Monday, February 28, 2011

Pizza--a whole new spin (Part 1)

One of my older daughter's friends is here today playing video games. Of course pizza is on the menu for dinner, and it will be the usual pepperoni with green peppers and pineapple (?). But that got me to thinking about what other things could be done with a simple piece of pizza dough and a bit of imagintion.

The pizza I want to tell you about today is from one of our favorite restaurants in Victoria, British Columbia--Rebar Modern Food. Rebar started in 1988 as a small downtown corner cafe. Their fame for good coffee and amazingly good veggie burgers and a juice bar spread quickly and several years later they took a leap of faith, expanding and relocating to 50 Bastion Square--where they have been for about two decades. They still have the coffee, juice, and veggie burgers, but they are now so much more.

Rebar is all about quality ingredients and carefully prepared foods. Most of their menu is vegetarian or vegan, but the flavors are so wonderful and innovative, even a meat-lover can dine there and not feel deprived.

Roased Potato Pizza
your favorite pizza dough (or see below)
sun-dried tomato pesto (see below)
1 lb red potatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced rosemary
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cracked pepper
1/2 bunch spinach, stemmed and washed
Two 6-oz jars marinated artichoke hearts
2 cups crumbled feta cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Quarter the potatoes lengthwise and slice 1/4-inch thick. Toss with garlic, rosemary, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and tender. Cool and set aside. Slice spinach leaves into 1/2-inch thick ribbons. Drain artichoke hearts and cut in half lengthwise. Crumble and grate the cheese.

Turn the oven heat up to 450 degrees F. Press dough into an oiled 15-inch pizza pan.

Spread the bottom of the crust with pesto and sprinkle with 1 cup mozarella cheese. Layer with spinach ribbons, potatoes, and artichoke hearts. Sprinkle feta cheese over top, followed by final cup of mozzarella.

Turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F and bake on the bottom rack for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and crust golden.

Pizza Dough
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. dry yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in salt, sugar, and olive oil. Add flour and mix until dough comes together. Knead about 20 times on a well-floured surface.

Sundried Tomato Pesto
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp. red chile flakes
2 tsp. capers
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
4 tablespoons chopped mint or basil
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
cracked pepper to taste

Place sun-dried tomatoes in glass measuring cup. Cover with boiling water and soak for about 15 minutes. Strain and reserve about 1/2 cup soaking water. Cool. Combine all ingredients except soaking water in food processor and pulse until blended. Thin if needed with some of reserved soaking water.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Something Wonderful This Way Comes

Mushroom-Potato Soup with Smoked Paprika
Photo: Leigh Beisch
Sunset Magazine

Serendipity:  [ser-uhn-dip-i-tee] an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

Today I found serendipity--or it found me. I was shopping in my local mega-grocery store, and there in the produce section was a large plastic bag of button and cremini mushrooms. Not quite fresh, but not ready for the compost bin. And the produce manager had marked them down to half-price!

So now, my challenge was to create a dinner recipe that would focus on the wonderful taste of mushrooms and not worry quite so much about their appearance. Sure, I could have tossed them into a pot of spaghetti sauce, but I wanted to do something a bit more imaginative.

I had in my files a recipe from Sunset Magazine (October 2006) for "Mushroom Potato Soup with Smoked Paprika". That original recipe called for dried porcinis, pancetta, wine, and chicken stock. A great recipe, but I decided to play with it a bit. Here's what I did:

Mushroom "Stew" with Potatoes and Noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1tablespoon butter
1 cup yellow onion, minced
5 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups russet potato, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1 cup wide noodles (I used "No-Yolks wide noodles)
*3 cups mushroom broth (I used creamy portabello)

Place olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add butter. When butter is melted toss in onion; cook about 5 minutes or until soft and beginning to color slightly. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are browned--about 5 minutes more. Stir in paprika and tomato paste. Cook for about 2 minutes to meld flavors and remove from heat. Set aside.

Bring 2 quarts water to boil in a large saucepan. Add diced potatoes; cook for 5 minutes and then remove with skimmer and set aside. In same saucepan cook the noodles according to package directions. Remove with skimmer and set aside.

Reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid from the saucepan and set aside.

Place the mushroom broth in the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the reserved potatoes, noodles, 2 cups reserved cooking liquid, and onion/mushroom mixture. Simmer until heated--about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

*substitute chicken or beef broth if desired.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I'm longing for Springtime!

