Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sweet and Spicy Garlic Shrimp

Pin It A couple of years ago, while I was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer, I developed a strong urge for Chinese food...go figure. I have never seen this symptom posted on any of the cancer help boards, so it must have been indiginous only to me. One night, the urge was so strong I put on my head scarf and my daughter took me to the best Chinese restaurant in town. Now, I will admit that both of us are Chinese food snobs, my daughter having moved from San Francisco and I from New York City. The food was mediocre at best, the tab ... well, shall we say that never again. I am the type of person who doesn't mind paying $25 for an unbelievable hamburger but hates to pay $4 for a bad one.

I came home that night, got on Amazon, and ordered a couple of Martin Yan's cookbooks and a wok. I have been cooking Chinese ever since. The secret to cooking Chinese food is to get everything ready, including the chopping, the sauce and the marinade.

Most Chinese food consists of four steps..marinade the meat, stir fry it, stir fry the vegetables, add the sauce and its done. Most of the things I've cooked from his cookbooks and others have not taken any more than 1/2 hour from beginning to end, with the bulk of the time spent on preparation before cooking. The cooking time is less than 5 minutes! It is imperative, however, to have the basics on hand (soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, cornstarch, oil etc.) to make this a painless experience. In this case, I did not have chilis in the refrigerator, but I did have red pepper flakes in my well stocked pantry.

Chinese food is the ideal meal for a Saturday night. This afternoon, after a hectic day, I went to the store at 5:30 and by 7:30 pm we were already finished with dinner. By the time the white rice was finished cooking, and the salad made, the shrimp was ready to go on the wok. Four
minutes later it was done and ready to serve. How quick can that be!

So, get yourself a good wok, a Martin Yan's cookbook to start with and go for it. You'll be glad you did!

Serves 2


3/4 lb large peeled deveined shrimp, tails intact
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt


1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 dried red chilies


1 Place shrimp in a medium bowl and sprinkle with cornstarch and salt. Toss the shrimp and let stand for 10 minutes.

2 Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Stir the soy sauce, ketchup, honey, and chili garlic sauce together in a small bowl.

3 Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the sides of the wok. add shrimp and stir-fry until pink, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and chiles and cook about 30 seconds. Add the sauce and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 30 seconds. Serve.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

End of Summer Peach Crumb Pie

Pin It Every year I do the same thing...come peach season I can't resist buying a big box of peaches and when I come home, pandemonium! I always think they will ripen in sequential pairs, but of course this isn't going to happen. Last night we had them marinaded in Prosecco, this morning I had some for breakfast, and tomorrow I will cheat, as they are not white peaches, and make a bastard Bellini. That still isn't going to cut it, so today I decided to make a pie, an easy pie. What makes it easy is the ready made pie shell and the crumb flour to mess with!

This pie should satisfy everybody. It's relatively tart on the inside ( I hate gooey over sweet fillings) but I went to town on the crumble. The result, the best I've had so far, seriously. Don't worry about the high temperature in the beginning and check on the pie after 20 minutes. If the edges are getting too dark, cover them with tin foil and return to oven. I have a gadget that you put over just the edges, and its great.


9- inch prebaked pie shell according to package directions
(I use Mrs. Smith's)


4 c. peeled and sliced peaches

1/4 - 1/2 c. sugar*

1/4 c. plain flour

2 tbsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients. Mix gently. Pour into a prebaked 9-inch pie shell


1/2 c. cold butter

3/4 c. plain flour

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. regular sugar


Cut up butter in about 8 pieces. Process butter, sugar and flour until crumbly in a food processor (pulse about 5 times). You want the mixture crumbly not mushy! Spread over pie filling in small crumbles. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then at 350 degrees for 30 minutes more. You might need to cover the edges about 10 minutes before pie is done. Serve warm.

*Cooks Note I've given you a range depending on the fruit and how sweet or tart you like your filling. I used 1/4 cup in mine.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ted's Babyback Ribs

Pin It If there is something I'm very proud of is having two children who are great cooks! My daughter Christina is the baker and her cookies are legendary not only in our family, but also with friends and neighbors. My son Ted, on the other hand, is the grill master. He used to be the burrito king but ever since he moved to Georgia he's developed into a great griller.

Last Christmas he got a smoker from his grandmother in law and since then, no one can touch him. About a couple of months ago, when I visited the family in Atlanta, he served me some of the best ribs I have ever had... no question!

Under his guidance and without a smoker I served these about a month ago and they were outstanding. If you don't have a smoker, he recommends cooking them in beer in a 250 degree oven sealed for about two hours. He makes his own rub (of course!) I had Emeril make mine. The barbecue sauce is all mine!

