  • 2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 14 ounces savoiardi cookies (firm ladyfingers)
  • 4 ounces sugar, plus 2 tablespoons or more, for the coffee
  • 2 shots rum or Italian Marsala, optional
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup shaved dark chocolate, to garnish’

Directions

First brew about 3 cups of coffee and pour it in a bowl and allow to cool off, add 2 tablespoons sugar or sweeten to taste. (I used espresso and watered it down a bit to make it three cups).

Mix the egg yolks with 2 ounces sugar, and mix until you obtain a creamy light mixture. Work the mascarpone in a bowl using a wooden spoon, making sure you eliminate any lumps, then add the mascarpone to the sugar-egg mixture and continue to mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites, pinch of salt, and the remaining 2 ounces sugar, until they reach a somewhat firm, but fluffy consistency, then add them to the mascarpone mixture. Stir in the rum, if using.

Dip the savoiardi cookies (firm ladyfingers) in the coffee, and one by one lay them flat into a 7 by 11 pyrex tray (I used 9×13), making sure you do not soak the cookies, as you want to make sure they maintain their firmness (refrigerated ones from bakery got soggy fast, so I might not use those again). Once the first layer of cookies has been laid out, spread a layer of the mascarpone cream on top, and dust with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.

Now, again, prepare another layer of coffee-dipped cookies, cream and cocoa powder. Garnish the top of the cake with the shaved dark chocolate.

Cover the tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 3 hours so the flavors can marry and the tiramisu can settle.

then Manga!

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Box Brownies from scratch

October 26, 2016

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Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love brownies. If I go to a frozen yogurt sundae bar, a brownie is my first choice in my cup. I have written before about how much I love boxed brownies. For someone who bakes most things from scratch that may be odd. But I grew up on brownies from scratch so a box mix at a party was my favorite treat. Though I do love my mom’s brownies, the texture and stickiness of box brownies is my favorite. I have an awesome college friend who shares my love of brownies, my brownie husband recipe is one of her favorites.

I googled homemade brownies that taste like a box mix and found an amazing recipe. I would say I have made it a dozen times since I found it last year. It is perfect for any occasion and people can’t believe they are from scratch. I recently made them and used the Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa instead of regular cocoa and it made them even more decadent. So if you are a closet Betty Crocker box brownie junkie like me, you need to try these! They are super easy and only have a few ingredients instead of ones you can’t pronounce, which is something I always look for when recreating stuff at home.

Quick and Easy Brownies {Like a Box Mix!}

Yield: 12-16 brownies

Ingredients

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup + 2 1/2 tbsp cocoa
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×9 square baking pan, or line it with parchment paper.
2. Mix together the oil, sugar and vanilla extract.
3. Add eggs and mix until well combined.
4. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
5. Slowly add to the egg mixture until well combined.
6. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

Recipe modified from AllRecipes.com

 

Coffee Cake Adventures

June 22, 2016

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First off I would like to apologize to my readers, we bought a home, moved to a new town, I started a new job and my husband deployed in the last few months so I have been so busy I have not had time to post. That does not mean of course that I did not have time to bake. I always have time to bake. I even baked just this morning, it is part of my weekly routine. Lately I have made lots of favorites from my blog, wacky cake, sour cream coffee cake, black moons, blueberry buckle, and more. Those are staples that are always crowd pleasers. I have also been enjoying a new brownie recipe I found that tastes like box mix, that is going to be my next post, along with my Kentucky Butter Cake I have been making a lot. I am getting back on track for regular posting, I promise! Since I love coffee cake in any language I was excited to recently try a new recipe. I subscribed to King Arthur Flour’s email newsletters and often yummy recipes catch my eye. I highly recommend you sign up if you are a baker.

