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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dinner and a Movie: Chocolat

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I'm very excited to be posting about the first installment of Dinner and a Movie, a new monthly blog event co-hosted by Marc of No Recipes and yours truly. Each month, Marc and I will select a new movie to watch, which will hopefully inspire you all to cook or bake something fabulous. Watch the film, run with an idea, then share it with all of us. The trick is that not every movie chosen will be a "foodie film", so you'll really have to get creative. But, we know you can do it! We hope you'll join us each month on what is sure to be delicious journey though some of our favorite films.

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The movie we have chosen for this month is Chocolat. As you may already know, Chocolat is about Vianne, a rather bohemian woman and her young daughter in 1960, who open a chocolate shop in a small, conservative French village during Lent. At first, they are met with skepticism and resistance, but soon their exuberance and incredible chocolates win their acceptance into the community - almost! It is a truly sensual film full of charm, drama, romance, passion and, of course......chocolate!

The obvious choice when deciding what to make for this event was some kind of chocolate truffle. After all, Vianne's little shop was full of them. I was banking in the fact that everyone else figured this too and decided to make something else. Then, I could make truffles and not look like a big, fat copycat. So far, it seems to have worked, because I haven't noticed any other truffle entries.....yet. It doesn't matter anyway, really, because I, for one, believe that there can never be enough chocolate truffles in this world. So there!

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About halfway through the movie, Vianne meets Roux, a handsome, gypsy drifter, and of course, they fall in love. Well, actually they first fall in lust. The love part comes later. But, I digress......

Anyway, the inspiration for my recipe comes from Vianne and Roux. My Spicy Chocolate Chili Truffles are for Vianne, because she is sweet, warm and a little bit spicy. My Chocolate Espresso Truffles were inspired by Roux, who is deep, mellow and a little dark.

Spicy Chocolate Chili Truffles (Les Truffes pour Vianne)

8 oz good quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, 62% cacao or higher.
1/2 cup cream
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tbsp softened butter
Good quality cocoa powder for coating

Chop chocolate in a bowl.

Heat cream to simmer. Add chili flakes and steep for 15-20 minutes. Reheat cream to simmer. Add chipotle powder and stir.

Pour cream mixture over the chocolate through a strainer. Let sit a few minutes and gently stir until well combined.

Drop small bits of butter into ganache and continue stirring until smooth and homogeneous.

Let ganache sit until cooled. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours until firm and "scoopable".

Remove, and with a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly to avoid melting, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

Roll truffles in cocoa powder and serve.

Chocolate-Espresso Truffles (Les Truffes pour Roux)

8 oz good quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, 62% cacao or higher. (I used a mix of each)
1/2 cup cream
2 tsps espresso powder
1 tbsp softened butter
3 ounces white chocolate, chopped for coating
Roasted espresso beans for garnish

Heat cream to simmer. Add espresso powder and stir until dissolved.

Pour cream over chocolate and let sit a few minutes. Then, gently stir until well combined.

Drop small bits of butter into ganache and continue stirring until smooth and homogeneous.

Let ganache sit until cooled. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours until firm and "scoopable".

Remove and with a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly to avoid melting, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

Melt white chocolate in a small bowl. Carefully dip truffles in and set on parchment paper. Top with an espresso bean and let sit until coating hardens.

Enjoy!

(Printable Recipes)

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Valentino Cake

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The February, 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

This is a flourless chocolate cake inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. The recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan, and was chosen by Wendy at wmpesblog and Dharm at Dad - Baker and Chef. It is a decadently rich and fudgy cake, reminiscent of a brownie. The depth and intensity of the cake's chocolate flavor is completely dependant upon the quality of the chocolate used. In other words, use a great chocolate and you'll get a great chocolate cake!

