Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pesto Lasagna With Sausage

Pesto Sauce: 
Follow recipe HERE

Bechamel Sauce:
2.5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a saucepan, melt butter.
Add Flour and whisk for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, warm milk in the microwave.
Add milk to butter/flour mixture and whisk for about 10 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Add salt and nutmeg.

For lasagna:
1 package of lasagna -
3 large carrots, grated
4 sausages, sliced - I used chicken
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a skillet, heat oil and brown sausages.
Add pesto sauce and carrots, cook further.
Add 3/4 of the bechamel sauce, cook further - 3 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a rectangular pirex dish, arrange a layer of lasagna.
Top with a layer of pesto sauce.
Top with a layer of parmesan cheese.
Repeat process one more time.
End with a layer of lasagna and drizzle the remaining bechamel sauce over to cover.
Sprinkle some cheese.
Cover dish with foil.
Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes.
Remove foil, bake 15-20 minutes longer.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownie

Adapted from Bon Appetit

8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sour cream

Cream Cheese:
1 package of cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a 13 by 9 inch pan with parchment paper, set aside.
In a saucepan, melt butter and chocolate, set aside.
In an electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs and vanilla - about 5 minutes.
Slowly, add chocolate mixture, beat further on low speed.
Add Flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder, beat further.
Add sour cream and stir to combine.
Transfer to pan.

Melt cream cheese in microwave.
Add sugar and egg. mix well.
Pour over brownie mixture.
Using a small spoon, make swirl.
Bake for about 40-50 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack, cool.
Cut into squares and enjoy!

Friday, October 19, 2012


About 30 small Piroshki

4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 ounce dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water

1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water for egg wash.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.
Make a well in flour mixture and add milk, egg, oil and yeast.
Using your hands, combine to make a soft dough.
Knead for about 10 minutes.
Cover dough and let it rise for 1 hour - needs to double in volume.
On a flat surface, shape dough in a large log.
With a sharp knife, slice a desired amount and roll into a ball.
Flatten dough, using your finger to make a round disk.
Place some meat filling in the middle and pinch all around to secure the dough.
Brush dough with egg wash.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange piroshki on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
Bake for about 14 minutes or until golden brown.

1 1/2 lb ground meat
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic clove, finely minced
2 large carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a large skillet, heat oil.
Brown onion.
Add garlic.
Add meat, brown until meat is fully cooked.
Add carrot and celery, cook further.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Let simmer for about an hour.
Let mixture cool before using it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Almond Linzer Cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart
8 - 10 large cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup raw almond - finely ground 
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup strawberry jam

Sit flour and baking powder in a bowl - set aside.
In an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add confectioners' sugar,salt, ground almond, and cinnamon - mix further.

Add vanilla and egg.
Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture - mix until combined.
Divide dough in half, shape into disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out each dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick.
Refrigerate 20 minutes.
Cut out rounds. Cut out centers.
Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet, refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Bake for about 8 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Heat jam in a small saucepan until reduced and thickened.
Sprinkle cutout cookies with confectioners' sugar.
Spread jam onto uncut cookies.
Top with cutout ones.
Can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Did you know that Biscotti is plural for biscotto. These cookies originated in the city of Prato, Italy.
The word originates from the Latin word .... bis for twice and coctus for baked/cooked.
All I can say is ... Biscotti .... Te amo!

For 12-14 large biscotti

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chip - I used mini chocolate chip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.
Using an electric mixer,  beat butter and sugar.
At low speed, add eggs one at a time.
Add vanilla.
Slowly add the dry ingredients.
Stir in the chocolate.
Place dough on baking sheet, shape it into a log about 12 by 2
Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.
Remove from oven.
Using a serrated knife, cut the warm log diagonally into 3/8 inch thick.
Arrange slices on the sides - you might need an extra baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for about 15 minutes further.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Can be kept in an air tight container for 2 weeks.
But I bet they won't last that long!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Poached Pear Frangipane Tart

1 1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon Almond extract

In an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar.
Add egg and egg yolk, mix well.
Add almond flour, mix well.
Add Almond extract.
Refrigerate 1 hour.

Pâte Sucrée:
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) butter, cubed and softened
1 cup confectioners' cugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, at room temperature

Put flour on your counter and make a well.
Put butter, confectioners' sugar and salt.
Mix together.
Gradually draw the flour into the center and mix with your fingertips until dough becomes slightly grainy.
again, make a well and add the eggs.
Work them into the flour mixture, until the dough begins to hold together.
Knead the dough few times with palm of your hand until smooth.
Roll the dough into a ball.
Store it in a large ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Blind bake for 15 minutes.

Poached Pear:
4 Pears
4 cups water
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest.
1/2 teaspoon All Spice
2 Cinnamon sticks

Peel, slice in half and remove core of pears.
In a medium saucepan, boil water, sugar, lemon zest and honey.
Add All spice and cinnamon sticks.
Add the pears and let it simmer for 45-50 minutes or when pears are very soft.
Disregard the water and let pears cool down.

