Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mushroom Rice Casserole

½ pound (8 ounces) brown mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 large onion, well chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups cooked brown rice, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
½ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
a bit of fresh tarragon, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Rub a 9x13 inch baking dish with a bit of olive oil or butter and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat saute the mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil sprinkled with a couple pinches of salt. Stir every minute or so until the mushrooms have released their liquid and have browned a bit.

Add the onions and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes or until they are translucent.

Stir in the garlic, cook for another minute and remove from heat.

Add the rice to the skillet and stir until combined.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, and salt.

Combine the rice mixture and cottage cheese mixture in a large bowl, stir until well combined and then turn out into your prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle with ⅔ of the Parmesan cheese, cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes more or hot throughout and golden along the edges.

Sprinkle with the chopped tarragon, and the remaining parmesan.

Serves 8


Friday, January 30, 2009

Checkerboard Cookies

Though they look complicated, these tender cookies are easy to make if you use a ruler. To ensure an even design, measure the strips of dough carefully. The dough can be made a day or two in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for several weeks.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon pure lemon extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 T Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add vanilla extract, lemon extract, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, scraping down sides of bowl.

Turn dough out onto a clean work surface; it will be loose and crumbly. Knead dough by pushing small amounts away from you with the heel of your hand for 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide dough in half.

Sprinkle cocoa powder over one of the halves.

Knead until cocoa has been fully incorporated.

Place each half of the kneaded dough between two sheets of plastic.

Using a rolling pin, shape dough into two 7-inch squares, about ⅜ inch thick.

Using a sharp knife and a ruler, slice each square into nine ¾-inch-wide strips.

Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water.

Cover work surface with plastic wrap. Place three strips of dough on plastic, alternating white and chocolate strips.

Brush tops and in between the strips with egg wash.

Gently press strips together.

Repeat, forming second and third layers, alternating colors to create a checkerboard effect.

Wrap assembled log in plastic. Repeat process for second log, reversing color pattern.

Refrigerate 30 minutes, or freeze 15 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper.

Slice each log into ¼-inch-thick slices; place on baking sheet.

Bake until done, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove baking sheet from oven, and let cookies cool 2 minutes.

Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store cookies in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Tweaks to Original Recipe:
1 cup of sugar instead of ½ cup
2 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate instead of 3 T Dutch-process cocoa powder
10 T butter instead of 1 cup of butter
1 extra teaspoon vanilla extract instead of lemon extract
2 cups of flour instead of 2½ cups of flour

Makes 4 dozen cookies


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Forever Roasted Pork

4 pounds pork leg or shoulder
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
grey salt
freshly ground black pepper
about ¼ cup fennel spice (see recipe below*)

Bring pork to room temperature by removing it from refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the onions, cover pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until light brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sage and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions cease throwing off water, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool on plate.

Peel back the pork skin, and spread a good amount of the fennel spice and add the onions directly on the fat layer. Fold the skin back over the onions and tie closed with kitchen string. Season well all over with the remaining fennel spice.

Arrange the meat on a rack in a casserole pan lined with foil, drizzle with more olive oil and cook until the meat is very tender, about 8 hours. It is ready when it pulls away easily if picked at with a pair of tongs. It is often easiest to cook the meat overnight, or put it in the oven in the morning and let it cook all day. It does not need to be attended.

Variations: This dish can be simplified or made more elaborate depending on your taste. You can omit the onions and simply season the meat with the fennel spice. You can roast aromatic vegetables until caramelized and add them to the bottom of the roasting pan. Or you can add another layer of flavor to the onions: mince fresh rosemary and fruits such as oranges, kumquats, Meyer lemons, apples, pears, or quince, and cook with the onions, or make a paste of garlic and fresh or dried chiles and add to the onions.

*Fennel Spice Rub:
1 cup fennel seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons white peppercorns
3 tablespoons kosher salt

Put the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a heavy pan over medium heat. Watch carefully, tossing frequently so the seeds toast evenly. When light brown and fragrant, pour the seeds onto a plate to cool. They must be cool before grinding, or they will gum up the blades.

Pour the seeds into a blender and add the salt. Blend to a fine powder, shaking the blender occasionally to redistribute the seeds. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a cool, dry place, or freeze.

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Honey & Flaxseed Bread

1+ 1/8 cups water
1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
3 T honey
½ tablespoon liquid lecithin
3 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup flax seed (must be ground) or flax meal
2 T bread flour
3 T whey powder
1½ teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Put all the ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer.

Select wheat cycle, and start.

Makes 1 loaf


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Magnolia Bakery's Raspberry Cream Cheese Breakfast Buns

I think of a bun as being a sweet yeast dough, but these are made with baking power and baking soda, which gives them a cake or muffin crumb.

For the bun:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (one 8-ounce package) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
garnish with confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and lightly flour 9 large muffin cups.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, and sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the dry ingredients in two parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Drop 3 small dollops (about a teaspoonful each) of raspberry preserves onto the top of each bun and, using the tip of a sharp knife, swirl the preserves into the batter, forming a decorative pattern. Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the bun comes out clean.

Allow the buns to cool for about 30 minutes before sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar and serving.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Maple Hazelnut Bread

9 ounces lukewarm water (110 degrees F.)
1/2 cup genuine maple syrup
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 T dry milk powder
1/2 cup toasted coarsely chopped hazelnuts
3 1/2 cups bread flour
3 teaspoons instant active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough setting and press start. Check the dough; it should form a nice elastic ball. If the dough is too moist, add additional flour one tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too dry and crumbly, add warm water one tablespoon at a time.

When dough cycle has finished, remove dough from pan and turn out onto a lightly oiled surface. Form dough into an oval, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

After resting, turn dough bottom side up and press to flatten. Fold dough into an envelope by folding the top 1/3 of the way to the bottom. Then fold the bottom a 1/3 of the way over the top. Then press dough with the palm of your hand to make an indentation down the center of the dough and fold the top completely to the bottom, sealing the seam with the palm of your hand.

Place on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal or lined with a Silpat. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise for approximately 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

After dough has risen, slash the bread with a very sharp knife making three 1/2-inch deep diagonal slashes. Brush the top of the bread with cold water and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until nicely browned. Test the bread temperature (should be between 200 and 210 degrees).

Makes 1 1/2-pound loaf.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fennel Spice Rub

1 cup fennel seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons white peppercorns
3 tablespoons kosher salt

Put the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a heavy pan over medium heat. Watch carefully, tossing frequently so the seeds toast evenly. When light brown and fragrant, pour the seeds onto a plate to cool. They must be cool before grinding, or they will gum up the blades.

Pour the seeds into a blender and add the salt. Blend to a fine powder, shaking the blender occasionally to redistribute the seeds. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a cool, dry place, or freeze.

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hamburger Buns From Across The Pond

4 cups white flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1 T sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 T unsalted butter, diced
1 1/2 active dry yeast
1 2/3 cups tepid milk [variation: 1 cup milk, 2/3 cup water]
1 large egg, beaten
sesame seeds

3 T milk
a good pinch of salt

Mix the flour, salt and sugar and active dry yeast in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Make a well in the center.

Pour the egg and milk mixture into the well. Gradually work the flour into the liquid to make a soft, but not sticky dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for ten minutes.

