Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I found this recipe on and they are said to be an Argentine cookie. The description sounded so delicious and the 3/4 cup of cornstarch in the dough peaked my interest. They turned out great! Yummy caramel creme sandwiched in between two cookies. I was a little afraid the dulce de leche would turn the cookies to mush if not eaten immediately, but no, they were light and flaky the next day.

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten together
  • 2/3 cup store-bought dulce de leche (see Note)
  • Confectioners' sugar for garnish (optional)

1. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt together. Cream the butter and granulated sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is very light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gradually beat in the egg mixture. Gradually stir in the flour mixture to make a soft dough.

2. Divide the dough in half and shape each portion into a thick disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap or wax paper. Refrigerate until chilled and firm enough to roll out, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. (If the dough is very chilled and hard, let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling out.)

3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Unwrap one portion of dough and place on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top with flour and roll out 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2¼-inch-wide heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out hearts of dough and transfer them to a baking sheet, placing 1 inch apart. Gather up the scraps and roll out until all of the dough has been cut out. Repeat with the other portion of dough.

5. Bake until cookies look set and dry, but are not browned at all, 12 to 14 minutes.

6. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire cake racks and let cool completely.

7. For each cookie, dollop about 1 teaspoon of the dulce de leche onto the flat side of a cookie, then top with a second cookie, flat sides facing. Press gently to make the two cookies adhere. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.) Just before serving, sift confectioners' sugar, if using, over the tops of the cookies.

Note: Dulce de leche can be purchased in cans or jars at Latino groceries and many supermarkets and specialty food stores. You can buy authentic Argentinean dulce de leche online from Leftover dulce de leche can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 2 weeks. It is great stirred into hot tea instead of milk and sugar.

Mom's Soy Sauce Chicken

This was one of my favorite comfort foods growing up. My mom would make it special when dad would go away on a hunting trip. It wasn't fancy or complicated enough for him, so we had to have it when he was away.

Mom's Soy Sauce Chicken

chicken parts (drumsticks, wings)
few T margarine
1/2 c brown sugar
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1/2 t ginger powder
3/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c water

Brown chicken in margarine.
Mix remaining ingredients and pour glaze over chicken and simmer for 45 minutes, covered.
Turn chicken once halfway through to absorb the glaze thoroughly.
Bring to a boil last 3-4 min to boil off some of the water.
Serve over jasmine white rice.

Broiled Flank Steak with Warm Tomato Topping

I found this recipe a few years back in Cooking Light magazine. Great flavors and have made it several times. The only think I like to alter is I first brown the steak in a cast iron skillet before roasting it, just to give it that crispy skin. I served the steak with an oven baked potato, topped with salt, butter, and a good squeeze of lemon.

Broiled Flank Steak with Warm Tomato Topping

1 1/4 t ground cumin
3/4 t salt
1/8 t ground red pepper
1 lb. flank steak
cooking spray
1 t olive oil
1 t garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 c grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 400'F. Combine 1 t cumin, 1/2 t salt, and red pepper. Sprinkle evenly over steak. Spray a pan with non-stick spray and broil steak 20 minutes, turning once. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and jalapeno to pan; cook 1 min. Add remaining 1/4 t cumin, 1/4 t salt, and tomatoes to pan; cook 3 min. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro. Serve tomato topping over steak.

Pistachio Cupcakes with Vanilla Honey Buttercream Frosting

Oh My Gosh. These cupcakes were to die for, in my opinion. The frosting was HEAVENly! So delicious, I could of put the frosting in a bowl and eaten it alone. It was a bit involved, but I will be adjusting the flavoring of this base frosting recipe for many cupcakes to come! Found the recipe on as a three layer cake, but decided to make individual treats and went with the cupcake form.

Pistachio Cupcakes with Vanilla Honey Buttercream Frosting

1 cup shelled pistachios
2 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. preheat your oven to 325F. line cupcake tin with paper liners.
  2. in the bowl of a food processor, pulse the pistachios until they are coarsely chopped. remove about two tablespoons worth of the pistachios to a large bowl and set aside. process the rest of the pistachios until they are very fine. stir the finely chopped pistachios into the rough chopped pistachios.
  3. in a measuring cup, make 1 1/2 cups ice water. set aside.
  4. sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together over the pistachios. whisk to combine. set aside.
  5. in a separate bowl, cream the butter and shortening together. add the sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about three minutes. add the whole egg and mix until blended.
  6. with the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour and ice water to the butter and sugar mixture, about a half cup at a time. scrape down the sides as needed.
  7. in a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. use a rubber spatula to fold the egg whites into the batter.
  8. divide the batter among the cups and bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (40-45 minutes if you are making a layer cake)
  9. transfer the cakes to a wire rack and cool completely before icing.
2. make the vanilla honey buttercream

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons honey
  1. in a medium heavy bottom saucepan, whisk the flour and sugar together. add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking regularly. cook until the mixture comes to a boil and is thickened, about 12 minutes.
  2. transfer the sugar cream mixture to a bowl and beat on high speed until cool, about 10 minutes.
  3. turn the mixer down to low and add the butter a little bit at a time. because the butter is cool, it may look like it won't blend in and you'll be stuck with chunks of butter. just keep mixing and it will smooth out. when it's all mixed in, increase the speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. mix in the honey and vanilla.
Ice your cupcakes and sprinkle with a bit of crushed pistachios if desired.

