Tuesday, March 30, 2010


After we ate our Special Chicken, Adam asked what the funny red silicone pan sitting on the counter was for. I told him it's my madeleine pan and that I want to make some in the near future. Well since he put the idea in my head which caused and instant sweet tooth, I found a recipe and got to it right then.

I know I say a lot of the recipes I try are easy but this one is truly so easy! I guess the most difficult part to overcome is having a madeleine pan. I was out shopping one day and saw the silicone one I have on big-time sale and just bought it on a whim. I'm very happy I did! I need another one now...

While studying in Paris, I remember buying these little cake-cookies in large packages in the grocery store and by the piece at corner bakeries.

There are several madeleine recipes out there. The basic recipe I use is from Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri.

2 large eggs
pinch salt
1/2 cup sugar
finely grated zest of a medium orange
1 cup flour
8 tablespoons (1 stick butter), melted
confectioners sugar for finishing
two madeleine pans, buttered and floured

Set rack in the middle level of the oven and reheat to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, by hand, whisk together the eggs and salt until frothy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the sugar in a stream, then the orange zest. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour, then the melted butter. Use a large soup spoon to fill the cavities in the molds about 2/3 full.

Bake the madelines for about 20 minutes, until they are well risen, firm and a golden color.

Remove the pans from the oven and unmold the madeleines immediately onto racks to cool. If you reuse the pan like I did, wash it and butter and flour it again.

Dust the madeleines with powdered sugar before serving.

Next time I want to make chocolate madeleines: Substitute 2/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted after measuring, for the flour. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

A Special Chicken

Friday night I roasted a chicken.

It wasn't any old chicken. It was an Empire kosher chicken from Wegman's. My little 3.22 pound chicken passed strict Jewish dietary laws, he was free ranging and he ate corn, soy grains, natural vitamins, minerals and fat - not hormones. This little guy went through a salting process, which is required for the kosher process, so he hardly needed any more salt.

But the main reason why this chicken was special is because I prepared it according to the Engagement Chicken standards. This recipe is supposed to make a chicken so moist and delicious that when you prepare it for your boyfriend, he'll realize he can't bear the thought of living his life without a woman who can cook such an amazing chicken. And it turns out Adam agrees! He loved the chicken (except for the fact that it took too long to cook when we were both very hungry). Of course, I'll keep you post on when I get that sparkly!

Such a simple recipe from Glamour magazine (I adapted it a bit). I will be making it again for sure.

1 whole chicken (approx. 3 lbs)
2 medium lemons
1/2 cup lemon juice
Kosher or sea salt (I used sea salt)
Ground black pepper

Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Wash chicken inside and out with cold water, remove the giblets, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander until it reaches room temperature (about 15 minutes). Pat dry with paper towels. Pour lemon juice all over the chicken (inside and out). Season with salt and pepper. Prick the whole lemons all over with a fork and stuff them deep inside the cavity of the chicken (I used 1 1/2 lemons because my lemons were big). Place the bird breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan and bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn chicken breast side up; return to oven and bake for 70 more minutes. Test for doneness - a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh should read 180 degrees - juices should run clear.

More info from the Empire website about what kosher means:

"It has been said that keeping kosher is as much a diet for the soul as for the body. Because every Jew has a soul which is eternal and holy, if forbidden foods are eaten, that holiness is affected. This in turn lessens the ability to absorb all the spiritual rewards of Torah. This is why Jews have followed strict dietary laws throughout the generations, passing this way of life on to their children".

Note: I am not Jewish but simply interested in lifestyles other than my own.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mochaccino Brownies

Baxter wanted me to tell you about a delicious dessert that he desperately wishes he could try. But sadly, I have to say no to his begging (which I very rarely do)!
My mom got me the Good Housekeeping Best Loved Desserts Cookbook for Christmas and after thumbing through it several times, marking everything I want to make, I finally made something - Moccachino Brownies.
These are very chocolatey and have a distinct coffee flavor. I baked them so they came out a bit under-done so they're extra chewy!

