Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pork Wellington

Pastry-wrapped meat is delicious. And delightfully easy to make. And, once again, Alton Brown is a genius. That is all.

Pork Wellington
Courtesy of Alton Brown


1 whole egg
1 tablespoon water
1-ounce (about 1/8 cup) dried apple rings
1 whole pork tenderloin, approximately 1 pound
4 1/2 ounces thinly slice prosciutto ham
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed completely
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat to 400ºF.

Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl and set aside. Place the apple rings into the bowl of a mini food processor and process for 30 to 45 seconds or until they are the size of a medium dice. Set aside.

Trim the pork tenderloin of any excess fat and silver skin. Slice the tenderloin down the middle lengthwise, creating 2 separate pieces. Lay the tenderloin pieces next to each other head to tail, so when laid back together they are the same size at the ends.

Lay out a 12 by 16-inch piece of parchment paper on the counter and arrange the pieces of prosciutto in the center, overlapping them enough to create solid layer that is as long as the tenderloin. Top with a second piece of parchment, and using a rolling pin, roll over the prosciutto to help adhere the pieces to each other. Remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the prosciutto with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Set the tenderloin down the middle of the prosciutto. Spread the dried apples in between the 2 pieces of tenderloin and push back together so the apples are held between them. Using the parchment paper to assist, wrap the prosciutto around the tenderloin to completely enclose in a package.

Sprinkle the counter with flour and roll out the pastry to 12 by 14 inches. Spread the mustard thinly in the center of pastry and lay the prosciutto wrapped tenderloin in the center of the pastry on the mustard. Fold the puff pastry up and over the top of the tenderloin, then roll to completely enclose, brushing the edges of the pastry with the egg wash in order to seal. Turn the tenderloin over so the side of the tenderloin with the double thickness of pastry is underneath. Pinch the ends of the pastry to seal.

Brush the entire pastry with the egg wash. Place the tenderloin on a parchment lined half sheet pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of at least 140ºF.

Remove the tenderloin from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ghirardelli Chocolate Brownies with Peppermint Bark

Now these are good peppermint bark brownies. Those other ones I tried are nowhere near as good. These are fudgy and delicious. And these are definitely best when kept cold. Yum.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Brownies with Peppermint Bark
Courtesy of Ghirardelli


1 1/2 cup(s) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 tablespoons)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup(s) sugar
1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
8 Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares, chopped into large chunks (for the brownies)
18 Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares, broken in to large chunks (about 8 pieces per square) (for the finishing)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil and grease with pan spray. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 inches of water to a gentle simmer. Put the 60% chips and butter in a heatproof bowl and set it over (but not touching) the simmering water. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until the better is melted and both ingredients are completely combined. Turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the warm water. Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk together gently. With a spatula, fold in the flour. Immediately pour ½ the mixture into the prepared baking pan and spread it evenly. Next, sprinkle the chopped peppermint bark over the batter and then pour the remaining batter over this. Spread evenly.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. The center should be fudgy but not dry. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Place Peppermint Bark chunks on top of warm brownies and allow them to soften for 1 minute. Using a spatula, gently swirl the melting Peppermint Bark to create swirls of melted chocolate. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Trim the 4 edges of the brownies by ¼ inch. And cut into 18 squares.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples

Meh. For how good it smelled while it was cooking, it didn't end up tasting like much of anything. Real Simple recipes have been so disappointing lately...

Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples
Courtesy of Real Simple


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 red apples (such as Braeburn or Gala), cut into small pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 sheets frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

Heat oven to 400º F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the apples, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until just tender, 2 minutes.

Place each sheet of pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Spread with the crème fraîche, leaving a ½-inch border. Top with the onion mixture and bake until the pastry is crisp and browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into pieces before serving.

Pears with Bleu Cheese and Prosciutto

Eh. I'm not sure this was worth the trouble. The pears were totally underripe and didn't taste like anything, so I'm sure that didn't help. The other flavors were nice though, and the whole thing looked pretty. Pity.

Pears with Bleu Cheese and Prosciutto
Courtesy of Real Simple


2 pears (such as Bosc or Bartlett), each cut into 8 wedges
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup arugula
3 ounces bleu cheese, cut into small pieces
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise

In a large bowl, toss the pears and lemon juice.

Layer a slice of pear, an arugula leaf, and a piece of cheese on a piece of prosciutto and roll up.

