IN MY KITCHEN – JULY 2017

Time to invite you for a virtual walk through the Bewitching Kitchen. Time passes fast, things change, but it’s important to give credit to  Celia who started this event years ago. It is now hosted by Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings, so make sure to stop by both sites to say hello when you have a chance. My last participation was three months ago (!!!) so there’s a lot to talk about. Are you ready?

First, I like to start talking about gifts…

The amazing colleagues from our department sent me a care package when I arrived back from Brazil after the death of my Mom. The reason is sad, but their gesture so sweet… Thank you!

From our post-doc Somnath, a gorgeous Chinese bowl that he got for me while in a scientific meeting in Los Angeles. Intense blue, I always use it to serve rice. It is what we could call a perfect match.  Thank you, Somnath!

From Phil, one more coffee cup for our collection, one more ebay find from the British artist Mary Rose Young. It is all happy next to its sister with the rose decoration on the handle. The coffee art produced by my beloved is a Chinese ideogram that means I love you forever (well, don’t show this to any Chinese person, let it be our secret).

My gift to Phil… his immersion blender was in bad shape, the blade would come out while spinning, and we had to stop, unplug it and push it back. Very dangerous, I could easily see myself losing the tip of my finger in some absent-minded move.  This one works very well, and it came with a small food processor as a bonus. We are both very happy with his gift (wink, wink).

In our kitchen…


Found this honey at Marshalls. It comes from avocado flowers.  I am not a honey connoisseur, but apparently monofloral honey is highly praised. This one is quite dark and intensely flavored. Plus the label is so stylish, I could not resist. I sometimes shop with my eyes first… 😉

In our kitchen…

I have not tried these yet, but they are supposed to give beautifully flat cakes, without that irritating “dome effect.” I confess I’ve had them for a while, and only remember they exist after the cake is out of the oven. Yeap, I do research for a living. It surprises me too.

In our kitchen

For a cake-o-phobe,  I do own a lot of cake-related gadgets.  This is a cake turner, and it was very useful to add icing to my celebratory 8th blog-anniversary concoction.

In our kitchen…

What did I just say about cake-gadgets? Could not resist these… one never knows when I’ll get into a cupcake adventure, and it’s very important to have the right tools for a job I’ve never done.

In our kitchen…

Macaron obsession is still going strong. I got a larger tip for piping the shells, works great. And a few goodies for future important experiments. Stay tuned for crazy macs coming up in the near future. Bogey was quite taken by them, I hope you will fancy them too…

In our kitchen…

Another outcome of  a Marshalls’ treasure hunt. This is a very large bowl, so colorful, I tried to move away from it at the store, but it kept pulling me back, twisting my arm, I was pretty much forced to bring it home. Abused by a bowl, that’s a first.

In our kitchen…

Macadamia oil. I heard about its qualities, including very high smoking point, and decided to give it a try. Really enjoy its mild flavor for sauteing stuff. It is more expensive than olive oil, so this will not be replacing it in our cooking. I also used it in salad dressing a couple of times. I’d say it is as mild as grapeseed oil, a favorite of mine.

In our kitchen…

This is a special Japanese rice flour. Very very fine, different from the product you might use to coat your banneton so that bread dough won’t stick to it. I read about it in the book Flours, part of my giveaway last month. Love that book, everything I’ve made from it has been a success.

In our kitchen…


Crispy brown rice cereal. I used this product in a variation of Chicken Parmigiana from the book The Dude Diet. So good, that I decided to buy a second box as a back up. You process the cereal together with some Parmigiano cheese, salt, and herbs, use that to coat chicken breast filets.

In our kitchen…

A very nice tea, recommended by our graduate student, Aritri. She loved it and I could not help but order a box, because she is a person of very fine taste. It is truly delicious! The brand has several kinds, unfortunately no free shipping available through amazon prime. I guess the best approach is to keep your eyes open, maybe your grocery stores carries it? I cross my fingers that our beloved Marshalls will, at some point.

In our kitchen…

Phil (a Michigander) loves tart cherries, and these preserves are excellent. I cannot tell, as I never eat jams or preserves of any kind, but I can testify he always has a huge smile when he does.

In our kitchen…

Strawberries coated in chocolate, courtesy of my beloved, who found the perfect use for leftover ganache from my special layered cake of the recent past.

