Chocolate Soufflé Cake

What do you get when 3 super cool ladies from “The Young and the Restless” get together and cook a meal?  A whole lot of deliciousness!  And that’s just what happened when Sharon Case (Sharon on Y&R) wrangled Y&R Stylist Elif Inanc and myself for a last minute Sunday Supper at her house.

With Sharon on Appetizers and Salad…

And Elif cooking up the Main Course of Short Ribs and Creamy Polenta…

…all that was left was my department: The Dessert.  Wanting to treat my pals to something really fabulous, I went to a beloved go-to chocolate treat in my bag of tricks: my Chocolate Soufflé Cake (which Y&R viewers recently saw featured in “Avery’s” bag of tricks too!)

Such a fun night!  And the company was even BETTER than the food!  Thank you Sharon for being the “Hostess with the Mostess” (and having a kitchen to DIE for!) and Elif for the delicious main course!

And here’s the recipe for my Chocolate Soufflé Cake… XoJ

Chocolate Soufflé Cake

Makes about 10 servings

Adapted from an old Gourmet Magazine (rest in peace!) recipe, this is one of my favorite chocolate desserts.  You don’t have to be a great baker to have great results with this cake.  A simplified version of a chocolate soufflé, this recipe uses only 5 ingredients to achieve the most velvety chocolate bliss.  I like to make this cake the day before serving to allow the flavors to develop.  Served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, this is one sexy dessert!

Ingredients:

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter cut into pieces, plus additional for greasing pan

9 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not more than 60%) chopped

6 large eggs, separated

1/3 + 1/3 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Place a small roasting or baking pan filled halfway with water in the bottom rack of the oven (to provide moisture during baking.) Position another rack in the middle of oven, then preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease a springform pan with butter and then line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.  Then grease the paper as well and set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring often, until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

In an electric mixer with whisk attachment or a hand held mixer, on medium-high speed, beat egg yolks, 1/3 cup of the sugar and salt for about 6-8 minutes until thick enough to form a ribbon that takes 2 seconds to dissolve into the mixture when whisk attachment is lifted.

Transfer egg yolk mixture to a separate large bowl and stir in chocolate mixture until well combined.

Now in a cleaned mixing bowl with cleaned whisk attachment, at medium speed, beat egg whites until they hold soft peaks.  Slowly add remaining 1/3 cup sugar and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks.

Gently fold egg whites mixture into chocolate mixture and keep folding just until thoroughly combined (no streaking.)

Pour batter into springform pan and bake in middle of oven (do not place springform pan in hot water) and bake for about 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with crumbs on it.

Transfer cake to a wire rack and cool completely.  Cake will deflate as it cools and may crack a bit- this is all fine.

When completely cooled, run a knife carefully around edge of cake, then remove side of pan.   Invert a rack over cake and invert cake onto rack, then remove bottom of pan and carefully peel off paper.  Invert a serving plate over cake, then invert cake onto plate.

I like to make this cake 1 day ahead to allow flavors to develop.  Cool completely, then chill, covered in plastic wrap.  Bring to room temperature and dust top with powdered sugar before serving. (P.S… the powdered sugar hides ALL the imperfections- the cracks, the crumbs, the broken top, etc. ;)

Serve cake with freshly whipped cream.

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Crème Brûlée French Toast

Easter is this Sunday and there’s no better time to try my killer Crème Brûlée French Toast!  Easy to assemble the night before, all that’s required in the morning is baking it in the oven.

Served hot out of the oven, this dish is perfect on its own.  But pair it up with some of the following- Freshly Brewed Coffee, Mimosas, Fresh Fruit, Bacon or Sausage, Eggs (any style you like), Smoked Salmon, Cheeses- and you’ve got an Easter Brunch as decadent as you would find in the finest hotels in the world- without the crowds, the waits and the hefty dining bill at the end.

Happy Easter!

Crème Brûlée French Toast

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 loaf French, Challah or Brioche day old bread, cut into 1-inch slices

7 eggs

1 1/2 cups half and half

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon orange liquor (like Grand Marnier) or you can use 1 teaspoon orange zest

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Toppings of your choice: powdered sugar, maple syrup, whipped cream, fresh fruit, jam, etc (if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself using ALL of them!)

Directions:

Grease a 9×13 baking dish and set aside.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter.

Add brown sugar and maple syrup and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.  Pour mixture into baking dish.  Arrange bread slices as close together as possible, in one layer, in the baking dish.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs by hand until fluffy- about 1 minute.  Add half and half, vanilla, orange liquor, cinnamon and salt and whisk until all is evenly combined.

Pour egg mixture evenly over the bread slices.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight (or for at least 6 hours.)

When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature- 30 minutes to an hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for about 35 minutes until the french toast looks lightly golden brown and is cooked all the way through.

Serve immediately, nice and hot.

When scooping out a serving, flip bread slice over and serve “bottom-side-up” onto plate. This way, the brown sugar/butter coating is now on top. (Hence the “crème brûlée”  topping!)

Accompany french toast with toppings of your choice.

Note: I like to make this with all kinds of breads and I think it comes out a little different with each one.  Here you can see two versions I’ve made— the one to the LEFT with CHALLAH BREAD and the one to the RIGHT is FRENCH BREAD.

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When Art steals from Life…

If you watch me on “The Young and the Restless”, you know that my character Avery Bailey Clark recently won an online cooking contest with her famous Key Lime Pie.  What my loyal readers probably picked up on is that “Avery” was using a recipe I’ve already shared with my subscribers- and a great go-to dessert when you’re in a hurry (I banged out 3 of these pies in less than an hour for a party not long ago.)

It was pretty cool shooting a “cooking show” in character as Avery and we had a lot of laughs on set making this short video, which is being used to forward a fun storyline on the show.

Here’s the link to the video which includes the complete recipe at the end.

Avery Bailey Clark\’s Famous Key Lime Pie

Guinness Ice Cream Float

Drinking Guinness is pretty much a requirement for the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.  Here’s a really fun way to incorporate it into a super- easy dessert!  A creamy ice cream float perfect for your over-21 friends.

Guinness Ice Cream Float

Makes 4 servings
Ice cream floats usually come in big, guilty serving sizes but I like to prepare them in a small glass or a tea cup.

Ingredients

4 rounded scoops of vanilla ice cream

1 12-15 ounce bottle or can of Guinness stout

Directions

Place 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream in each of the 4 small glasses or tea cups.

Slowly pour Guinness stout over them.

Serve immediately.

