Friday, February 28, 2014

Marvelous Madeleines

I love these delicious little treats.  They are so light and fluffy and this particular version reminds me of spring, which I am desperately craving right now!  Dipped in a fresh orange juice glaze, they have the perfect amount of sweetness.  Their crisp edges and soft, buttery middle is a combination for a really wonderful cookie.   I love to have them with coffee or tea and my whole family gobbles them up.  Gabby seems to take the most enjoyment from licking off the glaze.  I'll have to talk to her about eating the whole cookie ;)  They are also great to have around when you have guests over.  The dough keeps in the fridge for about three days making it really easy to throw together for company.  Enjoy! 

This is what the dough looks like before it's chilled.  It's not too thin and kind of ribbons well.  

After it's chilled (30-60 minutes), the dough becomes a little thicker, but it shouldn't be too thick.  It should slowly and easily spread into the mold.  I pour a 1/4 cup of cold milk into the dough after it comes out of the refrigerator and mix well.  Then I fill the madeleine tray.  

I use a full tablespoon to fill each mold.

La Recette:

1 1/2 cups gluten free baking mix
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted (I try to buy European style butter)
3 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup milk, plus another 1/4 cup after it's taken out of the refrigerator
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Non stick cooking spray - I use a Canola Oil based spray 

For the glaze- 
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
*The glaze is optional.  You could also use melted chocolate, sprinkle confectioners sugar on top, or just enjoy as is.

*You'll need a non-stick Madeleine pan, Williams Sonoma or Sur la Table sell them.  They are around $20.  Minor investment for a delicious reward ;)
-Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
-In a medium sized bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and orange juice.  Using a balloon whisk, mix well for 2-3 minutes.  
-In a small bowl, combine the gluten free baking mix and baking powder.  Mix well. 
-Working in batches, and alternating with the milk, mix the gluten free baking mix into the egg and sugar mixture.  *You'll start with the gf mix, then milk, gf mix, milk, and end with gf mix.  Make sure everything is well combined.
-Next, take the warm, melted butter and pour it into the dough.  Mix well until everything is incorporated, smooth and shiny.  
-Put the dough into the refrigerator and chill for 30-60 minutes.  *Madeleines characteristically have a hump on the top and you won't have this if the dough isn't refrigerated.
-Spray your Madeleine pan with non-stick cooking spray.  *I've buttered and gf floured the pan before and I've found that the spray works better.
-Take the dough out of the fridge and mix in 1/4 cup of cold milk.  I use skim but any kind will do.  
-Make sure that it's mixed well and using a tablespoon, fill each mold with one scoop. 
-Bake for 6-7 minutes.  Until the edges are lightly browned and the cookie springs back when touched.
-Remove them from the oven and then remove the cookies from the pan onto a drying rack.  They should release with minimal effort.  
-Once they have cooled, you can dip them in the glaze if you like.  Make sure the sugar is sifted.  Confectioners sugar tends to clump and you want it really smooth.  Add in the orange juice and whisk well for 20-30 seconds.
-I typically dip the hump side into the glaze but either side is fine.  Let any excess drip off and voila - you are done.  Let them dry for about 20 minutes before serving.  

*Makes 30-32 cookies.  Best enjoyed right out of the oven but they keep for about 3-4 days if they are well covered.  When I make them, they are usually gone after 1-2 days :) 
*When you start baking, make sure you put the dough back in the fridge in-between batches.     

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mediterranean Style Ahi Tuna & Black Pearl Rice

Great with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  I love Peju 2013 Sauvignon.  

I love this brand of rice.

This recipe calls for 4 - 6oz. pieces of Ahi Tuna.

I am all about simple and easy this week.  As time just seems to fly by faster and faster, I need recipes that are tasty, quick, and healthy. This one hits all three and it's fabulous.  I wanted to expand my kids fish palate and I thought Ahi Tuna was a great option because there is no fishy taste whatsoever.  Attention - if you don't eat fish, try this recipe!  You will soon say that you are a fish eater.  There is a definite meaty-like texture similar to chicken or steak and my kids ate it up.  They weren't so keen on the mediterranean garnish on top but we'll get there.  They also loved the black pearl rice.  It's so good.  It has a different texture than traditional rice and the feta gives it a great pop of flavor.  Again, my kids pushed the asparagus aside but it's important to just keep putting it on their plate.  I'm always trying to expand the tastes, flavors and textures of what they will eat.   Try this recipe.  It's so flavorful and super healthy.  The zesty mediterranean salad on top complements the fish so well and the feta, asparagus rice combo is great!  Enjoy!     