Near our kitchen…


I am thrilled to share this with you. Soggy Doggy rug. It is a life-changing item that I cannot recommend highly enough. This rug is not cheap, let’s get this out-of-the-way. But, it was THE best investment ever, it sits in the patio, right by the door to the living room and kitchen area. If you let your dog sit and walk around it for a minute or so, the fabric adsorbs dirt and water in a way that is hard to believe!  Keeping our wooden floors clean has been so much easier since we got it several months ago. We haven’t washed it yet, just shake it outside every once in a while, sometimes use very gingerly the vacuum cleaner, with the spinning brushes off. This thing is money. Every day I pass by it and blow it a kiss. Honest. If you have pets, you need this. They come in several sizes, depending on the kind of pet you have, a small one might be enough. We really had to go for the kill here. Obviously. To order, click here.

And since the subject of pets came up,
it’s time to let them say hello…

More than a simple hello, they insist on having their grievances in the open, so that  Mom’s readers know the true nature of who they are dealing with. You know, behind those blogging doors.

“I’ve been betrayed. I had just developed a nice personal scent over a week of hard work. You gave me a bath, and took it all away. I now smell like a tangerine. I shall never ever interact with you again. Ever.”

“I’ve been betrayed. Mom tricked me into going outside dangling a cookie in front of my perfectly shaped nose. Dad was there, waiting for me. With a hose. Cold water under 95 F weather. Very unfair. I shall never ever move from this couch. Ever.”

Betrayal. Humiliation. Shame.

“Oh, you whining babies. You don’t know what real betrayal is. Mom took me to a torture place, dropped me there all by myself and not only I got a bath, but by the time they were done with me, my fur was gone. Gone. I am still in shock.”

“I shall hide from your view for eternity.”

 

Thankfully, a dog grievance never lasts very long.

Certain behaviors, though… they will likely never end…

Like a little sniffing around…

A little begging…

A little snoring after breakfast…

We still think they enjoy being squeaky clean, no matter how hard they tried to stain our reputation as doggie parents…

“Mirror, mirror tell me, who is the cutest dog in the world?”

 

“Mirror, mirror, tell me, who is the most handsome dog in the world?”

 

“Mirror, mirror, tell me, who is the bossiest dog in the world?”

In case you haven’t noticed, the couch rules have relaxed quite a bit since Bogey Quit That joined our pack…

Couch Rules? Which rules? Certainly they do not apply to this couch!

 

Agreed. The couch is my favorite place for deep thoughts… like the meaning of life, and how did that toad escape my mouth?

I feel the same way. The couch is where I wonder why every day is not a weekend day…  how pleasure can be such a fleeting emotion…

I am also having very profound thoughts, and you better believe me. In fact, I just figured out that the meaning of life is helping Mom get all comfy. I think she enjoys the new-non-rules too.

Bogey Quit That compensates for all the revolution he started by keeping our home safe.
A true guard dog like no other!

That’s all for now, folks!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour through our kitchen…
Stop by Sherry’s site to see what is going on in kitchens all over the world!

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Falafel and a Bonus Recipe

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

FIVE YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

SIX YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

SEVEN YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chicken Breasts, Coffee, and Serendipity

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES THREE

Back in February I made a post with four super-duper simple recipes, and here I am again to showcase three more. A drink, a side-dish, a dessert. Like last time, they all deliver a lot more than you would expect.

ONE

Starting with the drink. Fabulous. Refreshing. Delicious. I saw the recipe at Mike’s The Iron You, and made it the day after. Exactly as he posted, except that I cut the sugar down a bit. Since then, I’ve made it four times, and adapted it, simplifying it even further and leaving sugar out completely. You will need to find your favorite way, but trust me, this is a drink you must try if you love tea. The touch of genius is a pinch of baking soda after brewing. Do not twist your nose, it is magical. Have I ever lied to you?

MINT AND GINGER ICED GREEN TEA
(adapted from The Iron You)

4 cups of water
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 bags green tea
1 bag of mint tea (or 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves)
1 lemon, divided
Pinch of baking soda
sugar is optional (coconut sugar is particularly  nice)

Combine water and ginger in a pot. Bring to a boil. Once the water boils, remove from the heat and add tea bags and fresh mint (if using them).  Cover with a lid and steep for 15 minutes. Remove the bags and strain tea separating the liquid from the mint leaves and ginger slices. Stir in sugar, juice of half lemon, and baking soda. Transfer to a pitcher and let cool before refrigerating.

