Recipes @ 2012

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Soup for Supper

Enjoy a light-tasting Jamaican Winter Squash Soup with Salad for a family dinner at home.

After the lavish holiday dinners we've feasted on for Christmas and New Year's celebrations, we may be ready for a simple and light supper. The recipes below make a great healthy and light soup-and-salad supper that's great for a family dinner and for casual gatherings with friends.

Jamaican Winter Squash Soup

Serves 6

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 6 medium scallions, trimmed
  • 6 whole sprigs thyme
  • 1 medium winter squash (about 2 pounds), such as butternut, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (4 1/2 cups)
  • 3 cups Homemade Chicken Stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
  • 1/2 small Scotch-bonnet chile pepper
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Mint or basil sprigs, for garnish (optional)

  1. In a large saucepan over low heat, cook the onion in the butter until tender but not brown. Tie the scallions and thyme together with a piece of kitchen twine. Place the squash, broth, chile pepper and scallion bundle in the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until the squash is extremely tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the scallion bundle and chile pepper; discard. Transfer the soup to a blender container and puree until smooth. For a very silky soup, pass through a sieve. Return the pureed soup to the saucepan; add the milk, salt and pepper, to taste. Heat through. Serve topped with mint or basil sprigs, if desired.
Salad Greens with Cheese Croutons

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated aged white cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 cups torn mixed salad greens
  • 1 recipe Maple Vinaigrette (recipe below)

  1. In a small bowl, toss together the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Sprinkle the cheese mixture in the bottom of a heavy, nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and become bubbly over the entire surface. (You may need to reduce the heat, if necessary, to prevent the cheese from overbrowning.)
  2. Tip the skillet to allow excess oil from the cheese to collect in one place in the skillet and remove with a spoon. Carefully lift the "crouton" from the pan with an offset spatula and place on a piece of paper towel to drain; cool. When cooled, crumble the crouton into pieces.
  3. To serve the salad, coat a large salad bowl with some of the Maple Vinaigrette. Add the greens and crouton pieces. Toss to coat. Add additional dressing, if desired.
Maple Vinaigrette

Makes about 1/3 cup vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Cover the jar and shake vigorously.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Build a Spectacular Spring Brunch

24-Hour Vegetable Salad
If you're hosting a spring brunch, look to these two unique and lively recipes that will give impact to your brunch buffet.

Spread a little spring cheer with these festive brunch favorites that comes together easily, allowing you plenty of time to enjoy families and guests. Round out the menu with fresh fruit, juice, and coffee.


24-Hour Vegetable Salad

To get the best-looking layers, use a bowl that is taller than it is wide.

Makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings

  • 5 cups torn mixed salad greens
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 medium cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 medium orange, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Orange peel strips (optional)
  1. Place salad greens in a 2 1/2-to 3-quart clear straight-sided bowl or souffle dish. Peel the carrot. Using a vegetable peeler, carefully cut the carrot into long, paper-thin ribbons. Set aside. Layer atop salad greens in the following order: mushrooms, 1/4 cup of the cheese, olives, cucumbers, carrot ribbons and green onions.
  2. For the dressing, in a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, orange peel, crushed red pepper and ground black pepper. Spread the dressing over the top of the salad, sealing to the edge of the bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese. Cover the salad tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for 2 to 24 hours.
  3. Garnish with orange slices, walnuts, and orange peel strips. Just before serving toss lightly to coat the vegetables with the dressing.
Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

Makes 8 servings

  • 12 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk, half-and-half, or light cream
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions or 1/4 cup snipped chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
  • 1 cup chopped smoked salmon (lox style) or fully cooked ham (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 cup shredded provolone or fontina cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 tomato, seeded and sliced
  • Sliced green onion or snipped chives (optional)

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Add the milk or cream, green onion or chives, and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil; add the eggs to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until the eggs begin to set on bottom and around edge. Using a spatula, lift and fold partially cooked eggs so uncooked portion flows underneath. Fold in the salmon or ham. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes more or until the eggs are cooked throughout but are still glossy and moist. Transfer to a warm serving platter. Top with the cheese, tomato slices, and, if desired, additional sliced green onion or snipped chives.
Tips for Choosing Salmon

Before you buy the salmon, be aware that there are two kinds of smoked salmon: The thinly sliced, cold-smoked salmon, called lox, is what we've used in the recipe above. You can find it in the deli or seafood section of your supermarket. Heat-smoked salmon is thicker and has a meatier texture.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

How to Make Caesar Salad 101

Caesar Cardini is credited for creating the famous Caesar salad. Find out how to prepare this restaurant staple at home.

