Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chocolate Crunch Tart

I unfortunately did not get to taste this tart myself so I will have to make it again. I did however taste the ganache and caramel separately and it was very good. I made this for a church auction which I was not able to attend but my mom reported that people said it was delicious. I am guessing it probably tastes a lot like a heath bar. The caramel set really hard so it was more like a peanut brittle so I may try not cooking it quite so long next time.

Fully baked and cooled 9" tart crust (I used Dorie's Sweet Tart Dough recipe)

Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, room temperature

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, room temperature

3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 9-inch tart shell made with Dorie's Sweet Tart Dough (p.444), fully baked and cooled

Getting Ready: Because you have to work quickly once the sugar caramelizes, you should have all the ingredients for the caramel measured out and at hand before you start. Also have a medium heatproof bowl at hand to hold the hot caramel.

To Make the Caramel: Bring the heavy cream to a boil.

Meanwhile, put a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat and sprinkle in about 3 tablespoons of the sugar. When it melts, stir it with a wooden spatula or fork and sprinkle over another 3 tablespoons. When that sugar is melted, add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar - the sugar in the pan may already have started to color, and that's fine. Stir in the corn syrup and boil the syrup until it reaches a deep caramel color - it will probably begin to smoke, and that's normal.

Stand back and stir in the butter. The caramel will bubble furiously and may spatter, so make sure you're away from the action. When the butter is in, add the warm cream - the caramel will bubble furiously again. Lower the temperature just a tad and let the caramel boil for just 2 minutes (226F on candy thermometer). Pour the seething caramel into the heatproof bowl and set aside while you make the ganache.

To Make the Ganache: Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and have a whisk or a rubber spatula at hand.

Bring the cream to a boil. Then pour half of it over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Working with the whisk/spatula, very gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles. Pour in the remainder of the cream and blend it into the chocolate. When the ganache is smooth and shiny, stir in the butter piece by piece. Don't stir any more than you must to blend the ingredients - the less you work it, the darker, smoother and shinier it will be.

Cover the ganache with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface to create an airtight seal. Set aside at room temperature for the moment.

To Assemble the Tart: Stir the peanuts into the caramel. If the caramel has cooled and is too thick to spread easily, gently warm in the microwave in 3-second spurts. Spread the caramel over the bottom of the tart shell; you'll have a thin layer. Refrigerate the tart for 15 minutes to set the caramel.

Check the ganache. If it has thickened, warm it in 3-second spurts. Rap the bowl to break any surface bubbles, pour the ganache over the caramel and jiggle the pan to even it.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes - no longer - then keep it at room temperature until serving time.

Recipe from Baking: From My Home To Yours By Dorie Greenspan

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spinach Frittata

This is a very easy dinner/lunch that is packed with healthy ingredients. You can really add what you want here. I try and get as much spinach in as possible and the sundried tomatoes are also really good for you. I just started reading a great book, Anti Cancer A New Way OF Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD. I am learning about what the food we put into our bodies does at a cellular level and how it effects cancer cells. Foods like organic free range eggs, spinach, garlic, onions are all great cancer fighting foods. So far one of the most powerful things I have read in this book is that we all have cancer cells that are dormant within our bodies but not all of us will develop cancer. Food and our environment is showing to have a huge part in this and you can bet I will be adding as much anti-cancer food to my diet as possible.


Makes 3 or more servings
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 3 tbsp sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 chicken sausage, cubed (I used precooked spinach and feta chicken sausage)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


To make the frittata: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in the spinach, sausage and sundried tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the spinach in the skillet. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the egg mixture is cooked on the bottom and almost set on top. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake in the oven until the eggs are set and the cheese has melted, 5 to 10 minutes.

