Monday, November 05, 2012

Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

I was cleaning out my refrigerator yesterday morning when I saw I had a quart of buttermilk stashed in the back. Thankfully it was not expired yet but I'd forgotten I bought it a few weeks back because I was determined to make buttermilk biscuits. Then I had a mommy-brain fart, as I do every once in a while, and totally forgot about it.

Anyway, yesterday I found the buttermilk and immediately I started checking my plethora of cookbooks. I browsed through the Joy of Cooking, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, a few of my Czech and German cookbooks and all had good bread recipes using buttermilk but I was looking for something easier, in roll form instead of bread or biscuit or dumplings, and that I didn't have to use a ton of butter in. So, I went to Google and, lo and behold, I found this buttermilk dinner roll recipe via Michael Ruhlman who got it via Saveur which is my favorite gourmet magazine at the moment!

In Ruhlman's recipe, you are advised to let the dough rise until doubled, which should take 2 to 3 hours. I put my covered dough in my turned-off oven and let it rise for just one hour. Then after I placed my rolls in the springform pan, I let it rise another hour, again inside my turned-off oven. I think that seemed to do the trick. Anyhoo, I just happen to have poppy seeds but if you don't have them available, I think you can omit, just make sure you egg wash your rolls before you bake them. Lastly, I don't have a scale so I went with the conventional amounts and my rolls came out A-OK!

INGREDIENTS (makes 12 rolls)
  • 28 ounces/800 grams AP flour (5 1/2 cups)
  • 20 ounces/570 grams buttermilk, room temp or microwaved for 40 to 60 seconds to take the chill off it
  • 1/4 ounce/7 grams (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 ounce/14 grams kosher salt (1 tablespoon)
  • 1.5 ounces/40 grams honey (2 tablespoons)
  • vegetable spray or butter for greasing a springform pan
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (or as desired)

Combine the flour, buttermilk, yeast, salt and honey in the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix on medium till the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Cover and let rise till doubled in volume (dough shouldn’t bounce back when you press a finger into it). This will take at least two hours, maybe three or more depending on the temperature of your dough and the temperature of your kitchen.

Turn the dough out onto your counter and give it a good knead. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions (about 4 ounces each). Form each into a tight boule by rolling it on the counter. (Check out this video on how to shape a boule).

Spray or butter a springform pan. Fit the boules into it, cover it with a towel and let the dough rise for an hour.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F./190 degrees C. Whisk the egg till it’s uniformly yellow.

When the rolls have risen again, brush them with the egg wash, sprinkle them with poppy seeds and bake them for 40 minutes. Let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with soft butter.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lime Pie or "Pay de Limón"

I'm into "easy" homemade recipes now. I just don't have the time to prep and cook like I used to and taking care of a rambunctious 3 year old by myself sometimes makes it difficult to plan out a fabulous recipe. But, that is not to say I am not cooking. I actually cook a lot more now, specially since I don't want my child to be eating too much junk or processed food. However, my recipes tend to be your homemade chicken nuggets, fish sticks, a gazillion ways to make macaroni, and other kid-friendly recipes.

Nevertheless, I thought of this recipe only because there was a sale on limes at my store (30 limes for .99 cents). These are your typical, Mexican limes, which look kind of Key Limes--they are very small, but they have the flavor of regular, large green limes. Only difference is that the little Mexican ones are a lot juicier and actually have seeds in them. So, I'm not calling this a Key Lime pie, but a distant, Mexican cousin of an American favorite dessert.

Note: although I only used one can of sweetened condensed milk (other recipes called for two!), this pie is very rich and sweet so just a small slice goes a long way.

INGREDIENTS (makes one 9" pie)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (Mexican or regular limes at your store)
  • 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 1 Graham cracker crust or homemade graham cracker crust
  • Whipped cream (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a large mixing bowl with a whisk or hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the egg yolks, lime zest and sweetened condensed milk. Add the lime juice and whisk until combined. Gently fold in about 1/3 of the egg whites to lighten the mixture then add the remaining egg whites and fold until just evenly combined.