Eggs in Baskets

I made these for Christmas morning, along with the totally delicious chocolate babka and yummy panettone from years past. I ended up overcooking the yolks of the ones baked in the deep muffin pans because the whites weren't setting up. But the ones I baked in a regular muffin pan came out better. But really, if I'm going to do an egg dish that's supposed to have a runny yolk, I prefer this one.

Eggs in Baskets
Courtesy of Sunny Anderson


3 large russet potatoes, peeled
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
6 slices prosciutto, about 2 1/2 ounces, chopped
2 tablespoons maple syrup
6 eggs
3/4 cup shredded provolone

Heat the oven to 350°F.

In a food processor fitted with the grater attachment, push chunks of the potato through the chute to grate. Once all the potatoes are grated, put them into a piece of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove the moisture. Add the potatoes to a large bowl, stir in the melted butter and season well with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spray the muffin tin lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Press the grated potatoes evenly into the muffin cups being sure the potatoes go up the sides and a thin layer and covers the bottom. Bake until the top edges turn light golden brown and the potatoes are cooked through, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl toss together the prosciutto with maple syrup and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and gently crack an egg into each cup. Bake until the egg whites set but the yolk remains runny, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set the oven to broil. Top the eggs with grated cheese and put the maple prosciutto on another sheet tray. Broil both until cheese melts, and prosciutto crisps slightly, about 1 minute.

Top the eggs with crispy prosciutto and serve immediately.

Monday, December 19, 2011


After trying my first rugelach a couple of months ago, I thought I'd try the recipe that I'd seen Ina Garten make several times on her show. It's such a tasty treat. I love the combination of flavors.

Courtesy of Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons, divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts.

On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread

I actually think I like these better without the chocolate, but they're tasty and pretty all decked out with chocolate and some festive sprinkles. They took a little longer in the oven cut into star shapes, so I'm adjusting the recipe accordingly.

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread
A variation on this recipe from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)


3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. (Don't trust your microwave timer; time it with your watch.) Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.

Drizzle 1/2 of each cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

White Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies

These aren't bad, they taste pretty good, but they're not really my cup of tea. I've made better brownies, so I'll stick with them next time I want brownies. They also fall victim to the problem that seems to pop up a lot with layering white chocolate. I got a picture of the pieces that stayed together well, but a lot of the other pieces didn't stay together very well once I tried to move them anywhere. Oh well. They were worth a shot.

White Chocolate Peppermint Brownies
A variation on this recipe from Real Simple


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/3 cup chopped peppermint candies (about 15 candies)

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment, buttering in between and leaving an overhang on all sides; butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and semisweet chocolate. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.

Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix).

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate and oil in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Spread on top of the cooled brownies. Sprinkle with the candies and let set.

Holding the paper overhang, lift the brownies out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares (4 rows by 4 rows).

Cranberry-White Chocolate Cookies

Yum! These are great! And very festive. I read the reviews before making them and took the advice to soak the cranberries before adding them to the dough. It made them nice and plump and juicy, which added an extra level of tastiness. They also needed some extra time in the oven since I didn't flatten them out at all after putting them on the cookie sheets (another review suggestion). I really liked how keeping them fat gave them a nice crispy outside and a chewier inside. Just like I like cookies!

Cranberry-White Chocolate Cookies
A variation on this recipe from Southern Living


1 (6-ounce) package sweetened dried cranberries
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups white chocolate morsels

Cover cranberries in boiling water and let sit for 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; set aside.

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture gradually, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in white chocolate morsels and cranberries.

Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Roast Mushrooms and Kale over Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Wow. This is crazy good. I won't go into every reason why because I will go on and on, but the mashed sweet potatoes are especially amazing. And I'm not usually a fan of sweet potatoes. And the combination of nutmeg and kale is totally delicious. Wow.

Roast Mushrooms and Kale over Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Courtesy of Rachael Ray


2 pounds mixed mushrooms (such as wood ear, cremini, portobello and shiitake)—wiped clean, stemmed if necessary and sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
A few sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and pepper
5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup whole milk or half-and-half
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
A few dashes hot sauce
1 1/2 cups extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese
1 pound cavolo nero (also called black, tuscan, dinosaur or lacinato kale), stemmed and coarsely chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 450°F. On a large baking sheet, dress the mushrooms, garlic and thyme with 1/4 cup oil and spread out. Roast the mushrooms for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and season with sea salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a pot, combine the sweet potatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, season with sea salt and cook until fork-tender, 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pot, then mash with the stock and milk (or half-and-half). Season with sea salt, pepper, the paprika and hot sauce. Stir in the cheddar until melted.

