Scallops Provençal

scallops1

This recipe is the first time that we enjoyed scallops! Our mom has made the mistake in the past of buying scallops from the normal grocery store, which are extremely nasty- fishy and gross. To be honest, we never even tried them because they made the house smell disgusting. And to people like us who generally don’t like seafood (we’re trying to fix this), scallops were the ultimate offenders.

We recently got Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook out of the library. It  has lovely pictures of food and Paris as well as simple and classic recipes. We decided to give good scallops a try, and made her recipe. The key to good scallops is buying them from a store where you can trust that chemicals haven’t been added and that they are fresh. We have a local seafood shop that only stocks fresh seafood products, but I would imagine Whole Foods or a similar store to that would have good scallops too. This is definitely a splurge- sea scallops around here are over $20 a pound! Keep in mind, though, that it’s cheaper than going out to eat.

These were wonderful! The sauce is made with butter, white wine, shallots, parsley, and a little garlic. The scallops are cooked to be nicely browned on each side (but not overcooked inside- overcooked scallops are rubbery) and tender. With a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top, some baguette, and a simple salad, this is an elegant meal that tastes like it is from a restaurant! While scallops will never be my first choice at a restaurant or at home, it’s nice to have a seafood dish that almost everyone in our family loves!

scallops2

By the way, by the time all of you read this, we will be doing a service trip in Camden, NJ! It will definitely be a new experience, because even though we did one in Washington, D.C. last summer that was AWESOME, Camden is (obviously) a completely different city. I am hoping that our group can help the people there who need it!

Scallops Provençal

Serves about 3

Recipe from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh bay or sea scallops (if you use sea scallops, cut them in half and make sure that they are roughly the same size); ideally, get dry packed scallops

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

All-purpose flour (you’ll need at least 1/2 cup)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided

1/2 cup chopped shallots (2 large)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 lemon, cut in half

Directions:

Sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper, and then coat them in flour. Shake off  any excess flour.

In a large saute pan (don’t crowd the scallops, so if you’re not sure, use two pans), heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat until sizzling and add the scallops in one layer. Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to brown lightly on one side. Do not move them until they are ready to flip. Flip the scallops and let them brown lightly on the other side, about 3-4 minutes total. Be careful not to overcook them, or they will get rubbery.

Melt the rest of the butter in the pan with the scallops, then add the shallots, garlic, and parsley and cook for 2 more minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops. Add the wine, cook for 1 minute, and taste to see if you need to add any more salt or pepper. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice. Enjoy!

Raspberry Black and White Cake

raspberryblackandwhitecake1

This cake is a miracle, and I will tell you why. We had grand plans of making a raspberry mousse filling but ended up with chocolate sour cream frosting. This was unintentional. See, the whipped cream was stabilized with gelatin, which never thickened properly. We went along with the directions, however, but after only a minute or two of beating, the cream started to separate into butter! This was quite annoying since you would think it’s impossible to overbeat cream after only a couple minutes of beating! Nevertheless, we improvised and one thing led to another until we had chocolate sour cream frosting made with accidental homemade butter. It was quite the production! We’ll spare you any more of the details, but suffice to say it was one of the more interesting experiences in our kitchen so far.

This cake recipe is for our favorite white cake. It has a hint of almond extract and has the perfect texture. It holds its own but is not dense or dry. The buttercream involves cooking together flour and milk, believe it or not, but it results in very, very fluffy frosting. There are about 4 containers of raspberries in and on this cake, and it is quite delicious. We made this for our parents’ anniversary, and they enjoyed it as much as the cake at their wedding (which had a raspberry filling)! And yes, we all loved the accidental filling!

(Sorry for the ugly slice picture; we had some issues frosting the cake, since we ran short of the vanilla buttercream. An increased amount of the buttercream from the original recipe is listed below.)

raspberryblackandwhitecake2

Raspberry Black and White Cake

Serves 12

Recipe for the cake and buttercream adapted from The Treasury of Creative Cooking, chocolate filling from Annie’s Eats (Annie’s recipe is similar to the filling we ended up creating. We have tried it before with great success. We unfortunately did not take measurements as we went along, so we cannot at this time provide our recipe)

Ingredients

For the cake:

3 cups cake flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups granulated sugar, divided

1 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (if possible, use clear for the whitest cake)

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

6 egg whites at room temperature

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the buttercream:

4 1/2 tablespoons (4 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

For the chocolate filling:

9.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sour cream

12 ounces fresh raspberries

For topping:

12 ounces fresh raspberries

Directions

For the cake: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3-inch or 2 9-inch round cake pans. Combine flour,  baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat together butter with 1 1/3 cups of the granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and almond extract. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tarter and beat at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup granulated sugar and beat until stifff peaks form. Fold beaten egg whites into flour mixture. Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes of until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes; loosen edges and remove to racks to fully cool.

