November 30, 2010

Jeanne Torregrossa's Coffee Cake

After I made the Heirloom Bakery coffee cake last month, my grandmother emailed me to tell me that my great grandmother (her mother) made coffee cake almost every week. I dug out the recipe and made it for Thanksgiving Day breakfast. It was delicious and got rave reviews from MM's family!

I didn't have any blueberries on hand, so I used walnuts, but I bet it would be even better with blueberries. I am a topping fiend, so I think I will double the amount of topping the next time I make it.

Jeanne Torregrossa's Coffee Cake


1/3 cup of chopped nuts or 1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons all purpose flour


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, mix together all of the topping ingredients.

3. In a stand mixer, cream the butter. Add the sugar and cream well. Add the eggs and mix well.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and vanilla extract.

5. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until combined. Add 1/3 of the sour cream mixture to the mixing bowl and mix until combined. Continue until both mixtures are gone.

6. Spoon a little more than half of the batter into a greased 8 inch square baking dish (or other dish of your choosing). Sprinkle 2/3 of the topping over the batter, then spoon the remaining batter over that, and then sprinkle the rest of the topping.

7. Bake in a preheated oven for 45-50 minutes. Leave in the oven for 10 minutes after shutting it off. (I had other baking to do, so I couldn't leave mine in the oven and I only needed to bake it for about 40 minutes.)

November 29, 2010

Applesauce Multigrain Muffins

Well at least it looks good...

I generally like anything made with oats, but these poor muffins may be the exception. They weren't horrible, but I probably won't make them again.

The recipe is from the Washington Post and seeing as I don't even know what Country Choice Organic multigrain hot cereal is (boy, that's a mouthful!), I used old-fashioned rolled oats. I found the muffins to be a little two chewy (maybe that is a result of the oats?) and not necessarily dry, but the texture was off. I also think the muffins tasted too much like canola oil. If I were to make these again, I would be tempted to use vegetable oil instead - or just leave the oil out all together and increase the amount of applesauce.

November 28, 2010

Risi e Bisi

I love risotto and always look forward to fall and winter, which is the only time I want to stand over a simmering pot stirring and stirring.

Risi e bisi is a traditional Venetian spring dish and is supposed to be soupier in consistency than a risotto. As you can see from the above photo, mine certainly looks like a risotto. (Also, being a spring dish, you are supposed to make it with fresh peas, but frozen ones work fine.) The last time I made this dish (before BlB), I did manage to get it soupier, but no matter, it tastes delicious either way! And you will enjoy it in any season!

I combined two risi e bisi recipes to make this dish: one from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian Cooking and one from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook.

Risi e Bisi
Serves 4-6

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
6 ounces pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups fresh or partially thawed frozen peas
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a gentle simmer and maintain over low heat.

2. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the rice and stir until each grain is coated with oil and hot, about 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of the stock and stir until it is absorbed. Continue to add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and allowing it to be absorbed before adding more, for about 10 minutes (if using frozen peas, cook for 15 minutes before adding peas).

4. Stir in the peas and the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Resume adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time and stirring until the rice is tender yet firm to the bite, 8-10 minutes more.

5. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and butter. Check seasoning and serve with more grated Parmigiano.

November 23, 2010

Pasta with Parsnips and Bacon

Parsnips a plenty!

We had some bacon in the fridge that desperately needed to be used, so I decided to try this recipe from the Serious Eats website. It is a recipe adapted from an adapted recipe from Mario Batali's Babbo restaurant (did you get that?). And it was pretty good. Like the author/cook says on the Serious Eats site, what this dish boils down to is that parsnips taste good when cooked in pork fat. I wish I had reread his blurb before I made this dish, however, because I certainly would have used parsley instead of green onions. They did not work at all. Not the right flavor combinations.

Also, I only used 1 pound of parsnips and as you can tell from the above picture, it was plenty! I used the other half of the box of rotelle from this dish and would recommend using a short pasta, not fettuccine as the Epicurious recipe recommends.

November 19, 2010

Chicken Marsala with Mustard and Mascarpone

Oh, Giada, can you do no wrong?

I can't even remember the last time I had chicken Marsala, but this is certainly the best iteration of it that I have ever had. Although, when we were in high school, my brother went through a phase when he was obsessed with chicken Marsala and made it all the time. (At least I think it was high school; I could be remembering this incorrectly.) His version of it was terrific as well.

This recipe is from Giada's cookbook, Giada's Family Dinners, which I recently bought on Gilt for super-cheap. (If you are not a member of Gilt, let me know and I will send you an invitation. It is one of the most amazing things ever created. Really great products for unbelievably low prices. Especially if you are an obsessive shopper like I am!) Of course, you can also find this recipe on The mustard and mascarpone work really well with the Marsala and the browned mushrooms. (A note on the mushrooms, which most of you probably know already: cremini mushrooms are also called "baby bella" or "baby portobello".)

