Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

In honor of the royal wedding yesterday, I thought it was only fitting that I post a recipe from one of my favorite Brits. I love Nigella Lawson and her effortless cooking style. I'd always wanted to attempt a Pavlova and this inviting recipe was the reinforcement I needed to try one. The directions look a bit long and involved but everything was really simple. It is impressive looking, light, chewy, crumbly and truly easy. In fact, if the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ever pop by for a visit, I'll be sure to make them this dessert!

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

For the Meringue Base:
6 large egg whites
2 cups superfine sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the Toppings:
2 cups heavy cream
4 cups raspberries
1 to 2 ounces dark chocolate

Prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Draw a 9-inch-diameter circle on the paper with a pencil, tracing a round cake tin that size. Flip the paper over so your meringue doesn't touch the pencil marks - you'll still be able to see the circle.

Make the meringue: Beat the egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Add the chocolate: Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and then the chopped chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.

Shape the meringue: Secure the parchment to the baking sheet with a dab of meringue under each corner. Mound the meringue onto the parchment within the circle, smoothing the sides and the top with a spatula.

Bake the meringue: Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees F and cook for one to one and a quarter hours. When it's ready, it should look crisp and dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers.

Let it cool: Turn off the oven and open the door slightly; let the chocolate meringue disk cool completely in the oven. When you'reready to serve, invert onto a big flatbottomed plate and peel off the parchment.

Decorate the Pavlova: Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter the raspberries on top. Coarsely grate the chocolate over the top.

Recipe and pic from Nigella.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Pita Chips

This is a fantastic little recipe that my sister-in-law just gave me. It's easy, fresh, sweet and a little something different to serve as an appetizer or even a light dessert. I imagine this will be a staple at summer parties in the coming months!

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Pita Chips

2 peeled & diced kiwi
2 diced & peeled golden delicious apples
8 oz. chopped raspberries
1 lb. diced strawberries
2 Tbl. sugar
1 Tbl. brown sugar
3 Tbl. fruit preserves - raspberry comes to mind

Mix all ingredients, cover and chill for at least a few hours

Preheat oven to 350
Coat sliced pita bread with cooking spray, sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar mixture then spray with cooking spray again
Bake for 8-10 minutes

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fancy Hasselback Potatoes

I'm just starting to come down from the sugar rush that was Easter in our house. After ham, lamb, beans, tomato tart, jello, beans, orzo, salad...well you get the idea...I was very happy with my little potato experiment. I've been wanting to try these and they are crispy, creamy and beautiful all at the same time. You can use rosemary or really any other herb of choice. It's a lot of knife work but if you find chopping or cutting theraputic like I do - consider this kitchen therapy.

Fancy Hasselback Potatoes

3 pounds baby Yukon Gold potatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (divided)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut potatoes crosswise at 1/8-inch intervals, cutting to within 1/4 inch of the bottom. (You can place the potato on a large spoon so the edges of the spoon prevent you from slicing completely through the potato.) This is time consuming but it's the secret to these crispy babies.

Place the potatoes in a large bowl, add the olive oil, salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of the rosemary and toss well, working the salt mixture in between the slices. Arrange the potatoes on a sheet pan cut side up.

Bake the potatoes for 30 minutes, until they are tender and golden and crisp on top. I actually turned my potatoes a bit to ensure they browned all over.

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa of course!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Heaven in Bar Form

Nothing says comfort better than any combination of peanut butter and chocolate. In my childhood memory, these were the best thing my mom ever made - and she cooked and baked a ton. Forget fancy rack of lamb - I just begged for these bars. Now I make them for my kids but truth be told - the grown ups devour these babies too!

Reeses Peanut Butter Bars

1 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 package semisweet chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter or margarine, graham cracker crumbs, confectioners' sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 inch pan. Melt chocolate in 30-second intervals in the microwave, stirring occasionally until smooth. Spread over the prepared crust. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

As the weather starts to break here in the Northeast, my mind turns to outdoor entertaining. I still have some work to do to get our patio into tip top shape for the season but the thought of easy summer fun with friends is on my mind. This simple recipe comes together in a snap and is creamy, light yet mild for kids to enjoy. I serve it with pita chips or baby carrots. Double this for a crowd.

Simple White Bean Dip

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
I've sometimes added some rosemary to it if the mood strikes me....

Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.

Recipe (and pic from Ada + Darcy) courtesy Giada De Laurentiis - the goddess of simple California/Italian goodness.