For the frostings:

To make the vanilla buttercream, combine the flour and milk in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until thickened. Cool fully. Beat butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add powdered sugar and beat for 2 minutes until fluffy. Blend in vanilla. Add flour mixture and beat until fluffy and smooth.

To make the chocolate buttercream, melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Set aside to cool until only slightly warm.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Gradually mix in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt.  Beat in the melted and cooled chocolate and then the sour cream.  Continue beating until the mixture is smooth and fully combined.

For assembly:

Level the cakes if necessary. On a surface, place the first cake layer. Spread well with chocolate frosting and top with raspberries. Place on the next layer of cake. If you are making a 3-layer cake, repeat these steps. Frost the cake with the vanilla buttercream. Top with raspberries. Serve as desired. Enjoy!

Note: Keep this cake in the fridge if you are not serving it for several hours. It will  be good for 2 days. We really like it cold out of the fridge, but it’s also delicious at room temperature. Also, take not that while this recipe calls for 4 6-ounce containers of fresh raspberries, you’ll probably only need about 3. We accounted for bruised or broken raspberries that we did not want to put on the cake. 

Melted Cheese and Chorizo Dip

chorizodip1

We finally succumbed to one of the recent food trends…chorizo. Neither of us really understand the point of food trends, because anything can taste good at any time. Cupcakes are still awesome, for those who say that the craze is over, fancy tacos were great 5 years ago, and pies, well, even our founding fathers loved pie- although they probably weren’t individual-sized and topped with bourbon spiked caramel sauce and crème anglaise! But chorizo is definitely something newer here in the United States (correct me if I’m wrong!), especially to those who have not had much Spanish/Mexican cuisine in the past. It seems to have gone mainstream in the past couple years, judging by the number of recipes in Bon Appetit and Cookling Light! There have been several chorizo dishes we have been wanting to try,  but it’s specialty ingredient that took us a while to find it in a store.

We recently settled on making this dip because it’s simple. However, the flavors are complex and wonderful for such an easy dish! White wine, caramelized onions, leeks, melted Gruyere cheese, and salty chorizo-yes, this stuff is fantastic. Unfortunately, it’s about as far from healthy as a dip can be, so we will not be making it often, but this is a fun dip to make for any summer gathering you might be hosting if foodies are involved (another food-related trend is the word “foodie.” I hate using it, but sometimes I do anyway because it is a useful word!). This dip is rather ugly to look at, but don’t let that deter you from making it! It is so, so good.

chorizodip2

Melted Cheese and Chorizo with Grilled Bread

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

2 cups chopped white onions

1 cup (packed) thinly sliced leeks (about 2 small; white and pale green parts only)

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 ounces smoked Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/16-inch-thick rounds and quartered

3 cups coarsely grated Gruyère cheese

Grilled sourdough bread slices (Our grill was out of propane, so we had to toast them, but they were fine. To grill, spread with a little butter- or not- and grill for a minute or two on each side until toasty.)

Directions

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions.  Sauté until deep golden brown, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to prevent burning, 25 to 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté 3 to 4 minutes. Add 3/4 cup water; cover and cook until leeks are tender, stirring often and adding more water by tablespoonfuls to moisten as needed, 10 to 15 minutes. Add wine. Cook uncovered until leeks are very soft, about 5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Combine onions and leeks in small bowl.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Sauté the chorizo for 3-5 minutes until some of the fat has been released; drain (see note below).

Divide onion-leek mixture among 4 small gratin dishes (or one larger dish, which is what we did). Top mixture in each dish with chorizo slices, then cheese. Bake until cheese melts and bubbles, about 15 minutes. Serve hot with grilled bread. Enjoy!