*Feel free to make this treat your own!  Some ideas…  Substitute chocolate ice cream for vanilla.  Add whipped cream, cocoa powder or hot fudge on the top.  Serve with chocolates, malt balls or shortbreads on the side.  And of course, for your UNDER-21 friends, use Root Beer or Ginger Beer over the ice cream.

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Traditional Irish Coffee

Arguably the best drink to come out of St Patrick’s Day, this hot beverage is perfect to serve after a big Irish meal or as a fun nightcap.  Strong coffee is sweetened with sugar and Irish whiskey, then topped with frothy whipped cream which sits above the coffee.  The idea is to drink the hot coffee (which has a nice kick from the whiskey) through the cooled cream.

Traditional Irish Coffee

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

Boiling water

3/4 cup of hot, strong coffee

1 teaspoon brown sugar

3 tablespoons Irish whiskey

1/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream, lightly beaten with a whisk but still pourable (a little stiffer than a milk froth but not quite as stiff as whipped cream)

Directions

Pour boiling water in an 8 ounce coffee cup or glass to preheat it.  Let it sit for at least a minute, then pour the water out.

Pour hot coffee in coffee cup or glass.

Stir in brown sugar until dissolved.  Stir in Irish Whiskey.

Using a tablespoon, gently spoon heavy or whipping cream on top of the coffee.  Do not stir. The trick is for the cream to float on top of the coffee, allowing you to sip the coffee through the cream.

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Be My Valentine…

February 14th is right around the corner and whether you’re single, coupled, or even cranky about the whole situation, there’s no reason NOT to indulge in a great meal.

Let’s start with some Champagne.  I’m a sucker for the pink stuff and I’ll give you two wonderful options.  Laurent-Perrier Brut Rosé Champange is my absolute favorite bubbly to drink and at $65 a bottle, I reserve this one for the most special occasions.  Another fantastic pick (and a lot more budget friendly) is Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Rosé coming in at around $14.

Next, the dinner.  For me, Valentine’s Day is probably the WORST night of the year to go out to a restaurant.  I think a home-cooked meal is the way to go.  For couples, there’s something wildly romantic about being in the kitchen and preparing a meal together.  How about a juicy Grilled Rib-Eye Steak & Cauliflower-Bacon Gratin?  Or are you sharing the night with group of friends?  Plan a family style meal with a Grilled Caesar Salad and Spaghetti All’Amatriciana.  For dessert, anything with chocolate is going to be perfect. My Chocolate Pots de Crème are easy to make ahead of time.  Or for something really unique (and it travels beautifully) a Red Velvet Skillet Cake.

Whatever your plans for Valentine’s Day, this is a day to express love: for friends, lovers, a dog named Lucy and anyone that brings joy to your heart.

Big kiss to all of you!

Sweets to the Sweet… Happy Valentine’s Day!

Looking for something really unique to do this Valentine’s Day?  How about a Dessert Wine & Sweets Paring? If I do say so myself, this episode of Sugared is just plain awesome!  I teamed up with some gal pals- the best in their fields- to make this dessert pairing party phenomenal.  From Bon Appetit Magazine, wine columnist Heather John picked out some of her favorite dessert wines and Valerie Gordon, owner of my favorite chocolate shop in town – Valerie Confections – was on hand to pair the perfect treats with the perfect wines.

I can’t describe how much fun we had!  I mean, come on!  Chocolate, wine, giggles.  Think about doing your own tasting at home.  Invite a group of friends and have everyone bring a dessert wine and a paired sweet. Watch this latest episode of Sugared below for tips on how to pair and what to think about when doing so.

Here’s a complete list of our parings in the episode:

Robert Mondavi Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2000 paired with a Rose Petal Petit Four

Justin “Obtuse” Paso Robles Dessert Red 2008 ($24) paired with a Chocolate Tart filled with milk chocolate ganache and topped with grey sea salt

Fonseca LBV Port 2003 ($22) paired with a Blushing Berry Chocolate Bar

La Tour Vieille “Vendanges” Banyuls 2006 ($18-25) paired with Orange Toffee covered in 61% Valrhona chocolate and topped with candied orange peel

Broadbent 10 Year Malmsey Madeira ($40) paired with a Caramel Parfait and Almond Fleur de sel Toffee

If you live in Los Angeles, a trip to Valerie’s confectionary gem is a must.  But you can also find her sweets online at valerieconfections.com.  And be sure to check out Heather’s amazing food AND fashion blog The Foodinista.

Beets: Love ‘em or hate ‘em…

In our final week of Healthy January, does any food generate a more passionate reaction? Fans of beets rejoice when they see them on a menu.  Haters claim they taste like dirt.

Let me just say to all the haters… Beets are one of the best foods you’re not eating.  Packed with nutrition and full of incredible flavor when prepared PROPERLY!  Forget everything you’ve tried in the can or those gross bins you see neglected at the salad bar.  Roasting beets is the way to go- bringing out their sweet, rich taste.  Red are the most popular but my personal favorites are golden beets so I like to serve a combo of both.  I think they are best appreciated with some mixed greens tossed in a vinaigrette dressing, topped with crumbled goat cheese and crushed black pepper.  Here’s an easy and quick recipe that will make you a believer.

Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets & Goat Cheese

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

3 medium or 6 small beets, roasted (*see instructions below) and peeled – about 1 pound of beets

6 ounces mixed greens, washed and dried thoroughly

About 1/4 cup of **Simple Vinaigrette Dressing  (or use your own)

2 ounces crumbled goat cheese

crushed black pepper

Directions:

Slice beets to your liking (sliced, diced or quartered) and add to the mixed greens.  (Note: If you are using red beets, add them AFTER adding the dressing so that the color doesn’t bleed onto the other beets/greens.)

Add vinaigrette and toss until well combined.  You may not need to use all the dressing- you never want to “drown” the greens in it.

Top with crumbled goat cheese and crushed black pepper and serve.

*How to Roast Beets

Ingredients:

1 pound beets

water

1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Trim the greens of the beets (the leaves and stems) down to about 1/2 inch. Wash and scrub beets thoroughly.

Place beets in a baking dish and add a little water- just enough to cover the bottom of the dish about 1/8 inch.  Sprinkle with salt.

Cover tightly with a cover or foil and bake for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on the size of your beets) until they can be easily pierced with a knife.

Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle with your hands

Cut off the tops and ends and slip off the skins.  (I like to wear latex gloves- a staple in my kitchen- for this process, especially when working with red beets.  Their color will bleed onto everything and stain so be sure to wear an apron or cover up- this is a slightly messy job.)

