Saturday, December 30, 2006

Banana Split Cake


1 cup butter
4 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (1 large)
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
1/2 cup milk1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
Few drops red food coloring
1/2 cup presweeted cocoa powder (not low calorie)
1 cup chocolate fudge ice cream topping

1. Allow butter an d eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and flour a 10-inch fluted rube pan or a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 dergees F. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, combine banana, sour cream, milk and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.

3. In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup of the batter, the strawberry preserves, and red food coloring. In another small bowl, stir together another 1 cup of the batter and the cocoa powder. Spoon half of the remainning plain batter into the prepared 10-inch fluted tube pan (if using). Add strawberry batter. Top with remaining plain batter, then chocolate batter. ( If using a 13x9x2-inch baking pan, evenly spread all of the plain batter in the prepared pan. Spoon chocolate and strawberry batter into small mounds randomly over the plain batter. Use a narrow metal spatula to gently swirl the batters.)

4. Bake until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Allow 55 to 65 minutes for the fluted tube pan or 40 to 45 minutes for the 13x9x2-inch pan. Cool in tube pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Or place the 13x9x2-inch cake in pan on wire rack; cool completely.

5. In a small saucepan, heat ice cream topping just until it reaches drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cake.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Baked Apple and Panettone


2 small panettone or 1 large,
4 large green apples,
2 TBSP soft brown sugar,
2 TBSP unsalted butter,
Confectioners’ sugar to serve,
Thick (double/heavy ) cream or vanilla custard, to serve.


Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Trim off the rounded top of one of the small panettone and slice the cake into four rounds, or cut four rounds from four slices of a large panettone. Put the rounds on the baking tray and lightly butter them.

Core the apples with an apple corer or a small sharp knife, making sure you remove all the though core pieces. Slice and butter the other small panettone, or some of the large one, before tearing it into small pieces. Stuff the panettone pieces into the center of the apples, alternating the pieces with a little brown sugar. Top with 1 TSP brown sugar per apple and a dob of butter.
Put one apple onto each panettone round and bake them for 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve warm, dusted with confectioners’ sugar and accompanied with thick (double/heavy) cream or vanilla custard.

Serve 4.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Almond Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles

2 ½ cups crushed vanilla wafers (about 12 oz)
1 cup almonds
2 TSP ground cinnamon
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
½ cup pumpkin puree
3 1/2 TSP rhum, whiskey or coffee liqueur

Pulse vanilla wafers and almonds in a food processor until ground fine.
Combine ground vanilla wafers and almonds, sugar and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl.
With a rubber spatula, blend in melted chocolate, pumpkin and liqueur. Let stand 10 minutes to firm up.
Shape mixture into balls, refrigerate until firm.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sugared Cranberries

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cups superfine sugar
1 cinnamon stick (optional)

Combine granulated sugar, cinnamon and water in a small saucepan over low heat (do not boil or cranberries may pop when added). Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid, if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add cranberries, rolling to coat. Spread cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.
Store in an airtight container in a cool place up to 1 week.
If you can't find superfine sugar, make your own by processing granulated sugar in a food processor for 1 minute.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Butternut Squash with Cumin Couscous

1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 TBP olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/4 TSP cayenne
1/8 TSP ground cinnamon
1/8 TSP ground nutmeg
1 TSP ground cumin
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/3 cup dark or golden raisins
1 32-ounce container vegetable broth
1 15.5-ounce canned chickpeas, drained
2 TSP Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups couscous
2 TBP chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup (1 ounce) almonds, chopped

Halve and peel the squash. Remove the seeds and cut the squash into 1 or 1/2-inch chunks. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the squash, tomatoes, raisins, broth, chickpeas, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Uncover and cook until the squash is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water and the remaining cumin and salt to a boil. Stir in the couscous.
Cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
Fluff with a fork. Divide the couscous among individual bowls and ladle the squash over the top.
Sprinkle with the parsley and almonds if desire.
Roll-Out Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups gradulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In mixer bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Do not chill dough.
Divide dough into 2 balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour before each use.
Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet 6-7 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Maple-Bourbon Pumpkin Pie