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The challenge for this month was to bake the cake and serve it with the homemade ice cream of our choice. Because of the complexity of this cake, I chose to go with an ice cream in its simplest and purest form: Fleur de Lait Ice Cream. Luckily, it also happens to be my all time favorite ice cream. The particular recipe that I used is one of David Lebovitz's from his fab ice cream cookbook, The Perfect Scoop.

Fleur de Lait Glace or Fiordilatte Gelato, if you're Italian, is probably the easiest frozen dessert in the world to make, comprised of only four basic ingredients: Milk, cream, sugar and cornstarch as a thickener. But, when those ingredients collide and are swirled into this dreamy ice cream - watch out! The result is nothing short of sublime!

Fleur de lait and fior di latte literally translates to flower of milk in French and Italian, respectively. This ice cream is the perfect base for any kind of add ins you'd like. But, if you're a purist like me, there is nothing better than grabbing the biggest spoon you can find and just digging right in!

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Instead of making one large cake, I decided to go the mini route and made 6 small cakelets in 4"/10 cm tartlet pans. I cut the baking time down to about 17-18 minutes and they turned out fine. The only problem that I had was that the cakes were so dense and fudgy, they started to fall apart a little when I was unmolding them. Instead of taking any chances, I popped them in the freezer for a few hours. That seemed to do the trick.

The light and delicate flavor of pure, sweet cream permeates the Fleur de Lait Ice Cream and is the perfect complement to the deep, chocolaty richness of the Chocolate Valentino Cake. Try them both together and I swear, you will swoon. I know I did!

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Chocolate Valentino Cake

Ingredients:

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped

½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter

5 large eggs separated

Directions:

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.

2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.

3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.

4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).

5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.

8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C

9. Bake for 25 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.

Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.

10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Fleur de Lait Glace (adapted from The Perfect Scoop)

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Combine the milk and sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat to warm it up. In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch and cream together until smooth. Add cream mixture to the saucepan stir.

Heat while stirring until mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat and continue to stir for a few minutes. Pour the mixture into a bowl and let cool for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to release the steam. Refrigerate until for several hours, until well chilled.

Once chilled, freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Makes about 1 quart.

(Printable Recipes)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TWD: Caramel Crunch Bars

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I know I was in the minority last week, when I said that the Devil's Food White Out Cake didn't knock my socks off. But, I call 'em like I see 'em. This week, however, I hope that I won't be in the minority when I tell you that I really loved, loved, loved Dorie's Caramel Crunch Bars! They were easy to put together. They didn't take a long time to make. They turned out exactly like they were supposed to. And, they were absofreakinlutely delicious! What more could anyone ask for?

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This week's TWD recipe was chosen for us by Whitney of What's Left on the Table? They're delectable and decadent cookie bars with a kind of caramelized, brown sugar shortbread base laced with a shot of espresso and studded with bits of chocolate. The bars are then topped with a layer of more chocolate and finished off with a generous sprinkling of toffee bits. I opted to use some velvety, Guittard milk chocolate for my bars, hoping for a glorified version of a Heath Bar. Guess what? That's pretty much what I got - only better!

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These Caramel Crunch Bars are hands down one of my favorite things I've baked for TWD so far. Even though there isn't any actual caramel in the recipe, the cookie base bakes up gooey, crunchy and chewy all at the same time, with a rich "caramely" flavor. The perfect fake out!

Dorie showcases these bars by turning them into ice cream sandwiches, which I think is a great use for them. I decided to try it, filling half of mine with some creamy, dreamy coffee ice cream. They were a little tough to bite into, but definitely worth the effort.

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If you'd like to try these Caramel Crunch Bars out for yourself (and I hope you do), the recipe can be found on Whitney's site and, of course, in Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home To Yours.

You can also find many more delicious versions of these bars on the Tuesdays With Dorie blogroll. Just don't go there hungry!

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Classic Carrot Cake

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"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"

-Ecclesiastes 3:1

Do you categorize your food by season? I do. It makes sense to cook with ingredients that are at their peak of freshness. Certain foods, by their nature are also more suited to particular times of the year. For example, to me, it just doesn't feel right to eat butternut squash in the middle of July. Likewise, I feel somewhat out of place serving peach dishes in December.

