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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chick Pea and Date Tagine

I have a clay Tagine Pot. I heat this recipe in the oven, in the Tagine Pot. It makes a great presentation for serving.
I simply re posted the link to this great dish.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Les Macarons! I took a class to learn how to make these amazing French Treats.

Yesterday I took a 3 hour class with our friend Jill, to learn how to make French Macarons. It was so much fun and so educational. I've always wanted to make them myself but I had heard so many stories about how difficult they are. I'd never attempted to make them but we certainly eat plenty of them while traveling in France.
They are colorful and very tasty. The combinations of different flavored cookies and different flavored fillings are endless. I left the class feeling very confident that I can successfully make them at home.

We made three different flavors:

Pumpkin with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Spiced with Apple Cider Buttercream
Hazelnut with Dark Chocolate Ganache.
They were amazing.

I don't think many people really make them so I won't post any recipes on the blog. I just wanted to share the experience with pictures.
They're not in any order. I captioned some of them.
It's all in the technique to produce a nice Macaron.

There was a Hippy in the Classroom today!
Peace in the Kitchen!

Sifting, sifting and more sifting, the first important technique.
Flour was sifted separately. If using Almond Meal, the residue was removed.
 The Confectioner's Sugar was also sifted separately.
All of the ingredients were placed in a bowl together, and in this
picture , they're sifted together for the last time.
It's sifted onto Parchment Paper so it's easy to add to
a bowl, to be folded together with the Meringue. 

The piping bags are filled with the tip on, and the end of the bag was not
cut until the bag was full.

It's all about the technique to get them piped perfectly onto the parchment circles.

The chef demonstrating the technique of piping the batter,

This is our tray!
We were very pleased with the results.

The batter was weighed so we could share it equally with the other
team in the class.

This was our second tray. We each piped half of them on the sheet pan.
I believe these are the Spiced Macarons.

This is our tray of the Hazelnut Macarons.

Preparing the Dark Chocolate Ganache filling for the Hazelnut Macarons.

Brandy was added to the Ganache.

Salted Caramel for the Buttercream filling in the Pumpkin Macarons.

This is our tray of Pumpkin with Salted Caramel Buttercream filling.
We thought they look pretty good!

This is the food coloring added to the Hazelnut Meringue.

The technique for getting the cookie batter to the perfect consistency.

Getting ready to fold the Flour and the Meringue together for the cookie batter.

The batter ingredients have to be weighed properly.

After they're baked and cooled a bit, we refrigerated them.
This makes them easier to release from the Parchment Paper.
This photograph shows the technique of releasing them by
pulling the paper away from the cookie, rather than trying to pull
the cookie from the paper.
It worked!

I realize that this may seem overwhelming, but the class was so interesting.
I knew that if I ever wanted to make really nice Macarons, I would have to take a class.
Our chef was very talented and patient.
We all felt that we sucessfully accomplished what we came to learn.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sticky Finger Squares

If I had to live with the cookbooks of just one chef, it would have to be Rebecca Rather. I'm enthusiastic about every recipe she creates. She used to have a restaurant in a nearby town and I regret having never had the opportunity to visit the restaurant before it closed. She is at the top of my list of great chefs.

Here's an adaptation of her recipe for Sticky Finger Bars.
I haven't changed the integrity of the original recipe. I only re wrote the recipe in my own words and style.

Here's what you'll need:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
1 - 9" X 13" pan, lined with foil extending over the edges and sprayed with a cooking spray. ( I cut 2 separate pieces of foil for this and layer them in the pan. One piece fits along the length and the other runs the width of the pan.


8 TBS (2sticks) Butter, room temperature
1 C granulated Sugar
1 TBS Vanilla
2 C Flour
1/2 C roughly chopped Peanuts
4 - (2.7oz.) Snickers Candy Bars, cut into 1/4" slices


3 large Eggs
1 1/4 C granulated Sugar
1/4 C Lyles Golden Syrup ( I buy Golden Syrup at our local British Emporium)
2 TBS Butter, melted
1 TBS Vanilla
A pinch of Salt

Other ingredients:
1 C Creamy Peanut Butter
1 C coarsely chopped Peanuts
3 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, roughly chopped.