Cut beets into wedges, dice or slices.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I also sometimes like to toss beets with a teaspoon of vinegar (balsamic, cider, red wine, sherry, etc- they all work nicely.)

Serve alone or over salad greens.

Beets can last 5 days in the refrigerator.  Leave already roasted beets unpeeled until you are ready to use.

P.S…. Those leafy greens that come attached to your beets?  Yes, you CAN eat them and they are delicious!  Rinse them really well to get all the dirt out, chop and sauté over medium heat with olive oil, sea salt and pepper until tender.

**Simple Vinaigrette Dressing

Makes a little more than a 1/4 cup

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vinegar (balsamic, cider or red wine work beautifully)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In small bowl, whisk all ingredients together.  Serve over mixed greens or veggies.

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Baked Salmon with Pesto Sauce

Healthy January continues!…

Here’s a recipe for a main course that I keep in my back pocket for special occasions, especially those that come up suddenly, where I don’t have a lot of time to shop or prepare. Only 5 ingredients are needed and it can be made from start to finish in about 30 minutes. It goes nicely with a variety of side dishes such as rice pilaf, couscous, sauteed veggies or mashed potatoes along with some crusty French bread on the table. A bottle of California Pinot Noir pairs perfectly and completes the meal.

On a side note, I was inspired to create this dish the night I was hired to play Avery Bailey Clark on The Young and the Restless.  In my excitement, I came up with it on the fly, called a few of my nearest and dearest over, and since then it’s become a “fan favorite” among my inner circle.

BAKED SALMON WITH PESTO SAUCE

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

2 1/2 – 3 pounds salmon fillet with skin
1 10-ounce bag of baby spinach
1 cup pesto sauce (If you love making your own, go for it – but I won’t tell if you buy the packaged stuff at the store.)
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
Olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a large baking dish (or use a cookie sheet if you need something bigger) with foil and generously brush with olive oil.

Season the salmon fillet (both sides) with salt and pepper.

Place skin side down onto baking dish and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until ALMOST opaque in the center. (Chef’s note: I prefer to serve my salmon medium rare, but if you like a more done piece of fish, cook until completely opaque in the center- but be careful not to overcook as fish will dry out.)

While salmon is baking, on a large serving platter arrange the bag of baby spinach. Drizzle some olive oil over the top and season with a pinch of salt.

Warm the pesto sauce.

When salmon is finished baking, remove from oven and carefully transfer the fish onto the bed of spinach. The heat from the fish will wilt the spinach a just a bit.  Garnish with sliced cherry tomatoes around the fillet and drizzle the pesto sauce over the top of the salmon.
Serve immediately.

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Sauteed Spinach w/ Caramelized Onions

Here’s a yummy side dish for “Healthy January” that will pair beautifullly with just about any meat, chicken or fish.  Packed with lemony flavor, this veggie dish makes a great presentation on the table and can be served warm or at room temperature.

Sauteed Spinach with Caramelized Onions

Makes 6 side servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, sliced to about 1/8 inch thickness

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 lb fresh spinach

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the sliced onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Saute until nicely caramelized- really allowing the onions to get caramel colored.  Remove from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels.  Blot any excess oil.

Wipe down or scrub skillet if the bottom has been browned by the onions (not doing this will turn your spinach brown.)  On low-medium heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, spinach, lemon juice and zest.  Work in 2 batches if you need to.  Cover and cook just until spinach is wilted.  Do not overcook. You want your spinach to be bright green in color.  Remove from heat and season spinach with salt and pepper to your liking.

Place spinach on a platter (you can leave the excess lemon juice in the pan) and top with the caramelized onions.  Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top and a squeeze from a lemon wedge.

This dish can be served warm or at room temperature.

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Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing

Happy 2014… Make it a great start!

I’m really not a “New Year’s Resolution” type of gal, nor do I allow the word “diet” to enter my vocabulary-  but I do like to take the month of January to get back on track with my healthy eating habits.  And after all of the culinary and cocktail debauchery from the holidays, I’m actually craving clean food- fresh veggies, fruits, lean proteins, etc.

I’ll be posting some “healthy while still being delicious” recipes this month to get us all back to reality.  This dressing is a great place to start: so packed with flavor, you’ll be surprised how delicious “healthy eating” can be!

This recipe is super fast and easy to make and can turn the simplest salad into a sensational meal!  The dressing is the star and you can use it on any combination of salad fixings you choose.  I paired it here with some butter lettuce, avocado slices, cherry tomatoes and thinly sliced red onion.  Add a side of chicken breast, shrimp or turkey and you have a complete healthy meal. The dressing also makes a great dip for veggies like raw broccoli or cauliflower.

Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing

Servings: about 4

Ingredients:

2 medium sized carrots peeled and roughly chopped or shreaded

2 tablespoons fresh ginger peeled and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons shallots peeled and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons white miso

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/4 cup neutral oil (like grapeseed oil or canola oil)

Directions:

In a blender, add all ingredients except the 1/4 cup of neutral oil.  Pulse ingredients until combined and you have a thick puree.  With blender running on a low speed, slowly add the neutral oil until everything is combined.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over salad or in a bowl for dipping.

Note:  All of the ingredient amounts are flexible and to be used as a guideline.  I sometimes add a little more or less ginger, rice vinegar, etc.  Taste as you are making it and feel free to adjust it to your liking.  I personally like it on the chunky side but you can also thin it down a bit with a tablespoon or so of water if you choose.

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The 5 minute app…

Gourmet potato chips are all the rage these days, and they make a terrific base for an appetizer.  This recipe takes all of 5 minutes to make.  If your friends are like mine, it will probably take even less time for them to devour these tasty snacks.

Smoked Trout & Potato Chip One-Bite Appetizers

Makes about 25 bites

Ingredients:

1 bag of the best quality potato chips at your grocer.  (I like Kettle chips- either sea salt or black pepper flavor)

1 package of smoked trout cut into small pieces(to place on chips)

crème fraîche

fresh chives, finely chopped

Directions:

Sort chips in a single file on a platter or plate.  Top with a small piece of trout.  Place a tiny dollop (about a 1/2 teaspoon) of crème fraîche on top of trout.  Finish with a pinch of chopped chives on top.  Serve immediately.

Note: Any kind of smoked fish will work on this really.  As will substituting another kind of herb instead of chives.

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Candy Corn & Peanuts

This party treat takes all of 2 minutes to prepare: that is, if you move REALLY slow.  I learned this trick from my dear friends Tom and Jenny at one of their famous Halloween parties.  The PERFECT combination of salty & sweet.