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons instant coffee
1 Tablespoon very hot water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 8 oz package unsweetened chocolate squares (like Baker's or chocolate chips)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mochaccino Glaze
4 teaspoon instant coffee
2 Tablespoons butter melted and kept hot
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13"x9" pan.

Prepare brownie:
In a small bowl, with wire whisk, mix flour and salt; set aside. In a cup, dissolve coffee in water; set aside. In a 3-quart saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from heat; stir in granulated sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and coffee mixture; stir until blended. Stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture just until blended. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake until toothpick inserted 2 inches from edge comes out almost clean, 25-30 minutes ** I baked then for 20 minutes because I like them chewy - you can see in the pictures. Cool in pan on wire rack.
When brownie is cool, prepare glaze:
In medium bowl, with wire whisk, stir coffee and hot melted butter until coffee dissolves. Stir in confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth.
With small metal spatula, spread glaze over cooled brownie.

I stored my brownies in the fridge.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Broccoli Fried Rice with Candied Bacon

I came across a recipe for Vegetable Fried Rice with Bacon on the Food Network website and thought it sounded good. I had never made fried rice the traditional way with scrambled eggs so I was excited to try it. Not only did the recipe sound easy to make, it was full of flavorful ingredients.
I made it tonight and both Adam and I loved it!!! The candied bacon is so interesting - a delicious mix with the red pepper flakes and ginger.
This recipe is a definite keeper and I highly recommend it! You can add any other veggies you want - mushrooms, carrots, baby corn. We ate this as a main course but it would be a nice side dish too.
I adapted this from foodnetwork.com:

1 teaspoon
1/4 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 head broccoli, florets and stalks cut into 1/4-inch pieces
5 cups cooked long-grain white rice
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Place a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil and bacon and stir-fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar over the bacon and toss. Add 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce (watch out-the oil will bubble up) and continue to stir-fry until the bacon is glazed, about 30 seconds. Transfer the bacon to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to the drippings in the pan and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli and cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice, the remaining 2 teaspoons soy sauce, the broth and glazed bacon. Toss to heat through.

Push the fried rice to one side of the pan, crack the eggs into the other side and scramble until set, about 1 minute. *** I wasn't able to scramble the eggs in the same pan. I used another pan and once the eggs were done, I mixed them with the rice.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

NYC Weekend

This weekend my family took a trip to New York City. My dad, mom, brother, sister, Adam and I headed up to the Big Apple on Friday morning for some good eats, sightseeing, shopping and a Broadway show.

What a beautiful weekend! Here, Adam and me in Central Park on Saturday:

Friday when we arrived in the city and got situated in our hotel, we headed towards Times Square. On our way, we stopped at Maxie's (7th Ave & 48th St) for lunch. Adam and I shared this beauty:
Corned beef on knish!

My parents shared the same thing on rye while my bro and sis had a buffalo chicken sandwich. We ended the meal by sharing a large slice of chocolate cheesecake.
While I was able to take good pix at Maxies, I failed to do so at the other eating establishments we visited :(
Friday night myself, Arielle and Salt (Adam Swenson) 'n' Peppa (Adam Pankake) visited a great little Irish bar on 2nd Ave between 51sr & 52nd Street called the Pig & Whistle. We enjoyed a pizza margarita, a pulled pork sanwich, a catfish wrap and a bowl of chicken rice soup - washing it all down with drink specials, beers and hard cider (poor Ari had water). There is also a Pig & Whistle on 47th St in the Theatre District.
On Saturday for lunch, we ate at Mickey Mantle's restaurant - one of my Dad's favorite places to eat. There is unique sports memorabilia all over the restaurant! We ate a lot here - wings, steak sandwich, cobb salad, calamari, onion rings and peppery chicken over vegetables.
For a late night dinner (midnight!) on Saturday after we saw Rock of Ages (a HOOT!) we visited Pecatore on 2nd Ave right beside Pig & Whistle. The salmon, seafood salad, crab cakes and penne a la vodka were all great!
From the entire weekend I can honestly say everything I ate in the city was delicious! I can't wait to go back for another visit!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cauliflower & Spinach Gratin

photo source: Wegman.com

I found this recipe on the Wegman's website and since there was cauliflower and spinach in the fridge, I thought we'd make it. It was soooo good! I altered the recipe a bit - you'll see my notes. Everyone loved it and it was gone in a flash between 4 people!

