Category Archives: Dough

CT Style with Ryan Kristafer & Sarah Cody Getting Ready for Thanksgiving!

CT Style with Ryan Kristafer & Sarah Cody Getting Ready for Thanksgiving!

It was a special day on CT Style with Ryan Kristafer and Sarah Cody sharing one of my favorite childhood dishes in memory of my Grandma Reilly. I never did get her recipe for her Creamed Onions or pies but she was the inspiration behind my recipe that I have been making for over 20 years now. Cooking in The Bender KItchen, hanging out with Ryan and Sarah was the perfect way to start my Thanksgiving holiday this year!

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that can truly drive you crazy if you don’t do any planning because there are just too many side dishes to make. Needless to say, a little planning goes a long way!

On CT Style I wanted to show you some of the dishes that are total time savers for this Thanksgiving. My Icebox-rolls dough can be made 4 days ahead, shape and rolling out the rolls, dredging in green onions the day before. These icebox dinner rolls are then ready to pop into the oven when your guests arrive giving your house a warm and fuzzy feeling with aromas of homemade baked bread!

The yummy Best Brussel Sprouts Ever are drizzled with olive oil, chopped garlic and roast for only 25 minutes on 350º without any flipping or fussing. These can be made the night before because the sprouts keep their bright green color and crispness when re-heated the next day!

My Perfect Pie Crust in 5 Minutes is to die for and can be made 1 month ahead, put into the freezer and thawed in the frig 2 days before you need it! Roll out the pie dough the night before Thanksgiving and then bake your delectable Chocolate Pecan Pie the night before and violà! Not to mention, the Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe is a melt in your mouth gourmet recipe …it may just be the hit of your holiday!

Finally, there was talk of a Creamed Onion competition recently at Page Hardware in Guilford with owner Andrew Page when we were discussing future cooking demos at Page in the new year! So there just may be a “Creamed Onions” competition coming as well! Page has quite the array of high tech steam ovens, stoves and so much more…it’s almost difficult to pay attention to conversation surrounded by all the beautiflul stainless steel! You really have to check them out. I will keep you all posted on The Traveling Epicurean Cooking Demos and the “competition” in their amazing kitchens at Page in January of 2018!

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Let me know how your recipes turned out and about any new ones that you tried! xxoo

 

 

 

CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Teresa & Ryan Making Manicotti!

CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Teresa & Ryan Making Manicotti!

With Easter right around the corner I was excited to be back on CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Ryan and Teresa so I could share with you my family’s secret recipe for homemade manicotti. These delicate pasta crepes are the lightest manicotti you’ll ever have. They are oozing with mozzarella, covered in tomato-basil sauce and topped with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and are sure to turn heads at the dinner table!

Italian tradition always includes a yummy side dish to go along with the ham, leg of lamb, turkey, salmon or tenderlion like manicotti, lasagna, eggplant rollatini or parmesan. Comfort food bringing it all together, an Italian side dish makes such a nice compliment to what ever meat or fish you choose.

This homemade manicotti recipe is a poured crepe-like batter and in my opinion it’s a whole lot easier then making a tradition rolled out pasta. Making the pasta crepe is like making pancakes or French crepes. On my manicotti recipe page I show you detailed pictures of how to make them. The YouTube “Manicotti Show” that’s embeded there also includes very detailed instruction on how to make these walking you thru each step making it very easy for you to follow and learn.

I love cooking for everyone on the CT Style set who seemed to love the manicotti because there weren’t any left over…makes the chef very happy! The lettuce wedges with Roasted Blue Cheese & Buttermilk Dressing (stay tuned for an up and coming show on that one) and crumbled bacon were a big hit too and lets not forget those Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies! 

Once you introduce these delectable homemade manicotti into your family’s holiday dinner you’ll find it becoming part of your tradition too! Other wonderful side dishes you could add into your dinner, my Creamed Onions, Steak House Creamed Spinach or zucchini torta! Don’t forget about Ricotta Pie or Greek Baklava both crowd pleasers at parties! Enjoy and Happy Holidays! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie!


Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie

“Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie” is the perfect title for this recent cooking show taped at my foodie friend’s, David and Eileen’s house. When you taste this most chocolatey mousse-like filling topped with fluffy peaks of meringue you will think you have died and gone to heaven! This wonderful chocolate meringue pie recipe came from David’s mother, Alice, and has always been a family favorite for the holidays! With four boys in his family growing up, David said his mother was always welcome to the idea of having more cooks in the kitchen. You could only imagine that with four boys you’re going to need more then just one pie. David and his brothers happily learned at an early age how to pitch in and get this task done.

David uses the “chocolate fudge” flavor of Jello brand, the cook and serve, not the instant. Come to find out, this “chocolate fudge” flavor can be a difficult category to find. But using Jello brand’s “chocolate” flavor is the next best thing, so don’t fret. Make sure to keep an eye out for the “chocolate fudge” flavor next time you are at the store and shoot me an email if you strike “fudge”!

What takes this Jello cook and serve chocolate fudge pudding to a completely different universe, into a rich, chocolate mousse-like texture is the addtion of egg yolks, sugar, butter and pure vanilla extract. You will find yourself eating each bite of chocolate meringue pie very slowly just to savour every luscious bite. Part of this decadence comes from the rich, flaky crust made with a special lard David gets from Firefly Farmers in Stonington, CT. You can purchase their products at the Stonington, Waterford and Bozrah Farmers Markets. It definitely makes a difference in your pie crust to use both butter and lard like in my Perfect Pie Crust in 5 Minutes but using this lard that David use’s really puts the crust over the top!