Each ingredient in a Caesar salad has its own unique contribution to the final product. The sharp Parmesan cheese, the salty anchovies, the tang of fresh lemon juice, the spiciness of garlic and the crunchy texture of the romaine lettuce create a medley of flavors that have appealed to countless North Americans who have sampled this salad as least once in a lifetime. To top it all off, Caesar salad wouldn't be complete without the crusty croutons that add the finishing touch to this composed salad.

The origins of Caesar salad is somewhat peculiar. Caesar salad shares no historical significance to the great Julius Caesar, although it's tempting to think so. The salad actually was named after Caesar Cardini, who devised it in his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico in 1924. History suggests that Cardini put together this salad when he realized one night that he had nothing in his kitchen to serve his hungry diners except for some romaine lettuce, eggs, stale bread and cheese. Not wanting to disappoint, Cardini created a composed salad on the spot, and the Caesar salad was born.

This restaurant staple can easily be made at home. For the best flavors, use only the freshest ingredients possible. Even the croutons should be made with fresh, not stale, bread.


Homemade Caesar Salad

Makes 6 servings

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, inner leaves washed and dried well
  • 1 recipe Croutons (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional cheese for garnish

  1. Place the garlic, anchovy fillets and salt in a large salad bowl. Using a fork, mash the garlic, anchovy fillets and salt together to form a paste. Whisk in the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and egg yolk. Gradually whisk in the vegetable oil.
  2. Tear the romaine lettuce leaves into 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch pieces. Add the croutons, romaine and cheese to the bowl. Toss well. Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Note: Raw eggs should be not be used in food prepared for babies, the elderly, pregnant women, young children or anyone whose immune system is compromised.



  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 10-inch loaf Italian bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and olive oil. Add the bread cubes, and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper; toss to combine.
  2. Spread the bread cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool and set aside until ready to use.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Spice Up Salad with Tangy Carrot-Curry Dressing

For a light lunch or a salad course for dinner, try this recipe for Bell Pepper Salad with Carrot-Curry Dressing. You'll need carrot juice to make this homemade dressing; you can usually find it in cans at your local supermarket. With a few slices of red bell pepper and a sprinkling of toasted sunflower seeds, this salad is a virtual medley of colors, flavors and textures.


Bell Pepper Salad with Carrot-Curry Dressing

Makes 4 servings

  • 1/2 cup carrot juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce (about 1 pound), cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup edible sunflower seeds, toasted*

  1. In a small skillet, bring the carrot juice to a boil. Reduce the heat; simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk in lemon juice, oil, and curry powder; season with salt and pepper. Add lettuce and red bell pepper; toss to coat. Sprinkle sunflower seeds over salad; serve.
*Note: To make toasted sunflower seeds, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add sunflower seeds; cook, tossing until puffed and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Makes 1/3 cup.

Pink Peppermint Soufflé

Find out how to make a rich and decadent Pink Peppermint Soufflé, including helpful hints and tips for beating egg whites.

Just mentioning the word soufflé can set a cook on edge. There's always the fear that the soufflé will plummet to the bottom of the baking dish as soon as it is removed from the oven. But cooking the perfect soufflé is not as difficult as it may appear to be.

According to caterer Julie Williamson, the basic principles of soufflés lie in the preparation of the eggs. The air trapped inside the beaten eggs is what gives the soufflé volume. Beating the eggs properly is half the challenge of making a homemade soufflé. Start by beating the egg whites in a circular motion so that the air bubbles don't become too large in the beginning. Make sure that all utensils that will come into contact with the eggs are completely clean and free of grease.

This version of the classic French dessert uses peppermint-flavored candies to create a delicious and refreshing treat. For extra peppermint flavor, be sure to use pure peppermint extract. If you prefer, you can substitute a white crème de menthe in place of the peppermint extract in this recipe.