Theresa's Double-Tomato Soup
Photo: Howard L. Puckett;
Styling: Lydia Degaris-Pursell

I'm trying to redeem myself from the glutonous display of one week ago. (How am I doing so far?) Last night I wasn't sure what I would cook today, but the weather has made the decision for me. I am looking out of my kitchen window at 4 inches of snow. On the plains of Kansas this probably isn't a big deal, but when you're surrounded by steep hills....

Anyhow, this recipe takes advantage of what I have in the pantry. And, as an added bonus, it is healthy and comforting on a snowy winter day. (I am SO over Winter and ready for Spring).

Theresa Larsen, Redlands, CA was a Cooking Light finalist in the category "Side Dishes and Side Salads" and stated -- "I omitted the heavy cream that is usually found in tomato soups in order to make this recipe lighter. I don't miss it because pureeing creates a nice, creamy texture." Her recipe was published in the March 2007 issue of Cooking Light magazine.


  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  cup  chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 3/4  cup  shredded carrot
  • 1  tablespoon  minced garlic
  • 1  tablespoon  minced shallots
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 10  large basil leaves, divided
  • 3  drained sun-dried tomato halves, packed in oil with herbs (such as California Sun Dry brand)
  • 2  (14.5-ounce) cans organic diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1  (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth


Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion, shredded carrot, garlic, and shallots to pan, and cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Add sugar, pepper, salt, and 4 basil leaves, and cook 5 minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Remove from heat. Place half of soup in blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining soup. Divide soup evenly among 6 bowls. Garnish each serving with 1 basil leaf.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Oh, the places you will go!!

Spiced Vegetables with Basmati Rice
Photo: James Carrier, Sunset Magazine
March 2002

When my daughters were little, one part of our Saturday routine was a visit to the public library. Actually, it was more of an adventure. I told my girls that if they could read, they could travel anywhere in the world (or universe for that matter) by simply reading a book and using their imagination. And read they did. We would stop gathering books when the basket was too heavy to carry.

Cooking can also provide an adventurous trip. OK, so making a Moroccan stew is not the same as dining on a kefta tagine in Marrakech, but if you take the time to enjoy the fragrance of the spices and herbs and appreciate the new textures and flavor combinations....well, for a few moments you can be in Morrocco without packing your luggage. 

Spiced Vegetables with Basmati Rice


  • 1 1/2  cups  basmati rice
  • 4  ounces  green beans, rinsed, ends trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2  teaspoons  vegetable oil
  • 1  onion (8 oz.), peeled and chopped
  • 1  clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1  tablespoon  minced fresh ginger
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  ground coriander
  • 1/2  teaspoon  cayenne
  • 2  cups  cauliflower florets
  • 1  can (15 1/2 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1  can (15 1/2 oz.) garbanzos, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper


1. In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, bring 2 1/2 cups water and the rice to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender to bite, 18 to 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over high heat, bring about 3 cups water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until tender-crisp to bite, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water until cool. Wipe pan dry.
3. Pour oil into pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion, garlic, and ginger; stir often until onion is limp, about 5 minutes. Stir in cumin, coriander, cayenne, cauliflower, and 1 cup water. Cover and bring to a simmer; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes and garbanzos, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. Add green beans and stir occasionally until hot, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Spoon rice into four wide, shallow bowls and top equally with vegetables and sauce.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thank you for making me a better cook

Eleven years ago our younger daughter made a decision to become vegetarian--to no longer include meat of any kind in her diet. Although we weren't a "steak and potatoes" kind of family, until that time we had always had some type of animal protein in our evening meal. Now we had an opportunity to try something more imaginative, something better.

At the start, there were probably a few meals that were less than wonderful, but over the years I feel I have learned a great deal. And in the long run, we are healthier for it. Our daughter moved out several years ago, but we still enjoy a non-meat meal at least once a week.

I don't recall where I found this recipe, but it has become one of my favorites. It's relatively cheap to make, doesn't take much time, and certainly makes a large quantity. And (best of all) it tastes great!I thank my daughter for making a decision for "her" that helped us all.

Moroccan Chickpea Soup
2 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cans (14 oz each) Swanson vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried ginger or 1 tsp. fresh minced
1 tsp. tumeric
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp. dried corriander
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas
3 cups cooked lentils

Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat in large soup pot until they begin to soften. Add the broth, water, tomatoes, and herbs and seasonings. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.