Note: We learned that the chorizo releases quite a bit of grease when baked, so we had to wick it off the top with a paper towel. We would recommend either microwaving it for a minute or two between some paper towels or pan frying it first to release some of the grease as indicated above in the directions. We have not personally tried these methods yet, but next time we make the dip we certainly will and we will update the directions.

Double Cookie Dough Ice Cream

cookiedoughicecream

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? I like pretty much all flavors, and it usually depends on where my ice cream is from, but I consistently love coffee and mint chocolate chip- not together, of course! Cookie dough has never really been my favorite flavor. It’s good, but it has always seemed a little bit boring. .. you know, normal vanilla ice cream with a cookie dough bite here and there. Well, this cookie dough ice cream is as far as you can get from bland! What you are looking at right now is a brown sugar, brown butter ice cream (that tastes like cookie dough) studded with chocolate chips and chunks of eggless cookie dough. It’s a pretty fabulous combination, particularly the ice cream itself. Brown butter is to die for, so it’s no surprise that this ice cream is as well. Next time (there will most definitely be a next time) I might reduce the chocolate chips, because there were a few too many, even for me (although if you are a chocolate chip fanatic, go right ahead and use the full amount!). If you are looking for a recipe that screams summer, this is it!

cookiedoughicecream2

Just for fun, here are some of our favorite ice cream shops:

Capogiro Gelato (Philadelphia)- ranked #1 in the world by National Geographic. Yes, it is really that good! Cappuccino is good, as are Bourbon Butterscotch and Dark Chocolate (not sure what the official Italian names are). Well worth the $4.75 cost for a small scoop.

Humphry Slocombe (San Francisco)- the Pistachio Brittle flavor here was marvelous, but you really cannot go wrong. My aunt says that their olive oil ice cream is really good- it sounds intriguing!

Annapolis Ice Cream Company (Annapolis, MD)- This is a great, classic ice cream parlor. They have lots of delicious and fresh flavors!

Sundae Best Ice Cream Parlor (Avalon, NJ)- Our family has vacationed in Avalon, and this is our favorite place to get ice cream there. They have lots of fun flavors as well as classics.

Penn State Creamery (State College, PA)- Death by Chocolate is always a solid choice here. August Pie is another favorite-so good! Our relatives kindly brought a freezer bag full of Penn State’s ice cream all the way, for many hours, to a family gathering. We were thrilled!

Island Creamery (Chincoteague Island, VA)- They make their own waffle cones-enough said! The ice cream is great as well.

Double Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Recipe from Annie’s Eats, base originally from Joy the Baker and cookie dough originally from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Makes about a quart, serving around 8

Ingredients:

For the cookie dough:

5 tbsp. salted butter, melted

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2- 3/4 cup chocolate chips (mini works well, just so you aren’t biting on a huge, frozen chocolate chip)

For the ice cream:

3 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup dark brown sugar

4 large egg yolks

Pinch of coarse salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3/4-1 cup chocolate chips (we used mini)

Directions:

For the cookie dough:

In a small bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. Stir until smooth. Add the vanilla. Mix in the flour and the chocolate chips. It will be a little on the soft side, but it will firm up in the fridge. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge until firm.

For the ice cream:

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until it turns golden brown. Whisk in the heavy cream and heat until the mixture is simmering. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together into a medium, heatproof bowl until lightened in color and fluffy. Once the cream mixture is ready, pour a little bit of it into the egg yolks and whisk constantly. Slowly add the rest of the cream mixture, being sure to mix constantly. You don’t want scrambled eggs! Add the salt.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat until it is slightly thickened and registers 170-175 degress F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract and the whole milk. Cover tightly and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. We usually chill overnight.

Once the mixture is ready, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Meanwhile, cut the cookie dough into small chunks. When the ice cream is almost ready, pour in the chocolate chips. Once the ice cream is finished, transfer to an airtight container and stir in the chunks of cookie dough. Put into the freezer until firm, at least 4 hours. Enjoy!

Sweet Corn Cakes with Tomato-Avocado Relish

corncakes1

Sometimes I wonder what my favorite fruit is, and then it comes to me- avocado! I love it in guacamole best, but most recipes that have it are great! Although I recently saw bloggers make cookies and pudding with avocado, and I am not too sure about those…I question such a choice (there is no way that avocado can replace butter and cream. I mean, I can’t judge if I haven’t had it, but…it just seems kind of weird).