Pink Peppermint Soufflé

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup peppermint-flavored candies, finely chopped, plus additional crushed candies for garnish
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 6 large egg yolks, plus 7 large egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. with a rack positioned in the bottom. Butter a 6-cup soufflé mold (measuring 7 1/2-by-7 1/2-by-3 1/4 inches), then sprinkle the bottom and sides of the mold with 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.
  2. In a 1-quart saucepan, melt 1/2 cup peppermint-flavored candies in the cold water. Remove saucepan from the heat and let cool. The consistency of the mixture should look like a thick syrup.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks, remaining 1/2 cup sugar and salt until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Alternatively, use a hand wire whisk to beat the egg yolks.
  4. Mix the cooled peppermint mixture, heavy cream and peppermint extract into the egg yolk mixture until well blended and smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, being careful not to overbeat them. Mix one-quarter of the beaten egg whites into the peppermint-egg yolk mixture. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until well blended. Pour the mixture into the prepared mold.
  6. Bake the soufflé until the center has just barely set, about 14 to 16 minutes. Serve immediately, garnished with crushed peppermint candies.

Julie Williamson

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thirty-Minute Fettuccine

Keep the express train of activities chugging along with this fast and simple chicken and pasta dish.

The convenience foods in today's supermarkets are the express trains of the kitchen. This bistro-quality dish uses time-saving refrigerated pasta combined with peppers and onions to help keep your busy family on track.


Thirty-Minute Fettuccine

Makes 4 main-dish servings

  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup homemade or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 9-ounce package refrigerated fettuccine or linguine
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing

  1. Rinse the chicken well under cold running water and pat it dry with paper towels; cut it into bite-sized pieces and set them aside. Stir together the chicken broth and cornstarch; set the mixture aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the peppers, onion and pasta. Return the water to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes or until the pasta is just tender. Drain the the water from the vegetables and pasta and return the mixture to the pot. Toss the pasta with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Keep the pasta warm over low heat.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Push the chicken to the sides of the skillet. Stir the cornstarch mixture and add it to the center of the skillet. Cook and stir until the mixture has thickened. Stir all the ingredients together to coat them with the sauce.
  4. Remove the chicken and sauce from the heat; toss with the cooked pasta mixture, tomatoes and basil. Serve the dish topped with the Parmesan cheese.
Tips on Using Fresh Pasta

Fresh refrigerated pastas are becoming increasingly available in supermarket deli cases. Fresh pastas tend to meld better with lighter sauces such as wine- or broth-based sauces that don't cover up their subtle flavors. Use dried pastas for heavier sauces, such as cream-, meat-, or tomato-based sauces.

Fresh pastas are prepared differently than dried pastas because they contain more moisture. They need only a minute or two to cook (unlike dried pastas, which take about ten minutes).

Once cooked and drained, fresh pasta must be tossed with olive oil or sauce, then served immediately.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Créme Vanilla Sauce

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cooking with Thyme: Lemon-Thyme Granita, Capellini with Tomatoes, Watercress and Herbs

Have you got time for thyme in your cooking? Use this herb in a frosty Lemon-Thyme Granita and a light, side-dish salad Capellini with Tomatoes, Watercress and Herbs.

If there had to be one utilitarian, all-purpose herb, it would have to be thyme. The herb thyme lends a pungent, lemonlike flavor to any dish you use it in. If you haven't tried thyme in your cooking, there's no reason not to. Grow a patch in your vegetable garden, and then use the leaves in a refreshing, light Lemon-Thyme Granita and a quick-and-delicious side dish, Capellini with Tomatoes, Watercress and Herbs. Have you got time for thyme?


Lemon-Thyme Granita
Makes 10 servings

To avoid last-minute preparations for this dessert, make this frosty confection up to a week in advance of serving.