I am posting this early so you can start planning ahead for your Labor Day Weekend which is a week from tomorrow.


2 Slabs Pork Baby Back Ribs

1 can light beer

2 TB. Emeril's Rub for Pork

Barbecue Sauce (Recipe follows)

The night before you cook them, rub spice mixture over the ribs. I used Emeril's because it was the only good one I could find at the store I went to, but others will do too. Seal in tin foil paper and place in fridge. Before you cook then, open tin foil and pour 1 small can light beer. Reseal tight and place in the oven at 250 degrees for 2 hrs. Remove from the oven bring to room temperature and set aside until ready to grill. Remove from tin foil and place in a medium hot grill. Cook each side for 10 minutes. Brush barbecue sauce on one side and cook an additional 10 minutes. Do the same for the other side. You will be cooking a total of 40 minutes..10 mins. each side without sauce, 10 mins. each side with sauce. Let rest for 10 minutes. You can serve with leftover barbecue sauce on the side.

Barbecue Sauce

Makes 3 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 cups ketchup
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in mustard powder and red-pepper flakes; cook 30 seconds.

Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar, molasses, and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.

I usually serve ribs with my potato salad and sliced tomatoes with balsamic and fresh basil. An Australian Shiraz or Argentinian Malbec goes well with it.

Labor Day...The Menu

Pin It Well, it's here, the last weekend of the Summer. Fall is in the air, even in Miami!

For us here in Florida it is really a non event, but I remember how much I used to hate it when I lived in New England. Even though the beautiful Fall season is just around the corner, Labor Day and September always mean the end of grilling, weekends at the beach, dinner on the patio, gardening and all the outdoor things we like to do. And if you are a kid, yucks, back to school time. Here in Florida, it is a time for hurricanes, boarding up and stocking up. Hopefully, it will be a quiet season just like the last two. No, Labor Day is definitely not worth the extra day off.

For this holiday, the main dish is Baby Back Ribs. For the sides I suggest a couple of salads already posted, and for dessert, well it's got to be peaches, so take your pick!

Don't despair, Fall is around the corner and apple season is about to begin. You can have a drink on that!

Here are some of the recipes I suggest you consider for this holiday:

Labor Day Menu & Suggestions

The Perfect Bloody Mary

Fiesta Salsa & Tortilla Chips

Irresistible Clam Dip

Ted's Baby Back Ribs

My Mother's Potato Salad

Bobby Flay's Cole Slaw

Tomatoes with Balsamic Olive Oil & Basil

Corn on the Cob

Peach Blueberry Crumble

Peach Crumb Pie

Peaches & Raspberries & Blueberries in Prosecco

Amaretti Cookies

The Baby Back ribs will be up Monday 8/24 after 3:00 am for subscribers and the Peach Crumb Pie on Wednesday 26th.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fiesta Salsa...Dressing Up The Corn!

Pin It I love to create new recipes from lefovers. Nothing in this house is ever thrown away...never. Its just recycled into new and innovative great recipes.

Last week when I made the Mexican Quiche I had to open a large can of corn that I had in the pantry. Having just about 1/2 cup left, it soon became evident that it had to be part of something else.

My first idea was corn and tomato salad which I love and haven't made this summer. But there was definitely not enough corn for four. The night before I had been reading a fabulous book on entertaining which contained some recipes for salsa and that's where the idea started to gel. Luckly, Florida avocados are in season and cheap and there was a ripe one sitting on the counter. The result: salsa and london broil fajitas for dinner that night; salsa and corn tortillas to accompany Black Bean Dip for my Mother's Sunday canasta party; and salsa and chips for cocktails two nights in a row. all from 1/2 can of corn! The one avocado stayed beutifully fresh due to the lime and the tomatoes behaved themselves until the last day!


1/2 cup corn kernels

6 cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped green peppers

1/2 cup chopped red peppers

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 small avocado cut in 1/2 inch cubes

1 tsp. jalapeno, chopped fine (or to taste)

1 lime, juice of

2 TB olive oil

Tabasco Sauce to taste

Salt and Pepper

Cut the tomatoes in quarters and the avocado in 1/2 inch pieces. Mix everything together and serve. Correct the lime and olive oil to your taste.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chez Panisse Baked Goat Cheese Salad

Pin It It's funny how birds of a feather "post" together. I've had this recipe on the docket for months to post in case of a jam.

Yesterday I noticed that David Leibowitz beat me to it and posted it on his blog. He should know, he worked at Chez Panisse years ago. Then the Fiesta Salsa appeared in Bitten's blog yesterday in the form of a summer salad. And today, I noticed that one of the food blogs I follow had posted a recipe for lemon pound cake! Are we all running out of recipes? I don't think so! although by the 5th year of a food blogger's career it must be difficult to come up with 3 recipes a week. Thankfully, I don't see Bitten or any of the other pros at a loss for a recipe.