Uncover, stir in the orzo. Cook, uncovered until the orzo is tender, about 6-8 minutes.
Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Stir the chickpeas and lentils into the hot soup and continue to cook until heated through.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Before I Die (Part 4)

Dear readers - I sincerely hope you understand the posts for this week. I do not have a death wish, nor do I intend to shuffle off this mortal coil in the near future. In fact, my grandmother lived to just days before her 93rd birthday, and my mother lived to be 90, so I've warned my daughters that they will probably be stuck with me for many years to come.

Despite the focus of this blog, which is "glorying in the beauty of carbs", I really do strive to prepare healthy foods for myself and my family. Carbs are not necessarily evil. Whole grain, non-meat, vegetarian--those can all be carbohydrate foods. But once in a while you need to break away from the crowd with wild abandon and just ENJOY LIFE!

I know that I could subsist on tofu and brown rice, fresh spinach, bananas and wheat grass juice, but what a bleak existence that would be. In the end, I'm still going to die. So once in a while I'm going to forgo the whole-grain, low-fat, low-protein diet, throw caution to the wind, and just have FUN with food.

This week is devoted to just those types of revelries.

Gilliland's Irish Bread Pudding
1 2-pound loaf sliced white bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup Irish Whiskey
2 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, slit
8 eggs
1 cup sugar
cinnamon-sugar (3 tsp sugar plus 1 tsp cinnamon)
Carmel-Whiskey sauce (see below)

Spread bread slices with some of the soft butter. Toast lightly on one side. Cut bread into 1/2-inch squares. Set aside. Plump raisins in Irish whiskey. Set aside.

Heat milk and cream with vanilla bean, scraping out seeds from bean. Cool. Discard bean. Set milk aside.

Beat eggs with sugar. Add to milk mixture. Stir in bread cubes and raisin mixture. Let stand 15 minutes.

Pour bread mixture into well-buttered 13x9-inch glass baking pan. Dot with remaining butter, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar to taste. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45-60 minutes or until lightly golden on top. Serve with Caramel-Whiskey Sauce. 

Caramel-Whiskey Sauce
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups whipping Cream (plus a few tablespoons more)
1/4 cup Irish whiskey

Melt sugar in water over low heat until caramelized. Add butter an 1 1/2 cups whipping cream and cook to desired consistency. Cool, then add whiskey and more cream (if needed).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Before I Die (Part 2)

Photo: Good Housekeeping

Yesterday I posted a recipe for mashed potato lasagna. I have to admit that I'm a bit embarrassed for sharing the dirty little secret of my food lust. Today's recipe is not quite so over the top. It has "salad" in the title, so that helps, doesn't it?

Ravioli Salad
1 9-oz pkg fresh cheese-stuffed ravioli
1 9-oz pkg fresh cheese-stuffed spinach ravioli
1 bunch broccoli rabe (about 1 pound)
1 medium-sized onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 15-oz container refrigerated plum tomato sauce with basil
1/2 cup drained, oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Prepare ravioli as label directs; drain. Place in large bowl.

Meanwhile, cut off tough stems from broccoli rabe; cut broccoli rabe into 2-inch pieces. Cut onion into wedges.

In 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, in hot olive oil, cook onion until tender and lightly browned. Stir in broccoli rabe and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until broccoli rabe is tender-crisp, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To ravioli in bowl add broccoli-rabe mixture, plum tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, crush red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon sald. Gently toss to mix. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

To serve, draw blade of vegetable peeler or cheese slicer across surface of block of Parmesan cheese to make thin, wide slices. Spoon ravioli salad onto platter and garnish with Parmesan shavings.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Before I Die (Part 1)

Everything Baked Potato Lasagna
Photo "Cooking with Paula Deen,
 Nov/Dec 2008

There are some recipes that we might consider using once a week--easy, nourishing, healthy. Others are reserved for special occasions--they are a bit more time-consuming, the ingredients cost more. Perhaps they are not on our heart-healthy list, but it's OK to have them once in a while as an occasional splurge.

And, then there are the recipes that should be illegal. The kind that you would reserve for your last meal on earth.  The meal you will prepare when you hear the hoof beats of the four horsemen.

I have a few of those recipes lurking in my recipe file. I've never actually tried them. Just reading the list of ingredients slips three pounds on my hips. But I'm going to share a few of them with you. Misery loves company.

