Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Triple Chocolate Biscotti

Mark and I love eating biscotti, he eats it with his coffee and I drink it with my hot chocolate.  The first time I ate homemade biscotti is when Ginny (Eli's girlfriend) made it for me as a Christmas gift.  I was hooked!!!!!!  It took me many tries to get them to taste as good as hers.  The key is to let the roll cool before you cut them (and bake again).  Because they are twice baked they last awhile, only if they last that long.  Here is Ginny's biscotti recipe!!  Thanks Gin!  

Triple Chocolate Biscotti
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened:room temp
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips (semi-sweet, or dark)-gheradelli
  • 6-8 oz.  white chocolate chips (toll house), melted...this is for the topping so do this while they are cooling
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in cocoa and baking powder. Beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in flour by hand. Mix in chocolate chips.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into two parts, and roll each part into a 9 inch long log. Place logs on lightly greased cookie sheet, about 4 inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool for one hour (this part is crucial).
  • Cut each loaf into 1/2 inch wide diagonal slices. Place slices on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 325 degrees F  for 7 minutes. Turn cookies over, and bake for 7 minutes. I let cool on a baking rack and then I drizzle/smear melted white chocolate on top.  The KEY to melting white chocolate is to put the chips in a sauce pan on very low heat stirring continually and turn off the heat once the white chips are melted.  If you don't keep an eye on them, you are likely to burn it. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Wild Mushroom Risotto!!

    Our friends Kendra, and Jay came over for dinner so I wanted to make a meal that I could "semi-prepare" ahead of time so I could hang out with my guests when they came.  The one thing with Risotto is that you have to be very patient and to keep it on low heat.  I generally take much longer cooking mine (by keeping it on low heat) and it makes it extra flavorful and creamy.  This risotto was A-ma-zing!  I could have this at least one day a week, if not more.  I am not sure if people think that it is too hard to make, but I will reassure you that it is not!  Just follow the directions and make sure that you stay on top of it!  Also, people may think that it is expensive to make???  Because if you order it at a restaurant it is...expensive.  The reason why it is so expensive, is because of the time it takes...again, be patient it will be well worth your time.  Plus your guests will rave about it!  So go on, treat your guests to an amazing meal!!  They (and you) deserve it!!!

    Wild Mushroom Risotto
    1-ounce dried oyster mushrooms
    2 8 oz. fresh porcini or cremini mushrooms- chopped into thick slices
    4-6 cups chicken stock ( I used Rachael Ray)
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    6 ounces pancetta, diced
    3 shallots, chopped
    1 3/4 cups Arborio rice
    3/4 cup dry white wine
    1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    5 oz. Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

    Boil the dried oyster shrooms in a sauce pan in 2 cups of water for 20 min. Scoop the oyster shrooms from the water with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. You should have 2 cups; if not, add water to make 2 cups. Drain the oyster shrooms and rinse once more. If some of the mushrooms are large, cut into 2 or 3 pieces. Pour the mushroom liquid through a coffee filter or paper towel, discarding the gritty solids. Set the mushrooms and the liquid aside separately. Meanwhile, remove and discard the stems of the porcini and rub any dirt off the caps with a damp paper towel. Don't rinse them! Slice thickly and set aside.
    In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock with the 2 cups of reserved mushroom liquid and bring to a simmer.
    In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the oyster shrooms and porcini and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of the chicken stock mixture to the rice plus the saffron, salt, and pepper. Stir and simmer over low heat until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock mixture, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry before adding more of the stock mixture. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 25 to 30 minutes total. When done, the risotto should be thick and creamy and not at all dry. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese. 
    Brussel Sprouts
    I cut them in half and place them in a large saute pan with olive oil and lemon juice (med-high heat).  Season with salt and pepper.  Stirring them occasionally.  You want them naturally caramelize and not too over cooked.
    The risotto was so flavorful and creamy!  Mark said it was the BEST risotto that he's ever had!  And we've gone to some 5 star restaurants, so that made me feel really good!  But, I thought it was a-ma-zing!
    The Brussel sprouts are so simple and easy to make, but they are full of flavor when you add the lemon juice.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Mary's Famous Lemon Cupcake!!