When I have a dinner party, I purchase one of the big chevre logs at Costco, marinade according to my recipe for the goat cheese appetizer posted in the Spring, and save one half for this salad. The result... even better, so plan ahead!

Serves 4


4 rounds Goat Cheese, fresh (1/2 inch thick)

3-4 sprigs Thyme, fresh

3/4 cup Olive Oil, Virgin

1 cup Bread Crumbs, fine and dry

1 tsp Thyme, dried

2-3 Tb Vinegar, Red Wine

Salt & Pepper to taste

4 Scoops Greens, fresh garden mix

Day-old Baguette (sliced 1/4 inch)

1/2 cup Butter

2-3 cloves Garlic


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lay 4 rounds of fresh goat cheese ( 1/2 inch thick) and 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme in a deep dish and pour 1/4 cup virgin olive oil over it and allow to marinate for a day.

In a bowl, mix together 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs and 1 tsp dried thyme.

In a separate bowl mix a vinaigrette by whisking together 1/2 cup virgin olive oil, 2-3 Tbls red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Slice a day-old baguette into 1/4-inch slices. Melt 1/2 cup butter and brush each slice of baguette with it.

Spread these bread slices on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 5-7 minutes, until just light brown.

Increase oven temperature to 400°F.

Peel and cut in half 2-3 cloves of garlic. While the bread is still warm, rub each piece with a cut clove of garlic.

Dip the marinated cheese rounds in the bread crumb mix and place in a lightly oiled baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven at 400°F for about 6 minutes, until cheese is lightly bubbling and golden brown.

Toss the greens with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat and arrange them on 4 round salad

Place the cheese rounds in the center of the plates with the more browned side up and arrange the croutons around the cheese.

Soft Goat Cheese on Foodista

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lindaraxa's Signature Pound Cake

Pin It
Pound cakes are ideal summer desserts. They sop up berry coulis and fruit compotes, they make excellent foundations for a scoop of ice cream topped with whatever else your little heart desires, and even better beds for brown sugar-topped grilled peach halves. Fact is, with a few pieces of whatever fruit is looking good that week and one of these tightly-wrapped in your freezer, you’ll always be able to throw together dessert quickly. If none of the above appeal to you, how about a slightly toasted slice with strawberry jam for your morning coffee? Or your afternoon cup of tea?

Last Saturday, I baked one for my Sunday afternoon bridge game, shared some with the neighbors and still have half a loaf left! I can guarantee that half of that half will go in the freezer awaiting the next batch of peaches that comes in the house.

I have been baking and perfecting this recipe for years, always trying for the right consistency and depth of flavor. I finally achieved this by combining two recipes, one from Jacques Pepin and the other from heaven knows where! It is basically Pepin's recipe with a light syrup that I pour over it while it is still hot from the oven. You can't imagine how rich and moist it turns out. When you cut it, make sure your slices are no thicker than 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. I know this sounds trivial, but it makes a big difference.

By the way, they also make beautiful presents for those friends who have everything!


2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Glaze (optional)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup dark rum


Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter a 10-by-5-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper that extends 2 inches past the short ends of the pan.

In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar, vanilla and salt at medium speed until fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, beating between additions. Beat in the milk. Sift the flour and the baking powder over the batter and whisk it in until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Bake the cake for 1 1/2 hours, until it is cracked down the center, golden on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a spatula around sides of pan and lift cake bottom slightly. Using a bamboo skewer or wooden pick, pierce top of cake generously so it can absorb the rum glaze.


Bring sugar, butter, and water to a boil over medium heat in medium saucepan, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in rum.

Spoon glaze generously over warm cake, a couple of tablespoons at a time. Continue adding glaze as it is absorbed. Allow cake to cool completely, then carefully remove from pan.

Note: The more you pierce the cake, the more glaze it will absorb. Let the glaze soak in slowly. You may not use all the glaze.

The cake can be kept at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days.

Adapted from Jacques Pepin

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Corn Quiche Mexican Style

Pin It

I saw this recipe in one of the Spanish magazines years ago, cut it out and it has been sitting in my recipe notebook since then. Today I tried it on my two toughest mother and our cleaning lady. The latter is a master with tortillas so her opinion was not to be dismissed lightly. The former is my Mother, my toughest critic across the board and a great cook. They both loved it! I tweaked it a little bit adding the green peppers and reducing the Tabasco and I can say it is definitely a keeper.

