Saturday, February 28, 2009

Valentino Cake with Cinnamon Ice Cream - Daring Bakers Challenge

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valentine2 valentine3


It seems like Valentine's day was so long ago, but it was actually only 2 weeks ago. So this month's Daring Bakers challenge is a celebration of love!

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.

We were given the option of  making the vanilla ice cream recipe that was offered in the challenge or using one of our own. I decided to make a cinnamon ice cream which was a simple enough recipe that I could make as I have not yet mastered the art of ice cream making... The ice cream was very nice, although the cinnamon flavour is really strong and for some people (my Valentine included) it may be a little too much. I will definitely make this ice cream again, but perhaps pair it with something more fruity like an apple pie.




The Valentino cake was as easy to make as it was to eat.....At first I thought it was going to be too dense and rich and we weren't really going to be able to eat it quick. Oh, who are we kidding....The cake was made on Friday and it was gone by Sunday. It's that good, but yes, it is super rich, since it is a flour less cake. Not a cake to be made every week, or something you would keep it in the counter for an afternoon tea & cake thing...  This cake calls for an special occasion. I used a mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate and baked it in a heart-shaped pan that I brought years ago in Brazil.

I enjoyed the challenge and the cake very much. Here is to love....



Chocolate Valentino Cake Recipe:

Recipe comes from "Sweet Treats" by Chef Wan

Preparation time: 20 minutes

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
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. {link of folding demonstration}
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 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.


Cinnamon Ice Cream Recipe:

original recipe from

serves 8

1 cup of white sugar

1 1/2 cups of half-and-half cream

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup of heavy cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

In a large sauce pan, warm half-and-half and sugar until sugar is dissolved and liquid is heated, do not boil it. Remove from heat. Pour a ladle of the warm liquid into the eggs's bowl and whisk it fast and non stop until liquid is incorporated into eggs and mixture is warm. Repeat the same operation twice again, a ladle of the time. Bring this egg and cream mixture back into the pan, add the heavy cream and bring it to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove custard from heat, add cinnamon and vanilla, stir and let it cool to room temperature. Chill for at least 4 hours, up to 2 days. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Freeze for 6 hours before serving.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Chocolate Almond Crunch

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cluster 1

I found the perfect sweet treat for a movie night. It's these little chocolate clusters. They are so crunchy and easy to eat, perfect after a bowl of popcorn while watching your favourite movie at home. What's fun about this recipe is what makes the chocolate balls crunchy: fried egg noodles. That's right, the type you use in soups and Chinese Lo Mein. Perhaps it's not a new idea, but for me it is. I saw it while flipping through a cookbook about noodles the other day at the local library. I don't remember the book name, neither the recipe itself, I just remember that it used fried egg noodles to add crunchiness to the chocolate.  And I loved the idea!

This is my attempt on recreating it. As I said, it feels perfect for movie night, but I am sure they would be a welcome snack at anytime of the day or occasion. The good thing is that once prepared, the chocolate crunches stay in the fridge and can be served anytime.

This sweet treat didn't take more than 15 minutes to make and it takes only about 10 minutes to chill in the fridge. How easy is that?


Chocolate Almond Crunch Recipe:

makes about 20 balls


You will need: (the measures on this recipe are pretty loose)

3 oz of egg noodles

oil for frying

10 oz of chocolate (any type you want to, I made some with white and some with milk chocolate)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup of golden raisins

1/2 cup of sliced almonds


Fry the noodles in hot oil (about 375 F) for 1 minute, be careful not to burn it. Transfer to a bowl, and let it cool. Once cooled, break it up with your hands.

Melt the chocolate using a double boiler, once melted,add vanilla and stir. Add the broken noodles, raisins and almonds. Mix well with a spoon or spatula until it is evenly incorporated.

Drop spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture into a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Chill in the fridge until set and ready to serve.


This is my entry for this month's Weekend Wokking, an event created by Wandering Chopsticks featuring a different secret ingredient every month. This month's host is Blazing Hot Wok and the secret ingredient is almond.



Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cooking on a Budget

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I have been wanting to make a post about this subject for quite some time, and it seems that there is no better time than now. Most of us living in the U.S. are feeling the affects of this economic crisis, one way or the other, and if you are lucky enough not to be affected directly (meaning, you still have your job, house and money in the bank), this is a good time to take a moment to reflect on how and where your money and energy are going to and what really matters.

