Sunday, December 19, 2010

Iraqi Meat Stew with Peas

4 T butter
2 lbs beef or lamb, cut into ½ inch cubes
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 medium onions, diced
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen green peas
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz), with their juice
1/2 cup water
2 t cumin
1 ½ t allspice
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauté meat (in small batches) in butter over medium heat until brown, stirring often. Remove meat, and add cilantro, onions and garlic to pan. Sauté until onions begin to brown. Add spices and cook 1-2 minutes. Add back the meat and its juices, tomatoes, water, salt, pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 40 minutes. Add peas and cook another 20 minutes or until the meat is tender and the peas are cooked. Serve with hot rice or egg noodles.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lemon Bars

Makes about two dozen 1 1/2- to 2-inch squares.

The lemon filling must be added to a warm crust. The 30-minute chilling and 20-minute baking of the crust should allow plenty of time to prepare the filling. If not, make the filling first and stir to blend just before pouring it into the crust. Any leftover bars can be sealed in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to two days.


The Crust

1 3/4

cups unbleached AP flour


cup confectioners' sugar , plus extra to decorate finished bars


cup cornstarch


teaspoon table salt


tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at very cool room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus extra for greasing pan

Lemon Filling


large eggs , beaten lightly

1 1/3

cups granulated sugar


tablespoons unbleached AP flour


teaspoons grated lemon zest from 2 large lemons


cup lemon juice from 3 to 4 large lemons, strained


cup whole milk


teaspoon table salt


1. For the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and line with one sheet parchment or wax paper. Dot paper with butter, then lay second sheet crosswise over it (see illustration 1, below).

2. Pulse flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade. Add butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second bursts. (To do this by hand, mix flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. Freeze butter and grate it on large holes of box grater into flour mixture. Toss butter pieces to coat. Rub pieces between your fingers for a minute, until flour turns pale yellow and coarse.) Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and, following illustration 2, press firmly with fingers into even, 1/4-inch layer over entire pan bottom and about 1/2-inch up sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

3. For the filling: Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl, then stir in lemon zest, juice, milk, and salt to blend well.

4. To finish the bars: Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir filling mixture to reblend; pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Following illustrations 3 and 4, below, transfer to cutting board, fold paper down, and cut into serving-size bars, wiping knife or pizza cutter clean between cuts, as necessary. Sieve confectioners’ sugar over bars, if desired.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pantry Chocolate Cake

When you're desperate for chocolate, and you don't have any in the house, you can make this cake from pantry staples.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brewed coffee*
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
confectioner's sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix dry ingredients, add wet ingredients and mix well. Pour into greased 8 inch square pan. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

*The recipe card in my mom's index did not say "brewed coffee", just "coffee", and when my sister and I first made this cake on our own as children, we put in 1 cup of Folger's crystals and added some amount of water when the batter looked dry. The cake turned out crunchy from all the crystals and inedible to the adults of the house. However, my sister and I loved it, and we became quite caffeinated feasting on it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oatmeal Pecan Pie

1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
Cooking spray
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup regular oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325°.

Roll dough into an 11-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under; flute. Combine brown sugar and remaining ingredients, stirring well with a whisk. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

from Cooking Light

Banana Bread

I like this one because it's a little more bready than cakey, and it's not super sweet.

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift dry ingredients together. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, mashed bananas and milk. Combine wet and dry mixtures. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.

Sour milk: 1/2 Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to equal 1/2 cup.

Tangy Meatloaf Bread

1 (1 pound) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
Some EV olive oil
1 lb. 85% lean ground beef
Few dashes of Worcestershire sauce

1 sweet onion chopped, lightly sautéed
1 green pepper chopped, lightly sautéed
Cornmeal (for bottom of bread dough)

Tangy Glaze (I usually make double so there's some left to drizzle on the finished slices)
1/2 cup ketchup
4 TB dark brown sugar
4 ts cider vinegar
Couple dashes of hot sauce, I use sriracha but it's optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a skillet heat up a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, lightly sauté the onions & peppers; add some salt & pepper. Remove from pan then cook the ground beef 'til almost done; season with salt & pepper. It will finish cooking in the oven. At the last minute of cooking the ground beef drain off the fat, leave a bit in there for flavor, then add in a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Then add back in the sautéed peppers & onions; mix all together; turn off heat; set aside. Get out your silpat and jellyroll pan and sprinkle with a bit of cornmeal (optional). Roll thawed bread dough out into a rectangle onto a silpat sheet.
I place the filling on one side of the dough, I don’t sprinkle it around as I want the center to be one layer. But feel free to do as you like. Place the cooked meat mixture on the dough. Roll up dough like a jelly roll and pinch seams to seal; place, seam side down. If dough is really sticky dip your fingers into some flour, repeat if necessary as you continue to roll. Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes, depending on your oven. While this is baking mix up the tangy glaze and get it ready to put on the loaf. At the 15 – 20 minute mark use a pastry brush and smear the tangy glaze over the top of the loaf. Bake for remaining time or until the bread crust is lightly golden brown. Wait about 10-15 minutes before slicing.

adapted from

Brown Butter Brown Sugar Cheesecake

Graham Cracker Crust

1 ½ cups fine graham cracker crumbs (about 12 whole crackers)

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon sugar

Cheesecake Filling

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter

16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup sour cream

½ cup half-and-half

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

Make the crust:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the sides only (not the bottom) of a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Put butter in a small, heavy saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Stir constantly as the butter melts and begins to sizzle. Cook about a minute longer until the butter is well browned but not at all burned. Quickly remove the pan from heat, and pour butter into a bowl to cool.