Last but not least is the meringue that tops this incredible chocolatey filling and brings the whole pie together. Whipping the egg whites to soft peaks is important to achieve the elegant curly cues you can create when dipping a spatula gently into the surface of the meringue. Then off to the oven briefly until those beautiful peaks turn golden.

This wonderful chocolate meringue pie recipe could have easily remained a family secret but David and his mother were gracious enough to share it with us. The only option I see here is for you to get busy and make this luscious dessert for your next holiday! Don’t forget to share the YouTube link to the show 🙂 ENJOY xxoo

You should check out David and Eileen’s Lobster Mac & Cheese show if you are looking for an amazing entré, Pulled Beef Taco’s or Salmon B.L.T. Sliders at Marco’s would make for very tasty dishes also. Try my Guacamole or Homemade Salsa 101 to start everything off!

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Ingredients for David’s Pie Crust – 1 Crust for lg Deep Dish Pie Plate (measurements below are 3/4 of full recipe):

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup lard frozen, grated
  • 1/4 cup butter refigerated, grated
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • approx. 2-3 tbsp ice cold water

FULL PIE CRUST RECIPE – 2 Crusts:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup lard or crisco
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-4 tbsp ice cold water

Directions for Pie Crust – Pre-Heat Oven to 400º :

  1. Measure lard or crisco and put into freezer
  2. Grate lard or crisco and butter and place in separate bowls back in the frig til you are ready
  3. Add flour, salt, lard or crisco, and butter to food processor or mixer and begin to mix with paddle attachment slowly
  4. Then slowly add in 1 tbsp at a time while mixing, you may need to add another tbsp of water to have dough come together
  5. When dough comes together in 1-2 minutes turn dough onto wax paper forming into a disc shape and place into the freezer for 15 minutes
  6. Begin to roll out dough between wax paper until its large enough to fit pie plate
  7. Gently peel over top layer of wax paper flipping over into pie dish
  8. Gently push edges in all around and remove the other piece of wax paper
  9. Scallop the edges of pie crust
  10. Prick inside walls and bottom of crust with a fork
  11. Place into a 400º oven and bake 10-15 minutes until slightly golden around the edges
  12. Let pie crust cool and begin to make the chocolate filling

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Ingredients for Chocolate Filling:

  • 2 boxes COOK and SERVE Jello brand “chocoate fudge” or “chocolate” pudding – NOT INSTANT
  • NOTE: I can only find “chocolate” so I mix “bittersweet chocolate chips & semi sweet chocolate chips heaping 1/4 cup of each and this tastes exactly like “chocolate fudge” brand of Jello 🙂
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 1/2 cups WHOLE milk
  • 1/2 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp pure extract vanilla
  • 1 pre-baked pie crust cooled

Directions for Chocolate Filling:

  1. Separate 4 egg yolks from whites and place into separate bowls (yolks for filling and whites for meringue)
  2. Add 2 boxes of chocolate fudge pudding mix to medium size sauce pan
  3. Add in chocolate chips, 4 egg yolks, sugar, 3 1/2 cups of milk over medium heat
  4. Continue to whisk while bringing ingredients to a boil, it will thicken quickly
  5. When it thickens take off of heat
  6. Whisk in 3 tbsp of butter and 1 tsp vanilla
  7. Pour into the cooled pre-baked pie crust and let cool just a bit to a warm TEMP but NOT COLD– DO NOT put into the fridge because you DON’T want to put whipped meringue on a COLD pie, it will cause meringue to weep 🙂

Ingredients for Meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 8 tbsp sugar – 2 tbsp per egg white
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Directions for Meringue – Pre-Heat Oven to 375º :

  1. Whisk egg whites until soft peak begin to form then start to add sugar 1 tbsp at a time
  2. Keep whisking unitl you get soft – stiff peaks – in between peaks – NOT STIFF
  3. Pour onto WARM chocolate pie filling
  4. Begin to smooth meringue over to touch edges of the pie crust making sure meringue seals all along the edge of the pie crust
  5. Once the meringue completely covers the chocolate filling begin to dip spatula in and out of meringue creating curly cue peaks
  6. Place chocolate meringue pie into 375º oven until peaks are golden approx 10-15 minutes – if the meringue is undercooked the it will weep
  7. Take out and let meringue cool, slice and mangia mangia!

MERINGUE TIP: Do not put whipped meringue on a COLD pie, a warm filling is better than COLD. Be sure to cook meringue through because undercooked meringue will weep 🙂

Chocolate Eclairs with The French Club

Chocolate Eclairs with The French Club

IMG_6379Making Chocolate eclairs with The French Club this week made for an incredibly fun afternoon! The Chocolate eclair shells made from pâte à choux, a french pastry dough, is a cinch to make and so delicious you may find your self wanting to make them this weekend.

The method I use to make the pastry cream is simplistic and straight forward. This method for making the pastry cream I got from one of Martha Stewart’s chefs, Thomas Joseph. I wanted to show you an easier way to prepare the custard then your traditional tempering of the eggs method, especially if you have never tried to make this before. The actual recipe for the pastry cream is from my own collection and playing around with recipes over the years.