I didn't have a camera while making it so I added a pic from the Wegman's website.

I highly recommend this dish!

1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets (or 2 lbs cauliflower florets)
1 pkg (10 oz) Fresh Spinach, stemmed (large stems only), rinsed - 10 oz is a lot. I didn't use that much. Use your judgement.
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Bread Crumbs, divided - I used panko
1 jar (13 or 15 oz) Alfredo Sauce
1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

You'll Need: 13x9x2-inch baking dish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add cauliflower and spinach to large mixing bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup bread crumbs, alfredo sauce, and mozzarella; mix well. Set aside.

Make topping: Combine remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and 1 T oil in small bowl. Set aside.

Grease baking dish with olive oil; add vegetable-cheese mixture to dish.

Bake 40 min, uncovered, stirring halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven; sprinkle with topping. Return to oven; bake 15 min, until topping is light golden brown.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Salmon with Browned Butter, Almonds & Green Beans

I was looking through the March 2010 Real Simple magazine and stumbled upon a tempting salmon recipe. I was thinking about the salmon filet I had in the freezer for awhile and thought this recipe sounded like something Adam and I would both enjoy. I made it on Sunday for lunch - and it took only 20 minutes!! I will definitely be making this again and again (but not too close together because it's such a buttery rich treat!). And by pan frying the salmon, it gets nice and crunchy on the outside.

I would even make this butter/almond/caper mix to put over the green beans as a side dish for other meals.

This will serve 4:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons capers

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Cook until opaque throughout, 3-5 minutes per side (depending on thickness of salmon); transfer to plate.

Fill a second skillet with 1/2 inch water, bring to a boil and add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the beans, cover and steam until just tender, 4-5 minutes; drain. NOTE - I used frozen green beans and cooked them according to the package directions.

Wipe out the green bean skillet and heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring frequently, until the almonds and butter are golden brown (be careful - will burn easily), 2-3 minutes. Stir in the capers.

Plate the salmon and green beans on dinner plates and spoon butter over all.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Two weeks ago during a snow day, I made Pea Parsley Pesto over Linguine. The recipe is from the March 2010 edition of Everyday Food. I have never made somthing from this magazine that hasn't turned out well. Until I made this pesto. In my opinion, and certainly Adam's, the puree of peas, parsley and walnuts was just not a good mix. If you have a copy of this magazine, I do not recommend trying it. If you don't have the magazine, I will spare you the recipe. Or if you think it sounds good and give it a try, let me know what you think of the ingredient mix.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New take on "tea"

I get sooo many magazines every month. Fashion and cooking are my favorite - so much I want to buy and cook out there. Sometimes I never get to take the time I want to really read every magazine. And I never get to try all the recipes I find.
It's been quite sometime since I've read one of Martha's Living magazines. Over the weekend I looked through the March edition and found many things I want to make. She featured ideas on how to make "tea" with your French press. I put tea in quotes because it is what we refer to as tea but not tea because the tea plant is not being used.
I bought this beautiful little French press in Paris when I was there studying in 2006. I don't use it much but I want to start - soon I'm heading to One Good Woman to get some coarse ground beans.
Anyway, Martha suggested some ways to make 'tea'. I made the thyme, apple and ginger brew. I sliced one apple, 5 pieces of fresh ginger and rinsed a handful of thyme sprigs; put it all in the bottom of the French press and poured boiling water on top. I let it steep for 10 minutes, pushed down the press and poured myself a cup. The 'tea' is nearly clear but I could distintly taste all 3 of the flavors. A great way to use up the fresh thyme (leftover from a fish dish). I didn't even need sweetener and I'm a big Splenda fan.
I'm definitely going to try this 'tea' method with mint leaves this summer.