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A LOVE-LY Strawberry Chambord Valentine’s Day Cake

Posted by on Feb 11, 2014 in Baking, Chocolate, Desserts, Food Styling & Photography, Fruit, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, Special Occasion, Spring Recipes, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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 StrawberryChambordCake1

As Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, I got inspired to make a LOVE-LY Strawberry Chambord Cake with Strawberry Coulis to celebrate.

StrawberryChambordCake3

I wanted to create a simple cake that highlighted the flavors of the strawberries and Raspberry Chambord liqueur, and used a yellow cake mix flavored with vanilla and almond extract, along with some pureed strawberries and Chambord. I made a classic Vanilla frosting to use in between the cake layers and the top of the cake as a canvas for my lovely Strawberry heart design.

StrawberryChambordCake4

To make it even more luscious, I made a Strawberry Coulis for the base of my Strawberry heart on top of the cake. I simply chopped up some strawberries, added water, sugar, vanilla and Chambord; then boiled it down into a thick strawberry glaze.

StrawberryChambordCake5

Top off the glaze with more fresh sliced strawberries creating a LOVE-LY heart shape. Cut into slices and sip some bubbly to celebrate with your honey.

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A LOVE-LY Strawberry Chambord Valentine’s Day Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6-8

Serving Size: 1 slice

Ingredients

  • Cake:
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries, pureed
  • 2 tablespoons Raspberry Chambord liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Vanilla Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temp
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Strawberry Coulis:
  • 1 cup strawberries, quartered and chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Raspberry Chambord Liqueur
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries, for topping

Instructions

  1. Cake:
  2. Preheat oven to 400 and grease two 9 inch round cake pans.
  3. Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat on low with a hand mixer for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Pour cake batter into both pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Let cakes cool on a wire cooling rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely.
  6. Vanilla Frosting:
  7. In a medium bowl, beat the butter until light and smooth with a hand blender. Add the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and beat until frosting is smooth and creamy.
  8. Strawberry Coulis:
  9. Add chopped strawberries, water, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and Chambord in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring well. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5-10 minutes until Strawberry Coulis thickens into a glaze. Remove from heat and let cool.
  10. Cake Assembly:
  11. Place one layer of the cake on a large plate or platter. Spread Vanilla frosting on the top. Place the second layer of cake on top and spread the rest of the Vanilla frosting on top.
  12. Spread the Strawberry Coulis on top of the cake making a heart shaped pattern. Layer the sliced strawberries on top of the glaze also in a heart shaped pattern.
  13. Slice cake and serve with a glass or two of bubbly.
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Also in spirit of celebrating Valentine’s Day, Shari’s Berries has some delightful and lovely gift packages to send to your honey. One of my favorite things to go with strawberries is Champagne, of course, along with some luscious chocolate to pair. Check out their Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec & Godiva gift set and more chocolate and Valentine’s Day goodies online here.

Veuve Cliquot & Godiva

Demi-Sec, a slightly sweet style of Champagne, is at its best when served with desserts. Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec, marked by fresh peach, nectarine and orange blossom, pairs beautifully with Godiva‘s assorted deep dark chocolates, smooth milks, velvety ganaches, classic truffles and pralines. Truly irresistible!

Each gift set contains:

  • Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec Champagne (750 ML)
  • Godiva 19-piece Assorted Chocolates in a gold ballotin gift box
All photos, recipes and copy on this post are intellectual property of Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet. This post was not paid advertising and all opinions are my own.
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Seasonal Cooking with Honey :: Recipes from the Fresh Honey Cookbook

Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in Beef, Book Reviews, Cheese, Comfort Food, Desserts, Entrees, Fall Recipes, Food Styling & Photography, Fruit, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Healthy Cooking, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, Mediterranean, One-Pot Dishes, Pasta, Pies and Tarts, Salads, Savory Dishes, Side Dishes, Special Occasion, Thanksgiving Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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The Fresh Honey Cookbook

The Fresh Honey Cookbook

I love cooking with honey – not only in the Fall or dead of Winter, but all year around. It’s such a nice substitute for regular sugar and gives a warm, homey flavor to almost all types of recipes. I recently picked up a copy of The Fresh Honey Cookbook, by Beekeeper, Caterer, Chef and Spokesperson for The National Honey Board and Café owner Laurey Masterson of Asheville NC.  I fell in love with her vibrant recipes using different varieties of honey throughout all 12 months of the year – she offers honey-tasting tips and recipes featuring seasonal ingredients for dishes both savory and sweet.