Be careful when you insert the tortillas in the ramekins so that you don't tear with your fingernails! you don't want any holes in it or the filling will run out to the bottom. You may have to make some pleats to get it to fit snugly in the ramekins and if the edges poke out don't worry. The result will be a beautiful flower with a delicious custard inside. Your guests will think you worked for hours! I am going to try them next week with the quiche Lorraine custard and will post the results. The possibilities are endless! Buen provecho.

Serves 2

4 flour tortillas
olive oil
3 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 Tb flour
1/8 tsp Tabasco
1/2 cup canned corn drained
1/2 cup finely chopped ham
3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1 TB chopped onions
1TB chopped green peppers
Salt & Pepper

You will need 2 ramekins 5in X 2 in high
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Oil the ramekins. Spray or brush olive oil on both sides of the tortillas. Insert the tortillas in the ramekins pushing all the way to the bottom to form a cup. Be careful you don't tear the tortilla. Fold sides if you need to. Cook 10 minutes until golden. Take out and cool.

In a bowl, beat the eggs with a wire whisk and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Pour into the ramekins and cook between 20-25 minutes until the quiche is set. Check with a toothpick. If the tortillas are browning too much, reduce the heat to 375 for the last 10 minute. Take out of the oven and let cool for about 10-15 minutes. Very carefully remove quiche from the ramekins using a fork and a spoon, separating from the sides and pushing up from the bottom. Serve hot.

A delightful entree for lunch with a simple salad and possibly a bellini sorbetto for dessert!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Saturday Night on the Grill...Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Pin It The best and quickest way to cook a leg of lamb on the grill, is to have your butcher butterfly it. What this means is that the leg of lamb is first deboned and the meat unfolded and spread out. This produces a more uniform thickness, particularly after you pound it, and allows for the meat to cook evenly from end to end. It also creates more area for grilling so that more of the meat takes on that wonderful charcoal taste.

You can ask the butcher to tie the meat back into a roast after butterflying but this involves a longer cooking time on the grill.

The secret here is the marinade so plan ahead so the lamb can start marinading the night before.

3 lbs butterflied leg of lamb
1 TB Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
6 mashed cloves garlic
2 TB fresh rosemary leaves
salt and pepper

Place the leg of lamb in a big ziplock bag add the marinade and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Take out of the refrigerator 1 hour before ready to cook. Light your charcoal or gas grill to medium high. Take lamb out of bag, dry with paper towels and add salt and pepper. Brush some olive oil on grill. Place the lamb on the grill, initially pressing down with tongs to make sure lamb is evenly in contact with grill and char 5 to 6 minuted, rotating 90 degrees halfway through. Flip, brush with marinade and cook another 5-6 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 125 degrees.Make sure you also rotate 90 degrees halfway through cooking.

Remove from grill and let rest about 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

This is wonderful with the Cauliflower Gratin or Pommes Anna!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grilled Eggplant with Mozarella & Marinara Sauce

Pin It
This recipe was inspired by my son Ted, the grill master- in -waiting in our family, after my brother, of course! He was the one who taught me to marinade the eggplant in olive oil AND balsamic vinegar. I perfected it by adding the sugar to the slices while they are marinading.

When they are done, my son cuts the slices in quarters and adds them to spaghetti. It is delicious. I serve mine stalked up, with the sauce on top and a crusty baguette on the side. Your choice.

Serves 4


1 eggplant
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Mozzarella cheese
Basic Marinara Sauce
Parmigiano Reggiano.


Slice the eggplant in 1/2 inch slices. In a big bowl, mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper. Add the eggplant making sure all slices are thoroughly coated. Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of sugar on each slice and put back in the marinade. Marinade for about 1/2 hour. Light the fire to medium high (400 on the gas grill)and grill covered for about 8 minutes on each side. Place about 1 Tb shredded mozzarella on top of each slice, cover and cook until the cheese melts. Remove from the grill.

Place three slices in a stalk, top with the marinara sauce and grate some Parmigiano on top. Serve with a crusty baguette.

Cooks Note: Make your own sauce, or preferably the one on the blog. It is Lidia Bastianich's recipe, simple, easy and authentic. Lots of garlic and fresh basil! Put the leftovers in the freezer for another night of eggplant, pasta or veal. Believe me, when you find yourself with nothing planned for dinner, you'll be glad you did!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dinner from the Pantry...Gnocchi with Spinach Bacon & Mozzarella

Pin It I'm still cooking from the pantry, trying to prepare for hurricane season. Today I discovered way in the back of the food closet something I must have bought years ago and never used. It was gnocchi shaped pasta from DeCecco that must have been bought by mistake thinking it was the real thing. By now, readers of this blog will know that I hate baking and working with flour, so you are never going to catch me making fresh gnocchi, even though I love it to death. It is one of those things that I save to order when I go out to an Italian restaurant.