Some may think because I have a food blog and like to cook a lot, that I probably spend a lot of money on groceries. Well, one couldn't be more wrong. I love cooking, alright, but I am extremely budget conscious about all my spending, groceries included. The fact that I grew up in a middle-class Brazilian home has a lot to do with it. Many of the so called "food trends" of today are what I grew up with.

Now, I quickly realized that food here in the U.S is much more expensive than in Brazil, where fresh produce is abundant, diverse and cheap. But I still find ways to cook delicious meals with  nutritional value without braking the bank. And that's what I wanted to share with you today. Here are a few of my money saving tips when it comes to grocery shopping and cooking.


  • Plan it.Every weekend I make a meal plan for the week ahead. This is really important, if you don't believe me, make the test. Plan one week of meals (about 4-5 meals) and shop accordingly. Then compare how much you spend the following week when you do not plan it.
  • Check around your kitchen: When planning a week's meals, I first take a look in my kitchen to see what I have around. I start with the fridge where most perishables items are.  There is always something left over. For example, if I have some green onions left from the previous week, I know I'll probably make some sort of Asian dish, maybe a fried rice. Next I take a look in the freezer which I keep stocked with meats bought on sale plus a bag of healthy turkey meatballs that are super handy. In my pantry (which is a 3 shelf cupboard) I take a look at my dried goods, normally there is enough canned tomatoes to make a quick tomato sauce for pastas, plus dried beans, mushrooms, pasta, rice and other types of grains. Check out my individual free form lasagna for a typical example of using pantry left overs.
  • Buy what is on sale: Once I see what I have at home, I read my supermarket's weekly add. They can be at your mail box or you can find it online at the store's web site. Now I start picking dishes and recipes to make. Whatever vegetable is on sale will be the vegetable of the week. Asparagus are used in quiches, side dishes and soups. And that goes for pretty much any produce. 
  • Be flexible when making a recipe. If I want to make a muffin recipe that calls for dried apricots but my budget is short, I will still make them but using golden raisins instead which is half of the price of the apricots. Another example is when using cheeses. Many recipes call for expensive ones. Sure your French onion soup will taste better with melted Gruyere, but if I have mozzarella already in my fridge......Now that's up to you when it's OK to make substitutions and when it's not.
  • Plan to make full use of ingredients. If cauliflower is the sale vegetable of the week and you know you will only use half of it on a pasta dish, plan another dish with it, like this salad. If you are buying fresh bread, plan a panini meal for the following day or make garlic toasts.
  • Buy both fresh and frozen. Cooking seasonally sure is great, but how much pumpkin can you have during the fall months? I buy seasonal produce fresh, but also frozen vegetables and fruits they are not in season to have more variety.

I think most dishes here at Pink Bites are pretty affordable and easy to make any day of the week, but I made a list of the ones that I believe will give the most bang for your buck. And it's not all rice and beans, there is even a few choices for party snacks. A souffle comes together with basic staples such as eggs and flour;  Caldo Verde is super healthy and it uses very cheap ingredients like onions, potatoes and collards;  a poached egg transforms a salad into a hearty meal and a pot of chilli will feed a crowd for relatively little money.

I hope this will show that great food doesn't have to be expensive. And there is nothing richer than having a home cooked meal with your friends and family.


Happy cooking everyone!



Chilli con Carne

chilli 10

Chicken Gyros

chicken gyro 1

Deviled Chicken drumsticks 

 deviled cx 2

Tortilla Crusted Chicken

 chicken close up best



Whole Wheat Penne with Caramelized Onions and Cauliflower

 cauliflower 2


Grilled Eggplant with Crispy Topping

 eggpkant steak


Onion Tarte Tatin

 onion tart

Lebanese Rice and Lentils


  lentil spoon

Eggplant Gratin 

 eggplant gratin

Stuffed Baked Eggplant 

 eggplant boat 3

Spinach Souffle

 soufle 6 copy


Soups and Salads:


Roasted Pumpkin Salad

 pumpkin salad 1

Crunchy Chickpea Salad

 chickpea salad

Bitter Greens Salad with Poached Eggs and Citrus Vinaigrette

  poached salad 2

French Onion Soup

 onion soup  

Caldo Verde

  [caldo verde andrew[6].jpg]