Each chapter is organized around a specific honey for the month including orange blossom, tupelo, avocado, eucalyptus and blueberry honey and more. In January, she has a recipe for Meyer lemon and Honey-Marinated Chicken Skewers, Pork Tenderloin with Orange Blossom Honey Mustard and Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic. In the Summer, she features delicious fresh recipes for Grilled Garlic Shrimp with a Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce, Vermont-Style Summer Squash Casserole, and Broiled Peaches with Sourwood Honey.

She also goes into detail about her experience as a beekeeper and teaches readers how bees make honey, how it’s harvested, what they can do to help the bee population and what is going on in the hives throughout the year.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes from the book for the chilly months of the Winter season. Enjoy!

Roasted-Delicata-Squash

roasted delicata squash with tuscan kale

Serves 8–10

Delicata squash is naturally sweet and pairs so nicely with the kale and the other tastes of Italy and the Mediterranean. This recipe calls for pine nuts, which are quite expensive these days, but the buttery texture and flavor is so delicious that I am reluctant to suggest an alternative. This dish is great as a lunch salad or as a warm side dish. She recommends pairing this with her Deviled Beef Bones recipe made with Eucalyptus Honey (recipe follows).

Ingredients:

3 Delicata squash (about 3 pounds total)
Extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bow-tie pasta
2 bunches Italian (Tuscan Lacinato) kale
½ cup pine nuts
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut into 1-inch chunks (there’s no need to remove the edible skin). Arrange on a baking sheet and spray or brush with olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool.

3. Fill a large pot with water, add salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

4. Remove the leaves of the kale from the stems and cut into large pieces. Set up a steaming basket over boiling water, and steam the kale just until bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking and keep them bright green.

5. Toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat until light brown, 3 to 5 minutes. (Stay nearby while you’re toasting. Left unattended, they can easily burn.)

6. Combine the pasta, kale, squash, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Toss, and then add the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Enjoy!

——–

deviled beef bones

Serves 8

Laurie grew up with these wonderful beef bones, which were leftovers from the standing rib beef roast served at her Mother’s Blueberry Hill restaurant. The fat rib bones have a lot of meat and are enough to make a substantial meal out of them. They are served in a barbecue sauce that is a dark, wintry mixture featuring Eucalyptus Honey, which resembles molasses or Louisiana cane syrup. It is then combined with mustard and served as a delicious sauce for the beef bones.

Eucalyptus Honey varies from light amber to very dark brown, depending on where the eucalyptus is growing. It has a stronger taste then the lighter honeys, but is very pleasing to folks who have a more adventurous palate. This dark honey is perfect for the chillier days of Autumn and Winter.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon eucalyptus honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6-8 whole beef rib bones, cooked

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F if using cooked ribs, or 450°F if using uncooked ribs.
  2. Combine the dry mustard, salt, Dijon mustard, vinegar, honey, molasses, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Whisk well.
  3. If your ribs are already cooked, place them on a baking sheet, brush with the barbecue sauce, and cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Finish them under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes until crispy.
  4. If your ribs are not cooked, place them in a baking pan, brush with the barbecue sauce, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F. Brush the ribs again with the sauce and return to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove the ribs once more and brush with more sauce. Turn the heat to broil and broil for 5 to 7 minutes, until the ribs are crispy (but not burned!!). Serve warm.

 

Pears with Bleu Cheese

pears with blue cheese, toasted pecans, and chestnut honey vinaigrette

Serves 8

I get excited by the proliferation of pears in the market in the winter. I imagine what it would be like to live in Washington or Oregon. And so, though they are not local to me in December, pears are available and abundant and become the foundation for this delicious salad. Sweet, salty, bitter, and sour: All four tastes are in this salad, which makes it a memorable one for your guests.

