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September 2009

Best Individual Chocolate Souffles with Valrhona Bittersweet Chocolate

Also a featured Recipe of the Week on the popular food blog - "One for the Table" -

Check it out here - One for the Table

Choco souffle 

These individual soufflés are handy for dinner parties because they can be made ahead and kept in the freezer and baked when needed. Cook’s Illustrated suggests a Mocha alternative by adding one tablespoon of instant coffee powder dissolved in one tablespoon of hot water and add to the chocolate mixture with the vanilla. Valrhona or Callebaut chocolate is best, but Ghirardelli will work as well.

Individual Valrhona Chocolate Souffles

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces, plus more for coating ramekins

8 ounces Valrhona bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped coarse

1/8 teaspoon table salt 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 tablespoon orange liqueur , preferably Grand Marnier

6 large egg yolks 

8 large egg whites 

1/3 cup granulated sugar , plus 1 tablespoon for coating the dishes

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar 



1.     Coat eight 1-cup ramekins with some softened butter, then coat inside of dish evenly with the 1 tablespoon sugar; refrigerate until ready to use.

2.     Melt butter and chocolate in a large bowl set over pan of simmering water. Turn off heat, stir in salt, vanilla, and liqueur; set aside.

3.    Bring the 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons water to boil in small saucepan, then simmer until sugar dissolves. With mixer running, slowly add this sugar syrup to egg yolks; beat until mixture triples in volume, about 3 minutes. Fold into chocolate mixture. Clean beaters.

4.    Beat egg whites at medium low speed until frothy, 1-2 minutes; add cream of tartar and increase speed to medium-high and beat to soft peaks, 1-2 minutes; add confectioners’ sugar; continue beating to stiff peaks, 2-4 minutes. (Mixture should just hold the weight of a raw egg in the shell when the egg is placed on top.)

5. Beat in one-quarter of whipped whites into chocolate mixture by hand with whisk. With large rubber spatula, gently fold remaining whites into mixture until just incorporated.  Fill each ramekin almost to rim, wiping excess filling from rim with wet paper towel.

6.    To Store: Cover each ramekin tightly with plastic wrap and then foil and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours (or up to 1 month)

7.    To Serve: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap ramekins and spread them out over a baking sheet. Bake until fully risen, about 20-25 minutes. (if baking without freezing, reduce baking time to 12-15 minutes. (Soufflé is done when fragrant and fully risen. Use two spoons to pull open the top and peek inside. If not yet done, place back in oven.) Serve immediately.

8.    Optional: Placing a “collar” around the ramekin, gives the souffle a much higher rise. Simply make a foil collar by securing a strip of foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray around each ramekin so that it extends about 2 inches above the rim. Tape the foil with Scotch tape to hold it in place.

Beating egg whites...


Choc souffle egg whites


Choc souffle egg whites whisk 


Folding egg whites into chocolate mixture...



Choc souffle folding


Choco souffle blended


Choc souffle prebake 


Choco souffle foil wrapped


Moist Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin muffins seeds

I use pumpkin all year long, but it’s especially nice during the autumn months. These muffins are lightly sweetened with brown sugar, and stay very moist.  Pumpkin works particularly well with whole wheat and creates a very tender muffin. This recipe also works as a bread, just pour the batter into a greased 9x5 loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

½ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. cloves

1 stick butter, room temperature or 1/2 canola oil

1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

¼ cup sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

1 can (15-ounce) pumpkin

¾ cup finely chopped pecans

¾ cup golden raisins or dried cranberries, optional

Pumpkin seeds, for sprinkling muffin tops, optional

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

Whisk flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a small bowl.

Cream butter and sugars in large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of mixing bowl. Beat in vanilla and pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients, mixing gently until evenly moistened. Stir in nuts and raisins.

Use large ice cream scoop to divide batter evenly among cups. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, if desired. Bake 20-24 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then finishing cooling on rack.

Classic Snickerdoodles

 Snickerdoodles 2 jpg 

Snickerdoodles are a New England favorite, but the exact origin of the cookie seems to be a mystery. The Joy of Cooking claims that Snickerdoodles are probably German in origin, and that the name is a corruption of the German word Schneckennudeln, which means "snail dumpling.  A different author suggests that the word "snicker" comes from the Dutch word snekrad, or the German word Schnecke, which both describe a snail-like shape. Whatever the origin, they are a delicious cookie with crisp edges and soft and chewy centers with a lovely buttery sweet cinnamon flavor.