Return to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave until doubled in size, about 1 hour (could be as long as 2, or more).

Punch down, and leave to rise a second time. (This step can be skipped, but it gives a nicer rise).

Punch down after an hour and shape into rolls.

Shape into rolls, set on a greased baking tray and cover with plastic to rise again.
When doubled brush with the milk and salt mixture, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until gold brown and firm.

To keep the crusts soft cool on a wire rack covered with a dry cloth.
Can be frozen for one month. Best eaten within 24 hours.

Makes 18 buns


Friday, January 23, 2009

Brooklyn Porterhouse with Cilantro Marinade

2 roasted garlic cloves, peeled
1 T Dijon mustard
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
grated zest of ½ lemon
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil

1½ to 2 pounds skirt or flank steak
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

To make the cilantro marinade: Place the roasted garlic, mustard, cilantro, lemon zest, balsamic vinegar, and oil in a large shallow glass or ceramic bowl and mash to a paste.

Place the steak in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Prepare the grill or preheat the broiler.

Remove the steak from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Sprinkle both sides of the steak with the salt and pepper. Grill or broil for about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, basting occasionally with the reserved marinade.

Thinly slice on the diagonal and serve.

Serves 4


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brussels Sprouts Braised in Cream

1¼ lb. Brussels sprouts
3 T unsalted butter
¼ tsp coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1 T fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

Prepare the sprouts and cut into quarters.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sprouts and season with the salt. Stir occasionally, about 5 minutes, until sprouts get some good caramelization.

Add the cream, stir and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer (low-medium) and braise until the sprouts are tender (pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife) about 30-35 minutes. The cream will have reduced some and will have taken on a creamy tan color.

Add the lemon juice and simmer, uncovered, for a minute or two or until the cream has thickened to a glaze that coats the sprouts.

Serves 4-6


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Italian Cheese Bread

For the dough:
2-½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 T quick-rise yeast
1 cup warm water (120*-130*)
1 T vegetable oil

For the topping:
¼ cup prepared Italian salad dressing
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground oregano
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
dash peper
1 T grated Parmesan cheese (or more)**
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a bowl, combine the first four ingredients.

Combine water and oil; add to flour mixture. Add additional flour if needed to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead for 1-2 mintues or until smooth and elastic.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Punch the dough down; place on a greased 12“ pizza pan and pat into a 12” circle. Brush with salad dressing.

Combine the seasonings; sprinkle over top. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake at 450* for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Ranch dressing can be substituted for Italian dressing if you want a little different taste or need to make a substitute.

Makes one pan, approximately 12 slices


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Korean-Style Grilled Steaks

4 T semi-dry sake or mirin
½ cup soy sauce
4 T sugar
10 garlic cloves, minced
8 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and cut into very thin rounds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
4 steaks, rib-eye or other premium cut, 8 to 10 ounces each

Preparing the Marinade:
Put the mirin, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, scallions, pepper flakes and sesame oil in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.

Marinading the Steaks:
Put the steaks in a glass baking dish or other nonreactive container large enough to hold them snuggly in a single layer.

Pour half the marinade over the steaks and turn them a time or two until they are evenly coated.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and as long as 5 hours.

Cover the remaining marinade and set it aside.

Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.

Grilling the Steaks:
To cook the steaks, prepare a fire in an outdoor grill or heat a stovetop grill.

Grill the steaks until just rare, 4 to 6 minutes per side.

Brush the steaks with the reserved marinade just before turning them and then brush them two or three times as they finish cooking.

Transfer to a warm serving platter, brush with any marinade the remains, cover lightly with foil and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4


Monday, January 19, 2009

Pumpernickel Raisin Bread

Also called "Black Russian", it goes well with Brie, as a sandwich, and makes great French toast.

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (105* to 115*)
1/2 cup molasses
1 package active dry yeast
1 T instant coffee granules
1 T salt
2 cups medium rye flour
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
2 T vegetable oil
1 cup raisins
3-4 tablespoons cornmeal
1 T cold water
1 egg white

Stir together the lukewarm water and molasses in a large mixing bowl.

Sprinkle in the yeast and stir to dissolve.

Let stand for 10 minutes, or until slightly foamy.

Stir in instant coffee, salt and rye flour.

Sprinkle in the cocoa and stir well to combine.

Add whole-wheat flour and 1 cup of the bread flour, or enough to make a sticky dough.

Turn the bread out onto a lightly floured work surface and let it rest.

Wash and dry the bowl.

Sprinkle additional flour over the dough and begin to knead.

Continue until most or all of the remaining bread flour is incorporated and you have a smooth elastic ball.

(Breads with rye flour will always be slightly sticky.) Pour the vegetable oil into the mixing bowl, turn the ball of dough to coat well, cover bowl with a towel, and set aside to rise until dough is tripled in bulk, 3 to 4 hours.

Lightly flour the work surface and turn the dough out onto it.

Flatten it into a large rectangle and sprinkle with the raisins.

Roll up the dough and knead it, to distribute the raisins and let rise until doubled.

Sprinkle a large baking sheet with 3 to 4 tablespoons cornmeal.

Turn the dough out,cut it into 3 pieces, and shape each piece into a small round loaf.

Set loaves on the baking sheet, leaving as much room as possible between them, cover, and let rise until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400*.

Beat egg white together with 1 T cold water in a small bowl.

When the loaves have risen sufficiently, brush the tops with the egg white mixture.

Bake loaves on the middle rack of the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until they are dark brown and sound hollow when bottoms are rapped.

Cool completely on racks before cutting or wrapping.

Makes 3 loaves.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cinnamon Raisin Bread II

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup warm water (must be between 110-115 degrees)
2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
3 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup raisins
8 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup white sugar
3 T ground cinnamon
2 T butter, melted (approx.)

Warm the milk in a small sauce pan on the stove until it just starts to bubble, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat.

Let cool until lukewarm, about 120-125 degrees.

Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside until yeast is frothy, about 10 minutes or so (make sure your water is at the correct temperature or the yeast won't activate.) Then mix in eggs, sugar, butter salt and raisins (stir in the cooled milk slowly so you don't cook the eggs.) Add the flour gradually to make a stiff dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes until smooth.

Place in a large, buttered, mixing bowl and turn to grease the surface of the dough.

Cover with a warm, damp cloth and let rise (I like to let my bread rise in the oven with the light on. It has just the right amount of heat and keeps the bread out of drafts.) Allow to rise until doubled, usually about 1 1/2 hours.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle 1/2 inch thick.

Moisten the dough with 2 tablespoons milk and rub all over the dough with your hands.

Mix together 1 cup of sugar and 3 tablespoons cinnamon and sprinkle mixture evenly on top of the moistened dough.

Roll up tightly (the long way).

The roll should be about 3 inches in diameter.

Cut into thirds, and tuck under ends and pinch bottom together.

Place loaves into well greased (you can use Crisco or butter for this) 9 x 5 inch pans and lightly grease tops of loaves.

Let rise in warm place, uncovered, again for about an hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from oven and let cool on rack.

Take melted butter and spread over tops of loaves.

After about 20 minutes, lay loaves on their sides and remove from pans.

Allow to cool before slicing.