This recipe uses a Chestnut Honey, which is one of the stronger honeys prized in Tuscany as a local taste. Italians appreciate many more bitter flavors than we do, and it has a big taste explosion for your palate. The color, flavor and smell of Chestnut Honey varies depending on the source of the Chestnut trees. Descriptors go from light and slightly pungent to extremely strong, breathtaking and lingering.

Ingredients:

For the vinaigrette

2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey, preferably chestnut honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

¼ cup pecan pieces, toasted
4 ripe but firm pears
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (Maytag)

Preparation:

1.  To make the vinaigrette, combine the orange juice, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl and stir with a wire whisk until well mixed. Drizzle the oil into the bowl in a thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. This will take 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. To make the salad, toast the pecans in a small dry saucepan for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, watching carefully and tossing often so they don’t burn.

3. Cut the pears in half from the stem to the blossom end. Remove the core, and cut each half in half again.

4. Arrange the pear quarters on individual salad plates. Sprinkle with the cheese and toasted pecans and, just before serving, drizzle with the vinaigrette.

 

Easy Tarte Tatin

easy tarte tatin

I love tarte tatin, the inverted apple pastry, but I am not the best baker in the world, as I’m not really patient with careful measuring. Frankly, I am much more comfortable cooking than baking. But this recipe will produce a grand result even if you’re not a serious baker. And if you have any leftovers, they make a great breakfast.

Get the best tart local apples you can find. With that start, you’ll do very well.

Ingredients:

1  sheet frozen puff pastry
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup honey, preferably eucalyptus or local honey
3 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
Unbleached all-purpose flour, for the pastry
Ice cream for serving (optional)

Preparation:

1. Following the instructions on the package, thaw the puff pastry. This will take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of pastry. You should be able to unfold it without breaking. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the honey. Stir well to blend thoroughly. Carefully arrange the apple wedges in the bottom of the skillet in a decorative pattern, taking special care on the first layer, as it will end up being the top of the tart. Take care, also, to fill in any holes with other apple pieces. Continue to layer the apples until you have used all the apple slices. Since they will shrink as they cook, you want the uncooked apples to be higher than the edges of the skillet, so add more if needed.

3. Cook over medium heat on the stove until the juices bubble up and change from clear to a rich amber color, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the heat and the consistency of your apples. As they cook, press the apples down with a rubber spatula; once the juices are visible, baste the apples with the juices. Keep an eye on them and don’t allow them to burn. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

4. Preheat the oven to 475°F.

5. Roll out the thawed pastry on a floured surface, until it is a square that can comfortably fit over the skillet. Lay the puff pastry over the cooked fruit, making sure that the pastry completely covers the apples. Tuck the pastry into the sides of the skillet, sealing in the apples.

6. Bake the pastry-covered skillet in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry puffs up and turns a golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

7. Place a serving platter on top of the cooked pastry and, holding tight, flip the skillet over so that the tart comes out of the skillet and ends up on the platter, pastry side down. Remove any of the cooked apples that might have stuck to the skillet and tuck them into the tart as needed.

8. Serve with ice cream, if you like, though it is perfect just as it is.

“Excerpted from The Fresh Honey Cookbook (c) by Laurey Masterton, photography (c) by Johnny Autry, used with permission from Storey Publishing.”

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Food Styling for Dr. Neal Barnard on the Joy Behar: Say Anything TV Show!

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Book Reviews, Desserts, Food Styling & Photography, Fruit, Gluten-Free Recipes, Grilled Recipes, Guest Feature, Healthy Cooking, NYC, Salads, Spring Recipes, Summer Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies | 0 comments

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Kristen on Joy Behar Say Anything TV Show

Kristen on Joy Behar Say Anything TV Show

Last week I had the fantastic opportunity to cook and do food styling for a special healthy food segment on the “Joy Behar: Say Anything!” TV Show featuring Dr. Neal D. Barnard, M.D., founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Dr. Barnard sits down with guest host Marilu Henner to discuss how saturated fat makes you sluggish and which colored foods are good for your brain and improve memory. Barnard says, “Greens, foliage — that contributes folate, which is a B vitamin which protects the brain.” He adds, “So when you see the greens, you know that’s good for the brain.” He also goes into discussing what foods to avoid such as heavy carb and fat-laden foods that make us tired and lack energy.

