Tag Archives: cooking

Blondie Tea Cake

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Oh my…right smack dab in the middle of that Blondie Cake are two chopstick sized testing holes. Missed that one amidst  grading over 50 midterms, quizzes and final assignments. I just needed a break from the mundane! Is this tasty little tea cake ever yummy. Dipped like a biscotti, with the texture of brownie, this treat settled our sweet tooth right away.

Blondie Tea Cake

6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

1 cup cake and pastry flour (all-purpose is ok too)

1/2 unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped semi-sweet squares

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Coat an bread loaf pan with a non-stick ingredient (I use coconut oil on a paper towel).
  2. Mix melted oil with brown sugar and beat until smooth, then beat in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Add salt, stir in flour. Add shredded coconut and chocolate (or anything else you may find tasty!).
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until set. Cool before cutting.

adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

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Pizza At Home 101

DSC03200Even before our honeymoon to Italy, where we had a steady diet of amazing pizza for lunch and dinner most days, we were pizza lovers. My parents can make a mean pizza, so I grew up with an almost weekly tweaking and tasting of this wonderful food. It can also be one of the easiest, most cost effective meals to make at home.  This is how we do our pizza at home. Our’s is pretty straight forward, often changing it a bit each time.

Preheat oven to….ummm…about….450? 475? See, I never know. Something high. You can’t go wrong.

ONE- Let the dough (pre-made or homemade) come to room temperature (this way it won’t spring back on you when rolling out)

TWO- Flour a large surface and roll out dough with a well floured rolling pin. Roll until very thin (the dough will always puff up a bit when baking).

THREE- Brush a baking sheet with olive oil and fit dough to pan using fingertips.

FOUR- Sauce: Using an immersion blender, puree a can of whole or crushed tomatoes (It’s easiest to just sit the immerse blender in the can itself). Add some olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and a pinch of salt.

FIVE- Spread a ladleful of sauce on the dough. Then cover with toppings (we do fresh mozzarella, turkey or regular sausage, peppers, onions, basil, spinach, goat cheese in various combinations; my mom makes a great white pizza with swiss chard and Romano cheese). Drizzle with olive oil.

SIX- Bake until crust is crisp (about 15 minutes). Then, mangiare! Eat!DSC03194These pictures where taken by my sister, Laura, on our recent vacation to Connecticut.

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Blueberry Muffins

DSC03038On Saturday morning my sister, Laura, made these fantastic muffins from one of our favorite cookbooks. I ate three of these soft, fluffy muffins. Make them for when you have morning guests next!

GP’s Blueberry Muffins – slightly adapted from My Father’s Daughter

8 tablespoons, unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 egg

1/2cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with papers.

Whisk the butter, eggs, and milk together in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, the sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold in the blueberries. Divide among the muffin cups and sprinkle the muffins with a little sugar on top of each.

Bake until toothpick tests clean and the muffins are golden, about 25-30 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Quicker In The Kitchen

room to cookSpilling onions, splashing balsamic, near fatal misses with a cleaver. Been there? Every time I am, I think, “I can prevent this! Why am I not helping myself?” Because usually I’m rushing and sometimes I’m just lazy. Here are a few time savers that I’m learning along the way.measure out#1 Doesn’t this just create more dishes? Well, yes, but… I’ve found that if I pre-measure certain ingredients for a recipe I’m WAY more efficient with my time in the kitchen. By now, I can eye-ball things like two tablespoons of olive oil, or a cup of water. But a 1/4 cup? 1 1/2 teaspoons? Where this tip comes in handy: All the ingredients are out, ready, and measured properly. bigger bowl#2 Again, sometimes I am hesitant to pull out a larger dish or whisk than I need because it creates more work later. But really, for all the times that I have whisked vinaigrette in a tiny bowl and had it spill (Or how about flour puffing everywhere with one wrong move?). Where this tip comes in handy: I can be precise with my mixing or whisking without fear of spillage, which can slow things down and frustrate the cook, n’est-ce pas? spread out#3 Pull out everything you need for your task, be it small or big. For chopping, have your compost and serving/measuring bowls handy. Use a large enough cutting board. Choose your knife size accordingly. Minimize the clutter. Where this tip comes in handy: Avoid spills and be safe by giving yourself space to work. research#4 And my favorite: Learn from your cookbooks. From time to time I will sit down with a cookbook or two and go to my happy place. I find it fun and relaxing, and saves time in the long run! So, instead of spending 2 hours running back and forth from stove to recipe, I am familiar, prepared, and efficient from a little pre-reading. Where this tip comes in handy: 5 minutes of research can save you 20 in the kitchen. *Also, try cooking more difficult recipes for the first time when you DO have the time to linger and learn. Then the second or third time around will be quicker!