Makes 3 loaves

* * * * * * *


From: joy
Absolutely scrumptious- this cinnamon raisin bread turned out beautifully! After comparing a number of different recipes, I decided to give this one a try and I couldn't have been happier with the results. The loaves were fluffy, moist, and flavorful, and an intoxicating aroma filled my home not only during the baking process, but also every time a slice hit the toaster this week. I did make a few minor adjustments that I think made a positive difference to the final product: I added 1 T of sugar to my water/yeast mixture to help it proof. I increased the salt an extra 1/2 tsp (totaling 1 1/2 tsp) and increased the raisins an extra 2 cups (totaling 3 cups- I wanted to have 1 cup per loaf. At first, I was worried it would be too much, but in the end it turned out just right! Be on the lookout for extra moist raisins specially made for baking- I found them at my supermarket and they worked out great- if you can't find them, you can always plump your raisins in hot water for a few minutes before you add them!) Instead of 2 T of milk to wash the dough, I did 1 T milk + 1 T melted butter. I'd also recommend separating your dough into 3 parts before you start rolling- it made it so much easier to handle, and allowed me to form each loaf with a nice tight swirl. Just sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the cinnamon sugar mixture in each loaf to make sure it comes out evenly distributed. Lastly, my loaves were perfectly golden and ready to come out at 35 minutes (10 minutes shy of the 45 minutes in the stated recipe.) I hope these suggestions help!

From: Queer Eye in the Kitchen Guy
This was the pefect solution to a boring Seattle Sunday! I tried to make it in my standard sized Mix Master. There was barely enough room & was fine until the dough climbed all the way up & over the hook! Will keep a closer eye on it next time. The bread was perfect though! might add another 1/2 cup raisins next time too.

From: John W Wenzelburger
Just like the title says: "This is the best Cinnamon Raisin Bread I've ever had!". I added chopped walnuts with the suger and cinnimon to two of the loafs before I rolled them up. You could make one with nuts one with raisins and one just suger and cinnimon. Don't skimp on the sugar and cinnamon....

From: Daphne2002
I made 2 batches of this bread for christmas presents. The first batch had a slow rise in the fridge overnight and baked in the morning due to time constraints. The second batch was made as instructed, with the addition of walnuts on top of the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Both batches were wonderful, but the room temperature loaves did rise higher. The dough was very easy to work with and tasted delicious when baked. Everyone loved their Christmas breakfast bread!

From: Mommamoody
Excellent made it last night. Don't start this at 7pm. Whew its a long process but worth it. I messed up one roll by not rolling it tight enough, the cinnamon sugar mixture distribution swirl is imperative,because it gives the bread its sweetness. I almost wish it was a touch sweeter.... Next time more sugar swirl! Also if you have a standup Kitchen Aid mixer, it will save you time, adding 8 cups of flour by hand was a bit messy. Good luck, we already ate one loave,the others are going as gifts. PS I have now made this twice and my neighbors rave its the best they have ever had!

From: Yasmine
Great recipe! My only change will be to add another cup of raisins into the DOUGH and not the swirl. This ensures that almost every bite will have a delicious raisin in it. Also, 45 min cooking time is WAY too long - try 30-35 maximum!

From: bbh
I live on the New England coast - yesterday was a foggy, cold day - a perfect day to make this bread. It is wonderful bread - I especially love it toasted. I literally inhaled the first 2 slices when it was still hot. Thank you for such an outstanding recipe.

From: Mswhipple
Thanks for the nice recipe, Lydia! I made this just before Christmas and presented the loaves as gifts to my neighbors. It got very good verbal reviews! Instead of just raisins, I used a few raisins, some dried cranberries, cherries and blueberries. For the crust, I brushed lightly with beaten egg and sprinkled with Pearl sugar (also called Hail sugar) just before baking. It's definitely worth a repeat! ~ Mary Ann

From: CarlaBakes
Great raisin bread! Best flavor and texture I've had. Can't remember having better. I added sugar to the yeast and increased the raisins as suggested. Mmmmmmmm, good.

From: LuuvBunny
If only I could give this more than 5 stars.This is absolutely fantastic!I could hardly wait to get it out the oven.It smelled so good while it was baking.Tasted even better than it smelled! I can see this being a staple in my house!

From: H-Chef
More of the same! I'm not usually a fan of raisin bread, but I made this for my husband and it was ridiculously good even to me. It was very moist, yeasty, and flavorful. It just couldn't have been any better. I used 2 1/4 cups of raisins and instead of regular milk, I had some buttermilk that I wanted to use up. It was amazing. One note, the cooking time was about 10 minutes less in my oven.

From: FriendlyChefy
I made the bread up and had a piece of toast with my coffee for breakfast. It was to die for good! I got to thinking and decided to make French Toast out of it the next morning. I made them up, and served with butter cinnamon and sugar. Oh what a yummy breakfast it was! Such a treat, I thought I was having a dessert instead of breakfast. DH and I both give this 5 well deserving stars!

From: Suzie_Q
If I could give this 100 stars I would! This recipe far exceeded my expectations. I used egg whites instead of whole eggs, skim milk and cut the butter back just slightly. For the filling I increased the filling by half, used brown sugar and added nuts as a personal preference. In my oven 30 minutes was absolutley perfect. My family already devoured a whole loaf and is already talking about me making more! This definitely cured my craving for cinnamon buns and actually I think I prefer this now! Thanks for the best bread recipe ever!

From: homegirl
This was a very good recipe. I would have given it 4 stars if I had not read all 54 reviews and decided to add more salt and sugar. I also was very mindfull of how quick it might cook. I did need to cook the whole 45 min but after just 20 I had to tent it with tin foil or it would have looked burnt. I did not use raisins in mine (personal pref) The ribbon of cin and sugar was gooey and nummy! I did wing the amounts of filling and instead of wetting it with the milk I rubbed a couple of tablespoons of butter on the triangle before adding the cina nd sugar. That might have been the reason for the yummy gooey center. Great recipe with the changes!

From: Jentry
Oh man this was awesome! I live in Germany and today I got a real bad craving for some cinnamon raisin bread. I found this recipe and it came out BEAUTIFULLY!!! I like to have lots of raisins, so I added about 2 cups of raisins. Thank you so much for this recipe! I will definitely be making this one again!

From: Shadowdancer Duskstar
Very, very good! Mom was giddy for it while it was baking. We didn't put the loaves into loaf pans, but I will do that next time. Minor adjustments: I needed to add about another 3/4c-1c flour because the dough was just too sticky to work with. Added 2 additional cups of raisins, a teaspoon of vanilla to the egg, and added an instant mocha coffee mix (about 3 tbsp, heaping) to the cinnamon-sugar mix. Will probably increase the vanilla to 2 tsp next time. I should probably also not let this rise overnight. We ended up with monster loaves that were crawling off the cookie sheets I let them rise on. All in all, DELISH. edit: my mom had some church friends over and served the bread; they loved it so much they asked to take some home!

