Italian Mushroom Risotto

November 4, 2011

Italian Mushroom Risotto

This is such a simple yet elegant dish to make. If you want to impress your friends and family then serve them this Italian Mushroom Risotto dish. Works as a side dish or a main course.


½ Ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms

14 Ounces Chicken or Vegetable Broth

2 Tablespoons Butter

1 Pound Sliced White Mushrooms

¼ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/8 Teaspoon Dried Thyme

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Finely Chopped Small Onion

2 Cups Arborio Rice

½ Cup Dry White Wine

½ Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley

Take the dried porcini mushrooms and combine the mushroom with ½ cup of boiling water in a small bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes. With a spoon remove the mushrooms, dry and chop. Strain the soaking liquid through a sieve. Heat the vegetable or chicken broth, 3 ½ cup water and porcini mushroom liquid to a boiling over a high heat in a medium saucepan. Reduce to a simmer and cover. In a separate medium saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the white mushrooms, pepper, salt and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir in the porcini. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a bowl. Set aside. In the same saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until the grains are opaque. Add the white wine and cook until absorbed. Add 12 cup of the simmering broth and stir until absorbed. Continue cooking, adding more both ½ cup at a time. Stir after each addition. Cook for 25 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender and creamy but still firm. Stir in the mushroom mixture and Parmesan cheese. Heat through and stir in the parsley. Serves 4 main dishes.

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

November 2, 2011

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

These cookies are a chocolate lover’s dream.


12 Ounces Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate (Divided)

¾ Cup Flour

2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Ancho Chili Pepper

½ Teaspoon Baking Powder

¼ Teaspoon Salt

¼ Cup Softened Butter

½ Cup Sugar

¼ Cup Packed Brown Sugar

2 Lightly Beaten Eggs

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate. It is a good idea to use a double boiler, but you can also melt it in the microwave. After melting the chocolate set aside. Coarsely chop the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate. Mix the flour, cinnamon, ancho chili pepper, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl beat the butter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add the melted chocolate and beat until well blended. Gradually beat in the flour mixture on a low speed until well mixed. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons 1 ½ inch apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake in a preheated 375° F oven for 10 minutes. You want the cookies set and slightly cracked on top. Transfer the cookies onto a wire rack and cool completely. Makes 3 ½ dozen cookies.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cake

October 7, 2011

Chocolate Cinnamon Cake


2 Cups Unbleached Flour

1/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 ½ Teaspoons Baking Powder

¾ Teaspoon Baking Soda

2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

½ Teaspoon Salt

1 Cup Butter

1 ¼ Cups Sugar

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

4 Eggs

1 Cup Sour Cream

1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

1 Cup Chopped Pecans

¼ Cup Sugar

1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a bundt pan. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl beat the butter and 1 ¼ cups of sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in the vanilla. Next beat in the eggs one at a time. Reduce the speed to low and alternately beat in the flour mixture and sour cream. Combine just until blended. In a separate small bowl combine the chocolate, pecans, ¼ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon for the crumb mixture. Pour half of the batter in the bottom of the prepared bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the crumb mixture next and then the rest of the batter, ending with the last of the crumb mixture. Gently cut through the batter and crumbs with a knife. Bake for 45 minutes. Cover the top of the cake with foil and continue baking for 15 minutes longer until done. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from the pan and finish cooling. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serves 14

Steamed Mussels In White Wine

September 27, 2011

Steamed Mussels In White Wine


1 Large Finely Chopped Shallot

1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Onion

¼ Cup Dry White Wine

4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar

4 ½ Pounds Mussels

½ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 Tablespoons Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley

Scrub and debeard the mussels. Place the shallot, onions, wine, butter and vinegar in a large heavy pot. Add the mussels. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Throw away any mussels that don’t open up. Put a strainer line with a double layer of cheesecloth over a large bowl and set aside. Using a slotted spoon transfer the mussels to a large bowl. Pour the liquid that is in the pot through the cheesecloth in the strainer. Once all the liquid has gone through the strainer season with the black pepper and pour over the mussels. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with toasted bread. Serves 4

Oysters Rockefeller

August 25, 2011

This recipe is dedicated to my old friend Michael. I miss you very much!

Oysters Rockefeller


1 Dozen Scrubbed Oysters

Rock Salt

12 Ounces Spinach (Usually 1 Bunch)

1 Tablespoons Plus 2 Teaspoons Butter

2 Tablespoons Minced Onion

1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne

1/8 Teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon Pernod

¼ Cup Heavy Cream

2 Tablespoon Plain Dried Bread Crumbs

Lemon Wedges

Preheat the oven to 425° F. Shuck the oysters and release the meat from the bottom of the shells. Remove any pieces of the broken shell. Place the oysters in the bottom shells in a jelly roll pan on ½ inch of rock salt. This will keep the oysters flat. Refrigerate until ready to bake. Wash the spinach. In a medium saucepan cook the spinach with water clinging to its leaves over a high heat. Stir and cook until wilted. Drain well and chop very fine. In the same pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes until tender. Stir in the spinach, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and Pernod. Add the cream to the mixture and cook over a high heat. Stir and cook until reduced and thick. Remove from the heat. In a small saucepan melt the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter and stir in the bread crumbs. Spoon the spinach mixture evenly on top of the oysters. Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture. Bake for 10 minutes and serve garnished with lemon wedges. Serves 4 as an appetizer

Chocolate Root Beer Cake

August 21, 2011

Chocolate Root Beer Cake

I love this cake. You can taste the root beer, but it isn’t overpowering.


