Friday, February 25, 2011

Nigella's Chocolate Honey Cake

super simple dense fabulous chocolate cake that's not too rich and not too too sweet...makes an any-occasion dessert that tastes incredible and looks "pastry-chef" impressive

i say "super simple" because Nigella always makes things look so simple.  if you look at the recipe as it is written,  it doesn't sound all that easy and quick, BUT if you catch the show like i did, you'll see how easy she makes it look.  she throws everything into the processor, pours it into the pan, then in the oven for about an hour or so...done.  this prompted me to make it that very day.  i caught the show on one of her early morning reruns on the cooking channel and the cake was made by that afternoon. 

when all was done i found the cake WAS super easy...
on the show she had her kids making the kids around here so i was left to the task at hand...please pardon my bees.  i think it's a job best left for the kids.  well...they were kinda cute i guess.

as mentioned above...the instructions for the recipe found at are different than how she made it on the show.  i have posted the instructions for the way i saw it done on the show.  the ingredients are the same...but i added 1 tsp espresso powder and 1 tsp vanilla to the cake...
AND i covered it with a dark chocolate ganache instead of the Sticky Honey Glaze.

4 oz. semi sweet chocolate broken into pieces
1 1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 sticks or 1 cup super soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
optional...1 tsp espresso powder and 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

preheat oven to 350 F
line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with parchment.  i buttered the sides and covered with cocoa powder as well.

melt the chocolate in a double boiler and set aside.
in the processor add in this order...(if it matters)
1 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1 cup super soft unsalted butter, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup honey, 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 Tbsp cocoa powder (sift it in), (add 1 tsp espresso powder and 1 tsp vanilla if you are using)...and finally add the melted chocolate...whiz this until it is smooth, stopping a moment to scrape the sides.  incorporate well...while the processor is going add the 1 cup of boiling water until all is nice and smooth and incorporated well...BUT do not over process.  this is a very runny batter.  do not pull out your blade if you have a smaller size processor.  remove the processor bowl with the blade still inside and pour into prepared pan.  place the filled pan on a aluminum covered cookie sheet (batter might escape at the bottom a little bit).  put in 350 F degree oven for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hour.  check cake at 45 minutes to see if you need to cover the top for the final 15 minutes or so.  mine took 1 hour.  check with tooth pick.  remove and let the cake cool completely before glazing.

i used a simple 1 to 1 chocolate ganache
6 oz good dark 60% chocolate
6 oz heavy cream
bring cream to almost a boil, stirring so as not to burn on the bottom.  add hot cream to chocolate and stir until all is melted and there are no tiny pieces.  don't stir too hard or you will create bubbles.
pour over cooled cake and refrigerate until set.

bees are easy, but tedious.  use 1-2 oz. of marzipan and some sliced almonds for the wings.  paint them with black frosting or use the melted chocolate for the "bee look".

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Homemade Goat Cheese


easy peasy?  absolutely!...does it make you feel a little righteous making your own goat cheese? bet!...BUT...does it taste like yummy rich smooth french goat cheese..."Chevre"?  not really.  this didn't stop me from making it three times though...and i'll probably have another go at it this weekend.  the outcome is more like a Queso Fresco or maybe like a Farmer's Cheese.  sure it's a cheese you can be excited about creating, but don't expect a huge "goatie flavor" or any rich cheesy flavor, for that matter, until you put your own twist of flavors in the mix.  what you will have is a lovely spreadable fresh cheese to be proud of.

NOTE...i am new to this cheese making and so addicted.  i already make my own yogurt...Greek yogurt and even Icelandic yogurt called Skyr, but this whole cheese thing has me intrigued.  it's like a science project.  I should post about the Skyr soon.  it's even thicker than Greek yogurt and has the slightest tang of cheese.  
since i'm a bit late in getting this post out (i made this a couple weeks ago) i have made some tasty Farmer's Cheese and i have succeeded in making REAL goat cheese...i mean CHEVRE! the kind you pay for in the store.   i'll get to these posts as soon as i can...


above photos are the third go around.  third time's a charm...this one actually had some good flavors AND i did taste a little (just a little) of that yummy "tang" that you get from anything with goat's milk.  this one was created with white vinegar... it seemed to have a  much faster whey separation than with the lemon juice.

below are photos of the second try.  looks good...right texture, but at first bite i new something was askew...hmmm...couldn't quite figure out what it was.  i made this one with lemon juice.  maybe it was the Herbs de Provence that weren't quite right.  maybe it's because i didn't use ONLY STAINLESS STEEL utensils...needless to say, this one did not get devoured to the end...hate it when that happens, but made me want to try again.

if you're at all curious, like me, i DO suggest you try making some goat cheese.  you might ask yourself is this cost effective?...hmmm...sort of...BUT is it rewarding?...ABSOLUTELY!

this is really CHEESE MAKING's a great place to start.  
i googled around and found tons of recipes.  one of my favorite bloggers is Anja's Food 4 Thought.  her recipes are always good and healthy and easy to follow.  she lays out the whole goat cheese making very simple.  check out her goat cheese post HERE.

