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Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

Posts tagged ‘weekend’

This is hands-down my favorite chocolate cake recipe.  It’s rich and moist and delicious.  Apparently, the cake is better when made the day before (so I’ve always done that).  The chocolate frosting is delicious too (although not pictured below).  This recipe makes two 8 inch round cakes, which you can stack with a layer of frosting in between – or one single layer rectangular cake.  Enjoy!

Mom's Chocolate Cake

Recipe from Food & Wine (contributed by Marcia Kiesel.)

Mom’s Chocolate Cake

This is a real old-fashioned American chocolate layer cake. It’s very moist, very chocolatey, a snap to make and best baked the day before serving. Marcia Kiesel acquired the recipe from her friend Joyce Cole, who got it from her mother.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with wax paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves; then pour into a large bowl. Add the chocolate and butter and let sit, stirring occasionally, until melted and slightly cooled. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Beat the eggs into the chocolate mixture at medium speed until combined. Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat at medium speed until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed lightly and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for about 25 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
  4. Set one cake, right-side up, on a serving platter. Using a metal spatula, spread one-third of the Chocolate Frosting evenly over the cake. Top with the second cake and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Chocolate Frosting recipe also from Food & Wine (contributed by Marcia Kiesel.)
Servings: Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

The inspiration for this frosting technique comes from dessert maven Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (Alfred A. Knopf).

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 stick (4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and sugar to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces slightly, about 6 minutes. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and add the chocolate, butter, vanilla and salt. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are melted.
  2. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the frosting on medium speed, scraping the sides occasionally with a rubber spatula, until thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Use at once.
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My friend Nicole served this at a baby shower and it was so decadent and delicious.  This is a great dish for a special occasion and it serves a lot of people (I think more than 8 people since it’s rich).  You can make it the day/night before and all you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven.

Goat Cheese Strata

Recipe from Bon Appetit.

Goat Cheese, Artichoke, and Smoked Ham Strata

Makes 8 servings.

ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 cups 1-inch cubes sourdough bread, crusts trimmed
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 12 ounces soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), crumbled (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • 12 ounces smoked ham, chopped
  • 3 6 1/2-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained, halved lengthwise (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup (packed) grated Fontina cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) grated Parmesan

preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk milk and oil in large bowl. Stir in bread. Let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Whisk cream and next 5 ingredients in another large bowl to blend. Add goat cheese. Mix herbs in small bowl to blend.

Place half of bread mixture in prepared dish. Top with half of ham, artichoke hearts, herbs, and cheeses. Pour half of cream mixture over. Repeat layering with remaining bread, ham, artichoke hearts, herbs, cheeses, and cream mixture. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Bake uncovered until firm in center and brown around edges, about 1 hour.

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These cupcakes are delicious and because of their all-white coloring and coconut topping (which looks like confetti), they are perfect for a special celebration (birthday party, baby shower, engagement party, Easter, etc.)  They are always a hit.  I did learn a lesson while making these once though.  While making my batter, I was cracking the eggs directly into the bowl, and I got a little shell in there.  For the life of me, I could not fish it out.  I just continued on, forgetting all about it… My husband ended up bringing in some cupcakes to work (so we didn’t end up eating all of them ourselves) and later that day, his future boss appeared at his door.  He said he really enjoyed the taste of the cupcakes, but next time would prefer them with no egg shell.  I was pretty mortified when this got relayed to me!  Ever since then, I’ve taken the time to crack my eggs into their own little bowl before adding them to my mixture!

Note: if you don’t like the taste of almond extract (I don’t), you can substitute with more vanilla extract.

Coconut Cupcake

Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten.

Coconut Cupcakes

Ingredients:

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

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I love brick oven pizza – the crust is so light and crunchy and the toppings take center stage.  When I saw this recipe in the Wall St. Journal for making pizzas at home, I thought it would be fun to try.  This is not an easy weeknight dinner, but this is doable over the weekend (and can be a fun “hands-on” dinner party idea) – and best of all, you can make parts of it ahead of time.  You can make the sauce up to 4 days ahead, the dough up to 3 days ahead (or frozen up to a month ahead), and the rest is easy.  Three quick notes — 1) take the fresh mozzarella out of its liquid the day before you make your pizzas so it doesn’t soak your pizzas, 2) the dough might need a bit more cold water when mixing (up to 1/2 cup), and 3) I substituted pancetta for the guanciale.  I did not have a pizza stone and my pizzas turned out just fine.  You will be amazed at how good these artisanal pizzas are – made in your own kitchen!

