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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Meyer Lemon Cake

Aren’t you glad it’s the weekend? I, for sure am more than ready for the next couple of days to be in  relaxation pace. I dont know mmmmm maybe …some time to sleep in, have some sunday brunch mimosas with friends, bake this cake, and just generally relax and take a breather from this week madness. 
Especially since the first few days of spring, are in full bloom  (in some places at least). It doesn't matter if winter is still in full force where you live or if there still is snow outside. It’s nice to hear the whispers of spring that promise to bring sunshine and warmer weather.

Hope you all have a dazzling weekend.

Meyer Lemon Cake

1 tbsp. butter, plus 8 tbsp. melted

2 tbsp. fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. fine salt
1 1/3 cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 tbsp. lemon extract
Zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons


1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease a loaf pan measuring 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 3/4" with 1 tbsp. of the butter and dust it with the bread crumbs. Invert and tap out excess crumbs; set aside. In a food processor, grind the almonds until very fine, about 1 minute; set aside. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

2. Put the remaining butter into a large bowl and add 1 cup of the sugar. Mix with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just long enough to incorporate, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until mixed after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, about 3 minutes total. Mix in the lemon extract. With the spatula, fold in the lemon zest and ground almonds. (The mixture will be thin.) Turn batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and dry, about 65 minutes.

3. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack. Prepare the glaze: Combine remaining sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. (Do not boil.) Brush the glaze over the hot cake. (The excess liquid may pool along the sides of the pan; it will absorb completely as it sits.) Once the cake has absorbed all the liquid, turn it out of the pan and allow it to cool upright on a rack. Once it's cool, wrap the cake with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours before serving.

Photo and recipe from Saveur

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nutella Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

As February 14th approaches, i've been giving some thought about the importance of a Valentines breakfast. Lets face it, chocolates and bubbly are great, but you need to start the day with something Valentines appropriate to get to the point of bubbly oblivion right? And since Valentines begs for all things chocolate, I am sharing my latest recipe for my greatest breakfast obsession: The Nutella roll. It is like a cinnamon roll but instead of loads of cinnamon sugar within the folds & rolls there is smooth yummy Nutella. Yes a Nutella roll!
What a way to start your day! Crabs loaded with Nutella. A combination that will give you flutters, goosebumps and the urge to hit high pitched notes; can you get better side effects then that? I think not! Enjoy!
Nutella Rolls
2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Sugar
1 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
4 cups (Plus 1/2 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1/2 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
1 Jar of Nutella
Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 oz Cream Cheese soften
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoons milk
Preparation InstructionsFor the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.
Add 4 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.
Spread Nutella on your dough generously.
Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long log.
Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices. One “log “should produce about 12 to 15 rolls. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. (Each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls.)
Repeat the rolling/Nutella process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. 
Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.
While the rolls are baking, make icing: In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, milk. Splash in the vanilla. Whisk until very smooth. (if to thick add milk a tablespoon at a time to get a spreadable consistency.)
Remove pans from the oven. Let the rolls cool. Once cooled cover the rolls with icing. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. Enjoy!

Photo and inspiration from

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce

Goodbye January, heeeeeeello February; a month of handmade hearts, feminine frills and lot of chocolate yumminess! Did i forget to mention the ton of kisses. Real or Hershey's kiss you ask....does it matter? I think not!
Put on your chichi unmentionables, and take out your crystal flutes for some bubbly. Cant have our bubbly feeling lonely, that is why i suggest you pair it with the darkest, most intense chocolate truffle cake ever.
Looking for an even bigger "i'm in the mood for love" factor? Drizzle a rich salty caramel sauce over your truffle, and if that doesn't bring you into the season of romance…i don't know what will! Enjoy!

Chocolate Truffle Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce
Makes: One 9-inch cake
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hr 30 min
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
14 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate
¼ instant  coffee granules
6 eggs
½ cup superfine sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split and beans scraped into a bowl 
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the pan. Set the prepared pan inside a 12-inch pan. In a double boiler, heat chocolate and 7 tablespoons butter until fully melted. Stir until smooth. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, coffee granules, the superfine sugar, dark brown sugar, ¼ cup light brown sugar and the vanilla until fully incorporated. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg mixture; whisk until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared 9-inch pan. Carefully fill the larger pan with water until it reaches about halfway up the side of the smaller pan. Tightly cover with aluminum foil.
Bake until top of cake is no longer sticky to the touch, about 90 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto a plate to cool completely.
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining ½ cup light brown sugar, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the syrup, ½ cup cream and the salt and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil uncovered until the sauce is very thick and deep golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the remaining ½ cup cream and return to a boil, stirring constantly until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Stir in the vanilla beans. Pour sauce into a heatproof glass jar; refrigerate until just cool (about 2 hours) and spread a thick layer over the cake. Refrigerate the cake until fully cool, about another hour.