Gnocchi is also the name given to the dry whimsical shape pasta family. They originate in the Campania region in the South of Italy. Their shape is fashioned after an empty grooved cone. They are usually 32 mm long whereas their thickness is between 1,15 and 1,30 mm. Gnocchi can be served with light tomato or meat sauces; it is also superb with pesto. Unfortunately, tonight none of these options were a possibility, but a quick look inside the refrigerator put some creative wheels in motion. As I have mentioned before, if you have a well stocked pantry, and this includes the refrigerator and the freezer, you can always put something together. On a few occasions, even you will surprise yourself, like I did tonight.

Not only did i come out with a great new recipe, I have also discovered a new pasta shell to work with! If you can't find gnocchi shaped pasta in your supermarket, try orecchetti, fussilli or any other shells or ridge shapes. Also go to my store on the right and look under gourmet food. The sauce is also delicious with real gnocchi, like the one in the main photo above from Flickr.


8 oz DeCecco Gnocchi or gnocchi shaped pasta

1/2 pckg frozen spinach (4 oz)

4 strips bacon

2 Tb butter

1/2 Onion

2 garlic cloves

1/2 Cup heavy cream

1 TB shredded mozarella

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Boil gnocchi with spinach 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Cook 4 strips bacon in microwave 5 minutes. Cut in 1 in. pieces

In another pan melt 2tb butter. Saute 1/2 onion and garlic cloves. Remove garlic and discard.

Add 1/2 cup heavy cream, Boil down until thickened.Add 1 tb mozzarella stirring until it melts. This will add body to the sauce.

Add the cream sauce to the gnocchi and spinach.

Add the bacon pieces

Add 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese

Serve immediately and pass the extra parmesan around.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Reine de Saba Chocolate Cake & Other Ways to Land a Husband!

Pin It Everyone is getting ready for the new movie release Julie and Julia tonight. Parties are being planned by foodies and friends, including the food magazines, where a Julia Child Menu has been featured this past month in Bon Appetit. There's also The Fourth Annual Julia Child Celebration where food bloggers honor the life of this American icon .

I guess it would be a cool idea to plan a party and have everyone bring their favorite Julia Child recipe.Im not going to, but I will surely make this cake and eat it all by myself!

Of all her recipes, my favorite is the Chocolate Mousse which I have been making ever since I got married, as a matter of fact, ever since IT got me married! Hear that ladies? three recipes two husbands! that's all you need. When it comes to landing a husband you need something more than sex..the nail on the coffin is food... when are you going to learn? Oy Vey!

There's no doubt in my mind her Chocolate Mousse landed my first and her Quiche Lorraine and Coquilles St Jacques the second. Thank you Julia! at least for the first... and for two beautiful kids and a gorgeous granddaughter.Now that I'm single again maybe I should try my own advice...but then again, why spoil a perfect record... and where would Lucy sleep?

This cake is fantastic and a real show stopper. The original recipe gives you a choice of 2TB rum or 2 TB freshly brewed coffee. I've kept both but have substituted the coffee with 1 TB espresso. The coffee enhances the flavor of the chocolate, something I learned from her 40 years ago. This is what makes her Chocolate Mousse so divine and a sure bet in landing a husband, ladies! If you make her mousse make sure you go straight to the cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, as there are several recipes for it in the Internet under her name that are not the one I'm talking about.

Serves 6-8


For the Cake:

4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons rum
1TB espresso
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 large eggs, separated
Large pinch salt
1/3 cup finely ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)

For the Chocolate Butter Icing:

1 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon rum or brewed coffee
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature



Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour 8-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. Combine chopped chocolate and rum in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over medium saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Cool melted chocolate, stirring occasionally.

Using electric mixer, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar in large bowl until fluffy and pale. Add egg yolks and beat until blended.

Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and pinch of salt in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.

Fold chocolate mixture, then almonds and almond extract into yolk mixture. Fold in 1/4 of whites to lighten batter. Fold in 1/3 of remaining whites. Sift 1/3 of flour over and fold in. Fold in remaining whites alternately with flour in 2 more additions each.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Push some batter 3/4 inch up sides of pan with rubber spatula (batter will slip down).

Bake cake until puffed and gently set in center and tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes.

Cool cake in pan 10 minutes. Cut around pan sides and carefully turn cake out onto rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Chocolate Butter Icing

Combine chocolate and rum in small metal bowl. Set bowl over small saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water.

