Saturday, September 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

I'm not a big fan of peanut butter .... Have never been able to acquire a taste for it. My kids love it ... specially, peanut butter cookies. I use this recipe but I add a little Nutella to the batter. I do enjoy these cookies once in a while.... but my kids love them! 

Adapted from Saveur


1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup nutella
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl - set aside
In a bowl of a standing mixer, beat on medium speed butter, sugar, brown sugar until smooth and creamy.
Add peanut butter, nutella, egg and vanilla. Beat until until just smooth.
Stir in flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated.
Cover dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
With a small ice cream scooper, place dough on baking sheets - 2 inches apart.
Use a fork to flatten dough and make a grid pattern on top.
Bake until golden brown - 11 minutes.
Store cookies up to 2 weeks in an air tight container.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chocolate Truffles

I usually have a box of my favorite chocolate and truffles (Leonidas) in the refrigerator ... but to my surprise and profound sadness, I found an empty box of Leonidas!  I guess I must have finished it all couple of days ago! 
Well, since I was in desperate need of a little happiness .... I decided to make my own chocolate truffles. I followed Pierre Hermé's recipe .... and they came out perfect! 
I enjoyed couple of them .... and they brought me pure joy!  


9 ounces chocolate - I used Valrhona 61% - finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, cut into 4 pieces
Dutch-processed cocoa powder  for dusting - I used Valrhona

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl that can hold all ingredients.
In a small saucepan, bring cream to a full boil.
Pour cream on the chocolate
With a spatula, gently stir the cream into the chocolate until the ganache is smooth.
Allow ganache to rest for couple of minutes.
Add butter 2 pieces at a time, stirring gently.
Pour ganache into a bowl.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Pour cocoa powder on a plate.
Dust your hands with some cocoa powder.
Scoop out a teaspoon of the ganache and with your hands shape it into a ball.
Drop the ganache ball in the cocoa powder and coat it with powder.
Shake off excess powder.
Can be served immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicken with Parsnips, Shallots and Baby Potatoes

For dinner tonight, I made this chicken recipe from the October issue of "Food & Wine" and It was an absolute hit!. It was so delicious that kids asked for seconds. I made slight changes to the original recipe. I recommend having some baguette slices for the most wonderful leftover juice.

Recipe adapted from
"Food & Wine" October 2012 issue


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 chicken thighs with skin
1/4 cup flour
5 shallots, peeled and quartered
3 Parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch batons
1 1/2 cup baby potatoes
Few rosemary sprigs
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
In large oven proof pan (I used my beloved Le Creuset), melt butter in the oil.
Dust chicken with flour on both sides.
Add chicken to pan with skin side down.
Cook over high heat turning once, until browned - about 3 minutes on each side.
Transfer chicken to a plate.
In the same pan, add shallots, parsnips, potatoes and rosemary.
Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add wine and cook further until liquid has reduced by half - 3 minutes.
Add broth and bring to a boil.
Add chicken to the pan, skin side up.
Transfer the pan (covered) to the oven and cook for about 40 minutes.
Cook 20 minutes longer uncovered.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Strawberry, Blueberry and Raspberry Tart

 I absolutely love a nice strawberry tart. I came across these beautiful strawberries at the market and since I already had some raspberries and blueberries, I decided to make a berry tart. The filling is so delicious ..... it's a mix of crème pâtissière and crème chantilly. 

Michel Roux Recipe
Crème Pâtissière:

6 egg yolks
1/2 plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup flower
2 cups milk - I used 1%
2 tablespoons vanilla

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl to a light ribbon consistency.
Whisk in the flour.
In a pan, heat milk and vanilla.
As soon as it comes to a boil, pour it onto the egg yolk mixture, stirring as you go.
Mix well, return to the same pan.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring non stop with a whisk.
After few minutes, you should have a thick consistency.
Pour it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
Once cooled, store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Note: If you desire a chocolate crème pâtissière, add 3 oz melted semisweet chocolate to the crème pâtissière before cooling.

Crème Chantilly:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Whip cream and sugar until you get a thick consistency.
Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Pâte sucrée:

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) butter, cubed and softened
1 cup confectioners' cugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, at room temperature

Put flour on your counter and make a well.
Put butter, confectioners' sugar and salt.
Mix together.
Gradually draw the flour into the center and mix with your fingertips until dough becomes slightly grainy.
again, make a well and add the eggs.
Work them into the flour mixture, until the dough begins to hold together.
Knead the dough few times with palm of your hand until smooth.
Roll the dough into a ball.
Store it in a large ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Have a 10 inch tart pan ready.
Cut out a 10 inch parchment paper.
Unwrap dough and roll out to a large circle, on a lightly floured counter.
Line the tart pan with the dough.
Cut out the edges.
Prick the pastry base few times with a fork gently-you don't want to make holes in the dough
Line the tart shell with the round parchment paper.
Fill with a layer of pie weights.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove pie weight and parchment paper.
Bake for another 10 - 12 minutes.
Remove form oven and let it completely cool on a wire rack.