From: plantfreek
Ive made this bread 3x's & I"m wondering if anyone else has had this problem with it. First time it turned out nice. 2nd&3rd times,following recipe exactly the same way as the 1st time, I've had to add 1-1.5cups more flour to it to even be able to handle it. I've been baking bread since I was 8 and do it for a living. Is this a recipe that is affected by the vagaries of weather? I just can't figure it out. It has been sooo sticky the last 2 times I've been unable to get it to form a ball cleaning the sides of my KA commercial mixer. Can't figure out why theres been such discrep- ancies between batches. I'm a real stickler for following directions the first couple times I bake a recipe so I get a feel for what it's sposed to be like. Anyone baked this and had the same thing happen? I do like the flavor and when it rises-wow-it heads for the roof of my oven!TIA.

From: funsport1213
I can't add anymore than everyone else. It was wonderful and makes even better french toast. Made over Christmas when I had a houseful of people. Half was gone Christmas day and the rest was gone in the morning when I made french toast and people wanted more. Definitely a keeper!

From: Ah-Lia!
Made this last night but downscaled the recipe from 3 to 2 loaves. Based on the large number of positive reviews, I am going to blame my review on the quantity change. This was easy to make and the dough was delightful to work with. However, I found the flavor of the bread to be lacking and somewhat odd-tasting. My experience tells me it needs more salt and more sugar than the 2 loaf recipe states. It's on the edge of being really good but just isn't.I might also add some vanilla and/or butter flavoring; more sugar/cinnamon mixture, more raisins and instead of brushing the dough with milk, try using one with salted butter and one unsalted to see which tastes better.

From: Chef Kate
Let me be the twenty-first to say that this is WONDERFUL bread! This would be great bread without the raisins and the cinnamon sugar. Lovely crust and lovely crumb. Slices and toasts beautifully. I'll be making this bread often.

From: JPGR
Based on the reviews, I was expecting a better tasting bread. I followed the recipe to the letter. The recipe was easy to follow and the dough turned out great - easy to work with. The bread looked fabulous, but the aroma and taste were lacking. It had an unusual, almost bland flavor. I might try again increasing the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Another reviewer suggested a bit more salt - good idea.

From: Sophie1017
Just delicious! I won't look any further after tasting this one. Makes three HUGE loaves. I ended up using a little more than 9 cups of flour and still had a nice moist dough. Use the freshest ingredients you can get. The flour makes all the difference here. If you get an off taste in your bread as one reviewer said, the culprit is probably rancid flour.

From: Chef~V
This is a wonderful bread. The smell while baking was heavenly. Definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing! ~V

From: RobinS Smith
We finally got some rain here in Southern Cailfornia, and when its cold and rainy I love to make breads. I have been wanting to try this recipe for so long. I prefer non- machine breads as I feel I need to put lots of love in my bread I loved this recipe , it was alot of fun to make. It was easy and smelled really good thru the entire house. My chidren loved it as well as my husband. I don't think the three loafs are going to last much longer. I need to make more. Awesome recipe with amazing results. -Yum :D

From: Lutie
Excellent! Easy! Enticing Smell! Engulfed a whole loaf in one sitting! Nothing more needs to be said. This is a great recipe.

From: KyAmy
Update: The bread has been raved about by several co-workers.

From: Vino p.o. prn
This was very good and easier to make than it seems! I used 1 1/2 cups white AP flour and 6 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour. I'm sure that it would have been a lighter/fluffier bread if I used all white AP flour but for the added nutrition of whole wheat we don't mind the difference! My bread was done in only 30 minutes and I made sure they were approx 3 inches in diameter. This recipe makes a lot of time I may half the recipe or maybe freeze the leftover dough. Also, next time I'll add more raisins!

From: Chef #268402
I have to agree with the other reviewers--this bread is delicious. I followed the recipe with the one exception being I only baked for 30 minutes. I rub butter on the top of my loaves immediately upon removing from the oven. I posted a picture but the inside of the bread is so pretty. These will make nice gifts, something to bring to the hostess of a party or whatnot.

From: L. Duch
First I have to say. I need to read the amounts of ingredients before jumping in I usually do read the amounts, but for some reason I didn't this time.) lol I was half way through and realized I needed 8 cups of flour. My bad. Whew! The kneading sure gave me a work out. lol And my neighbor got a nice warm surprise when I was done. That being said, this was the best cinnimon bread I've ever eaten. I will definatly make this again. Can't wait until morning to have some toasted with butter spread on it. I think dried blueberries would be nice in this too opposed to raisins.

From: Ty's Kitchen
We love this! I think DS ate an entire loaf himself! I added a tsp. sugar to the yeast. Next time I will add more raisins.

From: spreadnjoy
I was just going to enter the exact same recipe, thought I'd check and make sure that there weren't any others like it... and here it is!! This is a recipe that I have made quite often, and OMG this is the BEST!! But beware, you will become addicted! Also I made this at Christmastime and the yeast wasn't active or something,it didn't raise AT ALL, but I went ahead and cooked it, it was a bit heavy (obviously) but my mom said she preferred it that way, because the flavors were more condensed and it was almost like a sticky bun. So in short you really can't ruin this bread.

From: Juliansmommy!
Great Bread! My hubby loves rasin bread and when he tried this he said no more store bought. Im gonna try the left over loaf in French toast! Thanks for the wonderful recipe. Its really the best!!!

From: Chef #285867
Delicious! This was my first attempt at making homemade bread and it turned out so beautiful. I had a perfect swirl of cinnamon in the center! The only thing I caution is the baking time. Mine got a little too be sure to check as your bread bakes. It is well worth the effort!

From: Littlemomma
THis is soooo gooood... you got two thumbs up from my kids..i did however leave out the raisins... when i made these with our breakfast the kids even wanted to put put cinnamon butter on them like they do toast & they don't hardly eat their toast... now they do & so do we.. one loaf dissapers in a weekend

From: Chef #330470
Superfluous to say this is a great recipe...!! I have only just begun using my first stand mixer ever and also just beginning at age 64 to make breads. This wonderful raisin bread was the first success in the bread area in the first week of "learning" bread baking. Thank you Lydia for posting this. I am a new member today...and so pleased to have found this wonderful site. Thanks Grannie-Ann

From: kzbhansen
This is SOOOO good!!! We loved this!!! Im glad it made as many loaves as it did cause my family had the first loaf gone within an hour. I had no trouble with my dough just perfect!! Thanks for posting!!

From: LuvMyWeim
FABULOUS!! This is a wonderful cinnamon raisin bread. Total bakery quality. Very easy to make and such incredible flavour. If you're using a stand mixer make sure to add the last few cups of flour VERY gradually or you will end up wearing the flour like I did. Wonderful recipe, thank you for sharing!

From: Gringo
Told my wife that the best raisin bread I ever had was from Freihofers bakery in upstate New York. However, this beats any, hands down. Excellent. However, as one person mentioned, cooking time was reduced almost 20 minutes. Don't know why, but it was done!

From: watsonlamb
For years I have used a Cinnamon-raisin bread recipe from "Laurel's bread" book. This is so much better. It smells and tastes so good. Thank you!!

From: Ginger Rose
Wonderful!! It reminds me of some bread rolls I once had in Norway.This definitely has to be classified as one of my favourite breads! Thanks.

From: Chellerific
On Jan 13, 2009
Very good bread. Denser than I expected, but good! Thank you.

