Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Greek Dolmades

Greek Dolmades.


Servings: 20

1 (8 ounce) jar grape leaves (about 25 leafs)
1 lb ground round
1 lb ground lamb (You can use two pounds of Ground round if you can't find ground lamb)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 (4 ounce) box tabouli mix (I cup raw rice if you can't find Tabuli)
1 onion, fine chopped any size you want, I prefer mild sweet onion
1 garlic clove (crushed or pressed into meat mixture)
3 (16 ounce) cans chicken broth (you can use just water if you want.)
4 lemons, squeezed or 4 lemon juice, equivalent
4 eggs


Drain, rinse and dry grape leaves.
Place off to the side.
In a large bowl mix ground round, Lamb, salt, pepper, minced parsley, onion chopped, crushed or pressed garlic and Tabuli (or rice); mix well.
Lay out one grape leaf stem up, place about 1 rounded tablespoon meat mixture near stem.
Fold stem up over meat mixture fold one side leaf over mixture, fold top over then roll the rest but not tight.
This is just like making a burrito.
I use toothpicks to keep the stuffed leaves together.
Place in at least 1 gal pot.
Continue until all leaves are filled and snug in pot.
10 If you run out of grape leaves that's okay, you can roll little balls of meat mixture and place in pot.
11 Cover all stuffed leaves with chicken broth adding water if you don’t have enough broth, more broth if you have it on hand (you can use just water if you want).
12 Bring the broth to a boil then turn heat to low, simmer and cook covered until tender (pierced with a fork) about 30 minutes.
13 Remove about 1 quart of broth from pot and let cool down a little.
14 You want it hot just not scalding hot.
15 In another bowl beat 4 eggs until frothy adding slowly juice from lemon.
16 Take the warmed broth and add to the egg mixture slowly a 1/2 ladle at a time still beating the egg mixture.
17 After all broth is mixed with egg & lemon slowly add to pot on stove.
18 Cover the pot and turn flame off.
19 Let sit for about 10 minutes then serve.
20 I like it tart and rich so I use more eggs and lemon then the recipe calls for.
21 You can experiment how many eggs and lemon you want for the egg lemon broth.
22 Leftover broth in pot makes good Avgolemono (Egg Lemon soup).

Vine leaves and other speciality food products available through

Friday, April 12, 2013

Snickers Cake

Snickers Cake

Snickers Cake
Tomorrow would have been – should have been – my dad’s 60th birthday. You may remember that last year on his birthday, I shared with you his very favorite cake, the one he would always request for his birthday. It’s a fabulous cake – a moist, chocolate cake with a river of cheesecake running through the middle and topped with sugared walnuts. It’s a very worthy birthday cake. However, if he were still here, I would have insisted on making something different and more elaborate than the cake he requested every year since it would be the big 6-0. I have no doubt that he would have been completely smitten with this cake and found every excuse in the world to eat piece after piece.
Snickers Cake
When we were kids, my dad apparently got some routine blood work done that showed his cholesterol as borderline high. My mom banished sweets from the house (my dad was an ice cream fanatic) and started whipping up homemade banana-nut oat bran muffins. The only problem? He went to work for eight hours a day. My dad worked for a small company not far from where we lived, so sometimes if we were out, my mom would stop by for a visit. One day we walked into his office and my sister and I saw tons of candy bar wrappers in his garbage can. Apparently, my dad was a big Snickers fan. You know little kids love to tattle… especiallyif they get to tattle on their parents. It took all of two seconds for my sister and I to let my mom in on our discovery. We totally busted my dad for sneaking candy at work while my mom was making batch-after-batch of bran muffins. Sorry Dad!
Snickers Cake
I’ve had the idea for this cake bouncing around in my head since last summer, but remembering that moment of finding those candy bar wrappers, I knew I wanted to save the recipe to commemorate my dad’s birthday. I’m so glad that I did – it’s definitely a special occasion cake that he would have absolutely appreciated.
Snickers Cake
I started with the chocolate cake that I used for the six-layer chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow filling and malted chocolate frosting, only left it at three layers instead of dividing it into six. For the filling, I used the peanut nougat from the homemade Snickers bar recipe, along with a smear of salted caramel sauce. I then frosted the whole cake with a thin layer of salted caramel buttercream and topped it with a milk chocolate ganache and chopped peanuts. That’s a mouthful!
Like I said, I totally delved into “special occasion” cake territory here, and it might be one of the best cakes that I’ve ever made. It truly tastes just like a Snickers bar. If I had to guess, it’s the nougat filling that totally makes it.
Snickers Cake
As is always the case, commemorating the birthday of someone who is no longer with us is bittersweet. I love to think about the time we shared, but of course wish that he were still here. It’s been a little over 14 years since he passed away and I was only a week past my 18th birthday when it happened. As I get closer to having spent just as much of my life without him as I did with him, it’s a strange feeling, but I continue to relish all of the wonderful memories of the time I did get to share with him. This cake is a celebration of that time, and of him.
Happy Birthday, Dad! I know you would love this cake… I’ll have a slice for you :) xoxo
Snickers Cake


yield: 12 to 16 servings
prep time: 3 hours 30 minutes
cook time: 32 minutes
total time: 4 hours
A cake reminiscent of a Snickers bar - chocolate cake with a peanut nougat filling, covered in a salted caramel buttercream and topped with a milk chocolate ganache and chopped peanuts.


