Bananaberry Smoothie

SmoothieBananaBerry

Bananaberry Smoothie

(serves 2)

1/3 c. light coconut milk

2 T. fresh orange juice

1 medium size frozen banana, peeled and cut into slices (about 3/4 c.)

1 c. mixed fresh berries (sliced strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and/or blueberries)

fruit for garnish

Place coconut  milk, orange juice, banana and berries in blender and process until smooth. Pour into serving glasses and garnish with fruit. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

• A mix of red berries and dark berries produces the best color.

• This recipe makes a smoothie that is thin enough to drink. For a thicker smoothie, use frozen berries.

Happy Pi Day! Even Pros Have Their Off Days/Adventures with Bailey’s Chocolate Cream Pie

To celebrate Pi Day – 3.14.15 – a chocolate cream pie made with Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur! Happy Pi Day!

BaileysChocolateCreamPie

This is an incredibly delicious pie with a wonderful texture. So why is part of the title to this post “Even Pros Have Their Off Days”? I really, really wanted to make this pie for Pi Day. And I did; but things didn’t go perfectly smoothly. First, I wanted to make a gluten-free version, but my crust flopped. So then I made a non-gluten-free crust, which turned out fine. But then, I was behind schedule and I cut into the pie too early and it flopped onto the plate. So I stuck it in the freezer to firm it up for photographing it, but by the time it firmed up, the whipped cream in my pastry bag had lost its umph and I had to pull a can of whipped cream out of the fridge – strictly for emergency purposes. The lesson: ah, all’s well that turns out well. In other words, all is good that tastes good and makes people happy – which this pie does : ) Happy Pi Day!

Bailey’s Chocolate Cream Pie

(Note, this pie requires considerable chilling time – 3 periods of at least 1 hour )

Pie Crust 

1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs

3/4 c. granulated white sugar

1 1/2 T. Dutch process cocoa

1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted

Bailey’s Chocolate Cream Pie Filling

1 1/4 c. whole milk, divided

2 T. + 2 t. cornstarch

3/4 c. Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur

1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Bailey’s Semisweet Ganache 

1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

5 T. heavy cream

1 T. Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur

Bailey’s Whipped Cream

1 c. heavy whipping cream

2 T. Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur

1/4 c. granulated white sugar – or confectioner’s sugar, sifted or whisked until smooth

Optional Garnishes

Shaved bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

Chocolate sprinkles

Toasted walnuts or hazelnuts, chopped

Green decorator’s sugar

Directions

(1) Make pie crust – Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9″ pie plate and set aside. Whisk together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cocoa. Stir in melted butter until crumb mixture is evenly moist. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and sides of pie plate and bake for 7 minutes.

(2) Cool crust – Remove pie crust from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 1 hour.

(3) Make filling – Whisk the cornstarch into 1/4 c. of the whole milk. Set aside. Place the remaining 1 c. of milk, Bailey’s and chocolate chips in a medium non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Whisk frequently and scrape down sides of pan. Once chocolate chips are melted, whisk in the milk-cornstarch mixture, continuing to whisk and scrape down sides of pan, until the mixture comes to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, whisk constantly, making sure to get scrape the sides of the pan, until the mixture is thickened to the consistency of chocolate pudding.

(4) Fill crust and cool – Remove pie filling from heat and immediately pour into the pie crust. Quickly spread the filling to an even layer. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 hour or until completely chilled.

(5) Make ganache, once pie filling has cooled – Combine heavy cream and Bailey’s. Bring to a simmer in a pan on the stove top or in the microwave in a glass bowl or measuring cup. Immediately remove cream from heat and add chopped chocolate. Place in warm spot and let sit for 4 minutes, then stir until perfectly uniform.

(6) Top and chill – Remove pie from refrigerator and pour ganache mixture over pie filling. Return pie to the refrigerator to chill for 1 more hour.

(7) Make whipped cream, once pie is thoroughly chilled – Place ingredients in a large bowl, and beat on high speed until stiff. (If desired, transfer to a pastry bag for piping.)

(10) To serve, cut pie slices. (For best results, wipe the knife blade after each cut.) Plate the pie servings. Top with whipped cream and your choice of optional garnishes. Enjoy, what ever day it is!

