Monday, March 30, 2009

Cream-Filled Chocolate Sandwiches

Normally I like to go grocery shopping, but I've been putting it off for over a week. I've been waiting for today when all the kids are back in school after a 2-week Spring break. If you've ever taken the kids to the grocery store, you know what it's like..."Mommy, can we get these ___________??" You fill in the blank...puddings, cookies, yogurts with candy toppings, caramel apples, Oreo cookies, caramel popcorn. My response is often "We can make that at home!" (I want my kids to know that the large companies are not the only ones who know how to make these treats and that often, homemade is better tasting and better for you.) And their response is usually "Uggghhh! You always say that!" I'm actually hoping the kids will forget about the treat by the time we get home, and sometimes they do, but my son wouldn't let me forget that I said we could make real Oreo cookies - from scratch. I don't think he thought it could be done. We found a recipe and got to work. They were really good and I think better than Oreos. The cookies were crunchy and the filling was perfect. I rest my case.

Cream-Filled Chocolate Sandwiches
from Martha Stewart's Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for flattening cookies
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
Vanilla cream filling (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Into a bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat to combine. With mixer of low speed, gradually add flour mixture; continue beating until dough is well combined.
Using a 1 1/4-inch scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Dip the bottom of a glass in sugar; press the glass bottom onto the cookies to flatten them to about 1/8 inch thick.
Transfer to oven and bake until cookie are firm, 10-12 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks to cool completely.
Place cream filling in a pastry bag fitted with a coupler, and pipe about 1 tablespoon filling onto the flat side of half of the cookies. Place the remaining cookies on top and gently press to squeeze filling to the edges. Alternatively, spread about 1 tablespoon of filling on the cookies with a small offset spatula. Filled cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.

Vanilla Cream Filling (I made 1/2 of this recipe and had enough to fill all the cookies)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

With an electric mixer, cream butter and shortening until well combined. On low speed, gradually add confectioners' sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Favorite - Marshall's!

If you shop at Marshall's, you probably enter the store, start browsing through the clothing and shoe departments, meander back to the home interiors aisle and around through to the toys and books. Not me - when I go to Marshall's, I make a bee-line right to the gourmet foods and kitchen supplies section, and then, if I have time, I might browse through the clothing and handbags. You might not think that Marshall's is the best place to buy food items, but I'm here to change your mind! I've been buying my favorite Greek extra-virgin olive oil there for a few years now. It has a "use-by" date so I can tell that it's fresh and I use it for almost all my cooking. It's especially good in a Greek Salad. The other staple I've stocked up on is the Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush" made by the Sonoma Syrup Co. It's a combination of the best vanillas (Madagascar Bourbon and Tahitian) and has a lot of real vanilla bean seeds in it so you can see the bean flecks in your baked goods. It's so delicious - and a few dollars cheaper than if you bought it from King Arthur Flour.

My other recent finds are in these pictures as well - all-natural apricot jam which I used to glaze the Lemon Tart, delicious and unique rapeseed blossom honey from Germany (to add to my honey collection), and some baking spices. I LOVE my new green casserole dish which turned out to be perfect for the Tomato Sausage Lasagna and my two white cake stands, one round and one square - heck, I even found the tablecloth at my favorite Marshall's! Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cupcake of the Month - Root Beer Fudge Cupcakes

These little treasures are delicious! The recipe came from the Baked cookbook - the authors made it in the form of a bundt cake, but I think they're even better as cupcakes for three reasons: 1)there are no worries about getting the cake out of the bundt pan in one piece, 2) with cupcakes, the portion size is set so they're a little safer to be around as I am too tempted to shave little pieces off a big cake until half the cake is gone - for some reason, I'm not as likely to eat more than one cupcake, 3) cupcakes are so cute! The frosting had an unusual and beautiful irridescent sheen and the cakes are super rich, fudgy and moist - the secret ingredient - root beer! I have to admit, I couldn't taste the rootbeer very much at all with all the dark cocoa, but I have to believe that it added a certain dimension to these cupcakes that puts these over the top. If you have rootbeer schnapps, the authors suggest to replace a half cup of the root beer in the recipe with schnapps for a more pronounced rootbeer flavor. I'll have to try that the next time...but I can't believe these could be any better.