Using wooden spoon, beat in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until icing is smooth. Place bowl over medium bowl filled with ice water. Continue to beat until icing is cool and thickened to spreading consistency.

Place cake on platter. Scrape icing onto top center. Using small offset spatula, spread icing evenly and thinly over top and sides of cake.

DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.


A Port-style wine from the south of France would be delicious with the cake. Try the Cornet & Cie 2006 Banyuls Rimage ($16 for 500 ml), which has hints of chocolate and cherry.

Cook's Note: Slightly pushing the cake batter up the sides of the pan before baking (even though the batter will slip down again) can help ensure that the cake will stay level and bake more evenly.

Recipe adapted from Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Photo Gail Albert Halaban Bon Appetit

La Reine De Saba - The Queen Of Sheba Chocolate Almond Cake on Foodista

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pommes Anna ... A Simple French Gratin Potato Cake

Pin It This week, every food blog is honoring Julia Child with posts of several of her recipes and reviews of the film Julie and Julia which is being released this Friday. With that in mind, I thought I would post an old favorite which I haven't made in years.

Browsing through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 2; I found this historical note about Pommes Anna: "It was created during the era of Napoleon III and named, as were many culinary triumphs in those days, after one of the grandes cocottes of the period. Whether it was an Anna Deslions, an Anna Judic, or simply Anna Untel, she has also immortalized the special double baking dish itself, la cocotte a pommes Anna, which is still made and which you can still buy at a fancy price".

This simple recipe is all about preparation and presentation, and the use of very, very thinly sliced potatoes, that's the key to success. Since the dish is inverted, it is important that the first layer of potatoes be attractively arranged. Select perfect slices, and overlap them carefully. It is best cooked in a copper or cast iron skillet. If you don't have a skillet which is ovenproof, use a souffle dish. Keep in mind the final shape makes the presentation. Serve warm and cut into wedges, like a cake or quiche.

Potatoes Anna goes beautifully with roasts and grilled meats.

Serves 4


1 1/2 pounds russet (baking) potatoes
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2 cloves garlic mashed
Salt & Pepper


Peel the potatoes and, using a food processor fitted with the slicing blade or a mandoline, slice them very thin, transferring them as they are sliced to a large bowl of cold water. Drain the slices and pat them dry between paper towels.

Melt the butter in a small pan together with the mashed garlic. Let sit for about 5 minutes for the butter to absorb the garlic flavor. Remove the garlic and mince.

Generously brush the bottom and side of a 9 inch heavy ovenproof skillet, preferably nonstick ( I use my black iron skillet) with some of the butter and in the skillet arrange the slices, overlapping them slightly, in layers, brushing each layer with some of the remaining butter and seasoning it with salt and pepper. Also sprinkle some of the minced garlic around the layers.

Cover the layered potato slices with a buttered round foil, tamp down the assembled potato cake firmly, and bake it in the middle of a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake the potato cake for 25 to 30 minutes more, or until the slices are tender and golden. Invert the potato cake onto a cutting board and cut it into 8 wedges.

You can also use a souffle dish instead of a skillet.

Pommes Anna on Foodista

Fresh Wild Berries with a Sabayon Sauce

Pin It Sabayon is the French name for that Italian favorite, Zabaglione. It is usually served as an accompaniment to steamed pudding and fruit. It is also a fairly simple sauce to make and makes for a quick and easy summer dessert when combined with berries.

I saw Tyler Florence tackle this recipe last week, but did not much care for the sabayon in his recipe. Although this sauce is very simple, it can blow up in your face if you don't use the right proportions and measurements. For that reason, I decided instead to use one from my old friend, Julia Child, which has never failed me.

Take advantage or all the berries that are in season and of the mint, which is finally spreading in pots. This is a nice dessert to serve with last week's shish kabobs, grilled lambchops or any other dinner on the grill.


8 Servings


6 cups mixed berries of your choice (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries)

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

For the Sabayon

6 egg yolks

1 cup sweet Marsala wine or port, sherry, or Madeira

1/3 cup sugar, plus more to taste

Drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)


Fill a 1 quart bowl with water, boil and bring to a simmer.

Whisk to blend the yolks, Marsala, and sugar in the stainless-steel bowl. Rest the bowl in the saucepan over hot water. Whisk constantly for 4 to 5 minutes or more to cook the sauce, until it has the consistency of lightly whipped cream. Clear the bottom of the bowl constantly with the whisk so that the eggs do not scramble, and adjust the heat as needed.

Taste the sauce — the sabayon should never get so hot that you can't stick your very clean finger in it — and whisk drops of lemon juice or more sugar if you want. When thick, foamy, and tripled in volume, remove from heat. It can be served hot as is, tepid, or cool. If you want to serve it hot, make it before you are ready to serve.