Candy Corn & Peanuts

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup candy corn

1 cup salted dry-roasted peanuts

Directions:

Mix candy corn and peanuts together in a bowl and serve.  Try not to eat the whole bowl in one sitting.

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Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Looking for a quick and easy appetizer for your holiday party?  Here’s a nice twist on the always popular shrimp cocktail.  I think roasting the shrimp brings out the best flavor.  Pair it with some easy-to-make-cocktail sauce and you’ve got a hit for sure!

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail Appetizer

Serves about 8-10

Ingredients:

2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined with tails still on

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Cocktail Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons prepared horseradish (more or less to taste- I like mine spicy)

squeeze of a lemon (about a tablespoon)

5 drops Worcestershire sauce

5 drops Tabasco sauce (optional for an added kick)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place raw shrimp in a large bowl.  Add olive oil, salt and pepper to season, and toss until shrimp is evenly coated.

Line a baking sheet with foil and place shrimp on pan in a single layer.

Roast for about 7-10 minutes just until shrimp turn pink and are cooked throughout.  Do not over cook!

Set aside to fully cool.

Make cocktail sauce by adding all of the sauce ingredients and mixing well to combine. Feel free to add or subtract amounts ingredients to your liking.

Arrange shrimp on a platter (I added some lemon zest over mine in the photo as an alternative to serving with actual lemon wedges which would also be nice) and serve with cocktail sauce.

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Pumpkin Ice Cream

Just in time for Halloween, this ice cream is a terrific treat alone but you can also have some fun adding toppings.  Freshly whipped cream, crushed graham crackers or caramel sauce would all pair nicely.  For mine (see pic below) I had some leftover Gingersnap Cookies in the freezer that I thawed and crumbled on top.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart



Ingredients:

3 cups heavy cream, divided in half
1 cup dark brown sugar, divided in half
6 egg yolks
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 15 ounce can 100% pure pumpkin, (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a medium sauce pot, heat HALF of the heavy cream and HALF of the sugar until it JUST begins to scald over medium heat.  Do not let boil.

In a medium to large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, remaining half of brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

Very slowly temper the hot heavy cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs don’t curdle.

Return entire mixture to the sauce pot and cook over low heat until the cream is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. About 7-9 minutes.

Remove sauce pot from heat and add pumpkin to the pot. Gently mix until no lumps remain. Add remaining half of heavy cream and vanilla to the pot and mix until evenly combined.

Strain entire mixture through a sieve into a large bowl.  Cool in an ice bath.

Cover mixture tightly and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour but as long as (and preferably) overnight so that the flavors can intensify.

Freeze/churn ice cream according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s directions.

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Leftover Day: Pilgrim’s Pie

The day AFTER Thanksgiving has become just as popular in my home as the actual event. Now, I know what you’re thinking: the last thing anyone wants to worry about on Friday is cooking.  Unless you’re making a Pilgrim’s Pie!  Forget cramming 47 leftover dishes into the microwave.  Instead, layer everything in one baking dish (much like a Shepherd’s Pie), heat it in the oven and serve.
Use whatever you’ve got in the fridge (turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, gravy, even cranberry sauce!) and no additional ingredients are needed.

PILGRIM’S PIE

Preheat oven to 350º.
Grease a baking dish with butter or non-stick spray.
Chop up turkey meat into bite size pieces.
Start to layer leftovers, one by one, into a baking dish. (I like to begin with the stuffing to give it a nice base.)
Add remaining layers and top with mashed potatoes.
Bake at 350º for about 20-30 minutes- until hot all the way through.  Let the potatoes brown a little on top.  If they start brown too much before dish is completely heated, cover with foil for the remaining time.

Dishing with Jessica: Red Velvet Skillet Cake

‘Tis the Season to be Baking!

Looking for some last minute cookie recipes?  Here are my 4 favorites to make during the holiday season.  Just click on the highlighted names to be directed to the recipes.

My White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Sea Salt are hands down my most requested cookie recipe.

Two I love to make this time of year are my Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies and The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

And no Christmas is complete for me without sharing my favorite cookie from childhood, My Auntie Kate’s Cream Cheese Cherry Cookies.

SUGARED: The Christmas Episode

Watch this step-by-step video for making my White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Sea Salt.

Happy Holidays!!!

“How Much Longer?…”

Lucy waits for Santa with carrots for his reindeer and homemade Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies and milk.

Happy 2013!!!

Well gang, it’s been a great year for all things food!  A huge “thank you” to my subscribers, especially those of you who spread the word via “Pin”, “Facebook like” and “Twitter” about what’s going on here.  Much appreciation to my tweeps who send me pictures on Twitter of my recipes that you’ve tried- so much fun to see your creations! Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and looking forward to bringing you much more in the new year.

Cheers!

Jessica

I’m cooking on “THE TALK” this week!!!

Hey Gang!

So excited!  On Monday, January 14th, I’m in the kitchen cooking with the ladies from “The Talk” on CBS!  Tune in and watch while I prepare “Food to Set the Mood” with a delicious, sexy dinner for two!

“THE TALK”  Monday on CBS, 2 pm ET/1 pm PT

Cooking with the Ladies of “THE TALK”

A HUGE “Thank You” to all who watched “The Talk” today on CBS!  Your kind words via Twitter/Facebook/Pin mean so much!  I had a blast!  You can click HERE to see a clip of me cooking with the fabulous ladies of the show!

All of the recipes I made on the show today– Mussels Steamed in White Wine, Simple Green Salad with Vinaigrette and Pots De Creme– can be found clicking HERE.

LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER!!!

Fat Tuesday is upon us!  Get out your beads, feathers and masks and let us revisit some good ole Cajun recipes!  Red Beans and Rice is the traditional meal to cook for Mardi Gras.  But don’t forget the Gumbo and for the REALLY adventurous: Turtle Soup (ok, if you’re not feeling the “turtle”- beef or veal can be substituted to make this tasty soup.)

Some of you may recall last year’s Mardi Gras party where Christian LeBlanc and I battled it out with the King Cake (gobbling half the cake ourselves!) to find the hidden baby.  But in the end, it was meant to be that Lucy would effortlessly discover it in the very LAST bite!

Dishing with Jessica: The Valentine’s Day Menu

Irish Scones with Currants

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Sunday this year, these scones are the perfect treat for a traditional Irish Brunch!  To keep your scones from turning into “hockey pucks” handle the dough as little as possible- overworking it makes tough.  The dough should come together in a mound and be slightly sticky.