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 11 sprigs lemon balm (optional)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh thyme leaves, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup lemon-flavored vodka (optional)
  • 10 whole lemons, for shells (optional)
  • Almond extract (optional)
  • Fresh berries, if desired


  1. In a heavy saucepan, bring the water, sugar and 6 sprigs of lemon balm, if using, to a boil over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat; discard the lemon balm and cool syrup over a bowl of ice water until cold.
  2. In a metal bowl, whisk together the syrup, lemon juice, lemon rind, thyme and vodka, if using, and place in the freezer. For faster freezing, pour the mixture into a shallow dish such as a pie plate. Whisk the mixture every 30 minutes until frozen, about 3 to 4 hours.
  3. If using the lemons, remove the ink on the lemons by rubbing with almond extract. Cut off one quarter of each lemon at the stem end. Using a grapefruit knife, cut between the pulp and the pith of each lemon. Remove the pulp with a grapefruit spoon or a melon baller, scraping the shell clean.
  4. Break the frozen mixture into small chunks. Transfer the chunks to a chilled mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy but not melted. Return the mixture quickly to the container used to freeze the mixture. Cover and freeze until the mixture is firm. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
  5. To serve, scrape across the top of the granita with a tablespoon and form the granita into 2-inch balls. (If the mixture is very firm and unable to be formed easily, you may need to let it stand for 5 minutes at room temperature.) Mound the balls in each lemon shell, if desired, or in a serving glass. Garnish with half a sprig of lemon balm, a few sprigs of thyme or a few fresh berries, if desired.

Capellini with Tomatoes, Watercress and Herbs
Makes 4 servings

Watercress leaves add a spicy, peppery taste to this fresh and easy salad. For a lighter flavor, use spinach leaves in place of the arugula and less strong-flavored herbs from the oregano, tarragon and summer savory used here. Serve the salad at room temperature; chill any leftovers.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups small arugula leaves or torn fresh spinach
  • 1 cup watercress leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped assorted fresh herb leaves, stems removed*, such as thyme, basil, oregano, summer savory, tarragon, and Italian parsley, plus 7 whole leaves of basil
  • 1 pound dried capellini
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden, about 10 minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium low; add the tomatoes, arugula or spinach, watercress, and chopped herbs. Simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Drop the pasta into the boiling water; stir to keep the pasta from sticking together. Cook until al dente; drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Fry the basil leaves until they begin to curl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the leaves to paper towels to drain. Drain the pasta, and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the vegetables; toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with basil leaves, Parmesan, and lemon wedges.
*Note: The herb leaves are easier to remove from the stems if you plunge the herb bunches briefly into ice water. Shake off the excess water before removing the leaves.

Kitchen Tip
To easily remove the leaves of thyme, first plunge a bunch briefly into ice water, then shake off the excess water. To chop thyme leaves easily, place them in a glass measuring cup and snip them with a pair of kitchen scissors.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cooking Caramel Apples

Caramel apples are a favorite snack, and one you probably remember from your childhood. Learn how to make some of these sweet treats.

You probably remember the first time you bit into a caramel apple when you were a child. First you encounter the rich, sweet caramel coating (the part everyone likes) and then your teeth reach the firm, tart apple as you bite into it with a satisfying crunch.

Kids love crunchy, sticky caramel apples. Use you children's favorite variety of apple for that perfect blend of tart and sweet. Red Delicious and Rome Beauties are always a good bet. Another great variety of apple to use is the Jonathan; choose whichever apple is fresh and delicious (local orchards and farm markets will have the best varieties). Be sure to wash the apples well and dry them before applying the sweet caramel topping to the apple skins.

When working with hot caramel, we recommend keeping a bowl of ice-cold water on hand as an antidote to any splatters that threaten to scald your skin. In the event you do get any of the hot caramel on your hands and fingers, immediately plunge them into the ice water. Also, because of the risk of burns, never allow young children to handle hot caramel. You can find wooden ice-cream sticks at a craft store or a hobby shop. Or, try using wooden plant markers, which are sturdy due to their width.

Caramel Apples

Makes 4 caramel apples


  • 4 apples
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Wash and dry the apples well. Insert wooden sticks into the stem ends of the apples.
  2. In a medium saucepan set over low heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, condensed milk, heavy cream, milk and butter. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F. on a candy thermometer (or until a bit of syrup dropped into cold water forms a firm, pliable ball).
  3. Stir in vanilla, then put the pan in a bowl of hot water to keep the caramel soft.
  4. Dip the apples in the caramel, coating well. Allow the excess to drip off, then roll in walnuts (if desired) and let cool on waxed paper.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Baking the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Brownies

While their popularity may be universal, there is much debate among chocolate lovers about baking the perfect brownie. Some prefer their brownie to be rich, dense and almost fudgelike, while others relish light, cakelike brownies. Finally, there are brownie purists who feel that a good brownie needs no final adornments, while some bakers prefer nuts or frosting on their brownies.