Gently spread the mixture in the prepared crust and bake until just set in the center, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely then refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Before serving, garnish with whipped cream (if using).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Easy Guacamole

Everybody in the world has their own guacamole recipe and I think guacamole is one dip that is always a hit at any party and it is super easy to make. Some people like creamy guac, others more on chunky style, and I've even seen some with crumbled bacon and goat cheese! But below is, what I think, the best and easiest guac. This is specially a hit with the little ones who love to dip tortilla chips in it. Also, if you want your guacamole more on the spicy side, you can add a finely minced, seeded Serrano pepper. 

One final note: add one of the avocado pits to your finished guacamole before you refrigerate. I don't know why we do this, but according to my abuelita, the pit keeps the avocados from turning brown.

INGREDIENTS (Makes about 2 cups)

  • 4 Haas avocados
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced


Peel the avocados and remove pits. Add avocados to a medium bowl. Mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour for best flavor then serve!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

For Father's Day it was my task to bring "chips and dip" to our family celebration and this gave me the opportunity to find a new recipe and try something I've never done before. The first thing that came to mind was a spinach and artichoke dip because these are two of my favorite veggies. My search, however, was for a hot dip without mayonnaise! I didn't realize it would be so difficult to find but finally The Pioneer Woman did have a sans mayo dip. I did some very slight modifications and the dip was fabulous. I suggest you make this the night before but don't bake it until the day you will serve it. Also, warmed up pita bread goes fabulous with this dip.


  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag fresh spinach
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter (additional)
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1-1/2 cup half and half (more If Needed), warmed
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 package (8 Ounce) Softened Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Crumbled Feta
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 cups Grated Colby Jack or Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne
  • Pita Wedges
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the half of the minced garlic and cook for a minute until garlic becomes fragrant. Add the spinach, a tiny pinch of salt and raise the heat a little. Stir around the spinach and garlic for three to four minutes or until the spinach wilts.

Remove the spinach from the skillet and put it in a small strainer--put the strainer over the skillet you just used and squeeze the excess juice back into the skillet. Set the spinach aside.

Add the artichokes to the spinach juice and cook over medium high heat for a minute, then add the remainder of the garlic and keep cooking until the liquid is cooked off and artichokes start to get a little color, about 4 minutes. Remove the artichokes and set aside. Chop up the wilted spinach and the cooked artichokes.

Meanwhile, in a 4 quart pot, melt 3 additional tablespoons of butter and whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour. Keep whisking until it makes a paste. Cook over medium-low heat for a minute or two, then pour in the warm half and half. Stir and cook until slightly thickened; splash in more half and half, if needed. Add the chopped jalapeno and cook for 30 seconds then add cream cheese, feta, Parmesan, Jack cheese, and cayenne and stir until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth. Add the chopped spinach and artichokes to the sauce. Stir to combine and remove off heat. Taste and season with a little pepper (I doubt you will need more salt since the feta and Parmesan cheeses are quite salty already).

Pour the dip into buttered baking dish and bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with pita wedges, chips, or crackers!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oldie But Goody Re-post: Urban Solace "Watermelon Salad"

I can't believe its been almost 4 years since I first posted the recipe for this salad, and I am happy announce that Urban Solace restaurant is still around. Their watermelon salad is as popular as ever, but now they only serve it seasonally. So get your butt to the restaurant from mid-May to late summer to taste this divine creation.

For this year's Memorial Day I will be making this salad for my family. I'm very excited because I've been craving it for a while now. The actual salad part is for basically for 2 to 3 servings but the vinaigrette recipe makes about 1-1/2 cups, so you can double the salad part and you'll still have enough vinaigrette! The vinaigrette also tastes good on grilled chicken or lamb. Happy Memorial Day, friends!