As for the pâte à choux dough, what can I say, but wow! Although, this is a French dough with French ties it is also noted that Catherine de Medici left Florence in 1533 to marry the Duke of Orleans who later became Henry II, King of France. She brought with her the entire court which included her chefs! Smart woman is all I can say. A few years later her head chef, Panterelli, invented a hot paste-like dough and called it pâte à Panterelli. Of course, the recipe has evolved some what since then and with a couple of names changes too but with the same idea. It’s a dough with a paste like texture that use’s heat and moisture-steam for a raising agent instead of the baking powders that we use so much today.

These chocolate eclair’s are easy to follow and so worth the effort. You should really give it the ole college try because your family and friends will be thanking you! In between making the pastry cream and the pâte à choux you may want to prepare some other great dishes like lobster mac & cheese,  pulled beef taco’s and mango salsa or some homemade pasta  and Turkey meatballs that are simpler then you think! And for a nice salad you could check out my Caesar salad with homemade croutons …that’s always a crowd pleaser!

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Ingredients for the Pâte à Choux: :

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup flour – all purpose
  • 1 tsp sugar (only for desserts)  (not for gougeres)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 lg eggs
  • 1 egg + 1 1/2 tsp water whisked together – for egg wash

Directions for the Pâte à Choux:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º degrees
  2. Line a cookie tray with a piece of parchment paper – when you are done making the pate a choux squeeze out 4 dime size pieces of dough on each corner of the cookie tray, then place parchment over that – to hold in paper in place while you form eclairs
  3. Bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat in a medium size sauce pan
  4. Stir in all of the flour and continue to stir vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 1 1/2 minutes – which will start to make a film on the bottom of the pan
  5. Turn out flour-egg  mixture into a large glass bowl and stir to cool for 1 minute
  6. Crack eggs into a bowl to make sure there are no shells
  7. Begin to add one egg at a time into the dough and keep mixing with a wooden spoon
  8. The mixture will look broken up at first but no worries because it comes back together
  9. After each egg is absorbed into the flour mixture ADD another egg and repeat stirring
  10. Spoon the Pate a Choux dough into a pastry bag … I don’t even use a tip here
  11. Cut about 3/4″ off the end of the pastry bag
  12. Twist down the open end of the bag a little to keep dough enclosed and to put pressure on the cut off end
  13. Squeeze out 3-4″ x 3/4″ rows of Pate a Choux dough to form eclairs making sure they are about 2″ apart
  14. Brush with egg wash and smooth with your finger if needed to smooth any bumps
  15. Put into 400º oven for 15 minutes
  16. Turn down to 350º for another 25 minutes
  17. Turn oven off and open door 5″ but leave eclairs in the oven to dry out another 10 minutes

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Ingredients for the Pastry Filling:

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups milk room temperature
  • 6 lg eggs yolks room temperature
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions for the Vanilla Custard Filling:

  1. In a medium sauce pan add sugar and corn starch and whisk to combine
  2. In a medium bowl whisk milk and egg yolks until combined
  3. Whisk in milk and egg mixture into sugar and corn
  4. Turn heat to medium/high and bring to a boil
  5. As soon as it comes to a boil whisk 5 SECONDS ONLY and TAKE OFF HEAT continually whisking, after 5 seconds put BACK ON heat for 5 SECONDS and IMMEDIATELY take off heat
  6. DO NOT BOIL ON HEAT FOR MORE THAN 10 SECONDS or the texture will become grainy
  7. Add in butter and vanilla while still whisking
  8. Strain the custard into a glass bowl
  9. Stir to cool slightly and cover directly onto custard saran wrap OR Pour into a prepared tart shell, then into the frig and when cooled and thickened top with fresh sliced fruit and voilà another dessert! …just saying 🙂
  10. Place into the frig for atleast 2 hours up to 3 days
  11. Take the thick pastry cream out of frig and whisk til smooth -5 seconds and the texture will become smooth and ready to place in the pastry bag to pipe

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Ingredients for the Chocolate Dipped Toppping:

  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar to desired thickness

Directions:

  1. Heat the cream to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil
  2. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and vanilla in a medium size bowl and let it melt the chocolate for 2 minutes
  3. Whisk the cream and chocolate until smooth
  4. With a whisk slowly add in confectioners sugar while whisking until smooth
  5. If the chocolate gets cooled and too thick to dip heat for a minute over double boiler
  6. Dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm chocolate glaze
  7. Set on a cookie tray
  8. Place into the frig uncovered for at least 1 hour to set the glaze
  9. Serve chilled…YUM!

 

Homemade Pan Pizza

Homemade Pan Pizza

Homemade pan pizza made with different themed toppings from clams casino, to Hawaiian and Greek make for perfect party hors d’ oeuvres! Everyone seems to find their favorite flavors. When the sizzling pan pizza comes out of the oven heads turn especially when the aromas from the garlic, clams, bacon, onions and peppers fill the air!

The wonderful thing about all the different themed toppings for your pan pizza is you don’t need much in terms of quantity. The dough you make the day before, but if you forgot or didn’t have time it will still work if you make it the same day. If you make the dough the same day you don’t put it into the frig but let it proof for an hour and a half in a warm spot to develop some of that texture and flavor. The whole idea behind the “proofing in the refrigerator” is it let’s you do other things while the dough slowly rises developing a killer texture and flavor like in my delicious “Icebox Dinner Rolls”. So take advantage of this refrigerator method, you will be happy you did. 

As for my pizza sauce, it couldn’t get any easier because it’s puréed only, not cooked. If you go into a pizza place and inquire about their sauce the majority will tell you the tomato sauce is raw. I know because I have done just this, but they don’t always like to give away their pizza secrets so easily. To the raw, whole peeled tomatoes I add a garlic clove that I put thru the press, salt, pepper and some Italian seasonings and then it’s puréed. Keeping the tomatoes raw really compliments all those other strong flavors from the toppings yet not seeping into the background still being a pertinent player in the pizza game!

