Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Almond Powder Puffs-Tuesdays with Dorie

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It's been a few Tuesdays since I participated in the Tuesdays with Dorie group and now with trips to San Francisco and Boston, a very cold Boston, I might add, under my belt and with the hubby having knee surgery-I'm back! And very happy to make these melt in your mouth cookies that you may recognize as similar to the Mexican wedding cookies, a very popular cookie that's been around for ages. What's nice is you can use the food processor to quickly buzz up a batch in no time. The only part of this cookie preparation is that it needs at least a 2 hour stint in the refrigerator to enable the ingredients to cohere.

Thanks to Tia of Buttercream Barbie for choosing this fabulous cookie! I could probably eat a dozen of these in one sitting. They don't seem to fill you up! Check out Tia's blog to get the recipe or if you have the "Baking from My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan, you will find the recipe on page156.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Cherry Walnut Cake

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You don't need to wait until the very short cherry season arrives, just check the frozen fruit section in  your local grocery store and there you will find perfect cherries frozen at their peak of freshness. Best of all, they are already pitted and ready to use which makes this cherry walnut cake a breeze to make. The cake comes together in a short time, but because it's dense and chock full of dark sweet cherries and toasted walnuts, it takes a little longer to cook than a quick cake or bread. Dust the cooled cake with confectioners' sugar. A delicious cake for dessert with a generous scoop of ice cream or for brunch or afternoon tea.

Cherry Walnut Cake

2 eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
12 ounce package frozen cherries, halved or
2 cups fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch round springform cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar and vanilla and beat until light, lemon-colored and slightly thickened. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and stir in walnuts. Fold the flour/nut mixture into the egg mixture, then fold in the cherries.

Pour the batter in prepared springform pan, smooth top and bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a thin skewer comes out clean and top is golden. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes on a wire cooling rack. Take a thin knife and run around edges. Remove springform sides and cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired. Serves 8.


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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chorizo and Potato Molotes

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Masa harina, a cousin of cornmeal, actually has a much finer texture and is made from dried corn which has been cooked, ground and then dried again. Its distinctive flavor comes from cooking the dried corn in limewater. When mixed with water, the masa dough is softened and easily shaped into corn tortillas, empanadas, arepas,  chalupas and other vessels to showcase many Mexican and Latin American fillings. A few tablespoons of masa harina can also be used to thicken soup, chili or stew. 

Molotes are Oaxacan street appetizers served during special holidays such as Easter, Christmas and Guelaguetza a celebration that traditionally worshipped corn before the arrival of the Spanish. The celebration replete with colorful costumes, music, dances and lots of corn related foods takes place on consecutive Mondays during the month of July. It is said that before the arrival of the Spanish that the celebration included the sacrifice of a virgin slave girl, but after the conquest, Guelaguetza was adapted to the Catholic tradition of honoring the Virgin Mary. Source

To make the molotes, the masa harina is mixed with a small amount of flour, baking powder, shortening and hot water. When a soft dough is formed, it is divided into round balls and rolled into disks. The disks are then filled with a mixture of cooked chorizo, red potatoes, onion and queso fresco or shredded Monterey Jack cheese. The filled molotes are then fried until crisp and golden brown and served with lime enhanced Mexican crema or sour cream. The molotes would be perfect to serve for Cinco de Mayo as they can be made ahead and frozen  up to 1 month prior to frying.


1/2 pound red potatoes, small dice
1/2 pound uncooked fresh chorizo, casings removed
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup queso fresco or Monterey Jack cheese-(I used Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers)
4 cups masa harina (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups very hot water
2 tablespoons shortening
Vegetable Oil for frying


1 cup Mexican crema, sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel
1 tablespoon lime juice
Fresh cilantro for garnish
For Filling

In a large saucepan, cook potatoes, covered in salted boiling water  to cover for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, cook crumbled chorizo and onion over medium heat until chorizo is browned. Drain in colander, pat dry with paper towels.

For filling, combine chorizo, potatoes, onion and cheese; set aside.

For Masa

In a large bowl, combine masa harina, flour, baking powder and salt. Stir together the hot water and shortening until shortening softens. Add water mixture to masa, stirring until soft dough forms.

Divide masa mixture into 32 balls (2 tablespoons each). On a floured surface, roll each ball into a 3-1/2 inch circle. While rolling balls, keep dough and formed molotes covered with damp paper towels or kitchen towels to keep from drying out. Spoon 1 tablespoon filling into the center of the dough circle. Carefully bring edges of dough over the filling forming a crescent shape. Pinch dough to seal and taper ends. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

To Fry Molotes

In a heavy saucepan 3 or 4 inches deep, heat 2 inches of oil over medium heat to 350°F. It is a good idea to use a thermometer in order to keep the heat at a constant 350°F. Fry molotes 3 to 4 minutes each or until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

For Crema

In a small bowl, combine crema, sour cream or Greek yogurt, lime juice and lime peel. Sprinkle with extra grated lime peel and cilantro. Makes 32 appetizers.