I also tend to categorize desserts by season. I enjoy lighter, fruity desserts in warmer weather, and denser, richer ones in the Fall and Winter. One of my favorite cool weather treats is a moist, rich and spice-laced carrot cake, preferably with lots of little chunks of fruits and nuts inside. Oh yeah, and it's gotta have a ton of rich, tangy, silky and fluffy cream cheese frosting slathered all over it too!

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When I saw this Classic Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting in the January, 2009 issue of Food & Wine Magazine, I knew I had hit carrot cake pay dirt! The recipe comes courtesy of pastry chef Jodi Elliot from the Urban Farmer in Portland, Oregon.

This cake is called classic for a reason. It is moist, dense and flavorful, without being overly sweet. The cream cheese frosting creamy and fluffy, just as advertised. A very satisfying and comforting combination! The recipe is straightforward and uncomplicated. What you see, is what you get. And, in these uncertain times, that is a very good thing!

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Classic Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting (Print Recipe)
adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, January, 2009

Ingredients

For the cake:

1 cup pecans (4 ounces)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded

For the frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment. Butter the paper and flour the pans.

Make the cake: Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Cool and finely chop the pecans.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk and vanilla. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, 5 minutes. Beat in the liquid ingredients. Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the carrots and pecans. Divide the batter between the pans and bake the cakes for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until springy and golden. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then unmold the cakes and let cool completely.

Make the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese at high speed until light, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the confectioners’ sugar; beat at low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Peel off the parchment paper and invert one cake layer onto a plate. Spread with a slightly rounded cup of the frosting. Top with the second cake layer, right side up. Spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting and refrigerate the cake until chilled, about 1 hour.

Slice and serve.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

TWD: Devil's Food White Out Cake

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I really wanted to love this cake. I really, really, really did! Its picture graces the cover of the TWD bible, Baking: From My Home To Yours. The strength of that photo alone was the impetus for me to buy the book. I didn't even need to turn a page. Those deep, dark, fudgy layers of chocolate cake encased in billowing clouds of fluffy homemade marshmallow frosting erased all reason and made my salivary glands go wild! I almost made this cake several times, but I always chickened out. This was, after all, my ideal of what a great cake should be. You know how it is when you build up something in your mind. You're almost guaranteed to be disappointed by the real thing. What if I couldn't do this cake justice? Or worse, what if I made it and it wasn't as fabulous as I'd hoped it would be? Hmmm.

So, when I learned that Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater had chosen Dorie's Devil's Food White Out Cake for this week's TWD assignment, I approached it with caution. I followed the recipe precisely. I was meticulous about every detail, leaving nothing to chance. For my efforts, I was rewarded with a beautiful cake that looked every bit as enticing as the one on the cover of the book. And, it tasted......okay.

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The cake itself was very dense and moist. With the addition of Scharffenberger cocoa and Guittard semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolates, it was very......well......chocolately. It was a really tasty cake, but for some reason, it didn't knock my socks off. I don't know why. Perhaps, my taste buds have changed. And, for all of the time and trouble it took to make, the marshmallow frosting just didn't "wow" me like I expected it to. It was good. Actually, it was very good. Just not incredibly good.

I don't know if it was because my expectations were so high to begin with, but I must admit that I was slightly disappointed with the taste of this cake. Who knows? It could very well have been something I did. Don't let my opinion stop you from trying it on your own. It really is a stunner, and would be a lovely addition to any dessert table.

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If you'd like the recipe for Devil's Food White Out Cake, you can find it on Stephanie's site or here. Of course, you can also find it in BFMHTY as well. Also, don't forget to check out all of other versions of this cake on the TWD blogroll.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Barefoot Contessa's Turkey Meatloaf

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In case you were wondering what I served that Cream of Roasted Tomato & Rice Soup with, this is it. I discovered Ina Garten's fabulous Turkey Meatloaf recipe many years ago in her first book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, and it immediately became a family favorite.