Sausage in Puff Pastry

sausage in puff pastry

Roasted Potato Bites

potato mortadela 1

Bruschetta 2 ways

  peas mint bruschetta





 Skillet-Baked Cookie

skillet cookie

 Tapioca Pudding

tapioca 3

Banana Spring Rolls

fried bananas

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Coconut Ice Cream with Crystallized Ginger

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ice cream fixed


Last Christmas I got an ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aid and I've been playing around with ice cream recipes since then. Not as much as I want to, but that is because the weather has been so cold and yucky that I instinctively turned to the oven for baked goods instead of ice creams. Well the weather here in Seattle hasn't improved much since December, but at least it's not that cold anymore, so my ice cream attachment is slowly making its way into my kitchen.

I went to my local library and found a book with lots of great recipes for ice creams, sorbets, frozen yogurts and more. The name of the book is Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts and the author is Peggy Fallon.  Here is the Amazon link to it.

This recipe made a very creamy ice cream, and I loved the addition of the crystallized ginger. In fact, if you are looking specifically for a good coconut ice cream recipe I suggest you keep looking. The ginger is the star in this ice cream and I don't think that just omitting it from the recipe would necessarily give you a great coconut ice cream. The idea of this coconut-ginger combo is to serve it after an Asian inspired meal. Perhaps paired with something like my banana spring rolls. I can imagine it would also go nicely with some sort of gingersnap cookies or biscotti.


Coconut Ice Cream with Crystallized Ginger Recipe:


makes about 1 quart/litter


You will need:

1 can of coconut milk (14 oz/400gr)

1 cup of heavy cream

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

3 egg yolks

3 tablespoons of chopped crystallized ginger

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract


In a large heavy bottom sauce pan, mix the coconut milk, cream, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine and cook over medium heat until the liquid is hot (do not boil) and the sugar is dissolved, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, beat the yolks lightly. Pour a ladle full of the cream liquid into the yolks whisking fast and non-stop so the eggs won't cook. Do this about 3 times, return yolk mixture back into the cream and bring pot back to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly until the liquid thickens and it covers he back of the spoon. If you have a thermometer the temperature should be between 170 to 175 F (75 to 80 C). Be careful not to boil the custard or the eggs will curdle.

Strain custard into a container, let it come to room temperature and refrigerate it for at least 6 hours, up to 2 days.

Stir in ginger and vanilla into cold custard and freeze according to your ice cream machine's instructions. Transfer it to a container, cover and freeze until ready to serve, at least 3 hours.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Portobello Mushroom with Green Mashed Potatoes

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Portobello mushrooms are great. There are so many ways to cook portobellos, I like to cook them on the grill and then top with hummus, or in the oven as portobello parmesan with tomato sauce and melting cheeses on top....yum..... This time, however, I decided to try something new: portobellos stuffed with mashed potatoes. I figure it would make a pretty presentation. To make it even more fun, I made the mashed potatoes green (which is a great way to add nutrition, colour and fun to the everyday mashed potatoes).

I used my barbeque grill to cook the mushroom, but roasting in the oven would be just fine. On this case, roast mushrooms at 350 degrees until they are soften and moist.

Portobello Mushroom with Green Mashed Potatoes:

You will need:

1 portobello mushroom

olive oil

salt and pepper

1/4 cup of peas, fresh or frozen

1 cup of mashed potatoes (I used leftovers)

grated cheese (optional)

Remove the stalk from the (cleaned) mushrooms. Drizzle some olive oil over the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Grill mushrooms on a hot grill, bottoms down first, turning them half way through, about 9 minutes total. Remove from grill and set aside.

This recipe uses left over mashed potatoes, but of course you can make a fresh pot of your favourite mashed potatoes recipe. To make them green, simply mix the potatoes with (thawed) frozen peas on the food processor.

Fill the mushroom cap with spoon fulls of mashed potatoes, top it with grated cheese and heat in a medium oven (350 degrees) until hot.

Serve warm and enjoy it!

portobello 1

Monday, February 23, 2009

Red Cabbage, Apple and Fig Salad with Yogurt Dressing

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cabbage salad 2

A lot of times I crave a specific food based solely on its colour. This salad is a typical case, I wanted to eat red cabbage, but not so much for the cabbage itself, but more because of its colour. I knew I was going to use in a salad of some sort because I wanted it raw, but had no recipe or specific idea in mind. I thought that cabbages and apples would go nicely together, and then decided to use some dried black mission figs I had in my pantry to add a different flavour and slight sweetness to the salad.

