Sunday, March 27, 2011

Italian Gougères

Traditionally of French cuisine, Gougères are tasty little puffs that can be served as a side dish or appetizer.  They are made using choux pastry dough and usually have Gruyere cheese in them.  However, last night when I was making Shrimp Fra Diavolo (recipe will be posted soon), I decided to make an Italian version of these tasty puffs to eat along with my pasta.
Italian (Parmesan) Gougères
Ingredients:
-1 recipe Choux Pastry
-1 cup Parmesan Cheese, plus more for sprinkling (or any cheese you prefer)
-Salt and pepper
-Garlic powder for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a pan with parchment paper. 

Prepare your Choux Pastry.  Once the dough is ready, mix in the cup of Parmesan and a pinch of salt and pepper.  

Scoop the dough into a pastry bag and pipe out little 1 to 1 1/2 inch mounds of dough onto your baking sheet.  Sprinkle with garlic powder if using, and a little Parmesan cheese.  
Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the puffs feel hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Turn off the oven and let cool in the oven for a few minutes.  Remove puffs and allow them to finish cooling.  Serve warm along a tasty pasta dish and enjoy! 

Note: If you do not use right away, they can be stored in an airtight container.  When ready to eat just place them in a 350 degree F oven for a few minutes so that they can warm and crisp up again. 


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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tea Party Takeover with Coconut Madeleine's

Foodbuzz and Electrolux have teamed up together to create a Top 9 Tea Party Takeover on March 25th.  What this means, is that all Foodbuzz featured publishers will be posting recipes that evolve around the tea party theme, and those posts will be featured on Foodbuzz.  Additionally, for every tea party recipe that is created by March 23rd, Foodbuzz will be donating $50 towards Ovarian Cancer research! For more information on how to host your own tea party, or if you would just like to donate to the research yourself, please visit the Kelly Confidential website.
Now, since the theme was Tea Party, my mind began racing like crazy! I had so many different ideas - from tea sandwiches to scones, and teacakes to macaroons.  There are just so many wonderful ideas out there for creating a tea party.  However, rather then overwhelm myself and get a headache, I decided to keep it simple... and sweet! As many of you know, I love dessert, especially chocolate! And what tea party doesn't have a little something sweet? As a result, I decided to make Coconut Madeleine's dipped in chocolate! 
Coconut Madeleine's
Ingredients:
-1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
-3 extra large eggs at room temperature
-2/3 cup sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-12 ounce bag of Hershey chocolate chips
(Helpful hint: If you do not like coconut you can just leave it out all together or you can add another flavor, such as almond. My boyfriend loves coconut so much that I actually leave out the vanilla and only add 1 teaspoon of coconut extract when making a batch for him). 

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease your Madeleine pans and set aside.  

Beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and coconut extracts together in a bowl until a light yellow and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Then, mix in the butter.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt.  

Using a soup spoon, drop the batter into the prepared pans.  Fill each shell just about full (but do not fill completely or they will overflow when baking).  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the Madeleine's bounce back when you touch them.  Dump the Madeleine's out onto a cooling rack lined with parchment paper and allow to cool.  If you prefer your Madeleine's plain, then eat them up! If not, you can dip them into chocolate once cooled.  I usually dip half of my batch into chocolate and leave the other half plain. 

To dip the Madeleine's; melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.  I usually add about a tablespoon of vegetable shortening to help the chocolate stick better, but you do not have to use the shortening.  

Taking the Madeleine's one by one, dip one end of the cookie into the melted chocolate and place back onto the parchment paper.  Once all of the madeleine's have been dipped into the chocolate, place the cookies in the fridge to help the chocolate harden faster.  


Serve after tea, coffee, lunch, or dinner... basically at any time, and enjoy! Also, don't forget to check out Kelly Confidential for more information on how to donate to Ovarian Cancer Research. Thank you! 

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

St. Joseph's Day and an Award!