ON THAT NOTE: HOW TO MAKE CLEAN UP EASIER!

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How To Cook Videos

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Martha Stewart put together several short vignettes for the novice cook. There’s a How To on pretty much anything you want to know from “How To Cut Up A Whole Chicken” to “How To Julienne” (although I would still like a more thorough tutorial on how to chop and dice onions like a pro [my favorite clip below]). I bookmarked this link on my browser bar and it’s been quite handy!

 Click Martha’s How To Videos for moreScreen Shot 2014-01-14 at 11.06.18 AM

(from 0:00 to 0:05)

Good Luck!

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Bread

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A friend wanted a recipe for bread I was making regularly a bit back (once I figured out I could save $3 a loaf by making it myself…yes, please). I was looking for an easy, dutch oven recipe before trying Julia’s true French bread or a Best Recipe Cookbook experiment.

There is really no such thing as “no-work bread”. I googled it. Recipes are labelled as such but there is still time involved in creating a dough that will remotely resemble bread. So think ahead. But it’s worth it.

(If you don’t have a Dutch Oven, simply use a caking sheet with parchment or some EVOO. It won’t hold it round form as much, but I’ve done it both ways and it tastes just as great.)

Here are a couple easy, no-knead breads:

Dutch Oven Bread

No Knead Dutch Oven Bread

Tomorrow, a bit on Julia Child’s “My Life in France”

photo by sprouted kitchen

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My Sister, Mrs. Maverick

We had a cooking show called “Chef Pauline and Chef Genevieve” in which the last line of the theme song (sung by yours truly) said, “We hope you enjoy the show. Yo Ho”…because it rhymed, ok.

I was Genevieve and Laura, Pauline.

The kitchen has always been a happy place for us. While home schooling, on long winter days, we would rig up the camcorder on a tri-pod, kindly shoo mom out of the kitchen, tie up our aprons and say “Action” (because we acted as chef and director and camera men). And it was a blast.

Our theme song doesn’t do the show justice to how creative we would get while in the kitchen, just the two of us. Caught on film was much more than cooking. It was two sisters communicating, arguing, picking noses, licking spoons, burning fingers, spilling ingredients, and laughing.  And like many sponsored programs, we had commercials featuring a product used in that very show (i.e. if we were making caesar salad we would highlight “simulated bacon bits” in a 30 second blurb), which often had to be recorded again and again because we would get so silly…as girls do.

We did almost everything together. When it came to extracurricular activities, Laura would head to dancing or theater and I would head to horse back riding or swimming, but on most days we would do a lot in each other company. We were and are each other’s kindred spirit.

The Show of Chef Pauline and Genevieve has gone down in the books as a classic for the Plouffe family. They are certainly home videos we don’t publicize (even to our spouses). It is sweet to see now how we both took that comfort in the kitchen, in front of the stove, behind the sink into our grown up lives. And with a little more gumption to try something requiring more skill and care each time.

Here’s to ma belle soeur, fellow chef-at-heart, my inspiration for almost anything I do and who now shares with me a desire to write.

Introducing, Mrs. Maverick. 

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Mrs. Maverick doing her thing. 

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