Root Beer Bundt Cake (or cupcakes!)
from Baked, New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

2 cups root beer (not diet)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs

2 ounces dark chocolate (60% cocao), melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup root beer
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, or butter and dust it with flour, knocking out the excess flour. (Or line 2 cupcake pans with liners.)
In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy - do not overbeat as it may toughen the cake.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan (or fill cupcake liners 2/3 full) and bake for 35-40 minutes (start checking at 20-25 minutes for cupcakes), rotating the pan halfway through baking time, until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.
To make the frosting: Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth.
Use a spatula to spread the frosting over the crown of the bundt cake in a thick layer. (Or frost each cupcake with a small offset spatula.) Let the frosting set before serving, with vanilla ice cream on the side.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

Here's another favorite from my "keeper recipes" file and it's also quick and easy!  Put the water for the pasta on to boil while you get the rest of the ingredients prepared. The dish takes only as long as it takes to cook the pasta. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp or they will get tough. Serve with a green salad or steamed and buttered green beans.

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi
from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten

Vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
3/4 pound linguine (this recipe is also delicious made with rice instead of pasta)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Favorite - Casabella Hot Pink Rubber Gloves

Strange thing to be listing as a favorite perhaps, but I LOVE these gloves. If you do a lot of cooking and baking, inevitably you'll be doing a lot of dishes too. These gloves will protect your hands from constant water exposure, the lining is soft and makes the gloves easily donned and removed. And the cuff around the bottom folds up to catch any drips from going all the way up your arm. They last a pretty long time - probably 3 months or so of constant use. And they're hot pink! I'm pretty sure that makes doing the dishes a little more tolerable.  I may just have to get the matching pink lipstick to wear while I'm doing my chores... Happy Dishwashing!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lemon Tart

I found this recipe in a book I got from the library called Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax.
The lemon curd was well balanced and not too tart as some lemon curds can be. The tart dough, blind baked with pie weights, kept its shape nicely. The tart shell is then filled with the curd and baked again. After it's cooled, brush with strained apricot jam and garnish with a thin lemon slice.  Richard Sax calls this "The World's Best Lemon Tart" and maybe it is!

The World’s Best Lemon Tart
from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax
Makes one 9- or 10-inch tart; serves about 8
Rich Tart Dough:
1 ½ cups All Purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
Pinch salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 Tbsp ice water or cold orange juice (I needed to use about 5 Tbsp)

Combine the dry ingredients and butter in a food processor and pulse briefly until crumbly; do not over mix. Add the liquid gradually and process just until the dough begins to clump together. Shape into a disk and refrigerate at least one hour.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a large circle; the crust for this tart should be very thin. Gently fold the dough in half, and fit it, without stretching, into a lightly buttered fluted tart or quiche pan with removable bottom. Trim off the excess dough, leaving a ¾-inch overhang. Tuck in the overhang, pressing the edges of the dough against the sides of the tart pan to form a high, smooth border. Chill the tart shell while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, with a rack in the center.
Line the tart shell with a sheet of lightly buttered foil, buttered side down. Weigh down with dried beans, rice, or pie weights; place the shell on a heavy baking sheet. Bake until the edges are set, 8 to 10 minutes. Very carefully lift out the weights and foil; prick the dough lightly with a fork. Continue to bake until the pastry is very pale gold, about 8 minutes longer. Cool slightly on a wire rack; leave the oven on.

Lemon Curd Filling:
Juice of two lemons
6 large eggs
1 scant cup sugar
10 T cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
3 T apricot preserves
1 paper-thin lemon slice

In the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, eggs and sugar until blended. Add the butter, and set over simmering water. Whisk the mixture constantly until thick and smooth, about 8 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil; be sure to scrape the bottom as you whisk. Remove from the heat. Strain the mixture into a clean bowl; whisk in the lemon zest. If you are not going to use the custard immediately, lay a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate.
Pour the custard into the tart shell. Bake until the filling is set and lightly golden, about 30 minutes. Cool the tart to room temp on a wire rack, 1-2 hours.
Strain a thin layer of the preserves directly over the surface of the tart (it may need to be warmed if stiff). Gently brush it over the surface of the tart, glazing evenly. Lay the thin slice of lemon in the center of the tart; glaze the lemon slice with the preserves. Remove the tart from the rim of the pan and serve at room temp.
Fresh Orange Tart: for the lemon zest and juice, substitute the zest of one orange and 1 lemon, ¼ cup fresh orange juice and the juice of ½ lemon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Irish Soda Bread

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! I think I may be about 5% Irish and that's enough for me to celebrate the holiday, but maybe not enough to feel the need to make my own corned beef. More my speed is making Irish Soda Bread. I make it every year and love it toasted with butter. I also prefer it with a few caraway seeds and some currants. My favorite recipe is from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home . I added a small amount of caraway seeds to her recipe and a little more orange zest than called for in the recipe to give it a litte more flavor. The texture of the bread was good and so delicious when toasted and buttered.