La Recette:

*You'll need a grill,  grill pan, or believe it or not- I used a panini press!  
4 - 6 oz. pieces Ahi Tuna
1/2 English cucumber, quartered
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, halved
2 tablespoons Italian Parsley, roughly torn
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for the Ahi Tuna
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/4 cups black pearl rice
Kosher salt 

-Take the tuna out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before grilling.  Drizzle each side with olive oil and sprinkle each side with kosher salt to taste.  Set aside
-Combine the cucumber, onion, capers, sun dried tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, parsley, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt in a bowl and mix well.  Set aside.
-The next step, I like to do about an hour before I plan on serving dinner.  Fill a medium sized sauce pan 3/4 full of water.  Bring to a rolling boil and pour in 1 1/2 cups of the black pearl rice.  Mix well and cook for 25-30 minutes.  When the rice is almost done (take a spoon and pull out a couple pieces to check) drain it through a strainer.  Place the strainer on top of the saucepan, cover it and let it steam for 10 minutes.
-Fill another medium sized sauce pan half way full of water and bring to a boil.  Have a medium sized bowl of ice water ready.   Put the cup of 1 inch asparagus pieces in the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the water and place in an ice bath.  This is blanching and shocking.  The asparagus will be tender but retain their color.  After 8-10 minutes, drain the asparagus and set aside.
-Once, the rice has steamed, let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.  Using a fork fluff it up and mix in 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.   Next, mix in the asparagus and feta cheese.
-The last step, make sure your grill pan is hot.  Place the tuna on the grill pan, you should hear a nice sizzle, and cook for about 30-40 seconds on each side if you like it seared rare which I recommend.  You can cook it a little longer if you want it pink inside but keep in mind that it will cook quickly and can become chewy if it's overcooked.    
-Also, if your are looking for nice grill marks, about halfway through cooking on each side, turn the fish about 45 degrees (slightly perpendicular). 
-Slice the tuna on the bias and spoon the mediterranean salad on the top.

*Serves about 4 people.   

On a side note, you know that fashion is one of my loves and I have to share two jaw dropping images that I saw this week.  The first is Lupita Nyong'o at the BAFTA's in a Christian Dior gown.  To me, this is style perfection.  She is gorgeous.  The color -amazing.  The cut - perfect.  The gold metal belt and cuffs - stunning.  I love this look.  It's such a great choice and I am going to watch 12 Years a Slave this weekend.    
The second photo is from the Michael Kors 2014 Fall Ready-to-Wear Collection.  It's just beautiful.  Michael Kors is a genius.  Suede fringe and chunky knits…c'est merveilleux!  

Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage

Photo: Kim Weston Arnold/

Friday, February 14, 2014

Week Night Chicken Milanese

This is a super easy week night dinner that is so tasty you'll want to make it all of the time.  You can definitely have this on the table in twenty five minutes or less :)  I saw a similar recipe on Food and Wine's website.  I changed it up a little and my family loves it.  It's one of those recipes that is so easy to prepare and there is no coaxing involved- the kids just come to the table and eat it up.  The tomatoes usually don't make it in their mouth, but hey - I'll keep trying.  Mason and Gabby usually have swim lessons on Thursday nights and I find that it's a great night for this meal.  We need to be out of the house in a hurry and it's a substantial enough dinner that they don't get hungry half way through their lessons.  Another bonus is that you probably have most of these ingredients in your fridge!  Enjoy!

Cut your chicken breasts in half the long way and place them in a plastic bag.  Using the flat side of a meat pounder, pound the meat so that it's about a 1/4 of a inch thick.  Be careful not to over pound.  You just want to tenderize the meat.  

The secret to this recipe is to get the chicken uniformly thin for reduced and even cooking time.

Have two bowls ready one for your egg mixture and one for your bread crumbs and make a mini assembly line.  I find it's helpful to keep homemade bread crumbs in the refrigerator or freezer for easy access.  Use the ends or slices of Udi's bread and place them in a food processor or blender.  For this particular recipe leave the bread crumbs out uncovered overnight so they get a little crispy.  If you forget to do them the night before, it's not a big deal.  However, pounding the chicken and preparing the breadcrumbs ahead of time will really speed up this recipe even more. 

La Recette:

2 lbs. chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise and pounded thin
4 cups breadcrumbs
4-5 tablespoons Canola Oil
2 extra large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or another wine white vinegar
2-2.5 cups arugula
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Parmesan cheese for garnish

