Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Raspberry Brownie Bliss

Oh Yeah!
My friend Maria gave me this recipe. She is a fashion designer by day and has an extrodinary passion for baking in her spare time. Her cookies and baked goods are to die for! Not only are they sinfully delicious but they are always so gorgeous!  Maria is a such a beautiful person inside and out, and it reflects in everything she does, especailly in what she bakes!

I asked Maria for an easy recipe, and I wanted to make a bar cookie. The following recipe is hers. The nuts* in the bottom layer are my addition. Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
You'll need
3 sticks butter - I prefer unsalted
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup nutmeat * pulsed in the food processor
(I like to use either almonds or pecans)
1 package of your favorite brownie mix
1/2  jar of seedless raspberry preserves/jam
strong coffee

Combine all ingredients. It will be sort of crumbly. Just make sure that it will all hold together when pressed into the baking pan.
chopped almonds

flour, sugar, nuts and butter mixed up

Press this mixture into a greased 15 x 10 inch pan and bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until lightly browned and golden. (My pan was a little larger, which makes more squares, but not as thick)

before going into the oven

Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool.

After the cookie layer has cooled spread 1/2 of the jar of raspberry preserves over the cookie crust.

Now comes the fun part! Using your favorite brownie mix, follow the instructions of the box and instead of water add strong coffee along with the oil and eggs as directed on the box.

With a spatula spread the brownie mixture over the raspberry layer, it doesn't have to be perfect and bake 25 - 28 minutes, checking it at 25 minutes. Don't over bake. It should be soft and gooey.
Cut into squares, try to let it cool and eat!

I know that Maria's would be perfect , while mine aren't perfect squares, they are absolutely just as delicious!
You are going to be amazed with the first bite and the delicious flavors it will be sending to your taste buds. You'll  definitely want another! The coffee brings out the flavor of the chocolate like you can't believe!
Come on, tell me, don't you want to make these? Better yet, don't you want to eat one, or two?

Buon Appetito

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Is it Orange Beef or Beef with Orange?

Happy Peanut Butter Day! Want to try some orange beef with that? lol
It's been a little hectic here. My husband had knee replacement surgery last week so I've been kept busy. I haven't had much time to really cook. If you know me, you'll know that I am probably my happiest when I am kept busy in the kitchen.
Last night I finally made diner for myself and the family. It felt good, but better yet, it tasted wonderful!
My family loved the Asian inspired pork dish I made the last time, so I wanted to try something else tonight.  I didn't use a cook book, didn't look anything up on the internet, I just went with tastes and what I thought we would like. The end result was actually very good!
I needed to use what I had in the house, there has been no time for shopping.
I made a marinade with 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter, chopped fresh garlic, apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup red wine (it was on the counter and I just dumped it in!) soy sauce, (I didn't measure, just poured) a drizzle of sesame oil, and another drizzle of chili oil, and a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped. I probably didn't need the peanut butter, but once it was in, I was all in!
I marinaded the meat for 2 hours and then dusted each piece lightly with corn starch that I had seasoned with Chinese 5 Spice and ground ginger.  The Beef chunks were "fried" in a wok until they were crispy and browned. I removed the beef to a baking sheet and kept them warm in the oven. The pieces of beef were thick so I knew that they wouldn't get over cooked in the oven.
I deglazed the wok with a small glass of orange juice and a little of the left over marinade. It needed some more liquid so I added a little more soy sauce and water. I zested half an orange and added the zest to the sauce.
I removed the beef from the oven and added it back to the Wok with the sauce and made sure that all sauce touched the beef.
I topped it all with some more orange zest that I had cut into strips.
I served the dish with baby bok choy and steamed white rice.
We were happy!

Note to self: BUY A BIGGER WOK!  This is fun!!!

Buon Appetito

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuscany Tonight!

Just a very quick post to thank all of you who voted for me in a contest that was being held by Tuscany Tonight! Thanks to your votes, you propelled me into the top 10 and Chef Donatella picked my recipe for  Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms as the winning recipe.
My mother and nona are smiling today with tears of joy in heaven!
Thank you everyone!

Buon Appetito

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bucatini! Oh Yeah!

Santa was very good to me this year! Under the tree, was a box wrapped just for me! Usually Santa does not bring me anything that needs to be plugged in or pushed and or pulled.  It's just been a rule!  It has been a very good rule, and also applies to birthday's and anniversary's! LOL!
I wanted a pasta extruder, and I had to practically beg Santa, PLEASE!!!  So I  was very excited when I opened the box. As much as I wanted it, I didn't think Santa was listening to me!
 I have been waiting to play with my new kitchen toy and today I had a chance to make some delicious homemade Bucatini.
 This is the best thing ever! I thought I was going to need some help, but after following the instructions that came with the Pasta Extruder, made by KitchenAid,  I was able to make a batch of pasta all by myself, without any help from anyone! Perfect!  Flour, eggs, water and salt was all that was needed.

 Bucatini is a round thick hollow like spaghetti. It's one of my favorites! I thought of my best friends father, Cesare, who was also fond of this specific cut of pasta. I remember many nights shared at his table. He was such a wonderful, gentle, and kind man. I smiled thinking of him the entire time I was making the pasta.