    So I made these during the summer a few times, and they are absolutely to-die-for!!!!!  As soon as the frosting graces your palate you are instantly in heaven!!!!!  The cupcake itself is so moist and full of flavor!!  The fresh zests and juices from both the lemon and limes make it so fresh and delicious!  As you can tell I am absolutely head over heal for these cupcakes.  Every time I bite into one of these tears come to my eyes.  If you want to experience true ecstasy you need to make these, or you can always call me up and I would be more than happy to make them!!!!!!

    Lemon Cupcakes
    1/2 cup of unsalted butter-room temp
    3/4 cup of sugar
    2 eggs
    1 grated lemon rind/zest-use juice from whole lemon
    1 grated lime rind/zest-use juice from whole lime
    1 tsp pure lemon extract1 1/2- 1 3/4 cups of all-purposed flour (it really depends how juicy the citrus is)
    1 teaspoon of baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon of salt
    3/4 cup of milk
    Preheat the oven to 350. In large bowl, beat butter with granulated sugar until fluffy.  Add in eggs, 1 at a time. Then add in lemon and lime rinds/zests , lemon juice, lime juice and lemon extract. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix into butter mixture alternately with milk.  Spoon into cupcake liners or cups.  Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  Let them cool for an hour before frosting.

    1 stick of butter-room temp
    8 oz. cream cheese-room temp
    8 oz. white chocolate chips-heated until smooth
    3-4 cups of confectioner's sugar
    1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
    1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
    1 whole lemon zested
    Using a mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until it is nice and fluffy. Add in the white chocolate, confectioner's sugar and vanilla, continue to mix till smooth. Wash the lemon and using a zester, zest the whole lemon and add to mixture.  Add the lemon juice with the mixture and whip it good. If you want, tint the frosting lemon yellow!
    I mean look at these beauties!  I just want to dive my teeth into these!!!  I usually decorate the top with a lemon rind that I have candied!  

    Also, another tip to why these are so good is that I fill the center with lemon curd (stonewall kitchen)!  It adds so much more flavor and keep them extra moist.  Also, it adds a fun surprise!!!!!!!!

    And seriously I will make them for anyone, anytime!!!!!!!!
    Mary Proulx

      Saturday, September 11, 2010

      Mark and I love Thai food.  I've always used the Asia box mix, and add stuff to it.  It is always good, but I wanted to make it from scratch.  After I made the sauce, I was really skeptical and I almost threw it out.  It smelled really bad!  But, I went for it and it was so freakin good!!!!!  I also have never had tofu in my Pad Thai, and I used my panini press to get it crispy.  The tofu added an extra texture and flavor that really married well with the dish!!!  This recipe makes a lot, so it is perfect for a dinner party of four, or to have leftovers.  

      Shrimp Tofu and Chicken Pad Thai

      8 ounces extra-firm tofu
      2 boneless chicken breasts
      2 tbls peanut oil (more for brushing)
      salt and pepper
      2 shallots, finely chopped
      2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
      1 tbls ancho chili powder
      2 tsp tamarind paste, reconstituted in 1/4 cup water
      1/4 cup rice vinegar
      2 tbls fish sauce
      2 tablespoons brown sugar 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
      1 pound Thai rice noodles, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained
      1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
      4 ounces bean sprouts
      1/4 cup cashews, toasted and coarsely chopped
      • Heat grill to high (or you can use a panini press, or stove top). Brush both sides of tofu and chicken with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the tofu on each side for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly charred, remove, and cut into thin slices. Grill the chicken for 4 minutes per side or until slightly charred and just cooked through, remove, and cut into thin slices.

      Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft. Add the ancho powder and cook for 10 seconds. Add the tamarind mixture, vinegar, fish sauce, brown sugar, and peanut butter and bring to a boil.  Place the cooked noodles, tofu, shrimp and chicken in a large bowl. Pour the boiling sauce over the noodles and toss gently until until combined. Fold in the green onion,  and bean sprouts and top with the chopped nuts.

      I love this picture, because it shows all the delicious ingredients and how the sauce perfectly coats the dish.  By making the peanut sauce from scratch, it added so much more flavor and you get the real sense of Thai food.  I think if you try this dish, you will think that you were eating right on gulf of Thailand itself.  It truly was an amazing dish!!!!

