Saturday, September 26, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers Challenge - Beatty's Chocolate Cake

The last recipe of the month was picked by Mary of Passionate Perseverance. Mary has chosen Beatty’s Chocolate Cake.

I just made this recipe with my youngest son. We did cupcakes instead of a cake. We are taking some of the cupcakes over to my sister-in-laws house for a dessert.

I will post my picture and write tomorrow.

Edit October 17, 2009.

I will have to say I liked the moistness of this cake, however I thought it was too moist. I loved the coffee flavor. Some people could have done without the coffee (not big coffee drinkers).

If I had to make a cake for a special occassion it would be the Birthday Sheet cake. I thought the cake had a richer taste to it and I loved the frosting.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake


Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Portuguese Fisherman's Stew

One of my favorite restaurants here in New Hampshire is called the Galley Hatch. The first time I had this entree at the restaurant I loved it. I order it every time we go there for dinner.

I have always wanted to try to make this at home.

Portuguese Fisherman's Stew


4 tbsp olive oil
2 small bay leaves
1/2 tsp crushed red-pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/2 medium-sized red or green bell pepper, sliced
1 tsp saffron threads, chopped
1 can (14 oz) whole tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups fish stock
1/4 pound chorizo sausage, casing peeled off and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 lb lean fish fillets, such as hake, cod, halibut, or striped bass, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 lb medium shrimp
1/2 lb of scallops


In a stock pot heat on medium heat the olive oil. Add bay leaves and red-pepper flakes, sautéing until sizzling and bay.  Add garlic, thyme, onion, bell pepper and sauté, stirring until softened until soft. Stir in saffron and sauté 1 minute.

Turn the heat to medium-high,, add tomatoes and juices, wine and fish stock. Bring to a boil, Stir in chorizo, and simmer uncovered for 2 minutes. Add fish, shrimp and scallops. Simmer slowly for 5 minutes. Simmer for another 10 minutes.  Take off heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 Place a mound of rice in the center of the bowl and ladle the stew around.  Top off with fresh parsley or thyme.

* I used swordfish, shrimp and scallops, since those are what the Galley Hatch had in theirs. *

Barefoot Bloggers Challenge - Birthday Sheet Cake

Susy of Everyday Gourmet has chosen Birthday Sheet Cake for our first recipe of September.

When I looked at the recipe I though holey moley my arteries are going to be screaming.. lol.. This recipe is not for the person watching their weight.

I did make the cake with one change, instead of using a sheet pan I split the batter between two 8x8 square pans. This way I wouldn't be so tempted to eat the whole cake while home during the day.

I thought it was a tasty cake, especially the chocolate frosting.

Birthday Sheet Cake


For the cake:
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:

24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Chocolate candies for decorating (recommended: M&M's)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until smooth. Finish mixing by hand to be sure the batter is well mixed. Pour evenly into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan to room temperature.

For the frosting, place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chips are completely melted. Off the heat, add the corn syrup and vanilla and allow the chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the chocolate mixture and softened butter on medium speed for a few minutes, until it's thickened.

Spread the frosting evenly on the cake. Have the children decorate the cake with chocolate candies.


We decided to have lobsters for Labor Day. After going to the outlet stores we stopped at a fish store. Holey Moley those little buggers are expensive. We got (4) 1 1/4 lb lobsters. The total purchase price was $50... wow.. We couldn't believe it. Anyway, we also figured since the boys have never had lobster this will probably be the only time we actually buy them for home.

While the water was coming to a boil we put set the tables with the "nut" crackers, poking spears for the claws, extra napkins and a baking dish to put the water from the lobsters & lobster shells in. Good thing my husband was helping because never would have thought of that.

The boys seemed to have enjoyed it but they didn't make it through the whole lobster.

Easy Crepes

I decided to sign up for some of the demonstration classes at William Sonoma. My first one was Crepes & Croque Monsieur. I have tried making the family some crepes not that long ago and boy was it a mess.

I took notes on my handout while the demonstrator was talking and figured I could make these with no problems.

The following weekend I looked up on the internet for an easy recipe for crepes and found one. So I set out to make my family some breakfast. I filled my with fresh blueberries. The boys had nutella on theirs. My husband had them with just syrup.

Easy Crepes

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk or more
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon oil

I threw all but the oil into a bowl and mixed well. Finally add the oil (some people use melted butter) and stir it in. Don't stir too much at this point. If there is some oil sitting in pools on top that's fine. Make the batter and let it sit for 30 minutes or so. Then stir it again and add a bit more milk if you think it needs it.