To assemble:
Line frangipane on your tart.
Place pears over Frangipane.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
Sprinkle confectioner's sugar.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chocolate Tart

I've been in the mood for a nice chocolate tart. You know, the kind that makes you want to have another slice but your mind tells you don't or you will regret it. I came upon Paul A Young chocolate tart recipe. Paul A Young is a British chocolatier .... I've personally never had the pleasure of tasting any of his creations but I do own his beautiful book called "Adventures with Chocolate". This recipe is from his book. I did make some adjustments to it.
Also, please take a moment to watch his video at the bottom of the page .... He seems to be a passionate man, an artist, and I think a romantic.... and he LOVES chocolate!

This chocolate tart is so delicious .... trust me ... give it a try!

Chocolate dough:
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons water
1 3/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

Chocolate filling:
6 ounces 64% chocolate
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream

In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and creamy. 
Add egg yolks and water, mix well.
Gradually add flour and cocoa powder until a dough is formed.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Set oven to 350 degrees.
Cut out a round parchment paper that will fit in your tart pan.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface.
Line the pan with the dough.
Prick the dough few times with a fork.
Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.
Place parchment paper over dough and fill with a layer of pie weights.
Bake for 18 minutes.
Remove parchment paper and pie weights.
Bake for another 8 minutes.
Cool for at least 2 hours.

Place chocolate and sugar in a medium heatproof bowl.
In a small saucepan bring cream to a boil.
Pour cream over chocolate and let it rest for 30 seconds.
Whisk until glossy and thick.
Pour over cooled tart shell.
Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Salted Caramels

This past week I've been obsessed with making caramels. Those of you who have made these sinfully delicious little treats know that it's not easy to make them. I tried 4 different recipes this week  .... the end results were .... too hard, too soft, crystalized sugar and burnt, respectively. I thought I was going crazy. I went through a set of emotions from ... never again I'll be making caramels to just one more try.  But no matter what, I was determined to make the perfect caramels .... I do love a challenge! Finally, I overcame my fear and succeeded with the most wonderful caramels! So here's the recipe for Salted Caramels .... and whatever you do, please DO NOT stir the sugar while it's cooking!

For about 30 caramels:

300 g Crème fraîche (can be found at whole food)
300 g sugar
1.5 teaspoon vanilla
60 g salted butter
a pinch of salt - fleur de sel

Line a small, rectangular shape cake pan with parchment paper - set aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring the creme and vanilla to a slight boil.
Add sugar .... DO NOT FEEL THE NEED TO STIR THE SUGAR or it will crystalize.
Let sugar melt and take a dark honey color - about 20-25 minutes.
Once sugar has melted you may now stir the caramel.
Turn heat off and add butter - little pieces at a time.
Pour mixture into the prepared pan- the smaller the pan the thicker your caramel pieces will be.
Sprinkle salt.
Let cool at room temperature.
Once cool, refrigerate for 1 hour.
Cut into square pieces and enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

I'm not a big fan of peanut butter .... Have never been able to acquire a taste for it. My kids love it ... specially, peanut butter cookies. I use this recipe but I add a little Nutella to the batter. I do enjoy these cookies once in a while.... but my kids love them! 

Adapted from Saveur


1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup nutella
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl - set aside
In a bowl of a standing mixer, beat on medium speed butter, sugar, brown sugar until smooth and creamy.
Add peanut butter, nutella, egg and vanilla. Beat until until just smooth.
Stir in flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated.
Cover dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
With a small ice cream scooper, place dough on baking sheets - 2 inches apart.
Use a fork to flatten dough and make a grid pattern on top.
Bake until golden brown - 11 minutes.
Store cookies up to 2 weeks in an air tight container.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chocolate Truffles

I usually have a box of my favorite chocolate and truffles (Leonidas) in the refrigerator ... but to my surprise and profound sadness, I found an empty box of Leonidas!  I guess I must have finished it all couple of days ago! 
Well, since I was in desperate need of a little happiness .... I decided to make my own chocolate truffles. I followed Pierre Hermé's recipe .... and they came out perfect! 
I enjoyed couple of them .... and they brought me pure joy!  


9 ounces chocolate - I used Valrhona 61% - finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, cut into 4 pieces
Dutch-processed cocoa powder  for dusting - I used Valrhona

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl that can hold all ingredients.
In a small saucepan, bring cream to a full boil.
Pour cream on the chocolate
With a spatula, gently stir the cream into the chocolate until the ganache is smooth.
Allow ganache to rest for couple of minutes.
Add butter 2 pieces at a time, stirring gently.
Pour ganache into a bowl.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Pour cocoa powder on a plate.
Dust your hands with some cocoa powder.
Scoop out a teaspoon of the ganache and with your hands shape it into a ball.
Drop the ganache ball in the cocoa powder and coat it with powder.
Shake off excess powder.
Can be served immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicken with Parsnips, Shallots and Baby Potatoes

For dinner tonight, I made this chicken recipe from the October issue of "Food & Wine" and It was an absolute hit!. It was so delicious that kids asked for seconds. I made slight changes to the original recipe. I recommend having some baguette slices for the most wonderful leftover juice.