      To Tainlandia,
      Mary Proulx

      Tuesday, September 7, 2010

      Chicken and Sausage Etouffee

      I saw this dish in Food and Wine magazine.  It looked like something Mark and I would love, and boy did we!!!  It was so savory and hearty, it definitely stuck to the ribs!  The recipe called for andouille sausage, but I already had the spicy chicken sausage, so I substituted it.  It definitely gave the meal more of a spicy kick, that really warmed your stomach.  I cooked the green pepper el dente and it added a nice fresh crunch!  If you're looking for a meal to fill you up and satisfy your spicy cravings, this is the meal for you!  I will definitely make this meal again!!!  It was great left over!!

      Chicken and Sausage Etouffee
      1/4 cup canola oil
      1/4 cup flour
      1 onion, diced
      1 green bell pepper, diced
      2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
      12 oz. spicy chicken sausage, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
      3 tbls tomato paste
      2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
      1 tbls crushed red pepper (or less if you don't like it that spicy)
      3/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, 1/2 inch pieces
      salt and pepper
      Steamed rice to serve with it
      Using a large deep skillet, heat oil and flour over medium heat for around 2 min (until a little brown and flour smell is cooked out), whisking continuously.  Add onion, pepper and garlic, season them with salt and pepper, for 5 min.  Add sausage, tomato paste, crushed red pepper flakes and broth until thickened.  Stir in chicken and simmer until cooked through.  Season again with salt and pepper...serve over rice!
      Ciao friends,
      Mary Proulx

      Friday, September 3, 2010

      Spicy Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

      I saw this recipe in Food and Wine, and it looked delicious.  I changed a few of the ingredients, and I added more of certain ones too.  When I looked at the recipe I miss read the amount of cheese, so I over cheesed...and it made the grits a little too thick.  Next time I make it, I wouldn't add so much cheese, so it is more bothy.  Overall I thought the dish was delicious.  I was a fan of the spicy shrimp on top, the wine gave it some excellent flavor, that was out of this world good!!!  I didn't have spicy paprika so I was definitely missing that kick of heat, but I thought this meal was excellent.  My dads side of the family is part Native American and has always used grits, so I have been a fan of them forever!!  Needless to say, grits are a food that I always have in my cabinets.
      Cheesy Grits
      3/4 cup quick-cooking grits
      3 cups water
      3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese (preferably white)
      2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
      1/4 cups snipped chives
      salt and pepper
      In medium sauce pan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  Add grits with a pinch of salt.  Cover and cook over low heat for 5-7 min.  Season with salt and pepper and stir in cheese, spinach, and chives.  Stir until the cheese is melted and the spinach is wilted.  Serve spicy shrimp over the cheesy grits.
      Spicy Shrimp
      1 lb shelled shrimp
      1/4 cup canola oil
      2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
      1 tsp hot paprika
      1/4 cup dry white wine
      salt and pepper
      In a large skillet, heat canola oil with garlic over high heat, 30 seconds.  Add the shrimp and paprika, cook until the shrimp are opaque (2 min or so).  Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and cook until the shrimp are white and the sauce is slightly reduced.

      As you can see the sauce from the picture, the spicy shrimp has a nice vibrant broth.  I don't cook with wine much, but this definitely turned me on!  I absolutely loved this dish, Mark on the other hand didn't like the texture of the cheesy grits (probably because of the extra cheese).

      Ciao amico,
      Mary Proulx

      Monday, August 30, 2010

      Peach Crisp...for adults!

      The other day I went to the farmers market, and they had "seconds" on peaches.  They were a dollar a pound!!!  I guess they are having a tough peach year, due to the lack of rain.  So most are small, and bruised.  I thought it would be perfect for a dessert.  The Disaronno was a perfect addition to the flavor of the peaches.  If you don't have Disaronno, you can use any almond flavor, or leave it out.  It truly was a perfect summer dessert.
      Peach Crisp
      8 medium peaches, peeled and sliced
      1 cup water
      3 tbls cornstarch
      1/3 cup sugar
      1 tsp pure vanilla
      2 tbls butter
      3 tbls Disaronno
      Preheat oven to 375.  Bake for 20 min (or until crisp is golden brown) Place peaches, water, cornstarch, butter and sugar into a pan.  Heat on medium and cook until the sauce is thickened.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and Disarrono.  Place in a buttered 8X8 pan.