1 quart pasteurized goat milk...NOT ULTRA PASTEURIZED
1/4 cup white vinegar or lemon juice
NOTE..i tried lemon juice the 1st time and it didn't work well for me, but there could have been other factors involved in the failure...who knows?...
1 tsp sea salt...more or less
fresh herbs or flavoring of your choice...
i used fresh dill, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

a non reactive pot...stainless is best
a thermometer
cheese cloth or muslin
a good size strainer

clean utensils and a clean environment
and a little PATIENCE!

adapted from Anja's Food 4 Thought Goat Cheese recipe...i thought her instructions were the easiest and didn't make it sound so involved...thanks to Anja

bring goat milk in a heavy bottomed pot to a boil (not quite a boil...about 185-190 F degrees).  do this slowly so as not to burn the milk on the bottom of the pot.  take off the heat and immediately stir the lemon juice...OR white vinegar (seems to work better in my experience).  leave standing for about a couple of minutes (might be 10-15 minutes) so the milk can curdle.  pour this mixture into a large cheese cloth (3 maybe 4 layers of cheese cloth) or a thin cotton towel or muslin that has been laid out over a strainer.  have the strainer in the sink or over a larger bowl to catch all the whey that will drain out.  let that sit and strain for a few minutes, then pull up the four corners and tie them up into a bag.  hang this on a wooden spoon (or whatever works) and let the bag hang free.  the whey should be able to strain out of the cheese cloth for at least 2 hours.  check on it to see if is firm enough for you.

before taking the cheese out of the bag you can squeeze the cloth by hand to extract more liquid from the cheese.  transfer the cheese from the cloth to a bowl.  season it with salt, pepper and fresh herbs.  at this point it is ready to serve, but i like to refrigerate it and firm it up a bit more.  also it gives the herbs and seasonings a chance to incorporate

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cheerie-Oats Chocolate Chip Cookies

crunchy, filling, healthy and fun...these cookies will start your day right or keep you going when you need a lift.  they're filled with "good-for-ya" fiber and oats and just the right amount of that yummy peanut butter-chocolate combo to let your taste buds know it's still a treat.

adapted from a recipe found at by Stephanie Gallagher

3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup apple sauce
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
a dash of powdered ginger and nutmeg is a great addition...optional
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3 oz mini chocolate chips
3 cups cheerio's...i used Trader Joe's Fiber O's
2 Tbsp flax...optional good omegas

preheat oven to 375 F
beat sugar, apple sauce, peanut butter, water, vanilla and egg substitute together with an electric mixer until well combined.  add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and spice if adding, salt, oats, flax and chocolate chips.  gently hand stir in cheerie o's cereal of choice.
drop the dough (it will be sticky) by rounded 1/4 cupfuls  onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  flatten dough slightly.  they don't spread much at all.
bake for 13-15 minutes until lightly browned around the edges.
should make about 20 large cookies.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hazelnut Sugar Cookies

don't ya just hate it when something comes out of the oven you think it's all gone wrong?
well, that was the case with these...BUT...


my intention was a cookie with the look and texture of a snickerdoodle and the yummy taste of roasted hazelnuts. (i needed to use up some of the boatload of roasted hazelnuts i had from some other recipe i was working on.)  as you can see in the photos, the snickerdoodle effect did not take place.  they did not rise and fall with that fabulous earthquake looking crack on the top.  

i thought they were all wrong!  until first bite...YUM!
so this one turned out great...BUT all cookies are great right when they come out of the oven... 

will they stand the test of time?...YES...they were still delicious even a few days later.
sometimes, most of the time, i don't get to hand out my goodies until a day or two later.  they have to cool...get some sort of icing or decor...then off to the photo shoot...then they get packaged up and passed out.  quite often this does not all happen in a day.  i get side-tracked with something savory...things are flyin' all over my kitchen know how it is...

the photo below is from the first  tray that went in.  i did not flatten the cookie.  like a snickerdoodle i thought it would flatten and spread during cooking...when it didn't, i thought i had a failure on my hands.    this one was actually the funnest one to eat. 
 i dubbed it "THE HAZELNUT BOMB"
the very top photo is from the second tray that i flattened with the bottom of a glass.  this made for a larger looking cookie with a little more crunch.  both were fabulous and loved by all.  i think i still have some hazelnuts to use up so maybe anther batch will be in store for this weekend.

something is always a winner in this house when it gets made more than once.

ok...on with the recipe...