Perfect Pound Cake

I made this lemony pound cake with a strawberry compote for my new boss as it was said to be her favorite. I found the recipe off the Pioneer Woman's website, such a tried and true source! And truly, this was probably the best pound cake ever. My favorite part was the perfectly crusty top. The strawberry mix I made up as I went, but below are the approximate measurements. And I forgot to add the Cool Whip for the picture, but don't forget it!!! It's a must!

Perfect Pound Cake
  • 3 sticks Butter
  • 3 cups Sugar
  • 5 whole Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Butter Flavoring
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon Flavoring
  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Sprite, 7-UP, Or Sierra Mist

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing after each addition. Add butter and lemon extracts and mix well. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add soft drink, then mix together until combined. Scrape sides of bowl, then mix briefly.

Pour into a greased Bundt pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until the cake is no longer jiggly.

Remove cake from oven and invert pan until cake drops out.

Strawberry compote:
2 bags of frozen strawberries (as they weren't in season; about 3 or 4 cups each?)
1/2 cup water
scoop of sugar (about 1/4 c or to taste)
1 tsp almond extract

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and allow to simmer. You want the strawberries to break down a bit and meld with all the flavors. After about 15 minutes, if the mixture is still too watery, add a tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken it up. When adding cornstarch, you don't want to add it directly because it will clump. I usually take a few Tablespoons of the liquid out of the pan and mix it with the cornstarch in a ramekin until well blended and all lumps are out. Return to the pan and allow to simmer a couple minutes and thicken up.

Serve pound cake sliced with strawberries and Cool Whip.

Fig Balsamic Chicken with Red Jasmine Rice

A recipe off inspired this chicken dish. I didn't have fig balsamic vinegar and decided to make the fig a more prominent taste by using some Dalmatia Fig Spread. Also, I've made this Red Jasmine rice before, and as exotic and tasty as it may seem, you need to add some flavor. Here's what I did...

Fig Balsamic Chicken

Brown your chicken breasts in a pan with olive oil, but don't cook through.
Coat chicken breasts with the following mixture:
1 T olive oil
2 T fig spread
1 - 1.5 T stone ground mustard (i think Inglehoffer brand is the best)
a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar (maybe 2 tsp.)

Place chicken in a glass pass in the oven at 400'F.
I placed a couple handfuls of carrots underneath the breasts in the pan so soak up the juices.
May want to start the rice at this point (see below)
Let the chicken roast 15-20 minutes and then start basting them with the following glaze:

2 T honey
1 T butter
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Baste a few times for the next 20 minutes. (40 min total cooking time)

Red Jasmine Rice:
I used Alter Eco Fair Trade brand of Red Jasmine rice. Prepare the rice per package directions, and in addition, add 1 tsp chicken bouillon per cup of water used (depends how much rice you're making). Allow rice to cook and maybe about halfway through, add a Passion Fruit tea bag (I like Tazo brand, but you can use any fruity tea blend). Let steep in the liquid for a few minutes and then remove the bag and allow rice to cook to completion.

Serve chicken with the roasted carrots and rice. May want to prepare a bit more of the fig mixture to serve on top.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ragu alla Bolognese

I found this recipe on someone's blog through the site, however, the original recipe is out of Saveur Magazine. This turned out SO delicious. I didn't realize how long it had to simmer (3-4 hours) and meld all the flavors so it ended up being the following night's dinner. Well worth the wait! Also I didn't have any Sherry Vinegar on hand, but Sherry wine worked well. For the white wine, I used a Riesling. I also was a bit hesitant with the fish sauce, but this tiny amount was just enough to enhance the dish, without any hint of smell. Will definitely be making this again soon!

“New Style” Ragù alla Bolognese,

courtesy of British chef Heston Blumethal, in issue #110 of Saveur.

For the herb bundle:
4 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 fresh bay leaf
1 sprig tarragon

extra-virgin olive oil
1½ lb ground beef
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
1½ tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 cup white wine
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, drained and smushed by hand
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp fish sauce
¼ tsp Tabasco
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar

For serving:
cooked pasta of your choice
parmigiano-reggiano, grated

Make the herb bundle: Tie together all the herbs using kitchen twine or use my favorite alternate method: stuff them all into one of those little teabags made for packing in your own tea leaves.

Cook the meat and vegetables: Heat a few glugs of oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large pot. Add meat along with a few pinches of salt and some black pepper. Cook until the meat is browned, about 12-15 min. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Heat a little bit more oil in the pot. Add in onions, carrots, celery, garlic, cloves, star anise, and coriander seeds. Cook while stirring until the vegetables slightly soften, about 15 min. Add wine and allow it to evaporate, about 5 min.

Settle in for the long haul: Lower heat to medium. Add in herb bundle, crushed tomatoes, ketchup, Worchestershire sauce, fish sauce, and Tabasco. Throw in a couple pinches of salt and a few turns of black pepper. Bring the whole pot to a boil and lower heat to simmer gently.

Once tomatoes break down (~15 min), add in beef and milk. Bring to a boil again and turn heat to low. Allow to simmer very gently for 3-4 hours (or longer!), stirring every so often, until the ragù gets very thick. If it starts getting too thick and not sauce-like, dribble in some water.

To serve: Retrieve herb bundle and stir in vinegar. Taste again and adjust with salt and pepper accordingly. Toss with cooked pasta and top with grated parmigiano-reggiano.