Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cream Cheese Pastries

My husband asks me very often to make these goodies. They are rich and light at the same time. Served with a nice smooth coffee is totally a winner!


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

Source: Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten - "Barefoot Contessa at Home"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Goat Cheese - Tomato Tart

This is a very delicious and easy to make tart. I like it especially when I have my friends over for lunch. The individual tarts look just darling!


1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
Good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
8 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
8 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
2 large tomatoes, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves


Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Cut 4 squares from each sheet of puff pastry. Place the pastry squares on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry square. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each one, staying inside the scored border.

Equally divide the onion mixture on each piece of pastry, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart (or two small ones). Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

Source: Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten - "Back to Basics" (Slightly adapted)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Corn Chowder

I've seen the first corns showing up and I thought about this recipe that we love. For those kind of chili nights, this is a great option!


4 cups of fresh corn kernels
1 Tbspn. Olive Oil
1/2 pound good bacon, diced
2 cups cubed Yukon Gold Potatoes (I love the mini ones)
1 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
2 cups diced celery
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 quart chicken stock (homemade preferably)
1/4 dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy whip cream


Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside. (You can totally make it with frozen corn if you want)

In a big pot (dutch oven), heat the oil and cook the bacon for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until browned and crisp. Remove from the pot and reserve. Add the potatoes, onions, celery, corn kernels, salt and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If it looks too thick, you can add some extra chicken stock/water. Add the wine, heavy cream and check for seasoning.

* If you want a creamier consistency you can transfer 1/3 of the chowder to a blender/food processor and make it into a paste. Transfer back to the pot with the rest of the chowder and let it simmer for 5 minutes more.

Serve with the bacon on top.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chilean Cuisine National Day Celebration

Today is our Chilean Cuisine National Day. It started a few years ago, and people gathered in the different places to taste and enjoy the fruit of our soil/ocean. As a celebration, several blogger friends have agreed to post one dish that would represent our food. Being so many miles away from my country, it makes me long for those unique flavors that I grew up with. Seafood was one of them. Lots of flavors, textures, smells that cannot be replaced when you are not home.

The recipe I want to share with you today, came from one of my friends. Her name is Angelica Bertin from "Cocina Chilena". This dish is divine. It's called "Curanto en olla". Basically is a bunch of shellfish, poultry, pork, sausages, potatoes cooked all together with wine in a sealed pot. Again, if you love seafood... you will totally love this dish! Enjoy!!


5 lb. shellfish (mussels, clams, any kind that comes with shell)
4 pieces of chicken (dark meat has more flavor)
4 Whole Red or Golden Potatoes
4 pieces of smoked pork ribs (I used regular back ribs)
2 large pieces of sausage or 4 medium ones (I used smoked sausage)
500 cc white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 sweet onion cut in 8 wedges
2 garlic cloves (smashed)
1 small green bell pepper
1 wet kitchen towel (not dripping)


Wash and clean up the shellfish. In a large deep pot start adding the ingredients following this order:

Start by putting a layer of the vegetables (onions, bell pepper and garlic). Then, add half of the shellfish. Top the seafood with the sausages. Layer the ribs on top and lastly the chicken. Finish it by adding the potatoes and the rest of the seafood. Drizzle the wine all over the pot and seal it with the kitchen towel. Put the lead on and cook at medium low heat for about 45 minutes. Since my pot was filled up to the top and I have an electric stove, I had to cook my Curanto for about 1 hour and 15 minutes instead (to make sure that the meats were all cooked through). Uncover and start plating.

Source: Recipe Courtesy of Angelica Bertin from "Cocina Chilena" (Adapted)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Classic Caesar Salad

This is one of our favorite salads. We love the dressing, though I have to warn you that it is the real deal with anchovies and raw egg included. Still, we love it!!