Anyway, this is a really wonderful application of avocado in a unique but delicious dish. These corn cakes were a very  big hit here. The flavors are fresh and delicious and just right for summer. This is the ideal recipe if you don’t want to turn on the oven, you don’t feel like grilling (or it’s raining), and you want something with all the produce that is in season right now (basil, corn, tomatoes). We really love these, and absolutely can’t wait to make them again. We hope you try them too- you will enjoy them them! The sweet corn with the tangy/savory relish on top is a winning combination.

Sweet Corn Cakes with Tomato-Avocado Relish

Recipe from Smells Like Home, originally from Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen

Serves4-6 (makes about 12 corn cakes)

Ingredients

For the tomato-avocado relish:
1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 scallion, minced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of half a lime
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced
For the corn cakes:
3 large ears of corn, shucked, and the corn cut off (Approximately 3 cups of corn, if you’re using frozen)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
Ranch dressing, for serving (optional, but it does add a nice touch)
Directions
For the the relish:
Mix all of the ingredients except the avocado together in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 2 days. Just before serving, stir in the avocado.
For the corn cakes:
Place the corn kernels in a large bowl. Place 2 cups of the corn kernels in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times, until the corn is slightly pureed but still chunky. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the remaining corn kernels. Add the flour, cornmeal, onion, cilantro, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix well. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and butter, and stir with a fork just to combine. The batter will be lumpy.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add just enough oil to barely cover the bottom of the pan and heat until sizzling. Scoop the batter into the skillet about a 1/3 cup at a time, cooking the cakes in batches of about 4 at a time. Fry 3-4 minutes per side (or 1-2 minutes per side for the smaller cakes), until golden brown. Transfer the cooked cakes to a wire rack and keep them warm in the oven (250 degrees on a pan). Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve hot topped with the relish and drizzle with ranch dressing. Enjoy!

The Best Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

lemonpoppyseedmuffins1

I (Celine) recently started a volunteer job at the library for the summer. While I don’t earn anything for helping out there (obviously, because of the word volunteer), it has been rewarding anyway! The library is a great place to work on a hot summer day because it’s very well air-conditioned, peaceful, and the work itself is not too difficult. One of the pluses is that I can get books out regularly. We have been meaning to get the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook out for ages, but someone or some people have beat us to it for the past few months and renewed it over and over. (We wanted to get it out of the library first to decide if we ever want to buy it; it’s an expensive book!) I finally saw it last week and you can bet I checked it out immediately. We have tried several recipes from it so far, and they all have been great successes.

lemonpoppyseedmuffins2

Ok, I know that when bloggers label something as “the best” it can be an inadvertent lie, because everyone has different taste buds and bloggers themselves vary so much in terms of the quality of the recipes that they share. But this is a recipe that I can absolutely, 100% guarantee you will love. I know we already have a recipe for lemon poppy seed muffins on our blog, but I have to say that these are definitely better. While the other recipe is handy if you don’t have a lot of time (these muffins require an overnight rest) and is certainly delicious, these muffins are worth the effort and time to make. Thanks to cake flour, the muffins are very tender. However, they don’t fall apart and crumble the way cake does, making them a nice and substantial breakfast treat. Because of  the overnight rest, they are not dry at all. The lemon flavor is also ideal, and the muffins have just a slight tang to them; however, they are still sweet enough to not need a glaze. In other words, they are perfect!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

From the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook by Thomas Keller

Makes 6 jumbo muffins or 12 regular (we made 12, since we don’t have a jumbo muffin pan)

Ingredients (If possible, weigh your ingredients. You will get the best results by doing so.) 

161 grams cake flour (1 1/4 cups)

3.4 grams baking powder (1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon)

1.7 grams kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon)

234 grams granulate sugar (1 cup plus 3 tablespoons)

170 grams eggs (1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons- to measure the eggs, whisk together 3-4, weigh and measure them, and remove/add egg until you have the right amount)

4.5 grams vanilla paste (3/4 teaspoon- you can also use 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract if necessary0

194 grams unsalted butter, melted and still warm (6.8 ounces)

60 grams fresh lemon juice (1/4 cup)

6 grams grated lemon zest (1 heaping tablespoon)

4 grams poppy seeds (1 1/2 teaspoons- these are rather light on the poppy seeds; if you are a poppy seed lover, feel free to add 5 or 5 grams)

Directions

Sift together the cake flour and baking powder into a medium bowl. Whisk in the salt.

