Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentines Day Countdown--Dessert

February 14 is tomorrow. These past few days I have been sharing with you recipes for preparing a special dinner in your own home. Today I am sharing with you a recipe from Giada DeLaurentis:

Chocolate Zabaglione Tiramisu

  • 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus 1/3 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/2 cup sweet marsala wine
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2/3 cup (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 1 store-bought chocolate cake mix, such as Betty Crocker Super Moist Dark Chocolate, baked according to box instructions
  • One 3.5-ounce bar white chocolate, such as Lindt, for chocolate curls


In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until blended. Whisk in 1/2 cup cream, the marsala and salt. Place the bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Whisk constantly until the mixture is thick and a thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 to 170 degrees F, about 15 minutes. Place the bowl on a work surface and add the chocolate chips. Whisk until the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. (Can be made 1 hour in advance. Let stand at room temperature. Whisk before using.)

Whisk the remaining 1/3 cup cream and the mascarpone in another medium bowl until thick. Dice the cake into small cubes. Place about 1/2 cup of the cake cubes into each of 6 old-fashioned glasses or water goblets. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of zabaglione on top. Top with a dollop of the mascarpone mixture. Repeat the layers. (Wrap any leftover cake cubes in plastic wrap and freeze.) Top with white chocolate curls and serve.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Valentines Day Countdown--Salad

February 14 is just a few days away. Going out for dinner is easy--but it's also expensive, crowded, and stressful. With just a bit of pre-planning, you can make a memorable meal for your loved one.

Here's a suggestion for the first course (salad) that is easy, inexpensive, and tasty:

Mixed Salad with Vanilla-Pear Vinaigrette and Toasted Walnuts

1/4 cup vertically sliced red onion
2 cups mixed salad greens, or fresh spinach
3 tablespoons vanilla-pear vinaigrette (see below)
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

To prepare salad, combine onion and greens/spinach in a large bowl. Add Vanilla-Pear Vinaigrette, and toss well. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Vanilla-Pear Vinaigrette
1 (15-ounce) can pear halves in juice, undrained
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of ground red pepper

To prepare dressing, drain pears, reserving 1/3 cup pear juice. Combine pears, juice, vinegar, and remaining ingredients in a blender; process until smooth.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Despite the calendar, Autumn has still not arrived in our neighborhood. It is warm and sunny and the skies are clear. My family and I live in a small town (population about 6,000), established in the mid-1800's. Every year, on the first Sunday of October, downtown (all two blocks of it!) is closed and townsfolk celebrate everything "apple". Today is that day--our annual community "Apple Squeeze".

For just a few dollars you can purchase a bag of apples and process them through a vintage apple press. Or, for just a few dollars more you can purchase a ready-to-go jug of apple cider. Vendors line the streets and sell "everything apple". If it contains apple (fritters, butter, slices of pie), or even hints of apple (quilts with an apple motif, apple cookbooks, etc) you will find it here.

Kinda hokey, but we look forward to this. And today I decided to carry the apple theme to our dinner as well. We had cider-braised turkey thighs with roasted root vegetables, and for dessert a caramel apple cheesecake pie. This recipe was adapted from the one on the blog Annie's Eats:


For the crust:


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Over-the-top pizza dough

Photograph: Tara Donne
For my birthday this year, I gave myself a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine (and it didn't hurt that they offered an amazing subscription rate of less than $1.00 per issue!!).

I will have to admit that I always assumed Bon Appetit was filled with gourmet artsy-fartsy foods (and you will find a few of those within its pages) but I have found that this magazine is primarily devoted to fresh ingredients skillfully prepared and assembled to create memorable foods from around the world.

The March 2012 issue of Bon Appetit featured a sneak-peak at Jim Lahey's new book "My Pizza--The Easy No-knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home." This isn't a recipe to opt for when you want dinner within an hour--but plan ahead (a day) and you will be rewarded with the most amazingly crisp, tender, delicious pizza crust.

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough

  • 7 1/2cups all-purpose flour (1000 grams) plus more for shaping dough
  • 4 tsps. fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

  • Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 3 cups water; stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature (about 72°) in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours (time will vary depending on the temperature in the room).
  • Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour; set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions.
  • Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Wrap each dough ball separately in plastic wrap and chill. Unwrap and let rest at room temperature on a lightly floured work surface, covered with plastic wrap, for 2–3 hours before shaping.

To Make the Pizzas
  • During the last hour of dough's resting, prepare oven: If using a pizza stone, arrange a rack in upper third of oven and place stone on rack; preheat oven to its hottest setting, 500°–550°, for 1 hour. If using a baking sheet, arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to its hottest setting, 500°–550°. (You do not need to preheat the baking sheet.)
  • Working with 1 dough ball at a time, dust dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface. Gently shape dough into a 10"–12" disk.

If Using Pizza Stone
  • When ready to bake, increase oven heat to broil. Sprinkle a pizza peel or rimless (or inverted rimmed) baking sheet lightly with flour. Place dough disk on prepared peel and top with desired toppings.
  • Using small, quick back-and-forth movements, slide pizza from peel onto hot pizza stone. Broil pizza, rotating halfway, until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, 5–7 minutes.
  • Using peel, transfer to a work surface to slice. Repeat, allowing pizza stone to reheat under broiler for 5 minutes between pizzas.

If Using a Baking Sheet
  • Arrange dough disk on baking sheet; top with desired toppings. Bake pizza until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a work surface to slice. Repeat with remaining pizzas.