To assemble:

Fold in 1/2 of your crème pâtissière with the crème chantilly.
Fill the tart shell with the mixed crème.
Arrange berries as you wish over the crème.
Sprinkle some toasted almonds.
and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tarte Tatin

This morning it felt cooler than usual. There was a breeze in the air and I had to grab my jacket on my way out the door..... I really can feel the change of season. Fall is very fast approaching.
This delicious Tarte Tatin is my way of welcoming the Fall season.... My all-time favorite season and my all-time favorite apple recipe!  
The apple sauce for this Tarte Tatin can be made 1 day ahead and kept in the refrigerator. 

The apple recipe is adapted from Christophe Michalak's recipe.
The pâte Sablée is adapted from Michele Roux recipe. 

Apple Recipe

4 Golden delicious apples, peeled and finely diced
50 grams honey
30 grams butter
100 grams sugar
45 grams whipping cream
2 gelatin sheets

Have a muffin pan ready to use.
In a small pot, melt butter and honey.
Add diced apples.
Cook on medium heat until apples are translucent-  5 minutes.  
In a small bowl, mix some cold water with gelatin sheets.
In a medium, melt half of the sugar. Once melted, add the other half. It should turn a nice brown color.
Add whipping cream and gelatin sheets (make sure water has been squeezed out of them) 
Add apples and cook for about 2 minutes - mix well
Equally divide between your muffin or cupcake pans.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Pâte Sablée

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup butter, cut into small pieces and softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
Egg wash - 1 egg beaten mixed with 1 tablespoon milk

Place flour on your counter and make a well. 
Place butter, sugar and salt in the middle of the well.
With your fingers, mix the butter, sugar and salt.
Add the egg yolks and mix further with your fingers.
Carefully bring the flour into the center and mix further until you have a smooth dough.
Using the palm of your hand, push the dough away from you 4 times, until completely smooth.
Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll out the dough on your counter.
Cut circles out with a round cookie cutter - just make sure the diameter of the cookie cutter is the same as the muffin pan circles.
Brush egg wash mixture on each cookie.
Place on baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes at 340 degrees.

To assemble:
Place a cookie on a plate.
With a sharp knife,  unmold the apples.
Place on top of the cookie... and enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gratin Dauphinois

Looking for an easy side dish to accompany your chicken, meat or fish dishes? Le gratin Dauphinois is an excellent choice ... soft and creamy on the inside .... crunchy on the outside .... and did I say delicious!


2 1/2 lbs potatoes - peeled, washed, dried and sliced
1 lb Gruyere cheese - grated
1 cup half and half
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 garlic clove - peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon butter
Salt and pepper

Rub butter all over the inside and sides of an 8 inch cast iron skillet or baking dish
Rub the cut side of the garlic all over the inside and sides of the skillet.
In a medium bowl, mix cheese, half & half, crème fraîche, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Arrange potatoes in a single layer on the skillet.
Top with cheese mixture.
Repeat this process 2 more times.
Top with remaining cheese mixture.
Sprinkle some nutmeg.
Cover skillet with foil.
Bake for about 1 hour or until potatoes are soft.
Remove foil and let bake for another 20 minutes.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

I've been eyeing the 3 ripe bananas on my kitchen counter for couple of days. So finally today I decided to use them and make a yummy banana chocolate chip bread. Beside, this is the only way my kids will ever eat bananas.

Adapted from BBC

285g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
110g butter, softened
225g sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
85 ml buttermilk
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chip
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour a loaf pan - set aside.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla extract to the butter mixture and mix well.
Fold in the flour mixture.
Add chocolate chip, mix well.
Pour the mixture in the loaf pan.
Bake for about an hour or until well-risen and golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Perfect Chocolate chip cookies

Today, I was at the grocery store rushing like a mad woman to get all the necessary ingredients for tonight's dinner - I feel like I'm always rushing - really need to learn to slow down once in a while . I  only had 30 minutes in there before rushing back home to meet a dear friend for coffee. While I was going a 100 miles an hour in the store, rushing through the aisles, getting all the necessary ingredients, standing in line to pay, only to realize that I forgot the main ingredient, leaving my spot in the long line, going to the meat department and picking up couple of chicken ... and then I stopped. In front of me stood this young mother, pushing her shopping cart with her 2 year daughter in it. I see mothers and young children on a daily basis - it really doesn't affect me. But for some reason, it felt different today. I had a flashback of when my daughter was 2 and I used to take her grocery shopping with me - actually, I used to take her everywhere with me!. Today, I felt a strange and puzzling emotion I had never felt before .... Was it a feeling of desperately wanting to hold a baby in my arms? a feeling of growing older? a feeling that life is going by too fast? I wonder .... Maybe, it's a combination of all those feelings and the fact that I miss those sweet years when my kids were home with me all the time. 
After this strange experience at the grocery store, I rushed back home, baked some chocolate chip cookies, enjoyed coffee with my dear friend before enthusiastically rushing to pick up my 8 and 11 year olds from school.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated

About 45 small cookies

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used salted butter)
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Adjust oven rack to middle position.
Heat oven to 375 degrees
In a medium bowl, whisk flour and baking soda
In a skillet, over medium high heat, melt 10 tablespoons of the butter (avoid using nonstick skillet)
Continue cooking the butter until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma - 1 to 3 minutes
Transfer butter to a heatproof bowl
Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter, stir until completely melted
Add brown sugar, sugar, salt, and vanilla to melted butter
whisk until fully incorporated
Add egg and egg yolk.
Whisk until mixture is smooth, with no lumps remaining - 30 seconds
Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for another 30 seconds.
Repeat the process of whisking and resting 2 more times.
Using a rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture until combined - 1 minute.
Stir in Chocolate chips
Give the dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
Using a 1 tablespoon ice cream scoop, place dough  1 inch apart on a baking sheet.
Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are golden brown, still puffy - 9 to 10 minutes
Transfer cookies to a wire rack.
Let cookies cool to room temperature before enjoying!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chocolate Layer Cake

I love chocolate ... Whenever I'm sad, I eat chocolate. Whenever I'm happy, I eat chocolate. Whenever I'm stressed, I eat chocolate. After dinner, I eat chocolate. Lately, I've been craving a good chocolate cake. This recipe caught my attention.It is truly one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever had.... Moist, rich and so sinful!

Old-fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake


4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup Dutch- processed cocoa
1/2 cup hot water
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
12 tablespoons softened butter, cut into pieces


1 pound semisweet chocolate
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, cold

For the cake:
Turn oven to 350 degrees
Adjust rack to middle position
Grease and dust with flour a one 9 inch round cake pan.
In a dish, melt chocolate, cocoa and hot water in the microwave
Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate.
Stir with a rubber spatula until thick and glossy - about 2 minutes.
Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl - set aside.
Combine buttermilk and vanilla extract in a small bowl
Using a mixer, whip eggs and egg yolks on medium speed - about 10 seconds.
Add remaining 1 1/4 cup sugar.
Whip until light and fluffy - 2 to 3 minutes.
Replace whisk with paddle.
Add cooled chocolate mixture and mix further - 1 minute.
Add soft butter, a piece at a time until fully incorporated.
Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions.
Scrap down bowl as needed.
Mix a medium speed until combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean - 45 - 50 minutes
When cooled, carefully remove cake from pan.
Carefully, slice the cake horizontally in half.
Let cake cool 2 hours before spreading the frosting.

For the frosting:
Melt chocolate in the microwave - careful not to burn it.
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add sugar and corn syrup, vanilla and salt.
Stir with a rubber spatula until sugar is completely melted - 5 minutes.
In a larger bowl, stir chocolate, butter mixture and heavy cream.
Fill a larger bowl 1/2 way through with ice.
Place chocolate bowl in ice bath and stir with a rubber spatula until it thickens - 8 minutes.
In a mixer, beat frosting until light and fluffy.
Spread 1 cup of frosting on one cake layer.
Top with second cake layer. Gently press down.
Top with 1 1/2 cup frosting making sure to cover all sides of the cake with frosting as well.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Veal Milanese

Out Saturday night at a neighborhood Italian restaurant. I had made the reservation a week prior - as this restaurant is known to get completely booked on the weekends. I was really looking forward to trying a new restaurant. We started with a very nice bottle of Pinot Grigio. For appetizer, I ordered the Caprese salad and main course the Veal Milanese over soft polenta.... not bad you might say! Well, my salad was wonderful but the veal Milanese was not as wonderful. It was poorly cooked, soggy, seemed to be swimming in a strange broth, smelled bad and tasted strange! ..... a broth??? But there shouldn't be a broth in a Milanese! So, very politely, I asked the waiter if by some mistake they had brought me the wrong plate. He said "no Madame ... this is the Milanese you ordered". Anyway, I left it at that and never touched my dinner.
I was very disappointed but good thing the wine, bread and olive oil were all wonderful!
So for dinner Sunday night we had a "real" Veal Milanese and an endive salad!

For 4 people

4 slices of Veal Scaloppine
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 cup breadcrumb
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 lemons cut in half

Place a scaloppine in a ziplock bag.
Pound scaloppine - careful not to over pound.
Beat the eggs with salt and pepper - place on a plate
Place flour on a plate.
Mix bread crumbs with parmesan cheese - place on a plate.
Dip scaloppine on both sides in flour, then egg, then in bread crumb
Again, dip in egg and finally in bread crumb
Refrigerate for 15 minutes - this will ensure the bread crumbs adhere to the scaloppine.
Heat butter and olive oil in a skillet.
Cook scaloppine until browned on each side - about 3 minutes per side.
Serve hot.

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