Today, we share our favorite brownie recipe, which leaves out the nuts and frosting and features a generous amount of chocolate chips. When baking these brownies, be careful not to overcook them. They should be moist, but not dry. Using the best-quality chocolate you can find (we've used Valrhona chocolate in our recipe) will only accentuate the rich flavor of the brownies.


The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Brownies

Makes 16

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F., with a rack in the center of the oven. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Coat the parchment paper with butter and lightly flour parchment paper. Set baking pan aside.
  2. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the butter and unsweetened chocolate and place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the butter and chocolate are completely melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine eggs, vanilla extract and sugar; beat on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low; add melted chocolate mixture, beating to combine. Add flour and salt gradually, beating just until the dry ingredients are combined (do not overmix). Fold in the semisweet chocolate chips by hand.
  4. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake brownies until edges just begin to pull away from the side of the pan, but the center is still moist, about 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove cooled brownies from pan. Using a damp, warm knife, cut into 16 squares, wiping knife blade after each cut. Peel off parchment paper and serve. Store brownies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Valrhona Caraque semisweet chocolate

Valrhona Extra Bitter unsweetened chocolate

New York Cake & Baking Distributor
56 West 22nd Street
New York, NY 10010
212-675-2253 or 800-942-2539

Brew a Batch of Café Style Coffee

Brew up a batch of coffeehouse coffees right from your own kitchen without the special use of equipment. Find out how to prepare the best cappuccinos and café lattes.

Imagine walking into your neighborhood coffeehouse. The aroma of roasted coffee beans, the hiss of steamed milk from the espresso machine, and the clink of mugs greet you as you walk through the door. It's certainly the place to go for specialty coffees like café latte, cappuccino and espresso.

But you don't have to visit your local java joint to enjoy your favorite brew. In fact, you can make those fancy coffees right in your own kitchen without all of those hissing machines, or any other special equipment. All you need is a simple drip coffeemaker and a little ingenuity.

Most specialty coffees start with a base of espresso. To make espresso, it's important to start with a high-quality coffee roast. Both French and espresso roasts are excellent choices, since the resulting coffee will be strong. You can buy whole beans at the supermarket and grind them yourself in a coffee grinder, or you can have them ground when you purchase them.


In a regular drip coffeemaker, add 1/3 cup of ground beans for every 1 cup of cold water. Brew the coffee according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once brewed, you can then use the espresso to make a specialty coffee (see variations below; all of the recipes will yield about 4 servings). If you prefer plain espresso, simply pour the coffee into small cups (for regular coffee mugs, fill them only about 1/2 full). Serve with sugar cubes.


Cappuccino is espresso topped with a fluffy head of frothed milk. To make cappuccino, prepare a pot of espresso (as directed above). Heat 1 cup of milk in a microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes until hot; do not boil the milk. Pour the milk into a lidded, heat-resistant container. Apply the lid to the container and shake vigorously until the milk is foamy (alternatively, whisk the milk in a bowl until the milk becomes frothy). For each serving, pour the espresso into the coffee cups. Top each cup with a generous amount of the frothed milk. You can even sprinkle the top with ground cinnamon or shavings of chocolate, if desired.

Café Latte

Café latte mixes a small amount of espresso with hot steamed milk. To make cafe latte, brew a pot of espresso (directions above). Heat 2 cups of milk in a microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes until hot; do not boil the milk. For each serving, mix together 1/4 cup of espresso and 1/2 cup of hot steaming milk. Pour the mixture into each coffee cup and serve plain or top with a head of frothed milk (see directions above for making frothed milk).

Dessert Coffee

If espresso isn't your favorite type of coffee, you can make a delicious dessert coffee with almost any type of roast available in supermarkets. Prepare coffee as directed by the manufacturer's instructions for your coffeemaker. With a wire whisk, whip 1/2 cup of heavy cream with 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract in a small mixing bowl until the cream forms soft peaks. For each serving, pour the coffee into the coffee cups, and add a generous dollop of whipped cream to the top. You can garnish the top with a sprinkling of shaved chocolate, if desired.

So instead of heading out to enjoy a cup of coffee, why not stay in and turn your kitchen into a one-stop coffeehouse for you and your friends and family?