      6 tbls butter, melted
      1/3 cup brown sugar
      3 tbls flour
      1-1.5 cups of oats
      Once butter is melted combine with sugar and let them get happy with one another.  Then you can add oats and flour, stir and sprinkle over the peaches.

      Mary Proulx

      Thursday, August 26, 2010

      Proscuitto and Parmesan Pasta

      As you can tell I am a huge fan of one course meals.  I love having a one pot meal that has the protein, starch and vegetable.  It makes it so much easier and cost effective for people on a budget.  This meal has it all and you don't have to have any sides (unless you wish).
      Prosciutto and Parmesan Pasta
      1 lb pasta
      1/2 cup Italian parsley (cut it up into small pieces)
      3 tbls. green onions (cut in small slices)
      1 tbls. butter
      1/2 cup shredded Parmesan (or more, the more the better)
      1/4 cup olive oil
      1 bunch thin asparagus (cut in half, and steamed)
      4 oz. prosciutto (cut into small strips)

      In a large pan, melt butter and add green onions and saute for a few minutes then add prosciutto strips. Cook pasta until el dente. Steam asparagus until el dente (keep an eye on this, because it cooks very quick). In the large pan with the green onions and prosciutto add the pasta, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, parsley, cooked asparagus, and S+P to taste stir and serve.
      I absolutely love parmesan cheese!!!  It is so salty, and flavorful.  My step sister in law, Christin, first introduced me to a dish similar to this.  That was around the time when I first became a huge fan of prosciutto.  I added asparagus to make it more like a complete meal, and the more parmesan the better!  Also by adding more parsely and green onions, it gives this dish more flavor.  I love getting a bite with all of the ingredients, because it so flavorful that you really don't need anything else.  This dish is also great as a leftover for lunch!
      Mary Proulx

      Wednesday, August 25, 2010

      Blueberry Scones with a Lemon Glaze:)

      On our way back from Maine, Mark stopped to get some coffee at Starbucks, and he also grabbed both of us a blueberry scone.  He asked me if this is something that I would try to make for him someday.  Well, it is the perfect season to make these scones with fresh blueberries, so of course I would!  I love the flavor of lemon and blueberry together, and I really wanted to be able to taste both ingredients, so I added a total of 2 lemons zested.  
      Blueberry Scones
      2 cups flour
      1 tbls baking powder
      1/2 tsp salt
      2 tbls sugar
      5 tbls unsalted butter (cold and cut in chunks)
      1 cup heavy cream (and more for brushing on top of scones)
      2 cups fresh blueberries
      1 whole lemon (for the zest)

      Preheat the oven to 400.  Sift together the dry ingredients ( flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar). Using 2 forks or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour (the mixture should look like coarse crumbs). Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate (as in any pastry, do not overwork the dough). Fold the blueberries into the batter. Be careful not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough.  Gently fold in the lemon zest.
      Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle. Cut into rectangle shapes. Place the scones on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.
      1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon2 cups powdered sugar
      1 lemon, zested
      1 tbls unsalted butter
      Heat all the ingredients on medium heat, until slightly boiling.  Cool for 3-5 min and coat the scones.  I placed the cooled scones on a cooling rack, with a cookie sheet underneath to catch the glaze (makes for a quicker and neater cleanup).
      Scones are not meant to be sweet, so by adding a glaze if give them a hint of something sweet and it also doesn't make them so dry. The lemon glaze was so perfect on top, it was flavorful, warm and sticky!  Mark and I ate them, while we drank tea and watched the 300. It was perfect!  hahhahaha  

      Mark said, and I quote, "these were the best things that I have eaten all summer." That coming from a guy who would rather eat savory than anything else.  I was certainly glad that I was able to make these for him, and that they exceeded his expectations!!
      Focaccina da tè!
      Mary Proulx