While the potatoes are working, in a bowl, toss the kale with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and season with sea salt, pepper and a few grates of fresh nutmeg. Arrange on a rack set over a baking sheet and roast until crisp at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes.

Combine the mushrooms and garlic with the kale and serve on a bed of the sweet potatoes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chicken Mole

Meh. I can never find dry chili peppers anywhere, so I'm fairly certain that's what was missing. It definitely needed something. I miss the mole we used to get in San Francisco.

Chicken Mole
A variation on this recipe from


2 pounds chicken breast
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1/2 cup raw slivered almonds
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes (and juice)
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup tequila
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
2 cups water
Salt to taste
Rice and/or corn tortillas

In a small pan, brown the raw sesame seeds and almonds on the stove. Set aside to cool.

Put the chicken into the crockpot. Cover with everything else. Cook on low for about 8 hours. Shred meat with forks, and serve over rice and/or with corn tortillas. Salt to taste.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ultimate Mac 'n' Cheese

This was the least interesting/complicated mac 'n' cheese I've made in a long time, but it was super super good because of the ingredients. I tweaked the proportions a bit in order to be able to have some leftovers as well as a good ratio of cheese sauce to pasta. I also used Panko instead of using the called-for sourdough bread to make the breadcrumbs. I ran out of time to grind up some of the bread I keep in my freezer for that very reason. I prefer the crispiness that Panko gives to the top of mac 'n' cheese, so I think I'll just keep it that way for future reference. I'm very happy there's some more of this waiting for me in the fridge.

Ultimate Mac 'n' Cheese
A variation on this recipe from Sunset


24 ounces cavatappi, macaroni, or other tube-shaped pasta
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for cooking pasta
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup finely chopped shallots
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
14 ounces gruyère, grated
6 ounces aged gouda, grated (see Notes)
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons minced fresh chives, divided
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup Panko

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling, well-salted water until tender to the bite, 7 to 12 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add shallots and cook until light golden, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle shallot-butter mixture with flour; cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Add wine and stir, picking up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil. Add cream and stir well. Sprinkle in cheeses, one large handful at a time, stirring until each handful is mostly melted before adding the next. Stir in 4 tablespoons chives, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cayenne, and nutmeg. Stir cooked pasta into cheese mixture, then pour all into a 2-quart baking dish or ramekins.

Combine Panko with remaining chives and salt. Sprinkle mixture over pasta and cheese, dot with remaining butter, and bake until top is browned and cheese is bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread

This won me one of the favorite appetizer prizes at an appetizer exchange I went to last night. It didn't quite do the monkey bread thing properly, we had to cut it, but it tasted great. I loved how it had a bit of a foccacia bread feel, with all sorts of fun pizza flavors added. I'm definitely adding this to our Christmas appetizer dinner menu.

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread
Courtesy of What's Gaby Cooking


2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups bread flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup Asiago cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup pepperoni slices, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Pizza sauce

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a medium bowl, combine the bread flour, all-purpose flour and salt. Set aside.

Combine the active yeast and water in a mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook. Let it sit for a few minutes to make sure your yeast is working. Add the sugar and mix for a quick second. Add the flour mixture in batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Let the dough hook work its magic for 5-6 minutes until the dough has come together into a large mass. Remove the dough to an oiled bowl and let rise for 60 minutes.

After an hour, remove the dough from the bowl and cut into small 1/2 inch cubes. Dust with flour to prevent them from sticking together. Set aside.

Spray 6 small bundt pans with PAM or cooking spray. (You could also use a large bundt pan)

Melt the butter in a small bowl.

Combine the cheese, pepperoni, oregano, salt and garlic in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and mix together with a spoon. Toss in the cut dough and make sure it all gets a coat of the butter mixture. Start layering the cubes into the bundt pans until they are 3/4 of the way full. Let sit for 30 minutes for the dough to rise a little more.

Place bundt pans into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the bread and cheese is golden brown. Serve with warmed pizza sauce.