Serve on a tall glass with lemon slices and fresh mint added, if you so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I reduced the amount made to four cups instead of six, because I’m the only one drinking it. When I make it before dinner, I have leftover drink to enjoy next day at lunchtime, so that works well for me. Check out Mike’s original version and see if that appeals more to you in terms of amount and level of sweetness.

TWO

 

Second, a side-dish that is ready in 6 minutes. That is 360 seconds. Ok, if you have to cut the broccoli florets yourself, it might take you 10 minutes. Best broccoli ever. Perfect texture, bright taste, and you can change it around by using different herbs, vinegars, spices. Love it.

PAN-STEAMED BROCCOLI WITH ORANGE AND CILANTRO
(adapted from Ellie Krueger)

1 large head of broccoli florets (1½ pounds)
zest and juice of half an orange
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
1 ½ tablespoons  olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the broccoli florets more or less in a single layer inside a saucepan. Add ½ cup water, cover and cook over a high heat for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Do not remove the lid during cooking. When the broccoli is done, it will be cooked to crisp-tender. If you prefer it a bit softer, remove it from the heat and allow it to sit, covered, for another minute or two.

While the broccoli is cooking, zest the orange into a large bowl. Juice half the orange into the bowl, add the lemon juice. Add the cilantro to the bowl along with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the bowl with the orange mixture and toss gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: During the time the broccoli is cooking (pay close attention to the timer, it’s important), make the flavoring mixture right on the serving bowl.  Check Ellie’s gremolata in the link, or try anything you like. I find the combination of orange with broccoli quite delicious, but to cut excessive sweetness I added some lemon juice to it. Apple cider vinegar could be wonderful too. Consider options such as za’tar, a very discreet touch of sesame oil, black olive tapenade, sesame seeds…  This recipe has the potential to become your favorite way to enjoy broccoli. Cannot beat the texture. Am I repeating myself? Apologies, I tend to get excited about stuff like broccoli with perfect texture. There, I said it again!

THREE

Soft-serve pineapple. I saw this one at The View from Great Island, a blog I’ve cooked from many times, Sue’s recipes never failed me. She talks, I listen. It is ready in minutes, once you freeze the pineapple pieces. It is perfectly smooth and soft-serve-like when you first process it. In the freezer it will turn a bit hard, but a little encounter with the microwave just to break the ice (literally), turns it into real sorbet consistency. I had no idea that a pineapple could become a luscious dessert just with the help of the food processor. Remember a few years ago when everyone was processing bananas? Well, pineapples are harder to peel, but totally worth the trouble. A friend from Facebook mentioned that 1 egg white can be added to this type of recipe, to give extra smoothness.  I have to try that soon.

SOFT-SERVE PINEAPPLE-CHILE SORBET
(slightly modified from The View from Great Island)

1 pineapple
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper (ground)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Slice the pineapple into 1 inch slices, core and all. Chop the slices into bite sized pieces. Arrange the pineapple on the baking sheet. Freeze for 2 hours, or until frozen solid.

Put the frozen pineapple chunks into a high power blender or food processor. Add the lime juice and chile powder. Process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the machine as necessary. Serve right away for a slushy, soft-serve consistency, otherwise, spoon the mixture into a loaf pan and put in the freezer to firm up, at least 4 hours.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Adding pepper to sorbet can be quite interesting, but maybe it’s not for everybody. A purist would probably prefer it “virgin.” I reduced the amount of chipotle and omitted the cayenne that Sue used, so stop by her site to see her version too and decide what to do.  We also made two batches of cantaloupe sorbet (already in the blog), one with pepper, one without, and a few days later enjoyed a triple dessert, refreshing and hot at the same time.  We like to share a single bowl and take turns, a little bite with pepper, a little without… Simple Summer evening pleasures.

😉

And with that, I wrap up three super simple recipes that are sure to please you. I think that even if you are not into green tea, the addition of that pinch of baking soda might change your mind. It removes that bit of harshness, objectionable to some. Worth a try.