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
optional...1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
(i like to put a sprinkle of spice into most everything)
3/4 cup roasted lightly salted hazelnuts, chopped fine
2 Tbsp white sugar
3-4 Tbsp raw sugar (or something like in photo)

preheat oven to 400 F
cream together butter, shortening and 1 1/2 cup sugar.  then add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla.  mix well.
in a separate bowl mix the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar
add dry ingredients to wet.  mix until just combined
add hazelnuts 'til just combined

in a small bowl mix the white sugar and the raw...set aside
shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into rounded walnut size balls
roll in sugar mixture and place on parchment lined cookie sheet can choose to flatten them or not.  i suggest trying both.  i have photos of flattened and not flattened.  they are both fabulous
bake for 8-10 minutes depending on how large you make them.  bake until set, but not hard.  remove from baking sheet immediately.  i like to slide the parchment right onto my counter top, but that's me.

mix this all together well in a small bowl.  a spoon works fine.  put it in a thick baggie and cut off the tip for an easy quick piping bag.  PS...don't cut your tip too big.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
2 tsp corn syrup
1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
a sprinkle of cinnamon
a few grates of fresh nutmeg

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pate de Campagne...Country Pate


Country Pate...otherwise known as "Fancy Meatloaf".

if you break it down like that it doesn't seem so difficult to handle...i mean just about anyone can throw together a meatloaf...right?
so, i decided to tackle the beast...take on the challenge of a PATE.  i've made Terrines and Rillettes in the past, but nothing as fancy as a pate with a French name and LIVER in the recipe...yikes!  
liver scares me and kinda gives me the creeps.  when i was little my mother always wanted us to try something once.  she tried to tell my brother and i that it was "baby cow"...i said, "no thank you".  she said, "just try it once if you don't like it you don't have to eat it".  i said, "no thank you, i'll throw up" she insisted that i take one bite... 

i threw up on my plate!...

thank goodness i have evolved, broadened my horizons and my palette has improved with age.

this pate is relatively simple, but kind of time consuming.  i've made it twice now and i must say the second time was a bit easier.  the first on i got a little caught up in perfection and still had that little flare of apprehension i get when tackling something new and seemingly involved.  the second one i just told myself it was a fancy took the pressure off...besides...the first one was such a success that i knew i could play around a little with the ingredients and not be so precise.

adapted from Sippitysup.  thanks to jgreghenry
the following ingredients are what i used and found delicious, but the original recipe can be found HERE.  

3/4 lb chicken livers-trimmed
1/3 lb ground pork
3/4 lb pork loin chop, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 slices bacon, roughly chopped
1 1/2-2 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped fine
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1/4 cup pistachios
3 Tbsp Brandy or Cognac...i used Henessy
1 medium shallot, minced
2 eggs lightly beaten
6-8 whole bay leaves-mostly for decor
12 slices of bacon

-put the pork loin cubes, chicken livers and roughly chopped bacon into a food processor with blade attachment
-pulse the mixture 12-15 times, scraping sides a few times during process.  you're looking for a varied texture.  don't over process into mush, but don't leave too chunky.
-once you are happy with the texture move the meat mixture to a large bowl.  add the salt, pink peppercorns, black pepper, thyme, rosemary and brandy.  mix this together.
-now, add lightly beaten eggs and shallots.  mix this together well.
-add in the pistachios if you're using them.
-choose a three cup terrine mold or some other oven proof dish of appropriate size and shape...
NOTE...i used a medium loaf pan and had a little left over for a mini loaf pan (also lined with bacon...cute!)
-layer the bay leaves on the bottom of the pan/terrine.  this is pretty much for decoration, but adds flavor as well.
-line the long sides of the pan/terrine with sliced bacon.  leave enough bacon hanging over both sides to cover the top once it is filled.
NOTE...i used very long strips of bacon.  use your want the whole thing lined with bacon...the end result is what you're after...after all this trouble it has to look pretty right?
-spoon the meat mixture into the bacon covered mold.  leave a 1/4 inch space on top.  you need room for the top layer of bacon and it will puff a little during cooking.
-fold the hanging bacon over the top and add a piece or two if necessary.
cut a piece of parchment to cover just the meaty top and wrap the terrine/loaf pan in aluminum foil.
-let the flavors come together in the fridge or overnight.  i didn't wait.
-when you are ready to cook...preheat the oven to 325 F.  place the covered terrine in a larger baking dish and pour boiling water into the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the other words...this needs to cooked in a Baine Marie.
-bake this for 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temp is 160 F.
-lift the terrine out of the water and set aside to cool completely while covered.
-once it is cooled, drain any extra liquid from the terrine.
-this is optional, but i find it need to press the pate when it goes into the fridge..  i use a foil covered brick that fits just-right into my medium loaf pan.  you can also use soup cans or even a heavy skillet...cut yourself a piece of cardboard that will fit inside the rim of the loaf pan or terrine.  cover it with tin foil or plastic wrap.  put that on top of the meat and weigh it down with something heavy...this makes for a nice tight pate that holds together well when's just part of that  making your own PATE EXPERIENCE...