I have seen red cabbage salads that are swimming in mayonnaise, some times there is so much mayo that the (once purple) salad becomes pink. I knew I didn't want to have that, but I like the idea of a creamy dressing. I chose to use plain yogurt with a tiny bit of egg-free mayonnaise to make a dressing that was creamy but not too heavy. The yogurt brings freshness and the mayonnaise offers just the right amount of creaminess.

This salad is a plate full of fiber and it's super crunchy. If you don't have dried figs, use raisins instead. It will give you the same sweet bite. This is a salad I make for myself only, so the measures are small, to make this salad for more people just multiply the ingredients.

This recipe couldn't be any easier or faster.

Red Cabbage, Apple and Fig Recipe:

makes 2 servings


1/2 apple,cored and thinly sliced

a squeeze of fresh lemon

2 cups of shredded red cabbage

2 tablespoons of dry mission figs, chopped. Or substitute raisins.


Squeeze some fresh lemon on the apples immediately after slicing it to prevent browning. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Serve cold.


Yogurt Dressing Recipe:

1/4 cup of plain yogurt

1 tablespoon of mayonnaise (regular or egg-free)

juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper to taste


Mix yogurt, mayonnaise and lemon juice and stir until well blended. Season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy it!

cabbage salad 1

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quinoa, Asparagus and Shitake Salad

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quinua 1

This is the type of dish I cook for myself often. It normally involves vegetables, nuts, sometimes mushrooms, green leaves and dry fruits. All mixed with some sort of grain or pasta that pulls it all together, on this case, quinoa. I didn't use any leaves here but I named it salad because I really didn't have a better word for it. This dish can be a main meal (for me it normally is) or a side. It tastes great warm or at room temperature, which means it can be made in advance. It's a great healthy lunch box option.

I used dried sliced shitake mushrooms here because they cook quicker than whole ones, but that would be fine too, and of course you can always substitute fresh ones. I always have dried shitake in my pantry so I can add them to soups, salads, pastas and rice dishes.  Remember to save the water that you soak the mushrooms in to add to the quinoa cooking liquid. I chose to grill the asparagus, but roasting works just as well.


quinua 3


Quinoa, Asparagus and Shitake Salad Recipe:

serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish


You will need:


2/3 cups of uncooked quinoa

1/2 cup dried sliced shitake mushrooms

1 tablespoon of dried cranberries

1/3 cup of hazelnuts

10 asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed

1 lemon - zest and juice

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper


Soak the mushrooms in 2/3 cup of very hot water for about 10 minutes. Place mushrooms with it's liquid, quinoa and 2/3 cups of water in a medium  pan and bring it to a boil. Add the cranberries, reduce heat and cook with a lid on until quinoa is cooked and the liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes.  Transfer it to a bowl and set aside.

Roast the hazelnuts in a medium oven (350) for about 10 minutes. Remove most of the skins by rubbing the nuts in a piece of kitchen towel. Roughly chop it and add to the quinoa bowl.

While quinoa is cooking, season asparagus with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Grill them until they have charred marks, but are still firm and crunchy, about 5 minutes. Cut asparagus into bite size pieces and add to the quinoa bowl.

Make a simple lemon dressing with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Add lemon zest to quinoa bowl, pour lemon dressing over it and stir. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy it!

quinua 4

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fried Mozzarella Balls with Quick Tomato Sauce

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I have been wanting to make those for quite a while, but since I don't like deep frying food at home, I kept postponing it. I finally made it, and my first thought was "why haven't I made this before?". They taste great, look cute and it's  a perfect party snack. Think of it as an elegant version of cheese sticks. I have seen recipes like this one in countless cookbooks and magazines, it's pretty much a no-brainier. I like adding dried oregano to the breadcrumbs, it gives the fried cheese balls a pizza taste.


Fried Mozzarella Balls with Quick Tomato Sauce Recipe:

makes 4 servings


For the cheese balls:

1  8 oz container of mozzarella balls, such as bocconcini

2 large eggs

1/4 cup of milk

1 cup of plain flour

2 cups of breadcrumbs or panko

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

salt and pepper

canola oil for frying


Drain the cheese and dry on paper towels. Prepare your breading station by having 3 bowls ready. Put flour in one, season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix the eggs with the milk and pour into the second bowl. Add the breadcrumbs with the dried oregano to the last bowl and mix well.