Today is March 19th, and for many Italian's, not only is it Father's Day, but it is also St. Joseph's Day (San Giuseppe).  On St. Joseph's Day, many different foods, especially breads and cakes are prepared.  The St. Joseph's cake, called the Zeppole, is one of the many foods that are eaten on March 19th.  (To learn more about the history of the Zeppole and St. Joseph, click here).
Since it has been a busy week, I did not have time to make my own Zeppole, but I still made sure to buy some! These doughy, custard filled, treats are absolutely mouth-watering! Although there are several Italian bakeries in and around the Boston area, my absolute favorite place to buy pastries, especially the Zeppole, is at Maria's Pastry Shop in Boston's North end.
Although the Zeppole is quite popular and tasty, be forewarned that once March 19th comes to an end, so does the production of the Zeppole. So get out there and buy some - you will not be let down!

Now, not only am I celebrating St. Joseph's Day, but I am also celebrating receiving another award! I want to send out a huge thank you to the Big Fat Baker for passing on to me the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!
As a recipient of this award, I am supposed to not only repeatedly thank Big Fat Baker for giving it to me, but I am supposed to share 7 things about myself and then pass the award on to 15 other bloggers that I have come to love!

So to start, here are 7 things you may not have known about me...

1.) I love Harry Potter.  And when I say love, I mean love! I plan on making an entire Harry Potter themed meal once part 2 of the last film is released. 

2.) Although I own a cake business, I have never taken a cake decorating class.  Everything I know was learned from family or self-taught. 

3.) I cannot stand meatloaf.  My boyfriend loves it and I hate it! For whatever reason, I got extremely sick from it when I was in second grade and have not been able to look at since. 

4.) I really want to move and live in England!

5.) I worked on a research team and wrote a research paper in neuroscience that focused on brain makeup of persons with antisocial personality disorder compared to "normal" controls. 

6.) I actually really am not that interested in neuroscience research even though that is what my paper was on! :)

7.) I really wanted to get a pet skunk a few years ago and name him Pepe (I know, real original...) 

Now, I've been reading a lot more blogs lately and in no particular order, these are the 15 that come to mind:
Sandra's Easy Cooking
Susi's Kochen
Gingerbread Bagels
An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
A Zesty Bite
That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Salvo-Lutions
Deelicious Sweets
In Katrina's Kitchen
Tracey's Culinary Adventures
Sprinkled with Flour
Eat Greek
The Deep Dish
52 Kitchen Adventures
Firefly Blog

Thanks again to Big Fat Baker! And don't forget to celebrate St. Joseph's Day with a tasty Zeppole!

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guinness, Guinness, and more Guinness!

St. Patrick's Day has finally arrived! And that of course means that there will be plenty of celebrating tonight.  However, before I go out and pay tribute to my Irish heritage, I wanted to share with you a few different Guinness recipes.  Now, Guinness is absolutely delicious by itself, but if you are looking to jazz up your day a bit, then the following recipes are for you!

This first recipe is the Black Velvet.  The Black Velvet is said to have originated in a London pub in 1861 when mourning the death of Prince Albert.  The prince had died at a very young age (42 years) and his death is said to have led the Queen Victoria into a depression that lasted for the rest of her life.  Now, before I completely hamper everyone's mood with depressing stories of death, I will get back to the delicious recipe at hand.  The Black Velvet is very smooth and even if you are not a fan of Guinness, I suggest giving this a try anyway...
(Photo credit to Stock Food since my camera was not working when I made the drinks... but you'll at least get the idea)
Black Velvet


Ingredients:
-Champagne
-Guinness Stout
-Champagne flute

Directions:
In a champagne flute, pour in Guinness until it comes halfway up the glass.  Then carefully pour the champagne on top of the Guinness to fill the rest of the flute.

Next up, the Guinness Float! As the name suggests, this is similar to a root beer float, but better!
(Again, my camera was not working at the time so this is from the Food Channel) 
Guinness Float
Ingredients:
-3 scoops vanilla ice cream, plus one or two scoops if desired
-Guinness stout

Directions:
Place 3 scoops of ice cream into a Guinness glass and slowly pour the Guinness on top.  You may need to stop halfway through to let the foam go down a bit before topping off the glass.  Insert a straw and enjoy! You could also blend the ingredients and make a tasty shake out of this! 

