Category Archives: Dessert

February Friday Dinner

Truffle Mousse on Mini Toasts

For 6 

Ingredients:

  • one package of store-bought mini toasts
  • one package of store-bought All-natural French Truffle Mousse

Recipe:

  1. Spread truffle mousse onto mini toasts
  2. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: salad, wine, fruits …

NOTES: What can I say? I sampled the truffle mousse and loved it too much to not to share. Addictive, savory snack!!

Winter Minestrone Soup

For 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 russet potato, peeled, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 oz thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 oz piece Parmesan cheese rind
  • salt and pepper

Recipe:

  1. In a heavy large pot, heat the oil over medium heat
  2. Add onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Sauté till the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes
  3. Add Swiss chard, potato and sauté for 2 minutes
  4. Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig. Simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes
  5. While waiting, blend 3/4 cup of the cannellini beans with 1/4 cup of the broth in a processor until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan cheese rind to the vegetable mixture
  6. Simmer until the potato cubes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the whole beans and parsley
  7. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Discard Parmesan rind and rosemary sprig
  9. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: all kinds of bread, hearty meat,  …

NOTES: Remember to rinse and drain the beans!! Also to save yourself some $, buy Parmesan cheese and save the rind to make this soup, getting the rind by itself cost me $4 … speechless secret ingredient. Also DO NOT use more or too much more than instructed broth, otherwise soup flavor won’t be as special and intense! Don’t cheapen on the Swiss chard, 1 lb raw Swiss chard might look like a chunky bunch but they will get cooked down to tiny bunch in no time, so delicious in soup!

Pizzas

For 6

Ingredients:

  • Trader Joe’s plain pizza dough
  • Olive Oil
  • Pizza Sauce

Toppings 1:

  • Diced pancetta (maybe 1/5 – 1/4 lb)
  • olive oil
  • 1 smashed garlic clove
  • 1/3 large bunch Russian red kale or dinosaur kale, center rib removed, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 1/2 cups small red seedless grapes, halved
  • 2/3 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1/3  lb fresh, lightly salted Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 grated pecorino Romano
  • salt to taste

Toppings 2:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh bay shrimps
  • garlic slivers (thin)
  • truffle salt

Toppings 3:

  • shredded mozzarella
  • fresh basil, torn
  • 1 medium – large heirloom tomato

Toppings 4:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, stripped and torn
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, stripped
  • 8 oz assorted wild mushrooms, cleaned and cut
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • more olive oil for garnish

Toppings 5:

  • 3/4 cup pizza sauce
  • red pepper flakes
  • 6-8 oz shredded fontina cheese (may use mozzarella or Monterey Jack)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 mild/hot Italian sausage (sliced or I squeezed out tiny meatballs out of the link)
  • 4 whole eggs
  • olive oil
  • baby arugula

Recipe:

  1. Let the pizza sought sit out for 1 hour before cooking
  2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees
  3. Put the ‘topped’ pizzas into the oven and start checking after 10 minutes.
  4. When ready, take them out, cut and serve
  5. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: salad, soup, soda, beer, wine  …

NOTES: Trader Joe’s pizza dough is the way to go! Cheap and yummy! How can you beat the $0.99 deal?! Be creative with the toppings, use seasonal fresh ingredients, just pay a visit to the local farmer’s market, I bet your topping combo imagination will run wild. Remember to either apply abundant sauce or brush on oil if not using cheese, so the pizza won’t turn out dry. But if you watch the cooking time closely, it shouldn’t be a problem. Eggs need to be tended with care but BOY sooooooooo delicious when they come out perfect, slightly runny, um um good! I definitely want to make it for myself again SOON! Most toppings can go straightly to the oven with the dough raw, but if you want to speed up cooking, cook the ingredients half way and then bake with the pizza dough. Fancy cheese totally worth the money and if you are treating yourself, don’t be stingy on spreading the cheese!!!!

Ricotta mousse with honey, pine nuts, orange peel and raisin

For 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
  • freshly grated zest from one medium-sized orange
  • pine nuts and raisins to liking
  • honey to taste

Recipe:

  1. In a large bowl combine the ricotta, honey and orange zest. Whip the mixture until thoroughly combined and smooth
  2. Slowly fold the pine nuts and raisins into the cheese mixture until smooth
  3. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving
  4. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: fruits, dessert wine …

NOTES: When ready to serve, top with some freshly grated orange zest for prettiness.