ONE YEAR AGO: Dan Lepard Simple White Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Maureen’s Fabulously Fudgy Brownies

THREE YEARS AGO: Wheat Berry Caraway Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mexican Focaccia 

FIVE YEARS AGOSunny Kamut Salad with Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

SIX YEARS AGO: Pane de Casa & Crostini

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Down-home Dig-in Chili

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Cinnamon Rolls

 

HONEY GLAZED SRIRACHA MEATBALLS

This one is for all the Sriracha lovers out there. Of all the hot sauces, Sriracha is my favorite because it’s not just about heat, there’s a lot of complex flavor packed in too. I always have a bottle in the fridge, and will squirt a little bit over turkey burgers, regular burgers, sweet potato fries, meatballs. Not too much, just that little touch that shakes the senses up. When I saw this recipe a while ago on Eat Yourself Skinny, I tried it almost immediately, with a few changes to suit my preferences. Phil is not as wild about Sriracha as I am, so I did the honorable thing to do, and wolfed them down by myself for lunch. No, not in a single day. I am crazy for Sriracha but portion control comes first…

HONEY GLAZED SRIRACHA MEATBALLS
(adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny)

for the meatballs:
2 lb. ground chicken (or turkey)
1/4 cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
a squirt of lemon juice

for the sauce:
¼ cup Sriracha
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
minced chives for decoration (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together ground chicken, almond flour, egg, salt and pepper until well combined. Shape mixture into  balls and place spaced apart on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray or covered with parchment paper.

Bake meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

While the meatballs are baking, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking continuously. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then toss with the meatballs.

Sprinkle with minced chives, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These turned out hot enough for me, but you can always add some cayenne pepper or increase the amount of Sriracha if feeling particularly brave.  I love adding a dollop of yogurt (seasoned with salt and za’tar) to these meatballs, because I find the contrast of peppery heat with cold, creamy yogurt very pleasing. The best advice to making good meatballs is to avoid handling the mixture too much, the looser the better. And don’t cook them to death. Dried meatballs are simply no bueno.  I never fry them anymore, prefer to cook them in the oven, but for this recipe I made the sauce in a skillet and simply added the cooked meatballs to the sauce for a nice glaze. Winner, my friends, winner!

Pinning is sharing, sharing is caring! 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Slow-cooker Braised Lamb Shanks

TWO YEARS AGO: How about some coffee with your steak?

THREE YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Spiral Kick

FOUR YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

FIVE YEARS AGO: Granola Bars

SIX YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

AIR-FRIED TOMATOES WITH HAZELNUT PESTO AND HALLOUMI CHEESE

No, no need to run away, you can make this in your oven if you do not have one of Lolita‘s sisters in your kitchen. But I am constantly finding reasons to use our air-fryer, and in this recipe it performed way beyond my expectations. The halloumi cheese turned out exactly the way we like it, with zero risk of burning as it often happens on the grill or even on a non-stick pan. You might be surprised that I would still handle hazelnuts without going into a hysterical fit, but it so happens that I had quite a bit leftover from  my 8th blog-anniversary cake.  I definitely need to use them up before they go rancid.  Come to think of it, I see a macaron blog post on the horizon… (wink, wink).

AIR-FRIED TOMATOES WITH HAZELNUT PESTO AND HALLOUMI CHEESE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the hazelnut pesto:
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
squeeze of lemon juice
olive oil to desired consistency

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced (about 4 slices per tomato)
Halloumi cheese, cut into thin slices
basil (I used some from grocery store, processed in a little oil)
Spring mix greens
olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to dress salad

Make the pesto by mixing the cheese, hazelnuts, parsley, salt and pepper in t a food processor. Process until smooth, then drizzle olive oil slowly until you reach the consistency you like, probably a little less than 1/3 cup should do it.