From: Mrs. Nes
This isn't so much a review.. but a not for myself. Thanks! - use 1 cup raisins per loaf - in plastic container put raisins, eggs, butter, and some vanilla - in mixer bowl all the dry ingredients EXCEPT 2 cups of flour - warm the milk in a pot to 125, then add it to the the plastic container with the raisins - slowly add the wet to the dry... at the end add the last 2 cups - put it in a big buttered bowl with a damp cloth over it - let rise 1 1/2 hrs - for each loaf have ready 1/2 cup sugar + 1 tbs cinnamon + some chopped nuts (opt) - after rise, split dough into 3 sections - roll it out on lightly floured counter - spread 2 tsp milk on dough, then brush a little less than 1/4 cup butter on surface, then sprinkle cinnamon mix over it. - Roll up... stick in buttered bread pan making sure ends are pinched and seam is in bottom of pan. Let rise additonal hour.

From: firealarmqueen
Yum yum yum. I followed the suggestions of adding sugar to the yeast water, I upped the raisins to 3 cups (though I think 2 will do for future use). This was really easy but time consuming. Make sure you have all the ingredients laid out and ready to go so there are no surprises. Other than pizza dough, this is my first yeast bread; I think it turned out really well. It's only been done for a few hours and one loaf is almost gone UPDATED TO ADD: MY PARENTS AND I POLISHED OFF 2 LOAVES IN A WEEKEND...GAVE AWAY THE 3RD, FORTUNATELY, OR WE WOULD'VE HAD A BREAD-OVERDOSE...

From: Chef #1012753
So delicious! It was my first bread ever and it turned out perfect. Read reviews and followed a few suggestions, added 1 T sugar to the yeast and increased the sugar/cinnamon mixture slightly. I also washed the dough with 1 T milk and 1 T melted butter. That was a great suggestion! I did have to add some flour for manageability and I only cooked it for 30 minutes! Turned out perfect. Even tossed in walnuts to one loaf. My family loved it. I have a feeling I'll be repeating this around the holidays!

From: SAHMof2
I am in the UK and wanted to recreate some authentic American food to remind us of our recent trip to the States, and I am a BIG cinnamon raisin bread fan (along with the rest of my brood :o))) This ABSOLUTELY hit the spot,hhhhmmm it is truly delicious, toasted and buttered it is even more so. I am no masterchef, and this was really easy, time consuming, but easy. I also reduced baking time to 30 minutes (I dont like the crust to be TOO crusty) and the results were, well fabulous. I well definately be baking this one again, for sure!!

From: Nuttie Moo
I made this bread exactly as the recipe stated but i don't what all the fuss was about. It had a terrible texture and a revoulting taste that made me sick. Even the uncooked dough tasted better.

From: Mami Janine
Yes, it is the best cinnamon raisin bread I've ever had. I used part whole wheat flour and increased the raisins, sugar and cinnamon a bit. It was a very hot day, so the dough was sticky and took more than 8 cups flour to get it manageable. Also, after I warmed the milk, I added the raisins to it so that they would plump. Thank you very much for posting!

From: zoegirl21
I made this with all whole wheat flour and it turned out pretty dense, but smelled, looked, and tasted wonderful. Thanks for posting. Rolling it up and getting the swirl was way worth not just throwing it in the bread machine. However, I found that I had way way way enough sugar cinnamon mixture to coat the rectangle like three times over though. Oh well...I'm not going to complain about more sugar!

From: melmaddie
This is absolutely wonderful! It was very easy (yes, I little time consuming – but worth it). I followed the recipe as written except adding 1T of sugar to bloom the yeast, and added more raisins. For some reason my dough needed about 2 more cups of flour to be manageable. I ended up only cooking mine for 35 minutes. So easy and just as good as store bought.

From: AnitaG
This was delicious! I used almost 3 cups of wheat flour and the rest was AP flour. I added more raisins based on other reviews. My house smelled wonderful! I don't think we'll be eating the store bought version anymore!

From: Lydia's Mother
this was sooooooooooo good it was unbelievable!! I will be making this again and again and again and . . . LOL

From: RachelRoo
I hate to be negative when obviously so many people loved this bread, however I found the recipe to be dissappointing. Perhaps it was because I tried to use about half whole wheat pastry flour, a cup of fresh ground whole wheat flour, a few Tbsp. of gluten flour (to compensate for the lack of gluten in the whole wheat flour) and white flour for the remainder. We omitted the raisins, but other than that, followed the recipe exactly - even checking the temperature of the yeast mixture and the cooled milk. The dough was very heavy and dense, and took forever to rise. The cinnamon/sugar mix for sure needs to be increased - maybe doubled - and I think I'll stick with brown sugar for this purpose. My good ol' whole wheat bread recipe that I generally use when I make cinnamon bread always puffs way up, only has to rise once and is more flavorful than this recipe was. After all the work and time that went into this bread, my hubby and kids were not impressed. In our opinion, it was not sweet enough (and we're not sugar-holics), nor particularily flavorful, and did not rise very much. I am willing to acknowledge that perhaps the wheat flour threw things all off. I have made, literally, hundreds of loaves of bread in my relatively short lifetime, but I'm afraid I will not try to experiment with this one any further.

From: Chicago Clare
Very good, and easy to put together- it all happened just as described. Only needed 30 minutes in the oven. When I first tried it, I was wishing it was just a little sweeter overall as others have posted. Day 2 I found that it's best when sliced THIN - about 1/4 inch- then the sweetness in the cinnamon swirl comes through.

From: Onolishious
After reading most of the reviews, i felt encouraged to try this recipe. This recipe was easy to make. Instead of adding flour gradually, i poured the liquid mix into the flour (8cups)and knead the dough in the bowl, adding a little bit of flour while kneading it. My dough did not seem to rise (maybe because i let it rise for only 1hour). I shaped it into loafs and they seem to rise a little bit in the pan. I was surprised when they came out of the oven in perfect shape. I don't know if dough rises during baking but mine did. The bread was soft and delicious. Two minutes after the breads came out of the oven, my husband and my four young children sliced and ate them. Thank you Linda for sharing this recipe. It's a keeper. A BIG "Thank You" to all of you who shared your experience with this recipe. If there weren't many of you, i would have missed this delicious treat.

From: crazyPastrychef
Very good... my family loved it very much that i have to make it every weekend...

From: pixieglenn
This is the perfect recipe! It came out perfect, moist, just the right sweetness, and it's a big loaf! I didn't have the problem the previous reviewer had, mine came out great so I am not sure what happened with her. I am very happy with this recipe and will be adding it to our regular breakfast repertoire. Thank you!

OMG GREAT! I made this recipe after trying about 20 others. This by far is the best. It was light, with a wonderful crust, 3 loaves were not enough the next weekend I had to double the recipe.

From: Chef #946545
I had been searching for a cinnamon raisin bread recipe, and found this one. It is fantastic. My husband loves cinnamon raisin bread for breakfast. It got too expensive to buy at the grocery store. I have made this recipe several times and everyone who has eaten it raves about how good it is. Also I increased the amount of raisins and sugar and cinnamon, because my husband wanted it a little sweeter and wanted more raisins. I divided the dough into thirds to make it easier to handle when shaping the loaves. Thanks so much for putting it on the internet.

From: Yia Yia
This is excellent! I've been on a bread baking rampage, trying to improve my skill. This recipe was easy and turned out perfectly, thus increasing my confidence! I love that it makes 3 big yummy loaves. I was able to share with a couple of drop ins and still have some to take to work tomorrow.

