Category Archives: Special Treats

14 February 2018: Ina Garten’s Lemon Mousse

2018-Feb-15_fournightsaweek_mousse_1773Happy Valentine’s Day! With Valentine’s Day falling in the middle of the week this year, we decided to stay in, cook, and enjoy one of our favorite movies. Just because it was a quiet night, doesn’t mean the food didn’t need to be spectacular and this Lemon Mousse recipe from Ina Garten was a great finish to our meal.  The most difficult part of the process was stirring the egg yolk mixture for 8-10 minutes, but after that, it came together easily. 

See the original – and accompanying video here.

Ina Garten’s Lemon Mousse

Ingredients

  • 3 extra-large whole eggs
  • 3 extra-large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup good bottled lemon curd, at room temperature
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe follows
  • Sliced lemon, for garnish (I used raspberries – equally good)

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I purchased perfectly acceptable whipped cream from Whole Foods – not the stuff in the aerosol can!)

Directions

  1. In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook (NOTE: Get that water simmering before you start timing), stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture is thick like pudding. Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until completely chilled.
  2. Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula.
  3. Place the cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.
  4. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Fold in the lemon curd, and pour into a deep bowl OR pipe smaller amounts into dishes.
  5. Top with whipped cream and lemon slices (or as I did, fresh raspberries)

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium and then high-speed until the cream just forms still peaks. Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

 

 

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02 February 2018: Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

2018-Feb-02_fournightsaweek_oatmeal_bars_1739Whenever I can use up the remaining bits of something I’ve only partially utilized during the week, it’s a win.  This week, I had most of a container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt leftover from a spicy bean dish, and rather than just eat it or (horrors!) wait until it was no longer edible, I went on a search for a way to incorporate Greek yogurt into another recipe. The fact that this recipe not only used up the yogurt but was a dessert AND used dark chocolate was something like winning a lottery.  Here is a recipe for Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars from A Mindful Mom’s blog. Be sure to check out blogger, Kristen for other great healthy choices.

Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups oats (I used old-fashioned, not quick)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0% fat)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate, chopped (I used dark chocolate chips)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper or foil.
  2. In large mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.
  3. Add oil, yogurt, egg, honey and vanilla. Mix until just combined.
  4. Stir in dark chocolate chips
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before eating (good luck with that).

23 January 2018: Cocoa Brownies

2018-Jan-23_fournightsaweek_brownies_1694We recently purchased a condo unit in the building in which we have been renting. Our new neighbors gifted us with the wonderful bottle of wine which we have determined would go quite nicely with some chocolate. I mean, what doesn’t go with chocolate? I’m not sure I want to live in that world.

There are plenty of brownie recipes made with cocoa in place of bar chocolate, but oftentimes I’ve found them to be pretty dry. This recipe comes from Bon Appetit and is hands down one of the most chocolate-y of cocoa brownie recipes I’ve ever tasted.  And, it is quite tasty with our bottle of Ipsus 2008 Passito de Pantelleria.

Cocoa Brownies

Bon Appetit, December 2012.

Ingredients

  • Nonstick oil spray
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into approximately 1 inch chunks
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used King Arthur’s Triple Chocolate)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line and 8-inch square pan (glass) with foil, pressing firmly into pan and leaving a 2 inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Melt butter (I microwaved, BA suggests doing this in saucepan). Let cool slightly.
  3. Whisk sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl. Pour butter in a steady stream into dry ingredients, whisking constantly to blend. Whisk in vanilla.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beat vigorously to blend after each addition (make sure the butter has cooled a bit or you’ll end up with bits of scrambled eggs – yuck).
  5. Add flour and stir until just combined – do not overmix. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. (I added some chopped up dark chocolate dove bar here just for fun).
  6. Bake until top begins to crack and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. 25-30 minutes.
  7. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool completely in pan. Use foil overhang and lift 2018-Jan-23_fournightsaweek_brownies_1692brownies out of pan. Cut into 16 squares.

Ipsus 2008 Passito di Pantelleria
I love, love, love that this moscato dessert wine comes from Sicily. Smooth and a golden color your can practically taste the sunshine!  The wine is produced in a southernmost island near Tunisia; somewhat sweet (but not overly so) there are notes of apricots and raisins. Definitely great sipping wine to go with dessert. To find out more about these wines, link to the Wine-searcher site here.

 

 


04 Jan 2018: Coconut Milk Rice Pudding

2018-Jan-04_FourNightsAWeek2018_1608Whenever I use coconut milk in a curry, I usually end up with 3/4 of can left over.  “Now what?” is the usual thought. So the can gets stored in the fridge until I figure out that I don’t have any other use for it and have to throw it out. I know. Pathetic. This week, however, when I made Joanne Chang’s Red Curry Cauliflower with Tofu (coming soon), I was determine to utilize that last bit of coconut milk.

Because we are in the midst of Snowstorm Grayson here in New England, it just felt right to make something warming (and sweet). So after some Google-ing, I decided upon Rice Pudding.  The recipe I ended up making is an adaptation of one found on Epicurious, the main change being I swapped around the proportion of coconut milk and whole milk. After all, the point here was to get rid of the coconut milk.  If you do try something like this, be sure to stay near the stove. Boiled over milk is a nasty clean up.