Orange Chocolate Chip Baked Donuts

Warm from the oven, these baked donuts are hard to resist!
DonutsOrangeChocChip

Orange Chocolate Chip Baked Donuts

Donut batter ingredients:

1 3/4 c. + 2 T. white rice flour (for gluten-free) or all-purpose flour

1/3 c. granulated white sugar

2 t. baking powder

pinch of salt

3/4 c. buttermilk

2 lg. eggs

2 T. unsalted butter, melted

2 t. fresh, finely grated orange zest

1 t. orange extract

2.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Topping ingredients:

1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

1/4 t. ground cinnamon

1 T. + 1 t. fresh orange juice

1/2 t. orange extract

2 T. honey

cinnamon sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 6-mold donut baking pan with oil, set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, orange zest, and orange extract. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until the mixture is smooth. If the batter is a little too stiff, slowly stir in just a little bit more buttermilk. Fold in chopped chocolate.

4. Divide the batter between the oiled donut molds. Spread batter with the back of a spoon to smooth out tops. If needed, run your fingers under cold water, shake them off lightly, then use them to shape the donuts. Batter will stand slightly above the top of the donut pan. Bake for about 10 minutes or until done to the touch.

5. While the donuts are baking, prepare the topping. Stir together confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, orange juice, orange extract, and honey until very smooth.

6. When donuts are done baking, invert onto a cooling rack. Glaze right away, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately.

More baked donut recipes:

Strawberry Shortcake Donuts

Cinnamon-Dipped Donuts

Enjoy! Have a great day!

Black Forest Cupcakes

CupcakeBlackForest

These light-textured chocolate cupcakes, served with whipped cream and cherries, are really fun for guests. An added bonus is that you can make the cupcakes ahead of time and freeze them until you have company. Just thaw, top with whipped cream, garnish and serve! Ready to start thinking about Valentine’s Day?

Black Forest Cake Cupcakes

Makes about 24

Ingredients:

2 c. all-purpose flour

2/3 c. Dutch-process cocoa powder*

1 1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 c. whole milk (or sour cream for a denser cupcake)

3 lg. eggs

2 t. cherry liqueur

1 c. unsalted butter, softened

1 c. granulated white sugar

1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed

1/2 c. dried cherries, finely chopped

2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish

Sweetened whipped cream for topping

24 fresh dark sweet cherries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 12-muffin pans with muffin papers.**
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into medium size bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat together milk, eggs and cherry liqueur. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  5. On low speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Scrape sides. On medium speed, beat in 1/2 of wet ingredients. Scrape sides. Repeat, beating in 1/3 of  flour mixture, remaining 1/2 of wet ingredients, and then remaining 1/3 of flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl in between.
  6. Mix together chopped cherries and chocolate and then fold them into the cupcake batter.
  7. Divide batter equally between muffin cups. Cups should be about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake for 20 –  25 minutes or until no wet spots appear on muffin tops and muffins are firm to the touch. Do not overbake.
  9. Place muffin pans on baking racks for 15 minutes, then remove muffins, and place them on racks to finish cooling.
  10. To serve, top with whipped cream, grated chocolate and a fresh cherry.

Enjoy!

* If you need to, you can substitute natural cocoa, but Dutch-process has better flavor in this recipe.

** I use plain white papers for baking, then slip the muffins into decorative papers or foils for serving.

Spaghetti with Spinach & Peppadews

SpaghettiWithSpinach4

This is a simple dish to make – done in the amount of time that it takes to cook a box of spaghetti – but it has a delicious combination of flavors and is very rich and satisfying.

Spaghetti with Spinach

Ingredients:

8 oz. package of spaghetti (gluten-free is ok)

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 T. dry white wine*

1/3 c. finely chopped yellow onion

3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced (about 1 T.)

salt

red pepper flakes + extra for the table

several large handfuls of baby spinach (about 2.5 oz. by weight), washed and larger stems removed

2 oz. (about 2/3 c.) fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese + extra for the table

3 marinated peppadew peppers, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Put a large pot (8 qt. pot) of lightly salted water on to boil. When the water comes to a boil, add the spaghetti, stir. Cook until the pasta is almost done – when it needs about 2 minutes more cooking time. Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients. (That is, chop the onion, crushed the garlic, wash the spinach, and grate the cheese.)
  2. Add olive oil, wine, onion, garlic, a couple of dashes of salt and a couple of dashes of red pepper flakes to a large, deep skillet (about 12 x 3”.) Place on burner over medium heat. Stir ingredients. Cook for about 1 – 2 minutes.
  3. Drain the pasta when it is not quite done. Add nearly cooked pasta to skillet. Toss with olive oil mixture several times. Cook for about 1 minute. Add spinach. Toss with pasta several times. Cook for about 1 minute. Add cheese. Toss. Check pasta for doneness. When pasta is the desired doneness, transfer to a serving platter or to individual dishes. Garnish with chopped peppadews. Serve immediately.