From: JOY1998
5 stars! I read all the reviews and added extra raisins and sugar. I like my bread sweeter that is why I added extra sugar, but I think that following the original recipe would be great too! I really like making bread the old-fashioned way. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.


Mystic Pizza-Style Pizza

From Lora Brody's cookbook, "Pizza, Focaccia, Flat, and Filled Breads From Your Bread Machine — Perfect EveryTime".

For the dough:
2 teaspoons yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons water

Finish the pizza with:
2 tablespoons olive oil
fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce or pizza sauce
1-1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place dough ingredients in the machine in the order recommended by its manufacturer. Program for Dough, Basic Dough, or Manual, and press Start.

When dough cycle completes, transfer the dough to a floured work surface and let rest for 5 minutes.

Lightly dust a heavy baking sheet with cornmeal and set it aside.

Roll out the dough to an 11-inch circle.

Transfer the dough onto the baking sheet.

Brush olive oil over the surface of the dough; sprinkle salt and pepper over the top.

Leaving a 1-inch border, spread the sauce over the surface of the dough and top the sauce with the mozzarella.

Bake the pizza for 20 minutes until the crust is a nice golden brown.

Makes one 11-inch pizza


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Coffee-Caramel Creme Brulee

2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1/4 cup dark-roast coffee beans (such as French roast; about 3/4 ounce), crushed with mallet in plastic bag
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
2 cups half and half
8 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 teaspoons raw sugar*

Bring 1 cup cream and coffee beans to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat; cover and let steep at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Stir 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, swirling pan occasionally, about 11 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add remaining 1 cup whipping cream (mixture will bubble up). Stir over low heat until caramel is smooth. Stir in half and half. Strain coffee-infused cream into caramel cream; discard coffee beans in strainer.

Whisk yolks, salt, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in cream mixture. Strain custard into large measuring cup.

Arrange eight 2/3-to 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups in roasting pan. Divide custard among ramekins. Add enough warm water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins or custard cups.

Bake custards until just set in center, 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer custards from water bath directly to refrigerator. Chill uncovered until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

Sprinkle top of each custard with 1 teaspoon raw sugar. Using kitchen torch, melt sugar on each custard until deep amber. (Alternatively, preheat broiler. Arrange custards on small rimmed baking sheet; broil until sugar topping melts and browns, about 2 minutes.) Refrigerate custards until sugar topping hardens, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour (do not chill longer than 1 hour or topping will start to soften). Serve custards cold.

* Also called turbinado or demerara sugar; available at most supermarkets and at natural foods stores.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Falling Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Ingredients for Chocolate Cake:
2 T unsalted butter, for preparing ramekins
2 T all-purpose flour, for preparing ramekins
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
6 large eggs

Ingredients for Raspberry Sauce:
4 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
½ cup sugar
1 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation of Chocolate Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter and flour six 8-ounce ramekins.

Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir until completely melted. Set aside to cool.

Place the sugar, flour and eggs in a large bowl and beat until thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gently beat in the cooled chocolate mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins, filling them two-thirds to three quarters of the way up the sides. Bake until they begin to puff up, about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each ramekin and turn the ramekin upside down on a plate to unmold

Preparation of Raspberry Sauce:
Place the raspberries and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring over high heat. Boil until the sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice to taste. Let cool.

Place half the sauce in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and puree. Combine with the remaining sauce, cover, and refrigerate until cold.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cappuccino Brownies

For brownie layer:
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1/2 tablespoon boiling water
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

For cream cheese frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For glaze:
3 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 1/4 teaspoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1/2 tablespoon boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan, knocking out excess flour.

Make brownie layer:
In a heavy 1 1/2-quart saucepan melt chocolate and butter with espresso mixture over low heat, stirring, until smooth and remove pan from heat. Cool mixture to lukewarm and whisk in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well until mixture is glossy and smooth. Stir in flour and salt until just combined and stir in walnuts.

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake in middle of oven 22 to 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it. Cool brownie layer completely in pan on a rack.

Make cream cheese frosting:
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon and beat until combined well. Spread frosting evenly over brownie layer. Chill brownies 1 hour, or until frosting is firm.

Make glaze:
In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate and butter with cream and espresso mixture, stirring, until smooth, and remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat. Cool glaze to room temperature.

Spread glaze carefully over frosting. Chill brownies, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours.

Cut chilled brownies into 24 squares and remove them from pan while still cold. Serve brownies cold or at room temperature. Brownies keep, covered and chilled, in one layer, 5 days.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pan-Seared Duck Breasts with Cocoa-Nib Spice Rub

1 T roasted cocoa nibs
2 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 juniper berries
3 whole cloves
4 boneless duck breasts, about 8 ounces each

In a mortar or spice grinder, grind the cocoa nibs, salt, peppercorns, juniper berries and cloves to a powder. Massage this spice rub onto both sides of the duck breasts. Put the breasts on a flat rack and set the rack on a tray so that air circulates all around them. Refrigerate uncovered for 24 to 48 hours. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add the duck breasts, skin side down. Cook the breasts, pouring off fat as it accumulates, until the skin is well browned and crisp, about 12 minutes, adjusting the heat so the skin colors without burning.

Turn the duck breasts and cook on the flesh side for 6 minutes; using tongs, sear all the exposed flesh. Let rest 10 minutes on a cutting board, then slice on the diagonal. Serve immediately.

Serves 4


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Almond Crescent Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup finely ground almonds
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract, the almond extract, and the ground almonds and mix until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Slowly mix in the flour. Make a ball with the dough and roll small pieces of the dough into ovals, then form crescents. Place onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion.

Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly browned.

Cool the cookies on the sheet for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely. When cooled, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Martha's Gingerbread Cupcakes

Ingredients for the gingerbread cupcakes:
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup unsulphered molasses
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

* * * * * * *

Ingredients for limoncello cream cheese frosting:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 stick unsalted butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar
zest of 1 lemon, grated
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T limoncello

Preparing the cupcakes:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper baking cups, and set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. In a bowl, combine boiling water and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, ground spices, salt, and baking powder; set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light. Beat in the brown sugar until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses, baking-soda mixture, and flour mixture. Beat in the eggs.

Fill the cupcake papers three-quarters full, making sure that the batter is divided evenly. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cupcakes cool a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

* * * * * *

Preparing the limoncello cream cheese frosting:
With an electric mixer on medium, beat the cream cheese and butter until softened. Slowly add the sugar, zest, juice and limoncello and beat until creamy, about 3 minutes.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hazelnut Torte

1½ cups hazelnuts, toasted and with skins rubbed off
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus some for the cake pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 T soft butter, plus a bit for the cake pan
1 cup plus 2 T sugar
3 large eggs
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
½ T finely grated orange zest
1 cup milk at room temperature
4 T semisweet chocolate, chopped by hand in small pieces

Garnish: powdered sugar or whipped cream

Recommended Equipment
A 10-inch springform cake pan
A heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the whisk

Butter and flour the cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center.

Chop the hazelnuts in a food processor or mini-chopper to small bits—not to a powder. Set aside.

Whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light, smooth, and fluffy; scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

Incorporate the eggs, olive oil, and orange zest in several additions, blending each in at slow speed, scraping the bowl, then beating at high speed for a couple of minutes to lighten.

On slow speed, incorporate the dry mix in several additions, alternating with splashes of milk. Scrape the bowl when both are added, and beat briefly on high.

Fold in the chopped nuts and chocolate by hand, and blend in well.

Scrape the batter into the cake pan, and smooth the top.

Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and just spring back to a light touch.

Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes or so, remove the side ring of the springform, and let the cake cool completely.

Cut in wedges, and serve topped with powdered sugar or whipped cream. The torte will keep in the refrigerator for a week, well wrapped in plastic, or you can freeze it for longer storage.

When serving torte that has been chilled or frozen, toast the cut pieces in the oven (or toaster oven) to bring out the flavors.

- Add ⅓ cup sour cream and a splash of orange liquor after the eggs and before the flour (for moisture and more intense flavor).

Serve with mascarpone cream:
250 grams of mascarpone
⅓ cup of heavy cream
¼ cup of sugar
grated zest of an orange

Or, serve with orange glaze:
juice of one orange
powdered sugar

Or, serve with pear compote:
4 pears (peeled and chopped)
a strip of orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
¼ of a vanilla bean
-Simmer in a pan of water and sugar (reduced to a thin syrup)
Serve at room temperature over the cake with a dollop of Greek yogurt.


Chinese New Year Dumplings & Dipping Sauce

Ingredients for dumplings:
1/2 lb. green cabbage, very finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
3 T Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 egg white
1 T Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry
1/2 lb. ground pork (or ground beef or lamb)
25 round Asian pasta wrappers, either store-bought or homemade

Ingredients for dipping sauce:
2 T white vinegar
2 T soy sauce
2 T Asian sesame oil
2 T Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry (optional)
pinch of chopped green onions
1-2 teaspoons red chili paste

Ingredients for homemade wonton wrappers:
7-9 T cold water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preparing the dumplings:
Toss the cabbage with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and let sit for 20 minutes. Drain off any excess water, then stir in the green onions.

Mix the sesame oil, sugar, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, the white pepper, egg white and wine into the pork. Add the cabbage misture and stir until evenly combined.

Holding a wrapper in the palm of one hand, place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Tightly close up the dumpling in a half-moon shape. If using store-bought wrappers, dip your finger in water and trace the inside perimeter of the wrapper with water to help create a seal. Make sure each dumpling has a clean seal about 1/4-inch wide to prevent water from entering the dumplings when they are boiled. Repeat for all of the dumplings.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the dumplings and cook for 7 minutes. Drain.

Drizzle the dumplings with a little sesame oil to prevent sticking, and serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Makes about 25 dumplings

Preparing the dipping sauce:
Mix together all ingredients. Taste and, if needed, add more vinegar or red chili paste to balance the flavors. Transfer to a small bowl and serve alongside the dumplings.

Preparing the wonton wrappers:
Mix 7 tablespoons of water into the flour until it forms a soft dough. Add more water as needed to bring the doiugh together. Shape into a ball and let sit for 15 minutes.

Form the dough into a long 1-inch thick roll. Cut the roll into 1-inch lengths, roll each into a ball, then use a rolling pin to roll out thin, round wrappers about 4 inches in diameter. Dust with flour to prevent wrappers from sticking to each other.

Makes about 25 wrappers


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Smoked Salmon on Chive Potato Pancakes with Mustard Sauce

Potato Pancakes:
8 ounces sliced smoked salmon
1 large russet potato, shredded
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
2 T spanish onion, finely diced
2 T chives, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

2 T butter or olive oil

Spicy Mustard Sauce::
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup white wine
1 teaspoon Coleman’s Dry Mustard
3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
1 dash cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Potato Pancakes:
Shred potato into beaten egg.

Add onion, chives, salt and pepper, flour and mix well.

Heat saute pan until hot. Add oil and drop approximately ¼ cup of pancake mixture into the pan and immediately flatten out with a spatula.

Cook on both sides until golden brown.

Drain on a paper towel.

Mustard Sauce:
Combine ingredients (by hand or with mixer) and refrigerate.

Adjust seasonings or consistency after refrigeration.

Pancakes can be served warm or cold. Lay smoked salmon casually on pancakes, drizzle spicy mustard and garnish with whole chives.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups of all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups milk
1 egg
2 T canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
¾ cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray your muffin tins with Pam with flour (or line them with paper muffin cups).

Sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate (large bowl, combine milk, egg, oil, and vanilla extract.

Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined.

Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts (if using).

Fill muffin cups ⅔-¾ full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes (longer if you’re using larger muffin tins, of course), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Just make sure you don’t poke the toothpick into a chocolate chip.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Tiramisu

Ingredients for the ladyfingers:
6 T sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 eggs, separated
1 T powdered sugar

* * * * * *

Ingredients for mascarpone cream:
1 cup mascarpone cheese
4 eggs, separated
4 T sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 to 3 T powdered sugar
vanilla extract, to taste (approximately 1 teaspoon)

* * * * * *

Ingredients for the espresso syrup:
10 ounces brewed espresso
1 T brandy
1 T Kahlua, optional
2 T sugar

* * * * * *

cocoa powder, for dusting
semisweet chocolate shavings

Preparing the ladyfingers:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whip egg yolks and half of the sugar until pale in color.

In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until doubled in size, then add remaining sugar.

Fold flour into egg yolk mixture until completely incorporated.

Fold egg whites into yolk/flour mixture until completely incorporated.

With a pastry bag filled and fitted with a round tip, pipe ladyfingers approximately 3-inch long and 1-inch wide onto baking sheet.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and bake until golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. [In my oven: 325 degrees F for as long as 30 minutes - Watch carefully.]

* * * * * * *

Preparing the mascarpone cream:
Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form, whip powdered sugar into cream, then set aside in refrigerator.

Whip egg yolks and half of sugar until pale in color.

Add mascarpone cheese to yolks and mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until doubled in size, then add remaining sugar until dissolved.

Add vanilla to taste.

Fold in egg whites and whipped cream until completely smooth.

* * * * * * *

Preparing the espresso syrup:
Combine espresso, brandy, Kahlua (if using) and sugar until sugar is dissolved.

* * * * * * *

Assembling the tiramisu:
Soak ladyfingers in the espresso syrup briefly.

In an 8-inch by 8-inch square or round dish, place 1 layer of the ladyfingers.

Spread half of the mascarpone cream on the ladyfingers.

Repeat both steps.

Dust cocoa powder over the top and shave chocolate over the top.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Baked Ziti

1 pound Italian sausage, preferably bulk
1 large onion, diced
1 T minced garlic
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped, with liquid
1 pound ziti or other large cut pasta
1 pound mozzarella, grated or chopped
olive oil or butter as needed
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional
salt and pepper

Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter.

Bring large pot of water to boil; salt it. Heat oven to 400°F.

Distribute meat in large skillet over medium high heat and cook, undisturbed, until browned on one side, about 5 minutes.

Stir and then cook another 2 minutes undisturbed.

Add the onion and garlic. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft; add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer while cooking pasta, stirring and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste; do not let sauce become too thick.