For the Cake:
2½ cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup + 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1½ cups strong black coffee, hot
¾ cup vegetable oil
4½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Nougat Filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup evaporated milk
1½ cups marshmallow fluff
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped
For the Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup salted caramel sauce
2 cups powdered sugar
For the Milk Chocolate Ganache:
8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces (½ cup) heavy cream
For the Assembly & Garnish:
Additional salted caramel sauce
Chopped peanuts


1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans, tapping out excess; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you're using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).
4. Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
5. Make the Nougat Filling: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Fold in the peanuts. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it in the cake. You can do this leaving it at room temperature or you can pop it into the refrigerator to speed up the process. Be sure to give a stir occasionally as it cools.
6. Make the Frosting: Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes (I like to use the whisk attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, but it's not necessary). Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.
7. Assemble the Cake: If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with half of the nougat filling and then spread a couple spoonfuls of the salted caramel sauce over top to evenly cover the nougat filling. Top with a second cake layer and cover with the remaining nougat filling and top with caramel sauce. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the salted caramel frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set.
8. Make the Chocolate Ganache: While the cake chills, make the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Begin whisking the mixture in the center, gradually working your way outward until the ganache is completely smooth. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened slightly, yet still a pourable consistency.
9. Garnish the Cake: Transfer the ganache to a 2-cup measuring cup. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward and flow over the sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. To finish garnishing, drizzle some additional salted caramel sauce over the top and side of the cake, and top with chopped peanuts. Keep the cake refrigerated, removing it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to serving.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Green Tea and Red Rice Swirl Bread

Green Tea and Red Rice Swirl Bread

Green tea and red rice add more than color and an East Asian twist to this soft bread loaf. Lightly enriched with sugar, butter, and an egg yolk, the subtle tastes of both ingredients pull through along with their many nutritional benefits.
The health benefits of green tea are well-documented, but red rice may be a bit unusual depending on your location. It is mainly used as a natural coloring agent in Chinese cuisine and as a dietary supplement known tocontrol cholesterol. I consider this bread a tasty way to recover from sugarand chocolate eating sprees.
I meant to join Boaz’s Bread Baking Day for colorful breads but it got buried under a ton of unfinished posts. All three of them. I’m blaming all that sugarI’ve been having lately.

Green Tea and Red Rice Swirl Bread

makes one 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf
Green Tea Red Rice Bread Dough

Dough Formula:

Ingredients                  Volume          Ounces          Grams
all-purpose or bread flour    2 1/3 cups         10.6          300
instant yeast                 1 1/2 tsp            .2            5
granulated sugar                  2 tbsp + 1 tsp  1.1           30
kosher salt                       1 tsp            .1            4
egg yolk                          1                .7           20
water, lukewarm                 2/3 cup           5.6          160
unsalted butter, melted           2 tbsp           .8           24

For the Green Tea and Red Rice Pastes:

1 tablespoon powdered or finely ground green tea leaves + 2 teaspoons hot water
1 tablespoon ground red rice + 2 teaspoons hot water


Mix             Mix all of the ingredients except the green tea and
                red rice pastes until a shaggy ball of dough is formed.

Knead           5 to 6 minutes

Divide          2 pieces

Knead           Smear the green tea and red rice paste to each of the
                two pieces of dough. Continue kneading each piece of
                dough separately until a smooth and pliable ball of
                dough is formed and the pastes are thoroughly
                incorporated, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Bulk Ferment    1 hour at room temperature

Shape           Stretch each piece of dough into a rectangular shape
                and place one on top of the other. Roll tightly
                beginning from the short edge of the rectangle, as
                illustrated in this recipe for Frisian sugar bread.
Green Tea Red Rice Bread Shaping
Preheat Oven    350ºF/175ºC

Final Proof     60 to 90 minutes at room temperature, or until
                almost doubled in size

Bake            Bake for 40 to 50 minutes at 350ºF/175ºC, rotating the
                loaf halfway through baking if necessary.

Cool            At least 30 minutes
Green Tea Red Rice Bread Crust
Green tea and red rice swirl bread crust.
Green Tea Red Rice Bread Crumb
You are relaxed. You are getting very relaxed.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

makes about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream, depending on overrun
Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Recipe - Churned


2 1/4 cups whole milk (18.5 ounces / 525 grams)
1 1/4 cups dulce de leche (14 ounces / 396 grams)
1/2 cup heavy cream (4.6 ounces / 130 grams)
a splash of vanilla extract
a pinch of salt


Special Equipment:


  1. In a heavy saucepan, heat the milk and dulce de leche just to a boil, stirring until the dulce de leche is dissolved.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt.
  3. Cool completely at room temperature. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
  4. Churn, churn, churn.
  5. Serve immediately for a soft-serve consistency or store in an airtight container and freeze.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Make your own KFC!