Irish Scones with Currants

Makes 8 scones

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter cut into cubes
1/4 cup sugar
the zest of half a lemon
1/4 cup currants
1 cup heavy cream, plus a little for brushing
sugar to sprinkle on top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
Add cold butter cubes to flour mixture and pinch cubes into the flour until you have a crumbly mixture.
In a small bowl, combine sugar, lemon zest and currants.  Toss sugar to coat zest and currants and then add to the flour mixture and mix well.
Make a well in the middle of the bowl and slowly add the cream, while tossing the flour with a fork until moistened.  Knead dough a few times just to bring the dough completely together.  Dough will be sticky.  Pat into a round disk about 1 1/2 thick.  Don’t work the dough too much.
Cut dough into 8 wedges and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 1 inch apart.
Brush top of scones with cream and sprinkle a pinch of sugar on top.
Bake for about 30 minutes (rotating baking sheet halfway through for even baking) until scones are a light golden brown in color.
Serve warm with clotted cream and your favorite flavor of fruit jam.

READ FULL POST >

New Orleans: Like a Local

If you read my blog, you know of my great love for the city of New Orleans.  A magical place I visit a few times a year, it truly is my favorite food city in the country.  This weekend, I made my way to The Big Easy for a charity appearance with fellow Young & Restless co-stars Christian Le Blanc and Jeff Branson.

Lucky for us, our plans fell on the same weekend as The French Quarter Festival, an annual music and food festival that happens each April.  Christian, a local New Orleanian, was our more than enthusiastic tour guide and introduced us to a variety of hidden gems around town.  Proving we really could eat our body weight in food, here are some of the highlights of our Cajun culinary adventure.

No trip to New Orleans should miss a traditional brunch at Brennan’s Restaurant in the French Quarter.  Christian, Jeff and myself were treated to a leisurely 4 hour meal that started with Community Chicory Coffee, Brandy Milk Punch and Creole Bloody Mary Cocktails.  Then came the Crab and Oysters Rockefeller, Seafood Gumbo, Turtle Soup, Oyster Soup, Eggs LaFourche & Eggs Hussarde, and Baked Apples in Double Cream.  Last but not least, we participated in making our dessert (see photo of us in flames above) of the legendary Bananas Foster and Crepes Fitzgerald.



Our extraordinary server Lee made us feel like family the moment we sat down.  Giving us the grand tour after our meal, including a glimpse inside the kitchen and the crown jewels on the third floor.

Later in the evening, after a good long walk through the Quarter, we made our way to Uptown for an elegant dinner at Upperline.  Owner and art collector, JoAnn Clevenger, has allowed artists throughout the years to pay their dining tabs with their art.  Her celebrated collection covers most of the wall space around the restaurant making it the perfect place to combine the joys of art viewing and food tasting.

A real Taste of New Orleans included Gumbo, Turtle Soup, Duck Ettouffee, Spicy Shrimp with Cornbread, Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade, Slow Roasted Duckling, Drum Fish Piquant and Louisiana Pecan Pie and Honey Pecan Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce for dessert.

The next morning, we started our day at Cafe Amelie with Orange Blossom cocktails: a mixture of Prosecco, St Germain Elderflower Liqueur and Orange Bitters before making our way into the French Quarter Music and Food Festival.

Food tasting at some of the best old school restaurants like Galatoires, The Court of Two Sisters, K-Paul’s, and the Antoine’s booth where I discovered TWO Baked Alaskas are so much better than one…

Early evening was spent in City Park with a stop at Morning Call Cafe for Chicory Coffees and Beignets…

Not a single beignet was spared…

Continuing our walk through the park, Christian strongly encouraged us to reconnect with nature…

Going super “local” meant a stop at Cooter Browns for Oysters, Sweet Corn Nuggets, Wafer Fries and Meat Pies and Gravy…

Finishing the night with my favorite drink from my favorite lounge: The Sazerac Bar inside The Roosevelt Hotel…

If you haven’t already figured this out Christian, Jeff and myself are all champion eaters, And with only a half day left in town, we knew had to fit in as much as we could in the last few hours.

Starting with Surrey’s for Shrimp & Grits and Bananas Foster French Toast…

Stopping for gifts at Tee Eva’s for Pralines and Sweet Potato Pies and a photo opp with Keonna, Eva’s granddaughter who now runs the family business….

No “local style” trip would be complete without a trip to Rouses Supermarket where I learned the phrase “Making Groceries” – an old New Orleans expression that the city’s residents traditionally used for food shopping. The expression derives from the French faire son marché, “to do one’s market shopping,” faire translating either “to do” or “to make.”

We ate, we drank, we conquered.  A heartfelt thank you to Christian Le Blanc for showing us HIS city.  And thank you New Orleans, for just being YOU!  And now… off to a good detox!

The Emmys 2013!!!

It should come as no surprise that the way I celebrated my first Emmy nomination this past Sunday was with some of my closest friends and a fantastic Champagne Brunch Buffet.

It’s not everyday I get nominated, so we broke out the “good stuff” -toasting with my favorite bubbly: Laurent-Perrier “Cuvée Rosé “Brut Rosé Champagne and snacked on Quiche, Croissants, Smoked Salmon & Brioche, Cheeses and French Pastries all catered by “Little Door Next Door Restaurant” in Los Angeles.

With our Emmy-winning “Glam Squad”, (George Guzman on Hair and Laura Schaffer on makeup) my sister Olivia and my pal Marnie spent the early afternoon getting ready in style, while my dear friend Lisa captured the day in photographs.  Later my YR co-star Billy Miller joined the party and headed to the gala with us, where he would pick up his second Emmy for Best Supporting Actor.

Here are some of the highlights…

Jessica returning to “The Talk” this Thursday, July 11th -2PM ET 1PM PT/CT on CBS!!!

FEAST YOUR EYES ON “THE TALK,” SERVING UP A MONTH-LONG SUMMER FOOD FESTIVAL IN JULY

THE TALK kicks off July with “THE TALK Food Festival” series, a month-long summer cooking celebration featuring seasonal recipes from celebrity chefs. Throughout the month, chefs including Rocco Dispirito, Curtis Stone, Cat Cora, Anne Burrell, Pat Neely, Rick Bayless, Lidia Bastianich and Jessica Collins will join THE TALK co-hosts in the kitchen and share some of their favorite culinary creations from 2:00-3:00 PM, ET; 1:00-2:00 PM, PT/CT, on the CBS Television Network.

“The Talk” on CBS!!!

I had so much fun appearing on “The Talk” last week.  A huge THANK YOU to the ladies, the entire crew, and amazing food stylist Patricia Reilly who made all of my dishes look so pretty on the show.