Cook pasta until just tender; it should still be too hard to eat. Drain it (do not shake the colander; allow some water to cling to the noodles) and toss it with the sauce and half the mozzarella.

Spoon mixture into baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan if using.

Bake until top is browned and cheese bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chicken Corn Chowder

2 ounces diced bacon (part for garnish)
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 T diced onion
10 ounces roasted corn kernels
8 ounces chicken stock
4 T butter
4 T flour
2 ounces heavy cream
6 ounces pulled cooked chicken meat
4 ounces diced Yukon gold potatoes
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro leaves (garnish)
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Sauté ½ of the diced bacon. When it is done, drain the fat, then add the garlic, onion and sauté until transparent, but not brown. Add the roasted corn and chicken stock. Bring the soup to a low boil.

In a separate sauté pan, prepare a roux combining equal parts of melted butter and flour.

First, melt 4 tablespoons butter in the hot pan, then add 4 tablespoons flour using a wire whip until the mixture is smooth. Let roux cook until the moisture is cooked out. Allow roux to cool on stovetop.

Meanwhile, let the soup boil on low heat for ½ hour. Then add the cooled roux into the soup use a wire whip to incorporate the roux into the soup. After the roux is completely incorporated, constantly stir soup to keep from burning or roux from sticking to bottom of pan.

Add the cream, pulled chicken meat and diced potato. Let simmer for ½ hour.

Meanwhile, cook the remaining bacon until crisp. Drain grease and chop into small pieces. Place in separate container.

Take cilantro bunches and wash. Dry cilantro. Chop cilantro with no stems (very small pieces.) Place in separate container. As soup is done simmering, add kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Place finished soup in hot soup bowls. Top with garnish of bacon and cilantro right in the center of bowl.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 T water

For the filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1 1/2 T plus 1 teaspoon heavy cream

For the frosting:
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 T unsalted butter, softened

Preparing the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 12-cup nonstick muffin pan with vegetable oil spray.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour and cocoa with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the canola oil, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the water. Beat in the dry ingredients at low speed until smooth.

In a clean bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat one-fourth of the whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them halfway. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cupcakes are springy when touched. Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Preparing the filling:
In a medium bowl, beat the butter with the confectioners' sugar, Marshmallow Fluff and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the heavy cream at medium speed until fluffy. Transfer all but 1/2 cup of the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain round tip. Beat the remaining 1 teaspoon of cream into the remaining 1/2 cup of filling and reserve.

Line a large baking sheet with wax paper. Insert the tip of the pastry bag about 1/2 inch deep into the bottom of each cupcake; squeeze lightly to fill with cream. Set the cupcakes on the sheet.

Preparing the frosting:
Heat the cream in a small saucepan until steaming. Add the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Spread the top of each cupcake with the frosting. Spoon the reserved filling into a pastry bag fitted with a very small plain tip and pipe decorative swirls on each cupcake. Refrigerate the cupcakes for at least 10 minutes to set the frosting.

Makes 1-dozen cupcakes


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Marsala Ice Cream

1 qt. vanilla ice cream, softened

½ cup Marsala wine, or to taste

Mix the wine into the softened ice cream, or add to the end of the mixing procedure of your own ice cream recipe.


Makes 1 quart.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pumpernickel Raisin Bread, Another Way

1/2 cup lukewarm strong coffee (110 degrees F.)
1/2 cup lukewarm water or milk (110 degrees F.)
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1 T Dutch process cocoa
1 T caraway seeds
1/2 cup bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour*
1/2 cup light rye flour*
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 T instant active dry yeast
1/2 cup raisins

In a bread machine:

Add all the ingredients except raisins and cornmeal in the bread pan of bread machine.

Process according to manufacturer's instructions for a dough setting.

NOTE: When the bread machine has completed the dough cycle, remove the dough from the pan to a lightly floured surface. Add the raisins to the dough. Knead the dough with the raisins to mix the raisins in and form the dough into an oval; cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The Luddite-version [by hand]:

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a 5 quart stand mixer, add all the ingredients except raisins.

Using dough hook, mix everything together into a uniform dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until elastic, adding raisins, about 15 minutes.

NOTE: In an electric mixer, it should take about 9 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

After resting, knead dough on a lightly floured board by pulling the dough towards you and then pushing down and forward with the palms of your hands (kneading gives the bread the elasticity and lets it rise).

Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Let rise approximately 1 hour or until it doubles in volume (when you can put your finger in the dough and it leaves and indentation and doesn't spring back out).

After dough has risen, remove from bowl, and place on a lightly floured board. Shape dough either into a loaf shape or a 10-inch disk; place on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet that is dusted with cornmeal, or use cookie sheet lined with a Silpat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

After rising, dust the top of the bread with rye flour and slash the bread with a bread razor or a very sharp knife making three 1/2-inch deep diagonal slashes. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until nicely browned. Use an instant digital thermometer (temperature should be between 200 and 210 degrees) to test the bread for doneness. Remove from oven and place the bread on a wire rack to cool. Let cool for 30 minutes before cutting; bread continues to cook while cooling.

Makes 1 large loaf.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Sweet Potato Yeast Bread in the Bread Machine

1 cup mashed canned sweet potatoes (drained)
1/4 cup skim milk
2 T butter
1 large egg
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 T brown sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1-1/4 tsp. bread machine yeast (or active dry yeast)

Add ingredients to your bread machine in order specified by manufacturer, using the basic or white bread cycle with a light crust.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Lamb Curry

3 T vegetable oil
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup applesauce
2 T flour
3 T curry powder or more, depending upon the degree of hotness desired
1 cup beef consomme'
1/2 dry red wine
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup raisins
4 cloves
1 bay leaf
2 cups 1-inch cubes cooked lamb
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 T sour cream
salt to taste
1 T peanut butter

Preparing the lamb curry:
In a heavy 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat and saute the bell pepper, onion and garlic until the onion is transparent, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in the applesauce. Sprinkle the flour and curry powder over the mixture in the pan and blend well. Cook 3 minutes over moderate-low heat.

Slowly stir in the consomme, wine, and lemon juice, blending well. Stir in the raisins, cloves, and bay leaf. Simmer until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Simmer uncovered another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick sauce.

This much may be done ahead of time and refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance. If refrigerated at this point, reheat sauce 10-15 minutes.

When ready to serve, add the lamb, coconut and sour cream. Heat 3-5 minutes, stirring well. Salt to taste. Just before serving, remove the cloves and bay leaf and add the peanut butter. Correct the seasoning.

Serve with hot buttered rice and bowls of the condiments of your choice, each with its own spoon. A simple tossed salad with a light dressing of oil and lemon juice is all that is needed to accompany the curry.

This casserole may be made early in the day and reheated for 20 minutes just before serving.

Suggested condiments: chutney, bean sprouts, sliced grapes or bananas, shredded coconut, grated cheddar cheese, mashed avocado, crumbled cooked bacon.
Or any of the following finely chopped: green onions, hard-boiled eggs, oranges, mangoes, water chestnuts, radishes, apples, raw mushrooms, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, pineapple, green pepper, tomatoes, sweet pickles, celery, carrots.

Note: This recipe is infinitely expandable simply by doubling or tripling the ingredients, or even halved.

Serves 6


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