Thursday, January 28, 2010

Creamy Mascarpone Polenta and Filet Mignon with melted goat cheese and balsamic vinegar reduction

Well, not much to add to this fine concoction, it is as delightful as you can see it through the pictures, which by the way don't make justice to it!

The mascarpone adds such a velvety texture to the polenta that you don't want to miss, and the steak... it gets straight to man's heart :D The richness of the Filet Mignon itself is amazing plus the tangyness of the goat cheese and sweetness of the balsamic vinegar reduction completes this amazing dish.

Creamy Mascarpone Polenta:

(Yields 6 generous portions)

5 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 small sprig fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a large knife
1 fresh bay leaf
1 1/2 cups polenta (coarse cornmeal)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbspn. unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
2 Tbspn. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat the chicken stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat just until hot. Remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep the stock warm.

Meanwhile, combine the cream, milk, thyme, garlic, and bay leaf in another medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat.

Strain the cream mixture into a large heavy saucepan. Slowly whisk the polenta into the hot cream mixture. Whisk in the warm chicken stock. Whisk the polenta over medium heat until it boils. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, stirring often, for 1 hour, or until the polenta has the consistency of mashed potatoes and no longer has a starchy taste.

Stir in the mascarpone cheese, parmesan cheese, butter and parsley. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Source: Recipe Courtesy of Curtis Stone - Relaxed Cooking with CS.

Filet Mignon with melted Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar Reduction:


1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
6 (5 to 6-ounce) filet mignon steaks (each about 1-inch thick)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese


Boil the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper. Cook the steaks to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a baking sheet. Crumble the cheese over the steaks and broil just until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with pepper.

Transfer the steaks to plates. Drizzle the balsamic sauce around the steaks and serve.

Source: Recipe Courtesy of FoodNetwork - Giada de Laurentis

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Herbed Baked Eggs

If you're looking for something more sophisticated at breakfast time, this is the way to go!


1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
6 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted French bread or brioche, for serving


Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or
teacups (you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

Source: Recipe Courtesy of Barefoot in Paris

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Silky texture and delicious flavor... great for kids!


1 head cauliflower, core removed, cut into florets
4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 bunch chives, minced for garnish


Combine cauliflower florets, milk and half a teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a simmer, cover, and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Strain cauliflower from milk mixture, reserving both. Transfer cauliflower to a blender. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and butter to the blender. Add half of the reserved milk liquid. Secure top on blender and puree mixture until smooth. If mixture is too thick, thin by adding some of the remaining liquid. Season, to taste. Serve in a large serving bowl topped with chives.

Source: Adapted from Food Network - Recipe Courtesy of Guy Fieri - 2008

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saffron Couscous

Don't we all have those days when you have to whip something up in a hurry? Well, here is a quick and flavorful recipe to add to your dinner table within minutes!


2 cups chicken broth
Large pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup plain couscous
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (see Note)
Freshly ground black pepper


Combine the chicken broth, saffron threads, and salt in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the couscous and stir to blend. Sprinkle the raisins on top. Cover the pan tightly and let is stand until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork, and mix in the pine nuts. Season with pepper to taste, and serve!

Note: To toast pine nuts, simply place the nuts in a saute pan and stir or toss them over medium heat so they toast evenly. They should take 4 to 5 minutes to become light golden in color.

Source: Relaxed cooking with Curtis Stone

Friday, January 15, 2010

Triple Layer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

My friend Lauren shared this recipe with me. It was great. This cake is richer in flavor and texture compared with the one I posted a few weeks ago. It also has walnuts and raisins incorporated into the batter.

Triple-Layer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Bon Appétit | October 1994
by Becky Guyton: West Carrollton, Ohio
Yield: Serves 10


- For the Cake:

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups finely grated peeled carrots (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (about 1/2 ounce)
1/2 cup raisins

- For the Frosting:

4 cups powdered sugar
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Lightly grease waxed paper. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and vegetable oil in bowl until combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into sugar and oil mixture. Stir in carrots, chopped pecans and raisins.

Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and cakes begin to pull away from sides of pans, about 45 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature.)

For frosting: Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in medium bowl until smooth and creamy.

Assembling the cake:

Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with another cake layer. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Using icing spatula, spread remaining frosting in decorative swirls over sides and top of cake. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.) Serve cake cold or at room temperature.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stuffed Chicken breasts

This is a recipe I came up with for a very special occasion. Sometimes you just look what you have in your fridge/pantry and need to come up with something nice but not too complicated to make.

This is a very good dish. Great in textures, flavors and also provides a very nice presentation, so if you want to wow your crowd, this is the way to go!


2 halves deboned and butterflied chicken breasts
2 tspn. olive oil
1/2 package frozen spinach thawed
1/2 container ricotta cheese (almost one cup)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sliced Pepperoni
1 cup mozzarella cheese

2 eggs
Panko breadcrumbs
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning
2 Tbspn. Butter


Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a medium bowl, mix the spinach, ricotta, salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Mix until well combined.

Lay the chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of plastic and lay half of the pepperoni slices neatly over the top to cover the breast. Add half of the spinach mixture and cover with half of the mozzarella cheese. Tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up tight like a jellyroll inside the plastic wrap. Squeeze the log gently to seal and twist both ends tight to form a nice log. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Season the flour with salt and pepper. Mix the bread crumbs with the italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Beat together the eggs and season so the flour, the eggs and the crumbs are all seasoned.

In a large frying pan, melt two tablespoons of butter.

Remove the plastic wrap. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, dip in the egg mixture and gently coat in the bread crumbs. Sear the logs and gently transfer them onto a lightly coated baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned and cooked through. (This cook time will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken and filling). To be more accurate, you can bake it until the chicken internal temperature reaches 165ºF.

Cut into pinwheels and serve.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Pumpkin - Cinnamon Rolls

This is delightful recipe. I made these beauties sometime in October and didn't have a chance until now to post them, so maybe you want to give it a try for next Fall :)


- For the Dough:

1/4-ounce package yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup scalded milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or shortening
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1/2 tspn. pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

- For the Filling:

1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of nutmeg
2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup walnuts, or pecans

- For the Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 teas. vanilla
1 Tbspn. Rum
1/4 tspn. nutmeg
1/4 tspn. cinnamon
1/2 tspn. Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 cups + 2 TBSP. confectioner's sugar
2 Tbl. milk


Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. Spread melted butter all over dough. Mix all the filling ingredients but the walnuts and sprinkle over buttered dough. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal.

Cut into 12 to 15 slices. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

Meanwhile, cream the cream cheese and butter until well incorporated. Add the pumpkin and spices (dried and liquids). Add the powder sugar by half cup of it at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. The frosting should be soft, smooth and very creamy. Cover the rolls while they are still warm.


Source: Adapted from Food Network - Cinnamon Rolls - Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pollo Arvejado con Arroz

This is a very typical chilean dish. Most families have this meal for lunch at least twice a month. Pollo Arvejado (Chicken and Pea Stew) can be served with plain rice, (in this case I made saffron rice), mashed potatoes, french fries or even with some kind of salad.

It's pretty healthy, delicious and tender.


- For the Chicken

6 chicken tights / legs (when I use tights, I get at least two thirds of the skin off)
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 small carrot, shredded
2 sprigs celery, diced
1/8 cup diced green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 sprigs fresh oregano
2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 cup frozen sweet peas or peas & carrots

- For the rice:

1 1/2 cup long grain white rice
1 1/2 tspn. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tspn. salt
A generous pinch of saffron
2 and 2/3 cups of water


In a medium/large pot, heat the olive oil (over medium/high temperature) and add the onions. Cook for about 6-8 minutes (or until translucent). Add garlic and cook for a couple minutes. Add the celery, green bell pepper, carrots, fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Sweat the mixture for about 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add the chicken and sauté until the skin/meat has some browning. Add the wine, if using, to deglaze the pan. Add water until your chicken is almost covered (if you want to add more flavor, instead of water you can use chicken broth. Make sure to season it after you added the broth, otherwise your dish can be salty). Bring it to a boil. Once has boiled, low the temperature to low and cover the pot, bringing the chicken to a soft simmering. Cook for about 20 minutes. This timing can vary depending on the kind of chicken you're using, so keep a close eye. Five minutes before the chicken is done, add the sweet peas and cook for five more minutes or until tender. Do not overcook!