This recipe for Norwegian Sour Cream Cake looked right up my alley. I made it for a church potluck and have to say it was a big hit. At first people were going for a dry brick like corn bread concoction till the word got out about my tasty cake. If you love pound cakes and bundt cakes you have to try this easy recipe. It was a light, moist cake with just the right sweetness and a great vanilla flavor. I had made a berry compote I use often for my cheesecakes from Martha Stewart to top it but I left it at home by mistake. I definitely think that would be a perfect topping, or even just sliced strawberries and cream. The texture of the cake would be perfect for strawberry shortcake and delicious for tea time. You can travel to Norway right in your own kitchen with this tasty new recipe!

NORWEGIAN SOUR CREAM CAKE

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, salted or unsalted
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt*
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla, to taste
4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups sour cream

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a full-size (10″) tube pan, bundt-style pan, or angel food pan.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
Stir in the salt, baking powder, and vanilla.
Add the flour alternately with the sour cream, starting with the flour. Add the flour about 1 cup at a time, the sour cream 1/2 cup at a time. Mix at medium speed between additions, until ingredients are thoroughly combined. The finished batter will be quite stiff.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, leveling it with your wet fingers or a spatula.
Bake the cake for 60 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester, bamboo skewer, or long toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, and gently loosen its edges.
After 15 minutes, carefully turn the cake out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
Store the cooled cake, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap securely and freeze.
Yield: 1 cake, about 20 servings.

Margie’s Marinated Mushrooms

August 5, 2015

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If you get to attend one of my Italian Sunday Suppers you know I am going to put out my favorite hand painted Antipasto set. In that set are little dishes for all sorts of goodies. Even if you don’t have a special antipasto dish you can still put out an easy to assemble antipasto that will impress your guests. My go to ingredients are: stuffed olives, roasted peppers or pepperocini, salame, prosciutto, marinated mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and a center plate with caprese salad. For my caprese I use sliced campari tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil and I drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt and cracked pepper. If you don’t do the caprese you can always cut up some sharp provolone or even make bruschetta. Sometimes I use all of the above and sometimes I mix it up. Once I even made my caprese salad with grilled zuccini instead of the usual tomatoes. Antipasto is Italian for “before the meal” and it is a lighter appetizer than most heavy american dishes.

When we lived in Sicily the antipasto was my favorite course. I can still remember the fragrant flavors and the cured meats combined with the sweet homemade ricotta and salty veggies marinated in oil and spices. I recently hosted a Sunday supper and when I was picking up all my ingredients, I saw marinated mushrooms at the deli. They were very pricey and I thought, why not just make them for way less. In my treasured recipe box that my mom gave to me filled with all of her famous dishes I had her homemade marinated mushroom recipe. I have made it before and it is very simple and always a hit. Mushroom is translated to “Funghi” in Italian and there are a variety of different varieties with so many flavors. But for my recipe I just use basic button mushrooms. So here is a great addition to your antipasto spread or an easy appetizer for a party:

Mahgie’s Marinated Mushrooms

Ingredients:

3/4 cup of good olive oil

1/3 cup of red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp of dried basil or a few fresh leaves

1 bay leaf

1 garlic clove, quartered

8 peppercorns

1 1/2 lbs of mushrooms, rinsed, halved or quartered if large

  1. In a medium pan over medium heat, heat all ingredients to boiling, except mushrooms.
  2. Simmer over low heat, covered, 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in mushrooms until coated, cook 5-10 minutes or until fork tender. Refrigerate covered. Manga!

Donut Muffin Magic

May 2, 2015

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The latest craze has donuts combined with croissants and the result is a cronut. I have yet to try this magical concoction but I decided to do some baking mating of my own. I wanted to make the girls a baked donut recipe I had seen on my go to site – King Arthur Flour. But it required a special donut baking pan and I could not even improvise that contraption. So I surfed around the site further and found a donut muffin recipe. This sounded like the perfect marriage to me – the shape of a muffin but the texture and flavors of a donut. So I made it for breakfast today and I am happy I did. Donut muffins are simple and quick to make. They are not fried and you know what is in them so you don’t have to feel guilty, especially with only 280 calories.