½ (15-ounces) package refrigerated pie dough ( such as Pillsbury)
¾ cup evaporated fat-free milk
½ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin
¼ cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Fold the edges under; flute. Place pie plate in freezer until ready to use.
Combine milk and next 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well with a whisk. Combine cheese and 1 tablespoon syrup in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Pour pumpkin mixture into crust. Drop cream cheese mixture by small spoonfuls onto filling; swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 F for 55 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean; cool completely on a wire rack.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gingerbread Christmas Cookies


2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup light corn syrup ( honey for me)
6 tablespoons/¾ stick butter
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg, beaten


1. Lightly grease two baking sheets. Sift the flour, baking powder, ginger and allspice together into a bowl.
2. Place the molasses, honey, butter, and brown sugar in a small pan and heat gently, stirring until well combined.
3. Let cool slightly, then beat in the egg. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix to form a firm dough. Let rest for a few minutes, then knead gently until smooth.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured counter roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick, and bake until crisp and golden, 10-12 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. To make the frosting, sift 1 1/3 cups confectioners’sugar into a bowl; add 1 egg white and 1 tsp lemon juice. Mix until smooth. Spread or pipe over the cookies. Let stand until the frosting has set, 1-2 hours. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies
(or Chocolate Chips Oatmeal Cookies)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 cups rolled ( old-fashioned) oats
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
8 tablespoons (1 thick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 ou 3/4 cup butterscotch morsels or semisweet chocolate chips

1. Set two racks in the middle and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F or 180C.
2. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, oats and pecans togethter with a whisk or fork.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together for 30 seconds until blended. Beat in the egg until smooth and barely fluffy. With mixer running on medium high, drizzle in the maple syrup, and vanilla until incorporated. Turn the mixer down to its lowest setting and gradually add the flour-oatmeal mixture. Blend just to combine, then mix in the butterscotch chips.
4. Drop balls of dough onto a nonstick or parchement-lined cookie sheet at 3-inch intervals. With moistened fingers, flatten anf round out the cookies a little. Bake for 9 minutes, turning the pan once for even baking. The cookies are done when they are lightly browned on top. Set the cookie sheets on a rack to cool. Enjoy!
Deepest-dish apple pie

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamon
6 tbsp butter 15 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eights (about 8 pounds)
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 tbsp Calvados or brandy
1/2 cup plus
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 Pate Brisee
1 large egg yolk

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and cardamon. Set sugar mixture aside. 2. In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add one-third of apples, one-third of the sugar mixture, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Saute until apples turn golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
3. Measure 2 tablespoons Calvados into a cup, and add to skillet. Return skillet to heat, and cook 3 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons cream; cook, stirring until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer cooked apples to a large bowl.
4. Repeat steps two and three two more times with the remaining of apples.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pate brise 3 to 4 inches larger than the ovenproof bowl (mine is four 1/2 inches deep and 10 inches wide), to an 1/8-inch thickness. Punch a hole in the center of the dough.
6. Place the apples mixture in the ovenproof bowl; drape rolled out pastry over the top, trim overhanging edges of to create a scalloped edge. Decorate top with any trimmings, using cold water to adhere.
7. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and the remaining tablespoons cream; brush mixture over dough. Chill 30 minutes.
8. Heat oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C. Bake pie until golden brown, 50 to 55 minutes. After 30 to 40 minutes, place a piece of aluminium foil over top to prevent further browning, and continue baking until pie bubbles.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool, 1 hour.

Walnut-dates scones

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour and a little extra for dusting
4 TSP baking powder
1/2 TSP salt
1/2 TSP ground cinnamon
1/4 cup firmly packed, light-brown sugar
1/4 stick butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Sift the flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a large bowl; stir in the brown sugar. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the flour, and rub in the butter using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the walnuts and dates, and make a well in the center. Add 1/2 cup milk and stir lightly until a soft dough forms, adding a little more milk if necessary.
Form into a rough ball. Place on a lighlty floured surface and knead ance or twice. Roll out or pat into a 3/4-inch-thick square.
Using a sharp knife dipped in flour, cut straight down into 9 squares, but do not drag the knife or the scones will rise unevenly. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet. Dust the tops with a little whole-wheat flour and bake until risen and golden, 10 to12 minutes.
Cool until just warm and serve.
Baked apples with port and berries

4 medium cooking apples,
1 tbsp lemon juice,
1 cup prepared berries, thawed if frozen,
1 tbsp sliced almonds,
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon rind,
2 tbsp brown sugar,
1 cup ruby porto,
1 cinnamon stick, broken,
2tsp cornstach blended with
2 tbsp cold water.