Recipe by me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings

This recipe is really good. The flavor is perfect and the dumplings are very tender. This is the second time I have made this within a week because I made it for our Harvest Party and it went so fast that some of my family requested I make it again so they could try it. The first time I made it I took some short cuts and recommend that if you are short on time. I bought a rotisserie chicken and chicken broth from the store which saves a lot of time. Yesterday I had more time and I did the whole thing from scratch. It takes about 3 hours but most is inactive time. Both versions turned out very good. A few things I have noticed about this recipe is that is says the "Supreme Sauce" should be able to coat the back of the spoon. Mine never got that thick and don't think it needs to be. Also, unless you are using a pot with a lot of surface area you will have trouble not crowding the dumplings. I actually think there may be too many dumpling so you can either not add as much or just don't worry about it. Mine were crowded but I stirred them gently to make sure they all got cooked. With the first batch that I made I had transferred the soup into a crockpot and added the dumplings right before serving but it was not hot enough to cook them quickly so I ended up putting the whole pot into the oven and baking it. The dumplings all rise to the top so it turned into more of a chicken pot pie than dumping but it was still very delicious and the dough was still very tender.


Serves about 6

Roasted Chicken:

  • 1 (3-pound) whole chicken
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lemon, halved and juiced; halves reserved
  • 1/4-cup fresh chopped herbs such as thyme, parsley and rosemary
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Fresh whole herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and parsley sprigs


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of the chicken and discard. Rinse the chicken under cold water, inside and out. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Season the body and cavity of the chicken generously with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, mash together the butter, lemon juice, and chopped herbs. Rub the herbed butter all over the chicken, as well as under the skin. Put the lemon halves, onion, garlic, and whole herbs inside the chicken cavity, for added flavor. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Roast for 1 hour until the meat is no longer pink. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat, discarding the skin and set aside. Reserve the bones for chicken stock.

Chicken Stock:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 garlic bulb, halved
  • Reserved chicken bones
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
To prepare the stock, coat a large stockpot with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the vegetables and saute for 3 minutes. Add the reserved chicken bones, water, and herbs; simmer for 1 hour. Strain the stock to remove the solids and set aside.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
To prepare the dumplings: sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and milk together; pour the liquid in the dry ingredients and gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together, the batter should be thick and cake-like.

Supreme Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4-1/2 cup flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
To prepare Supreme Sauce: In a Dutch oven, melt butter and heat oil over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes to cook the flour and remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.
Let sauce simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.
Fold the reserved shredded chicken into the sauce and bring up to a simmer. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be touching or crowded. Let the dumplings poach for 10 to 15 minutes until they are firm and puffy. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
Recipe from Tyler Florence of the Food Network.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lenox Almond Biscotti

From Dorie Greenspan's Baking From my Home to Yours

The coming of fall has really made be want biscotti. I think that it must be because it is now time to enjoy a warm beverage and biscotti is the perfect treat to go along with them. As far as cookies go I usually like soft and chewy but I make an exception for biscotti because you can dunk them of course!! This biscotti recipe is one of Dorie's top ten recipes from Baking From my Home to Yours and she says in the book she got the recipe from the owner of one of her favorite restaurants, the Lenox in New York City. This biscotti has great almond flavor and is very adaptable. I dunked mine in chocolate but you can easily add dried fruit or change up the nuts.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3/4 cup sliced almonds, blanched or unblanched


GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the cornmeal and whisk again to blend.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed for 3 minutes, until very smooth. Add the eggs and continue to beat, scraping down the bowl as needed, for another 2 minutes, or until the mixture is light, smooth and creamy. Beat in the almond extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. You'll have a soft, stick-to-your-fingers dough that will ball up around the paddle or beaters. Scrape down the paddle and bowl, toss in the almonds and mix just to blend.

Scrape half the dough onto one side of the baking sheet. Using your fingers and a rubber spatula or scraper, work the dough into a log about 12 inches long and 1 1¿2 inches wide. The log will be more rectangular than domed, and bumpy, rough and uneven. Form a second log with the remaining dough on the other side of the baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the logs are lightly golden but still soft and springy to the touch. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and cool the logs on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.

If you turned off the oven, bring it back up to 350 degrees F.

Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the logs to a cutting board and, with a long serrated knife, trim the ends and cut the logs into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet — this time standing them up like a marching band — and slide the sheet back into the oven.

Bake the biscotti for another 15 minutes, or until they are golden and firm. Transfer them to racks and cool to room temperature.

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