In a deep medium bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla paste using an immersion blender (alternately, you could probably use a regular blender, although we have not tried that). Add the dry ingredients in 2 separate additions, blending until just combined.

While the blender is running, pour in the butter in a steady, moderate stream and mix until the batter is smooth. Add the lemon juice and blend it in. The batter will be somewhat thin.

Fold in the lemon zest and poppy seeds. Put the batter in a covered container and refrigerate overnight (about 8 hours) or up to 36 hours.

When ready to bake the muffins, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the muffin pan with papers and spray them with nonstick spray. Divide the batter evenly between the papers (about 135 grams in each well for jumbo muffins, or 67 grams for regular muffins).  Place the pan in the even and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake the jumbo muffins for 34-37 minutes, or the regular muffins for 25-28 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Set the pan on a cooling rack and let the muffins cool completely. They are best served the day they are baked, but you can wrap the muffins well and freeze them for up to a week (or at room temperature in an airtight container for 3 days). Enjoy!

Note: To thaw the muffins from freezing, defrost them in their container or warm individual muffins in the microwave on a plate for 20-25 seconds.  Both methods work well for us. 

Tomato Mozzarella Basil Tart

tomatotart2

You may remember that we love pizza. There are quite a few recipes on here for pizza considering how this blog is young (but it’s growing up fast-it will be a year old in September!) and we don’t have a lot of recipes overall compared to older veteran blogs. This tart is pizza in, well, tart form. And it is so good! You start off with a basil and garlic crust, which is spectacular, buttery, and full of flavor. We opted against using fresh mozzarella, since we wanted to avoid the possibility of a watery filling. Since tomatoes are in season now, the cherry tomatoes on this tart were really good! A nice finishing touch was some basil and fresh Parmesan sprinkled on top before it baked. It was a spectacular lunch- we would make it all the time if the crust wasn’t so full of butter and could limit ourselves to one piece. So, next time you are craving pizza, give this tart a try! It is just as easy (if not easier) than homemade pizza.

tomatotart3

Tomato Mozzarella Basil Tart

Adapted slightly from Annie’s Eats, originally from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook

Serves 6 as an appetizer/light meal, 4 as a main dish (makes a 9-inch tart)

Ingredients

For the dough:

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

1-2 cloves garlic

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. kosher salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8-10 pieces

4-5 tablespoons ice cold water

For the tart:

8 oz. mozzarella, sliced (Not fresh! This will save you the step of draining off excess liquid during the cooking process)

Ripe cherry tomatoes, sliced (about 1/2 a pint will work)

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1-2 tbsp. minced fresh basil

Directions

For the dough:

Place the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.  Process briefly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely and evenly minced.  Add the flour and salt. Pulse briefly to combine.  Add in the chunks of butter and pulse about 10-11 times, or until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs.  Add 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of the water and pulse a few times to incorporate.  If the dough does not form a ball, add the remaining tablespoon of water.  Remove the dough from the food processor, flatten into a 5-inch disc, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the tart:

Preheat the oven to 425° F.  Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface (or a lightly floured piece of parchment paper to make cleanup and transfer easier) and roll out into a 12-inch circle.  Lay the dough over a 9 or 10-inch round tart pan and press it into the sides.  Trim the excess dough if necessary (we just pressed excess dough in thinner areas).   Lay a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper loosely over the tart dough and fill the center with baking beads, dried beans, rice, etc.  Bake in the preheated oven for5- 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil or parchment and baking beads.  Return the empty tart shell to the oven to bake for 3-5 minutes more.  Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 375° F.

Cover the bottom of the baked tart shell (it’s fine if it is still warm) with the sliced mozzarella.  Arrange the cherry tomato slices on top of the cheese in a single even layer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan and minced fresh basil.

Bake about 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned. Allow the tart to rest for about 5 minutes, slice, and serve. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Frosting and Toasted Marshmallow Filling

campfiredelightcake2

As you can tell from the title, this is one amazing cake. There are so many things to love about it! First, for us, is the toasted marshmallow filling, which is as good as it sounds (partially because it has tiny bits of chewy toasted marshmallow in it). It is so simple…broil some marshmallows and add them and marshmallow fluff to basic buttercream.

The frosting is malted chocolate frosting, which uses Ovaltine malt powder. Ovaltine has been a classic in our house since we were little, but this was the first time we used it in something other than milk! There is also 1/2 a cup of whipping cream to help make the frosting fluffy, which is a brilliant addition. Instead of beating the butter for a long time, the whipping cream fluffs it up quickly.

As for the cake istself, it is a super rich, dark chocolate cake. It actually has 1 1/2 cups of coffee in it, which helps bring out the chocolate flavor. Don’t worry, you can’t taste the coffee in the finished cake. The cake is super moist- not at all dry like some chocolate cakes are. This is one intense cake! Originally we thought the cake layers might be a little too bitter from all the chocolate and coffee, but it works so, so well in this cake. The sweet frostings balance out the rich cake.

campfiredelightcake3

This cake was for our grandmother’s birthday. She is generous, constantly seeking knowledge, kind, and a big chocolate fan! Also, the frosting is her favorite part of  pretty much any cake. What more could you want in a grandmother, right? So of course, we had to make her a cake with lots of chocolate and lots of frosting! This one fit the bill. Despite having lots of frosting, it is not too sweet. It is a rich cake, but not sickeningly sugary like some cakes can be. Pop, we need to make you a better cake next year so you can have your own birthday cake post!

As you’ll see above, we have 4 layers while the original recipe had 6. This is because one of our layers stuck to the cooling rack and broke a bit, and then broke even more when we split it later on, so we left out a layer. We just had leftover frosting and cake scraps- not a big problem! We still had plenty of cake for 10 people, with some left over. You may notice that it isn’t decorated so beautifully. Well, we ended up waking up at 9:50 in the morning, and we had to leave for our grandparents’ by 11:00. We had baked the cake the night before but hadn’t made either of the frostings yet. So, in about an hour, we made two frostings, split the cake, decorated it, and got ourselves ready. It didn’t leave much decorating time, but the inside of the cake looks so impressive that a simple exterior works just as well. We will definitely make this cake again!

Happy birthday, Grandmom!

 

Dark Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Frosting and Toasted Marshmallow Filling

Recipe from Sweetapolita (best blog for cakes! She is writing a cookbook that we will be buying!)

Serves 14-16

Ingredients

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon (330 g) all-purpose flour

3 cups (600 g) granulated sugar

1 cup + 1 tablespoon (135 g) Dutch process cocoa powder

1 tablespoon (15 g) baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 g) baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons (12 g) salt

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (360 mL) buttermilk, room temperature

1 1/2 cups (360 mL) strong black coffee, hot

3/4 cup (180 mL) vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) pure vanilla extract

For the toasted marshmallow filling:

16 large white marshmallows

1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar, sifted

1 cup butter (227 g)(2 sticks), at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) pure vanilla extract

1 jar (213 g) Marshmallow Fluff

For the malted Belgian chocolate frosting:

1 lb butter (4 sticks) (454 g), at room temperature

4 cups (500 g) powdered sugar, sifted

3/4 cup (75 g) Ovaltine Classic

1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

8 oz (250 g) quality Belgian chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled

1/2 cup (120 mL) whipping (35% fat) cream

Directions

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line with butter, then line bottom with parchment, then butter the parchment, and flour three 8-inch round cake pans.

In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients together. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat briefly with a fork.

Add wet mixture to the dry ingredients and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Batter will be thin.

Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then invert onto racks until completely cool.

For the toasted marshmallow frosting:

Place marshmallows on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place on lower rack of oven, and broil marshmallows until brown on top, somewhere between 30-60 seconds. Remove pan from oven and gently turn the marshmallows over, and broil until they are golden brown. Watch them closely to ensure that they do not burn.

In an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and powdered sugar on low until blended, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and mix on medium-high for about 3 minutes.

Add marshmallow cream and toasted marshmallows, and mix on lowest setting for about 1 minute.

For the malted Belgian chocolate frosting:

In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the powdered sugar and butter and beat on low speed for about 1 minute.

Add malt powder, vanilla and salt, and beat on low until combined. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about two minutes.

Add whipping cream and beat on medium-high speed for another minute. Use immediately.