Pomegranate Vinaigrette
  • 1 Tbsp. minced shallots
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar (I used fig-infused vinegar)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses (available at specialty stores or middle eastern markets)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 pinch fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup canola oil (I used 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 cup vegetable oil)
Place all ingredients except oil in a blender and puree. Slowly add the oil to make a smooth vinaigrette

Watermelon Greek Salad (makes one gigantic salad)
  • 3 oz. baby spinach or mesclun mix
  • 1/4 cup diced tomato
  • 1/4 cup diced cucumber
  • 2 Tbsp. currants
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted pecans or pine nuts, chopped
  • A few thin slices of red onion
  • 1 cup watermelon, cubed
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate vinaigrette, or more to taste
In a salad bowl, pour 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette then add the rest of ingredients, except the pecans. Top with another 1/4 cup of vinaigrette (or to taste) then gently toss, making sure everything gets a little coating of the dressing. Serve the salad, and sprinkle the the toasted pecans.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Parmesan Fish Sticks!

Hello friends, it's been a while.

Yes, I know every time I update my blog I say I'll update more often, cook more recipes, blah blah blah, and then, poof, I don't update for almost two months. And I could easily blame it on being a single mom, working too much, or exhaustion from taking care of a 2 and-a-half year old kid; or the fact that I injured my back (that's a true story) and was out of commission for almost two weeks. And yes parts of these are true, but mainly I've just been lazy posting my recipes and pics. I've actually accumulated many recipes, I've been cooking and canning (yes, canning!) a lot and I have a 4GB SD card full of food porn, but it's just finding the time to post, write a bit, and upload my pics. Yes, I know it's simple to blog, it's easy to upload pictures, but I just didn't want to turn this into a generic recipe site where there's no story. No history. No drama like this mama's!!!!

So I have this love-hate relationship with Giada De Laurentiis--well, so I seem to think I do. At first I didn't like her because she had such a nice rack but, oh that forehead and those teeth just didn't do it for me! But then I realized I was just jealous of her fabulous life, and that she's maintained her figure after she had her daughter, and yes, well, her rack is still there. THEN one day my Pops made panna cotta for the family and it was fabulous! It was creamy, not too sweet and oh, so freakin' delicious. And all of us, the childrens, asked, "where did you get this recipe?" What do you think my Pop's said?
"From Giada's cookbook!"
I think that day I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

So, I have surrendered to Giada; but not surrendered to her as "celebrity chef," but as a busy mom who is a pretty good recipe writer and a very good cook. I hate to say this, but her recipes are easy to medium and they tend to be good for you, too. UGH!
I had recalled I watched an episode where Giada made salmon fish sticks for her daughter (or her nieces, I don't remember) but the recipe seemed incredibly simple and easy, and for crissakes IT IS!!! I made these on Good Friday because, even though I'm not a practicing Catholic, the Catholic guilt is still embedded in me. And you know what? My little girl loved it! Yes, I did cheat a little and I gave my daughter reduced-sugar ketchup instead of Giada's "sour cream-mayo-mustard" dipping sauce, but the fact Stella ate salmon was incredible for me. Also, I followed the recipe to the "T", however I did not bake my fish sticks (it was 80 degrees here in San Diego) so I pan-fried them in extra-virgin olive oil instead. I have to say, I was impressed. Bravo, Giada. Bravo (golf claps).

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 to 6)
  • 1 (18-ounce) center-cut salmon fillet, about 9 by 4 inches, skinned
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
Dipping Sauce
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup lowfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or chives

For the Fish Sticks:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Rinse the salmon fillet and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the fish in half to make 2 fillets each about 4 by 4 1/2-inches in size. Starting on the longest edge, slice the fillets into 1/2-inch pieces. Lay the widest pieces, from the center, cut side down, and slice in half lengthways so all the pieces are equally about 1/2 by 1/2 by 4 1/2-inches in size.

Place the flour in a medium bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Place the egg whites in another bowl and beat until frothy, about 30 seconds. Combine the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a third bowl.

