Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Baba au Rhum
Many years ago a European Baker gave me the recipe for Baba au Rhum which I made all the time and each and every time I made the recipe it would come out perfect. As the years went by I lost the recipe, I tried to find it by looking in many cookbooks and the recipes I would find were just not like the one the Baker gave me. Recently, as I was searching the net I came across my lost recipe on Emerill Lagasse from the Food Network. The trick to this recipe is heating the milk to the correct temperature of 110F, mixing in the yeast, and leting it rise until double its size. If the yeast does not rise to double its size the rest of the recipe will not come out as it should.
Baba Rhum is a sponge like cake topped with rum syrup sauce. I thought I would try it in a 9in bundt cake mold, but it can also be made in different size muffin pans depending on how big you want them. The whipped cream compliments this dessert very well because of the very moist consistancy of the cake.
1/2 cup milk
4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1/2-ounce)
2 cups bread flour
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 unsalted stick butter, melted but not hot
Rum Soaking Syrup, recipe follows
1/4 cup dark rum
Sweetened Whipped Cream

In a small saucepan, scald the milk over medium heat. Remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm (110 degrees F).
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the milk, yeast and 1/2 cup of the flour and let sit until foamy. Stir to form a sponge and let rise until doubled, about 20 minutes.
Beating with the paddle attachments, add the eggs 1 at a time, followed by the remaining 1 1/2 cups of bread flour, the sugar, salt, and zests. When a soft dough forms, slowly beat in the butter to make a smooth dough. Let rest for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a large baba mold or 9-inch bundt cake pan.
Place the dough in the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until it has nearly reached the top of the mold, about 40 minutes.
Place on a sheet pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top of the baba is golden brown and the sides have begun to pull away from the pan slightly.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Set the wire rack over a sheet pan. Using a toothpick or skewer, poke holes all over the top. Pour the warm syrup over the warm cake and let sit until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
Turn the baba out onto the wire rack and let drain over the sheet pan for 30 minutes. Slowly drizzle the rum over the top in 2 additions.
Transfer to a cake platter or stand.

Rum Soaking Syrup:
3 3/4 cups water
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 vanilla bean, split in
1/2 lengthwise and seeds scraped
10 tablespoons dark rum
In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients except the rum. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Add the rum.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids. Cover to keep warm for soaking the baba.
Yield: 4 cups

Sweetened Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon dark rum

In a large bowl, beat the cream with an electric mixer at medium speed until frothy. Add the sugar and rum and beat until the cream holds soft peaks, being careful not to over beat.
Cover with plastic and refrigerate for up to 1 hour before serving.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Greek Tiropita (Puff Pastry with Feta Cheese)

If you ever been to Greece than you probably tasted the Tiropitas. These puff pastry delights, come in a warm buttery flaky pastry filled with feta cheese and are sold everywhere. Last summer while visiting Greece I couldn't help myself but have tiropitas almost everyday. They are usually eaten, for breakfast, and in the afternoon with tea. Tiropitas are best when eaten warm.

2 sheets puff pastry
1 lb feta cheese
2 eggs
pinch of dill or parsley (optional)
1 egg for egg wash

In a bowl crumble feta cheese, eggs and mix well. Cut pastry dough into 4 inches by 4 inches squares. Place one tablespoon of filling in center of each square. Fold into a triangle. Use a fork to to seal and decorate edges. Beat one egg with two tablespoons water, this is for the egg wash to be brushed on the surface of the pastry dough. Place tiropitas in a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lentil Soup

Here in Massachusetts the weather is starting to get cold. One of my favorite soups for this time of the year is Lentil soup. I grew up with this soup, my mother would make it all the time. Retreiving the recipe from her though was quite a task since she does not measure the ingredients, I guess when you are cooking for a long time you don't need to. By watching her cook I have finally learned to figure out how much of each ingredient she uses.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 cup tomatoes chopped
1 1/4 cup lentils

2 cloves garlic
6 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add carrots, celery, garlic, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add lentils, tomatoes, water, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to moderate and cook, covered, until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Marble Cake

If you like the taste of Grand Marnier than you will like this cake. I have to admit I don't like all the recipes I try, I thought this was too overpowering with the Grand Marinier (I guess I can use less next time) and kind of heavy for a marble cake, but my husband thought it was perfect and he ate the whole thing. This recipe is from The seven sins of Chocolate by Laurent Schott, the cookbook has many different chocolate cakes, chocolate jams, berry chocolate tart, and this are just a few of the recipes which I have to try. For a perfectly smooth batter, all the ingredients have to be taken out of the refrigerator a few hours before making this cake. Instead of the 6 cup fluted pan, I used a loaf pan.

1/2 cup candied oranges, or orange peel, diced
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 1/2 cups all- purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 6 cup fluted-tube pan.
Place the pieces of candied orange in a bowl and pour in 2 tablespoons of the Grand Marnier. Set aside and soak.
Mix the flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and baking powder in a heavy-duty electric mixer on medium speed until very smooth, about 3 minutes.
Add the soaked oranges and mix for another 5 seconds. Divide the batter in half add the cocoa to one half, and mix well.
Drop alternate, irregular portions of the two cake mixtures into the pan to create a marbled effect.
Bake for 45-50 minutes. Check that the cake is done by inserting a wooden toothpick into the center. When it comes out dry, remove the cake from the oven.
Turn out onto a wire rack, and drizzle the cake with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier. Cool completely.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Braised Meat With Onions (Greek Stifatho)

This famous Greek dish, also translated as stifatho, is a braised beef with onions. Every family makes it a little differently and it is so typical of rustic Greek mountain cooking. My recipe is adapted from my mother who makes the best styfatho I have tried thus far. This dish is not only very tasty it is very easy to make. While cooking the longer it simmers the more flavorful it becomes.