Leave a comment

Filed under appetizer, Dessert, Main Dish, Soup

January Friday Dinner

Olive Oil Braised Red Onion with Bay Leaves

For 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb red onions (about 3 medium), trimmed, halved vertically, and cut into 2/3-inch wedges
  • 3 dried bay leaves, each torn into 3 pieces
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dry white wine
  • salt

Recipe:

  1. Position rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Arrange onion wedges in an half overlapping single layer in a shallow baking dish. Evenly nestle the bay leaves among the onions
  3. Mix the olive oil, vinegar, white wine, and 1.5 tbsp water in a bowl and drizzle over the onions. Then sprinkle over 1 …tsp salt
  4. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil
  5. Braise the onions in the oven until completely tender, about 45 …minutes. Uncover the dish and continue to braise until all of the liquid has evaporated and the onions are darkly roasted and glossy, about 20… minutes. Remove the bay leaves and serve the onions warm or at room temperature
  6. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: salad, bread, grilled steak/pork chop …

NOTES: Fine cooking recommended to chill and toss with arugula, toasted walnuts, and lemon vinaigrette. Or mix with olive-oil packed tuna, capers and a touch of mayonnaise. Or top goat-cheese spreader crostini, which is what I served, I thought it was sophisticated, healthy and delicious! Use to be an onion disliker, but I think it’s starting to grow on me

 

Creamed Spinach with Bacon Bits

For 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh spinach, about 2 large bunches
  • 3 strips of bacon, uncooked, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Recipe:

  1. Cut off the thick stems of the cleaned spinach and discard
  2. Blanch the spinach in a pot of boiling water until the spinach is wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the spinach from cooking further. Squeeze the spinach to remove all the moisture. Chop the spinach and set aside
  3. Heat a large skillet on medium high. Add the chopped bacon and sauté until the bacon begins to render some of its fat. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent
  4. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until sauce thickens.
  5. Combine spinach, bacon and onion mixture, and the sauce into one pan. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat and serve
  6. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: fish, chicken, steak …

NOTES: Bacon can be skipped if you prefer … Yummy source of green!!

 

Mac ‘n’ Cheese

For 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of garlic, roasted
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Cavatappi pasta
  • 0.5 lb sliced Applewood smoked bacon
  • 1 ½ cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Recipe:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Slice half inch off the top of the entire head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic head tightly in foil and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove garlic pulp by squeezing garlic head and smash to form  paste
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions
  4. Cook bacon completely and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon when cool. Reserve 1 tbsp of bacon fat
  5. Combine breadcrumbs, crumbled bacon, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and 2 tbsp of melted butter as topping, set aside
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  7. Saute shallots over low heat in reserved bacon fat for 1 minute. Add remaining 6 tbsp of butter and continue to sauté shallots in butter and bacon fat until translucent
  8. Add flour and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Stirring constantly with a whisk, add milk and the roasted garlic paste
  9. Cook until sauce has thickened (coats the back of a spoon). Remove sauce from heat then add salt, pepper, nutmeg, Gruyere and Cheddar cheeses. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary
  10. Stir in cooked pasta and pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle topping to cover entire top. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until sauce is bubbly and topping is browned
  11. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: salad, soup, southern dishes  …

NOTES: Hearty and cheesy, makes great left over meal too!! Grating all those cheese was such a pain, I wanted to quit then. If possible, store-bought grated cheese would do. As with all pasta dishes, al dente is the key. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up eating mac ‘n’ cheese like many American kids, I lack the emotional/childhood attachment to it, although it was comforting and delicious, way too much work to my liking …

 

Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta & Mascarpone Mousse 

For 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • freshly grated zest of one lemon
  • 2 lbs strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, or to taste

Recipe:

  1. Beat the cream until soft peaks form
  2. In a large bowl combine the ricotta, mascarpone, 1/2 cup  sugar, and lemon zest. Whip the mixture until thoroughly combined and smooth
  3. Slowly fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours
  4. Half an hour before serving, gently mix the remaining sugar and balsamic vinegar into a bowl with the quartered strawberries
  5. When ready to serve, fill a clear cup halfway with the strawberries and spoon over the ricotta-mascarpone mousse
  6. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: berries, scones, biscuits, pancakes, crepes …

NOTES: Depending on the grade of the balsamic vinegar you have on hand, you should really taste!!! I imagine it’d be more wonderful with super aged, thick balsamic. I think mine came out a little sour because I didn’t taste and poured in too much 😛 Also, don’t let the strawberries sit in the vinegar for longer than half an hour because you wouldn’t want acidity cooked berries! Nevertheless, I loved it and the sweet cheese mousse was super good. Left over was consumed with such joy and passion the following days. Definitely would make this again!!! It would be a sweet ending to any Italian meal or summer time. 

Leave a comment

Filed under appetizer, Dessert, Main Dish, Side Dish, Vegetable

Fresh Lemonade

For ~ 1 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 cups cold water to dilute
  • slices of lemon (optional)

Recipe:

  1. Heat sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan till sugar dissolves completely
  2. Add in a couple slices of lemon while the sugar is dissolving
  3. Extract 1 cup of lemon juice (4-6 lemons)
  4. Bring out a glass pitcher/jar/container, add in the cup of lemon juice, 3 cups of cold water and the syrup from step 1+2
  5. Refrigerate for 40 minutes – 1 hour before serving
  6. Serve with ice and sliced lemon
  7. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions:  summer …

NOTES: I used slightly less than 3/4 cup of sugar, but use up to 1 cup if you are feeling sweet. Heating up a couple slices of lemon along with the sugar syrup adds depth to the flavor.  Don’t forget to drain out the seeds but leave the pulp alone ;). I heart my lemonade!