      Tuesday, August 24, 2010

      Summer Pasta

      If you haven't guessed it already, I love summer and I love summer vegetables.  This dish is so fresh and delicious that you don't have to feel guilty about eating it (if you every feel guilty eating food). It is quick easy and affordable.  Basil, fresh tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and fresh mozzarella are some of my favorite flavors, and thankfully they all go really well together!  Walla, a perfect meal!  I hope you try it, because soon it will become one of your favorite dishes too!
      Summer Pasta
      1 lb pasta
      1 quart (or two pints) mixed colored cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
      1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
      1/4 cup olive oil
      1/2-3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
      6 oz. fresh mozzarella balls (cherry sized, cut into fourths)
      S+P to taste

      Put 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar into a pan and let it reduce in size (10 min), then add olive oil with the cherry tomatoes.  Cook for another 4-5 minutes.  You want the cherry tomatoes to get a little soft and juicy, but not to over cook them.  Place pan aside to let cool.  Cook pasta until el dente.  Rinse under cold water, once tomatoes are cooled for 10 mins. or so add the pasta, and the rest of the ingredients.  If the pasta seems too dry, add more olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar.  I serve the meal cold, and thinly slice Marks famous charcoal grilled chicken on top (I keep that warm).

      Chicken Marinade
      4 chicken breasts
      1/4 cup olive oil
      1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
      1 tsp salt
      1tsp pepper

      Place washed chicken and the rest of the ingredients into a Ziploc paper bag and mix together.  Leave in the refrigerator over night.   The key to this chicken is the charcoal grill, and to then slice it extremely thin!!  By slicing it thin you get more flavor in every bite (and as my dad likes to say: "its all surface area").
      I absolutely LOVE balsamic vinegar, and when it is paired with fresh mozzarella, basil, and cherry tomatoes it is simply heaven.  This is a meal that I could never get sick of.  The warm, moist and flavorful chicken on top adds a different texture that really compliments the dish.

      Amy and Andrew made a delicious salad fresh from their garden.  The best part of the salad was the hint of fresh dill and basil added to it.  Not to mention Amy's homemade honey mustard dressing!  Yummmmmmm!

       Fino a Amico, (to friends)
      Mary Proulx

      Sunday, August 22, 2010

      Blueberry and Peach Cobbler:)

      Our dear friend Andrew Lasher is going to be leaving for Iraq in a few weeks, so we had him and his wife Amy over for a dinner before he leaves.  For dessert I really wanted to do something with the fresh blueberries and peaches that I just picked.  I decided to make a blueberry and peach cobbler with some fresh lemon zest.  All of the flavors worked so well together, and everyone LOVED it!  I am definitely going to make this dish again and again!  

      Blueberry and Peach Cobbler

      • 2 1/2 tbls unsalted butter, divided into chunks
      • 2 pounds fresh (or frozen peaches), peeled, pitted, and sliced into cubes
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 1 cup water
      • 2 tbls cornstarch
      • 1 tsp lemon juice
      • 2 cups fresh blueberries
      • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
      • 1tbls lemon zest
      In a medium saucepan, combine the peaches with the sugar, water, cornstarch, and lemon juice, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and peaches have softened, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, blueberries, and vanilla extract. Transfer to an 8x11 inch baking dish, and sprinkle the lemon zest on the top.  


      • 2 cups all-purpose flour

      • 1 tsp cream of tartar

      • 6 tbls sugar, divided
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 2 tbls cold unsalted butter
      • 2 tbls cold vegetable shortening
      • 1/2 cup milk
      • 1/4 cup heavy cream
      • 2 tsp almond extract 
      • 1 tsp baking soda
      • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, 4 tablespoons of the sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs ( I use my hands.  As they say your hands are your best tool in the kitchen). Add the milk and cream and stir just to combine (with spoon, don't overwork the dough, otherwise it works the flour too much).  Once everything is encorportated sprinkle lemon zest, and almond extract all over dough, and stir slowly.  Sprinkle topping all over the fruit filling, I pull it apart and place chunks here and there on the filling.  Sprinkle the topping with the remaining sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes

      The fresh blueberries and peaches worked really well together.  I was obsessed with the topping.  The almond extract with the fresh lemon zest was an insane combination to go with the fruit.  Every bite was pure heaven, and when the vanilla bean ice cream melted it made it even more perfect.  This dessert was so full of flavor, that it left you wanted to eat the whole pan!  

      Good luck Lasher!  We will miss your company and energy at all of our gatherings!  Much love!

      Mary Proulx