Have some fun with these pizza’s and customize those toppings on your homemade pan pizza! My favorite is the clams casino pizza because you have the best of both world’s, flavor’s and crispy, chewy edges. You can’t beat the garlic, clams, bacon and pepper combo. Drizzling on the extra clam juice not only makes it taste that much better but it let’s the crust get a little crispy while keeping the toppings moist enough so not to burn. With that in mind make sure to pour on any of the extra juices from what ever you are cutting up as when you are slicing up the cherry tomatoes. Another very important tip is to keep all the toppings, including the sauce and mozzarella, in the cold refrigerator until the last minute. This helps the toppings to cook properly giving the crust time to crisp up.

Enjoy the show and definitely think about some appetizer’s to go with these sizzling homemade pan pizza’s like my Caesar Salad, Crab Cakes, Baked Asparagus wrapped in Proscuitto, Spanakopita or my Roasted Chic Peas. All will bring a smile to your face I promise! 🙂

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Ingredients for 1 Sheet Pan Pizza Dough – 12.5″ x 17.5″ x 1″ tray:

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water 105º-110º
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 packet yeast or 2 1/4 tsp – not rapid rise
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for the pizza dough
  • 1/3 extra virgin olive oil for the sheet pan
  • Plus more olive oil to drizzle on top of the pizza’s before baking

My Pizza Sauce – Enough for 2 Sheet Pan Pizza’s:

  • 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes (drained if the pulp is watery) pureed with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 finely ground Italian seasonings, 1/4 tsp pepper and 1 lg garlic clove put thru garlic press

Ingredients For The Toppings From The Show for 2 Trays of Pizza:

  • Clams Casino Pizza – (for 1/2 the pizza) 1-2 cans 1 cup of Snows canned clams drained except 3 tbsp of clam juice per can to drizzle over pizza,  1/4 cup of chopped peppers, 3/4 cup sliced thick cut bacon, 1 garlic clove thru press, 1 tsp chopped sweet onions
  • Greek Pizza – 3/4 cup sliced cheery tomatoes, 3/4 cup sheep’s milk feta, 1/4 cup sliced sweet onion, 1/2 cup sliced kalmata or canned black olives, 1/3 cup chiffonade basil
  • Bacon Pizza – 1 cup thick sliced bacon (for 1/2 of the pizza)
  • Hawaiian Pizza – 1 cup sliced ham, 1/2 cup chopped pineapple, 1/2 cup sliced green onions with whites too

Directions – (Pre-heat the oven to 450º right before the pizza dough has it’s final proof and make sure the rack is in the lowest possible position):

  1. Warm the stainless steel mixing bowl with warm water for 5 minutes
  2. Empty out warm water and add packet of yeast to mixing bowl
  3. Add in 1 1/2 cups of water at 105º-110º to the yeast
  4. Add in 1/2 tsp sugar and let the yeast proof for 10 nminutes
  5. Tour on knead hook and begin to add in 3 tbsp olive oil, flour and salt
  6. Keep mixing and knead with hook after it forms a dough ball for 10 minutes
  7. Take dough off of hook and onto a floured counter
  8. Knead by hand for 2 minutes and place into a large oiled bowl
  9. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for 18-24 hrs.
  10. When you are ready to make the pizza make sure to take out of the frig and let the cold dough sit for approx. 2 hrs. – this will make it easier to work with
  11. When the dough has sat for 2 hrs. turn out onto floured surface and begin to roll out and stretch to the size of the cookie tray
  12. Pour 1/3 cup of olive oil onto cookie tray and place the rolled out pizza dough onto olive oil
  13. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 30 minutes
  14. Remove plastic wrap and stretch the dough if needed to the edges of the pan and using your thumb press the egde of the dough into the edges of the cookie tray to form a crust – this will become a crispy and chewy egde that you will love! 
  15. Spoon pureed tomatoes onto the dough and sprinkle mozzarella
  16. Add you desired topping and give a drizzle of olive oil across the top of the pizza and put into a 450º oven for 16-20 minutes.
  17. Definitely check at the 15 minute mark as all oven are different
  18. You want  the edges dark golden and the middle is sizzling
  19. Take out and let sit for 5 minutes
  20. Using a large spatula remove the pizza in one piece to a large cutting board and slice, or slice in the cookie tray

Sticky Buns at Dana’s

Sticky Buns at Dana’s

IMG_5612Wait until you taste these decadent sticky buns first hand! Such an easy recipe to follow making these homemade gourmet sticky buns that melt in you mouth! PERFECT for VALENTINE’S DAY morning or any occasion for that matter. The dough is light and chewy. The pecan glaze is soft and caramel like and the cream cheese icing is the best I have ever had. The cream cheese icing has a tablespoon of lemon juice giving it the perfect balance. If you don’t have lemons you can always substitute the citrus with pineapple juice. It’s nice to have the different options with these two toppings to offer to your family and guests.

The dough recipe for these homemade gourmet sticky buns couldn’t get any easier. You can literally make it in 8 minutes including the five minutes of kneading with the dough hook. Although, you do have to wait for eggs and buttermilk to come to room temperature. There isn’t any worrying about activating the yeast in a 105º-110º liquid either. It is important to buy a fresh packet of yeast though. It’s better to make sure it’s a fresh packet then dealing with one that’s been sitting in your cabinet for a while if you are not a big baker. It was very fun to play with the different sticky bun and glaze recipes that Dana and I had from Cooks, bon appétit and our own mish-mosh of things. That’s what makes the whole experience worth while, eliminating what doesn’t work and substituting what does. So we got all that out of the way for you here.