(Mostly) Coconut Milk Rice Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups UNSALTED COOKED rice
  • 2 cups coconut milk + 1 cup regular milk (I used 1%) for a total of 3 CUPS milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar (I used brown)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp (more to taste) cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste because I like the intensity)

Method

  1. Simmer rice, milks, sugar and salt, uncovered in a 2 1/2 to 3 quart heavy sauce pan over moderate heat STIRRING FREQUENTLY until thickened (this takes about 40-45 minutes).
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. Serve warm.

05 Nov 2017: Cinnamon Brown Sugar Bars

2017-Nov-05_fournightsaweek_1461A recent impulse buy from King Arthur Flour was cinnamon – two different kinds actually. As I was growing up, I only knew that cinnamon came from a McCormack’s tin. The two types of cinnamon I purchased for baking – and yes, I can taste a difference – were Vietnamese and Madagascar.  Now to use them before they become stale.

Today’s weather was dank and dark and a fitting day for some comfort food and smells. This recipe for Cinnamon Brown Sugar Bars seems to fit the need and will, I hope taste as wonderful as the aroma that now fills my kitchen. 

This recipe was collected from My Kitchen Craze and can be found here.  But don’t stop with this bar recipe; lots of delicious looking and sounding possibilities to explore.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 2/3 c all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer), cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, making sure to incorporate each one.
  3. Add vanilla and beat until smooth.
  4. Add baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour to a medium bowl, whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the mixer and stir until just combined.
  5. Pour bater into baking dish and spread evenly with a spatula.
  6. In a small bowl mix cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle evenly over the batter.
  7. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until bars are set in the middle and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely until cutting into bars.
  8. Eat by themselves (my choice) or with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy.

5 August 2017: Coconut Cornmeal Cake

2017-Aug-05_FourNightsAWeek_1356CAKE2Seriously, Thug Kitchen, this cake is the bomb.  As the Thugs say, “… save frosting for something that needs the help.” This does not.  And it didn’t need butter or eggs either.  Little bit of fresh fruit on top and we will be good to go for tonight’s dessert. If this makes it until then.  I have a feeling there will be some taste testing going on really soon. [Edited for  the delicate or children.]

From: Thug Kitchen LLC. Thug kitchen: Eat like you give a f*ck.  (2014). Emmaus, PA: Rodale. p.200.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

Method

  1. First, heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grab an 8-inch cake pan, grease it, and dust it with flour to make sure your cake doesn’t stick. If you are still consumed with fear, cut a round out of parchment paper the same size as the pan and stick that in the bottom to be extra ——- sure your cake will come out in one piece. Now relax, you got this —-.
  2. Get a big bowl and whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a crater in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the coconut milk, vanilla, and lemon zest and stir it all up until there are no dry pockets and very few lumps.
  3. Pour that batter into your cake pan that you prepped earlier because you followed the g-d directions. Let somebody else lick the spoon and bowl because 1)The batter is tasty as —- and 2)They will now owe you one. Cash in that favor the next time you need help moving. You’re ——-welcome.
  4. Bake the cake until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then turn it out on to a wire rack to finish cooling until you’re ready for it.
  5. Serve cold or at room temperature.

 


Cornmeal-Lime Cookies

2017-Mar-12_fournightsaweek_0494Original Recipe found in: Chang, J. Flour: spectacular recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe. (2010). San Francisco: Chronicle. p 118-119.

Joanne Chang says “Eat Dessert First” and frankly if my metabolism were a bit different, I would definitely follow that advice! Today I was looking for a cookie with a little bit of a spring hop to it (New England’s March weather is featuring 12-18 inches of snow starting in 24 hours). This delightful cookie has the crunch of cornmeal and the refreshing bite of limes.  I highly recommend Joanne Chang’s cookbook as Joanne offers lots of great baker’s tips to get things just right. And, if you’re in the Boston Metropolitan area, be sure to stop by one of the Flour Bakery’s cafe sites – be ready to be amazed.

Ingredients

For the cookie:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cups plus 2 TBSP granulated sugar
  •  2 TBSP finely grated lime zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup medium coarse yellow cornmeal (I used the polenta I had on hand)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

For Lime Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 2 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest

Method

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and paddle. Add the lime zest and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute to release the lime flavor. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and paddle again to make sure the eggs are thoroughly incorporated.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. On low-speed slowly add the flour mixture and then mix until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed.
  4. Drop the dough in scant 1/4-cup balls onto a baking sheet (I lined mine with parchment), spacing them about 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes (I found I needed to pull the tray out at about 15 minutes, so keep your eye on the bake) or until the cookies are pale brown on the edges, still page in the center and just firm to the touch in the center. Be careful not to overbake the cookies and let the top brown. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool to room temperature or just a bit warmer before glazing.
  6. To make the glaze: while the cookies are cooling in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, water, lime juice and lime zest until smooth. Your should have about 1/2 cup.
  7. Brush the cookies with a thin layer of the glaze then allow the glaze to set for about 10 minutes before serving or storing.
  8. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. The unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 1 week (Trust me, bake the entire batch!).

Yield: 14-16 cookies


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