To see all of my RECIPES we made on the show click HERE.

To see a CLIP of my appearance on “The Talk”, click HERE.

Who wants a cupcake?

We all know my character ‘Avery’ on “The Young and the Restless” loves to let loose with some cupcake baking when she’s stressed.  But let’s be honest, real life cupcake baking can BRING ON stress, not to mention a big ol’ mess in the kitchen.  So I’ve worked out a recipe that’s super easy (and dare I say FUN) to throw together in a short amount of time.  And the result is one heck of a delicious cupcake!  For something a bit different, I’ve added maple syrup to my batter, making it a perfect treat for the fall season.  Think “pancake inside a cupcake” with this one.  Find me on Twitter or Facebook (see tabs to the upper right of this page) and let me know what you think!

Maple Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 whole eggs

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

*Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift flour.  Add brown sugar, baking powder and salt and mix well to combine.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a small pan or microwave and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add eggs and yolk and lightly whisk until just mixed. Add milk, syrup, sour cream, vanilla and melted butter and mix until all is combined.

Slowly add wet mixture to the flour and mix just until all ingredients are combined and batter is not lumpy.

Use a 12-cup muffin pan with liners and fill batter equally in each cup.

Bake for about 20 minutes until cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean when cake is pierced.

Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.  Once frosted, sprinkle toasted walnuts on top.

Frosted cupcakes are good in the refrigerator for a few days and can be frozen in a freezer- safe bag or container for at least a month.  Thaw before eating.

*Note: If you really want to be fun, try substituting chopped bacon pieces on top instead of walnuts.  Also, nuts can be omitted all together for any allergie concerns.

*Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Using a stand mixer with paddle attachement (or a hand-held whisk) cream together the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Turn the mixer to low and add the vanilla until well blended.  Do not overmix.

Frosting can be refrigerated for up to a week.  Bring to room temperature before frosting cupcakes.

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The French Laundry

Cross a BIG one off of my Bucket list!  I’ve just returned from a weekend in the Napa Valley where, after years of anticipation, I finally had the joy of dining at The French Laundry.

Led by culinary genius Chef Thomas Keller- the only American chef with two Michelin 3-star restaurants- diners spend months trying to score one of the 16 tables at this modest, stone farmhouse, tucked away in the tiny town of Yountville, California where a 4-hour culinary adventure like no other awaits them.

I’ve posted some of my personal photos to share with you below- or as I like to call it “my food porn”.   Special thanks to Chef Thomas Keller, Michael Minnillo, Lauren Van Ness, and the entire dream team at The French Laundry for making it a night to remember.

-Jessica

An Amuse Bouche of Salmon Tartare Cornets to start the evening…

Caramelized Artichoke & Black Truffle Soup…

Oysters and Pearls…

Hen Egg Custard…

Salad of Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm…

Rouelle of Dover Sole…

Alaskan King Crab Boudin…

Carnaroli Risotto Biologico with Shaved White Truffles…

Surf and Turf with Japanese Wagyu Beef…

Reblochon Cheese Course…

And an Assortment of Desserts…

Thank you so much Thomas Keller- a wonderful evening was had by all indeed!

If a trip to Yountville isn’t in your near future, check out Chef Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook:  featuring stunning food photography, his heart-felt personal stories and all of the recipes created for his restaurant.  A GREAT holiday gift idea for any food lover!

CUT YOUR TEETH!

Ok Gang,

This is NOT like any dinner party I have ever been to.  Combing two of my greatest passions- food AND art- I want to share with you a super cool gathering I went to this week. And I can’t stop thinking about it!

Led by Chef Craig Thorton, WOLVESMOUTH is an underground dining experience which can take months to snag a ticket to.  It’s not a restaurant- as the locations, held in both New York City and Los Angeles, change all the time.  Chef Thorton’s latest sold-out culinary project “Cut Your Teeth” teams him up with artist Matthew Bone at Santa Monica Museum of Art.

20 guests share a communal dining table surrounded by the art installation while feasting on a  9-course tasting menu inspired by the relationship between “predator and prey”.  All of this is devoured while sitting under an incredible chandelier made up of thousands of …coyote teeth.  That’s right… COYOTE TEETH!

First course.  Let’s just get into it!  Venison…

…which we were told we must eat with our fingers… OH YES!!!

Butternut Squash Soup…

How about THIS for your next family dinner centerpiece? …

Halibut…

Rabbit…

One of the many incredible Michael Bone installments…

This is one of the most exciting, artistically “plated” dishes I’ve ever seen.  I could frame this as art!  Oh, and it was delish!!! …Pork Belly…

Shrimp Ceviche…

Quail…

Crepe with Poached Pear…

Olive Oil Lime Parfait…

Is there a greater compliment to give to a chef?  I say NO!…

Boo!

Wishing you all a very Happy Halloween!!!


Xoxo,
Jessica & Lucy

Countdown Thanksgiving 2013…

Is hosting Thanksgiving this year making you feel a bit… overwhelmed?  Relax- it’s supposed to be fun.  And with a little forethought and a good game plan, it will be.

First, here are some of my classic Turkey Day recipes.  It’s got you covered with all the essentials: Turkey, Stuffing, Sides and Dessert.  And I’ll be posting some new recipes I’m really excited about in the next week, so keep checking in!

Click on any of these for the complete recipe:

Oven Roasted Turkey

Wild Mushroom and Spinach Bread Stuffing

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Braised Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Maple Syrup

Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

The Best Pumpkin Pie

Next, here’s my 2-Week Countdown.  A “to do” list and the same one I follow for my own holiday meal preparation.

By now, you’ve invited your guests right?  No?  Ok, stop reading immediately, go do that, and then come back… I’ll wait.

And here we go…

TWO WEEKS BEFORE:

Take this whole week to get a little done each day.  By spreading it all out, it won’t seem so overwhelming.

*Get a head count of how many guests you’ll be cooking for.

*Plan your menu.  Start gathering recipes.  Use the ideas above and I’ve got some great new recipes I’m posting in the next week!

*Order your turkey.  2 lbs/adult and 1 lb/child will guarantee some yummy leftovers.

*Choose linens, dishes, glasses, serving dishes, flatware, etc.  Make sure you have all the pots and pans you need.  Purchase or borrow from friends/family anything you’re missing this week.

*Replace any spices, baking powder or flour that has been in your pantry over a year.

*Buy wine, liquor and any other beverages you will be serving.

*Clean out your  refrigerator and freezer- you’re going to need the room!

