Red Velvet Cookies

Well now that Thanksgiving has passed, we can focus on Christmas… Yeah!!!! and let me tell you that Christmastime has started at my house;-) All is now decorated, and as soon as Saturday came around my family and I were already cooking Christmas cookies in my kitchen. We searched for fun quick recipes and found one that was enjoyed so much that all the cookies were gone in one day: Red Velvet Cookies. It is no surprise really since one of people’s favorite dessert is Red Velvet Cake. They are almost as good and are definitely much quicker to fix. I found this recipe in the Cuisine Holiday Cookies.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp of table salt, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1 egg, 1 tbsp of liquid red coloring, 1 tsp of distilled white vinegar, white Hershey’s cookies ( about 32).

First remove the paper-wraps of all the chocolate and place the chocolate into the freezer. In a bowl, mix together the flour, the cocoa, the baking soda and the salt.  Set aside. In a mixer bowl, place the sugar, brown sugar, oil and mix well until it becomes creamy. Add the egg and beat some more. Mix in the coloring and the vinegar. Add the flour mixture and mix well until it is well combined. Scoop tablespoons of that batter onto a silpat and bake for 10 minutes in a warm oven at 375. You should have about 3 dozens cookies. Remove the chocolate out of the freezer and place them on the cookies as soon as you take them out. Transfer the cookies off to a cooling rack et voila!!! How simple was that?!;-)

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Biscuits in a Flash…

My daughter is as difficult to feed as my husband. She too likes her German food, and she is particularly difficult for breakfast. She will eat any of the home-baked goods such as fresh waffles, pancakes but will not touch bread, croissant unless they are actually from France. I think I created a monster;-) As I was keeping my nieces and nephews for the week-end, I wanted to fix something special for breakfast so I decided to offer biscuits. They are so good when they come out of the oven… and you can dress them up with anything, jam, ham.. anything…I got this recipe from Martha Stewart’ book of Hors d’oeuvres.

Ingredients: 2 cups of flour, 2/3 cup of buttermilk, 1 tsp of salt, 4 tsp of baking powder, 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar, 1 tbsp of sugar, 1 stick of butter.

Preheat your oven to 400.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar and sugar. Using your fingers, mix the butter into the flour mixture and mix until the mixture resembles coarse mill. Add the buttermilk and mix well until it is well incorporated. Place the dough on a roulpat and with a rolling pin roll the dough out to 3/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutter of 2 1/2 inches to cut rounds and transfer them onto a silpat. Bake for 10 minutes or until they become golden.

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Cream of Potato with Truffle Oil and Black Truffle Shavings

This afternoon, my husband and I went to pick our Christmas trees. Thanksgiving has now passed and it is time to get ready for Christmas. Though everything is already set for Christmas ( aisles are filled with Christmas items, and Christmas music is playing everywhere), I am not quite ready for it. It is too warm. 70 degrees outside… And I am not ready for another year to end;-( time passes too fast.

Well since it was getting close to dinner time, the recurrent question was asked once more: What’s for dinner… This time a soup was suggested. Except that the soup is not one that I eat and certainly not that my children would have eaten. So instead of cooking an onion soup, I opted for a Cream of potato. It is easy to do, and you can dress it as you like.  You can make it homey with bacon and Cheddar cheese, or more refine with truffle oil. I had purchased some great olive oils at the Santa Shops a few weeks ago and thought it would be a great occasion to use them. This olive oil company is called Palmetto Olive oil. Co. It is located in Greenville, Sc on 2247 Augusta Street. If you have a chance to go there, please check it out. It is very reasonable and their oils have the best flavors.

Ingredients: 1 yellow onion, 2 leeks chopped very thinly ( rinse well, and only use the white and light green part of the leeks), 2 lbs or 10 small gold potatoes, 4-5 cups of broth, 2 tbsp of butter, 4 tbsp of truffle oil.

In a large pot, add 2 tbsp of truffle oil and 2 tbsp of butter and cook until it starts sizzling. Add the chopped onion and cook for a minute or 2 on low/ medium temperature. Add the  chopped leeks and cook again for 1-2 minutes. The onion and leeks should not burn or become golden. Add the diced potatoes and sweat them also. Throw in the 4 cups of broth and bring to boil. Lower the temperature and cook for 30 minutes. With a mixer, mix the soup and add 1 more cup of broth if you deem necessary ( I did not..) The soup should be thick but still liquid. Add 2 tbsp of truffle oil and stir well.

