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