ONE WEEK BEFORE:

Okay now we’re in it.  And you’ll be happy that you got so much done last week.

Early in the week:

*Finalize your menu and then make your shopping list.

*Pick up your turkey and nonperishable groceries

3 DAYS BEFORE:

*If you’re dry brining your turkey with the recipe here on my blog, you’ll want to do that today and get it in the refrigerator so it gets the full 3 days of brining.

2 DAYS BEFORE:

*Shop for your perishable groceries.

*Make cranberry sauce and pie crusts dough and refrigerate.  Cranberry sauce lasts for 2 weeks and the pie dough will keep for a day or two, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.

1 DAY BEFORE

*Prepare all reheatable side dishes, bake pies, prep ingredients (washing veggies, chop onions/celery, etc)

*Set the table.  I do this last thing at night.  A nice way to wind down after all the pre-cooking.

Thanksgiving Day:

RELAX!  You’ve done the work.  All that’s left is the turkey, a side or two and the gravy.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy your day.  You pulled the whole thing off!

Happy Cooking!

~Jessica

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart

Every Thanksgiving, I try to add a few fun twists to my sweets table.  So this year, I’m combining two of the best desserts I know: Pumpkin Pie and Cheesecake.  Made with a Gingersnap Cookie crust and baked in a tart pan, this will be a standout dessert at your holiday table too!

Store bought gingersnap cookies will work beautifully but if you have a little extra time and want an INSANELY good crust, use my recipe for Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies (add an extra minute or two to the baking time- you’ll want them a little crispier for the crust.)  I mixed up a double batch of cookie dough, baked off about 6 large cookies and froze the rest of the raw dough balls (that’ll come in handy for a last minute holiday party in December.)

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups gingersnap cookies, crushed into fine crumbs
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pound cream cheese, softened (2 eight ounce packages)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinammon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin, (not pumpkin pie filling)
¼ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, (can substitute with vanilla extract if you don’t have paste)
powdered sugar, to dust on top after baking

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.

For the crust:

In a medium bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients.  Add the melted butter and mix until all is combined.  (I like to use my hands for this part.)

Pres the mixture over the bottom of the tart pan.  (You can also use a pie dish if you don’t have a tart pan.)

Bake crust for 12 minutes. Set aside to cool completely while you make the filling. Keep the oven on.

For the filling:

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a hand held mixer), beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and no lumps remain- about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl once or twice with a rubber spatula during mixing.

Add the sugars, flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy- about 3 minutes.  Again, scrape down the bowl with a spatula once or twice so that everything is evenly combined.

Add the pumpkin and sour cream and mix until combined.

Add each egg one at a time, followed by the vanilla bean paste and beat on low speed just until everything is combined.

Pour batter into tart pan with cooled gingersnap crust and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until set (give cake a jiggle- if the center stays put, it’s done.)

Cool cheesecake on a wire rack.  Once cooled, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

When ready to serve, remove the tart ring. Run hot sink water over an offset spatula to get it hot.  Dry spatula completely and while it’s still hot, slide it right under the cheesecake to release it from the bottom of the pan.  Transfer cheesecake to a serving plate.

Dust top with powererd sugar and serve with freshly whipped cream.

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Apple Pie with Scotch-Spiked Cherries

Look who’s photobombing my food photography!  Even Lucy can’t help but get excited over this just-out-of-the-oven pie.  I think she’s hoping a crumb will magically fall in her direction- nice try Lu!

This is a new addition to my Thanksgiving sweets table this year- fancifying the traditional Apple Pie, adding dried cherries soaked in Scotch.  Bourbon or Jack Daniels would also work beautifully in this recipe.

Apple Pie with Scotch-Spiked Cherries

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

Flaky Pie Crust for 2 crust Pie (*see below for recipe)
1 cup dried cherries
4 tablespoons Scotch whiskey
3 pounds (about 5 large) apples (use a combination such as granny smith, pink lady and fuji), peeled, halved and cored
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, for glaze
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, for glaze

Directions:

Prepare pie crust dough, shape into a disk, wrap in plastic and put in the refrigerator to rest for at least 30 minutes.  You can do this the day before.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix cherries and Scotch and let sit for 30 minutes.  Toss a few times during soaking to make sure all cherries get covered.

In another small bowl, mix together sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

Slice apples thin and add them to a large bowl.  Toss in the sugar/flour mixture followed by the cherries and their liquid and combine all ingredients until mixed well.  (I like to use my hands for this.)  Set aside.

Remove pie dough from the refrigerator, cut it in half, roll out the bottom pie crust and fit it into a 9-inch pie plate.

Pour apple filling into pie crust.  Dot with butter (pinching butter into tiny bits with your fingers and dotting evenly over filling.)

Roll our remaining pie dough and arrange over filling, crimping bottom and top of pie crust edges together.

Mix the milk or cream and tablespoon of sugar to make glaze and brush top of crust (except edges.)  Cut several slits in top crust.

Put a cookie sheet on the very bottom rack of the oven to catch and drippings.  Place the pie dish on the rack above that and bake for about 1 hour until crust is golden brown and juices bubble through the top crust.  If edges are browning too quickly, cover them with foil or a pie crust sheild.

Cool pie for at least 30 minutes to an hour on a wire rack.  Serve warm with ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Flaky Pie Crust (for 2-crust pie)

I’ve been making this pie crust since I was 16 years old.  My secret is to use equal parts of COLD butter and COLD shortening for a crust that’s flavorful AND flaky.

Ingredients:

2 1/2  cup sifted all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2 cubes

1/2 cup  cold vegetable shortening, (like crisco) cut into roughly 1/2 in cubes

4-8 tablespoons ice water

Directions:

In large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt.

Add cold butter and shortening cubes to flour mixture and with your fingertips or a pastry blender (I like using my fingers for better control), pinch or cut in fat until mixture forms clumps about the size of tiny peas (clumps will be uneven.)

Quickly sprinkle ice water 1 tablespoon at a time over all of the flour mixture, tossing lightly with a spoon until you can form the dough into a ball.  (Don’t overwork dough.)

Flatten the ball into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest refrigerated for at least 30 minutes.  (I like to make my pie dough the day before.)

Take the pie disk out of the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes just to soften a bit.

Choose a smooth surface to roll out the dough like a cutting board or counter.  Dust surface and rolling pin lightly with flour.

