Thursday, February 26, 2009


Well, I'm thinking we were all a bit too busy in February to post/find recipes, right? If we want to continue, I propose bacon, potatoes or Irish-inspired foods for March.

What think you ladies?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Aparagus recipe

I don't know if I'll get to it this week, but I want to make this asparagus lasagna for the asparagus portion of the February foods.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

Mmm, I've only made this recipe a few times but it has become a favorite. It makes two pies, so it works really well as a make ahead and freeze meal. It is also very good reheated. I make it in two pie shells, but you could split out into ramekins or ovenproof bowls for individual serving.Shepherd's Pie
2 pounds freshly ground lamb (I use 1 lb turkey and 1 lb pork)
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
1 to 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Coarse salt and ground pepper
10 ounces frozen peas, thawed (I never remember to thaw, it turns out fine if you don't)

Potato Topping:
2-½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425°. Heat a large skillet over high heat. In two batches, cook meat until no longer pink, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer meat to a colander set in a bowl; let fat drain off and discard.

Add ¼ cup water to the skillet, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium; add onion and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Add flour; cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Add Worcestershire sauce, 2 cups water, and lamb. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in peas; cook 1 minute. Divide among eight 8-ounce ramekins or two 9-inch glass pie dishes.

Meanwhile, make potato topping. Spread over pies; use a fork to make peaks. Bake on a baking sheet until tops are browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly; serve.

Potato Topping:
In a medium saucepan, cover potatoes with salted water by 1 inch; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.

In pan, bring milk and butter to a simmer; remove from heat. Return potatoes; mash. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Photo from here.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake

I've been totally delinquent this month, but here is my chocolate recipe. I've been wanting to make this for several years and finally did last night. One word: yum.Beatty's Chocolate Cake
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder (I used Sharfenberger)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut, I also used Sharfenberger here)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Note: the recipe calls for using a stand mixer. I don't have one, but I have a food processor with the same attachments. I didn't feel like lugging it up, so I mixed the cake mix by hand and used my hand mixer for the frosting. All turned out fine. Also, something I learned from cake decorating is that hand mixed (like with a whisk or spoon) cakes are lighter and fluffier.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Really Good Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Over the last three weeks, Laura and I took a cake decorating class. While it turned out to be a bit of dud (teacher wasn't overly awesome and neither of us felt particularly compelled to become super awesome cake decorators), I got a really good recipe for buttercream frosting.

Buttercream Frosting
½ cup solid vegetable shortening
½ cup butter
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract (Wilton brand)
4 cups (approx. 1 pound) sifted confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Yield: 3 cups

Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar is incorporated, add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep icing covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Refrigerate leftover icing in an airtight container, up to 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

The clear vanilla extract makes a very white looking frosting, as opposed to the off white/yellowish color you get from the recipe on the back of the powdered sugar box that uses dark vanilla.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chocolate Divinity :)

Ok so I've never actually made this myself but I have eaten it many a time and must say it is probably my number one favorite dessert. I also recently caught a cooking show where a chef was preparing a chocolate souffle and added rehydrated (in brandy and oj) bing cherries to give it some texture and tartness...I thought that sounded like a great addition and may try that when I make this...

Roy Yamaguchi’s Chocolate SoufflĂ©

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
¼ cup sugar
1 ¼ tablespoons cornstarch
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks together. Add the melted butter-chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture and combine thoroughly with a wire whisk. Stir in the eggs and whisk just until smooth. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 4 metal rings (about 2 I inches across and 2 inches high) with greased parchment paper. (Alternative, use 6 smaller molds.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the molds on the sheet. Scoop the mixture into the molds so they are two-thirds full, and make sure the molds are not leaking. (*Can also use ramekins instead of paper and molds- grease ramekins with butter and dust with cocoa powder to keep from sticking.)

Bake on the top oven rack for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and while holding each mold with tongs, slide a metal spatula underneath, carefully lift, and transfer to a serving plate. Gently lift off the mold and remove the parchment paper. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Monday, February 2, 2009

February is Foods that are Aphrodisiacs

I have to admit, research is spotty on this topic between folklore, ancient myths, made up mumbo jumbo and seeming "fact." Discovery health had this article, so I'm going to go with:

Oysters are high in zinc, a mineral used in the production of testosterone.
Asparagus is high in vitamin E, considered one of the hormone stimulants.
Chilies may heat up your life due to capsaicin — the substance that gives kick to peppers, curries and other spicy foods. Capsaicin stimulates nerve endings to release chemicals, raising the heart rate and possibly triggering the release of endorphins giving you the pleasurable feeling of a natural high.
Chocolate is still the traditional lover's gift, research suggests the stimulant phenylethylamine, found in chocolate, engenders a sense of well being and excitement.

Anyone have any more foods to add to the list? Green M+Ms?:) Photos from here.

Creamy Artichoke Soup

This recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis, it is very quick and totally delicious.


  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white part only, washed well and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 (8-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese (goat cheese and cream cheese are both excellent substitutes)
  • chopped chives, for garnish


Heat olive oil in a heavy, large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and the garlic and stir. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the artichokes, stock, salt, and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Blend a little or a lot of the soup depending on whether you prefer smooth or chunky (blended this makes a very silky yet satisfying soup). Mix in the cheese and serve. Great with crusty bread and a salad.