Dip each piece of cheese  in the flour, then in the egg mixture and lastly in the breadcrumbs, shaking off excess after each step. Repeat the breading process again and place cheese balls it in a plate.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a medium sauce pan to 350 degrees. Carefully lower cheese balls, a few of a time and cook until they are golden, about a minute or so. Remove and drain in paper towels. Repeat with the remaining cheese making sure oil comes up to temperature before adding more cheese.

You may keep it warm in a 200 degrees oven for a little while, or serve immediately with your favourite tomato sauce.


For the quick tomato sauce:

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 14 oz can of diced or whole tomatoes

1 teaspoon of dried basil or oregano or a combination of both

salt and pepper


Heat the oil over medium-heat and add the onions. cook until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a minute more and add the tomatoes. Fill half of the tomato can with water and add to the pot. Add spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 cheese 2

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chicken Fajitas

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I am constantly trying to recreate the dishes we order at restaurants, so we can eat in more and not feel that we are deprived of flavour or variety. Of course, dinning out has its advantages (no dishes!!!) and it's a great thing to do every once in a while, but eating out too often can become expensive and probably not very good for our bodies either. At home we spend less money and have control of how much fat, salt and sugar we are using (and consuming).

This is my version of fajitas, homemade style. The taste, according to Andrew is of a Mexican restaurant dinner. Just what I was going for.  The trick is on the marinade made with Mexican flavours. This recipe can also be made with steak, use flank steak and slice it thinly across the grains.

My cast iron skillet is "vegetarian", so I used a regular large skillet for cooking the chicken, but if you have cast iron available, go for it. If you are cooking for a lot of people, this recipe is easily multiplied.

 fajita 2

Chicken Fajitas Recipe:

makes 4 fajitas (using 8 inch round tortillas)

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/2 green pepper

1/2 red pepper

1 small onion

For the marinade:

1/4 cup of canola oil

1 teaspoon of chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

a few grinds of fresh pepper

4 medium-size flour tortillas

Toppings options:

Salsa, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheddar, lime wedges.

In a plastic bag or baking dish, mix all ingredients from the marinade.

Dry chicken and cut into strips.

Seed peppers and remove the white internal parts. Cut into strips.

Thinly slice onion.

Mix all the ingredients with the marinade, coating well. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes, up to 4 hours.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, just enough to coat the bottom of the skillet. Once oil is hot, pour contents from the marinade bag/dish into the skillet. Brown chicken on both sides, turn heat down to medium and cook until the onions are soft and brown and the meat is fully cooked, about 6 minutes more, stirring every once in a while.

Heat the tortillas on a grill or oven.

Serve the chicken hot along with the toppings and warm tortillas.

Enjoy it!


Friday, February 13, 2009

Chocolate-Banana Panini

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After I made those yummy potato-buttermilk rolls I decided to used them for a sweet treat as well. Bananas and chocolate are a great combo, so why not put them together in a bun? Super easy to make, this is a quick recipe that can be made at any time of the day. I used the rolls I had at home but brioche would be a good choice too.  Basically any bread that is plain (no olives, herbs).  Here it's how it's made:


Chocolate-Banana Panini Recipe:

makes 2 panini


1 banana

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter


chocolate chips

2 rolls


Peel the banana and slice it lengthwise then crosswise, making 4 pieces. Melt the butter in a skillet and sprinkle it with cinnamon. Add the bananas ad cook them just until they are browned but sill firm, turning once. Set aside, do not clean the skillet (just yet).

Split buns open and wipe the skillet's butter with them (now you can wash the skillet...).   Divide bananas into buns and top it with chocolate chips, as much as you want. Close sandwiches, butter outside of buns and place them on a hot panini maker. Grill them until chocolate has melted. Serve warm, it goes really nice with a glass of cold milk, yum!