Coat the salmon pieces in the seasoned flour and pat to remove any excess flour. Dip the floured salmon in the egg whites and then into the Parmesan mixture, gently pressing the mixture into the fish. Place the breaded salmon pieces on a liberally oiled baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with the olive oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

Note: you can pan fry the fish in olive oil or vegetable oil, for about 1 minute per side. Also, you can substitute with Tilapia or Cod, for milder tasting fish.
For the Dipping Sauce:

Mix the mayonnaise, yogurt, Dijon mustard, and parsley (or chives, if using) in a small dipping bowl.

Cook's Note: The fish sticks can also be dipped in ketchup, marinara sauce, pesto, ranch dressing or vinaigrette .

Sunday, January 29, 2012

La Mom's Flan

Sometimes I reminisce about my childhood in Tijuana, Mexico, and at times I can't believe the stuff I saw, the things we did, and how traviesos me and my brothers were. But what I remember most of all were the smells coming from the kitchen: the wonderful smells of my abuelita cooking beans on the stove top, or my tios grilling carne asada outside or the smell of burnt sugar. I'll always remember that smell because once my mom was teaching my tia (her younger sister) how to melt sugar (for the flan) and my aunt burnt it. It's a molassesy-burnt-candy smell. Once you smell it you'll never forget.

My mom has been making flan forever. I was quite impressed how easy her recipe is. To save time (and not dirty too many dishes) she usually just blends everything in a blender. But blending in a large bowl works just a well. Also let me say that if you've never melt sugar, you may want to start practicing first. In the beginning the sugar first may seem that it's not melting at all and then comes the point where it will melt rather quickly and if you don't keep stirring it will burn. So don't leave the kitchen when doing this step. Lastly, to make this flan even more lovely, decorate with edible flowers.

INGREDIENTS (serves 8)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt sugar until liquefied and golden in color. Carefully pour hot syrup into a 9 inch round glass baking dish, turning the dish to evenly coat the bottom and sides. Set aside.

In a large bowl, or in a blender, beat eggs. Beat in condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla until smooth. Pour egg mixture into baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake in preheated oven 60 minutes. Let cool completely.

When flan has cooled, cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 4 hours or overnight. To serve, carefully run a knife around edges of flan and invert onto serving platter with edges (there's going to be syrup running down the sides).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Homemade Tortilla Chips

If you've never had homemade tortilla chips then get your tastebuds ready to be wowed! When you make your own tortilla chips the taste, the crunch, everything is different and, oh it tastes so much better too! Although the recipe below says to use 4 cups of oil, I will usually only use a large 10" pan and only use 2 cups oil, however I do have to make smaller batches. And don't forget to add that pinch of kosher salt after every batch of your tortilla chips. Guacamole, watch out!

INGREDIENTS (Yield: 3 dozen chips)
  • 9 corn tortillas, cut into wedges or strips, whichever you prefer
  • 4 cups corn or vegetable oil
  • Salt


In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 360 degrees F.

In batches, add the tortillas to the oil, being careful not to overcrowd, and cook until golden brown, turning once, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove and drain on paper towels. Season lightly with kosher salt. Serve warm with your favorite salsa.

  • Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Macaroni Tomato Soup

    I don't know why I never made this soup before but this is the simplest, fastest recipe and not only is it great on a cold, rainy (or snowy) day, but kids seem to LOVE it. And you only need three ingredients, not including the Goldfish crackers as a garnish. Anyway, I saw the Taiwan episode of "The Layover" with Anthony Bourdain and he went to a street breakfast place where they just made tomato soup with macaroni, and you could add fried Spam or a fried egg on top or Taiwan!!! I omitted the Spam and egg and just did a straight up tomato soup with macaroni. Delish! And my daughter loves it.

    INGREDIENTS (serves 4 kiddies or 2 adults)
    • 1 can of low sodium condensed tomato soup
    • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
    • water
    • Goldfish crackers, optional

    In a 4 quart stock pot add the can of condensed tomato soup and  1-1/2  can of water (the can says 1 can of water, but I find that extra half lets the pasta cook through faster). Add the elbow macaroni and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and let it cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until pasta is cooked through.Serve with a side of Goldfish crackers, if you like.