Buon Appetito!

* I served the pasta with Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina and so used that in the dish.

Gluten-free Cornish Hevva Cake

HevvaCake4

I recently came across a recipe for Cornish Hevva cake on FrugalFeeding.com and thought that it looked delicious and also that it sounded like it had an interesting history behind it. I loved the image of the fisherman’s housewives starting to bake as soon as the lookout called that their husbands were returning home. So I made a mental note to give “the cake” a try sometime.

I made a gluten-free version which produces a sweet, crumbly biscuit. It reminded me of a very thin version of Scottish shortbread with dried fruit. It went very nicely with a glass of milk  – for my first piece, which I ate before it had any time to cool – and also with a cup of tea later on.

HevvaCake2

Ingredients

1 1/3 c. (scant) gluten-free all-purpose flour

1/4 c. granulated white sugar + extra for sprinkling

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. ground ginger

pinch salt

7 T. + 1 t. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

8.5 oz dried blueberries

3 T. whole milk, approximately

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a large baking sheet.

2. Whisk together flour, 1/4 c. of the sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt.

3. Using your hands, work butter into dry ingredients.

4. Mix in blueberries using a large spoon. Then slowly stir in milk until mixture forms a crumbly, stiff dough. (It holds together like a dough when pinched.)

5. Scrape sides of bowl and transfer the dough to the center of the greased baking sheet. Lightly pat into a disk, then roll out to just under 1/2-inch thick.

6. Using a paring knife, score the top of the dough to resemble a fishing net. Sprinkle with a little more sugar.

7. Bake cake for 25 t0 30 minutes or until there are no raw spots. (Because this is gluten-free, it doesn’t really get golden brown.)

HevvaCakeUnbaked

Notes

I made a few minor changes to Nick’s recipe on Frugal Feeding

• I substituted dried blueberries for currants, because I was out of currants.

• I substituted gluten-free flour (Glutino brand gluten-free all-purpose flour) for the plain flour, because I wanted a gluten-free version.

• Nick’s directions call for rolling the dough out on a floured surface, then transferring the dough to a greased baking sheet. I just rolled it out directly on the greased baking sheet. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to mix in any more flour since I had used a substitution and wasn’t sure how that would affect the recipe.

• I sprinkled the sugar on before baking because I thought that would work fine.

• I forgot to cut the pieces on the diagonal for serving. Old habits. I’ve made a mental note to correct that next time – but the biscuits were still delicious!

• I think that American cooks can probably go ahead and use the whole 8 T. of butter that come in a stick. I weighed ingredients to convert from metric measurements and the butter measure came to 7 T. plus 1 t. For my first time making the recipe I wanted to stick to the original measures. If using 8 whole tablespoons of butter, one could probably also use a full 1 1/3 cup of flour. I’ll try that next time.

Thanks for introducing me to Hevva Cake, Nick!

Simple Baked Halibut

Halibut2

I love to experiment with sauces and flavors, but sometimes they can get in the way of one’s appreciation of the main element of a dish. So whenever I have a really great piece of fish – like this halibut that a friend sent to us from Alaska – I like to keep its preparation simple. That way the fish itself can really shine. Here I served the Baked Halibut with stir fried asparagus, steamed rice and soy sauce mixed with lemon juice and a dash of cayenne pepper served on the side.

Simple Baked Halibut

serves 2 – 3

1 lb piece of halibut cut about 2-inches thick, thawed

1 large lemon

sea salt

mix of black and green peppercorns

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.

2. Meanwhile, pat fish dry with a paper towel. Place fish, skin-side down, on the parchment paper. Lightly sprinkle fish with sea salt and several twists of fresh ground pepper. Cut about 2/3 of the lemon into thin slices. Spread slices over the top of the fish. (You can save the rest of the lemon to squeeze into a little soy sauce, if you like.)

3. Place fish in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until cooked all of the way through. (The fish will be solid white in the center, not somewhat translucent.) Serve immediately.

Variations:

• Mix a few thin slices of red onion in with the lemon slices.

• Drizzle just a little bit of melted butter or olive oil on the fish before baking.

• Top with a little bit of chopped fresh parsley when serving.