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The result is a muffin that is light, buttery, fluffy and delicious. It is not heavy or dense like a typical muffin batter. Plus with the addition of the sugar and cinnamon on top and the nutmeg in the batter, it has the flavor of a cinnamon sugar donut. It almost tasted like a sugar cookie muffin to me because my moms sugar cookies have similar spices. I like how you brush the tops with melted butter and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix. I actually just dipped my muffins right into a bowl with the mix. I think you could even add other toppings if you wanted to make a variety of “donuts” – like chocolate glaze, sprinkles, or powdered sugar. It was a big hit with the little humans in my house too. So if you get the weekend craving for donuts, try this from scratch version that won’t disappoint!

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after brushing with butter, before dipping in cinnamon sugar mix

Doughnut Muffins

batter
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg, to taste
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup milk

topping
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons Cinnamon-Sugar Plus or cinnamon sugar

1) Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin. Or line with 12 paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.

2) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth.

3) Add the eggs, beating to combine.

4) Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.

5) Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.

6) Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full.

7) Bake the muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.

8) Remove them from the oven, and let them cool for a couple of minutes, or until you can handle them. While they’re cooling, melt the butter for the topping (this is easily done in the microwave).

9) Use a pastry brush to paint the top of each muffin with the butter, then sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. Or simply dip the tops of muffins into the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar.

10) Serve warm, or cool on a rack and wrap airtight. Store for a day or so at room temperature.

Yield: 12 muffins.

nutrition information
Serving Size: 1 muffin (85g) Servings Per Batch: 12 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 280 Calories from Fat: 110 Total Fat: 12g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 50mg Sodium: 250mg Total Carbohydrate: 38g Dietary Fiber: 1g Sugars: 18g Protein: 5g

The Brownie Quest

February 28, 2015



For years I have been on the quest to find the perfect brownie. I’ve tried and posted several recipes. I have even tried a few Nutella brownie recipes too, assuming the Nutella would make a perfect addition. But I have not been satisfied with my results yet. I recently made these Brownies from my decadent dessert go to gal, Ina Garten. I have to say her Outrageous Brownie Recipe came out really delicious but not quite perfect yet. They were very rich and very sweet but still didn’t have that box brownie texture I am trying to achieve. 

Cooks note: They have over a pound of butter in them so be prepared. I m not a fan of nuts in my brownies but I think these would have been better if I added nuts as the recipe instructed. Anyhow, chocolate is chocolate so I don’t discriminate. I made them to send to some sailors overseas and it made a whole huge sheet tray, about 50 brownies. I am not sure how Ina measures her portions but she said to cut them into 20 bars! Those would be massive. You could probably half the batch if you don’t need enough brownies to feed an army, no pun intended, ha! 

Outrageous Brownies

Ingredients
1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.

Caribbean Rum Cake

February 21, 2015

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Many years ago I went on a cruise with my favorite cousin and tasted rum cake for the first time. As a teen it was like the taste of sweet rebellion having a rum soaked cake. I had not thought of it until recently when a friend asked me to bring a sweet treat to a party. I asked for some ideas and one was rum cake. As my readers know, I love a challenge. I love making something new and having it turn out delish. So of course I went to my go to baking source -King Arthur Flour’s recipe site and viola! They had the perfect recipe, of course, they always do. Update: it turned out amazing. It was unbelievably moist and so fragrant. The rum definitely gave it a kick but wasn’t overwhelming. Everyone cleaned their plates!

Ingredients

rum cake base
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup pastry cream filling mix or instant vanilla pudding mix, dry
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
4 large eggs
1/2 cup white or golden rum
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon butter rum flavor (optional but excellent)
1/4 cup pecan or almond flour, for dusting baking pan

rum soaking syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white or golden rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

directions
1) Preheat oven to 325°F. Spritz a 10 to 12 cup bundt pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle on the pecan or almond flour and turn the pan to coat evenly. Set aside.