If you have a little time, planning for the homemade sticky bun dough, glaze and cream cheese frosting to be made a day or two ahead would be ideal! Once you make these for your family and friends you will become the honorary sticky bun chef!

You may want to whip up some other breakfast items if you can get that homemade sticky bun dough made ahead of time and try my kale or spinach-mushroom frittata, or my energy smoothies. Then again you could always do more of a brunch theme with salmon BLT sliders, or homemade gourmet salmon gravlax! Hope you enjoy the show 🙂

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Ingredients for the Dough:

  • 3 lg eggs room temp
  • 3/4 cup butter milk room temp
  • 1 pkt of INSTANT – RAPID RISE yeast or 2 1/2 tsp if measuring
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled until WARM – not hot and not cold
  • 4 1/4 cup all purpose flour

Directions for the Dough:

  1. Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk gently with a fork
  2. With paddle attachment add the eggs to a Kitchen Aid mixer and begin to mix
  3. Add in the buttermilk and mix to combine
  4. Then add in the yeast and sugar
  5. Mix in 2 cups of flour, butter and salt to combine
  6. Switch the paddle attachment to kneading hook
  7. Add in last 2 cups of flour and knead for 5 minutes
  8. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured counter
  9. Briefly knead to form a dough ball – 1 minute
  10. Spray a large glass bowl with Pam or similar
  11. Place the ball of dough into the greased bowl, spray the top of the dough and cover with plastic wrap
  12. Put in a warm place if available until it doubles – 2 1/2 hours
  13. While the dough is rising make your glaze
  14. Turn out risen dough onto a lightly floured counter
  15. Begin to roll out dough into a lg rectangle with a rolling pin – approx 20″ x 15″ size
  16. Sprinkle 1 3/4 cup of dk. brown sugar all over the rolled out dough leaving 1″ border around the edges
  17. Spread sugar with your fingers for an even coating
  18. Sprinkle the cinnamon over that – it may seem like a lot but it won’t be once you roll up the dough and bake it
  19. Begin to roll up the long edge of the dough keep a tight roll all the way
  20. Lay rolled up dough with seem side down and begin to slice into rolls
  21. Slice the dough roll with a serrated knife right down the middle, then slice each of the sides into 2 more equal patrs, then those into 2 to make a total of 8 equal – 2″ rounds
  22. Place the rounds onto the pan or pans with 1/8″ glaze on the bottom and let proof for 45 minutes (no need to cover with saran)
  23. Place into a 350º oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until a golden brown around the edges
  24. Take out the buns and let rest in the pan(s) for 10 minutes
  25. Run knife around the perimeters of the sticky buns
  26. Lay a cookie tray or serving platter over baking pan and invert to flip out sticky buns
  27. You may need to wiggle the buns with a spatula a little if they get stuck
  28. Using a spatula place onto serving platter
  29. Sprinkle some with toasted pecans – add more glaze if you want,  smear the cream cheese frosting over others or warm up cream cheese a little and drizzle over buns for a fancier presentation…enjoy 🙂

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Ingredients for Glaze:

  • 1 3/4 cups chopped toasted pecans – Toast pecan halves on a cookie tray in a 375º oven for 8 minutes until fragrant and lightly toasted
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions for Glaze:

  1. Add all the ingredients into a medium sauce pan whisking to break up sugar on medium heat
  2. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down and simmer for 4 minutes (the sauce should NOT be in a rapid boil … should have a tiny bubbling simmer)
  3. Take off heat and pour 1/2 – 2/3’s of the glaze into the bottoms of your baking pans with 1/8″ coating
  4. Place your rolled and cut up sticky bun rolls on top of the glaze and let proof 45 minutes

Ingredients for Filling in Rolls:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted melted butter 
  • 1 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

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Ingredients for the Delicious Cream Cheese ICING:

  • 2 oz. cream cheese – softened
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter – softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice OR pineapple juice
  • 1 tbsp light Karo Syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions for this Delicious Cream Cheese Icing:

  1. Put butter and cream cheese into the foo processor and pulse to combine
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and puree until smooth
  3. You can then warm this a little to drizzle over the sticky cinnamon buns or smear with an offset spatula or knife

Spanakopita at Dana’s

Spanakopita at Dana’s

When you bite into the buttery, flaky pastry layers with the creamy sheep’s milk feta and ricotta-spinach filling you’ll agree that Spanakopita, a classic Greek dish, is so worth the effort. We neatly fold this delicate pastry dough, with a tablespoon of this amazing spinach mixture, into triangles for the perfect little appetizer shape that just melts in your mouth. The #4 fillo pastry dough becomes this delicate shell making for an elegant nibble.

This recipe came from my good friend, Dana, who happens to be a wonderful chef. In fact, Dana and her husband are opening up a restaurant in early spring at The Goodwin Golf Course called Birdie Cafe. Dana is half Greek and half Italian so this was family tradition for her growing up making these with her mother. My great grandmother was born in Crete making me one eighth Greek. So with a hint of Greek lineage in my blood I’m thinking that’s what drives my palate towards these Mediterranean flavors that I adore so much.