Pear Pizza

Recipe from The Wall Street Journal (article by Sarah Karnasiewicz and recipes adapted from Marc Vetri’s “Rustic Italian Food”)

Romana Pizza Dough

Marc Vetri’s simple recipe produces a hearty-yet-thin Roman-style crust that is easy to execute at home. Makes 6-7 12-inch rounds.

Ingredients

6 cups high-protein flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour),

plus extra, for dusting

2 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2¾ teaspoons packed fresh cake yeast (or 1 teaspoon instant yeast)

2½ teaspoons fine sea salt

What To Do

1. Put flour, sugar, oil and 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons cold water in bowl of a stand mixer. Crumble in yeast. Using dough hook, mix on low speed until everything is moist, about 4 minutes, scraping bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix until dough clings to dough hook, about 4 minutes. Add salt and mix until dough is very soft and stretchy, another 3 minutes.

2. Cut dough into 6 or 7 equal pieces and roll into balls (about the size of a softball) on unfloured board. Arrange balls on baking sheet and scatter a little flour on top of dough. Cover entire sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Working one at a time, flatten ball on a floured work surface. Hold disk in the air and circle your fingers around the edge, pinching gently around the edge to make a border. It’s easier to start stretching dough in the air instead of on a work surface, because gravity will pull and stretch it. Once it’s about 8 inches in diameter, place dough on floured work surface and pat it out with your fingertips, from the center toward the edge, to fully stretch. Gently push your palms into center of the dough to stretch it toward the edges. Pat and stretch to a round about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8-¼ inch thick. Top as you like and bake.

Make ahead: Cover and refrigerate dough for up to 3 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Thaw and bring to room temperature before rolling out.

Basic Pizza Sauce

Don’t skimp here. Since this base has only four components, flavorful tomatoes, quality oil and fresh herbs make the difference between a so-so and a sublime sauce. Makes about 2½ cups, about 4 pizzas’ worth.

Ingredients

1 (16-ounce can) peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

½ bunch fresh basil

What To Do

Purée everything with an immersion or upright blender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Make ahead: You can refrigerate the sauce in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Instructions For All Pizzas:

• Remove all but the bottom rack in your oven. Set baking stone on remaining rack.

• Preheat oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes before baking. If you have convection, turn it on to help brown and blister the bottom of the pizza.

• Place dough on a well-floured rimless baking sheet. Ladle 2/3 cup sauce into the center of the dough round, then spread from the center to the edges by moving the ladle in widening concentric circles.

• When recipe calls for fresh mozzarella, slice cheese into 2½-inch-thick rounds, then break each up into 2 pieces and scatter over pizza.

Featured Pizza: Sliced Pears, Guanciale, Provolone, Mozzarella and Mixed Herbs

This pie is all about contrasts: salty guanciale, sweet pear, mild mozzarella and sharp provolone.

Scatter half a very thinly sliced pear, ¼ cup diced provolone, ¼ cup fresh mozzarella and ¼ cup finely chopped guanciale onto dough. Slide pizza onto hot stone and bake at 500 degrees until cheese melts and crust is golden brown, 5-7 minutes. When pizza comes out of oven, scatter 1 teaspoon mixed herbs (try parsley and thyme) on top.

—Recipes adapted from Marc Vetri’s “Rustic Italian Food,” Ten Speed Press

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I love brick oven pizza – the crust is so light and crunchy and the toppings take center stage.  When I saw this recipe in the Wall St. Journal for making pizzas at home, I thought it would be fun to try.  This is not an easy weeknight dinner, but this is doable over the weekend (and can be a fun “hands-on” dinner party idea) – and best of all, you can make parts of it ahead of time.  You can make the sauce up to 4 days ahead, the dough up to 3 days ahead (or frozen up to a month ahead), and the rest is easy.  Two quick notes — 1) take the fresh mozzarella out of its liquid the day before you make your pizzas so it doesn’t soak your pizzas and 2) the dough might need a bit more cold water when mixing (up to 1/2 cup).  I did not have a pizza stone and my pizzas turned out just fine.  You will be amazed at how good these artisanal pizzas are – made in your own kitchen!

Parma Pizza

Recipe from The Wall Street Journal (article by Sarah Karnasiewicz and recipes adapted from Marc Vetri’s “Rustic Italian Food”)

Romana Pizza Dough

Marc Vetri’s simple recipe produces a hearty-yet-thin Roman-style crust that is easy to execute at home. Makes 6-7 12-inch rounds.

