Monday, March 14, 2011


Its been several years since I've made Hamantaschen. I have a slew of Hamantaschen recipes but I don't recall making this particular recipe which is Marcy Goldman's from Once again I was alerted to the recipe from a food forum I am a member of. My grandmother made the best Hamantaschen. Hers were tiny but always looked perfect. She had so much talent with dough......making pastries and this spring treat was one of her specialties. Me.......highly dough challenged and anything I do with dough looks elementary! She only filled them with prune butter AKA Levkar which she made with Italian prune plums in early fall. She would make jars and jars of the stuff. As a child I never was too fond of this dark filling so she would make me some with cherries or apricots. Now I adore that prune butter and found a jar of it calling my name on the shelf at the local grocery store!


1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter or unsalted margarine
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup orange juice or milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups (approximately) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
egg wash (I use 1 egg yolk and a few drops of milk and whisk)


I chose Apricot Preserves, Raspberry Preserves, Nutella and Prune Butter:

Sugar (regular or coarse) for dusting (optional)
Egg Wash


Cream the shortening and butter with the sugar. Add eggs and blend until smooth. (If mixture is hard to blend or seems curdled, add a bit of the flour to bind it).

Stir in orange juice or milk and vanilla. I used milk. Fold in flour, salt, and baking powder and mix to make a firm but soft dough. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat into a smooth mass. Cover and let rest ten minutes.* Divide dough into two or three flattened disks. Work with one portion at a time. Wrapped in plastic, dough can be refrigerated for 2-3 days. If refrigerating, allow dough to warm up before rolling out. For frozen pastries, bake without defrosting.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Roll out dough on lightly floured board to a thickness of 1/8th inch. Use a 3 inch cookie cutter and cut into rounds. I used the top of a drinking glass. Brush rounds with egg wash. Fill with a generous teaspoon full of desired filling. Draw three sides together into center. Grasp perimeters of circle with your first, second and third fingers and pull inward. You should now have a three-cornered or triangular pastry. Essentially, fold two sides towards the center to form a triangle top. Fold up the remaining dough towards the center to meet the other edges of the touch. Brush pastries with egg wash. If desired, sprinkle with regular or coarse sugar and bake until golden brown, about 18-25 minutes.
*I refrigerated the dough for about an hour and let it rest at room temperature about 15 minutes before rolling out.

On parchment lined baking sheet ready for oven:

With another favorite......dark chocolate Dove eggs:

Note that the raspberry filled are a darker color as that was the only batch I brushed egg wash on top.

Recipe doubles well.
About 4-6 dozen pastries.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pollo alla Calabrese (chicken with potatoes, onions and tomatoes)

I saw this recipe posted on an internet food forum I belong to. The recipe is originally from Rosetta Costantino's cookbook,
My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South. With just few ingredients and one pan to cook this makes a delicious and simple roasted chicken. I used thighs and drumsticks but if using breasts, the cooking time will be less.


4 chicken legs, divided into thighs and drumsticks
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes
3/4 lb ripe tomatoes
1 large yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
pinch cayenne


1. Preheat oven to 450°. Sprinkle the chicken generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Cut the potatoes into 2-inch chunks (do not peel). Core the tomatoes and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Halve the onion and slice about 1/2-inch thick. Peel and halve the garlic cloves. In a large bowl, combine the vegetables with the oregano and olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and several grindings of pepper and mix well. With a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a baking dish large enough to hold them in one layer, such as a 9x13-inch glass or ceramic dish. Put the chicken in the bowl used for the vegetables and turn chicken to coat it in the oil and herbs left behind (if necessary, drizzle in a little more oil). Place the chicken skin side up on top of the vegetables in the dish and sprinkle with paprika and cayenne.

Bake on bottom rack of the oven until skin is crisp and golden, about 35 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and continue to bake until the chicken juices run clear, potatoes are tender and pan juices are absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Buttercream Frosting

Youngest son's 18th birthday is tomorrow and we had his birthday dinner tonight at home to celebrate......a day early. Rather than making a birthday cake I decided on cupcakes for this year. I've enjoyed the few times I've made cupcakes recently. This Red Velvet Cake recipe is adapted from The Confetti Cookbook and this is a scaled down version to make just a dozen cupcakes.......perfect amount vs. 3 dozen!



1 cup plus 3 tablespoons cake flour
2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa (not Dutch-process)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 ounce (2T) red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon white vinegar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put paper liners in a 12 count muffin tin.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in the egg. With machine on low add red food coloring. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Divide batter evenly about 2/3 way full in muffin tin. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Slightly cool before removing from tin and cool completely before frosting.

From May 2008 Food and Wine Magazine


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream*
*used Half and Half


In a medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the softened butter at medium speed until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt and beat the mixture at low speed just until combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until smooth. Add the milk or heavy cream and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes and top as desired.

Rainy day boredom:


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jacques Pépin Roasted Split Chicken with Mustard Crust

This is a quick method of roasting chicken from Jacques Pépin's More Fast Food My Way. I saw an episode of him making this a few months back on PBS and decided to give it a whirl. What I am doing differently than the recipe as written below is transferring the chicken to a roasting pan after cooking the chicken in the skillet. The first time I made the recipe I followed it exactly. This time I bought two chicken halves that happened to be on sale at .79 cents/lb. Great deal and better yet that they were already split. Last time I asked the butcher to split a whole chicken for me and also to do cut through the joints.........I get squeamish when dealing with raw poultry. This is very tasty and the mustard crust mixture is delicious. Definitely will make the mixture to use for grilling poultry, seafood and veggies.


Mustard Crust

2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)


Mix all crust ingredients in a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut alongside the backbone of the chicken to split it open. Spread and press on the chicken with your hands to flatten it. Using a sharp paring knife, cut halfway through both sides of the joints connecting the thighs and drumsticks and cut through the joints of the shoulder under the wings as well. (This will help the heat penetrate these joints and accelerate the cooking process).

Put the chicken skin side down on a cutting board and spread it with about half the mustard mixture. Place the chicken flat in a large skillet, mustard side down. Spread the remaining mustard on the skin side of the chicken. Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, then place the skillet in the oven and cook the chicken for about 30 minutes. It should be well browned and dark on top.

In skillet on stove top:

Out of oven (I used a roasting pan vs. putting skillets in oven):

Bo in his usual position at the table:

Let the chicken rest in the skillet at room temperature for a few minutes, then cut it into 8 pieces with clean kitchen shears. Defat cooking juices and pour over chicken, if desired.