And last but certainly not least, Guinness Chocolate Cake!  Yes, that's right, Guinness cake... It is absolutely mouth-watering! The Guinness creates such a wonderful flavor with the chocolate and it is great with either a Bailey's frosting, cream cheese frosting, or whipped cream topping! All of the recipes for the toppings are below. 

Guinness Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
-1 to 1 1/2 cups Guinness
-1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
-2 cups sugar
-3/4 cup cocoa powder
-3/4 cup sour cream
-2 eggs
-2 cups flour
-1 tablespoon vanilla
-2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-Pinch of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 round baking dish.  Set aside. 

In a saucepan, melt the butter in the Guinness over low-medium heat.  Once the butter has melted, whisk in the sugar and cocoa powder.  

Meanwhile, beat the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla together.  Pour the Guinness mixture into the bowl and mix together.  Add the baking soda, flour, and pinch of salt. The batter should be on the looser side. 

Once everything is combined, pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and place in the oven.  Cook for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Let cool and prepare the frosting that you want to use.  For this particular cake, I decided to go with a whipped cream topping since I was in the mood for something a little lighter and fluffier, but the Bailey's and Cream Cheese Frostings are excellent with Guinness cake as well!

-1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
-3 cups confectioners sugar
-6 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
-Drizzle of vanilla extract
-Milk as needed

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and add a few tablespoons of milk to start.  If you prefer a more loose, creamier, frosting, then add a little more milk.  I always start off with less though and test it out.  Always better to add a little at first to see where you get, rather than adding too much to begin with resulting in a soupy mess. 

Cream Cheese Frosting:
-1 8oz package of Cream Cheese, softened
-1 stick of butter, softened
-1 pound confectioners sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together.  Whisk in the confectioners sugar until fully combined. 

Whipped Cream Topping:
-1 pint heavy cream
-1 cup confectionary sugar

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and blend, on high speed, until the cream begins to thicken and holds stiff peaks.  Fold in the confectioner's sugar and either use right away or chill in the fridge for later use. 

Now, just for fun, I wanted to share with you a few pictures from my Ireland trip, specifically the day spent in the Guinness factory.  After all, this post is about Guinness... 
Enjoying our free pint of Guinness!

At the Sky Bar on top of the Guinness factory

Pretending to pass out in front of the Guinness sign... 

My FAVORITE band to hear play in Dublin - Lad Lane! They are so talented and absolutely amazing! You can hear a clip of them HERE and HERE

For more St. Patty's Day recipes, check out my Irish Soda BreadIrish PirateFish and ChipsIrish Coffee, and Irish Breakfast

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Irish Coffee


Good morning everyone!! Since it is a beautiful morning and spring is fast approaching, why not sit back, relax, and enjoy a nice warm cup of coffee?  But wait, how about trying an Irish Coffee!? Now we're talking my kind of language!


Of course, I could not have one of these every morning, as I would never make it to work, but on the Sunday before St. Patty's Day, why not indulge!?

Irish Coffee

Traditionally, Irish Coffee is made with only a few simple ingredients: coffee, whisky, brown sugar, and heavy cream.  Many different recipes have stemmed from this original recipe, and many of those recipes also tend to include Bailey's Irish Cream. This is of course optional.  I personally prefer Irish Coffee without Bailey's because you already have the heavy cream in it, and I like to see the distinct separation of whipped cream on top.  It always reminds me of a Guinness! 

I technically do not have the proper mug to serve an Irish Coffee in, but any smaller sized glass will work!

Ingredients:
-Coffee
-1 1/2 ounces whisky (preferably Jameson)
-2 tablespoons brown sugar
-Heavy cream

Directions:
Pour the whisky and brown sugar into a warm glass.  Then, pour in the coffee until the glass is 3/4 full.  Very lightly whip the heavy cream so that it thickens slightly, but not to the point that the cream forms peaks.  Carefully pour the cream over the top of the coffee so that it does not mix in right away.  For presentation purposes I love the separated look between the coffee and the cream, but once I drink it the cream mixes in anyway!




Sit back, relax, and enjoy!