2 pounds boneless beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 pounds small pearl white onions, peeled and ends cut
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup dry red wine
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 bayleaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Add all ingredients meat, white onions, garlic, wine, vinegar, olive oil, bayleaves, and tomato paste in a deep pot. Add enough water to cover all the ingrediants and stir. Bring to a boil then immediatley reduce to simmer for 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally adding water as it evaporates when the stifatho is done cooking there should be little sauce left.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Greek Bean Salad (Piazi)

This bean salad is one of my favorites. It's also very versatile so you can add different beans as the mood strikes! Can be served immediately or refrigerated overnight to allow flavors to combine and marinate in the liquid. In my family gatherings this dish is always present on the table from parties to holidays. When I don't have time to cook I make this dish with a side of rice, its easy, fast, and nutritious. Any leftovers can be regrigerated and it tastes even better the next day.

1 can white kidney beans drained
2 cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 tomatoes diced
1 red onion, chopped
4 green onions chopped
kalamata black olives for garnish
1 ounce crumbled feta cheese (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
oil and vinegar
Combine the beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, green onions, salt and pepper. Toss together add oil and vinegar according to taste.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Ah...yes! Profiteroles are one of my favorite desserts. Unlike the draditional Profiteroles filled with pastry creme, instead this is filled with Ice Cream and topped with home made Chocolate Sauce. Here is a little secret, don't forget to serve a little extra chocolote sauce to allow for that extra indulgence. I will take mine with extra chocolate sauce please! Enjoy!

Choux Pastry
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons (1 stick butter,
cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, 1 beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in saucepan. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and add the 4 eggs one at a time, stirring each one well in.
Using a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch tip, pipe small balls of choux pastry (about the size of a walnut) onto a baking sheet.
Lightly brush the balls with beaten egg.
Bake for 20-50 minutes, until puffed and crisp. Cool completely.

Chocolate Sauce
4 oz bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
Bring the milk, cream, and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Pour onto the chopped chocolate and let stand to melt the chocolate. Add the butter and whisk until smooth.

To Assemble The Profiteroles
Cut each profiterole in half. Fill the bottom half with small scoop of vanilla ice cream and cover with the top half. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.
Quickly arrange the profiteroles in individual dishes or on a serving dish, drizzle with hot chocolate sauce, and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Green Curry Shrimp with Noodles

This dish is fast, easy, and has all the exciting flavors of Southeast Asia. The curry paste has lemongrass in it, so if you can't find fresh it will still taste good without it.

1 cup chopped shallots (about 4)
2 fresh lemongrass stalks (optional), 1 or 2 outer leaves discarded and lower 6 inches of stalks thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro stems
1 to 2 tablespoons bottled Asian green curry paste
11/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (13- to 14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk (not low-fat)
13/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
(14 fl oz) 3/4 lb dried flat 3/8-inch-wide rice noodles or 1/2 lb dried flat 1/8-inch-wide stir-fry rice noodles
11/2 lb peeled and deveined large shrimp (21 to 25 per lb)
2 to 3 teaspoons Asian fish sauce, or to taste
Purée shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and cilantro stems in a blender with curry paste, sugar, salt, turmeric, and water until as smooth as possible, about 1 minute.
Heat oil in a 4-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook curry paste mixture, stirring frequently, until it just begins to stick to bottom of pot, 8 to 10 minutes. Add coconut milk and broth and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3 2/3 cups, 8 to 10 minutes.
While sauce simmers, cook noodles in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain noodles well and divide among 4 large bowls.
Add shrimp to sauce and simmer, stirring, until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in fish sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Ladle shrimp and sauce over noodles.
From Gourmet

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Most Expensive Steaks
It's a steak with the consistency of foie gras, and it derives from cattle that, according to legend, are fed beer and massaged by human hands. In its uncooked state, the meat is pale--almost white--packed with what Chef de Cuisine David Varley of Las Vegas' Bradley Ogden restaurant calls "an ungodly amount of fat."This marbled delicacy is the produce of Japanese beef cattle, or "Wagyu," raised both in and outside of Japan, and it takes over high-end steak menus internationally. Forbes Traveler spoke with chefs and managers at fine steakhouses worldwide, as well as beef producers, butchers and meat experts, to compile their list of the world's most expensive steaks. Wagyu entrees account for all of our top ten. Read More

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Stuffed Cabbage (Polish Golabki)

1 whole white cabbage
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
Salt Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped onions
2 cups cooked, long-grain white rice
1 egg
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley leaves
1/2 cup water
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
2 T tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Pinch of sugar
Salt Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock

Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise and remove the core. Peel a couple of the outer leaves away from the cabbage halves and discard. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cabbage and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from the water and cool completely. Carefully divide into individual leaves. Set aside. In a large saute pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat for 5 minutes. Add the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about five minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Remove from the heat and turn into a mixing bowl. Cool slightly. Stir in the rice, egg and parsley. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place 1/4 cup of the meat and rice mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf. Roll up each leaf tightly. Place in a shallow baking pan, add the water and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 15 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. To serve, spoon the sauce over the stuffed cabbage.