1. Wash and dry the apples. Core them.
2. Mix the berries, almonds, lemon rind, and sugar in a bowl. Spoon the mixture into the center of each apple with a teaspoon and stand the apples in an ovenproof dish..
3. Pour the port into the dish, add the cinnamon stick, and bake in a preheated oven, 400 degrees F/200 degrees C, for 30-35 minutes, or until tender and soft.
4. Drain the cooking juices into a small pan. Keep the apples warm.
5. Remove the cinnamon and discard, then add the cornstarch mixture to the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened.
6. Pour the sauce over the apples and serve.
My Favorite Tea Cake:

The Dundee Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allpice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup blanched whole almonds
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup golden raisins
2/3 cup dried currants
1/2 cup diced candied citron
1/2 cup diced candied orange or lemon peel
1/2 cup red candied cherries, chopped
1 cup butter or margarine (2 sticks), softened
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur

About ingredients: My candied orange are homemade, it tastes much better.I've used dried cranberries instead of cherries -very good result-. I've used dried mango instead of candied citron. It was good too.

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F or 150 C. Grease and flour 8-inch springform pan.
2. In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, allspice, and cinnamon.
3. In food processor with knife blade attached, combine 1/3 cup almonds and 1/4 cup sugar. Process until almonds are finaly ground. In a medium bowl, mix ground-almond mixture, raisins, currants, citron, orange peel, and cherries.
4. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat remaining 3/4 cup sugar and butter until blended. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 5 minutes, or until light and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in orange liqueur. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture until blended, scraping bowl ( batter will be thick). Stir in fruit mixture.
5. Spoon batter into prepare pan, spreading evenly. Arrange remaining 1/3 cup almonds on top of batter. Bake 2 hours to 2 hours15 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cover pan loosely with foil after 1 hour to prevent top from overbrowning.
Cool in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. With small knife, loosen cake from side of pan; remove pan side. Cool completely on wire rack. When cool, remove pan bottom and wrap cake in plastic wrap and then foil. Let stand overnight before serving.

Two days after, the cake tastes even better.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Welcome to the First International Lunch of the Season!

Today, the First International Lunch of the season took place.
Eight people of 6 different nationalities (USA, Japan, Venezuela, Belgium, Argentina, France) gathered to taste 5 recipes from Belgium, Japan, Argentina and Vietnam.
We asked many questions in 4 different languages (English, Japanese, Spanish and French) with our 6 little children who communicated so well, and promised to repeat the experience soon!

The principle is very simple: getting together around a demonstration of a recipe chosen by the host, and participating by bringing a specialty from one’s own country. We had the honor to taste California Rolls and Inarizuchi, two Japanese dishes, Pionono Agridulce, an Argentinean recipe and a Chocolate Mousse... with Belgian chocolate, please! As a host of the luncheon, I chose to prepare the Vietnamese national dish, Pho, the best beef soup in the world!
Thank you infinitely to Andrea, Catherine, Gail, Katrien, Mabel, Ritsu and Sabine who participated with such enthusiasm, and who share with you the following recipes:

California Roll
2 cups sushi rice
2 sheets of nori (dried seaweed)
1 avocado
1 lemon
1 lettuce
3/4 cup crab meat
1 can of tuna in water
1 tbsp mayonnaise and 1 tbsp cream cheese
Sesame seeds lighly roasted
1/2 tsp salt
Peel an avocado and cut it into strips. Put tuna in a bowl and mix with salt, cream cheese and mayonnaise. Cover a bamboo mat with plastic wrap. Put a sheet of dried seaweed on top of the mat. Spread sushi rice* on top of the seaweed and press firmly. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the sushi rice. Turn the sushi layer over so that the sheet of nori is on top. Place crepe, lettuce, tuna, avocado and crab lengthwise on the seaweed. Roll the bamboo mat forward, pressing the ingredients inside the cylinder-shaped sushi. Press firmly the bamboo mat with hands, then remove the rolled sushi. Cut the sushi roll into bite-sized pieces.