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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Beer Battered Fish and Chips

In keeping with my trend of posting Irish related recipes for St. Patrick's Day, I decided to make fish and chips for dinner.  This dish always manages to make me melancholic of my trips to Ireland and England that I took last summer since it is on every menu in every pub! If you are abroad in either of these places and are craving fish and chips, you will never have to worry about finding a place that serves this meal!  Although it may not be the healthiest of dishes, there is just something so satisfying about sinking your teeth into beer battered fish and enjoying with a nice cold glass of Guinness!
Fish and Chips


Ingredients:
-4 large potatoes (such as Idaho)
-1 or 2 pounds of cod or haddock fillets
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning or Emeril's Essence (recipe follows)
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-12 ounce can of beer (I used Guinness since I love the flavor)
-Salt
-Peanut or vegetable oil (about 3 quarts)
(Note: If using Guinness, the batter will be darker and the outside crust on your fish will end up being slightly darker as well). 


Emeril's Essence (From Food Network)
-2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
-2 tablespoons salt
-2 tablespoons garlic powder
-1 tablespoon black pepper
-1 tablespoon onion powder
-1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
-1 tablespoon dried oregano
-1 tablespoon dried thyme
(Combine all ingredients well and store in an airtight container.  This makes about 2/3 cup so you can save the rest for later use.  This can be used as a substitute for Old Bay). 


Directions:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.


In a large, deep, pot, heat the oil until it reaches 325 degrees.  While the oil is heating, wash and peel your potatoes and cut lengthwise into wedges or sticks about 1/4 inch wide.
                                              Wedges                                             Sticks

Before frying the potatoes, place them in an ice bath for at least 10 minutes.  Remove potatoes from the ice bath and dry off completely.  Working in batches, place a handful of the potatoes into the oil and cook through until they are tender, but have no color (about 4-5 minutes).  Remove from the oil and immediately place them onto paper towels.  

Raise the temperature of the oil to 375 degrees. 

Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the flour, seasoning (either Old Bay or Emeril's Essence), baking soda, and pinch of salt.  Mix in the beer until just combined.  Lather your fish fillets up in the batter and place in the oil slowly.  Cook for about 5 minutes, turning the fish over halfway through. 

Once the fish are fried, place them on paper towels and pat dry.  Put the fillets in the preheated oven in order to help them maintain their warmth and crispness while you finish your fries. 

Again, working in batches, fry your fries for a second time until they are golden brown and crispy.  When they are done, remove them from the oil, place them on paper towels, and sprinkle them with salt while they are still hot.  

Remove your fillets from the oven and place them on a dish with the French fries.  Serve with a glass of Guinness, or your favorite beer, and enjoy! 
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Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Irish Pirate (Shamrock Shake)

First off, I want to apologize for not being able to post this past week.  For those of you who do not know this, I have been studying for my History MTEL (teacher's examination test).  I have already passed two of the tests that I need, and this History test is the last one! So, in order to celebrate coming out of hiding and being able to cook, go out, and have fun again, I am making a very easy, but very delicious, Irish Pirate (or shamrock shake).   There are two different versions of the recipe below that I found from a holiday drink mix site (one using vanilla ice cream and the other using mint chocolate chip ice cream).  Both of the recipes have rum in them to make them have a little kick (which I definitely need after all of the studying), but you can also just leave the rum out so that the kiddos can enjoy these shakes as well!          


Ingredients

Recipe 1:
-1 pint mint chocolate chip ice cream
-1 to 1 1/4 cup milk (depending on how thick or loose you want the shake)
-1 teaspoon mint extract
-3 tablespoons dark rum
-Green food coloring
-Mint leaves


Recipe 2:
-1 pint vanilla ice cream
-1 to 1/4 cup milk
-1 teaspoon mint extract 
-3 tablespoons dark rum
-Green food coloring 
-Mint leaves
Note: Just exclude the rum for kids and they will love the idea of drinking something green! 


Directions:
Pour the milk, ice cream, extract, rum, and a few drops of food coloring into a blender and mix until smooth.  Pour mixture into glasses and garnish with mint.  

Drink up and enjoy!

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