Thursday, January 30, 2014

Parmesan Artichoke Bites

These little guys are the best hors d'oeuvres and I highly suggest that you make them for your Super Bowl party.  They're quick and easy to assemble, and the perfect blend of crunchy, cheesy and salty- tartness from the artichoke.  As the name suggests, they are one biters which are great for any gathering and it adds a nice touch of gourmet to a day that is generally filled with beer and wings.  Don't get me wrong, I happen to love beer and wings but it's good to have some variety ;)  I made these for Thanksgiving and they were the first hors d'oeuvre to go.  Give them a try - you'll definitely have a crowd pleaser and they're so easy you will be able to enjoy your party too!    

I love this brand but Trader Joe's also sells a good one too!

You'll need a mini muffin/cupcake pan and it should be non-stick.
I cut the quartered artichoke in half and cover the bottom 1/4 with Parmesan cheese.

Cover the artichoke with about a teaspoon of Parmesan cheese and a 1/2 teaspoon of breadcrumbs.

Bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees F until golden and bubbly. 

La Recette:

*You'll need a mini muffin/cupcake pan.  Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table sell them.
1-12 oz. jar quartered marinated artichoke hearts
2 cups shredded Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup gluten free bread crumbs (I make my own breadcrumbs.  I never buy them.  I use Udi's bread in this recipe  and I put the ends and regular slices into the food processor or blender until finely ground.)
Non-stick cooking spray - I use a Canola oil based spray
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
-Spray the muffin pan with the non-stick spray
-Fill the bottom 1/4 of the muffin pan with Parmesan cheese
-Cut the quartered artichoke in half and put it on top of the cheese
-Layer about another teaspoon of the cheese on top of the artichoke and finish with 1/2 teaspoon of the breadcrumbs on top.
-Bake for 12 minutes until golden and bubbly and remove from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes.
-Gently run a knife around the edge of the bite loosening it from the pan and pop it out of the pan, plate it and serve.  They can be served warm or room temperature

*Makes 24 and the recipe can be doubled
*Standard breadcrumbs can be used if you don't need gluten free. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Napoli

This panini is a homage to my Chicago days.  When I would have my French lessons, my teacher Julie  and I would meet at this quaint little coffee shop called Caffè Rōm.  We would order this wonderful creation of cheese filled bliss and it was my idea of a perfect afternoon.  French and good food - can't get much better. Pair it with a cappuccino (Caffè Rōm happens to have one of the best I've tasted in the states) or a Pellegrino and you have the best lunch ever!  I have been wanting to create a gluten free version of this panini for a while and I finally did!  Mason, like me, loves  Buffalo Mozzarella*.  I knew he would gobble it up and now he requests it for lunch on a regular basis.  He asks for it sans tomatoes but I'm working on that!  I always like to have a small side salad with this panini as well with a quick homemade dressing.  Never, I repeat never, buy salad dressing.  It's so easy to make and less expensive.  I keep mine in the fridge for up to a week.  The recipe for that will be coming soon.  Enjoy!  And, if you have a favorite recipe you would like me to make gluten free, please email me or leave a comment.  I love a challenge ;)

La Recette:

1 - gluten free baguette or roll (I love Schär)  
1-2 Roma tomatoes thinly sliced
4-6 slices Buffalo Mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 bunch basil (roughly 4 leaves but you can use more if desired)
Extra virgin olive oil
Good quality Balsamic vinegar (I've used a fig infused flavor but feel free to use anything that sounds good.)
Herbes de Provence
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
-The last five ingredients are to taste.

-You'll need a panini press or a grill pan and something to press down on the top of the panini
-Slice the bread in half vertically and then the long way horizontally to your desired size
-Toast the bread in a toaster oven or regular oven to golden brown, about five minutes.
-Let the bread cool for a few minutes and drizzle each half generously with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
-Place the cheese on the bottom half of the bread and then the tomatoes (you can use as little or as much as you would like).
-Sprinkle with Herbes de Provence, kosher salt and pepper to taste.
-Next, layer the basil.  Drizzle a small amount of balsamic on the basil and put on the top half of the bread.  
-Making sure that the panini press or grill pan is hot, place on the press and grill for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is melted and the top is a medium brown.  If you are using a grill pan have something heavy like another pan to press on top and you'll probably want to flip it once.  
-Serve immediately.

Mason is enjoying The Napoli.

One of my favorite seasonings of all time.
I love my new balsamic vinegar - delicious!
I like my Balsamic to be extra syrupy.
The original Napoli from Caffé Rōm.
*Fun fact - Buffalo Mozzarella or Mozzarella di Bufala is a mozzarella cheese made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Profiteroles…I love you.

I'm not going to beat around the bush.  These are incredible.  Profiteroles are one of my favorite desserts of all time and I have a lot of favorites.  Normally, I am great with self control but before I make these I have to have a conversion with myself about not eating too many.  You must make these.  They are fluffy little pastry clouds of pure heaven.  It's such an elegant and enjoyable dessert and the best part is that it's easy - that's right…so easy and quicker than you would think.  The dough that is used with this dessert is called Pâte à Choux.  With using just a few ingredients this recipe employs a high moisture content to use steam during baking to puff the dough.  And it's exactly the same recipe that is used for éclairs and crouquembouches.  Not to mention that my kids LOVE them and it makes me so happy that I can make a gluten free pastry dough taste so good.  I've used vanilla ice cream in the picture above but you can also use pastry cream.  If it was just me, I would make the pastry cream but the kiddos love ice cream.  Add a little semi-sweet chocolate to the top et voila - you have a decadently delicious gluten free dessert.  Enjoy!

*In the next week or so I am going to post a video so you can see exactly how these are made.  Stay tuned ;)
*These can be made dairy free but unfortunately the egg is necessary.