Use a non-stick pan (one with low sides to be able to flip) and heat to Medium-High heat before adding any batter.

I used my Pampered chef batter bowl to pour the batter into the pan. After pouring the batter you will want to swirl the batter around the bottom of the pan; coating the bottom. I had to pour just a tad more to fill in the holes.

Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes or so then flip. The second side only takes a few seconds and then you are done.

Cooked Crepes can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days or upto 2 months in the freezer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Short Ribs with Tagliatelle

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces chopped pancetta (about 1/2 cup)
2 1/2 pounds short ribs
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes (whole or diced)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup red wine
1 pound fresh or dried tagliatelle
4 to 6 teaspoons shaved bittersweet chocolate
Place the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total.
Meanwhile, combine the onion, carrot, parsley and garlic in a food processor and blend until finely minced. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and pulse.
Once the short ribs are browned, carefully add the mixture from the food processor to the pot. Return the pancetta to the pot and stir. Add the rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, beef broth, and wine. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another hour and a half, stirring occasionally. Remove the meat and bones from the pot. Discard the bones. Shred the meat and return it to the pot. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes for dried pasta and 2 to 3 minutes for fresh. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the pot and stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta liquid 1/4 cup at a time, if
needed, to moisten the pasta. Transfer to serving bowls, top each bowl with 1 teaspoon of chocolate shavings. Serve immediately.

Chicken & Corn Chowder

Here in New England the weather has started to get cooler at night. Lately the high's during the daytime has been around 75. I love this weather. I could live in it year round.

At this time of year I start thinking of chowders, stews and fall baking. I just saw an apple orchard talking about some of the apples that were ready. Apple picking is the one family tradition I look forward to the most.

This past weekend I decided I wanted some chowder, I'm not a big seafood or clam chowder type of person. I was talking to Melissa and she said Williams Sonoma has a great Lobster chowder recipe. So I went looking on their website. I found what I was looking for, Chicken and Corn Chowder. Oh yum...

Chicken & Corn Chowder

from Williams Sonoma

4 bacon slices, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
3/4 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
6 green onions, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
3 Tbs. minced fresh thyme
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Cook the bacon:
In a saucepan over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 3 Tbs. of the fat from the pan.

Cook the vegetables and chicken:
Add the bell pepper, corn and potatoes to the same pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the peppers are just softened and the corn and potatoes are lightly tinged with gold, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the broth and wine and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, covered, until opaque throughout, 5 to 7 minutes.

Finish the chowder:
Stir in the green onions, thyme and half-and-half. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the chowder into bowls, sprinkle with the bacon and serve immediately.

Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Weeknight, by Melanie Barnard (Oxmoor House, 2006).

Ratatouille Tart

One of my favorite magazines is Cuisine At Home. I love it. There are no ads, which 3/4 of other magazines are littered with ads, this one none.

I just recently started getting Cuisine At Home (thank you Melissa) and while I was thumbing through it I stopped on a certain page. It had a beautiful tart with zucchini, summer squash, red peppers and onions on it. I was destined to make it.

Ratatouille Tart

1 1/2 yellow squash
1 1/2 zucchini
1 1/2 red bell pepper
1/4 red onion
3/4 cup shredded firm chevre (goat cheese, 2.5 oz)
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced basil
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

Prepare the dough: Pulse 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 tsp. each table salt and black pepper in a food processor. Add 6 Tbsp. cold, diced unsalted butter and 3 Tbsp. cold, diced shortening; pulse until pieces of butter and shortening are the size of peas. Add 3 Tbsp. ice water; pulse to combine. Shape dough into a flat disk; refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch; fit dough into a 9-inch tart pan. Press dough into pan's fluted edge; trim excess. Cover tart shell with aluminum foil; fill with dried beans.

Bake crust until it feels dry, about 25 minutes; remove foil and beans and bake shell 5 minutes more. Remove shell from oven. Let tart shell cool at room temperature.

Using a mandoline, slice squash, zucchini, and bell pepper into rounds and onion into half-moons, all 1/8 inch think. Pat vegetables dry with paper towels. Sprinkle chevre cheese and basil over bottom of tart.

Arrange vegetables around edge of tart shell repeatedly overlapping two slices each of yellow squash, zucchini, and bell pepper, followed by three slices of onion. Arrange a small circle of vegetable slices inside the first circle. Use squash slices to cover center of tart.

Drizzle tart with oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake until tart is golden brown around the edge, about 30 minutes.