2) Place all of the cake ingredients except the rum, vanilla and butter rum flavoring in the bowl of your stand mixer and blend on medium speed for 2 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the bowl after one minute.

3) Add the rum, vanilla and flavor if using to the batter and blend for another minute. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and spread level with a spatula.

4) Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes. You may smell the nut flour toasting at first, especially those not covered in cake batter. When done, the cake will test clean on a cake tester. Bundt cakes are difficult to test properly with a short toothpick. Instead try a piece of dry uncooked spaghetti or linguine.

5) Leave the cake in the pan to cool slightly while you make the soaking syrup.

6) In a medium-sized saucepan combine the syrup ingredients, except vanilla. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

7) Pour about 1/4 of the syrup over the cake (still in the pan). Allow the syrup to soak in, then repeat again and again until all the syrup is used.

8) Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the cake to sit out overnight to cool completely and soak in the syrup. When ready to serve, loosen the edges of the cake and invert on to your serving plate.

9) Serve with hot coffee or tea. The cake is very moist, fragrant and potent.

Yield: one large or two small bundt cakes. Cake freezes very well.

Perfect Pesto

March 7, 2012

Some may think Pesto is something that belongs in the anticipated Ghostbusters 3 movie but I disagree. I had never been a fan of pesto until I had it fresh. The stuff in a jar often is too greasy or has cheap substitutes, think walnuts for the pine nuts or cheapo cheese. But in Sicily I had fresh pesto at an Agriturismo (farm restaurant that uses the items grown in the recipes and you eat course after course for like $20, my dream come true) and I was hooked.  Anyhow I was determined to unlock the secret of a great pesto so I decided to make up my own. It is very simple and has 4 ingredients and that is all it needs. I made it the other night to go with my favorite gnocchi recipe and the two combined were a match made in heaven. I had a bit of pesto leftover so I used dots of it on the pizza in my previous post and it was delicious. So if you like pesto and want to try making your own, here is my version:

T’s Pesto

1/2 c EVOO (the real italian kind not some imitation american version)

1/2 c of Parmesan or Romano (I prefer true Pecorino Romano in my pesto)

1/2 c pine nuts

tons of fresh basil leaves, probably two handfuls, you can add more if the sauce is too thin

salt and pepper to taste

Put cheese, nuts and basil in food processor. Start it up and drizzle in the olive oil slowly. Process it until it makes a nice pesto consistency and add salt and pepper to taste. Don’t bother warming it up, just toss it directly into the hot strained pasta and it will do its job. You decide how much to use, save some for later in the fridge and add to pizza or garlic bread, manga!

I found my thrill on blueberry buckle hill…

July 8, 2011

Just a quick yummy post to brighten up your  weekend. I love when blueberries are in season. There is nothing better than getting a big container of juicy sweet berries for a steal instead of the arm and a leg they cost during off season. There are so many delicious treats you can make, my Jordan Marsh blueberry muffin recipe, blueberry cobbler, blueberry pancakes and most importantly, blueberry buckle. Is this a crazy new fashion trend you are trying Tara? No a buckle in terms of baking is defined as “a buckle is an old-fashioned, single-layer cake with a streusel-type topping. The batter is quite dense. As the cake bakes, the batter sinks to the bottom of the pan, which makes the streusel buckle on top.”  You can’t go wrong with crumb topping, I would eat most anything topped with it! I have the recipe on one of my trusty Margie recipe cards but I will share the link with you so I won’t miss anything, click here to get the recipe. I don’t use shortening when I make it, I always use butter and also I use 9″ square pan and it comes right to the top when baking so I would not use the 8×8 listed here. So grab a pint (not beer) and make this yummy treat to sweeten up your Sunday!

What Tara’s cookin right now…

March 13, 2011

Tomorrow night I will post both my mom’s Amaretto Brownie recipe and my Stracoto (pot roast) with Porcini mushrooms recipe, so keep an eye out…