Making the sauce was going to be really easy. I love a filleti di pomodoro sauce!  Oh Yeah!

 I started with a thinly sliced sweet white onion and a nice chunk of pancetta which I cut into lardons.
I heated my pan and then added 2 tablespoons of unsweetened butter and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. I cooked the panceta so it was nice and crispy and then added the onions and cooked until they took on a beautiful golden color. This took about 10 minutes on medium heat.
It's time for the tomatoes. I used a large can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes.
Cook the tomatoes until they start to break apart. I helped it along with a wooden spoon.
Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Add some fresh chopped basil and fresh chopped parsley and cover for 20 - 30 minutes on low heat.  Perfect!
After adding the pasta to salted boiling water for about 5 minutes, ( fresh pasta cooks much faster than the one you buy in the box), I drained the water and added the pasta to the sauce, tossing so that all the Bucatini were complimented.

From the pan, into Mima's bowl, and onto the table, went the Bucatini, ready to be dished out with some freshly grated Reggiano Parmigiano Cheese for all the hungry people waiting for a taste of delicious!
This dish made everyone very happy!

 Buon Appetito

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wokking It!

Last night we had a great meal! It was very tasty and delicious and very easy to make. I love Asian style food, and was in the mood for something a little different, so out came the wok. I made everything in it!
This dish is medallions of pork with peppers and onions, broccoli rabe and fried rice. Sometimes I even surprise myself when something comes out this good! LOL!
It really was so simple. Technically, I don't know if anything I did was correct, all I can say is the end result was delicious and everyone went back for seconds!

For the pork you will need...
pork medallions
1 yellow pepper, cut into pieces (see picture above)
1 red pepper, cut into pieces
1 large onion, cut into pieces
corn starch - 2 Tablespoons
Soy Sauce, 2 Tablespoons
2 Tablespoons of water (or Sherry! very yummm)
salt and pepper to taste
Chinese 5 Spices - to taste, at least a teaspoon!
Sesame oil  - 1 tsp
chopped cilantro, 2 Tablespoons

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and make sure that each piece of meat gets a nice even coat of corn starch mixture.
Heat the wok and then add oil. Peanut oil is great to use because it can withstand very high heats without scorching. If you don't have peanut oil, vegetable oil will work just fine.
Add each piece of pork to the heated oil and cook until it get nice color on each side. I would say about 3 minutes on each side. The meat will release itself when it is ready to turn!
Don't over crowd the wok!
After cooking all the pork, add the onions and peppers and a little more oil. If your wok is not big enough to accomodate everything remove the pork and cook the onions and peppers without the pork in the wok. Cook the onions and peppers for about 5 minutes, add the water, deglazing the wok of any yummy stuff left over from cooking the meat, onions and peppers.  If you took out the pork, add the pork back to the wok with the onions and peppers and add the soy sauce, sesame oil, and cook for another minute or two. Top with the chopped cilantro and serve!

Buon Appetito

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Turk-en Soup!

Thinking more about this soup, I think I should have called it Chick-ey Soup. The stock was made using a whole chicken, and the "meat balls" made from Turkey. Hmpf...what do you think?
I love soup. I would make it everyday if my family would let me get away with it. I think it's a fabulous one pot meal.
Today's soup is a chicken based soup with ground turkey breast meatballs, spinach, and cut spaghetti. My  family thought it was delicious. You'll enjoy it too!
I started off with a whole chicken. After cleaning the chicken, I placed the chicken in a large stock pot and covered the chicken with water.  I added one whole onion, peeled, 3 carrots, peeled, and 2 stalks of celery and then seasoned everything with salt, pepper and 2 bayleaves.
Bring the water to a boil and then cover the pot and let the chicken simmer for about 1 - 1/12 hours.
Take the chicken out of the pot and let the chicken cool enough to handle and take the meat off the bone. I like to leave the breasts whole and then slice. The dark meat gets taken off in pieces.
The carrots, celery and onions should be very soft.  Put them in the blender and let the blender whirl until you have a nice creamy mixture. If needed, add a little of the chicken stock from the stock pot. Add the vegetable puree back into the "broth". The pureed carrots add such a delicous sweetness to the stock!
I had a package of ground turkey breast and made delicious "meatballs" to go into the soup.
To make the meatballs I added 1/2 onion, which was finely chopped and 2 cloves of garlic, also chopped very fine. Instead of using breadcrumbs I added 1/2 cup of oatmeal, not the instant kind, 1 egg, salt, pepper, a few tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley and 1/4 cup of grated cheese.
Mix all togther and make into small balls, about the size of a walnut.
Drop these into the simmering broth and then cover and let the "meat"balls cook through.
Once the turkey meat balls were cooked, I took out about 8 cups of the stock and in another pot I cooked 1/2 pound of cut spaghetti. In the last minute of cooking the pasta I added 4 cups of fresh spinach leaves.
Turkey balls simmering in stock

When served we all grated a little more fresh Parmiagiano Reggiano right on top!
And the whole chicken that was boiled to make the broth?
It was served sliced with a tangy red bell pepper chimichurri sauce! Everyone was happy! Now that's what I'm talking about! Making everyone HAPPY! lol!