Spending the day in Dana’s kitchen with our other college friend, Lynn, making these spanakopita was ideal considering we were having so much fun it didn’t seem like work at all. We didn’t even realize how much we were accomplishing. Lynn, who manage’s Sam The Clam Pub & Grub in Southington, CT introduced us to a Greek Mojito with Metaxa, a Greek liquer, that was very delicious.

The fact that you can easily make these spanakopita triangles ahead of time which freeze so nicely for future dates is ideal for parties. So start making this spanakopita now for your Super Bowl get together! Invite over a few friends to make the spanakopita and the task goes really quickly and it’s a lot of fun. Add in our Greek Metaxa Mojito’s and I think you have yourself a pre-party to the party just like the one at Dana’s.

To cut down on the time and effort and not forgo making this delectable dish you could make one big tray of the spanakopita. In a 9 x 13 x 3 (or similar size) baking dish lay down 9 full sheets of phyllo pastry dough brushing in between each layer with butter of course. Next, lay in the entire bowl of spinach filling, then 9 more buttered layers of phyllo with a finishing buttered coating right on the top. If you are baking this one tray be sure to refrigerate the the spanakopita for twenty minutes before baking it. This will firm up the pastry dough so you can run a knife through the top layers of dough cutting in only about 1/4″ to give you pre-cut lines in the serving sizes you’ll want. It makes cutting the spanakopita much easier after it comes out of the oven. Of course, a tray this size will need to bake for about 55-60 on 350º instead of the 20 minutes the triangles take. The phyllo pastry dough is very forgiving. If your sheets are larger then the pan giving you extra dough on the sides when lining the baking dish just fold them over. You won’t notice that the sides may be folded over after it’s baked because it will be all flaky and puffed anyways and still taste incredible.

You may want to serve up some other appetizers like Prosciutto wrapped asparagus, a caesar salad with the spanakopita, turkey stuffed peppers are one of my very favorite or maybe something light like an Asian noodle & shrimp salad only to end with Pavlova or chocolate avocado mousse! To make a similar dressing to the one Dana makes in the show check out my amazing TANGERINE DRESSING here!

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INGREDIENTS FOR Spanakopita – will make approx. 30 spankopita triangles :

  • 1 pkg. #4 Phyllo Pastry dough or Fillo pastry dough put into frig over night if frozen
  • 1 cup (1 pkg) thawed and fully drained (squeezed) frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1 cup sheep’s milk feta cheese
  • 1 lb. melted butter
  • 3 scallions finely chopped white and green parts OR 2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS FOR Spanakopita:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350º
  2. Take Phyllo dough out of the frig to bring to room temperature but still in the box
  3. Drain and squeeze ALL the water from chopped thawed spinach
  4. In a large bowl add 2 cup ricotta, 1 cup drained spinach, 1 cup sheep’s feta, scallions or shallots, parsley, dill, nutmeg and pepper – stir gently to mix and set aside
  5. Unroll Phyllo on counter top
  6. Cut the 15″ long pastry dough with a sharp knife into 3 3/4″ pieces getting 4 across
  7. Start to lay out the strips 4 across a work surface – always keep a layer of saran wrap and a damp dish towel on top of the layers you’re not using
  8. Brush thin coat of butter in between each layer til you have 3 layers down in each of the 4 rows
  9. Put 1 tbsp of ricotta-spinach mixture in the right bottom corner of the phyllo sheet – you can use a sm. cookie dough scoop to help keep the tbsp all the same size – this will help you to move along quicker
  10. Fold right corner over so the bottom edge lines up with the left side, like you are folding a flag
  11. Continue on up until you are at the top and used up all the pastry dough – brush a little butter on the last fold to seal it
  12. Put filled phyllo triangles onto a baking tray about 9 per tray
  13. Bake each tray of spanakopita triangles for 20 minutes on 350º until golden
  14. Be sure to let the spsankopita cool a little – the filling will be hot 🙂
  15. You may have 1/2-3/4 cup of filling leftovers so freeze it, roll up in pounded-out chicken breasts, stuff bone-in chicken breasts under the skin with the filling and bake or just buy extra phyllo…enjoy 🙂

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INGREDIENTS for the METAXA MOJITO’S:

  • 1 cup Metaxa Greek Liquer
  • 1 1/2 cups soda water
  • 1 fresh lime cut into wedges
  • 1 fresh lemon juiced = 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 4 mint leaves or basil leaves

DIRECTIONS for making the Metaxa Mojito’s:

  1. Mint leaves muddled with fresh lime wedges and light brown sugar in a glass cocktail mixer
  2. Add fresh lemon juice, Metaxa, soda water and ice, shake and serve with mint or basil garnish…enjoy 🙂

Easy Icebox Dinner Rolls

Easy Icebox Dinner Rolls

Laura, my loyal friend and follower making the icebox rolls for the holidays!

2014 – Laura, my loyal friend and follower making the icebox rolls for the holidays!

There’s nothing better than the aromas of homemade fresh baked bread, sweet onion and rosemary to wet the appetite! I was thrilled to find this icebox dinner roll recipe about fifteen years ago and have been making them ever since. The recipe card was from “easytobake” and I have tried to access their website but it doesn’t exist anymore. I have made many different bread dough’s in my life, kneading by hand, proofing, kneading again and it can all be exhausting. The whole idea behind icebox dough is that kneading is not necessary. The flavor and soft, tender texture develops as it proofs right in the refrigerator. Once you see how easy it is to make these melt in your mouth icebox dinner rolls you may never pick up store bought rolls again.