3. Put graham cracker crumbs into a medium bowl. Add melted butter and sugar and toss well to coat crumbs. Pour crumbs into prepared pan and press them firmly into the bottom, only. A flat-bottom glass or espresso tamper is helpful for packing the crumbs.

4. Bake 10-12 minutes, until fragrant and beginning to color. Set aside to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

While crust bakes, prepare the filling:

5. Put butter in a small, heavy saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Stir constantly as the butter melts and begins to sizzle. Cook about a minute longer until the butter is well browned but not at all burned. Quickly remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter into a bowl to cool.

6. In a large bowl using a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on low speed for 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl often with a rubber scraper. Add sugar and sour cream and continue to mix until smooth and free of lumps. Add half-and-half, salt, lemon juice and vanilla. Continue beating another minute, again scraping bowl once or twice. Add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition and continuing to scrape as needed. Do not exceed low speed as you mix so as not to beat air into the mixture.

7. Stir in the cooled brown butter by hand. Pour cheesecake over crust in pan.

8. Wrap the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Be careful that any seams are tightly closed so that water will not leak in from the water bath. Now place the pan into a larger pan and place the whole set-up into the oven. Before placing in the oven rack, use a teapot or measuring cup to fill the outer pan with hot water to below the foil line.

9. Bake until the cheesecake jiggles just slightly in the center when you shake it, about 80-90 minutes. Turn off oven and leave in the oven with the door open until it reaches room temperature.

10. When cool, remove pan from water and remove aluminum foil, then refrigerate in the pan for 2 hours.

11. Run a sharp knife around the rim of the cheesecake. Carefully remove the outer ring. Either place the cheesecake on its bottom onto a serving plate (the safest route), or use a large spatula or sheet pan to carefully loosen cake from pan bottom and transfer to a serving plate.

12. Serve in thin slices.

adapted from a recipe by Mary Cech

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

1 stick butter
1 10 oz bag small marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (optional)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and brown over medium heat, stirring and being careful not to burn. Remove from heat, add marshmallows, and stir until marshmallows have melted. Add salt and Rice Krispies, stirring to coat. Press into a buttered 8x8 inch dish and let cool.


Triple Cherry Compote

1 cup cherry cider/juice (Knudsen’s cherry juice is available at Whole Foods.)
1 cup dried tart cherries
1½ pounds fresh cherries, pitted and halved or 20 oz frozen pitted Bing cherries, halved
½ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons brandy
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Bring cherry cider/juice and dried cherries to a boil in large heavy saucepan. Remove from heat, cover, let steep 20 min.
2. Bring dried cherry mixture back to a simmer, and mix in fresh or frozen cherries and sugar. Simmer until cherries soften, about 2 min. for fresh and 5 min. for frozen. Mix brandy and cornstarch in a bowl to blend. Slowly stir into cherry mixture. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, about 1 min. Cool, cover, and chill until cold. (Can be made 2 days ahead.) Makes about 3½ cups.

from Bon Apetit

Chocolate Cupcakes with Matcha Italian Meringue Buttercream

The Cupcakes (Williams-Sonoma recipe)

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

11 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Place the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl and set over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan; stir frequently until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and let the chocolate mixture cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture until combined. Stir in the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour mixture just until no traces of flour remain; do not overmix.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 22 to 24 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cupcakes to the rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 12 cupcakes.

The Matcha Italian Meringue Buttercream

1 cup sugar

¼ cup water

5 egg whites

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 lb butter, cut into tablespoons

1 Tablespoon Matcha powder

In a heavy sauce pan, dissolve 1 cup of sugar completely in 1/4 cup of water. When the sugar is completely dissolved, crank up the heat and wait for it to boil.

Once the sugar has come to a boil, cover the pan for exactly 2 minutes. Start beating egg whites.

After boiling for 2 minutes, uncover the saucepan, and tilt/swirl the pan gently until the temperature reaches 245 degrees.

While the sugar syrup is climbing in temperature, add 2 tbsp of sugar to the egg whites and continue to beat until soft peaks form. At this point, you're ready for the sugar syrup.

Remove the sugar syrup from the heat immediately as soon as temperature reaches 245, and slowly pour into the egg whites while it is rapidly beating.

Mix on medium-high speed for 5-7 minutes, or until the bowl has come to room temperature.

Once the bowl has cooled, incorporate the butter slowly, one tablespoon at a time.

When the buttercream is ready, add 1 tablespoon of Matcha powder and beat on medium speed for about 30-60 seconds, until it is fully incorporated.

Frost cupcakes and decorate with silver drages.


Indian Cashew Chicken

2/3 cup cashews, roasted (not raw)
2/3 cup fat-free Greek-style yogurt

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 1/4 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 14 ounces)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 16 ounces)

Cooking spray

2 3/4 cups finely chopped onion (2 large)

2 cardamom pods, seeds removed and lightly crushed

1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick

2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 cup tomato puree

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

Chopped cilantro

1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Combine nut mixture and chicken in a large bowl; cover and refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, cardamom, and cinnamon stick to pan. Cook 10-20 minutes or until onion is golden, stirring often. (Add 1-2 teaspoons oil to help onions brown.)

3. Add chicken mixture to pan; cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in broth, tomato puree, paprika, and salt, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 1 hour or until thick – like marinara sauce. Remove from heat. Discard cinnamon stick; garnish with cilantro.

Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts

1/3 cup dark-brown sugar

2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Generous pinch of cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add walnuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.