To serve, spoon the soup in fancy glasses. I used martini glasses. Drizzle 1 tsp of truffle oil in each glass and shave some of the truffle above the soup ( if you have some.. It can be very expensive.. so it is optional). Et voila!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Pear and Cranberry Tart

What types of desserts dressed your table on Thanksgiving day? If you read my previous post, you know that I offered pecan pies, White Chocolate Cheesecake, Chocolate Pot de Creme and Cranberry and Pear Tart. I wanted to offer a fruit dessert because my husband’s family really enjoy them. They particularly love crumbles and those heavier tarts. Their favorite are made with plums and apples. I chose this one because pear to me has a much refine taste than apple, and cranberry gave a Holiday flare and color to it.

I also found this recipe in the latest publication of Fine Cooking called Holiday Baking.

This recipe was not hard to do. All was fairly easy to do besides laying out the dough into the mold ( the dough is so soft and crumbles easily…) You ought to try anyway, it was very very good!

Ingredients for the dough: 1 cup of toasted walnuts, 1 cup of sugar, 2-3 cups of flour, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of finely grated lemon zest, 1/2 tsp of salt, 2 hard cooked egg yolks crumbled, 2 sticks of butter cold, 2 raw egg yolks, 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract.

Ingredients for the filling: 5 pears peeled, cored, and diced, 2 cups of fresh cranberries, 6 tbsp of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar.

Ingredients for the finish: 1 egg yolk, 1/3 cup of milk.

To make the dough, first grind the walnut with the sugar in a food processor to get a sandy texture. Add the flour, the cinnamon, lemon zest, salt, crumbled-hard yolks and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and mix again to combine. Add the raw yolks and mix again. The dough  should be sticky and moist like a cookie dough. If the dough is too soft, add more flour. Cut the dough in half and make 2 disks that you will use for the tart. Place the disks in a plastic bag and refrigerate for an hour. Once the dough has refrigerated, roll one of the disks into a 11 inch round. Place one of the disk into a pie mold. I used the 9 inch pie mold from Demarle.

In a bowl, add the diced pears, the cranberries, the flour and the sugar and mix well. Empty the content into the tart.

Take the other disk out and roll it out until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick. Cut strips of 1/2 inch wide and place them over the tart. You can criss cross them to make diamond-shaped windows. Mine did not look like that because I made all my strips criss cross in the center, and I cut out leaves for the outside of the pie. Obvisouly you can’t see… Oh well, i tried… Whatever you do, trim the ends of the strips and press them into the edges to close the pie only leaving windows here and there.

In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk left and the 1/3 cup of milk, and brush the tart with a rubber spatula.

Bake in an already warm oven at 350 for 1 hour. To remove the pie from the mold, peel the mold and place the pie onto a plate. Serve the pie cold or warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream. YUM!!!!!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Quick Dinner: Macaroni and Cheese.

What have you been eating this past few days? left-overs? I did not have that privilege because I did not host Thanksgiving. So all I had left-overs where desserts. Moreover, I kept my nieces and nephews for the week-end and I did not think they would have appreciated my much adored fish recipes;-) So what to do after a day of shopping? Yes, I did venture the crowd late afternoon yesterday and came home with a few things( i did not think that those deals were that great…)

Anyway, after having spent my day in the kitchen the day before and having starving teenagers, I needed to find a quick meal that would fill up their stomach…Macaroni and cheese.  It is a quick fix-up that pleases most of everybody…

Ingredients: 4 cups of macaroni, 4 cups of water, 3 tbsp of butter, 2 cup of milk, 3 tbsp of flour, 3 cups of sharp cheddar, 2 cup of Mexican Blend, 1 lb of smoked ham diced. salt and pepper.

Materials: Small saucepan, Large Round Mold, Octogonal Silpat.

1. You can cook pastas acccording to the package directions or you can cook using the round mold and octogonal silpat. In the large round mold, place 4 cups of pastas, 4 cups of water and 1/2 tsp of salt. Microwave for 10 minutes. Stir and microwave for another 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile prepare the sauce for the pasta. In a small saucepan, melt 2 tbsp of butter, add 3 tbsp of flour and mix well to make a roux. When the flour is turning brown, add the warm milk and stir at medium temperature until it comes to boil. Cook for another 5 minutes until it thickens. Add 2 cups of sharp cheddar, 2 cups of Mexican blend cheese, and mix well. Add more salt and pepper if you deem it necessary ( i did not). Then add the diced smoked ham and mix well.

Drain the pasta of excess water. Place the pastas back into the round mold and add the sauce with the ham. Mix well. Sprinkle 1 cup of cheddar on top of the pastas. Cook in a warm oven for 15-20 minutes at 375. Et voila!

NB: The best part of using the Demarle Cookware… it does not stick to the sides, so easy clean-ups and no more dishes to soak overnight;-)

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

White Chocolate and Pumpkin Cheesecake

I love Pumpkin soup, but can’t seem to acquire a good appreciation of the Pumpkin pie. I don’t know what makes it unsavoury to me, maybe it is the combination of pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon… I am not sure. Since I was in charge of the desserts and  did not want to brush aside the traditions, I still wanted to offer a Pumpkin dessert. I had already made Pecan pies and A Cranberry and Pear Torte, so I wanted to go another route and settled for a recipe that I found in Holidays Baking of the Fine Cooking Magazine in store right now. Everything tastes better with chocolate so I added some to the recipe along with some other minor changes. Here it is:

Ingredients for 12 mini cheesecakes ( muffin size): 2 packages of cream cheese at room temperature, 20o gr. of melted white chocolate, 2/3 cup of sugar, 2 tbsp of vanilla extract, 2 large eggs, 1/3 cup of canned pupkin, 2 1/4 tsp of all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of ginger, 1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg.

Materials; silpat, perforated sheet, scalloped muffin tray.

In a the bowl of an electric mixer, place the cream cheese and beat it on medium high until it becomes smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and the vanilla and beat again until it is well mixed. Add the melted chocolate and beat at medium low until it is well incorporated and there are no lumps. Then add the eggs, one at a time and best them a bit  just enough to mix them in. (Do not overbeat, or the cheesecake will fluff up and crack). Place the scalloped cupcake tray on a perforated sheet and spoon about 2 tbsp of this batter in each cupcake. You shoud have 1/3 of the batter left. Add the pumpkin, the nutmeg, cinnamon, flour and ginger and stir well. Spoon about 1 tbsp of this batter in each cupcake tray on top of the vanilla/ chocolate batter. With the back of a spoon, dig down into the batter and make swirls. Bake in a warm oven for 15 minutes at a temperature of 300. When they are cooked ( the center of the cupacake should barely juggle), remove the cupcake tray from the oven and let the cheesecakes cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours up to 3 days. Before serving, make the caramel, and drizzle it on top of the cheesecake.

Caramel: 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp of fresh lemon juice.

In a small saucepan, place the sugar and the lemon juice and cook over medium-high until the sugar is melting and is becoming a golden color. Stir gently to prevent the sugar from burning in isolated spots. You want to cook the caramel until it becomes a light caramel color ( amber). Remove it from the stove and with a spoon, drizzle the caramel over the cupcakes and drizzle the rest of the caramel over a silpat making circles that you will use as decorations.

To serve, drizzle some caramel on each plate, place a cheesecake on top of the caramel, place a dollop of whipped cream and place a caramel decoration on the cheesecake. Et voila!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Thank you for a Blessed Thanksgiving!!!

As I mentioned earlier, I love Thanksgiving and look forward to this Holiday with much anticipation. This year this holiday was even more special because as a new American myself, I really observed this Holiday not as a resident who follows the traditions of the country I live in, but as an American. This holiday had much more significance this year than it ever had. I really felt blessed and grateful to have been accepted in this country as one of them. And it almost felt as if it was truly my first Thanksgiving in that I had the opportunity to thank all the one that made it happen, and thank all who supported me all those years.

I would have loved to have hosted the Thanksgiving dinner at my house, but it was at my sister-in-law. All I was in charge of, were appetizers and desserts. Though quite easy to do, they seem to take the longest. I chose to offer stuffed mushrooms and Brie and Cherry Tartlets. For desserts, I wanted to offer traditional Thanksgiving desserts: pumpkin, pecan, chocolate pies but chose to offer a variety of small desserts so that everyone would find something they would like. In turned out, most ate a bit of everything. I was so so glad. My desserts were: White chocolate and pumpkin cheesecake, Pear and Cranberry tart, Dark Chocolate Creme in a shot glass, and Small pecan pies.

What did you serve?

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

A few days ago as I was munching on almonds, I suddenly felt an atrocious pain and realized that I broke a tooth. One of my molar;-(..Of course, I had to have this fixed which was not making me too happy. Going to the dentist is not my favorite thing to do, getting this new crown was going to put a dent in my Thanksgiving shopping ( just kidding), and having this fixed so close to the famous feast was putting a dip into my mood.

You can only guess that after spending a few hours at the dentist yesterday, and a new crown in my mouth, I did not feel like eating a whole lot, in fact nothing. I fixed dinner for my family and just hang out with them with a cup of coffee in my hand. A few hours later however, after having taken a few advils, I was starving but could not see anything that would not hurt me. So I thought: ” Soup, Soup…” except that there were none in my fridge. No problem. I had a small pumpkin and decided this would be what I would have. This recipe is inspired by a wonderful friend and cook named Rodney who shared with me what he cooked recently. I followed some of his recommendations, and this is what I made.

Ingredients for 4-6 servings: 1 small pumpkin called the pie pumpkin, 1 purple onion, 1/3 cup of dark muscovado sugar, salt and pepper, 2 tbsp of olive oil, 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth.

Peel and dice the pumpkin in 1 inch squares. Place the diced pumpkin in a large bowl, drizzle 2 tbsp of olive oil, 1/8 tsp of seal salt, 1/16 tsp of fresh ground pepper and mix well so that the pumpkin is well coated. Spread the pumpkin on a deep Flexipan that you would have placed on top of a perforated sheet. Spread the diced onions over the pumpkin, and sprinkle 1/3 cup of the Muscovado sugar on top of the pumpkin and onions. Cook in a warm oven for 15 minutes at 425. After the pumpkin has cooked, empty it all into a large bowl and with a mixer, pure the soup. Slowly add the hot broth as you puree the vegetables. You may eat the soup at this point ( I did and it tasted great) or you can empty the soup into a pot and cook it for another 15-20 minutes to infuse the broth and make the soup even more wonderful. Add more salt and pepper if needed ( i did not). To make the soup more creamier, you can also add a dollop of mascarpone cheese or Creme Fraiche. Et Voila!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Stuffed Filet Mignon with Duck Mousse over a Reduction of Balsamic Vinegar and Cote du Rhone

On week-ends, I love to spend a little more time in the kitchen and prepare meals that are a bit more refined than the ones I cook during the weeks, but yesterday I had a busy day so I decided I would fix steak and potato. Both can be prepared quickly, and may not need much preparation if time is running out. Well, I had a cooking class on baking gifts and time ran away from me so by the time dinner came around, I did not really feel like cooking what I planned. Instead we ate left-overs…So today, guess what was on the menu? Steak and Potato;-) We had garlic mashed potatoes with Stuffed Filet Mignon.

For recipe of the Mashed Potatoes, please look at  the post on Garlic Mashed Potatoes the Quick Way.

Ingredients for 4 people: 4 petites filet mignon steaks, 1 package of duck mousse ( can be found at the fresh market), 1 cup of red wine ( I used left-over Cote du Rhone), 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp of liquid Maggi ( if you don’t have, then use low sodium soy sauce), salt and pepper, 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of unsalted butter, 1/2 tsp of flour. 4 shallots peeled and sliced thinly.

With a sharp knife, make an opening into the width of each steak so that you will be able to stuff the steak with the mousse. Slice about 1/3 inch of mousse, and place inside the steak.  Close up the holes by pressing the meat together. Set aside. In a frying pan, warm up 1 tbsp of olive oil. When the oil is getting hot, stir fry the shallots until they become golden and soft. Remove the shallots from the pan and set aside. In the same frying pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter. When the butter is sizzling, place the steaks and cook for 1 minutes on medium-high heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the steaks. Flip them over and cook them also for 1-2 minutes on medium-high. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the meat is cooked at the temperature that you like. Remove the steaks from the pan, place them on a warm plate and cover them with an aluminium foil. Place the pan back on the stove on high heat. Throw in 1 cup of red wine, 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp of Maggi. Stir well. The sauce should be simmering. Keep stirring and with a spatula, scrub the bottom of the pan to remove the drippings into the wine. Lower the temperature to medium heat and add 1 tsp of flour. With a small whip, mix well until the sauce is thickening. Add salt and pepper if you feel it needs it. You may also add a pinch of sugar, if you feel the sauce is too acidic. I did neither. My husband liked it the way it was. Yeah:-)

To serve, spoon the mashed potatoes on the plate, place the steak next to it. Drizzle the sauce over the steak and add a few tsp of sauteed shallots over the sauce. Et Voila!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes the Quick Way

The traditional way to cook Mashed Potatoes would be to cook the potatoes in water, but I thought I would use my flexipan instead. It allows me to prepare my meals so much faster.

Ingredients: 2 lbs of red-skinned potatoes well washed and cut in quarters, 2 cups of heavy cream or 2 cups of broth, 3 cloves of garlic pressed, 2 tbsp of parsley chopped, salt and pepper to taste.

In a large round mold, place the potatoes, 2 tbsp of water, 1/4 tsp of salt, the chopped garlic. Place the silpat on top of the round mold and microwave for 10 minutes. Remove the round mold from the microwave. Remove the octogonal silpat off the top and be careful not to burn yourself with the steam! Empty the content in a bowl, and with a potato masher, mash the potatoes. Slowly add the hot liquid ( broth or cream) and whip the potato. Add more salt and pepper until it is to your liking. I usually add 1/8 tsp of salt and 1/16 of pepper. Add the chopped parsley and stir well. Et voila!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!