please DO give this one a try...
i know it sounds so involved, but just have fun with it and i'm sure you will end up with a fabulous, beautiful loaf of "HOMEMADE CHARCUTERIE"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

show your loved ones you care...these are healthy...kinda sorta...
old fashioned oats and a bit of flax makes it healthy...right?

this cookie is a winner.  it has the taste and texture of a brownie, BUT the best part of a know, the  crispy chewy edge that is sooo sought after.i don't know about you, but i'm and edge person.  something about that crunchy chewy chocolate...yummmm.  they even make a special brownie pan that makes more crispy edge per batch...genius idea...wish i would have thought of it.  if you've never seen one check it out HERE.  i haven't bought one yet because I DON"T HAVE ROOM FOR ANOTHER PAN !  if i bring one more item in to the kitchen i might be shot.  the waffle iron almost got me kicked to the curb...that is, until fresh homemade waffles were served and all was forgotten.

back to this fabulous "healthy?" chocolaty cookie.  i love my OATS!  and i love my CHOCOLATE!  i have a little of both every morning.  something always makes me feel a little better about eating my sweets if there's a little somethin' good for ya along with it.  quite often you'll find me sneaking flax or some kind of bran in whenever i can, hence the little flax specs you see in the photos...they are optional, of course,  BUT please do use old fashioned oats for the recipe...i think it adds to the chewiness and the old fashion are more nutrient packed than the instant.

makes 24-30...i made them BIG.  i made 24

10 Tbsp butter (2/3 cup) softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
4 cups old fashioned oats
2 Tbsp flax seeds...optional
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 tsp (more or less) cayenne pepper...optional

preheat oven to 350 F and line cookie sheet with parchment
beat the butter until smooth and add both sugars.  mix well, then beat in eggs and vanilla.  mix well
in a separate bowl mix the flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda and cayenne.
add dry mixture to wet mixture in 3 batches and mix until just combined.
add...stir or use mixer... oats, mini chocolate chips and flax.  try not to over mix.

scoop out 2-3 Tbsp of dough and flatten slightly...
NOTE....i flattened them quite a bit with the bottom of a glass dipped in cocoa powder...made for a nice cracked look on top.
bake for about 15 minutes or until edges are set, BUT slightly gooey looking in the middle...they will harden a bit more when cooled

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Easy Ganache

my newest obsession....


individually smothered in ganache and accompanied by some beautiful red raspberries...every bite tastes like a perfect little french truffle.

my favorite piece was swimming in a pool of Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (recipe soon).  what a fabulous combo this was.  i can't wait to make another.
this cake just so happens to come from Martha Stewart.  sometimes ya just gotta give the woman some credit.  some might think she's over rated, BUT she is who she is, she does what she does and a lot of times..."it's a good thing".
the recipe is quite simple.  i had to find an easy one because my printer was broken and i had to jot down the recipe on a scape of paper...i was in a hurry to get some chocolate fixin'.

this is how i wrote it down.  (the original can be found HERE.)


6 Tbsp unsalted butter
8 oz chocolate (70% cocoa) in small pieces
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
NOTE...i added 1 tsp vanilla and almost 1 tsp espresso powder to the chocolate mixture

 oven at 275 degrees
butter 9 inch springform pan and dust with cocoa powder

melt butter and chocolate in double slightly
whisk in yolks.  one at a time is best
NOTE...i let this sit for a few minutes while i was whipping the whites and this looked like lumpy mush.  i was mortified and thought i had chocolate-scrambled if this happens to you just whisk like a mad person and bring it back to a smooth texture.  everything was fine.  not to worry.

whisk egg whites to soft peaks
gradually add sugar until stiff peaks and glossy
add 1/4 of whites to chocolate mixture and combine well
then gently fold in the remaining 3/4 whites

pour into prepared pan and gently smooth top.
bake for 45-50 minutes until sides pull away and center is JUST set.


8 OZ. good 70% dark chocolate
1 cup heavy whipping cream

heat whipping cream slowly to ALMOST a boil.  pour over chocolate and stir until chocolate is fully melted.  keep stirring well to get all the tiny lumps out.
put fully cooled cake on a cooling rack and coat cake.  at this point you can smooth the chocolate all over with a layer and or drizzle the chocolate however you want.  there are many Ganache recipe variations out there, but this one worked well for me...not too hard and not too soft when all was 
"set and done"

this was my first ganaching i don't have any real great tips to give...just go for it.  best part is, i have some left over that is just calling out for TRUFFLES!

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