La Recette:

1 cup water - room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes
1 cup gluten free flour (regular all purpose flour can be used if you don't need gf)
4 extra large eggs - room temperature
Good quality vanilla ice cream - I usually use one generous scoop but you can use as little or as much as you would like.  Quick tip: run the scooper under hot water for a few second and you get really nice round scoops.
8 oz. good quality semi-sweet chocolate
Egg wash - 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon water.  Beat well.
*I recommend enjoying with an espresso.

-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.*
-In a medium saucepan, heat the water, salt, sugar, and butter until well combined.  Stirring continuously until the butter is melted.
-Remove from heat and dump in the cup of gluten free flour and stir vigorously until the flour is incorporated and the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.
-Let the dough cool for 2-3 minutes and then slowly add in the eggs one by one and mix vigorously until the mixture is cool.
-Using a spoon or a pastry bag scoop the dough onto the baking sheet.  The pastry bag is fancier but I find that a spoon works just fine.  You can play with the size but I like a medium sized puff and the size I like yields about 10 cream puffs.  You can definitely make  them smaller or a little larger but I wouldn't make less than 8.  You may need two baking sheets.  You'll want the dough mounds to be about two inched apart.
-Brush the dough with the egg glaze.
-Bake for about 35 minutes until puffed and browned.  Make sure that you don't under bake.  If you under bake, your puffs will deflate to pancakes.  If you feel that they are getting to brown at the end of baking, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil.
-Let them cool to room temperature and gently cut off the top 1/3.
-Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the larger portion and put the top 1/3 of the puff on top of the ice cream.
-To melt the chocolate, place it in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds - take it out and stir.  Repeat this process until the chocolate in melted.  Most likely 3-4 times.
-Scoop a tablespoon of chocolate on the top of the cream puff and serve immediately.  If there is any left over chocolate you can garnish to taste.
-The puffs can be stored at room temperature in an air tight container up to three days or in the freezer for up to one month.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Caesar - as it should be...

I think one of the things that everyone should be able to make is a good Caesar salad and if you don't know how or want to try a new recipe, I'm here to help you out.  It's a staple that's so easy, delicious and great all year round -you'll want to make it all of the time.  It's perfect for lunch or dinner and you can cater it to fit your taste exactly.  I personally love a shrimp Caesar, but you can add chicken, salmon, or just leave it as is.  Give it a try…it can be done in less than thirty minutes.  Enjoy!  

Mason and his friend Lex eating a Caesar salad. 

La Recette:

1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
2 egg yolks (these can be pasteurized if needed)*
3 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard - I love Trader Joe's Dijon
1/2 teaspoon gluten free Worcester sauce 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 - 12 oz. bag Romaine hearts, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, quartered

4 pieces of gluten free bread (regular bread works here too if you don't need gluten free)
1 clove garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

-Divide the chopped Romaine into 4 serving bowls.
-Combine the garlic, egg yolks, anchovies, Dijon, lemon juice, lemon zest, capers, cold water, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and blend until well combined.
-With the blender or food processor running, slowly add in the olive oil.  You'll start to see it thicken up.
-Next add in the Parmesan cheese and pulse until just combined.
-Meanwhile quarter the cucumber.  Cut lengthwise and then 1/2 inch cuts horizontally.
-Divide the cucumbers evenly between the bowls, divide up the croutons evenly and add the shrimp, chicken or salmon if desired.
-Drizzle the dressing over each salad and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Directions for the croutons-
-In a toaster oven or regular oven, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the bread on the sheet.  Drizzle the olive oil over the toast and rub it in so that the toast is covered with olive oil (only a little olive oil is needed here).
-Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toast until golden brown, usually 5-7 minutes depending on your oven.
-With the bread warm, spear the garlic clove with a fork and rub each piece of bread with the garlic a few times.
-Let them cool slightly, and cut into squares.

*If you want to make a shrimp Caesar, I buy just over a half pound of the 36-40 count.  That will give you about 5 shrimp/salad.  Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the shrimp on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.   Roast them for 6-7 minutes, remove them from the oven and baking sheet.  Let them cool before adding them to the salad.  Shrimp cook quickly and you don't want to over cook.  Tough shrimp are the worst.  
*To pasteurize an egg, fill a small sauce pan with water and bring to a roaring boil.  With a spoon place the egg(s) in the water and leave them in for 30 seconds remove immediately and place in cold water.    
*I choose to not add anchovy fillets to the top of my salad.  It's just a preference.  I like anchovies but not right on top of my salad.  One of the reasons I love this salad is because you can customize it just the way you like;)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Quick Kitchen Tip

If you ever need to bring dessert somewhere and don't feel like you want to bake or you're in a bit of a time crunch, fresh fruit is always an awesome option.  You can play with the preparation and make a beautiful plate or buy pre-cut fruit and arrange it for an extra time saver.  It's free of the major allergens, and although some people are allergic to certain types of fruit, most of the time, this is a great choice.  It's so  healthy, extra delicious, and can be done in twenty minutes or less:)

On this extra cold and snowy day on the east coast,  I'm really missing summer.  So, I thought I would give a shout to a company that I love who makes delicious treats that are a perfect dessert anytime of the year!  I first had these delectable frozen desserts at my husband's company picnic in August.  I was blown away.  They are so tasty and so good for you.  My kids love them and when they ask for seconds my response is - bien sur (of course)!  Chloe's Soft Serve Fruit is gluten free, dairy free, fat free,  and also free of eight other major allergens.  Check out their website and figure out how you can get your hands on them!  I think I'll have one today, close my eyes and pretend I am somewhere really warm!   

Gabby is enjoying a mango ice pop.

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