*Sushi rice
3 cups Japanese-style rice
3 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
After washing the rice well, cook it by pan or rice cooker. See how to cook Japanese rice*. Prepare sushi vinegar (sushi-zu) by mixing rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pan. Put the pan on low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Cool the vinegar mixture. Spread the cooked hot rice into a large plate (if you have it, use a wooden bowl called sushi-oke) by spatula. Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold the rice by shamoji very quickly. Be careful not to smash the rice. To cool and remove the moisture of the rice well, use a fan as you mix sushi rice. This will give sushi rice a shiny look. It's best to use it right away. Makes 6 cups of sushi rice.

*Japanese rice
Put the rice in a bowl and wash with cold water. Repeat washing until the water becomes clear. Use just enough water to cover the rice -- don't fill the entire pot. Let the rice soak in the water at least 30 min. One hour is ideal. If you are cooking the rice in a pan, cover the pan with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water boils, turn the heat down very low and cook about 15-20 min. until the water is almost gone. Remove the pan from the heat and let it steam for 10-15 minutes before serving.

6 abura-age (fried tofu)
4 cups sushi rice *rice and sweet vinegar mixture
1/2 cup dashi soup stock
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp mirin
3 tbsp soy sauce
Bamboo shoot
Green soybeans Edame
Dried small shrimp
Put abura-age into boiling water for a moment and drain well. Cut the abura-age in half so that each piece have an open end. Put dashi, sugar, mirin, and soy sauce in a pan and bring to a boil. Add abura-age pieces to the pan and lower the heat. Put a lid over the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Take out the abura-age into a plate and lightly press to remove the liquid. Mix together the rice, shredded carrots, bamboo shoot, green soybeans Edame and shrimp. Shape abura-age into small sized ovals and press the mixture into pockets.

PHO (Hanoi Beef Noodle Soup)

Ingredients for 8 to10 people:
2 lbs meaty beef bones
4 lbs beef chuck
2 inches fresh ginger
2 tbsp salt
4 liters water (1 gallon and 1 cup)
1 onion (large)
20 peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick or ½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 whole star anise
4 cloves
1 Tbsp sugar
Cilantro ( just stems, keep the leaves for topping)
Fresh basil
½ to 2/3 cup fish sauce (nuoc nam)
Dried flat rice noodles (medium or large)2 packages or 28 oz

Fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
Purple basil
Ngo gai
Minced green onions or scallions
Lime slices
Nuoc nam
Hot chili sauce
Put in a pressure cooker the bones, chuck, ginger, salt, onion and water. Bring to a boil, skim the broth. Add peppercorns, cinnamon, anise stars, sugar, cilantro, basil, cloves and fish sauce. Cook about 30 minutes (1 1/2 hours without pressure cooker). Take out meat and leave it to cool, it will be easier to slice thinly. Filter the broth and throw the bones and the spices. Put back in the cooker. Slice the meat, in the direction of the fibers. Set aside. Cook the noodles in boiled water about 2 to 3 minutes only.
Arrange toppings in a plate and put on the center of the table.
When ready to serve, distribute the noodles evenly among the deep bowls, then top with meat slices. Pour the hot broth over, filling the bowl, and serve immediately, with porcelain spoons and chopsticks and with the platter of toppings, nuoc nam and chili sauce on the side.
Pionono Agridulce
For the dough:
3 eggs
100 g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
100 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
Mix the eggs, sugar and vanilla until it increases (using electric batter).
Sift the flour and baking powder. Add to the egg mixture gently, in 3 times.
Put on a baking sheet and bake 5 minutes at 350 F.
For the filling:
3 eggs
Boil 3 eggs and cut them into small pieces. Mix with pineapple, prosciutto and mayonnaise.
When the dough is ready, spread the filling and roll up.

Belgian Chocolate Mousse
200 g of very good dark chocolate (from Belgium)
5 egg whites
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon coffee (beverage)
1 tablespoon milk or cream
a pinch of salt
1. Melt the chocolate on low heat with the milk or cream, and coffee.
2. Whisk the egg whites with the salt until they stand in soft peaks.
3. Mix the melted chocolate with the egg yolks.
4. Gently, mix the egg whites with the chocolate mixture.
5. Pour in espresso cups and serve chilled.