Thursday, August 31, 2006

Individual Molten Center Chocolate Cakes

Molten Chox Cake

I saw this recipe on another fellow bloggers site,, and I had to give it a try. I am freakishly addicted to chocolate and this recipe especially caught my eye because it uses bittersweet chocolate. This is a perfect recipe for a dinner party or if you want to impress your family, or that special someone.

INGREDIENTS (makes 6 individual cakes)

  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped and divided
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400F.

Butter a 6-cup muffin tin and dust each well with cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a small bowl, melt together 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon heavy cream, either in the microwave in very small intervals, or over a small double boiler. Once it becomes smooth and shiny, chill for about 10 to 15 minutes. This is the ganache.

In another small bowl, melt together the remaining 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and the butter. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes at room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture triples in volume and is very thick (about 5-7 minutes). Sift flour over egg mixture and fold in. Add cooled chocolate/butter mixture and fold in until batter is uniform. Pour into prepared muffin tins.

Form ganache into 6 teaspoon-sized balls and place one in each cake, pressing gently to cover with batter. (If there is a little left over, that's ok.)

Bake at 400F for 9-11 minutes, until the tops are set. Let cakes cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and serving on individual plates. Cakes can be served right side up or still inverted. Serve immediately, with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hot Dogs, Mexican Style

hot dog street vendor in L.A.In Mexico, bacon-wrapped hot dogs are a staple street food that you can find in almost any busy corner, especially during the mmmm, bacon...evenings. Nowadays, you can also find these hot dog vendors in Southern California. There are a few vendors in San Diego that sell these doggies and, boy are they good. If you're a bacon lover, which I know you are, you'll enjoy these perros calientes. Mmmmm, bacon....

INGREDIENTS (makes 8 hot dogs)

  • 8 hot dogs
  • 8 hotdog buns
  • 8 slices bacon
  • Mayonnaise, as needed
  • Ketchup, as needed
  • Mustard, as needed
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (optional), seeded and finely diced

In a bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, onion and jalapeño pepper and set aside.

Wrap bacon around each hot dog. If needed, you can insert toothpicks to hold the bacon in place, but usually it will stick to the hot dog by itself. Place the hot dogs on a pre-heated skillet and cook on medium until the bacon is done.

Warm the hot dog buns and spread mayonnaise on them.

Place one bacon wrapped hot dog on each bun (remove toothpicks, if used), and add your favorite condiments such as ketchup and mustard.

Finally, spread some of the salsa over the hot dog, about one to two tablespoons and enjoy!

bacon wrapped hot dog...yummy!

Monday, August 28, 2006

PB&B: Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

PB&BThis sandwich is insane. If you love peanut butter like I do, you will love this sandwich. It's a grilled sami smothered in peanut butter, topped with sliced bananas and grilled to perfection. As some of you may know, my husband hates bananas. Don't ask me why, but he does. So I made the recipe below for him sans bananas. It still tasted pretty good.

INGREDIENTS (makes 2 sandwiches)

  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 small bananas or one huge one...hee hee
  • 4 slices of white bread, a good variety or your favorite sandwich bread
  • Spreadable butter such as ICBINB
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Mix the first three ingredients in a small bowl. peanut butter mix
  2. Spread equal amounts of peanut butter on each slice of bread. spread PB on slices
  3. Slice the banana and place the slices on two pieces of bread. Top with another piece of bread.
  4. Place a non-stick pan on medium-high. Butter each side of the sandwich and grill for about 1 minute per side, or until it's nicely grilled. In the meantime, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a plate. Once your PB&B is grilled on both sides, immediately pass it through the cinnamon sugar.
Cut sandwich on the diagonal and serve immediate. YUMMY-TUMMY!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

P.E.I. Mussels

We live near the Kensington Grill restaurant in San Diego, CA. The restaurant is a casual shi-shi joint with a very unique American menu. One of my favorite items in their menu is their p.e.i mussels (Prince Edward Island). The mussels are steamed to perfection in a white wine broth, and then they are served with a tarragon sauce. If you check this place out, I suggest you just order from their appetizer menu since it's cheaper and I think the appetizers are better tasting than the entrees.

INGREDIENTS (about 3 to 4 servings as an appetizer)

  • 2 pounds mussels
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Gris or Blanc de Blanc
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Discard any mussels that have cracked or are damaged. Remove beards from mussels, and scrub each mussel under cold water. Rinse until water runs clear.

Combine the wine, shallots, bay leaf, and thyme in a very large pot and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat.

Add the mussels to pot, cover, and turn heat up to high. When steam starts to escape from cover, reduce heat to medium. Shake pot to redistribute mussels, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until mussels have opened. Remove from heat. Remove mussels from liquid and discard any unopened mussels.