Power Foods For the Brain

Power Foods For the Brain

I was asked to cook and style four of Dr. Barnard’s recipes from his new book “Power Foods for the Brain: An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory” to display during the TV interview food segment. The recipes were all colorful and healthy and made with Power Foods and all-natural ingredients: Summer Salad made with Rainbow Chard, tomatoes, corn, onions and garlic and pecans, Minted Fruit Kebabs made with a Citrus Lime and Mint light dressing, Marinated Grilled Veggie Kabobs marinated in a balsamic and herb dressing, and Super Raspberry Protein Brownies made with black beans, raspberry jam, cocoa powder and figs.

Could that glass of milk affect your memory? Is that aluminum can increasing your risk for Alzheimer’s disease? Can a banana be a brain booster? Everyone knows that good nutrition supports your overall health, but did you know that certain foods can protect your brain and optimize its function?

In POWER FOODS FOR THE BRAIN, Dr. Neal Barnard has gathered the most important research and studies to deliver a program that can boost brain health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and other less serious malfunctions, including low energy, poor sleep patterns, irritability, and lack of focus. The plan includes information on:

  • The best foods to increase cognitive function and boost folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12
  • The dangers dairy products and meats may have on memory
  • The role alcohol plays in Alzheimer’s risk
  • The latest research on certain toxic metals, like aluminums found in cookware, soda cans, and common antacids
  • Plus, 50-75 recipes and timesaving kitchen tips.

Here are the recipes I made and styled for the show. Enjoy!

Summer Salad

Summer Salad

Summer Salad – The more naturally colorful your meal is, the more likely it is to have an abundance of immune-boosting antioxidants and phytochemicals. The same foods that are good for your heart are good for your brain.

Summer Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 2 as main dish or 4 as a side

Calories per serving: 181 calories

Fat per serving: 2 g total fat

Chard’s slight bitterness is beautifully balanced by the sweetness of the corn and grapes, resulting in a surprising depth of flavor.

Ingredients

  • ½ small white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Leaves from 1 bunch chard
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels
  • ¼ cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup seedless black grapes
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Mince the onion and garlic, then smash them together a couple times with the back of a knife or with a mortar and pestle.
  2. Wash the Swiss chard thoroughly, as it tends to be gritty, then slice it into ribbons by tightly bunching the leaves together and slicing them with a sharp, heavy knife. Place the chard in a salad bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and toss.
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Marinated Grilled Veggie Kabobs

Marinated Grilled Veggie Kabobs

Marinated Grilled Veggie Kebabs – these are super easy to make and super colorful, and healthy. Marinated in a dressing made with balsamic vinegar, orange juice, honey, mustard and maple syrup with Italian season before grilling, they are super tasty too.

Marinated Grilled Veggie Kabobs

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Serve these savory kebabs over a brown rice pilaf for a satisfying and easy meal.

Ingredients

  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 red onions, each cut into 8 bite-size chunks
  • 2 green or red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into 8 pieces each
  • 16 button mushrooms
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into 8 pieces
  • Marinade:
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 metal skewers, or bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes

Instructions

  1. Place the cherry tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, squash, and zucchini in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and whisk well. Pour the marinade over the vegetables and stir to coat. Marinate for 15 minutes.
  3. Heat a charcoal or gas grill or your oven’s broiler. Onto one skewer, thread the ingredients in the following manner: 1 tomato, 1 red onion chunk, 1 pepper piece, 1 mushroom, 1 yellow summer squash slice, 1 tomato, 1 zucchini slice, 1 red onion chunk, 1 pepper, and 1 mushroom. Repeat with remaining ingredients and skewers. Place the kebabs on the hot grill or a broiler pan and brush with the marinade. Grill for 7 minutes, or until desired tenderness, turning the kebabs a few times. Serve immediately.
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Minted Fruit Kebabs

Minted Fruit Kebabs

Minted Fruit Kebabs – Power up with blueberries and grapes. These “brain berries” get their deep colors from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants shown to improve learning and recall in studies at the University of Cincinnati.

Minted Fruit Kebabs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Makes 4 kebabs (4 servings)

Calories per serving: 35 calories

Fat per serving: 0.2 g total fat

Fresh fruit makes a striking appearance in these antioxidant-rich kebabs. Enjoy them for a refreshing, light dessert!