There are a lot of things that I love about this recipe, the first being that is absolutely delicious. The onions in it are sauteed to release their sweetness and then mixed with the other seasonings before being added to the ground turkey. This yields an end product that is incredibly moist and flavorful. I also love the fact that this recipe makes a huge meatloaf. Sure, five pounds of meat is a lot, but you end up with enough for several meals, plus enough to share. Leftover meatloaf is very versatile. You can do just about anything with it. Plus, it's really nice to have in the fridge for those busy weeknights when you don't have a lot of time to spare.

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The first day I made this, we ate it straight up with mashed potatoes and some zucchini. The next day, I served it in big, fat, grilled sandwiches topped with melted mozzarella along with my tomato soup. After that, I chopped some up and stuffed some baked potatoes with it. (I wish I had thought to take some pictures of that!) Finally, I crumbled the last of it up in some mac & cheese. (Yes, it was from a box. And no, I don't feel a bit guilty about it!)

So, if your life often gets a little hectic and crazy like mine does, make Ina's big, honkin' Turkey Meatloaf on a Sunday afternoon. Your family will eat like kings for the rest of the week, and you might even find a little time to sit back and put your feet up!

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Turkey Meatloaf
from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, by Ina Garten
(Printable Recipe)

Ingredients:

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast
1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.

Enjoy!

If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy these from the SGCC archives:

picadillopizza

Picadillo & Picadillo Pizza

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Stuffed Eggplants with Meat

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Easy Peasy Meatball Ziti

stuffedpotatoes

Stuffed Jacket Potatoes with Shepherd's Pie Filling

Meatloaf Involtini

Meatloaf Involtini

And, here are some other great meatloaf recipes from around the blogs:

Moroccan Meatloaf from Simply Recipes

Gluten-free Maple-Apricot Glazed Meatloaf from Karina's Kitchen

Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting from Fine Furious Life

Kalyn's Best Meatloaf from Kalyn's Kitchen

Turkey Meatloaf with Fig Gravy from The Perfect Pantry

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So, You're Probably Looking for Some Floating Islands...

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Unfortunately, this week's TWD recipe required a lot of standing at the stove, and other futzing around in the kitchen, and frankly, my ankle just wasn't up to it. Both Mr. SGCC and Mini SGCC have been pretty busy themselves, so neither were available to help. I'm really disappointed that I wasn't able to make Dorie's lovely Floating Islands this week. The recipe, which was chosen by Shari of Whisk: a food blog, looked like something I would have enjoyed. Sigh..... Hopefully, I will get to make them sometime soon. In the meantime, please take some time to check out all of the creative versions of this elegant dish at the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll.

I don't want you to leave empty-handed, however. What kind of hostess would that make me? My Cream of Roasted Tomato & Rice Soup may not be as exotic as Île Flottante, but it is a creamy, velvety and delicious soup chock full of fresh tomato flavor. And, while it doesn't have fluffy little meringues floating in it, it does have some nice crunchy croutons floating on top. Luckily, I made this soup a few weeks ago, before my ill-fated ankle "mishap", so I'm able to share it with you now.

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I've always been a big fan of tomato soup, especially creamy tomato soup. I ask you, what else in the world could possibly go better with a grilled cheese sandwich? They're like the yin and yang of the lunch menu!

While I've spent most of my life happily relying on Campbell's for my tomato soup fixes, I decided to try my hand at making my own from scratch. I had a basket of big, beautiful, juicy heirloom tomatoes that were just shy of being overripe. They were a little too soft to cut up for a salad, so soup was just the thing.

I did a little research and found some great-looking recipes on the blogs. One that stood out to me was by Andrea of Andrea's Recipes. Her Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup was the perfect version to try. It looked so rich and inviting. Plus, it didn't seem to be too complicated or time-consuming to make. My thanks go out to Andrea for the inspiration!