Remove the bay leaf. Add the shallot liquid into another saucepan. Reduce liquid on high heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and with a hand held blender add the olive oil, Dijon, and tarragon to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper and spoon over mussels. Serve nice pieces of crusty, French bread to sop up all the juices.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Farfalle in a Pignoli Cream Sauce

There are times when I wake up craving pasta. It doesn't happen too often, but when it does, I always try to create something new rather than just making the old standard spaghetti or lasagna. Since I had pine nuts in the house, I came up with this recipe. If you don't have pine nuts or don't like them, you can use toasted, unsalted walnuts instead.

INGREDIENTS (makes about 1-1/2 cups of sauce)

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 8 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • salt to taste
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup ground pignoli (pine nuts)**
  • Bowtie pasta (or your favorite short pasta) cooked according to package directions
  • A few more pine nuts for garnish

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook it, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Add heavy cream, stirring constantly. Stir in salt, nutmeg, grated Parmesan cheese, grated Romano cheese, and ground pignolis. Simmer over medium low heat for 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the sauce to your cooked pasta and serve immediately.

Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese, and roasted pignolis, if desired.

**Before you use the store bought pine nuts, toast them in a 325° oven, stirring occasionally, until they're slightly golden, about five minutes.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Peace in the Middle East!

Michelle's falafelOur friend, Bill (who is single, by the way!) hosted our cooking club for this month. The theme: Peace in the Middle East. Our cooking club tries to get together once every 2 months and we choose a theme. Then we all cook food from scratch and share the food with each other. Of course, in the end we tend to get drunk since we all like to drink our alcoholic libations. Israeli Couscous

Anyhoo, my sister-in-law made delicious hummus with soft, warm pita bread. Michelle, her co-worker from the Eye of Mordor (Omni Hotel) made us all falafel from scratch; they also made a refreshing yogurt-cucumber Lamb kabobssauce.

Thank goodness Bill (did I mention he is single, ladies, and he's 33 and drives a Honda Accord?) has a deep fryer. Michelle went to town on that thing frying up the falafel. Bill made us all cinnamon-spiced lamb kabobs and potato latkes. I made Israeli couscous and Lebanese meatballs in a tomato sauce--everything was delicious. Lebanese meatballs

Our friends, Scott and Benni, brought Witch Creek wine. It's from Carlsbad, California and it's a really good wine. Matthew and I also brought local wine from Belle Marie winery in Escondido. If you guys are ever in Carlsbad or Escondido, you should check out these wineries. Their wines are surprisingly yummy and I think in a few more years they are only going to get better.

Lindsey, Michelle, Benni and Vonda

The girls of the cooking club.

The boys smoking their cigars

Finally, the boys ended the feast with some faux-Cuban cigars. Bill is the one with the extremely red shirt!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Matzoh Ball Soup

Yummy and delicious

Last week I got the sick. Yes, it was about time that I got a cold since I was almost sick-free last winter. I have a few tricks to get rid of my colds fast. First, drink lots of fluids (like hot toddies, water and OJ), eat homemade matzoh ball soup, and drink my super-C-tea! Below is a quick and delicious matzoh ball soup recipe, which is also sometimes called Jewish penicillin!


  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chicken fat (schmaltz) at room temperature (ask your butcher for it, but if you can't find it, use vegetable oil)
  • 3 tablespoons hot chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup matzoh meal
  • 2 quarts water
  • 9 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
  • 1 sprig dill weed, fresh
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 7-oz bag Manischewitz fine egg noodles

In a large bowl, beat the yolks with the salt until thick and yellow colored. Mix in the chicken fat and hot chicken broth until well mixed. In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry peaks form. Fold the egg whites gently into the egg yolk mixture. Carefully fold in the matzoh meal. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 1 hour. photo by

Place 2 quarts of water on boil and once boiling, salt generously. Wet hands and shape matzoh mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter. photo by Add the matzoh balls to boiling water. Don't add more until first batch surfaces! Do not make the matzo balls too large, as they will expand generously upon cooking. Cover and cook approximately half an hour. Remove with slotted spoon. If balls fall apart, add small amounts of matzoh meal until proper consistency. photo by In the meantime, bring the homemade chicken stock or canned broth, carrots, dill weed and noodles to a boil; reduce heat and let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the matzo balls into the chicken soup. Simmer for 10 more minutes, then ladle soup into serving bowls and place Matzoh Balls in the individual bowls and serve it to your sickly family.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Kielbasa Special

I wanted to make my husband a good ol' meat and potatoes meal that reminded him of his hometown in Minnesota. This meal uses the Mid-western staple of kielbasa, which is fully cooked sausage with great flavoring. A nice toasted piece of buttered rye bread goes well with this meal, as well as a tall glass of Guinness!

INGREDIENTS (for 4 people)

  • 1 Kielbasa sausage, cut into 1" pieces on the diagonal
  • 4 or 5 white potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2" to 1" pieces
  • 2 pieces of thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 granny smith apple, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper
First, boil the potatoes in a large pot of water for about 12 to 15 minutes. You want them to be almost fully cooked. Drain and set aside.