Ingredients

  • 8 red or green grapes
  • 4 large strawberries
  • 4 1-inch-square cantaloupe chunks
  • 4 1-inch-square honeydew chunks
  • 4 1/2-inch-thick slices peeled kiwi
  • 4 1-inch-square watermelon chunks
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 10-inch bamboo skewers

Instructions

  1. Thread 1 grape, 1 strawberry, 1 cantaloupe chunk, 1 honeydew chunk, 1 slice kiwi, 1 watermelon chunk, and 1 more grape onto a skewer. Repeat with the remaining fruit and skewers. Place the finished skewers in a shallow container.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, mint, and vanilla. Pour the marinade over the fruit kebabs, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 3 hours) in the refrigerator before serving.

Notes

Recipe by Christine Waltermyer

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Super Raspberry Protein Brownies

Super Raspberry Protein Brownies

Super Raspberry Protein Brownies – A brownie made with black beans? You bet! Beans are high in fiber, calcium, and protein, making them a nutrition powerhouse. Beans are free from saturated and trans fats. Researchers find people consuming the most saturated fat in their diets have more than triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Super Protein Raspberry Brownies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 16

Serving Size: 1/16 of the recipe

Calories per serving: 145 calories

Fat per serving: 1 g total fat

A brownie made with black beans? You bet! Beans are high in fiber, calcium, and protein, making them a nutrition powerhouse.

Beans are free from saturated and trans fats. Researchers find people consuming the most saturated fat in their diets have more than triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon safflower oil
  • 2 15-ounce cans low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup all-fruit raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with the oil.
  2. Combine the black beans, dates, jam, and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and process again.
  3. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top looks set. Remove from the oven and cool completely, then cut into 16 squares. The brownies will keep, refrigerated in a covered container, for up to 1 week.
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For those of you who may have missed the show, here’s a video of the food segment that aired on TV last week:

And lastly, here’s a few photos behind the scenes on set at the show that day:

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Savoring the Fruits of Summer :: Peach-Raspberry Almond Vanilla Cream Tart

Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 in Baking, Comfort Food, Desserts, Fruit, Pies and Tarts, Special Occasion, Summer Recipes, Uncategorized | 2 comments

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Peach-Raspberry Vanilla Almond Cream Tart

Summer is my favorite time of year – blue sunny skies, lazy days on the patio, weekend trips to the beach and lake and backyard gatherings with friends and family. Most of all, I love the fresh juicy fruits of summer – stone fruits like peaches and plums and cherries and all the fresh berries in season like blackberries, strawberries and raspberries.

Over the July 4th holiday weekend we had a fun backyard BBQ at my parents house with some of my relatives that I haven’t seen in awhile. I used to look forward to all the fun cookouts we did every summer with my family and cousins when I was a kid so it was a fun surprise to hear they were coming over for the day.

I wanted to make a special summery dessert and something different than our usual holiday traditions such as Aunt Irene’s Reception Salad and Grandma’s Lemon Meringue Pie. I decided on a Peach-Raspberry Almond Vanilla Cream Tart made with luscious juicy fresh peaches and raspberries that are bathed in a gorgeous peach glaze. They lie on a bed of sweet creamy ricotta and cream cheese blended with a hint of almond and vanilla on top of a flaky buttery puff pastry as the base.

The combination of the sweet fruit and tangy sweet almond vanilla cream over the layers of flaky buttery pastry was the perfect refreshing yet sinful treat to top off an awesome hot Summer day out on the back patio. My Aunt and Grandma may not be with us anymore to make their legendary desserts, but I’ve decided to step in their shoes and make this delicious concoction a new yearly tradition for our family summer backyard gatherings going forward.

Happy summer! :)

Savoring the Fruits of Summer :: Peach-Raspberry Almond Vanilla Cream Tart

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: Makes 2 tarts serving 12 to 16.