1 Comment

Filed under breakfast, Dessert, Drink

White Wine Cake

For 6-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1 pack of Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix (1 oz)
  • 1 1/2 cup white wine (Chardonnay was used)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2 handfuls sliced almond

Recipe:

  1. Preheat to 350 F
  2. Lightly stir all the ingredients (except for slice almonds) together using a spatula
  3. Mix well with electric mixer for about 3 minutes
  4. Carefully fold in the sliced almonds
  5. Pour the mixture into your preferred, pre-sprayed/buttered pan
  6. Bake for 1 hour or till it passes the toothpick test
  7. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: tea, milk, coffee . . .

NOTES: This is a lazy, super easy, fancier than plain yellow-cake  CAKE to use up the Chardonnay I didn’t love. It came out delicious!!! You can easily switch things up a bit by adding other nuts, dried fruits or white cake mix… Probably would have even worked better without the vanilla pudding mix, as it might have overpowered the white wine fragrance

Leave a comment

Filed under Dessert, Pastry

French Pear Tart

For 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 large jar of pear halves
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temp
  • 3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp dark rum

Tart shell

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 9 tbsp frozen unsalted butter (cut into little pieces)
  • 1 large egg yolk 

Recipe:

Tart dough:

  1. Combine flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor
  2. Throw in pieces of butter and pulse until they’ve been processed into the size of oatmeal flakes
  3. Add in the egg yolk (stirred), a little at a time, pulse after each addition
  4. After the egg yolk is in, process untill the dough forms clumps and curds
  5. Take the dough out onto a work surface just before the dough gets truly clumpy, the sound of the food processor will be a clear indicator
  6. Knead the dough VERY VERY lightly just to incorporate any unmixed dry ingredients
  7. Press the dough into a tart pan and freeze for at least 30 minutes before baking
  8. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit it closely against the crust, bake at 375 F for 25 minutes, carefully remove the aluminum foil and bake for another ~4 mins, take it out of the oven to let it cool – you have just achieved a partially baked tart shell

Filling

  1. Process butter and sugar untill smooth inside the food processor
  2. Blend in ground almonds, add flour and cornstarch, process and then add the egg
  3. Process till the mixture is cream-like and homogeneous
  4. Add rum or vanilla to blend a little more
  5. Fill the partially baked tart shell with the almond cream and lay the pear halves (or slices) on top to your own aesthetic standard
  6. Bake for 50-60 mins at 350 F or until the tart browns and puffs up
  7. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions: milk, coffee, tea, book . . .

NOTES:  It’s got pear and almond!!!! 😀 French pear tart is one of  very few tarts I love but good ones  are difficult to find and it can be pricey.  So I am elated to have found this recipe online and succeeded (for the most part) on my first try! It’s truly amazing, why can’t it become a staple at bakeries in the States just as it is at the patisseries in France?! A favorite! 🙂

** Rach 1 & Brahms 4 in a couple of weeks, I shall make something special to commemorate the first of such occasions in 2010 😉 excited!

2 Comments

Filed under Dessert, Pastry

Cocoa-Wine Cake

For ~ 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened & dark)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 dry red wine (Syrah was used, again!)

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl
  3. In another bowl, beat the butter with sugar at medium-high speed  until fluffy (~4 minutes)
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat til incorporated. Add in vanilla extract and beat for 2 more minutes
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients (step 2) and the wine alternately, until incorporated
  6. Scrape the butter into a pre-butter & floured pan and bake for 45 minutes
  7. Do the toothpick test to make sure it is well-baked and let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving
  8. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions:  RED WINE!!!!!! whipped cream, dust with confectioner’s sugar, fruits, flavored syrup . . .

NOTES: There is no need to cut down on the sugar since unsweetened cocoa powder was used and the wine wasn’t on the sweet side to begin with. The slight boozy flavor is simply wonderful! A bundt pan is recommended to use for a prettier representation.

4 Comments

Filed under Dessert, Pastry

Pumpkin Muffins

Yields ~30

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups & 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 eggs
  • 2/3 (29 ounce) can pumpkin (Kabocha was used)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup raisins pre-soaked in rum

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In one bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon
  3. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, pumpkin puree, and applesauce, until smooth
  4. Blend  mixture from step 3 to the dry ingredients in step 2 until smooth batter forms
  5. Stir the raisins (drained from rum) and pumpkin seeds into the batter
  6. Spoon batter into the lightly greased muffin cups or pans
  7. Bake for ~ 35 minutes in oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  8. Bon appétit! ;)

Serving suggestions:  milk, soymilk, tea, coffee…

NOTES: This was late night snack during the Grammy :). I made the mistake of steaming the Kabocha instead of boiling, so it was slightly challenging to get them into puree form. I might also have added more eggs than needed since accidentally broke one. It seems that I could have filled up each cup with more batter, these were petite muffins :P. My version is definitely lighter, more Asian taste pleasing. Add more cinnamon, 1 tsp of ground cloves, chopped walnuts, canned pumpkin puree and MORE sugar if you prefer American taste.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dessert, Pastry