In the meantime, cook the bacon on medium-high heat in a large sauté pan for about 3 to 5 minutes until bacon renders out its bacon grease. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add the onions and garlic to the bacon grease. Sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the red bell pepper and apple slices. Season with a 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and sauté for another 3 minutes.

After 3 minutes or so, add the shredded cabbage and cider vinegar and combine it with the ingredients. Cover the pan and let it cook for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add the bacon back into the cabbage and sauté the cabbage for another 8 to 10 minutes, uncovered. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed (it probably will) and add a tablespoon of butter during the last minute of cooking.

While you are sautéing the cabbage, get another skillet on the stove. Heat to medium. Cook the kielbasa until it gets nice and browned on all sides. Set it aside and cover with foil to keep warm. In the same skillet, add a little vegetable oil and cook the par-boiled potatoes and brown them nicely on all sides too. (I prefer to sautéd the kielbasa and potatoes together, but it's up to you how you like to do it.)

Before serving, combine the kielbasa and potatoes in a large bowl. Serve some kielbasa and potatoes on a plate with sautéed cabbage and a piece of buttered, rye bread...don't ya know.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Easy Baked Beans

Bangers and Mash with Baked Beans I like to eat baked beans (or pork and beans) once in a while, but I always find that they are too sweet for me. My husband, on the other hand, loves sweet baked beans, so I came up with a happy medium. These beans still have that sweet taste from the brown sugar, but the molasses give it an almost smoky flavor and the tomato sauce gives it some tartness. However, if you do like more sweetness on your beans, just add an additional tablespoon of brown sugar to the recipe.


  • 3 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 (15oz) cans of white Navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 heaping tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beer, preferably a pale ale or light beer (you can use 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock if you prefer not to use the beer)
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste

Heat a large 4-quart pot or dutch oven to medium high. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the same pot, add the diced onions and garlic to the bacon grease and sautee for 2 to 3 minutes or until onions become soft.

sauteed onions, garlic and sugars

Then add the remaining ingredients: white beans, molasses, brown sugar, tomato sauce, beer, salt and pepper and add the crispy bacon bits back to the pot. Bring the beans to a boil then lower heat to a simmer.

bring beans to a simmer

Simmer the beans, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they become rich and thick. Serve them immediately with your bangers and mash. The beans will taste even better the next day. Try eating them for breakfast (the Mexican way) with scrambled eggs and tortillas. You will be amazed how good it tastes!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Irish Beef and Guinness Stew

Matthew at The Field in Cambridge, MA
On our recent visit to Boston, Matthew and I visited several of my favorite Irish Pubs and I had forgotten how much influence the Irish have in that city. My husband specially loved drinking Guinness while we were in Boston. This inspired me to make Irish stew...but not just any stew, this is Guinness Irish Stew! *By the way, there are no potatoes in this version, but you can add 2 large, peeled potatoes cut into 1" pieces to the stew.

INGREDIENTS (feeds 6 Minnesotans or 8 Californians)

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 to 3 large onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 minced cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 6 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced or 1 pound peeled baby carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon Thyme
  • 2 quarts homemade beef stock, or canned low-salt beef broth
  • 1 cup Guinness Stout
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven or a kettle and brown the meat all at once over high heat, stirring constantly. Cook for about 5 minutes until the meat is lightly browned all over. Remove meat with tongs and set aside.

Reduce the heat in the Dutch oven or kettle to medium-high and add the onions and garlic. Cook the onions for 3 to 5 minutes or until soft but not browned. Add the flour and stir to coat the onions, about one more minute.

Transfer the meat back into the Dutch oven with the onions and garlic and add the remaining ingredients: carrots, thyme, *potatoes, beef broth, Guinness, caraway seeds, raisins, and tomato puree. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Adjust seasonings and sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes on the side and Irish soda bread.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lobster Roll

Lobster rolls are common fare in Boston and pretty much anywhere in the state of Maine where lobster fishing is common. In the summer, many restaurants sell lobster rolls as their specialty--you can even buy them at McDonalds! The recipe below is extremely simple and freshly steamed lobster is the absolute best for this recipe. These lobster rolls are my favorite.

INGREDIENTS (makes 1 roll)

  • 1/2 cup cooked Maine Lobster (fresh is best), cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 tablespoon Hellmann's mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • pinch salt
  • 1 lettuce leaf
  • 1 small "top-loading" hot dog bun
  • Dash of paprika (optional)
  1. Mix together lobster, mayonnaise, mustard and salt.
  2. Spread the lettuce leaf on the bottom of the hot dog bun.
  3. Spread lobster over lettuce. Sprinkle a little paprika over lobster and enjoy!