Everything Baked Potato Lasagna
1 16-oz box lasagna noodles
1 16-oz package bacon
13 tablespoons butter divided
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
12 oz. Velvetta cheese, cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmet
1 12-oz pkg. shredded Cheddar cheese

  1. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy; drain. Crumble into bite-size pieces, and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt 8 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until onions are soft and transparent; do not brown. Set aside.
  4. Place potatoes in a large Dutch oven. Add water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain well. In a large bowl, combine potatoes and sour cream. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
  5. In a small saucepan, heat cream and 3 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Add to potatoes, and mix well. Add chives, 2 teaspoons salt, and black pepper. Set aside.
  6. In a large saucepan, heat milk over low heat until warm; remove from heat, and keep warm.
  7. In a small saucepan, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour; cook for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking constantly; do not allow to brown. Remove from heat, and gradually add warm milk, whisking until smooth. Return saucepan to heat, and cook over medium-low heat, until mixture reaches a low simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Add Velveeta, and stir until cheese is melted. Add garlic, remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  8. Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  9. Arrange a layer of noodles over bottom of prepared baking dish. Spread 1⁄3 of potatoes over noodles. Sprinkle with 1⁄3 of bacon, onions, and shredded Cheddar cheese. Pour 1⁄3 of cheese sauce evenly over cheese. Repeat layers two more times, beginning with noodles and ending with cheese sauce. Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chives, if desired.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Two Hearts

The tire tracks from our morning newspaper delivery left two perfectly shaped intertwined hearts on our snow-dusted driveway. That's my Valentine for you today.

I'm taking the day off to spend time with my loving family. I hope you have enjoyed the Valentines Day recipes I shared with you last week and have found something wonderful to make today.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kid food for grownups

Fontina and Mascarpone Baked Pasta
Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner (Cooking Light)

Cooking Light is one of my favorite magazines. Their content is more than just recipes--they also share timely information on health and beauty products, exercise, and travel. But, I'll be honest, I buy it for the food.

A little over a year ago Cooking Light changed their format. Every recipe is now accompanied with a color photograph--each issue of my favorite magazine now looks like a beautiful cookbook.

Today the weather is cold and blustery and I'm seriously in need of some comfort food. In November 2008 Cooking Light published a recipe entitled "Fontina and Mascapone Baked Pasta". Just look at that amazing photo--creamy pasta covered with a crunchy topping of buttery-garlicky breadcrumbs. Seriously, can it get any better than that?

(Note: To the uninitiated, fontina tends to be a "smelly" cheese. It's a semi-soft Italian cheese made from cows milk. If you find it difficult to grate, place it in the freezer for about half an hour--problem solved.)


  • 1  pound  uncooked penne
  • 1/4  cup  all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
  • 3  cups  fat-free milk
  • 2  cups  (8 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/4  cup  (2 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 3  (1-ounce) slices white bread
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; keep warm.
Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and milk in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Cook 10 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat; add cheeses, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in salt and black pepper. Add cooked pasta, stirring to coat. Spoon pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Tear bread into several pieces. Place bread in a food processor; process until fine crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups.

Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in breadcrumbs until well combined. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over pasta mixture. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley.

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's hard to be humble when you're so wonderful

Chocolate Chip Walnut Pie
Photo: Sunset Magazine
Do you have a favorite cookie? According to the most popular cookie in America is the chocolate chip, which is 1/2 of all the cookies baked at home, and 7 billion of them are eaten every year.

Several years ago Sunset Magazine published a recipe by Anne H. Beck of Arnold, California. Anne prepared a creamy cookie dough studded with a bag of chocolate morsels, and then baked it in a flaky pie crust--taking the chocolate chip cookie to an entirely new level. Pure genius! Here is her recipe:

Chocolate Chip Walnut Pie
Pastry for a single-crust 9-inch pie (refrigerated or make your own)
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Unfold pastry and ease evenly into 9-inch pie pan.

In a bowl, beat butter, eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well blended. Add flour and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Pour chocolate chip filling into pastry.

Bake on lowest rack in a 325 degree F oven until top is a rich golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool on rack at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or cool.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Candy is dandy but....

It's time for a serious talk. Just between you and me. I have never made this recipe. I don't even know where I originally found it. The magazine clipping is taped to an index card, and that card is showing its age. But it sounds so good, and easy, and I think it would be a wonderful thing to make for your sweetheart. Would one of you give it a try and let me know if it's a "keeper"?