2 Cups Unbleached Flour

2 Cups Sugar

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

¼ Teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Cup Softened Butter

½ Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 Eggs

½ Cup Buttermilk or Sour Milk

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

6 Tablespoons Root Beer Extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease a bundt cake pan. Set aside. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a medium saucepan combine the butter, cocoa powder and 1 cup of water. Bring the mixture just to boiling and stir constantly. Remove from the heat and add the cocoa mixture to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer until combined. Add the eggs, butter, milk, vanilla and root beer extract. Beat for another minute until the batter is thin. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until done. You can either sprinkle with powdered sugar or frost with Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting. Serves 8

Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting

In a saucepan combine ¼ cup butter, 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of buttermilk. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat. Add 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Beat until smooth. Pour the warm frosting of the cake and spread evenly.

Petite Pear Tarts

August 19, 2011

Petite Pear Tarts

Summer is the season for pears. What to do with all of those pears? Make pear tarts!


Pastry for 1 Pie Crust

2 Small Ripe Pears (Peeled, Cored and Sliced)

2 Tablespoons Unbleached Flour

2 Tablespoons Dried Currents

2 Teaspoons Fresh Lemon Juice

½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

½ Cup Plus 6 Teaspoons Sugar

2 Tablespoons Milk

2 Tablespoons Chopped Pecans

Prepare the pastry for 1 pie crust. Shape two equal balls and chill for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, toss the pear slices with flour, currants, lemon juice, cinnamon and ½ cup of sugar. Set aside. On a lightly floured surface, with a floured rolling pink roll 1 dough ball into a 10 inch round. Transfer to one half of a large cookie sheet. Mound half of the pear mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough up around the pears, leaving a 2 ½ inch opening in the center. Repeat with the remaining dough and pear mixture to make a second tart on the same cookie sheet. Brush each crust with 1 tablespoon of milk and sprinkle each with 2 teaspoons of sugar. Place 2 sheet of foil under the cookie sheet. Crimp the foil edges to form a rim to catch any drips during the baking. Bake the tarts for 20 minutes. In a cup, mix the pecans with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar and sprinkle over the filling in the center of the tarts. Bake for 10 minute more or until the crust is brown. Cool the tarts on cookie sheets on a wire rack for 10 minutes to serve warm. Makes 2 petite tarts

Pie Crust Recipe


1 ¼ Cups Unbleached Flour

¼ Teaspoon Salt

2 Tablespoons Shortening

4 Tablespoons Cold & Cut Up Butter

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. With a pastry blender cut in the shortening and butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle in 3 to 5 tablespoons of ice water, a tablespoon at a time. Mix lightly with a fork after each addition, until the dough is just moist enough to hold together. Shape the dough into 1 ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. Remove from the fridge and let stand for 1 hour before rolling. You want the dough at room temperature. Make two separate balls. On a lightly floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll out each ball to make the petite pie crusts.

Baked Pears With Marsala Wine

August 18, 2011

Baked Pears With Marsala Wine


1 Medium Lemon

8 Firm Bosc Pears

1/3 Cup Sugar Plus 2 Tablespoons

½ Cup Sweet Marsala Wine

2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Take a small knife and remove the peel from the lemon in strips. Squeeze the juice from the lemon. With a melon baller, remove the cores from the bottom of the unpeeled pears, but do not remove the stems. With a pastry brush, brush the insides of the pears with the lemon juice, then sprinkle the insides of the pears with the lemon juice. Next, sprinkle the insides with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. In a shallow 2 quart baking dish, mix the lemon peel strips, Marsala and 1/3 cup of water. Place the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar on the sheet of waxed paper. With the pastry brush, brush the pears with the melted butter. Roll the pears in the sugar to coat. Place the pears, cored ends down, in the baking dish. Sprinkle with any remaining sugar. Bake the pears, basting with the syrup in the dish, for 45 minutes until fork tender. Slightly cool or serve warm. Serves 8

Cold Watermelon Soup

August 15, 2011

Cold Watermelon Soup

More and more farm stands and supermarkets have a variety of melons in the summer. Watermelon is one of the ultimate tastes of summer.


4 Pounds Juicy Watermelon

½ Cup Chablis

1 Tablespoon Lime Juice

¼ Cup Chopped Fresh Mint

Lime Slices For Garnish – Optional

Cut off the watermelon rind. With a melon baller, but out 8 balls of watermelon fruit and reserve them for garnish. Remove all the seeds, cut the watermelon into rough chunks and spin them in a food processor. Add the wine, lime juice and chopped mint. Puree until smooth. Chill for several hours. Ladle into chilled bowls and garnish with reserved melon balls and lime slices. Serve 4

Victoria’s Garden Party Cake

August 14, 2011

Victoria’s Garden Party Cake

This cake is so easy to make! People will think you spent all day in the kitchen.


1 ½ Stick Butter (Room Temperature)

2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons Fresh Orange Juice

Zest of 1 Lemon

Zest of 1 Orange

2 Jumbo Eggs

2 Cups Flour

1 ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda

½ Teaspoon Salt

½ Cup Crème Fraiche

1 Cup Fresh Raspberries

2 Ripe Peaches (Pitted & Sliced In Half)

¼ Cup Fresh Raspberries For Serving

Whipped Cream For Serving

Preheat the oven to 375° F and grease a nonstick 9 inch sprinform pan. With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the lemon & orange juices plus the zests and combine. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time. Follow with the dry ingredients, but do not overmix. Add the crème fraiche and combine briefly. Scrape the sides so that all of the ingredients are incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the raspberries evenly around the cake. Set the peaches in the batter, in a circle, with the cut sides up. Place the pan on a sheet pan and bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes and remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Let the cake cool completely. Serve plain or with fresh berries and whipped cream. You can substitute blueberries for the peaches if you wish.

Serve 8

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