Friday, August 6, 2010

Brigitte's Crème Brûlée French Toast

I first had this recipe at a baby shower given by my friend Brigitte. Needless to say, it is fabulous. Recently, I made it for a family reunion. It was very well received. I like to make it after spaghetti night. There is always leftover bread, so it is perfect. Also, I have successfully halved the recipe using a smaller pan, and it was just as great!

Brigitte's Crème Brûlée French Toast
adapted from Gourmet July 1998

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
6 1" slices of French bread
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking dish. Cut six 1-inch thick slices from center portion of bread, reserving ends for another use, and trim crusts. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.

In a bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 350° F. and bring bread to room temperature.

Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes.

Serve hot French toast immediately.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Ricotta Extravaganza

I had a package of Ricotta that was just screaming at me in the fridge, so I made lasagna. It turned out fantastic. I still had some left over, so I also made a Ricotta Pound Cake. The pound cake is something else. It is really good fresh but turns amazing overnight as the crumb gets even heavier.

adapted from my mother, the TJ's box and probably Jamie Hixon
No Cook Lasagna Noodles (I used Trader Joes, but also love Barilla)
1 package sliced mozzarella cheese
1 package sliced provolone cheese
1 c Pecorino Romano cheese (aka Locatelli)

For the red sauce:
1 med. onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, chop finely or press
6 links sweet italian sausage
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 T basil
2 t oregano
2 bay leaves

In a large pan, saute onion and green pepper until soft in EVOO over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and break up. Add to onions and peppers and cook until no longer pink. Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not brown. Add diced tomatoes. Cook until juice is almost gone. Add sauce and spices.

For the bechamel:
2 T butter
1/4 c flour
2 c milk
1 c ricotta
fresh ground pepper
1/8 t nutmeg

In a sauce pan, melt butter. Constantly stirring, add flour and brown slightly. Add milk bit by bit constantly stirring to avoid lumps. Stir in ricotta. Add pepper to taste and nutmeg. Remove from heat.

Assembly: (Use either a 9x13 or two 8x8 pans)
Layer 1
-Make a small layer of red sauce on the bottom.
-Add a layer of noodles.
-Add another layer of red sauce.
-Dollop white sauce sparingly.
-Layer mozzarella.
Layer 2
-Make a layer of red sauce.
-Add a layer of noodles.
-Make a layer of red sauce.
-Sprinkle Pecorino Romano liberally.
-Dollop white sauce.
-Layer provolone.
Layer 3
-Make a layer of red sauce.
-Add a layer of noodles.
-Make a layer or red sauce.
-Top with mozzarella.

Bake at 350 F for about an hour or until cheese is bubbly, and your house smells amazing.

Ricotta Pound Cake


Adapted from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen

3/4 cup cake flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 stick unsalted butter

3/4 cup ricotta (I used part skim but drained off any whey)

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 vanilla bean

1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Position a rack in the center.

Butter & flour a loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Cream together butter, ricotta, and sugar on medium speed until smooth and light, about 2 minutes.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of the bowl after each addition.

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds with blunt side of a small knife, then beat them into batter along with vanilla extract.

On low speed, beat in dry ingredients to combine them, scrape down sides of the bowl, and beat batter for 30 seconds on medium speed.

Gently drop the pan on the on the counter gently a few times to remove air bubbles.

Bake cake for 15 minutes, then turn the pan 375 degrees to ensure even browning. Lower the temperature to 325 and continue baking until the cake springs back lightly when touched, the sides have begun to pull away from the pan, and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes more.

Allow cake to cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully invert it onto the rack to cool completely.

The crumb on the ricotta was nice and heavy, and the fresh vanilla is heavenly! Overall, I definitely say that I'm going to make both again.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pretzel Salad

Pretzel Salad

1 1/2 c. crushed pretzels

1/2 c. sugar

1 c. melted butter

1 (6 oz.) box strawberry Jello

2 c. boiling water

1 (16 oz.) frozen strawberries

1 (9 oz.) Cool Whip

1 (8 oz.) cream cheese

1 c. sugar

Crush pretzels. Mix together pretzels, 1/2 cup sugar and butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Beat together Cool Whip, cream cheese and 1 cup sugar. Spread on cooled crust. Add boiling water into Jello. When Jello is thoroughly mixed, add strawberries. Place Jello in refrigerator until partially set. Place on top of salad. Refrigerate covered.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mediterranean Monday: Chicken Souvlaki with Red Pepper Yogurt Sauce

Picture: There's a Newf in My Soup
Chicken Souvlaki with Roasted Red Pepper Yogurt Sauce
Adapted from Bobby Flay's Souvlaki with Merguez Sausage and Piquillo Pepper Yogurt Sauce and There's a Newf in my Soup

Marinade Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of one lemon
2 garlic cloves, pushed through the garlic press
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (the recipe calls for 1/4 tsp)
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken tenders

Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 pocket pita breads
1 yellow onion, sliced into thick rings, and grilled
2 pieces roasted red peppers
2 lemons, cut in half and grilled briefly

Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to coat. Refrigerate the chicken in the marinade for about 15 minutes, then skewer the chicken onto the wooden skewers, and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Grill the onions, red peppers and lemons, and set aside. Then, grill the skewered chicken until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes total, and transfer to a platter. Grill the pita on both sides for about 20 seconds to warm through. Serve on pitas with yogurt sauce

Red Pepper Yogurt Sauce:

1 small container plain Fage Greek yogurt
2 strip roasted red peppers (I used Trader Joe's jarred)
2 cloves garlic, pushed through the garlic press
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Put all ingredients, except salt and pepper, in a blender and blend until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Picture from because this is all that was left of mine. Thanks for the recipe!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Variations on a Theme: More Peach Salad!

I should know better. My main craving with Eliza was peaches. No, people, I am not prego, but I still love some peaches.
Today, I used leftover steak from dinner last night. Therefore, I didn't want cheese (well I wanted, but...) to increase the fat level to astronomically high. Here is what I did:
- Leftover Steak
- Peaches (today instead of grilling, I threw them in the microwave. They are better grilled.)
- Baby Greens
- Basil (You need the basil. It makes it soo.... good!)
- Cashews
- Light Sesame Asian Dressing (It really needed more garlic. Next time, I'll make my own.)


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Grilled Peach Salad

I had some peaches that I didn't know what to do with. I improvised. It was HEAVENLY. You should try it. Here is the line up:
-Mixed Baby Greens
-Grilled Chicken
-Grilled Peaches (spray them with olive oil & bit of salt & pepper)
-Basil, Roughly Chopped
-Balsalmic Vinegar
-A touch of EVOO

Cook the chicken and the peach. Mix your salad. Eat it. Mmmmmm...

My husband HATES cooked fruit, but I have to do it again.

Monday, January 11, 2010

3rd Birthday Cake

Wow! So this cake evoked memories of my mommom's cakes! It was AWESOME! It is till missing something, but I think that is because my mommom chain smoked Winstons, and this added a little extra "something." Since I'm not willing to do that, I'll have to stick with this. The crumb is amazing and it is SO moist.

Best Yellow Layer Cake
via Smitten Kitchen
Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes), then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Vanilla Butter Cream
1 cup butter, softened(2 sticks)
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.