Irish Soda Bread
from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten
Makes 1 loaf

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (use less if using table salt)
4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, but into 1/2 inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten (or 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk)
1 tsp grated orange zest (or a little more)
1 cup dried currants
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, caraway seeds and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour. With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 Tbsp of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet. Empty the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an "X" into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temp.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday's Favorites, and White Sandwich Bread

This week's favorites are must-haves for every kitchen. I can guarantee that if you don't care for cooking, you will love to cook (or at least not hate it) if you have a sharp, high quality set of knives (like Wusthof) and a nice big wooden cutting board (like a Boos board). Almost all jobs in the kitchen can be done with these 3 knives, although a well-stocked kitchen would probably include a carving knife and fork, and perhaps a boning knife. And I really can't go without mentioning my Rada serrated tomato knife - you know the ones they sell at flea markets and church fundraisers for about $5. I love it for slicing - well - tomatoes.
Here's the lowdown: you need a chef's knife that feels comfortable in your hand, so go to the store and hold a few to see what you like. My chef's knife is a Wusthof 17 cm "santoku" knife which was popularized by Rachael Ray.  It's a great all-purpose knife and I use it for all but the smallest jobs. For peeling and slicing up fruit I use a Wusthof 8 cm paring knife. And my latest purchase is the Wusthof 23 cm serrated knife.  It slices bread like a dream! (see the recipe below). Keep your knives sharp by washing them by hand and using a honing stick frequently.
And don't forget a nice big wooden cutting board. Wooden cutting boards are not so hard on your knives so they'll stay sharp longer. I have a smaller cutting board which I use only for garlic and onions and I use my Boos board for everything else. It's a good idea to brush a little mineral oil on your board every so often to keep it in nice condition. I wash them with soap and hot water. Make an investment in these items and you will have them for years - you'll never be sorry!

Basic White Bread
adapted from Walter Sands' recipe in King Arthur Flour's 200th Anniversary Cookbook
Makes two loaves

2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp honey
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup dry milk (optional)
2 Tbsp butter, softened
6 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp salt

Pour the warm water into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the honey and yeast and stir to dissolve. When the yeast is bubbling, add the dry milk, softened butter, flour, and the salt. Mix with the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook until the dough comes together, about 5 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes, then knead again with the mixer and dough hook for another 3-4 minutes. The dough should be dry enough to not stick to the sides of the bowl, but moist enough so that the dough sticks a little to the bottom of the mixer bowl. Add flour or water 1 tablespoon at a time to obtain the right consistency.
Form the dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl, turning the dough once so that the top of the dough is lightly greased as well. Cover it with plastic wrap and then a clean kitchen towel and place in a draft-free place. Let it rise until doubled in size and you can poke the dough with your finger and it doesn't spring back at you (usually at least 1 1/2 hours).
Deflate the dough gently and turn it out onto a floured board or counter and knead out any stray bubbles.
Cut the dough in half, form 2 loaves by folding in the sides and tucking the sides under the dough. Place them in 2 lightly greased bread pans. Cover the pans and let rise until doubled (about an hour). About 15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place the loaves in the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven when nicely browned and sounds hollow when you tap it. Remove the bread from the pans and let cool completely on a wire cooling rack (so the bottom doesn't get soggy from the steam as it cools). Slice with a serrated bread knife. Freeze any portion you won't be able to use within a day or two.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tomato Sausage Lasagna

This lasagna is so delicious!  It's different from the traditional lasagna in that it doesn't have any ricotta cheese. The noodles are not cooked first in boiling water, but only soaked for a few minutes in hot water. The noodles did stick together a bit, so I would recommend adding a little oil to the water before dropping the noodles in. You could easily change up the ingredients, replacing some or all of the sausage with sauteed peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, or eggplant.

Tomato-Sausage Lasagna
from Everyday Food
Serves 8.