While chicken is simmering, in a small pot over medium high heat, add the rice, water, salt, oil and saffron. Bring it to a boil. Once is boiling, cover the pot, low the heat to LOW and cook covered for 20 minutes.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mediterranean Pasta Salad


- For the salad:

1/2 pound small pasta (I used Ditalini --thimbles)
Kosher salt
Good olive oil
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound good feta cheese, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
4 strips of maple bacon, cooked, chopped and dried

- For the dressing:

5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, feta, bacon and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and parsley, and toss well.

Source: Adapted from Food Network - Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten

Friday, January 8, 2010

Whole Wheat Thin Spaghetti with Tomato - Artichoke cream Sauce

This is a very quick, easy to fix dinner idea. It has a lot of flavor, nice texture and you can add more protein by using whole wheat pasta (which I did). It's ready within minutes and you can serve it with a nice piece of italian or garlic bread... yummy!


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1 14.5 ounce can artichoke hearts (quartered or whole), drained
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth, more as needed
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
1 pound thin spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives or other herbs (I used fresh basil)


Cook spaghetti till al dente. Drain and set aside.

Melt olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cream and chicken broth. Add salt and pepper to taste (do not undersalt!) Cook over low heat until heated through, then turn off heat.

Place drained pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 cup Parmesan.

Pour sauce over the top. Add chopped chives. Toss lightly to combine and coat; add a tiny bit of reserved pasta water if sauce seems too thick

(*) It is very important. Once you add the cream, cook ONLY until heated through, otherwise your sauce will break.

Source: Recipe Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lemon Cake

Sweet, tangy, soft, moist lemon cakes are hard to find. I did several attempts until I decided to make this recipe from Ina Garten. This is a recipe I would totally make again. The consistency of the cake was so light and soft, crumbly, full of natural flavor, tangy and sweet at the same time, and what really captivated me the most was the moisture I got from it. This recipe has three steps, you bake the cake, make a lemon syrup and a lemon glaze. Now, you know why is moist!


- For the cake:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

- For the glaze:

2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans (*) . You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely. (I removed my cake out of the pan after I added the lemon syrup and was completely cooled)

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

(*) I used a bunt pan instead of the loaf ones that the recipe calls for. Please don't forget to butter and flour it before you pour the batter on it --this last advice was a reminder for myself :D

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

I've tried several chicken pot pie recipes, but this one really conquered my savory tooth! I saw this recipe on TV some time ago, and decided to give it a try. I wasn't wrong at all. Lots of creaminess, hearty, delicious food came out of my oven!

Again.... if you read this blog, give this recipe a try, you won't regret it!


1 sheet frozen puff pastry
2 tablespoons butter
1 roasted chicken, shredded (*)
1/4 cup chopped red sweet pepper
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed
1 sprig fresh oregano
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups peas, blanched
1 1/2 cups carrots, blanched
2 potatoes, peeled, diced, and boiled
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash


Thaw puff pastry according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken (shredded), sweet pepper, and shallots and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in flour, salt, thyme, oregano, garlic, tarragon, and black pepper. Add milk and cream all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in wine, peas, carrots and potatoes; heat thoroughly. Transfer the hot chicken mixture to a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Place pastry over the hot chicken mixture in casserole dish. Brush puff pastry with egg wash then cut slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until bubbly and golden on top.

(*) If you buy a roasted chicken, buy the regular kind, no flavors added (like bbq, lemon, etc.). If you boil, roast or slow cook your chicken, make sure you add some onions, carrots, garlic or celery to flavor the chicken, it can make a HUGE difference.

Source: Adapted from Food Network - Recipe courtesy Sandy Pollock and Crystal Cook.