Now, here in New Zealand, we are not allowed to refer to KFC as "Kentucky Fried Chicken", even though it is the same. In New Zealand, KFC is "Kiwi For Chicken".

Legality gone mad! Just like Cadbury "copyrighting" the colour purple!

Anyhow, here is a recipe for KFC, no matter WHAT you call it!


150 grams of all purpose flour, mixed with “secret” spices, as listed below. This gives the KFC original fried chicken its crispiness. KFC is famous for its extra crispy recipes. It has its own patented cooking appliances. Check the list below for 11 secret herbs in KFC’s original fried chicken.

1 can of Tomato Soup.

2 eggs

The eggs not only provide flavor to the chicken but also help the spiced flour adhere. If you do not add eggs, the flour may not stick to the chicken. The eggs give a good flavor to the chicken and make it sticky enough for plenty of seasoned flour batter to stick to.”
2/3 cup of milk.

Milk provides required amount of moisture to the fried chicken.
Vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan, about 1/2 inch deep.

The 11 secret herbs in KFC’s original fried chicken recipe are as follows

1/3 tablespoon of salt
1/3 tablespoon of oregano
2 tablespoon of garlic salt
1/2 tablespoon of thyme
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon of basil
1 tablespoon of celery salt
1 tablespoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of dry mustard
4 tablespoon of paprika
2 tablespoon of Mono Sodium Glutamate (Accent)

How to make KFC original fried chicken?

Read the steps and you can easily learn.

Take a bowl and beat the eggs thoroughly with the help of rotary eggbeater. Pour the milk into the beaten eggs and whisk the eggs and milk to blend them.

In another bowl mix the flour and soup.

Dip the chicken pieces in the egg and milk batter. Make sure the batter covers the chicken completely. To get the perfect marinade and to allow time for the milk to make the chicken juicy inside, soak it for 12 hours.

Then roll it in the flour mixture to coat it completely.

Repeat the above two step to make it extra crispy.

Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan. Fry the chicken pieces in the frying pan on a low frame. KFC uses pressure fryers for this, to ensure the perfection of its chicken delicacies. Cook for 20-30 minutes, turning frequently, until golden-brown.

Place the fried chicken pieces on a paper towel to drain the oil.

Serve it with gravy for better flavor.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Orange Muffins

Orange Muffins

These muffins are so fluffy, barely sweet, with a fresh orange flavor. They really just melt in your mouth. Perfect for breakfast or a mid afternoon snack. You can even have one with tea after dinner.  The recipe calls for sour cream which I believe is what makes these muffins cake-like and very moist. You will really enjoy this one.

For the muffins:

1 cup milk
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 sticks (16 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1½ tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
Zest of 1 orange
For the glaze:
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tsp. orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line muffin pan with paper liners.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the milk, orange juice, sour cream, eggs and melted butter.  Whisk together to blend.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend just until incorporated.  Fold in the orange zest with a spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups.  Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  

To make the glaze, combine the orange juice, confectioners’ sugar, and orange zest in a small bowl. Whisk together until smooth, adding more juice if necessary to achieve your preferred consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the muffins while they are still warm. Allow the glaze to set before serving.  Store in an airtight container.

Chicken with Green Olives over Couscous

Chicken with Green Olives over Couscous

This is a North African dish that I highly recommend you try. The recipe is from the Cooking Light Chicken cookbook that I purchased from TJ Max. I really enjoyed the flavors that the olives brought to this dish. Did you know that 85% of the caloric content of olives is monounsaturated fats? The monounsaturated fats in olives helps lower LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) levels and also prevents the buildup of plaque along artery walls. But me mindful that some olives may be high in sodium. So enjoy in moderation.

2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
4 chicken thighs, skin removed
1 cup chopped onion
3 lg garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp minced ginger (I used the ground ginger in a jar)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
dash of red pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken broth
2/3 cups (about 16) pitted green olives
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
 chopped cilantro, for garnish
Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper (I always "wash" chicken with some lemon juice before seasoning), add to the pan, and cook for about 5 minutes on each side until browned on both sides. Remove chicken and set aside.

Reduce head to medium. Add the onion and next 8 ingredients to the same skillet. Season with black pepper. Cook for 5  minutes then add the broth and bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the pan and reduce the heat. Simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes or until the chicken is done. Discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaf.

The recipe says to put the olives in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, drain, and repeat this procedure once more. I was reluctant whether or not to do this step. I boiled the olives in water once then decided it was a waste of time.

Add the olives and lemon juice to the chicken mixture. Serve over couscous. Sprinkle with cilantro.