Laura making the icebox rolls for her 2015 Thanksgiving!

Laura making the icebox rolls for her 2015 Thanksgiving!

I have added lots of chopped green onion and fresh rosemary in my rolls but they are just as delicious plain too! It takes all of fifteen minutes to make this dough and can be made up to 4 days ahead. The dough stays in the refrigerator, hence the name “icebox” rolls. You take the dough out of the frig the morning of your dinner party. It get’s formed into dough balls mixing in chopped green onion and fresh rosemary. Then the rolls get lined up on a buttery baking tray and back into the frig.  Two hours before you want to serve the homemade icebox dinner rolls you take them out of the frig and let them rise for an hour and a half to two hours. When they have doubled in size, give them an egg wash for a little shine, then bake.

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Hope you enjoy these scrumptious “easy icebox dinner rolls” as much as our family and friends do.  They will be asking you for the recipe for sure! These homemade dinner rolls aren’t just for holidays they are great for any day. Try them with my turkey stuffed peppers where you can dunk them in the sauce and pepper juices, the Au Jus in my Boeuf Bourguignon, or Bolognese Sauce. After all this savoriness you may need a chocolate fix with my perfectly chocolate chocolate cake or for a light and refreshing sweet try this amazing Pavlova!

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Ingredients: Makes 24 Dinner Rolls

  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 packets active dry yeast (NOT rapid rise)
  • 1 cup warm water (105 -115 degrees)
  • 3 lg eggs (if you use extra large eggs you will need to add a little more flour to compensate)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 2 bunches of green onions chopped to 1/8″ pieces -(from white/greenish part to ends)
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1/3 stick room temp butter to coat the cookie tray or inside of the 10″x 15″ baking dish

Directions:  

  1. Using a KitchenAid mixer OR lg mixing bowl pour in the 2 packets of yeast then add in 1 cup of 105º – 110 º  water.
  2. Then add 1 Tbsp of sugar (from the 1/2 of cup of sugar that you add later) now because it feeds the yeast and really gets it activated.
  3. Let this sit for about 5 minutes and you will see it get foamy.
  4. Add in the eggs, melted butter, sugar, and salt and whisk- make sure the butter is not hot because it can kill the yeast if too hot
  5. Begin to beat in a 1/2 cup of flour at a time using the whisk the whole time until the dough gets too stiff to mix.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, place the big ball of dough into a large Ziploc baggy and put it into the refrigerator for 2 hours…. up to 4 days.
  7. When you are ready to make the rolls just cut the dough right out of the zip lock with scissors nice and easy…..then turn out the chilled dough onto a floured work surface and divide equally into 24 pieces with a pastry scraper
  8. Roll each piece into a ball then firmly push into the pile of chopped green onion and freshly chopped rosemary and re-roll into a ball again. You can keep some of the rolls plain.
  9. Coat 4 Tbsp of softened butter all over a cookie tray with 1/2″ sides or a 10″ x 15″ baking dish for taller rolls
  10. Place the dough balls into the buttered baking tray, cover with Saran wrap and let them rise for 1-2 hours depending how warm your kitchen is (they need to dbl in size) OR you can put them back into the frig until 1 1/2 hours before you need them then take them rolls back out of the frig and let them begin to rise and double in size
  11. Pre-Heat the oven to 375º
  12. Whisk 1 whole egg with 1 tbsp water and brush a good coating onto the rolls after they rise and before putting them into the oven
  13. Bake for 13-18 minutes until a dark golden color…it depends how warm the rolls got while rising so you’ll need to peak at them to see if they’re golden yet.

 TIP:   It’s a good idea to warm the stainless steel mixing bowl by running hot water into it before you begin so the cold bowl doesn’t take the necessary temperature of the water down.

Homemade Pasta at Vin’s

Homemade Pasta at Vin’s

Homemade pasta is something you have to try at least once in your life! You’ll see how satisfying it is when you taste the tender, slightly chewy texture of the fresh pasta. Making pasta has been a part of my life ever since I was young making homemade manicotti with my mother for the holidays. At my Aunt Pasqualina’s, the counters were always covered with fresh pasta drying out on dish towels.

This past weekend, my friends Lisa and Vin, graciously agreed to share their grandfather’s secret family pasta recipe with me. I had the opportunity to try out, first hand, a pasta tool that belonged to Vin’s grandfather which he called the “trucal iron”. It’s a special pasta cutting tool, a roller, made years ago from medal and wood that was eventually passed on down to Vin. The center spiral part of this “trucal Iron”, made of medal, does the cutting as you roll out the pasta. It has Wooden handles which he said his grandfather glued back on a couple of times. Vin also has a newer version of this “trucal iron”, one made of all wood but the wood spirals have begun to chip away from wear and tear. They don’t make some things like they used to. Vinnie also shared some precious memories of his grandfather and father making this homemade pasta for Sunday dinners growing up where his grandfather would creatively hang the pasta noodles from atop the kitchen cabinet doors to dry out.

There’s nothing like an evening with special friends making homemade pasta! This night of homemade pasta making at Lisa and Vin’s reminded me of how much I really love to do this. Everyone has their own way of making pasta and that’s part of what makes this experience so fun. Now as for this “trucal iron”, there are other pasta tools out there that mimic what Vin’s special pasta tool does like the ones below from Amazon. I have to say, I haven’t used any of those tools from Amazon because I use my KitchenAid pasta attachment which is another great option for cutting the kneaded pasta dough. You could even cut your thinly rolled out pasta into strips by hand with a sharp knife to get the stands of fettuccine, spaghetti, or what ever thickness you might like.