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Of course, I had to add my own little touches to this soup. I can never leave well enough alone! In addition to a few minor tweaks, I swapped out the basil in the recipe for some fresh thyme. I also added some rice to the soup, just because I felt like it.

If you enjoy a good tomato soup, I encourage you to try this one. It really is a winner! I served mine with my favorite meatloaf (which I'll tell you about later), and it went over big at Chez SGCC.

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Cream of Roasted Tomato & Rice Soup
adapted from Andrea's Recipes
(Printable Recipe)

Ingredients:

2 pounds ripe sweet tomatoes
5-6 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup cup heavy cream
2 cups cooked white rice*
Salt to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475° F.

Halve tomatoes lengthwise and lay them cut sides down on a baking sheet. Generously coat with 3-4 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with garlic, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes until their edges are charred, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Scrape tomatoes, oil, and herbs from pan into a food processor. Process until tomatoes are mostly pureed, but still a little chunky.

In a medium saucepan, cook the onion in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the roasted tomato puree and broth.

In a small bowl, whisk the wine and tomato paste together until well blended. Add to the soup.

Heat the cream and whisk into the soup. Add the rice and salt to taste. Bring soup to a simmer and continue to cook until heated through, about 5-10 minutes.

Top with the grated Parmesan

*You can use any leftover rice, if you have some. You could also use frozen microwaveable rice, which is what I did.

Enjoy!

Here are some other great soups from the SGCC archives that you might enjoy:

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Zucchini Vichyssoise

"Quick, But it Tastes Like it Took All Day" Chicken Soup

Beef Barley Soup

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nutella & Banana Filled Aebleskiver for World Nutella Day

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It's hard to believe it's already that time again! No, not Valentine's Day, although, that too. I'm talking about World Nutella Day, the day where all Nutella fans worldwide celebrate the wonder and sheer joy of of this creamy, velvety, and totally addictive chocolate-hazelnut spread.

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According to its web site, Nutella was first created in the mid-1940s by Pietro Ferrero, a pastry chef and founder of the Ferrero company. At the time, cocoa was in short supply because of rationing due to World War II, so chocolate was very limited. To stretch the cocoa, Ferrero added hazelnuts, which were much more plentiful, and thus, a legend was created!

Since its first appearance on the culinary scene, Nutella has become much more than a popular after-school snack. It is literally a cultural and social phenomenon, not only in its native country, Italy, but all the world over. Nutella is marketed in over seventy-five countries across the globe, and outsells all brands of peanut butter combined worldwide!

World Nutella Day is the brainchild of bloggers, Michelle of Bleeding Espresso and Sara of Ms. Adventures in Italy, who felt that it was high time that Nutella had an official holiday of its own. So in 2007, they took action, and World Nutella Day was born.

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When trying to figure out what to make for my entry this year, I decided to stay true to myself and put together a dish that reflected my absolute favorite way to enjoy Nutella - with bananas. When I was a kid, Nutella and banana sandwiches were part of my daily routine, often topped with a splotch of marshmallow creme. I didn't think it could ever get much better than that, until .....Paris.

Most people associate their first trip to Paris with falling in love. Falling in love with the art, the music, the fashion, the breads and pastries, the Seine and of course, that "special someone". When I went to Paris, I also loved all of those things, but what captured my heart for all eternity were those marvelously light and delicate crepes filled with Nutella and chunks of banana from the hundreds of stands that dot almost every street corner in the city. Forget those fancy patisseries and bistros! I longed for those crepes - and lots of 'em!

I've tried to replicate them at home many times, and.....well.....let's just say that I'm somewhat "crepe impaired" (meaning I suck at making crepes). You know the old "beauty from within" cliche? Well, that applies to my crepes. They always taste fabulous, but they look pretty pathetic. Not something that I'd want to show you pictures of!