When ready to roll dough, remove disk from plastic and place in the middle of your surface. (Cut disk in half for a two crust pie.) Dust the top of the dough with some flour and begin to roll, starting at the center and working your way out on all sides. After a few rolls, turn the dough over, lightly reflour the board and continue to roll into a 12 inch circle of about 1/8 inch thickness.  Close up any cracks by pinching them together and smoothing out gently with the rolling pin.

To move the dough, fold it in half, then in quarters and place into pie dish.  Gently open up the folds and fit dough into the bottom of the pie dish.  Crimp edges with your fingers and cover up any holes or cracks at this time.  (A little water can be used to help with cracks just by dipping your finger in the water and gently pinching the dough back together.)

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Happy Anniversary Jessicacollins.com!

This week marks the 3-year anniversary of my blog.  An enormous THANK YOU to all of my readers for Subscribing, Tweeting, Facebook “Like”ing, “Pinning” and all of your incredible feedback and enthusiasm.  I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me to share with you my love for all things food.  Below are some of the highlights (in and out of the kitchen) for 2013.

Cheers!

Jessica

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

This past week, I’ve been sharing my favorite Turkey Day recipes with you.  Now let’s talk about the one dish I HATE to make on my favorite cooking day of the year: Mashed Potatoes.  Oh, I love em’ just as much as you do BUT… in the final hour of cooking, when I’m trying to get 15 dishes on the table, at the same time, and all hot… peeling, sweating over a boiling cauldron, getting them through a ricer, seasoning- it’s just not enjoyable for me!

Many chefs insist (and I used to be one of them) that potatoes taste best when made just before sitting down to dinner.  But I’ve since changed my mind after working out this do-ahead version.  I think it rivals any mashed potato side I’ve ever had.  This year, do yourself a favor and get this dish out of the way the night before.  Oh and one more thing… nobody use the word “diet” around this recipe.  It’s a holiday for crying out loud!  Thanks. ;)

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Serves 12

Ingredients:

5 pounds potatoes (I like to go old-school and use russet potatoes for this)

2 teaspoons salt

1 stick unsalted butter

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons salt

Directions:

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks.

Place potatoes in a large pot and add COLD water, enough to cover potatoes by about 1-inch.

Stir in 2 teaspoons salt.

On medium heat, bring potatoes to a low boil, uncovered, and cook unitl tender, about 8-12 minutes.

Drain potatoes and pass through a ricer, food mill or china cap back into large pot.  (You can also go “old school” and use a potato masher- won’t be as creamy, but still effective.)

Gently fold in butter, cream cheese, sour cream, milk and salt until all is evenly combined.  Add more salt to your taste as needed.  (Note: you can serve them now and they will be delicious but continue on for make-ahead…)

Spoon potatoes into a lightly greased 13x9x2 baking dish.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

When ready to heat, let dish sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

Bake at 350, uncovered for 30 minutes or until hot all the way through.

READ FULL POST >

Snowballs (Mexican Wedding Cakes)

I grew up calling these cookies “Snowballs” but you may know them by a few other names including “Mexican Wedding Cakes”,  ”Russian Tea Cakes” and “Butterballs”.  These melt-in-your-mouth, shortbread like cookies are one of my favorite holiday cookie recipes.

Snowballs

Makes about 36 cookies

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups confetioner’s sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup walnuts, pecans or almonds, toasted and coarsly chopped

Directions:

In a standing mixer with paddle attachment or a hand held mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy- about 3 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of the confectioner’s sugar, the salt, and vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Turn mixer to low and slowly add the flour, followed by the nuts.  Mix until all ingredients are combined.  Do not overmix.

Divide dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 2 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Working with half of the chilled dough, pinch off a piece of dough – about 1 Tablespoon- and roll between your hands into balls.  Place balls on parchment lined baking sheets, 1 inch apart, and bake for about 18-20 minutes just until bottoms are light golden brown.  Lift one cookie up to check for doneness.

Remove cookies from oven and cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes.

Place the remaining confectioner’s sugar in a small bowl and drop warm cookies in one at a time and roll until completely covered with powdered sugar.

Cookies will keep at room temperature for about 2-3 days but can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for about 2 months.  Re-sugar cookies before serving.

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Happy Holidays…

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2014 filled love and happiness.
Xoxo,

Jessica & Lucy

Turkey Meatballs with Baby Artichokes

In keeping with my “Healthy January” start for 2014, here’s a fantastic recipe to try over the weekend.  The meatballs are braised in stock creating a super moist texture.  Another great example that “healthy” and “delicious” really can go hand in hand!  Find me on Twitter and Facebook and let me know what you think! 

Turkey Meatballs with Baby Artichokes

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey
1 large egg
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4  cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons parsely, chopped
1 tablespoon sage, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup fennel, sliced thin
1/2 cup onions, diced
4  cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken or turkey stock
1 12 ounce bag frozen artichokes , fresh can be used too
1  14 ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup green or kalamata olives (or a combination of both), halved
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine ground turkey, egg, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, sage, salt and pepper.  Mix, preferably with your hands until all ingredients are blended evenly.  Roll out 12 meatballs.

In a medium Dutch oven or large sauté pan, on medium to high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the meatballs on all sides.  Don’t crowd the pot- work in 2 batches if necessary. Once browned set meatballs aside on a plate.

In the same pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the fennel, onions and garlic on medium heat for about 3 minutes until softened.

Add chicken or turkey stock, artichokes, tomatoes, olives, sage and lemon juice and combine all ingredients.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the meatballs back to the pot and cover with other ingredients.  Cover pot and put in oven.  Cook/braise for one hour.  Check about halfway through and see if the mixture needs more liquid.  If so, add some more stock.  This dish should have some broth at the end.

Serve immediately in pasta bowls with some French bread on the side for dipping up the broth.

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The Ultimate Greek Salad

“Healthy January” continues with a salad I have been ADDICTED to for the past 2 weeks!  Easy to throw together, full of deliciousness and a fabulous detox all at the same time.  Chop the veggies however you like and feel free to add more or less of any of the  ingredients listed (omtting anything you don’t like) to make this salad your own.

The Ultimate Greek Salad

Makes 2 dinner servings or 4 side servings

Ingredients:

1 medium cucumber, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, sliced

1/2 of a medium red onion, chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup olives- I like to use a combo of green and Kalamata

1/4 cup Italian parseley, chopped fine

2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped fine

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup red wine vinegar (you could also use balsamic, rice, cider or white wine vinegar)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (nows the time to use the good stuff!)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Chop up the first 9 ingredients and place in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk vinegar and olive oil well.  Season with salt and pepper to your liking and then pour over chopped veggies and toss to combine.  Note: you may not need to use all of the dressing.

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