-Divide up the halved chicken breasts and place into two large plastic Ziplocs.  Pound the meat until it's uniformly 1/4 inch thick.  
-Combine the eggs and Dijon and into a medium sized bowl and whisk until smooth.
-Place your breadcrumbs into another medium sized bowl and mix in 2.5 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.  Make sure it's mixed well.  Line the bowls up side by side and make a little assembly line.  
-Take chicken breasts one at a time and dip them into the egg mixture making sure it's well coated and then into the breadcrumb bowl making sure each side is covered well.
-Over medium high heat, pour a tablespoon of Canola oil into a large sauté pan and make sure that it's hot and that the oil coats the entire pan.  Place 1-2 chicken breasts into the pan (you should hear a nice sizzle) and cook for 3-4 minutes/side using a spatula to assist with flipping.  It's fine to make a small cut into the chicken to check that it's cooked completely if you aren't sure.  For each new chicken batch use another tablespoon of Canola Oil.  If there are a lot of left over crumbs in the pan, I wipe it out between batches.  
-In the meantime, place the tomatoes into a small bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and mix in the tablespoon of champagne or white wine vinegar.  Set aside.
-In another small bowl combine the extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.  Whisk until well combined.  Add in 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and mix well.
-Divide the arugula onto 4 plates and drizzle with the olive oil and lemon dressing.
-Place the warm chicken onto the arugula and garnish each plate with tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.
-For the Parmesan cheese, I buy a big block and use a regular vegetable peeler to shave off small slices. This can be done to taste.

*Serves about 4 people.
*If you have an egg allergy, try brushing each chicken breast with a small amount of Dijon, then dip it into the breadcrumbs.
*If you have a dairy allergy, the Parmesan is optional.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

Be My Valentine...

This truly has to be one of the best desserts of all time…Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake.  If someone made this for me - instant love.  Maybe it's like Cupid's arrow, when you take a bite of this cake whomever you see first you'll fall in love with ;)  Silly - yes, but it's that good.  I first came across this dessert at an amazing restaurant in Vail called Sweet Basil.  It's a fabulous place and if you are skiing in Vail this season, you have to go.  I've been many times and it's top notch.  Well, it turns out that this dessert is actually the only recipe in the entire restaurant that they will give away!  Awesome, right?  Not if you can't find it and I searched and searched and then decided to try my own gluten free version.  It's simply divine.  The dates in the cake, give it the perfect amount of sweetness and the toffee sauce sinks into the cake and you have this gooey, creamy bite of pure bliss.  I'll definitely be making this for my Valentine and our two little Valentines this year.  Nothing says I love you like something made from the heart.  Happy Valentine's Day everyone.  It's one of my favorite days of the year! Enjoy!

La Recette:

*You'll need eight 3 inch ramekins or you can use a muffin tray.
1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and finely chopped.  Dates are very easy to pit.  If they are cheaper with the pit, buy them and do it yourself.  Very easy.
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature.  Try to buy European style butter.  It really makes a difference.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups gluten free baking mix - I like Bisquick
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

The Sauce -
4 oz. unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for serving 

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour your ramekins or muffin tray.  You can also use a 9 inch cake pan if you prefer.
-In a medium sauce pan, bring the dates and two cups of water to boil.  Let them simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Turn the heat off and add in the teaspoon of baking soda.  It will bubble and fizz.  Give it a quick stir and set aside.
-In a small bowl, combine the gluten free baking mix and salt.  Set aside.
-Cream the butter and sugar in a mix master with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
-Slowly add in the eggs and then the vanilla and orange zest.  Stop in-between to scrape down the sides, making sure every thing is getting incorporated.
-Slowly add in the flour and mix until smooth.  About 2 minutes.
-Next, add in the warm date mixture.  Do this slowly.  
-Add in the baking soda and the dough will bubble a bit like the date mixture.  Mix until everything is well combined.  The batter will be more loose than traditional cake batter.
-Place the buttered and floured ramekins, muffin tray, or cake pan on a baking sheet and fill 3/4 full.  The ramekins and muffin trays will bake for 20-25 minutes.  Allow for a little more time if you are using a cake pan.  Use a toothpick to test if they are done.  It should come out clean.
-In the meantime, combine the butter, brown sugar, cream and vanilla in a medium sauce pan.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat.  Let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes until thickened.  
-When the cakes are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge and remove them from the baking vessel.  Turn the cake upside down and poke the entire top with a toothpick or skewer.  I prefer the skewer because it make slightly bigger holes.  

- Take 1 tablespoon of the toffee sauce and pour over the top of the cake  letting it sink into the holes.
-Wait 5 minutes and repeat again.  If you are using a 9 inch cake pan, pour half of the sauce over the cake, wait 5 minutes and then pour the remainder of the sauce over the cake.  
-This should be done while the cakes are still warm.   
-Top the cakes with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (Check my blog under kitchen tips for how to make the best whipped cream - it needs to be heavy whipping cream.)

*If you are making this for two, these cakes freeze really well in an airtight container.  Take them out of the freezer an hour before you want to serve them.  Re-heat in the oven for 10 minutes at 250 degrees F.  Make sure the sauce is warm and follow the same steps.
*Earth Balance vegan sticks can be used for the cake and sauce but the cream is needed.  I haven't tried it with soy milk but it could be an option.  I will test it soon.
*If you have an egg allergy, add 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce instead of using eggs.  
*This recipe is adapted from the fabulous Barefoot Contessa.

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