INGREDIENTS

6 cups high-protein flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour),

plus extra, for dusting

2 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2¾ teaspoons packed fresh cake yeast (or 1 teaspoon instant yeast)

2½ teaspoons fine sea salt

WHAT TO DO

1. Put flour, sugar, oil and 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons cold water in bowl of a stand mixer. Crumble in yeast. Using dough hook, mix on low speed until everything is moist, about 4 minutes, scraping bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix until dough clings to dough hook, about 4 minutes. Add salt and mix until dough is very soft and stretchy, another 3 minutes.

2. Cut dough into 6 or 7 equal pieces and roll into balls (about the size of a softball) on unfloured board. Arrange balls on baking sheet and scatter a little flour on top of dough. Cover entire sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Working one at a time, flatten ball on a floured work surface. Hold disk in the air and circle your fingers around the edge, pinching gently around the edge to make a border. It’s easier to start stretching dough in the air instead of on a work surface, because gravity will pull and stretch it. Once it’s about 8 inches in diameter, place dough on floured work surface and pat it out with your fingertips, from the center toward the edge, to fully stretch. Gently push your palms into center of the dough to stretch it toward the edges. Pat and stretch to a round about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8-¼ inch thick. Top as you like and bake.

Make ahead: Cover and refrigerate dough for up to 3 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Thaw and bring to room temperature before rolling out.

Basic Pizza Sauce

Don’t skimp here. Since this base has only four components, flavorful tomatoes, quality oil and fresh herbs make the difference between a so-so and a sublime sauce. Makes about 2½ cups, about 4 pizzas’ worth.

INGREDIENTS

1 (16-ounce can) peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

½ bunch fresh basil

WHAT TO DO

Purée everything with an immersion or upright blender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Make ahead: You can refrigerate the sauce in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Instructions For All Pizzas:

• Remove all but the bottom rack in your oven. Set baking stone on remaining rack.

• Preheat oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes before baking. If you have convection, turn it on to help brown and blister the bottom of the pizza.

• Place dough on a well-floured rimless baking sheet. Ladle 2/3 cup sauce into the center of the dough round, then spread from the center to the edges by moving the ladle in widening concentric circles.

• When recipe calls for fresh mozzarella, slice cheese into 2½-inch-thick rounds, then break each up into 2 pieces and scatter over pizza.

Featured Pizza: Parma Pizza

Piled with arugula and slices of salty prosciutto, this pie is like the love child of a pizza and a salad.

Scatter ½ cup cubed fresh mozzarella and ½ cup cubed fontina cheese on dough. Bake on pizza stone at 500 degrees until crisp. Mix together 2 cups arugula, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar and salt and pepper, to taste. When pizza comes out of oven, put arugula mixture on top and garnish with 4 thin slices of prosciutto.

—Recipes adapted from Marc Vetri’s “Rustic Italian Food,” Ten Speed Press

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This is such an amazing salad!!  My friend Nicole does catering and cooking classes in San Francisco (Savory Pear) and she came up with this brilliant creation.  She says it gets even better the next day, so a great “make ahead” dish.  To save time, I often buy the container of butternut squash that has already been cut up (but use immediately – it doesn’t last that long!)

Farro Salad with Roasted Squash, Radicchio & Sage

Recipe from blog Savory Pear in the November 2012 Newsletter.

Farro Salad with Roasted Squash, Radicchio & Sage

Ingredients:

1 medium sugar pie pumpkin, butternut squash, delicata squash, or kabocha

1 cup olive oil, divided

1 cup semi pearled farro

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 medium head of radicchio, cut into 1/4 inch ribbons

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 bunch sage

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Peel, seed, and cut the squash or pumpkin into 1/3 inch cubes.  Toss with 1/2 cup olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper.  Spread into a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick inserts easily and the squash or pumpkin is nicely browned.  Let cool.

Place the farro in a large pot of lightly salted water.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the grains are tender, 15-20 minutes.

While the farro is cooking, combine the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some fresh ground pepper in a small bowl and slowly whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil.  Drain the farro and add to a medium or large bowl.  Toss in the vinaigrette (you might not need to use it all) and add radicchio, tossing well and allowing it to wilt slightly.

Heat 1 cup vegetable oil in a saucepan to 350 degrees.  Add 5-6 sage leaves at a time and fry until crispy, 20-30 seconds.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Repeat with remaining sage.

Just before serving, toss in the roasted pumpkin, crumbled fried sage, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

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