Crust Directions:

In a Stand Mixer with a Paddle Attachment:
Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add and beat on Low Speed:
Beat just until mixed.
Press evenly into the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 12 - 15 minutes.
Remove the pan to a rack to cool for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Cover the Crust with the Snickers Bars. Leave about 1/4" between each piece.

Filling Directions:

In a large mixing bowl:
Whisk by hand.
Pour ove the Crust.
Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
Remove pan to a rack to cool for 30 minutes.

Spread Peanut Butter evenly over the top of the filling.
Sprinkle with an even layer of Peanuts.

Melt the Chocolate in a Microwave Oven until completely melted and smooth.
Check and stir often.
Drizzle evenly over the Peanuts.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Pull the bars out of the pan using the edges of the foil.
Peel away the foil and transfer the bars to a cutting board.
Cut into squares to serve.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chocolate and Sea Salt covered Cashews

I have so many variations of sweet, savory and spicy nut recipes. You can search additional recipes on the blog. I hesitated to post this one because it seems too simple and too obvious. However, I realize that not everyone cooks and bakes and if I can help them with an easy delicious recipe then I'll post them. This is one of those recipes.
During the holidays, I make a lot of chocolate covered, sea salted, sweet, herbed and spice coated nuts.
You can also use Hazelnuts, Pecans or Almonds.

Here's what you'll need:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees if you're roasting the Cashews yourself.
1 - Sheet Pan lined with foil.
1 - Double Boiler or a microwave safe bowl.

2 C Roasted Cashews, you can either buy them roasted or roast them yourself. (see note at the end for roasted)
8 ounces of Bittersweet Chocolate
1 tsp Sea Salt

In a double boiler:
Heat and stir until melted. (you can also heat the chocolate in a microwave if you don't have a double boiler) You can create your own by placing a heat proof glass bowl over a simmering saucepan of water.
Add the Cashews and stir to coat well.
Spread them out on the Sheet Pan, in a single layer.
Immediately sprinkle the Cashews with Sea Salt.
Refrigerate until chocolate is hardened.
Break up the Cashews and transfer to a serving bowl.

Roasted Cashews:
Spread the Cashews in a single layer on a foil lined sheet pan.
Roast for 5 - 7 minutes.
Shake the pan half way through.
Remove the pan, transfer the Cashews to a bowl to cool completely.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Cranberry Orange Poinsettia Coffee Cake

I reposted this recipe from a blog that I follow called Chin Deep. It would have been time consuming to re write it. I also wanted to post the picture of the finished product. I've seen this recipe made in a 9" X 13" dish, but I looked this one because of it's presentation for the holidays.

cranberry orange poinsettia coffee cake


for the coffee cake:
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
2/3 cup whole milk
2 Tablespoons real butter
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon orange zest
for the filling:
3 Tablespoons melted butter
2 cups fresh cranberries, halved
1/3 cup raspberry, cherry or strawberry jam
1/3 cup sugar
juice of one orange
for the icing/garnish:
1 cup powdered sugar
6 teaspoons Captain Morgan's Original Spiced Rum
zest of one orange, divided
a fresh, green herb sprig

In a large bowl, combine one cup of the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, salt and yeast. Mix well. In a saucepan, heat the 2/3 cup whole milk and butter until warm (120 degrees F.) Add milk mixture, egg, and the orange zest to the flour mixture. Blend on low until moistened, and then beat for 3 minutes on medium speed. Fold the rest of the flour by hand.
On a floured surface, knead until dough is smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes.) Place dough in a buttered bowl, cover with buttered plastic wrap and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Grease a large round cookie sheet or pizza pan. Punch down dough several times to remove all air bubbles. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle. Brush with the melted butter. In a small bowl, combine the rest of the filling ingredients until evenly combined, and spread this mixture evenly over the dough.
Starting on a 12-inch side, roll up the dough as tightly as possible. Press edges together to seal so it doesn’t pop open. Cut into 12 slices, saving the 2 end pieces for the center of the “poinsettia.” Arrange the remaining slices in a circle on the greased pan, leaving a 2 to 3 inch space for the center. Form the end pieces into little dough balls and place the balls in the center. Cover cake with buttered plastic wrap, set it in a warm place, and allow to rise and additional 40 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover dough after it has risen the designated amount of time. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow cake to completely cool before glazing and garnishing.
In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, spiced rum, and half of the orange zest. Transfer to a squirt bottle, and drizzle all over completely cooled cake. Place some frosted cranberries in the center, sprinkle some extra orange zest over the whole cake, and garnish with a pretty green herb sprig for a lovely contrast to the red cranberries.

Holiday Eggnog Bars

I happen to love anything that has Eggnog in it. I even love Eggnog! I out it in my coffee , I make homemade Eggnog and I love any holiday recipe made with it.

Here's what you'll need:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1 - 9" X 13" baking pan, lined with foil extending over all 4 sides.
Spray the foil with Non Stick Cooking Spray

Holiday Eggnog Bars

1 - 17 1/2 oz. package of Sugar Cookie Mix (not prepared dough)
2 TBS Flour
8 TBS Butter, cold and cubed.
1/2 C Chopped Macadamia Nuts
5 Egg Yolks
1 - 14 oz. can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (not Evaporated Milk)
1/2 C Eggnog
1 TBS Rum
1 tsp Vanilla
Confectioner's Sugar for dusting.
1/4 tsp Nutmeg + additional for garnish

In large mixing bowl:
Cookie Mix
Whisk well.

Butter, a small amount at a time.
Use a Pastry Blender or 2 forks to cut in the Butter until it has the texture of fine crumbs.
Fold in half of the Nuts.
Press the dough into the pan to create a crust.
Bake for 12 - 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside.

In a medium bowl:
Egg Yolks
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
Whisk well.
Pour over the hot crust.
Bake an additional 15 - 20 minutes.
Remove the pan to a rack and cool for 30 minutes.
Cover with foil and refrigerate for 1 hour.

When completely cooled, use the foil to release the uncut bars onto a cutting surface.
Cut into squares.
Lightly sprinkle each square with Confectioner's Sugar and Nutmeg.

Peaceful Holidays!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pumpkin Gingersnap Truffles and Pumpkin Cheese Cream Truffles

1 1/4 C Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/3 tsp Vanilla
1/2 C Heavy Cream
3/4 C roughly chopped Gingersnaps (10 cookies)
1/3 C finely  crushed Gingersnap Cookies for rolling the cookies.

In a medium bowl:
Chocolate Chips
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Mix well.
Set aside

In a microwave safe bowl:
Heavy Cream
Heat for 1 minute.
Pour over the Chocolate Mixture.
Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Whisk well.
Fold in roughly chopped Gingersnaps.
Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

In a small mixing bowl:
Finely crushed Gingersnaps.
Using a 1 1/2" cookie scoop, shape the truffles and roll in the crushed Gingersnaps.
Place them on a Sheet Pan lined with Parchment Paper and refrigerate for 1 - 2 hours.
Store refrigerated in a covered container.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles:

1/2 C White Chocolate Chips
2 C White Chocolate Almond Bark (4 - 5 squares)
1/3 C Gingerbread Cookie Crumbs + more for garnish
1/4 C Graham Cracker Crumbs + more for garnish
1/4 C canned Pumpkin Puree
1 TBS Confectioner's Sugar
1/2 tsp Orange Zest
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
A pinch of Salt
2 oz. Cream Cheese, softened

Melt 1/2 C White Chips in a microwave
Stir often
Transfer to a large bowl.

Add Gingersnap Crumbs, Pumpkin, Graham Cracker Crumbs, Sugar,
Zest, Cinnamon, Salt and Cream Cheese , beat with an electric mixer until smooth.

Transfer to a shallow bowl, cover and chill until solid enough to roll into a truffle, about 2 hours.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Melt remaining 2 C of almond bark and transfer to a small bowl.

Using a 1 1/2"  cookie scoop form the truffles, roll in your hands and drop into the chocolate.

Gently spoon the chocolate to coat the truffles.

Using a spoon or a  fork to lift the truffles out of the chocolate, shake off excess and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Sprinkle the tops with extra gingerbread cookie and graham cracker crumbs.

Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Peace in the Kitchen!