Ingredients

  • 2 puff pastry sheets, defrosted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 peaches, diced
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 lemon rind quarters
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese (one regular, one light) at room temperature
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 peaches, sliced thin
  • 1 cup raspberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Tart pastry: Rollout puff pastry sheets on a floured surface and place on two lightly greased rectangular baking sheets.
  3. Score a 1-inch border around each pastry sheet. Beat eggs and water together and lightly brush the pastry sheets.
  4. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden brown. Remove from oven and let pastry sheets cool completely.
  5. Glaze: Meanwhile, dice two peaches and add sugar, lemon juice, lemon rinds and 2 cups of water into a small-medium pan on the stove. Simmer over medium heat until the peach is soft and the glaze is thickened about 10-15 minutes. Remove the lemon rinds and let the glaze cool to the side.
  6. Cream Filling: In a large mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Beat together with a mixer until smooth and spread evenly on to each pastry sheet, leaving a 1-inch border on the pastry. Arrange the peach slices on top of the cream filling in layered rows and brush the peaches with all but a few tablespoons of the glaze. Toss the raspberries with the rest of the glaze and randomly place on top of the peaches. Serve right away or keep cool in the refrigerator covered for a few hours.
  7. To serve, cut the tarts into squares and garnish with toasted almonds or whipped cream if desired.

Notes

Chef’s Note: The pastry and cream filling is really delicious and super versatile for making any type of fruit tart. You can substitute the peaches and raspberries for any type of berry – blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or use fresh plums or kiwi fruit and adjust the recipe accordingly for the glaze and fruit topping. You can also substitute some toasted pistachios in place of the almonds. Get creative!

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Peaches

Almond Vanilla Cream

Peach Raspberry Almond Vanilla Cream Tart

More Fruit Tart Recipes you might enjoy:

Freeform Summer Fruit Tart Recipe

Fruit and Cream Mini Tarts

Ina Garten’s Strawberry Tarts Recipe

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Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! xo

Posted by on Dec 24, 2012 in Baking, Desserts, Family Recipes, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, Special Occasion, Uncategorized, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and Delicious New Year!

Looking back on this past year, and all of the tragedies our country has endured with natural disasters and shootings and other acts of destruction – it makes me wish for people to remember what Christmas and the holidays are REALLY all about: joy, sharing, laughter, warmth, peace, giving and most of all LOVE for others. I sincerely wish all of you a holiday filled with these things – and a New Year filled with promise, prosperity and wonderfulness. Merry Christmas. xo

Mom’s Holiday Cutout Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is a recipe for my Mom’s Holiday Cutout cookies – a recipe that she got from my Grandmother that we still use today every year for the holidays. The cookies are crisp and thin with a delicious vanilla almond flavor in the cookie and the icing. They are the most popular and addicting cookies on our holiday table every year. Enjoy!
Author:
Recipe type: Holiday, Baking, Sweets, Desserts
Serves: 50-60 cookies
Ingredients
  • COOKIES:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
  • ⅓ c. soft butter or margarine
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • ⅛ to ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
Instructions
  1. COOKIES:
  2. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract.
  3. Add 1 egg and water, and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; blend into creamed mixture.
  5. Divide dough in half; chill 1 hour.
  6. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to ⅛” thickness.
  7. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
  8. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees about 6-8 minutes.
  9. Cool slightly; remove from pan and glaze with buttercream frosting and top with sprinkles and decorative toppings.
  10. Let cookies chill and cool overnight, store in a container in layers of wax paper to prevent cookies from sticking.
  11. BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
  12. Mix together all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  13. Divide frosting into separate medium bowls, add food coloring of your choice.
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Bourbon Vanilla Cream Pie with Oatmeal-Pecan Cookie Crust

Posted by on Nov 22, 2012 in Baking, Desserts, Holiday Recipes, Pies and Tarts, Special Occasion, Thanksgiving Recipes, Uncategorized, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Bourbon Vanilla Cream Pie with Oatmeal-Pecan Cookie Crust

Bourbon Vanilla Cream Pie with Oatmeal-Pecan Cookie Crust

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year – if only for the food! Of course, I am so thankful for my amazing friends and family, for doing a job that I love and am passionate about, and for living in a city full of life and new things to discover every day. It’s also a time for traditions, like pumpkin pie, turkey and stuffing and all the dressings to go with it.