A note on the serving size: I used just over a pound of chicken, and a half pound of pappardelle, but the full amount of all the other ingredients (I like a lot of sauce) and it made 4 servings.

November 17, 2010

Orecchiette with Greens, Garbanzo Beans and Ricotta Salata

Giada has done it again!

I was really surprised by this dish. It was flavorful, texturally interesting and satisfying. Plus, I usually do not like Swiss chard, but (luckily) it loses its characteristic bitterness in this recipe. Unfortunately, the chickpeas do not quite seem at home in this dish. Cannellini beans may have been a better flavor match up. And I really love lemon, so I think I might add lemon juice next time I make this.

This recipe is from Giada's cookbook, Giada at Home, and can be found on Also, if you are going to try this dish, please do not substitute feta for the ricotta salata. Their flavors are completely different. Search out the ricotta salata, it won't kill you. AND, it is delicious!

November 16, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

(Please excuse the second post in a row without a picture; I just can't subject you to them!)

I really wanted to like this meatloaf. It is pretty healthy and seemed like a good meal for a Sunday night. Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment. This recipe is out of Ellie Krieger's cookbook, The Food You Crave, but of course it is also available on Food She calls it "Mom's Turkey Meatloaf," but my mom wouldn't make meatloaf out of turkey and her meatloaf was pretty damn good, so I can't bring myself to call this by Ellie Krieger's chosen name.

I am starting to think this dish failed because of user error because the reviews on are excellent. I think it needed a higher cooking temperature, because mine was not anywhere near the color brown and there wasn't enough moisture evaporation. And there needs to be less onions; I thought I was eating an onion loaf with some turkey thrown in. It could also use something green. Maybe some spinach? Or parsley? I think I would be more inclined to try a completely different recipe than to try to fix this one.

On to the sweet potatoes; they were superb! Normally, I would roast the orange cuties, but the meatloaf only required a 350 degree oven and you can't roast anything at that low a temperature. I was going to boil and mash them like normal potatoes, but then I found this recipe on I had never heard of cooking potatoes like that, but they were delicious! I used skim milk, because that is all I have on hand and honestly, I don't think the heavy cream would have made them any better, just more calorific!

November 15, 2010

Pasta with Tempeh, Caramelized Shallots and Goat Cheese

For the uninitiated, tempeh can be pretty intimidating. It's not pretty (notice there is no photo accompanying this post), it can be hard to find (we had to go to three grocery stores), and if you do stumble across it, what will you ever do with it? Well, have I got the dish for you!

This recipe is from an old "Meatless Monday" column in the Washington Post.  We have had it a bunch of times and it comes out great every time. The marinade is so delicious that I could just drink it. The pasta reheats well for lunch, too. Give tempeh a try!

November 12, 2010

Braised Pork Chops and Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Bread Crumbs

Mmmm crunchy gremolata bread crumbs...

Marshal Mike hates cauliflower - he even asked the produce girl at the supermarket to hide it from me. She just laughed awkwardly and continued stocking the produce. Score 1 for me!

I knew I had to try this recipe for roasted cauliflower, which says that it will convert the non-believers. While MM will certainly not go out in search of cauliflower, he did manage to eat about half of the amount I put on his plate. I would have roasted it even longer, but the pork was done and I didn't want it to get cold. I halved the recipe, but absentmindedly zested a whole lemon, so the resulting gremolata bread crumbs were a little overwhelmingly lemon, but they still tasted fantastic.

The pork recipe is from the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian Cooking cookbook and is pretty good. The orange juice was certainly unexpected, but it worked (I halved this recipe, too).

Braised Pork Chops
Makes 6 servings

4 pork loin chops, each about 1 inch thick
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Grated zest of 1 orange (I couldn't find any acceptable oranges so I omitted this)

1. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels (I also trim off a little of the excess fat). Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chops and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the chops are tender but still pale pink and juicy when cut into the center with a knife, about 15 minutes. (Mine were practically done after the first 10 minutes, so watch them carefully.) Transfer to a plate and tent with foil.

2. Add the Marsala to the pan and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until the wine is reduced and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the orange juice and bring to a simmer. Return the chops to the pan and sprinkle with the orange zest. Cook, basting the chops with the pan juices, for 2 minutes.

3. Transfer the chops to a warmed platter or warmed plates, spoon the sauce over the top, and serve.

November 11, 2010

Cottage Pie

Looks a little soupy...

So apparently I have a problem reducing sauces properly (see this disaster) as my cottage pie was definitely not the proper cottage pie/shepherd's pie consistency.

This recipe is from the November 2010 issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food (which Marshal Mike calls a comic book because of its tiny size). And here's a fun fact that Martha taught me - did you know that a traditional shepherd's pie is made with lamb and a cottage pie is made with ground beef? I certainly didn't. But because Martha Stewart said it, it must be the truth.

So honestly the best thing about this dish is I got to break out my mandoline (thanks, UNF!) to slice the potato. So fun!

I will include the recipe below because I can't find it online and you will see that it has you add a cup of water near the end. When I make this again, I think I will try only adding 1/2 cup or so, because not only was the resulting dish soupy, I felt like the flavor was diluted, too. Although MM and his cousin, Tom, had no problems going back for seconds. The crispy potatoes, while not helpful at all at mopping up juices, were delicious!

Cottage Pie
From Everyday Food
I just noticed that the recipe says it serves 6 - that is totally not true. Maybe 6 dieting girls, but definitely not 6 normal people. There were 3 of us and we had one leftover portion.
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 1/4 hours

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
2 large carrots, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I would be tempted to up this amount)
1 pound ground beef or lamb
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 cup dark (porter) beer (I had a hard time finding a porter beer and ended up with Kona Pipeline Porter and it really surprised me! It was delicious!)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 large russet potato (3/4 pound), very thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in tomato paste. Add meat and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through, 3 minutes. Add thyme and beer and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. Add 1 cup water and cook until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in peas and season with salt and pepper.

3. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. Top with potatoes, overlapping slices. Season potatoes with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons butter. Bake until potatoes are browned around the edges and tender when pierced with a knife, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. (To store, let cool completely, cover with foil, and refrigerate, up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, in a 350 degree oven until warmed through.)

November 10, 2010

Baked Ravioli with Chicken Sausage

Cheesy goodness!

So this is certainly not a dish you would want to eat every night (or more than once a month), but it hits the spot every now and then. The recipe is from Real Simple and comes together pretty quickly. I only veered slightly from the recipe: I used a whole jar of marinara because I felt that 2 cups wasn't enough; and I grated some Pecorino Romano on top of the mozzarella, mainly because I had it in the fridge and need to use it up.

November 9, 2010

Farfalle with Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpeas

Mmmm sweet potato...

I am an unabashed lover of sweet potatoes. I could eat them every day. I had two lonely sweet potatoes sitting on the counter this past weekend and thought, why not roast them and throw them together with some pasta? (I also threw a can of chickpeas on the roasting pan for some protein.) (Actually, I threw the contents of a can of chickpeas, not the can itself.)

The resulting dish was ok. There wasn't much texture contrast (I think if I had let the chickpeas cool, they would have gotten crispier) and it ended up dry, but the flavor was there!

Pasta with Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpeas
Serves 3-4

1/2 pound dried pasta (I am not sure if the farfalle was the best pasta shape for this dish, so use whatever you'd like!)
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dried Italian seasoning
1/2 large onion, cut into slices
2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (MM's favorite job in the world is picking the little leaves off the stems!)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes and chickpeas with 1-2  tablespoons of olive oil, some salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Spread into a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until sweet potatoes are tender and chickpeas are crispy, about 35-40 minutes, stirring a couple times during baking.
3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Cook the onions until brown and caramelized.
4. Cook the pasta in a large pot of generously salted boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta (reserve about a cup of the cooking water). Melt the butter in the pasta pot with a tablespoon of olive oil. Return the pasta to the pot and gently stir in the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, onions and thyme. If it looks dry (and it probably will), add some reserved pasta water.

November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Fig Hazelnut Granola

I was looking for something to do with the remnants of the can of pumpkin from last weekend's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and luckily the blogosphere is awash with pumpkin recipes this time of year. I stumbled upon a recipe for pumpkin cranberry granola on the Framed blog and as it only calls for 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, that was just about perfect.

But I soon realized that I didn't have some of the other ingredients that the recipe calls for, so I just threw in what I had. The recipe below is for the granola I ended up making.

Pumpkin Fig Hazelnut Granola

5 cups old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (I would probably leave this out next time as it overpowered the other spices)
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used table salt, but I think I would use coarse kosher salt next time)
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup real maple syrup (don't even think of using pancake syrup)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup dried cranberries (I would have used more cranberries if I had them, but that's the beauty of granola, you can throw in whatever you have on hand or prefer.)
3/4 cup chopped dried figs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. (I have mixed feelings about the use of parchment paper here. I felt that it absorbed too much of the granola's moisture and its sogginess slowed the process of the granola crisping. It eventually did get crispy, but I think it took longer than necessary. Additionally, the whole purpose of the parchment paper is to prevent sticking and for ease of clean-up, but I found that the oats sneaked under the parchment anyway, which defeated the purpose. I probably won't use parchment paper next time.)

2. Stir oats, spices, salt and hazelnuts together in a large bowl.

3. Whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin puree, canola oil, honey, maple syrup and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour over oat mixture and stir to combine. Spread mixture onto the baking sheet.

4. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and stir. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven, stir in dried fruits and bake for another 5 minutes. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.