- For the dressing:

1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 or 4 anchovy fillets, minced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Worcestershire sauce
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon warm water, if needed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

- For the croutons:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 loaf day-old bread, cubed into finger sized pieces
6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

- For the salad:

2 heads romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed, or 3/4 pound romaine lettuce hearts, cut into ribbons
Freshly ground pepper


For the dressing: Place the egg yolk, mustard, anchovies, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce in a blender. Blend until pureed. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until it is fully incorporated. If the dressing stops moving in the blender, stop the machine, add the warm water and then continue until all the oil is added. To finish, add the cheese and blend on low speed to incorporate. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. (You will need about 3/4 cup for one salad)

For the croutons: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter until it begins to foam. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bread cubes and mix to coat. Toss bread occasionally so that both sides get toasted. When the bread is golden brown, add the Parmesan and toss to coat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Assembling the salad: Put the whole romaine ribbons in a big bowl. Add enough of the dressing to coat the leaves and toss well. Add the croutons and toss again to combine. Sprinkle some shaved Parmesan over all and sprinkle some fresh ground pepper. Serve.

Source: Recipe Courtesy of Michael Chiarello (Adapted)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Asian Chicken and Broccoli

This is a very easy weeknight meal. And yes, a great way to sneak out some veggies for the little ones too!


1 pound chicken breast (about 2 breasts), cubed
3 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle (on the bias)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets
a pinch of chili flakes
1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
1 splash of Rice wine vinegar
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)


In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the scallion, about half the garlic and ginger, the soy sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the sherry, and the sesame oil. Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Mix the remaining cornstarch with 1/3 cup water.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat. Add the broccoli florets, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the remaining garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons of water, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Stir-fry until the broccoli is bright green but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Get the skillet good and hot again, and then heat 2 more tablespoons oil. Add the chicken and chili flakes if using. Stir-fry until the chicken loses its raw color and gets a little brown, about 3 minutes. Add the Hoisin sauce, return the broccoli to the pan and toss to heat through. Stir in the reserved cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil to thicken. Add more water if need to thin the sauce, if necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if you needed and add the splash of rice wine vinegar. Mound the stir-fry on a serving platter or divide among 4 plates and garnish with sesame seeds; serve with rice.

Source: Recipe Adapted from Food Network Kitchens

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


For the longest time I wanted to try this recipe. I am so glad I did! It is so delicious!!! and it is absolutely gorgeous when you transfer it from the pan to the platter. I would recommend to eat it at room temperature. If you have left overs, you need to refrigerate it because of the dairy of the flan, but before serving, let it get to room temperature. The texture of the cake really changes if not.


- For the Pan:
12-cup capacity Bundt pan
Softened butter, to coat pan
1/4 cup cajeta, Dulce de Leche or caramel sauce

- For the cake:

10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

- For the flan:

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

- For garnish:

1/4 cup cajeta, Dulce de Leche or caramel sauce
1/4 cup chopped pecan (optional)


Put an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Coat a Bundt pan with a little butter, then coat the bottom with 1/4 cup cajeta and put it in a large roasting pan. (The roasting pan will serve as a water bath during baking.)

For the cake: Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa in a medium bowl. Beat 1/3 of the flour mixture, and 1/2 of the buttermilk into the egg mixture. Repeat, ending with the flour mixture. Blend until well incorporated.

For the flan: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla. Blend on high for 30 seconds.

Scoop the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spreading evenly. Slowly pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. Cover with foil and add about 1-inch of hot water to the roasting pan.

Carefully slide the pan into the oven, and bake 1 hour, until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch, or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. When cake is done, remove from the water bath and cool completely to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Invert a large, rimmed serving platter over the Bundt pan, grasp tightly together, giggle a little and flip over. Remove the pan and scrape any remaining cajeta from the pan onto the cake, garnish with chopped pecans and serve!

Notes: The batters may appear to mix when you pour them into the pan, but they completely separate while baking, with the flan ending up on the bottom when it's inverted.

Flan is a rich, creamy, cooked egg custard. It is often flavored with vanilla and baked in a water bath to retain its delicacy.