Sources: Bodum Chambord 8-cup French press coffeemaker, $18.95; Braun coffee mill (#KMM20), Krups touch-top coffee grinder (1.6 oz.), $10.00; Krups fast-touch coffee grinder (3 oz.); all from Porto Rico Importing Co., 201 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-477-5421 or 800-453-5908. Catalogue available. Oxygen-bleached coffee filters (#4), $1.95 for box of 100, from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters; 800-223-6768. Catalogue available. Espresso cups, $98 for a set of 6 with coffee, both from Illy Espresso; 800-USA-ILLY (800-872-4559) for more information.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

All-Purpose Kitchen Recipes: Blend a Batch of Homemade Curry Powder and Prepare Yogurt Cheese

Turn to these kitchen timesavers to help you add flavor and interest to your dishes. Find out how to make your own curry powder, yogurt cheese and preserved lemons.

Sometimes when you're in the kitchen, you feel the urge to "cook ahead." If it's the holiday season, you may prepare pie crusts in advance. Or even if you're planning dinner and are streamlining your preparation schedule, you may cut up vegetables or prepare a basting sauce for your barbecue. These little timesavers work well, especially when you're trying to fit everything into your busy schedule. If you do find yourself with a few moments to spare in the kitchen, why not prepare one of the three recipes below?

Curry powder adds zip and zing to almost any dish, but have you ever tried preparing your own? By toasting and grinding a fragrant mixture of spices yourself, you'll have a more complex and flavorful curry powder than the store-bought version. If you like cream cheese, you may want to try yogurt cheese.

Yogurt cheese is a unusual but delicious alternative to cream cheese. You can season it with herbs and pepper for serving with crackers as an appetizer, or with honey and fresh berries for dessert.

Preserved lemons are easy to make, and they add a slightly salty, tangy taste to salads, fish and chicken dishes.

Curry Powder
Makes about 2 tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds
  • 2 whole red chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 8 curry leaves, fresh or dried
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  1. In a small, cast-iron skillet, toast the coriander, cumin, mustard and fenugreek seeds over a medium-high flame until the spices become fragrant and begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Shake the pan frequently to prevent the spices from burning.
  2. Pour the toasted spices into a spice grinder and add the chiles, peppercorns, curry leaves,ginger and turmeric. Grind until the spices are smooth. For best results, use the curry powder immediately or store it in an airtight container in a dark, cool place.
Sources: Indian coriander seed, yellow mustard seed, and fenugreek seed, $1.25 for each 3 1/2-ounce bag; cumin seed, Malabar black peppercorns, ground ginger, and turmeric, $1.75 for each 3 1/2-ounce bag; whole red chiles, $1.25 for 1 ounce, and fresh curry leaves, $1.25 a bunch, all from Kalustyan's 123 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016; 212-685-3451.

Yogurt Cheese
Makes about 1 2/3 cups
  • 4 cups plain low-fat yogurt (1 quart)
  • Fresh herbs (optional)
  • Honey (optional)
  1. Dampen and wring out four layers of cheesecloth.
  2. Lay the cheesecloth over a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  3. Spoon the yogurt into the center of the cheesecloth.
  4. Tie the corners of the cheesecloth around a spoon and rest the spoon across the bowl, suspending the yogurt over the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours. The liquid will drain away from the cheesecloth sack, leaving you with yogurt cheese in the cheesecloth sack.
  6. Remove the yogurt from the cheesecloth, and serve, seasoned with herbs or flavored with honey, if desired.
Preserved Lemons
Makes 16 wedges
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice or enough to cover lemon wedges
  • Olive oil (optional)
  1. Scrub and dry the lemons. Cut each into eight wedges. Mix together the salt and sugar in a small bowl. Pour the salt mixture into a pint jar with a nonreactive lid, pack in the lemon wedges, and cover the wedges completely with lemon juice.
  2. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 1 week. Shake the jar every day in order to distribute the salt and juice mixture over the lemon wedges.
  3. To use the preserved lemons, remove the lemons from the jar and rinse them under cold running water, removing and discarding the pulp. Slice or chop the rind according to your recipe. After opening the jar, refrigerate the unused preserved lemons in their pickling liquid in the jar. You can also rinse the preserved lemons, remove the pulp and pack them in a jar covered with olive oil.