Recipe adapted from
"Food & Wine" October 2012 issue


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 chicken thighs with skin
1/4 cup flour
5 shallots, peeled and quartered
3 Parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch batons
1 1/2 cup baby potatoes
Few rosemary sprigs
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
In large oven proof pan (I used my beloved Le Creuset), melt butter in the oil.
Dust chicken with flour on both sides.
Add chicken to pan with skin side down.
Cook over high heat turning once, until browned - about 3 minutes on each side.
Transfer chicken to a plate.
In the same pan, add shallots, parsnips, potatoes and rosemary.
Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add wine and cook further until liquid has reduced by half - 3 minutes.
Add broth and bring to a boil.
Add chicken to the pan, skin side up.
Transfer the pan (covered) to the oven and cook for about 40 minutes.
Cook 20 minutes longer uncovered.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Strawberry, Blueberry and Raspberry Tart

 I absolutely love a nice strawberry tart. I came across these beautiful strawberries at the market and since I already had some raspberries and blueberries, I decided to make a berry tart. The filling is so delicious ..... it's a mix of crème pâtissière and crème chantilly. 

Michel Roux Recipe
Crème Pâtissière:

6 egg yolks
1/2 plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup flower
2 cups milk - I used 1%
2 tablespoons vanilla

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl to a light ribbon consistency.
Whisk in the flour.
In a pan, heat milk and vanilla.
As soon as it comes to a boil, pour it onto the egg yolk mixture, stirring as you go.
Mix well, return to the same pan.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring non stop with a whisk.
After few minutes, you should have a thick consistency.
Pour it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
Once cooled, store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Note: If you desire a chocolate crème pâtissière, add 3 oz melted semisweet chocolate to the crème pâtissière before cooling.

Crème Chantilly:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Whip cream and sugar until you get a thick consistency.
Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Pâte sucrée:

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) butter, cubed and softened
1 cup confectioners' cugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, at room temperature

Put flour on your counter and make a well.
Put butter, confectioners' sugar and salt.
Mix together.
Gradually draw the flour into the center and mix with your fingertips until dough becomes slightly grainy.
again, make a well and add the eggs.
Work them into the flour mixture, until the dough begins to hold together.
Knead the dough few times with palm of your hand until smooth.
Roll the dough into a ball.
Store it in a large ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Have a 10 inch tart pan ready.
Cut out a 10 inch parchment paper.
Unwrap dough and roll out to a large circle, on a lightly floured counter.
Line the tart pan with the dough.
Cut out the edges.
Prick the pastry base few times with a fork gently-you don't want to make holes in the dough
Line the tart shell with the round parchment paper.
Fill with a layer of pie weights.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove pie weight and parchment paper.
Bake for another 10 - 12 minutes.
Remove form oven and let it completely cool on a wire rack.

To assemble:

Fold in 1/2 of your crème pâtissière with the crème chantilly.
Fill the tart shell with the mixed crème.
Arrange berries as you wish over the crème.
Sprinkle some toasted almonds.
and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tarte Tatin

This morning it felt cooler than usual. There was a breeze in the air and I had to grab my jacket on my way out the door..... I really can feel the change of season. Fall is very fast approaching.
This delicious Tarte Tatin is my way of welcoming the Fall season.... My all-time favorite season and my all-time favorite apple recipe!  
The apple sauce for this Tarte Tatin can be made 1 day ahead and kept in the refrigerator. 

The apple recipe is adapted from Christophe Michalak's recipe.
The pâte Sablée is adapted from Michele Roux recipe. 

Apple Recipe

4 Golden delicious apples, peeled and finely diced
50 grams honey
30 grams butter
100 grams sugar
45 grams whipping cream
2 gelatin sheets

Have a muffin pan ready to use.
In a small pot, melt butter and honey.
Add diced apples.
Cook on medium heat until apples are translucent-  5 minutes.  
In a small bowl, mix some cold water with gelatin sheets.
In a medium, melt half of the sugar. Once melted, add the other half. It should turn a nice brown color.
Add whipping cream and gelatin sheets (make sure water has been squeezed out of them) 
Add apples and cook for about 2 minutes - mix well
Equally divide between your muffin or cupcake pans.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Pâte Sablée

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup butter, cut into small pieces and softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
Egg wash - 1 egg beaten mixed with 1 tablespoon milk

Place flour on your counter and make a well. 
Place butter, sugar and salt in the middle of the well.
With your fingers, mix the butter, sugar and salt.
Add the egg yolks and mix further with your fingers.
Carefully bring the flour into the center and mix further until you have a smooth dough.
Using the palm of your hand, push the dough away from you 4 times, until completely smooth.
Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll out the dough on your counter.
Cut circles out with a round cookie cutter - just make sure the diameter of the cookie cutter is the same as the muffin pan circles.
Brush egg wash mixture on each cookie.
Place on baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes at 340 degrees.

To assemble:
Place a cookie on a plate.
With a sharp knife,  unmold the apples.
Place on top of the cookie... and enjoy!

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