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Instead, I decided use one of my new kitchen toys to make you something using the same concept, only in a different way: Nutella and Banana Filled Aebleskiver!

Aebleskiver or Ebelskiver are traditional Danish pancakes in the distinctive shape of a ball. They're made in a special pan like the one above and are solid like a pancake, but light and fluffy inside like a popover. They can be made plain and topped with powdered sugar or maple syrup, or they can be filled with a variety of ingredients, such as jam, fruit or chocolate.

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Aebleskiver are not much more difficult to make than regular pancakes, but you do need to have one of those special pans. Fortunately, you can find them at many kitchen stores and lots of places online, like Amazon, Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table, among others. I even saw them at Target. Prices range from about $15.00-$40.00.

To make these Aebleskiver, I started with the recipe on the back of the box that the pan came in. From there, I took bits and pieces from a few other recipes I found on the web. I ended up with what I think is a really good one. My Aebleskiver were lightly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. The Nutella and banana were the perfect oozey, schmoozey filling. If I closed my eyes, I could almost hear Edith Piaf singing in the background!

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If you're already wise to the delights of Aebleskiver, then by all means, give these a try. If not, these would be a great initiation. I plan to make these lovely, pillowy pockets of deliciousness often.

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Nutella and Banana Filled Aebleskiver
(Printable Recipe)

4 eggs, separated
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup Nutella
1 banana, sliced into quarters lengthwise and then into small chunks
1 tablespoon melted butter for pan

Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, vanilla and butter. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Combine the yolk mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until well blended. The batter will be a little lumpy. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the egg whites in two additions.

Heat an Aebleskiver pan over medium heat and brush each well with melted butter. Pour about 1 tablespoon of the batter into each well. Add 1/2 teaspoon of Nutella and 1-2 chunks of banana to each well. Then top off each well with enough batter to fill.

Cook about 3 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom and bubbly around the edges, Quickly turn each Aebleskiver over, using a long wooden skewer or toothpick, trying not to puncture the balls. Continue cooking until golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes more.

Transfer to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining batter.

Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate sauce and serve immediately.

Makes about 35.

Enjoy!

Here are some other Nutella recipes you might like from the SGCC archives:

Triple Chocolate Nutella Semifreddo

Torronutella Semifreddo Terrine

Nutella-Pistachio Brioche

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

TWD: World Peace Cookies

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I have two confessions to make. The first is that this week's TWD recipe selection for World Peace Cookies is one of my very favorite cookie recipes ever. I make them quite often, as recently as this past December for Christmas, and I've even posted about them before. My second confession is that I did not make them this week. With my ankle still in a cast from my recent mishap, I just wasn't up to baking cookies this week - even these cookies. However, since I have baked World Peace Cookies about a dozen times in the past and already had some pretty nice photos of them, I was really hoping you'd all let me squeak by this week. Pullllease???

These cookies were originally a creation of the incomparable Pierre Herme. They are a butter-rich, sandy-textured, slice and bake member of the sable family. These little babies are made with silky, smooth cocoa powder and are chock full of deep, dark bittersweet chocolate chunks, with the merest hint of saltiness from a little fleur de sel.

bittersweetchocolate

This recipe was first printed in Dorie's, Paris Sweets, and again in Baking From My Home to Yours. Originally called Korova Cookies, they were dubbed World Peace Cookies by a neighbor of Dorie's, who claimed that, "A daily dose of Pierre's cookies is all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness."

Oh, if only it were that simple. If only a delicious chocolate cookie could be the catalyst for peace!

The dough for these cookies is super simple to make with a mixer and one bowl. The dough is rolled into two logs and chilled until very firm. Then, each log is sliced into rounds which are then baked. The hardest part of making these cookies is keeping yourself from diving into that dough and eating it raw!

WorldPeacecookiesTWD2

Many thanks to Jessica from cookbookhabit for choosing this great recipe. You can also find lots more of these decadent World Peace Cookies by checking out the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll.