Friday, May 30, 2008

Recipes from Mom: Italian Bread with Garlic Guyere

On a recent trip I took home, I went through the oodles and boxes and swamps and piles and mountains and stacks and days of recipes collected over the last 30 years by my mom and dad. I came away with a couple good ones to try. Here's another one.

Disclaimer: When I picked out this recipe, I did so based solely on the title. I didn't look at the directions or ingredient list. If I had, I probably wouldn't have brought it back with me. But since I'm not one to chide you for not making everything yourself, go ahead and purchase a loaf of Italian bread at the store if that's what's most convenient for you. But I? I will make my own. Because that's how I do.

Italian Bread with Garlic Gruyere

One loaf of Italian bread, store-bought or homemade.
Six tablespoons softened butter
One tablespoon minced parsley
One minced garlic clove
Half a pound shredded Gruyere
Dash of tabasco

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Cut bread in half horizontally. In a bowl, mix butter, parsley, garlic, and tabasco. Spread the mixture on the bottom half of the bread and sprinkle with cheese. Put the top back on and cut into one-inch slices. Then wrap the bread in foil and put in the oven for about ten minutes, until everything is crispy and melty.

Gotta say, I was pretty pleased with this. It was simple and tasty. Perfect.

The boring stuff:
Makes one loaf, about 16 servings.
Difficulty: 1, unless you make the bread yourself, in which case it's a 2 or 3.
Takes 20 minutes, unless you make the bread yourself, in which case it takes longer.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Heck Yes Lemonade

It was beautiful yesterday. And I got my first copy of Everyday Food. And Meredith came over for dinner. And I was feeling exceptionally demonstrative of my love for Timmy. So I decided to go buy lemons and make lemonade for my honey.

Two cups of lemon juice (from 30 small lemons or about 15 large lemons)
One and a half cups of sugar
One cup of water
Plenty of cold water and ice cubes.

Squeeze your lemons first. It took me forever, I got really sticky, and my hands started hurting after lemon #8. Once you have your lemon juice safely squeezed, put your sugar and one cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir continuously for about two minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in your lemon juice (be sure to strain it to remove any wayward seeds) and six-ish cups of cold water. Chill for two hours or more, and serve over ice.

It was delicious, but a little too sweet for our taste. Next time I get a hankering to squeeze a shit ton of lemons, I'll only use a cup and a quarter of sugar, and then keep making adjustments from there until I get it right.

The boring stuff:
Makes about five 12-oz servings. About.
Difficulty: 3. but only because it takes so long.
Takes about an hour to prepare, plus at least two hours to chill.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Stuffed Ravioli

Three quarters of a pound of ground beef.
Three tablespoons parsley, chopped.

Ten cloves of garlic, minced.

One cup romano or parmesan cheese, grated.

One cup of bread crumbs, seasoned or no.

One package of wonton wrappers.

Lightly brown beef in skillet, drain off any fat after cooking. Let cool, then add chopped parsley, chopped garlic, cheese, and bread crumbs. Mix well.
On a cookie sheet, start filling wonton wrappers. Put just a teaspoon of filling in the center of each wrapper, dip your finger in water, and wet the edge of each wrapper. Fold in half and seal tightly.

To cook, simply cook in slowly boiling chicken broth or salted water until done, about eight minutes. Serve tossed in the sauce of your choice or peppered and tossed with cheese.

You're going to have a TON of leftover filling, so freeze it and use it again next week. I made eighteen pouches, which was a perfect amount for me and Tim to eat in one serving. Figure that eight-ish pouches is enough for one person.

The boring stuff:
Makes probably as many servings as you need.

Difficulty: 3.

Takes 45 minutes or so.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Chocolate Cake

So, those cupcakes I made last week? Well, they were pretty good, but I thought they were almost too...cakey. So for my second batch, I tossed in some chocolate chips. That lightened it up pretty well, but I still thought they were too dense, dry, and cakey. So I decided I needed a new recipe. My friends...this is the most amazing cake recipe ever. Simple. Delicious. Perfectly moist. Make it now. (Check out the original recipe @

You will need flour, sugar, butter, eggs, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, cocoa powder, vanilla, and water. There's some other stuff in that picture, but it's for the frosting that I didn't make. I went with ganache because it's simple and delicious, and oh-so pretty.

Melt two sticks of regular, salted butter in a large pan. While it's melting, put a cup of water on to boil.

Add four heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Mix thoroughly.

Add the water. Mix. Let it bubble for thirty seconds. Remove from heat and set it aside.

In a large bowl, combine two cups flour, two cups sugar, and a quarter teaspoon salt.

Pour in the chocolate mixture, and stir together slightly to cool the chocolate.

Combine two beaten eggs, half a cup of buttermilk, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a teaspoon of baking soda. Stir together, and add it to your chocolate and stuff.

Stir together, and add it to your chocolate and stuff. Then stir that.

When it's mixed thoroughly, pour it into your cookie sheet, two cake pans, or muffin tins. My guess is that you have enough for one sheet cake, a two-layer eight-inch cake, or two dozen cupcakes. (I definitely made the two dozen cupcakes. And I definitely ate three today. And they were definitely delicious.)

Cook at 350F for about twenty minutes. Cool, frost, and devour.

The boring stuff:
Takes about twenty minutes, plus twenty minutes baking time.
Difficulty: 2.
Makes twenty-four cupcakes.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Crispy Eggs and Instant Toast

I reeeeeally like this recipe.

You'll want a food processor or blender to make it. Or, you can be like me and use a plastic bag, a hard object, and the floor. You decide.

Four or five slices of good, stale bread (I used my own homemade white).
One or two eggs.
A pinch of salt.
One or two eggs.
Olive oil.
Teaspoon fresh or dried thyme, rosemary, basil, or whatever your favorite herb is.
Teaspoon garlic or one clove, peeled (and minced if you're using the bag method).
Small handful of your favorite shredded/grated cheese.

Combine everything but the eggs and oil in your food processor and make it into crumbly crumbs. Pou a handful into a small bowl and drizzle in a little olive oil so that the crumbs clump together (I actually find it works better just to scramble the egg into them, but if you want your eggs over easy on top or something, that won't work for you). Toss it all into a skillet (crack your eggs on top, if that's how you like them), cover, and cook till done. The end. Easy and delicious.

If you don't have a food processor or blender, put your bread in a heavy duty plastic bag and smash until it turns to crumbs. Then add everything else and shake. Yum.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes

Tim and I have been missing each other lately, so I decided to surprise him with an out-of-the-blue romantic meal last night. I made ravioli (look for the recipe later this weekend) and these little gems. Perfect, moist, delicious chocolate cupcakes with beautiful, shiny ganache. And sprinkles! And while, like always, these are not my pictures (hey, thanks Google), my cupcakes did turn out looking EXACTLY like these ones. Oh, except that my cupcake papers were pink, yellow, and blue, and these ones aren't.

P.S. Thanks, Dad, for letting me steal all your muffin tins last weekend.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache

One cup all-purpose flour
Six tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
Half a teaspoon of baking SODA
A quarter teaspoon baking POWDER
A quarter teaspoon salt
One stick softened unsalted butter
One cup sugar
Two large eggs
One large egg yolk
Half a teaspoon vanilla extract
Half a cup of water

For the Ganache
Eight ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (chocolate chips will do just fine)
Three-quarters of a cup heavy cream

Line a muffin tin with paper liners (makes 12).

Whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Beat the butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the sugar. Beat until light and smooth, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and beat in the whole eggs and yolk, one at a time, incorporating each fully before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Bring water just to a boil in a small saucepan and remove from the heat. With the mixer at low speed, beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture in 4 additions. Drizzle in the hot water, about 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix briefly to make a smooth batter. Scoop the batter into the paper liners, filling them 2/3 full.

Bake until the centers of the cupcakes spring back when pressed gently, about 20 minutes. (But start checking them at 10 minutes; mine were done after about thirteen minutes.) Cool the cupcakes in the tin on a rack for 10 minutes then remove from the tin and cool completely before frosting.

FOR THE GANACHE, put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour the cream over chocolate and shake the bowl gently so cream settles around the chocolate. Set mixture aside until chocolate is soft, about 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, taking care not to incorporate too many air bubbles.

Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into the frosting. Let cakes stand on rack until frosting is completely set. Top with sprinkles, if you like.

The boring stuff:

Makes twelve cupcakes and a TON of ganache. Maybe you want to double/triple the cake recipe, or also dip fruits in the yummy chocolate. The good news is that it doesn't go hard in the fridge, so you can easily store it.

Difficulty: 2.

Takes about two hours, but only because you have to let the cupcakes cool before you frost them. It's maybe an hour of solid work.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Recipes from Mom: Oven-Roasted Spare Ribs

On a recent trip I took home, I went through the oodles and boxes and swamps and piles and mountains and stacks and days of recipes collected over the last 30 years by my mom and dad. I came away with a couple good ones to try. This particular recipe was actually collected by my father sometime in the last seven years.

Four tablespoons sweet paprika
Two tablespoons chili powder
Two tablespoons ground cumin
Two tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
Two tablespoons salt
One tablespoon dried oregano
One tablespoon black pepper
One tablespoon white pepper
One tablespoon sugar
Two teaspoons cayenne pepper

Two full racks of spareribs (about six pounds total)
About two cups of barbecue sauce, plus more for serving.

Combine all the rub ingredients in a small bowl and mix together thoroughly. Trim any excess fat from the ribs and discard. Rub the rub on both sides of the ribs and let stand at room temperature for an hour. (For more flavor, rub the ribs, wrap them in a double layer of plastic wrap, and let them sit in the fridge overnight.)

About five hours before you want to serve the ribs, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 300F. Place the ribs, meatier side up, on a heavy rack set on a baking sheet with a rim. Wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil. Roast for one hour, remove the foil, and return to the oven. Roast for another hour, then brush the meaty side liberally with barbecue sauce. Cook for another hour and a half, or until the meat has separated from the bone.

Remove the ribs from the oven and wrap each slab completely in foil. Put the ribs in a brown paper bag and seal it tightly. Allow to rest at room temperature for an hour.

Unwrap the ribs, cut between the bones, and serve immediately with barbecue sauce.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mom's Chocolate Angel Pie

On a recent trip I took home, I went through the oodles and boxes and swamps and piles and mountains and stacks and days of recipes collected over the last 30 years by my mom and dad and I came away with a couple good ones to try. This is the first time I've attempted a delicious dessert, and I think it came out pretty well.

Mom's Chocolate Angel Pie (which I think may actually be Grandma's Chocolate Angel Pie)

Two egg whites
One and a half teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
One package German sweet chocolate
Three tablespoons water
One and a half cups (a little less than a pint) whipping cream

Combine egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar and beat until foamy. Add sugar, two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until very stiff. Fold in 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla. Spoon lightly into greased pie pan and make a nest-like shell, building up the sides about a half inch above the pan. Bake at 300F for 50-55 minutes. Cool.

Melt chocolate in water over low heat, stir constantly. Cool till thickened. Add one teaspoon vanilla. Whip cream and fold into chocolate. Pile into shell. Chill for two hours.

(Mom's handwriting is actually a little fuzzy here, so it might not be 2 hours...maybe 5, or possibly S hours.)

Anyway, I put mine in the fridge at 2:00 and pulled it out for dessert at 8:30, topped it with sprinkles (because I love sprinkles), and it was oh-so-good.

Basically, it's simple, relatively quick, and delicious. Total crowd pleaser. If you like chocolate, you will like this pie.

P.S. My egg whites never got stiff enough to create a "nest-like shell," so I just dumped it in the pan and let it serve as a base instead of a shell. Turn out it turned into more of a shell while it baked, so I win anyway. Enjoy!