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Appetizers like baked coconut shrimp, baked asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, and, or a nice homemade Caesar Salad might be just what you are looking for to go with this homemade pasta of Vin’s! If you are looking for a meat sauce to go on this homemade pasta you should try my bolognese sauceOf course, there are other options like my Italian beef meatballsor Italian turkey meatballs. Hope you enjoy the show 😉

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 1/2  – 5 lg eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the kneading attachment on your food processor and add the flour
  2. Add the salt and olive oil
  3. Turn on the food processor to slow
  4. Add in 1 tbsp of water
  5. Begin adding in 1 egg at a time with the processor still on slow
  6. Add in the rest of the eggs
  7. Keep the food processor going on medium speed to begin kneading the dough
  8. Let knead for about 8 minutes until the texture turns into a smooth consistency
  9. Remove the pasta dough and place onto the counter
  10. Knead briefly with your hands and let sit for 1/2 hr.
  11. NOTE: Vin does not cover his pasta dough while it sits for the 1/2 so it can begin to dry out  a little bit
  12. Sprinkle some flour onto the counter or work surface and cut pasta dough into 8 pieces
  13. Begin to roll out each piece of dough to your desired thickness
  14. Sprinkle more flour on top of each thinly rolled out pasta piece and use the roll cutter below or a sharp knife or a KitchenAid Pasta attachment to get desired pasta strips
  15. Bring large pan of salted water to a boil and add fresh pasta
  16. Depending on the thickness, cook pasta for 4-8 minutes, test pieces of pasta for proper doneness
  17. Serve with sauce and mangia, mangia!


Perfect Pie Crust in 5 Minutes!

Perfect Pie Crust in 5 Minutes!

IMG_4416Who would ever think you could make this buttery, flaky, homemade pie crust in 5 minutes? After eating many of my Granda’s pies when I was little I was inspired to come up with a recipe that tasted just like hers. Unfortunately, I never got her recipe but have been making pie crust’s for over twenty years and I’m happy to say I came up with a pie crust recipe that is spot on to what my Grandma used to make . Granted, there are some pretty decent pie crusts available at the market and if you are making many pies it totally makes sense to go that route. If you are only making a couple of pies you really need to get busy and make this homemade pie crust!

Homemade pie crust in 5 minutes is just that but there two tricks to this amazing pie crust. First, all the ingredients must be very cold. Refrigerated butter cubes are already firm enough but to firm up the soft Crisco pieces it’s wise to put that into the freezer before adding it to the food processor. Second, you MUST NOT OVER WORK the dough! Over working the dough will build gluten’s like you are make a bread dough and we don’t want that for making this perfect pie crust in 5 minutes. We want our pie crust to be flaky in texture not tough and hard.

In my opinion, a couple of the best bakers in the world are the French and the Southerner’s. One loves butter and the other loves Crisco. So why not take the best of both worlds using both butter and Crisco to achieve these wonderful results. Not to mention, as I always do, I have tested many pie crusts recipes to come to this theory.

You need to try out this perfect pie crust in 5 minutes recipe just once to be convinced to start making your own. In fact, you will wonder why you haven’t been making your own homemade pie crust your whole life when it’s that easy to make and tastes like this! Enjoy the show and don’t forget to make this ahead of time popping it into your freezer until you are ready to roll it out for a pie or a quiche. I would transfer the dough from your freezer to your refrigerator couple of days before you are ready to use it in order for the dough to come to the proper workable temperature. Once you make your dough you really ought to try making an amazing Chocolate Pecan Pie  or Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie for your holiday. Don’t forget to watch Thanksgiving week when we roll out this dough and bake a pie together! For the Best Blueberry Pie ever recipe this is one that shouldn’t be missed. Enjoy 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 10 tbsp cold butter cut up each tablespoon into 4 pieces and into fridge until you are ready to add to flour
  • 1/2 cup cold Crisco cut into small pieces OR 1/2 cup REAL LARD from FIREFLY Farms OR 1/4 cup Crisco & 1/4 cup lard
  • 1/2 cup,  plus 2 tbsp cold water,  (keep in fridge until you are ready to add to flour)
  • 3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • NOTE: I even keep food processor container with medal blade in it in the fridge until you are ready to pulse ingredients
  • Chocolate Pecan Pie Recipe OR Best Blueberry Pie Recipe OR Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie Recipe

Directions:

  1. Be sure all items above are completely chilled
  2. It’s easiest to freeze first, especially for crisco or real lard, then take out of freezer and cut up or grate before adding to processor
  3. Add dry ingredients to the food processor and pulse twice to combine
  4. Drop the freezer cold, firm Crisco or lard pieces onto the flour
  5. Then add the butter pieces helping the pieces to separate with a butter knife as you drop them onto the flour
  6. Pulse 5-7 time until the Crisco and butter are pea size
  7. Now turn processor to “on” and slowly add water through opening – Note: this will take about 12-15 seconds for the dough to come together
  8. The moment you see the dough begin to come together, STOP, and PULSE 2-3 times to finish into a ball
  9. Take dough out onto floured counter surface – you will see little specs of butter and Crisco in the dough which will make for a buttery, flaky crust!
  10. Cut dough into two pieces, cover with Saran Wrap and into fridge for at least 30 minutes or freezer until you are ready ( If you freeze it allow 2 days back in fridge to come to proper workable temperature)