Photos and recipe adapted from

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Pizza Super Bowl Style

The big game is just days away, and I'd be lying if i said i was super excited.  Can you blame me?  Nearly four solid hours of football. Boring! My only solace is the incredible commercials, snacks galore and seeing my friends enjoying themselves. Now, I may not be the biggest sports lover or expert, but I do pride myself on being somewhat a master of party-throwing… so you can be sure that a Super Bowl fete is no exception. Since nothing says ‘Super Bowl  party‘ quite like snacks, pizza and apps, (and buffalo chicken is always desired) i kick off super bowl '13 with this buffalo chicken pizza. Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

3/4 pound breaded chicken fingers
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 pizza dough, store bought or from your favorite pizzeria (or your own)
Cornmeal or flour, to handle dough
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
2 to 3 tablespoons hot sauce, medium to spicy heat
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, a few generous handfuls
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
Cook chicken according to package directions.
Stretch dough to form pizza using cornmeal or flour to help you handle it. If you let it rest and warm up a few minutes it will handle even easier. Set pizza on pizza pan to the side and clean board.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter and stir in Worcestershire, hot sauce, and tomato sauce.
Remove the chicken from oven and thinly slice it. Add chicken to sauce and coat. Cover the pizza dough with the saucy Buffalo chicken, cheeses, and scallions. Bake 18 minutes or until crisp.

• photo and recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

Monday, January 21, 2013

Guacamole Kickoff

Are any of you beginning to see signs of super bowl madness around you yet? Since we’re closing in on the big kickoff, I thought it was the perfect time to tackle a simple and healthy appetizer for your Super Bowl festivities that even the most "macho" of men will love.
Lets face it, game time is all about snacks galore. There are a few guest though, that would like to have a healthy choice. Healthy choice and super bowl an oxymoron for sure, but hey who am i to judge. That is why i always have some healthy options to offer guests, and this guacamole has always been a favorite of mine.
While traditionally guac is associated with bad mexican restaurants and oily food, (far from healthy) guac in its self is full of vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate and copper. Guacamole is also high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as lutein, which is important for eye health. Additional nutrients include vitamin A, niacin and magnesium.
So treat the macho men and your guest to a healthy but yummy snack. And remember healthy and football need not be an oxymoron. Enjoy!

3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

* Recipe adapted from Alton Brown, Photo from Foodnetwork

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Arrabiata is ssssspicy!

You know those nights when you’re starving and want something simple and yummy… but don’t feel like going to the grocery store or cooking for hours?  My answer, Arrabiata. A spicy Italian pasta sauce. Characterized by the use of simple, but fresh, ingredients. Since the word Arrabiata mean "Angry" in Italian (and we are referring to a red sauce,) it goes with out saying that the sauce always features tomatoes and hot chili peppers, either fresh of dried. 

You can use this basic recipe and change it up however you like: different herbs, different citrus fruits, different seasonings. You can even have a different attitude and see how that affects the flavor of the plate!

Just kidding. But what you can change is what you wear each time. Choo's and Arrabiata; now that's a fun combination!

Spaghetti Arrabiata
Yield: 4 servings

1-2 tbsp. extra- virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
1 tbsp crushed dried red pepper flakes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 28-oz. can pureed tomatoes
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp oregano dried
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
1 lb. dry spaghetti pasta (or linguine)

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add garlic, and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened and slightly browned.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti for 6-8 minutes until al dente.
Add red pepper flakes, oregano, a pinch of black pepper, then pour in the tomatoes.
Drizzle lightly with additional olive oil, stir, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes; add chopped basil towards the very end of cooking time.
Drain the spaghetti, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water.
Transfer the pasta to the tomatoes, only adding pasta water to thin the sauce as needed.
Drizzle with olive oil as desired.
Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the pasta holds the sauce.
Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil to finish.

Tricks for easy pasta: 

The water needs to taste like the sea when boiling because dry pasta is not seasoned. Boil dry pasta for less time than the box directions since you will finish the pasta off in the sauce.

Arrabiata is a great, spicy base to make other sauces. A simple addition of capers, peppers and tuna you can make a simple puttanesca sauce, or adding some mushrooms, onions and olives makes an easy cacciatore. Add a touch of cream for a great, easy pink sauce.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sweet and spice laden Baklava

photo from Australian Gourmet Traveller

Baklavaclassic dessert of fillo, nuts & honey with hints of cinnamon and spices is soooooooo yummy…but it’s hands down the yummiest when it’s homemade. It dosent matter who's home it is that it comes out of.  It can be anyone’s home. A homemade baklava tends to have a lot more flavor…a lot more freshness…a little more somethin’ somethin’ than the vacuum sealed store brought alternative. Its true! Not that I buy a lot of baklava (what would my greek grandmothers say if they thought i bought baklava and not make it from their secret recipe.) But still.

Baklava makes a great Christmas treat, and since christmas is right around the corner it is the perfect opportunity to give, a whole pan to someone you love or split it up into portions and gift them in nicely crafted little boxes or bagies. Your recipients will love you even more than they already do. Is that possible well there is only one way to find out! 

Here’s how you make it:
First: Enroll in our Baklava making class either on November 29th, 7-8:30pm or December 5th, 7-8:30pm. $40/person. This includes hands-on instruction, baklava recipe and your own take- home tray of baklava ready to bake for your next holiday get together or your own pleasure. 
Next: Make a tray of scrumptious baklava on your own and let the lovin' begin.  

2 Opportunities for This Class:
St. Athanasius Greek Orthodox Church, 4 Appleton Street, Arlington MA November 29th, 7-8:30pm
December 5th, 7-8:30pm

Please reserve your space by sending an email to: $40/person (includes hands-on instruction, baklava recipe and your own take- home tray of baklava)