    Sunday, January 15, 2012


    I've made this meatloaf a couple of times and it always come out delicious, moist and it's definitely a crowd pleaser. Thanks to Mr. Alton Brown for this recipe. A few tips: I usually only use 80/20 ground chuck and omit the ground sirloin; I also bake it in the meatloaf pan instead of "free form" and lastly, if you don't have a thermometer, get one ASAP! It's best to use one for this recipe so that you don't overcook the meatloaf. Serve with a side of garliky mashed potatoes. Bon appétit!

    INGREDIENTS (serves 6 to 8)
    • 6 ounces garlic-flavored croutons or stale bread
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
    • 1 carrot, peeled and broken
    • 3 whole cloves garlic
    • 1/2 red bell pepper
    • 18 ounces ground chuck
    • 18 ounces ground sirloin
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 egg
    For the glaze:
    • 1/2 cup catsup
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • Dash Worcestershire sauce
    • Dash hot pepper sauce
    • 1 tablespoon honey

    Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

    In a food processor bowl, combine croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and thyme. Pulse until the mixture is of a fine texture. Place this mixture into a large bowl. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, but not pureed. Combine the vegetable mixture, ground sirloin, and ground chuck with the bread crumb mixture. Season the meat mixture with the kosher salt. Add the egg and combine thoroughly, but avoid squeezing the meat.

    Pack this mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, turn the meatloaf out of the pan onto the center of the tray. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf. Avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. Set the probe for 155 degrees.

    Combine the catsup, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Brush the glaze onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes.

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Mushroom Soup With Bread Crust

    There is an Italian restaurant in downtown San Diego called, Bice, which I have not had the chance to visit yet but I hear so many good things about this place. And what I can't wait to try when I do finally visit the restaurant is their cheese bar. Yes, a cheese bar, and you know me, I love my cheese. I received a newsletter from the restaurant and the chef there shared his recipe for mushroom soup. Immediately I headed over to the farmer's market and bought all my mushrooms and produce and made this recipe. Luckily I already had a small bottle of truffle oil I got in San Francisco, but if you don't have some already, don't bother buying it because it can be quite spendy. I followed the recipe exactly as it is written below and it's quite mushroom-my, and very down-to-earth flavor. I couldn't find smoked mozzarella so I used a combination of regular mozzarella and smoked gouda.

    INGREDIENTS (Serves 6)

    Soup ingredients:
    • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
    • 1 cup of hot water
    • ½ pound fresh mix of cremini, oyster and portobello mushrooms
    • ½ pound fresh porcini mushrooms
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • >1 clove garlic, sliced
    • ¼ cup coarsely chopped shallots
    • 1 cup chopped leeks
    • 3 ounces pancetta
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 9 sprigs fresh thyme or tarragon, divided use
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • ¼ cup cubed peeled potatoes
    • 1½ tablespoons dry Marsala wine
    • 8 ounces shredded smoked Mozzarella
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    For the crust:
    • Package of phyllo dough, thawed
    • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • Truffle oil (available at specialty food markets)

    To make the soup: Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and cover them with 1 cup of hot water. Leave them to plump for at least 20 minutes. Trim the stems of the fresh mushrooms and brush them to remove any debris. Cut the cremini, porcini, oyster and portobello mushrooms into ¼-inch slices. Set aside.

    Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the sliced garlic, chopped shallots, leeks and pancetta. Sauté until soft but not browned.

    Add the sliced fresh porcini, cremini, oyster and portobello mushrooms. Quickly stir to coat them with the olive oil and sauté, stirring intermittently, until they are soft and limp. The skillet will be dry at first, but as the mushrooms cook, they begin to release their juices. Continue cooking uncovered. Lift the dried porcini mushrooms out of their soaking water, chop them coarsely, and add them to the sautéed mushrooms. Strain the soaking water through a fine mesh sieve or several thicknesses of cheesecloth into the mushrooms. Continue to stir and cook in the skillet for a few minutes to loosen the cooked bits of mushroom that have adhered to the skillet. Transfer the mushrooms from the skillet to a large saucepan.