To Make Ahead

Prepare molotes and before frying, arrange filled molotes on a tray. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. When frozen, place in freezer proof bag. Seal and freeze up to 1 month. Thaw in refrigerator and fry as above.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Citrus Currant Sunshine Muffins-Tuesdays with Dorie

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It's raining today, but these citrus currant sunshine muffins transport me to a bright sunny day in an orange grove.  The orange and lemon flavors come through loud and clear with the currants adding some substance to the muffin.  The recipe calls for orange zest along fresh orange and lemon juice. I also added the lemon zest from the juiced lemon. Thanks to Lauryn of Bella Baker for her pick of the week. She also has the recipe for these tangy delightful muffins which not only taste great fresh from the oven, but also  pretty darn good when toasted and spread with butter. If you have Dorie Greenspan's book, "Baking From My Home to Yours", the recipe is on page 7. Also, give a look at the Tuesdays with Dorie blog roll to see other variations of the citrus currant sunshine muffins.


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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Canton Negroni

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Once known as an Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water) cocktail, a Count Camillo Negroni changed it forever when he walked into the Bar Casoni in Florence around the year 1920 and asked the bartender to please put gin in his Americano instead of soda water. The Count needed a stronger drink, apparently. What one may not know is that it is reputed that he was once a cowboy in Montana and a gambler in New York.  Reason enough to add gin to an Americano. Upon further reading, I have surmised that the story of Count Camillo is just that- a bar story! Some of the Negroni family members say there was no Count Camillo Negroni in the family. At any rate, it's a cool story.

Essential to the Negroni flavor and dark red color  is Campari, a bitters, invented in 1860 by Gaspare Campari in Novara Italy. An alcoholic aperitif, Campari is an infusion of herbs, fruit and the juice from a small citrus fruit known as the chinotto. The alcohol content of Campari ranges from 20.5%-28% depending upon which country it is sold.

The addition of Domaine Canton Ginger Liqueur adds an exotic touch to the Negroni, along with an extra dry Vermouth and freshly squeezed orange juice. Serve over the rocks or up.

Canton Negroni

1-1/2 parts Domaine Canton Ginger Liqueur
1-1/2 parts freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 part Campari
1/2 part extra dry Vermouth
A splash of soda, if desired

Garnish with orange peel or a piece of crystallized ginger
In a shaker half-filled with ice, add ingredients and shake well to chill. Pour over ice or serve up.
Makes one drink

According to FTC rules, these products were purchased for my personal use with no affiliation to the products mentioned.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Savory Chive Cheese Bread-French Fridays with Dorie

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Here is bread, which strengthens man's heart, and therefore is called the staff of Life.
Matthew Henry

I'm a breadaholic! Any time I can bake a loaf of bread, I'm there! This chive cheese bread is a quick bread chocked full of shredded cheddar cheese, chunks of pepper jack cheese, cayenne and fresh chives just popping out of the ground in my herb garden. It is a bread that works well with just about any cheese, bacon bits, dried fruit, herbs-whatever suits your fancy. I liked the idea of serving this bread in cubes with a glass of wine, but also I have toasted it and served a  grilled hamburger steak on it with great results.

This French Fridays with Dorie recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's wonderful book, "Around My French Table" and is probably one of the best all around collection of French family recipes guaranteed to please anyone who enjoys good home cooking, French style. Hope you will check out this recipe in Dorie's book. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Chocolate Pots de Creme-Tuesdays with Dorie

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It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.  ~Charles Dickens

From the kitchen of Black Cat Cooking, Christine serves an elegant Chocolate Pots de Creme, her Tuesday with Dorie pick on the opening day of the month of March. If you love chocolate pudding, you will adore this heavenly pots de creme silky rich from being baked in a water bath. Served warm or cold, a perfect ending to a special meal.  Visit Black Cat Cooking for the recipe and Tuesdays with Dorie blog roll to see other variations of this delicious chocolate dessert.

Lately, when I've been taking photos of food or still life with my Canon 5D, I often take additional photos with my iPhone using apps such as Hipstamatic and Instagram, or just with the dedicated camera on my phone. I've come to really like some of the photos I've taken and even though I don't think they would be considered professional photos,  they are fun to play around with.  Do you have any thoughts on using a camera phone to take food photos? I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Can you guess which one is the camera phone photo? Both photos were edited in Photoshop. Cheers!

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