Cajeta is a thick and creamy spread or paste made with caramelized sugar and milk. It is used as a desert on its own or as a topping. Also known as Dulce de Leche or Manjar and it is sold in many supermarkets, Latin specialty markets or online. It can be substituted with a thick caramel sauce.

Source: Recipe Courtesy of "Marcela Valladolid"@ Food Network.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Guacamole Salad

This is one of the perfect side dishes for Enchiladas or any other Mexican dish.It is very light and fresh. Usually it is served with no dressing. I personally love to add some fresh salsa on top!


1 head of iceberg lettuce, washed, drained and cut into ribbons
2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and smashed (you can add a few drops of lemon juice so they won't turn dark)
2 or 3 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
Sour cream
Fresh cilantro leaves


In a large platter or individual plates, put the lettuce ribbons as a base for your salad. Add the mashed avocado layer smoothly and top with the chopped tomatoes. Continue by adding the sour cream (in this case I used a small ice cream scooper) and finally sprinkle the cilantro leaves. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wedding Italian Soup

I have to apologize for the quality of the picture, but I didn't get a chance to make more! This recipe is very hearty and delicious and very simple to make. You can even get the prep work done the night before and then just assemble everything at once!


- For the meatballs:

3/4 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (I only had Parmesano Reggiano)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

- For the soup:

2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta such as Tubetini or stars
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.

Source: Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten - "Back to Basics"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Peppermint Cream Puff Ring

This is a delicious pasty recipe. The peppermint flavor added to the whipped cream makes it simply perfect. I highly recommend this recipe if you want to wow your guests!


For the Pastry:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 large eggs

For the Peppermint cream:
1 1/3 cups (or more) heavy whipping cream
40 fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup chilled crème fraîche or sour cream
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)

For the Glaze:
2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon whipping cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (I only had pecans at the time, so I substituted the almonds by them)


For pastry:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Using 8-inch round cake pan bottom as guide, draw 8-inch circle on piece of parchment paper; turn paper over and place on baking sheet. Bring first 5 ingredients to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour all at once; mix in with wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Stir constantly and vigorously until dough comes together in smooth mass. Continue cooking until dough pulls away from sides of pan, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Transfer hot dough to heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, and beat until each egg is fully incorporated before adding next. Whisk remaining egg in small bowl to blend; very gradually add enough egg to form thick, shiny, and silky dough.

Spoon warm dough into pastry bag fitted with 3/4-inch-wide plain piping tip. Pipe 1-inch-thick ring of dough along outline of circle on parchment. Pipe second ring of dough inside first ring, just touching first. Pipe third ring of dough on top of circle where first and second rings of dough meet.

Bake dough ring 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake until ring is puffed, brown, and firm, about 20 minutes. Turn off oven; leave ring in oven 5 minutes. Using serrated knife, cut off top of pastry ring in 1 piece. Cool both top and base pieces completely. Using fingers, gently remove any soft dough from inside of base and discard. (Can be made 6 hours ahead; let stand at room temperature.)

For peppermint cream:
Bring 1 1/3 cups heavy cream and 40 mint leaves to boil in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep 1 hour, then refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours. Strain cream into measuring cup; add enough additional chilled whipping cream to measure 1 1/3 cups.

Using electric mixer, beat crème fraîche and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until thick. Using electric mixer, beat mint cream and remaining 4 tablespoons sugar in large bowl to firm peaks. Fold crème fraîche mixture into mint mixture. Mix in peppermint extract if stronger mint flavor is desired.

Carefully place base of pastry ring on platter. Spoon mint cream into large pastry bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe large rosettes into hollowed-out base. Pipe second row of rosettes atop first row. Gently place pastry top on mint cream. Refrigerate while making glaze.

For glaze:
Stir chocolate, cream, and corn syrup in small bowl set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Using small icing spatula, spread glaze over top of pastry. Sprinkle nuts over glaze. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Garnish with additional mint leaves.

Source: "Adapted from 'Baking from my home to yours' - By Dorie Greenspan"