There’s a great local bakery in NYC called Momofuku Milk Bar that has amazing desserts and a famous “Crack Pie ®”, named after it’s complete addictiveness and inability to eat just one slice. The first time I tried this crazy good pie, I felt immediate addiction coming on, and had to buy another slice. And then I had to leave before I bought the whole damn pie. This year for Thanksgiving I decided to make MY version, Bourbon Vanilla Cream Pie with Oatmeal-Pecan Cookie Crust - to mix up tradition a little bit from the Pumpkin and Apple pies we always have on our table. Folks, hold on to your seats (or forks!)

The crust is made from an oatmeal cookie mixture crumbled with chopped pecans, butter and brown sugar. The pie filling is a luscious creamy custard filling made of sugar, brown sugar, cream, egg yolks, extra vanilla and a shot of bourbon – and just for a fun, a few more chopped pecans for some texture. It bakes into a lovely crumbly crust filled with a delicious creamy caramel-y filling like you have never tasted before. It reminds me of creme brulee inside an oatmeal cookie with a kick of bourbon to warm up your insides – not such a bad thing, and come to think of it, something to be VERY thankful for. One bite, and you’ll be hooked too. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving! (Now let the eating and thanks begin!)

—–

Bourbon Vanilla Cream Pie with Oatmeal-Pecan Cookie Crust

Mix the sugars and butter

Mix the sugars and butter

Add the egg, beat until fluffy

Add the egg, beat until fluffy

Add oats, flour, baking powder and soda, salt and beat until blended

Add oats, flour, baking powder and soda, salt and beat until blended

Spread oat mixture onto baking pan

Spread oat mixture onto baking pan

Bake oat mixture at 350 until golden brown about 15 mins

Bake oat mixture at 350 until golden brown about 15 mins

Break up oat cookie into chunks

Break up oat cookie into chunks

Crumble oat cookie into fine crumbs

Crumble oat cookie into fine crumbs

Add pecans, butter and brown sugar to cookie crumbles and press into 9" pie dish

Add pecans, butter and brown sugar to cookie crumbles and press into 9″ pie dish

Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet

Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet

Whisk sugars, bourbon, salt and melted butter in medium bowl

Whisk sugars, bourbon, salt and melted butter in medium bowl

Add cream, egg yolks and vanilla; whisk until blended well. Add chopped pecans.

Add cream, egg yolks and vanilla; whisk until blended well. Add chopped pecans.

Pour filling in crust; bake 30 minutes at 350. Reduce heat to 325; bake 20 mins more. Cool 2 hours and chill overnight.

Pour filling in crust; bake 30 minutes at 350. Reduce heat to 325; bake 20 mins more. Cool 2 hours and chill overnight.

Top with sifted powdered sugar. Serve chilled.

Top with sifted powdered sugar. Serve chilled.

Bourbon Vanilla Cream Pie with Oatmeal-Pecan Cookie Crust

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Serving Size: 6-8

Ingredients

  • OAT PECAN COOKIE CRUST
  • Nonstick baking spray
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup chopped pecans
  • CREAM PIE FILLING
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon whiskey
  • 1/8 cup chopped pecans
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. OAT PECAN COOKIE CRUST
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a rectangular metal baking pan (13x9x2 inch) with nonstick spray.
  3. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Beat mixture with electric mixture until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add egg; beat until fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; beat until well blended.
  5. Spread oat cookie mixture onto baking pan and press into an even layer. Bake until light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer baking pan to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  6. Once cooled, break up cookie in pan and crumble into a fine mixture.
  7. Add cookie crumbles to a large mixing bowl and add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar and chopped pecans, mix well and transfer cookie mixture to a 9 inch glass pie dish.
  8. Spread cookie mixture evenly into pie dish up to the sides and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  9. CREAM PIE FILLING
  10. Whisk both sugars, salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Add melted butter and whisk until blended.
  11. Add cream, egg yolks, vanilla, bourbon and chopped pecans and whisk until well blended.
  12. Pour cream pie filing into cookie crust and bake pie for 30 minutes until filling gets bubbly.
  13. Reduce oven to 325 and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  14. Cool pie for about 2 hours on a cooling rack.
  15. Chill uncovered or loosely tented with foil in the refrigerator overnight.
  16. Sift powdered sugar over the top of the pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve chilled.
  17. Garnish with some bourbon infused whipped cream, if desired.
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Recipe adapted from Christina Tosi, Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie Recipe.

 

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