Kahlua Cocoa Balls
1/2 cup Kahlua
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup chopped candied cherries
1/3 cup chopped golden raisins
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups fine vanillla wafer crumbs
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Powdered sugar, cocoa powder, coconut or ground nuts for decoration

Combine Kahlua with syrup and fruits. Blend sugar, cocoa, crumbs, and pecans. Combine mixtures. Shape into small balls. Roll in desired coating. Freeze or store in an airtight container. Makes 4 dozen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Perfect Pair


It's no secret that I'm a chocoholic. But not just any chocolate will do. No milk chocolate, no Hershey bars. I don't mean to sound like a chocolate snob, but it takes more than Russell Stover to make me smile. Dark chocolate (70% cocoa please) is absolutely heavenly. And I also tend to be a purist. I've seen some unusual chocolate/fruit pairings -- chocolate with apples, pear, orange, and even pineapple.

But there's one fruit that seems (in my humble opinion) a perfect match with dark chocolate--raspberries.

The last two recipes have been a bit time-consuming. Today's is much easier and quicker.

Chocolate Raspberry Truffles
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
cocoa powder and/or confectioners sugar for decoration

In a small heavy-gauge saucepan, combine semi-sweet chocolate chips, heavy cream, and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Stir in raspberry jam.

Remove from heat. Cover with plastic wrap; freeze 20 minutes or until very thick.

Drop by level measuring teaspoonsful onto wax paper-lined cookie sheets. Freeze 15 minutes and then roll into balls. Freeze for another 15 minutes, or until very firm.

Roll in cocoa powder or confectioners sugar until well coated. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Makes about 48.

Monday, February 7, 2011

For Adults Only!



Chocolate Covered Cherries Recipe
Photo by Taste of Home

Well, that got your attention, didn't it? You're probably wondering "why the R-rating" on something as innocent as chocolate covered cherries?

Before being coated with dark chocolate, these cherries are soaked in rum. I say "YUM", but if you prefer you can certainly skip that step in the process. 

However, these little gems do take a bit of time and the cherries are a bit pricey. Do you really want your little ones gobbling these up like gumdrops? I think you're entitled to have a few secrets. Hide these from the kids and enjoy them with your sweetheart.

Long-Stemmed Chocolate Covered Cherries

1 10-oz. jar maraschino cherries with stems, drained
2 tablespoons rum
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 tsp. light corn syrup
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 12-oz package dipping chocolate

Prepare the cherries:
Drain the syrup from the cherries and pour in the 2 tablespoons of rum. Let sit for two hours and then drain. Place the cherries on paper towels to drain thoroughly while you make the fondant.

Make the fondant:
In a medium bowl combine the sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup; blend well. Add powdered sugar gradually, stirring until the mixture forms a stiff smooth dough. If all powdered sugar cannot be stirred in, knead mixture and sugar on counter until smooth dough forms. Wrap a small amount of fondant around each cherry to cover completely. Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until fondant is firm.

Dip the cherries:
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. In the top of a double boiler melt the dipping chocolate. Holding by stem, dip chilled cherries into the melted chocolate, making sure to cover completely. Place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet; refrigerate unntil chocolate sets, about 10 minutes. Dip chilled cherries in the chocolate again. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheet; cover loosely with waxed paper. Let stand several days in a cool place to allow fondant to liquify. DO NOT REFRIGERATE. 

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen candies.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Caffeine + Caffeine = Perfection

 What is your dream for a perfect birthday celebration? Does it involve dining in a 5-Star restaurant? Or maybe something more family-friendly, such as going to a buffet or pizza parlor. Today is my birthday, and my perfect celebration is cooking at home, in my kitchen. For the main course I'm doing the Wild Mushroom Tart (see my post October 1, 2010). For for dessert, I'm in the mood for something wonderfully rich, but not too time consuming.

Here is a recipe I found at that fits the bill--perfectly!

Cappuccino Mousse
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
3 tablespoons butter
2 tsp. instant coffee granules
2 tsp. hot water
2 cups heavy cream, chilled

Combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, butter, and coffee (dissolved in hot water) in medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; cool.

Beat whipping cream in large bowl until stiff. Gradually fold chocolate mixture into whipped cream. Spoon into dessert dishes or parfait glasses. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Garnish as desired.