2 1/2 cups flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder (or 2 tsp. cream of tartar and 1 tsp. soda)

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp. salt

1 ½ cups sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs, at room temperature


4 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1.    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 or 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2.    Sift flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl and set aside

3.    Combine the coating ingredients in small bowl and set aside.

4.    Beat sugar, butter and vanilla on medium speed for 1 minute.

5.    Add eggs and beat until blended, about 30 seconds.

6.    Add half the flour mixture and beat on low for 10 seconds.

7.    Scrape bowl down and add remaining flour and blend on low speed for about 25 seconds.

8.    Measure out generous tablespoons and quickly roll them into balls with your hands.

9.    Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.

10. Bake until the centers have risen and slightly cracked, 10-12 minutes. Cool cookies on the baking sheet. Store in airtight container or freeze for up to 2 weeks.


Freshly grated nutmeg makes all the difference…

  Grated nutmeg


  Cookie batter

 Snickerdoodle balls


The Best Margaritas with Fresh Lime


The real secret to a great Margarita is choosing the best tequila, so save these for special occasions with just a few friends. Start this recipe the day before your party – it’s worth it. The longer the zest and juice mixture is allowed to steep, the more developed the citrus flavors in the finished margaritas - the full 24 hours is best, although the margaritas will still be great if the mixture is steeped only for the minimum 4 hours.


  Download The World’s Fresh Lime Best Margaritas


4 teaspoons grated lime zest 

1/2 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 medium limes

4 teaspoons grated lemon zest 

1/2 cup lemon juice from 2 to 3 medium lemons

1/4 cup superfine sugar 

 pinch table salt 

2 cups crushed ice 

1 cup 100 percent agave tequila , such as Don Julio Reposado Tequila

¼ cup Grand Marnier

¼ cup Triple Sec


1.    Combine lime zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and salt in large liquid measuring cup; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until flavors meld,  24 hours.

2.    Divide 1 cup crushed ice between 4 or 6 margarita or double old-fashioned glasses. Strain juice mixture into 1-quart pitcher or cocktail shaker. Add tequila, Grand Marnier, and Triple Sec, and remaining crushed ice; stir or shake until thoroughly combined and chilled, 20 to 60 seconds. Strain into ice-filled glasses; serve immediately.


Moist Corn Bread


Moist Corn Bread



1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , (7 1/2 ounces) 

1 cup yellow cornmeal (5 1/2 ounces)

2 teaspoons baking powder 

1/4 teaspoon baking soda 

3/4 teaspoon table salt 

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (1 3/4 ounces)

3/4 cup frozen corn (3 1/2 ounces), thawed

1 cup buttermilk 

2 large eggs 

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly



1.     Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl until combined; set aside.


2.    In food processor or blender, process brown sugar, thawed corn kernels, and buttermilk until combined, about 5 seconds. Add eggs and process until well combined (corn lumps will remain), about 5 seconds longer.


3.    Using rubber spatula, make well in center of dry ingredients; pour wet ingredients into well. Begin folding dry ingredients into wet, giving mixture only a few turns to barely combine; add melted butter and continue folding until dry ingredients are just moistened. Pour batter into prepared baking dish; smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; invert cornbread onto wire rack, then turn right side up and continue to cool until warm, about 10 minutes longer. Cut into pieces and serve.

Moist and Tender Peanut Butter Muffins

Pb muffins final 

My sister called me raving about these muffins that she had found in the Williams-Sonoma “Muffins and Quick Breads” book, so i was excited to test the recipe. They’re not overly sweet and have a nice delicate peanut butter flavor. They’d be great served with a main course like Pad Thai or Curry Chicken, or serve them in the morning with honey and butter.

Peanut Butter Muffins


2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup packed Light Brown sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon Baking powder

1/2 tsp Salt

2/3 cup Creamy Peanut Butter

1 1/3 cups milk

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts


Preheat oven to 400. Grease 12 muffin cups with butter.

1.    In a large bowl, toss together the flour, brown sugar, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

2.    In a medium bowl, beat the peanut butter until smooth. Beat in a few spoonfuls of milk until combined. Beat in the remaining milk and then beat in the melted butter and eggs. Stir in the chopped peanuts. Add  the wet to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just blended.

3.    Spoon into prepared muffin cups, and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the cups and then remove to cool.

Serve with honey butter.