Lay the tomatoes on a baking dish, season lightly with salt, place a couple of teaspoons of the pesto on top, then lay a slice of halloumi cheese over the pesto.  Dab with a small amount of basil in oil. You can also use fresh basil if you prefer. Transfer the slices to the basket of the air-fryer, making sure to spray the basket with a little oil. Spray the tomato slices very lightly with olive oil, and cook at 390F for 10 to 12 minutes, until the halloumi cheese gets golden brown.  Carefully remove the slices and serve them over  Top with onion slices. Sprinkle with basil, red pepper, and sea salt. Transfer the assembled bites to the Air Fryer cooking basket. Drizzle with a nonstick cooking spray and cook for approximately 13 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the spring mix on a large serving platter, dress with olive oil and lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper. When the tomatoes are ready, carefully place them on top of the greens.  Serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These would work great by themselves as an appetizer, I suppose. Now, as you can see from the composite photo above, the air-fryer does not make a huge batch of food. I could have fitted maybe two more tomato slices inside, but that would be maximum capacity. The air-fryer is really perfect for a couple, or a couple with a young kid. Teenagers could present a challenge, they tend to eat impressive amounts of food, if I remember correctly… Better enjoy the advantages of a very high metabolic rate, right?  But coming back to these cute little babies, they were delicious indeed. I think the combination of any  type of pesto with tomato and cheese is a classic, but it’s nice to have a change of pace with the halloumi instead of mozzarella. Halloumi is so assertive, it has a grown-up feel. I love it. Wish it was a bit cheaper, though.

I’ve seen recipes that use the air-fryer to “fry” a bunch of tomatoes cut in half, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then blend them in a food processor and use as a basis for a chunky tomato sauce. Sounds pretty tasty to me, I intend to try that in the near future, but decided it was worth getting the thought out. If you try it, please let me know…

With this post, I give my first step into the 9th year of food blogging. Wow! Just wow!  Make sure to enter my giveaway in case  you missed the announcement in the previous post..

 

Grab a pin….

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Red Velvet Layered Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Lemon-Lavender Bars

THREE YEARS AGO: Quinoa Fried Rice

FOUR YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars

SIX YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN TURNS EIGHT: TWO MILESTONES AND A TRIPLE GIVEAWAY!

*comments are now shutdown, winner to be announced July 3rd, 11pm*

Here I am, wrapping up my eighth year of food blogging. But, are you ready for something even more amazing than that? Today, on this exact day, with this very post, I reach ONE THOUSAND ARTICLES PUBLISHED. I can hardly believe it myself… Can you imagine the odds on that? Gives me a thrill, that’s for sure. I actually noticed that those events could coincide, so I increased up slightly the pace of posting this month, lending a little helping hand to fate. Still, it deserved a very enthusiastic version of Sally’s Personal Happy Dance.  You should be grateful that there are no videos. But, to what matters most. What is a Birthday without cake? It is an idiosyncrasy. I could not allow that to happen. So, I rolled my sleeves up, took a few yogic breaths in and out, sat down on a rug staring at a candle for a full 19 seconds, and look what I baked for this party:

A Ferrero Rocher Cake, with – obviously – eight bonbons decorating the top. One for each year, my friends!

The interesting thing is that I own a pathetically large number of cookbooks. Of those, many, I repeat, many are cake cookbooks. Is this recipe from one of them? Obviously not. Why would I take the sensible path? No, not a chance. I got this recipe from the youtube channel hosted by Chetna Makan, the wonderful contestant of  The Great British Bake Off. A couple of months ago she demonstrated this Ferrero Rocher cake, making it seem easy and doable. I could not take it out of my mind. Plus, the idea of topping it with eight bonbons… how could I not go for it on this occasion? You can see Chetna in action with a click here.  And without further ado, I share with you my transcript of her recipe.

FERRERO ROCHER CAKE
(slightly modified from Chetna Makan)

for the cake component:
250g softened butter
250g caster sugar
50g melted dark chocolate
5 eggs, roughly whisked
200g self-rising flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbs milk

for the ganache:
375g dark chocolate
450mL double cream (I used heavy cream)
30g unsalted butter

for the icing:
300g salted butter, softened
600g icing sugar, divided in two equal portions
2 Tbs milk
4 Tbs finely ground hazelnuts

for the pouring ganache and decoration:
50g dark chocolate
150mL double cream (I used heavy cream)
8 Ferrero Rocher bonbons

Make the sponge cake component: prepare three 9-inch round pans by greasing them with butter and placing parchment paper on the bottom. In the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer, combine the softened butter with superfine (caster) sugar. Beat until creamy, a couple of minutes. Add the melted chocolate, mix a few seconds.  Slowly add the eggs, a little at a time with the beater running in low-speed.  Still in low-speed, add sifted self-rising flour, cocoa powder and the additional teaspoon of baking powder.  Mix until combined, add the milk, and mix well. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Make the ganache: place the chocolate cut into pieces in a large bowl, add very hot –  almost to the boiling point – cream, allow it to sit for a minute, then slowly mix with a spatula. When the chocolate is dissolved, add the butter. Reserve, covered with plastic wrap.