Serve in a bowl, place fresh berries on top, dust with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh mint.

julia child's sabayon on Foodista

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Experts Weigh In!...Wine Suggestions for the Moroccan Apricot and Lamb Tagine

Pin It I have recently joined a wine group on Linkedin called Wines & Spirits.

After I published my post for the Apricot Lamb Tagine, I thought it would be fun to approach them for their suggestions on what wines to serve with the tagine. This is what they came up with. Keep in mind, these are not your average wine drinkers, but very sophisticated wine connoisseurs and collectors, so enjoy!

Jan De Ceuster
Experienced consumer PR consultant, with particular strong experience in travel & hospitality and wine & gastronomy

"I would suggest a Sicilian Nero d'Avola, a modern style Calabrase based on, a Puglian Primitivo or a sound Californian Zinfandel. "

Jim Ruxin
Owner, JKR Productions, Inc.

"I agree with Jan's suggestions. This dish might even take a late harvest zin with light to moderate sweetness, depending on the strength of the fruit presence in the dish. As a foil to that sweetness, you might go in the other direction with an Amarone, or even a negro amaro such as Feudi Serpico, 1998, 1999 and 2001 are particularly good. "

Mark Norman
Director of Marketing and Business Development at The Wine Societies

"I would go with an ancient vine (old vine) zinfandel or ancient vine (old vine) petite sirah...I make a lamp chop with a port and fig reduction and both go extremely well with that! I would suspect that your recipe is slightly spicy so the heavier (ancient vine / old vine) wines would stand up well! "

Greg Tuttle
Wine Operations Manager at Total Wine & More

"At a recent training meeting, our wine managers enjoyed both old vine zinfandel and elegant Russian River pinot noir with various Moroccan tagines. In spite of their rich seasoning, the pinot noir was not overwhelmed and compliemented the sweet spicing of the dishes and the flavors of the preserved fruits. I like Jan's Nero d'Avola suggestion as well – a medium-bodied tannat or tannat blend from Uruguay might also be a fun pairing. "

Mike Potashnik
Publisher, International Wine Review

"How about an off dry Riesling for a Chicken leg tangine? What about a Rioja for minted lamb kabobs? How about Chateau Musar for either "

Abby Wine
Southwest Wine Travel Examiner,

"Greetings, it is possible to get an Algerian wine. Be sure to consult a professional, as these wines can be highly acidic, not so well balanced. Of course, people have been eating North African food with French, Spanish, and Italian wines for centuries. You might consider a red blend from Corbieres, one of the largest and most southerly wine sub-regions in France. The vineyards of Corbieres hug the Mediterranean coast. The typical varietals in a Corbieres blend are the same as those in a Cote du Rhone, and the wines tend to be full-bodied. I love a good Corbieres because you can taste the Mediterranean sunshine, and it really stimulates the appetite. The French are experts at blending these wines to pair with all manner of Mediterranean cuisines, including North African style dishes. Several North African states were French colonies for centuries, so the cuisines and winemaking of both areas are intimately connected. Within my area of particular expertise, I would pair this with the 2007 Sangiovese from Village of Elgin Winery in the Sonoita, AZ AVA. That is a fantastic, natural wine with the same touch of sunshine. It is a little lighter than most Corbieres blends, very well balanced, with a hint of sweetness that will really bring out the dried fruit in this dish. Good luck! "

The final choice is up to you...but what a choice!

You can see more comments and connect to the Wine & Spirits Group in Linkedin by clicking:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dinner in Marrakesh...Apricot Lamb Tagine

Pin It This North African stew is named for the traditional dish it is cooked in. A tagine is a clay pot that consists of a shallow round base and a cone shaped lid designed to allow the moisture to flow back down into the base during cooking. The stews known as tagines are oftened thickened and flavored with dried fruit. The recipe here contains apricots, but prunes raisins and dates are also common.

In France, tagines are often accompanied by couscous, while flatbread is more typical in Morocco. I think yellow rice or jasmine rice would also be nice, particularly for a dinner party where some of the guests might not like couscous.

This recipe for Apricot Lamb Tagine uses a wonderful blend of Moroccan spices to season the meat before it is braised and falls apart. Near the end of the cooking, dried fruit and honey are added for a bit of sweetness and red pepper flakes for some heat. The combination of the flavourful slow braised lamb with the spices and the sweet dried fruit and the warmth is simply amazing. It's a wonderful dish to serve at a dinner party, as you can prepare it the day before.

