Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Banana Muffins with Mascarpone Cream Frosting

I made these muffins the other day after I had seen it on the show Everyday Italian about a month ago. They came out really good! The frosting is very creamy and delicious, nice combination with the cream cheese and the mascarpone cheese. The only thing I substituted were the walnuts. I used macadamian nuts instead. This is yummy!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed

3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to blend. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack and cool slightly. The muffins may be eaten warm or cooled completely and frosted.

To frost the cupcakes: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the mascarpone cheese and then beat in the honey. Spread the frosting over the muffins. Sprinkle with the walnuts.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Zucchini Gratin

Zucchini is my favorite vegetable. This dish adapted from the TV show Barefoot Contessa is easy and simply delicious.

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for topping

1 pound yellow onions, cut in 1/2 and sliced (3 large)
2 pounds zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick (4 zucchini)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup hot milk
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Gruyere
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a very large (12-inch) saute pan and cook the onions over low heat for 20 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Add the zucchini and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the hot milk and cook over low heat for a few minutes, until it makes a sauce. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 10-inch baking dish.

Combine the bread crumbs and Gruyere and sprinkle on top of the zucchini mixture. Dot with 1 tablespoon of butter cut into small bits and bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and browned.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Greek Cookies (Kourabiedes)

One thing I really like about kourabiedes is they taste even better two to three days later. These popular Greek cookies will melt in your mouth. They are served on festive occasions such as christenings, weddings, holiday celebrations, and even valentines day. They're buttery-rich and can contain nuts, but are always rolled in confectioners' sugar after baking. Kourabiedes come in various forms from balls to ovals to S-shapes.

2c Butter, unsalted
1 c Sugar, powdered
3 Egg yolks
3 tb Brandy
2 ts Vanilla extract
6 c Flour
1/2 c Almonds blanched and chopped
1 lb Sugar, powdered-(one package)
Beat the butter with the sugar until it becomes fluffy.
Add the egg yolks one by one, beating continuously.
Add the brandy and vanilla.

Blend in the almonds and the flour, a cup at a time.
Use enough flour to get a firm dough (it may take a
bit more or less than the amount mentioned in the
ingredients list). Use your hands to do the mixing, as
an electric mixer will be useless after the first two
or three cups of flour have been added. Place the
dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Shape the dough into ovals, about one inch in, flatten
them and place on greased cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Roll each cookie (while it is
still hot) in the powdered sugar and put it back on
the cookie sheet. Repeat this step once more, so that
you get a thicker coating.

Place the coated cookies on a platter, liberally
sprinkling each layer and the bottom of the platter
with powdered sugar. Let cool.