Make the buttercream icing: Add the softened salted butter to the mixer, beat with the paddle attachment until creamy. Add the sifted powdered sugar in two additions, 300g each. Mix well, then add the finely ground hazelnuts. Taste a little bit and dream. Reserve.

Assemble the cake: place the first layer to a cake stand, add the cooled ganache. Spread almost to the edges. Sprinkle diced hazelnuts all over the ganache. Place the second cake layer on top, repeat the ganache/hazelnut spreading. Place the third cake on top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Ice the cake with the buttercream hazelnut component. Try to make it smooth on top and sides. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.

Make the pouring ganache: mix the chocolate in pieces with almost boiling heavy cream. Wait a minute or so, then stir until the chocolate is fully melted and smooth. Pour on top of the cake, allowing it to flow down its sides. Sprinkle the top with more chopped hazelnuts, decorate with Ferrero Rocher bonbons….  Place in the fridge until serving time, removing it to room temperature about 30 minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I decided to take my time to make this cake. Baking the cakes on a Saturday, making the ganache and frosting the following morning, assembling the cake in the afternoon. A well-laid plan indeed. To my delight, the cakes baked beautifully, flat and smooth. I removed them from the pans as if I was born doing it. Something we all know not to be the case. Next day the ganache and buttercream preparation went flawlessly. I was radiating self-confidence and pride. Then, I confronted the hazelnuts. A portion to be coarsely chopped, a smaller portion processed more finely. Hazelnuts are kind of expensive, so I bought them whole. That was a move to regret for as long as I live. Have you ever had to peel those pesky creatures? The skin seems to be covalently bonded to the nut. If you are not into chemistry, let me explain. Covalent bonds are strong. The atoms involved are sharing electrons, and the electrons don’t intend to stop dancing together in that complex, undetermined space. I sense an essay coming:  Implications of Sub-atomic Interactions for Cake Baking.  Anyway,  it took me 90 minutes to peel the hazelnuts. On my first innocent attempt I trusted instructions to simply roast them “and the peel will come off easily by rubbing them with a paper towel.” That is not only wrong, it is cruel. In desperation, and with two fingers burned, I googled for alternatives. Found out that if you boil them for “a couple of minutes” the peel should come off with “very little effort.” When I did that, I could hear the dancing electrons laughing at me. No intention of leaving their Covalent Gala. More google action. Found yet another set of instructions, more realistic as it included a clear warning – this method won’t be easy, but it’s by far the best way.  You do boil them, but with baking soda. A lot of it, actually (3 tablespoons for 2 cups of water). The pan will look like a witches brew, as you can see on the composite photo below. 

Get a bowl of cold water ready. After 4 minutes, grab a couple of hazelnuts with a slotted spoon and throw them in the water. Rub gently with your fingers, if the peel starts to come off, you are done. If not, keep boiling them, stirring constantly in low heat, otherwise you will have a very epic mess  on your stove (no need to ask me how I know). Once you reach the point of peels starting to come out,  drain the whole batch and shock them all in cold water. Peeling them will still be a labor like no other. Messy and long-lasting. An ordeal that I do not wish on anyone. In fact, I tell you what a great concept for hell could be. A place where you spend your full day peeling hazelnuts. In the background, the song “Don’t worry, be happy” plays non-stop. Once you are done, you can go to sleep, but not before watching Titanic, beginning to end. That is hell. Hazelnuts, Bobby McFerrin & Titanic, day in, day out.