Choosing a wine is the tricky part of this exercise due to the spiciness, sweetness and heat combination in this dish. I frankly prefer a dry rose with character, such as Bandol or Tavel, or a red like a Syrah or Shiraz. Make sure the latter is served at the right temperature (65 degrees) by chilling it a bit in the fridge. 30 minutes should do it. For the right temperature to serve red wines, particularly in the summer click here,

*After I published this post, I asked members of the Wines & Spirits Group at Linkedin to weigh in with their recommendations. This is what they came up with.

The Bellini Sorbetto with Amaretti Cookies would be a nice dessert.

Makes 4 servings


2 tsps paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pinches of saffron
3 1/2 cups of water
1 teaspoon lemon (zest)
2 1/2 pound lamb stew meat*
3 tablespoon oil
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoons tomato paste
1 TB honey
1 beef cube
6 oz dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
red pepper flakes to taste
or Harissa*
1/2 cup slivered onions
Chopped parsley


1. Mix the paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom, salt, cayenne pepper, lemon zest and oil in a ziplock bag. Add the lamb, mix well and marinate in the fridge for a few hours to overnight.

2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir the saffron into the water in a small saucepan and set aside for 10 minutes, then just heat to simmer (saffron is not soluble in oil so you must first soak it in water to release flavors).

3. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven.

4. Add the lamb, brown well on all sides and set aside.

5. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

6. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for about a minute.

7. Add the lamb, tomato paste, the bay leaf, cinnamon sticks and cover with the saffron water. Add bouillon cube.

8. Bring to a boil, cover, put in the oven and cook for about 1 hour 30 minutes or until the lamb is almost tender. Halfway through skim fat and turn lamb pieces over so they cook more evenly.

9. Add the honey. Add the apricots and raisins, submerge them and continue cooking covered until the apricots fall apart and the sauce thickens, about another 30 minutes. If the sauce hasn't thickened, remove the lid. You can also mash some of the apricots to help the sauce thicken, or dissolve 1 tsp. corn starch in water (if all else fails) and add to the stew.

10. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon sticks, add more salt and red pepper flakes (or harissa) if necessary.

11. Add the slivered almonds and parsley to garnish.

12. Serve with couscous on the side. You can also serve with yellow rice.

*Harissa is a fiery blend of hot chiles, garlic, spices and olive oil that is often used to embolden stews and other African dishes. It is available in Middle Eastern and specialty stores. For me its a bit over the top but if you have the fortitude, go for it! Below is a photo of a tagine.

Lamb and Apricot Tagine on Foodista

Bellini Sorbetto..A Drink for Dessert!

Pin It What could be better than a fresh peach and Prosecco bellini on a warm summer day, particularly now that the fresh peaches are coming in ? Why a cold refreshing bellini sorbetto of course! Made with the freshest ripe peaches, this tantalizing concoction of prosecco and peach is sure to tickle your tastebuds. I bet they don't have this at Harry's Bar!

This is a light and refreshing dessert that would go well after the Apricot Lamb Tagine. Make sure you serve it with Amaretti Cookies for a great combination.



1 cup water

1 1/4 lbs ripe peaches peeled, pitted and sliced (or 16 oz. frozen peaches)

1 lemon, juice of

1/2 cup prosecco or asti spumante sparkling wine*


Stir sugar into water in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Stir until sugar dissolves.

Bring to a slow boil and boil for 3 minutes. Cool.

Puree peaches in a blender; add cooled syrup and lemon juice.

Stir in wine.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

Serve in pretty glass bowls or champagne flutes.

*May also serve a small scoop in a tall glass and add sparkling wine for a refreshing after dinner dessert drink.

*You may substitute Champagne if you have some leftover from the night before. In that case, you would have a Peach Champagne Sorbet!

Adapted from Recipezzar

Peaches, Raspberries and Blueberries with Prosecco

Pin It If you went to the farmers market yesterday and came back loaded with peaches and berries, here's a delightful recipe for a Sunday dessert.


2 pounds peaches, preferably the aromatic white-fleshed variety

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups Prosecco or other young, fruity, dry white wine

1/2 pint raspberries

1/2 pint blueberries

Zest of 1 lemon


Wash the peaches, peel them, pit them, and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Put the peaches in a serving bowl, add the sugar and wine, and stir thoroughly. Wash the raspberries and blueberries and add them to the peaches.

Grate the thin, yellow skin of half a lemon, being careful not to dig into the bitter white pith beneath, and add it to the bowl. Turn over the bowl's contents several times. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving, or even as far ahead as early morning of the day in which you intend to serve the fruit.

Recipe Courtesy of Marcella Hazan
Photo Flickr bonnerphotographic
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