    Crush the bay leaves and 3 of the thyme or tarragon sprigs with your hand, then wrap the herbs in cheesecloth and secure the pouch with kitchen string. Pour the chicken broth over the mushrooms, add the herb pouch and potato cubes and simmer for 35 minutes.
    After 35 minutes, add the Marsala to the saucepan and continue cooking uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove and discard the herb pouch, and then add salt and pepper to taste.

    Ladle the soup into 6 small individual-sized ovenproof bowls.

    To make the crust: Separate the sheets of the phyllo pastry and cut 18 squares — 3 squares for each bowl — slightly bigger than the top of your bowls. For each bowl, brush three squares with melted butter and stack on top of each other, layering. Place each set of three squares on top of a bowl, pressing lightly on the edges to create an indentation. Take off the pastry square and brush some beaten egg on the indentation of the bowl on the pastry, as well as portions of the pastry outside the circle.

    Cover the bowls with the pastry squares and top each with the shredded smoked mozzarella cheese. Press the pastry firmly but gently so it sticks to the top and sides of the bowl. Make sure the pastry sticks so the pastry will puff up as the soup inside the bowl boils.

    Place the bowls of soup on a baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and broil until the cheese on top is bubbly and browned. To serve, garnish the crust of the soup with the remaining sprigs of fresh thyme or tarragon and brush lightly with truffle oil.

    The soup was created by Bice’s executive chef, Mario Cassineri, a native of Milan.

    Monday, January 02, 2012

    The Infamous Burgundy Mushrooms

    I started my Christmas vacation on December 19th which let me stay home, clean, do a million loads of laundry, finish my Christmas shopping and start cooking again. I also started watching daytime TV and I was quite disappointed there are so many waste-of-my-time talk shows, dumb reality shows and the Food Network just seems to run the same "Cupcake Wars" or "Chopped" episodes. I was really getting pissed off when I stumbled upon a show I've never seen before called, "The Pioneer Woman" on the food network. The Pioneer Woman, a.k.a. Ree, was cooking like a half a cow, a gazillion cinnamon rolls and she made this Burgundy mushroom recipe. After I saw it and she mentioned that it takes 9 hours...yes, NINE HOURS, to make, I was intrigued. "This I can make!" I told myself. "Bring on the mushrooms!"

    Let me just say that the 9 hours are worth the wait. What I did is I measured all my ingredients the night before and had stuff ready to go in the fridge, so that way I woke up at 5am the next morning and just dropped everything in the pot and let it simmer. Also, I wanted to use my Crock-Pot® for this but my crock pot is like from 1984 and it's not big enough to fit the 4 pounds of mushrooms and the liter of wine. But I don't see why you can't make this recipe on one of those new, huge, beautiful Crock-Pots I drool over whenever I'm over at Williams Sonoma.

    These mushrooms make a great side dish, or just serve them as an appetizer, but if you let them cool, you can use them in a salad or as your main dish because once you taste these mushrooms you will think you're eating meat...seriously!

    • 4 pounds White Button Mushrooms
    • 2 sticks Butter
    • 1-1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
    • 1 liter Burgundy Wine (other Reds Will Work)
    • 1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
    • 2 cups Boiling Water
    • 4 whole Chicken Bouillon Cubes
    • 4 whole Beef Bouillon Cubes
    • 1 teaspoon Dill Seed
    • 5 cloves Garlic, Peeled

    Thoroughly wash the mushrooms and throw them into a large stockpot. Add all the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.

    Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for six hours.

    Remove the lid, then continue cooking, uncovered, for three hours.

    The mushrooms will be very dark in color. Simmer until needed. Server straight from the pot or in a serving bowl. Dip crusty bread in the juice!