But was it worth all the trouble? Oh, yeah! I tell you one thing, the icing with the finely ground hazelnuts is to die for, some serious deliciousness in taste and texture. If you like Ferrero Rocher, this cake is the ultimate celebration of it. The creaminess of the ganache, its intense chocolate taste echoed by the sponge cake. A real winner. Now, if you watch Chetna’s video, you’ll notice that her pouring ganache ended up thicker than mine. I think it’s a matter of the ingredients used. She used double cream, easily available in the UK, I had to go with our regular whipping cream. If I knew my way around baking, I would probably adapt it, perhaps using a higher proportion of chocolate. At any rate, I am happy with the way it turned out. Also, a warning: the ganache makes more than you’ll need. Chetna baked four cakes, I went with three, slightly larger. But trust me, you can use the leftover ganache in many tasty ways. Macaron filling? Yesssss!  Stirred into the morning cappuccino? Oh, yessssss…

So here I am, at the eight year mark! According to Foodista, 8% of the blogs make it to six years, no statistics available for food blogs older than that. What matters is that I am still having fun, and intend to keep going, so if you’d like, step with me into the 9th year of adventures in our kitchen.

source Foodista

To celebrate my special double milestone, I am offering a triple giveaway!  Three cookbooks that deal with some of my passions. The Book of Buns, a delightful publication that covers all sorts of breads, from simple to more complex. Second, Les Petits Macarons, because… how could I not include this colorful obsession of mine? And finally Flavor Flours, in my opinion the best cookbook for gluten-free baking. If you follow my blog, you know I don’t have any dietary restrictions. But recipes that try to adapt classics to gluten-free alternative versions fascinate me.  I’ve made quite a few of her recipes, and they were all top-notch. Alice Medrich does her homework before coming up with a recipe.

If you’d like to enter this giveaway, just leave a comment, and I’ll draw the winner on June 30th, announcing it the day after. I intend to give the books either as real hard copies (for those living in the USA), or as Kindle copies to those anywhere else in the world. Of course, if you live in the US but rather have the virtual versions, let me know.

 

Grab a pin to celebrate!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Seven!

TWO YEARS AGO: Bewitching Kitchen Turns Six!

THREE YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Five!

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Four!

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Three! 

SIX YEARS AGO:  The Bewitching Kitchen turns Two!

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Bewitching Birthday!

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Welcome to my blog!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

Save

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SPRING MIX SALAD WITH ROASTED YAMS AND FETA CHEESE

One of our favorite salads matched two unlikely entities together: roasted carrots and avocados. I cannot praise that combination enough. I’ve made it so many times now I can pull it together it in my sleep. Now I bring you another winner, a recipe I know it will be part of our regular rotation. It is hearty without being too heavy, it could be your full meal if you add a good amount of roasted yams, but we enjoyed it with flatiron steak. Prepared sous-vide. Medium-rare, juicy, delicious. Of course, any other protein of your choice would work great. Grilled shrimp? Oh, yeah…

SPRING MIX SALAD WITH ROASTED YAMS AND FETA  CHEESE
(adapted from The Dude Diet)

2 yams, peeled and cut into cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8  teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces baby spring mix
¼ cup pepitas, dry toasted on a skillet until fragrant
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
for the dressing:
4 tablespoons avocado oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oven to 375 ° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place the yams in a bowl large enough to toss them around, add the 2 teaspoons of olive oil, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well, transfer them to the baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, until starting to get brown at the edges, and is cooked through, when you test with a fork.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Make the dressing inside a serving bowl, by whisking together all ingredients. Add the spring mix, roasted yams, and toasted pepitas. Mix well, and add the crumbled feta on top, right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I had never visited Serena’s blog , Domesticate Me, and fell in love with it upon my first contact. Must thank Mimi for the heads up about that site. I ended up ordering her book, The Dude Diet, and I absolutely love it. She is hilarious, but what’s even better, her recipes are great. I’ve tried a few already, and must say that her lightened up version of Chicken Parmigiana is a serious winner. It pleased my beloved, who is an expert on the subject. It is one of his favorite dishes, one he requests all the time. The whole gist of the book is making recipes that awe her guy – think cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, lasagna, enchiladas – but with a lot more restraint in terms of fat and calories. I gotta use a word I don’t care for: healthier versions. There, I said it. Without compromising flavor.  I highly recommend her book and her blog. Just keep in mind she uses very “colorful” language… If you don’t have a problem with that, get ready for a great time.

This salad is so delicious, and not at all hard to make on a weeknight. I would probably cut the yams in the morning and keep the pieces in the fridge, just to speed preparation up. Then, it’s all a matter of heating the small electric oven, roasting the yams and moving on to showtime.  I think that adding pieces of avocado will make it even better, and perhaps some hard-boiled eggs instead of cheese could work well too. The pepitas are fantastic, by the way. They kind of disappeared in the photo, but their popcorny taste and crunch is superb! Try this salad, with or without the steak. At the risk of sounding repetitive, it is a winner. Winner, winner, salad dinner!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Aloha!