For assembly:

Split your cake layers. It will be easier if you freeze the layers for about an hour and use a sharp knife. Place the first layer on your cake stand or whatever surface you will be using for assembly. Cover with a layer of the toasted marshmallow frosting and top with another cake layer. Top with chocolate frosting. Repeat until you have six layers. It may be easier to frost the entire cake if you refrigerate it briefly. Evenly frost cake with the chocolate frosting. Serve or store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

 

 

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Parmesan

scrambledeggs

A lot of egg-based breakfasts call for either sunny-side-up or fried eggs (like this breakfast sandwich), but a couple of people in our family are not fans of runny yolks. We usually remedy this by using egg whites, but that causes the problem of wasting yolks. It’s nice to find an interesting breakfast dish that everyone will love! This is far from the most photogenic dish ever, even among egg dishes. But let me tell you, even if you hate scrambled eggs, there is a likely chance that you will love these. They have a large amount of spinach (healthy! yay!), some diced onion, and plenty of melty Parmesan cheese. Some crushed red pepper on top adds a little bit of kick to the final dish. These were great on top of a toasted English muffin. Served with some bacon, you have got yourself a pretty awesome (and easy) breakfast.

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Parmesan

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 2 (easily doubled, tripled, etc. to serve more people)

Ingredients:

6 cups baby spinach

1/4 cup diced onion

1/2 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 large eggs

Kosher salt

Black pepper

Crushed red pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Directions:

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach (in several additions if necessary) and cook until wilted.

Add the eggs and cook, stirring occasionally, until just set (about 1 minute). Be careful not to overcook! Stir in the Parmesan and red pepper flakes. Serve as desired and enjoy!

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

dulcedelecheicecream1 Good ice cream is a spectacular thing for sure. Ice cream is so simple and delicious! We’ve had an ice cream maker for 3 years now but have probably only made homemade ice cream a handful of times, which is sad. Very rarely was it worth the effort anyway. A lot of the time we used low-fat milk and half-and-half, which cuts calories but also ruins the texture. Also, we’ve had a chronic problem in the past of eating too much of the ice cream straight from the freezer bowl while it’s still soft-serve and melty, and then having virtually none to eat properly frozen later on (oops). We decided at the beginning of the summer that we would make a decent amount of homemade ice cream/sorbet/frozen yogurt, and do it right! This was our inaugural batch- dulce de leche ice cream. It certainly is fantastic! Thanks to the large amount of creamy dulce de leche in the ice cream itself, there’s no need for egg yolks! This was a major plus for us, since egg yolks are a pain to deal with and can cause smoothness problems in the ice cream later on. This is quite possibly one of the the smoothest, creamiest ice creams we have ever had anywhere, and it is absolutely the best ice cream we have made at home so far. The dulce de leche flavor shines through, and it really could not be simpler to make. This ice cream is very rich, so a little bit goes a long way, which is a plus if you’re looking to serve a crowd. If you’ve never made ice cream before, this is a good way to start- there are only five ingredients that basically just have to be stirred together, so you really cannot go wrong!

Side note: In our opinion, sugar and waffle cones are the way to go. Who wants a cardboard-tasting cake cone? Not us! Also, happy 4th of July tomorrow! dulcedelecheicecream2 Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Makes 1 quart (or enough to reasonably serve 8 people) Recipe from Confections of a Foodie Bride, originally adapted from Gourmet Ingredients 1 cup heavy cream 2 cups whole milk 2 cups dulce de leche, divided (you can make your own, but we didn’t- just use two cans and have a little leftover. Homemade dulce de leche can be dangerous to make-exploding cans are scary!) 1 tsp vanilla Scrapings from 1 vanilla bean Directions Heat together cream and milk until steaming in a pot. Remove from heat and stir in 1 2/3 cups dulce de leche, vanilla, and vanilla bean scrapings. Pour into a container and chill well. Once chilled, churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions. In a container, layer ice cream with remaining 1/3 cup dulce de leche, adding small spoonfuls of the dulce de leche between scoops of ice cream. Use a knife to slightly swirl the dulce de leche. Freeze for several hours (at least 4) until solid. Serve as desired- it’s delicious in a cone, but crumbled pretzels on top would probably be heavenly. Enjoy! Note: We usually make our ice cream base the night before, let it chill overnight, churn it in the ice cream machine in the morning, and let freeze in the freezer until solid so it’s ready at dinnertime. This ensures that everything is chilled properly. We also freeze the freezer bowls for 2 days to ensure that they are cold enough to properly churn the ice cream.