12 dried lasagna noodles (about 10 ounces), uncooked
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cans (28 ounces each) whole peeled tomatoes in puree
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 cups shredded shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

Fill a 9-by-13-inch baking dish two-thirds of the way with hot tap water. Add noodles, and arrange them in alternating directions to prevent sticking. Let soak while preparing sauce.
Make sauce: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and red-pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add sausage, and cook, stirring and breaking it up, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and their puree, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon; bring to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. (You should have about 8 cups of sauce.) Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain noodles, transfer to a baking sheet; dry dish with paper towels. Spoon 1 cup sauce in bottom of dish. Fit 4 noodles in dish (crosswise if using short noodles, lengthwise if using long), overlapping slightly. Cover with 2 cups sauce, 2 cups mozzarella, and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat with another layer, then top with remaining noodles, 3 cups sauce, and the rest of mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil, and bake 1 hour.
Remove foil, and continue baking until bubbly and browned, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool 20 minutes. Cut and serve.

Note: The lasagna can be assembled up to one day in advance. Cover with foil, and refrigerate. You may have to increase initial baking time by 5 to 10 minutes.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fudge Brownies with Peppermint Patties

Fudge Brownies with Peppermint Patties
from King Arthur Flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups (15 3/4 oz) sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (3 3/4 oz) Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 oz) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
20 small peppermint patties

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan

2) In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the microwave briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

3) While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla until smooth.

4) Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

5) Add the flour, again stirring until smooth.

6) Spoon half the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.  Layer the peppermint patties on top, leaving some space between the peppermint patties and the side of the pan.  Top with other half of the batter.

7) Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday's Favorite - The Kitchenaid Mixer

This is a new weekly series of posts highlighting my favorite things - including, but not limited to, kitchen gadgets, food items, destinations and blogs.

The very first of these favorite things: My kichenaid mixer! How could I survive without it? It effortlessly mixes cake and cookie doughs, whips up perfect buttercreams, kneads bread dough, and cranks out pastas (with the awesome pasta attachment). With other attachments, you can freeze ice cream and grind your own meats. My kitchen has a surplus of appliances, but if I could only keep one, this would be it. A few years ago, I upgraded from the standard 4.5 quart to the Professional 6.0 quart. I purchased an extra mixing bowl and plastic lids from When I have a cookie dough which needs to be chilled, I place the plastic lid right on the mixing bowl and place it in the refrigerator - quite handy!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chicken Tetrazzini

I have a 3-ring notebook in my kitchen where I keep copies of "keeper" recipes which I've tried multiple times with success. This is one of those "keeper" recipes and I make it whenever I've got mushrooms and leftover baked or rotisserie chicken in the fridge. It's classic comfort food.

Chicken Tetrazzini
Yield: Makes 6 servings

2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme, or one sprig fresh thyme
a pinch of nutmeg
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry (not cooking sherry)
3/4 lb spaghetti or linguine
1 to 1 1/2 pounds shredded cooked chicken
1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 cup)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.  Heat chicken stock in a small saucepan until hot.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Butter a shallow 3-quart glass or ceramic baking dish.

Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté mushrooms with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and thyme, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms begin to turn golden, about 8 minutes.

When the pasta water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, then add flour and whisk while the flour cooks - about 2-3 minutes.  Add warm stock in a fast stream, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Add cream, sherry, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper and simmer over low heat, whisking occasionally, 8 minutes.

Pour drained spaghetti, mushrooms, and chicken into the cream sauce and stir to combine.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.

Bake until sauce is bubbling and top is lightly browned, about 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rice Gelato

Nevermind that it's 20 degrees outside - I'm making ice cream! This recipe is from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. It's a gorgeous cookbook with all the traditional ice creams and sorbets. Some, however, are more unusual, like this recipe. It's essentially a frozen rice pudding. I wasn't sure if I liked it better than rice pudding at first, until I sprinkled a little cinnamon on top, and then it started to grow on me. I bet I'd like it even better if it were 80 degrees outside and not a bitter 20!

Rice Gelato
from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1/2 cup arborio rice
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
two 1-inch wide strips of orange zest
5 large egg yolks
1 cup half-and-half or cream
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

To cook the rice, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a 2-quart baking dish, stir together the rice, milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the salt. Add the vanilla bean and strips of orange zest. Cover the dish snugly with aluminum foil and bake for one hour.
Remove the rice from the oven and remove the foil. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, then continue to bake the rice, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, until it is tender. There should be about 1/2 inch of milk covering the rice.
Remove the rice from the oven, remove the vanilla bean and orange zest, and briskly whisk in the egg yolks all at once. Then whisk in the half-and-half and nutmeg.
Puree half of the rice mixture in a blender or food processor until chopped quite fine, then stir it back into the cooked rice.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
(The ice cream is hard to scoop right out of the freezer, so I place the container in the microwave for a few seconds, until it is scoopable. This also softens the grains of rice for a little yummy chewiness.)


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