TWO YEARS AGO: Fab Choc Chip Cookies

THREE YEARS AGO: Pumpkin-Chipotle and Kale Pizza

FOUR YEARS AGO: Enchiladas Suizas a la Marcela Valladolid

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Little Apple

SIX YEARS AGO: Majestic Sedona

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Watermelon-induced Daze

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SUFFERING BASTARDS AT TRADER VIC’S

This is a guest post by my best friend, husband, and eminently satisfactory co-worker!

Their heyday passed a few decades ago, but if you had the good fortune to visit one of Trader Vic Bergeron’s restaurants, then you probably enjoyed a memorable meal of Polynesian appetizers, drinks and exotic Asian dishes. Delicious beef “cho cho” or crab Rangoon or cheese bings or crispy prawns… YUM, YUM! Or, perhaps you drank a Mai Tai or two in a tiki bar on a tropical beach in Hawaii …. Trader Vic created that classic libation.  It all started in 1934, in Oakland, CA, but  during the 2nd half of the 20th century Trader Vic’s franchise operated > 30 locations in all the major American cities.    They were places to go and celebrate something … special, fun places to relax and laugh with best friends and family.  I experienced the restaurants in Chicago, SF, Atlanta, Emeryville and Beverly Hills; just remembering my companions and those occasions puts a smile on my face.  Now only two US restaurants remain, the original Trader Vic’s, now on the SF East Bay waterfront (in Emeryville), and a second in Atlanta.

This fond memory recalls my Uncle Bill and Aunt Mildred Sladek, who lived in Riverside, IL. Uncle Bill was a renowned Chicago proctologist, and consequently, a very popular man.  I was a pre‐med major at Notre Dame, 80 miles away in S. Bend, IN. I spent many excellent weekends with my favorite aunt and uncle, who were guiding me toward a medical career. When I arrived on the South Shore train on Friday night we were off to one of Chicago’s fine restaurants. Uncle Bill was so well-respected that when he and Mildred a entered a Loop restaurant the Maitre d’ and wait-staff began to bow and curtsey as if Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn had just walked in. Such was the case at Trader Vic’s in the Palmer House in Chicago. It was where I had my first oyster on the half‐shell, and the site of fine meals with the Sladek family (my cousins Bill Jr., Bob and Barbara), including one dinner preceding the Chicago performance of “Hair” in 1972. We loved all the tropical drinks, but especially the Suffering Bastard, that Trader Vic also concocted.

The recipe was a secret, but Uncle Bill managed to get it from the Maitre d’, and passed it to me in a handwritten note that I saved in a lockbox until now. When you search for the recipe of a Suffering Bastard, you will find some drinks that originated at the Cairo Hotel, made from bourbon and gin.  But that’s not the same thing we drank at Trader Vic’s.  If you’re looking for a refreshing drink on a hot summer day, then you’ve found it!

 

THE SUFFERING BASTARD
(from Trader Vic’s)

1 measure white rum
2 measures dark rum (Light Burns or Mount Gay Barbados rum)
1 measure Mai Tai mix (Trader Vic’s is best … available at Amazon.com)
1.5 ‐ 2  measures fresh lime juice
for garnish:
fresh pineapple
Maraschino cherries,
cucumber
fresh mint

Give the components a quick shake, pour over cracked ice, and garnish.  Be forewarned, it packs a (delightful) punch!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments from Sally: This was one of the first drinks Phil made for us when we started dating. Sweet memories! Well, let me point out it is actually not a sweet drink at all. We love tart flavors, so it’s perfect for us. If you prefer a sweeter concoction, consider adding a half ounce of simple syrup or agave nectar. It’s not authentic, but we won’t hold grudges.

I hope you enjoyed one more guest post by my beloved! I actually feel very lucky he did not go to medical school, or we probably would have never met…

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Aloha!

TWO YEARS AGO: Fab Choc Chip Cookies

THREE YEARS AGO: Pumpkin-Chipotle and Kale Pizza

FOUR YEARS AGO: Enchiladas Suizas a la Marcela Valladolid

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Little Apple

SIX YEARS AGO: Majestic Sedona

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Watermelon-induced Daze

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave