Monday, August 25, 2008

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

I love cupcakes and have been wanting so badly to use my new cupcake book. Awhile back I wanted to make white chocolate raspberry cupcakes for Justin (per his request) but couldn't find a solid recipe of exactly what I was looking for. So I took 2 separate recipes from the book, added some white chocolate chips and this was the outcome.

Justin told me these were the best cupcakes I ever made and I must say were pretty darn good. Quite an indulgence though!

adapted from cupcakes by Elinor Klivans

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup good quality white chocolate chips (I like Guittard)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin tin cups with cupcake liners. Sift the flour, baking power, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, using a electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg and yolk and sugar until thickened and lightened to a cream color, about 2 minutes.

Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix in the oil and vanilla until blended. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. Mix in the flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter is smooth. Mix in a cup of white chocolate chips.

Fill each cup with about 1/3 cup of batter, to about 1/4 inch below the top of the liner. Bake until the tops feel firm and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

adapted from cupcakes by Elinor Klivans

1 cup fresh raspberries or defrosted unsweetened raspberries
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temp.
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Process the raspberries in a food processor. Strain the puree through a fine strainer into a small bowl; discard any seeds and pulp left in the strainer. You will have about 1/3 cup of puree. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter, cream cheese, and almond extract until smooth and thoroughly blended. Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in the raspberry puree, then beat on medium speed for 1 minute to lighten the frosting. Use a small spatula to spread about 2 1/2 tablespoons of frosting thickly over the top or pipe onto each cupcake. Top with a berry.

Fennel and Orange Salad

Here is another one of my favorite salads. It's really, REALLY good and by far my favorite!

This is a Sicilian salad (no wonder I love it so much) that is best when oranges are in season. I used seedless Valencia oranges, but you can use any that are seedless or blood oranges.

There is such a lovely sweet and savory combo going on that is out of this world. All of the flavors surprisingly blend so well together and the licorice-y fennel adds so much freshness.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sweet Cherry Pie

Summer is almost over and it would not be complete without a sweet cherry pie. I meant to post this last month when cherries were at their peak, but have been caught up with.. well, you know, summer things.

While I've never really been a fan of cherry pie, it is my husband's favorite. Most cherry pies that I've had were either too tart or sour and in my opinion, the sweeter the better. I was graciously given a HUGE bag of juicy and sweet bing cherries so there was no excuse not to make cherry pie when they are free and this gorgeous.

Thank God for that handy little pitter. I still had cherry juice all over myself. What a mess!

I used this recipe from my Everyday Food magazine. The only thing I changed was add a 1/4 tsp. of almond extract.

The pie was definitely different than the cherry pies that use the canned filling. It seemed almost more like a cherry cobbler. It was still delicious, but the filling wasn't quite thick enough. I will try a different recipe next time or maybe it was just something I did wrong. If anyone has knowledge on the topic or wanna share a great recipe, I'm all ears.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

This recipe comes from Cooks Illustrated magazine. Their recipes are always thorough and a fail- safe for me.

You will need tomato paste and I highly recommend using Amore. It comes in a tube versus the typical 6 oz. cans you see in grocery stores. This is a must have in my kitchen because I don't know how many times I've had to toss almost a full can that has gone bad. I usually only need a tablespoon here and there so I love using it. It's also imported from Italy.

With the combination of tomatoes and cream this dish is perfection!

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce
Cooks Illustrated

This sauce is best served with short pasta, such as ziti, penne, or fusilli.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce prosciutto , minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 small onion , diced fine (about 3/4 cup)
1 bay leaf
Pinch red pepper flakes
Table salt
3 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 ounces oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes , drained, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped coarse (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 cup plus 2 tablespoons crushed tomatoes (from one 28-ounce can)
1 pound pasta (see note)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese , for serving

1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add prosciutto, onion, bay leaf, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and beginning to turn light gold, 8 to 12 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup wine and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Add 2 cups crushed tomatoes and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened (spoon should leave trail when dragged through sauce), 25 to 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.
4. Remove bay leaf from sauce and discard. Stir cream, remaining 2 tablespoons crushed tomatoes, and remaining 2 tablespoons wine into sauce; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add sauce to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with up to 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Stir in basil and serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Blueberry Crumb Cake

In my Fourth of July post I mentioned this blueberry cake. It is a very simple and old fashioned recipe.

My dad and Justin absolutely love crumb coffee cake so I will be making this one a lot.