Enjoy it!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Potato-Buttermilk Rolls

Pin It bread 5


The reasons that lead me to bake or cook something are many, but very often it is to use up ingredients that are becoming long-stay guests of  my pantry or fridge. I had  an open cartoon of buttermilk in my fridge that I don't even remember what I bought it for originally. I also have a 10 pounds bag of russet potatoes that were on sale last week. I normally don't buy that much potatoes, but for less than 2 dollars a bag,  I couldn't pass on it. Although this recipe only uses 1 large potato (or 2 smalls), I thought it was a perfect opportunity to try it out. Oh my, I am so glad I did! I loved this rolls so much. They are soft, airy, and not that hard to make actually. It just requires a little time and patience for the few risings to take place.  Using a stand mixer with a hook attachment makes it that  much easier as well.  I made larger rolls and used them to make sandwiches.

bread 6


This recipe is from the book Essentials of Baking from Williams-Sonoma which was a great bargain I found at a discount store a while ago. It's a great book, but I don't really pay full price on books, specially cookbooks. The link shows a new version though, the one I have is an older one.

Potato-Buttermilk Rolls Recipe:

makes 16 dinner rolls or 12 sandwich buns. You can make this recipe without a stand mixer, just knead dough by hand until it is elastic and smooth.


1 large russet potato (or 2 small ones), peeled and cubed

1 1/2 cups of water

1 1/2 cups of buttermilk

2 packages (5 teaspoons) of active dry yeast

6 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting the rolls

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 tablespoon of salt

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature


In a small saucepan bring the water and potato to a boil, cook for 10 minutes until potatoes are soft. Transfer potatoes and water to the bowl of a stand mixer and mash the potatoes with a fork.

Add the buttermilk and check the temperature, it should be close to 110 F/43 C. If it is too hot, let it cool. If it is not warm enough (the buttermilk may have been too cold), take a cup of the liquid and microwave it for 30 seconds, return liquid to bowl and test for temperature again. Once the temperature is right, add the yeast, stir and let it rest for 5 minutes. Add the flour, sugar, salt and butter. Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the hook dough and knead on low speed. If needed, add more flour a little of the time for the dough to come away from the sides of the bowl. Knead for about 5-7 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

Punch out the dough and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Cut the dough into 16 pieces if making dinner rolls or 12 larger pieces if making sandwich rolls. Cover it with a clean towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before proceeding. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place it on prepared baking trays, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Cover the trays with a clean kitchen towel and let rolls rise again in a warm, draft-free spot until they doubled in size, about 15-30 minutes. If making sandwich rolls, let the dough rise until spongy and pillow-soft when gently squeezed, 30-45 minutes.

Dust the tops of the rolls with a little bit of flour and bake them until the are puffed and lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Depending on the size of your oven you might need to bake it in two batches.  Let it cool slightly before serving (if you can!!!)

Hope you enjoy it!


bread 2

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Whole Wheat Penne with Caramelized Onions and Cauliflower

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cauliflower 2


Sounds healthy doesn't it? You bet it is, and it is also very tasty, if I may say so. I am not sure why cauliflower is not more popular. I think it is a wonderful vegetable and after making a crunchy salad the other day I had about a half of  a cauliflower head left in the fridge. If I was cooking only for myself, I could easily have used only cauliflowers, olive oil, garlic and lots of good cheese. But since this was meant to be a meal for both of us (and Andrew is not a huge cauliflower fan) I decided to add some more flavour by adding browned onions. The result is a very flavorful yet simple pasta dish.


cauliflower 5psd

Whole Wheat Penne with Caramelized Onions and Cauliflower Recipe:

serves 2 people generously

1/2 package of whole wheat penne ( use regular if you prefer)

1/2 head of cauliflower

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

1 tablespoon of garlic

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons of white whine (or use some of the pasta cooking liquid instead)

1/4 cup of panko or  breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley

salt and pepper


Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a full boil. Salt it well and cook the entire piece of cauliflower in it for about 5 minutes, tops. Remove the cauliflower and shock it by placing it in some iced water. Once it's cold, dry it and cut into bite-size florets. Set aside.

Cook the penne in the same water you cooked the cauliflower. Drain and set aside, reserving some of the cooking liquid, if using.

Heat a large skillet over medium-heat. Add olive oil and melt the butter in it. Cook the onions along with the thyme until the onions are browned and caramelized. Add the wine or cooking liquid and scrape the bottom of the skillet to remove the brown bits. Let if boil off, add the cauliflower and cook it for another couple of minutes until the cauliflower is warm again. Add the panko or breadcrumbs, stir it. Add the chopped parsley and serve.


Enjoy it!


cauliflower 3