Pb muffin batter  

Pb muffin batter tin  

Pb muffins baked

Creamy Chocolate Walnut Fudge

Chocoalte fudge pieces  

The Alaskan Fudge Company (http://www.alaskanfudge.com) is located in beautiful downtown Juneau, Alaska. They claim to have the best fudge in Alaska and after purchasing several boxes to take back to the cruise ship (and having none left to bring home) , I’d have to say it’s probably true. Their brochure claims that they use the finest chocolate, the highest quality nuts, fresh cream, and the purest extracts to produce the world's finest fudge. Of course their recipe is a secret, but I’ll share an easy one here that should satisfy any fudge lover. I like Ghirardelli chocolate, but I noticed large blocks of Guittard Chocolate on their counters, so you can use that as well if you can find it, or order online (http://www.guittard.com). The quality of the chocolate used will affect the flavor and texture of the fudge, so choose the best.

Makes about 2 1/2 pounds.


16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine

1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

1/8 teaspoon table salt 

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 

1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts  (do not leave out)


1.     Cut 12-inch length extra-wide heavy-duty aluminum foil; fold edges back to form 7 1/2-inch width. With folded sides facing down, fit foil securely into bottom and up sides of 8-inch-square baking pan, allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2.     Toss chocolates, baking soda, and salt in medium heatproof bowl until baking soda is evenly distributed. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Set bowl over 4-quart saucepan containing 2 cups simmering water. Stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is almost fully melted and few small pieces remain, 2 to 4 minutes. (do not overmelt)

3.     Remove bowl from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in walnuts. Transfer fudge to prepared pan and spread in even layer with spatula. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Remove fudge from pan using foil and cut into squares.

This fudge will change texture and become drier the longer it is stored. Store the fudge, tightly wrapped in plastic, in a cool place for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months. If frozen, allow ample time to let it reach room temperature before cutting.



At the Alaskan Fudge Company, the warm fudge is poured onto a large marble slab

Chocolate fudge 4  

Then it is carefully molded

Chocolate fudge 2  

Until it is dry enough to slice

Chocolate fudge 1   

Holland America's Bread Pudding


 Bread pudding 

Holland America’s Bread Pudding


Executive Chef Franck Tieban of Holland America’s Westerdam (click to see ship --Holland America Westerdam)  took time out of his busy day to give me a tour of the ship’s enormous kitchen. Chef Franck is extremely talented and very friendly, and enjoys talking with guests on board the ship. He was kind of enough to share his recipe for Bread Pudding.


Download Holland America’s Bread Pudding



Cinnamon Sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar 

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 


Bread Pudding

4 large eggs 

1 large egg yolk 

3/4 cup granulated sugar 

2 1/2 cups whole milk 

2 1/2 cups heavy cream 

3 tablespoons rum, bourbon or Grand Marnier

1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

1 tsp. lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 

1/4 teaspoon table salt 

12 ounces good quality American-style white bread (about 1/2 loaf), sliced 3/8-inch thick and cut into 1 1/2 -inch square pieces (about 8 cups) 

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan



1.    For the Cinnamon Sugar: Mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; set aside.


2.    For the Pudding: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 13-by-9-inch baking dish.


3.    Whisk eggs, yolk, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Whisk in milk, cream, bourbon, vanilla extract, nutmeg, lemon zest, and salt. Stir in 6 cups prepared bread; mix thoroughly to moisten. Let stand 20 minutes.


4.    Remove about 1 cup of soaked bread and 1 cup of soaking liquid to a food processor or blender and puree them until smooth, about 10 seconds.


5.    Pour puree into soaked bread and stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Scatter remaining 2 cups bread pieces on top, pushing down gently to partially submerge. Brush exposed bread with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake until pudding is deep golden brown, is beginning to rise up sides of baking dish, and jiggles very slightly at the center when shaken, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool until set but still warm, about 45 minutes. Serve with Crème Anglaise.


Crème Anglaise:


1/2 vanilla bean , halved lengthwise

1 1/2 cups whole milk 

5 large egg yolks 

1/4 cup sugar 

 Pinch salt 



1.    With paring knife, scrape vanilla seeds free from pod. Place seeds, bean pod, and milk in medium saucepan and heat mixture over medium heat until steaming, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and steep for 20 minutes. Uncover, return mixture to medium heat, and heat until steaming, about 1 minute.


2.    Meanwhile, whisk yolks, sugar, and salt together in medium bowl until pale yellow in color, about 1 minute. Slowly pour 1/2 cup hot milk into yolk mixture to temper, whisking constantly. Return mixture to simmering milk all at once, whisking vigorously and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until mixture thickens slightly, coats back of spoon with thin film, and registers 175 to 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 5 to 8 minutes. Immediately pour mixture through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl. Transfer to clean, airtight container, pressing piece of plastic wrap flush against surface to prevent sauce from forming skin. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 2 days.


Part of the enormous kitchen on the Westerdam


Westerdam kitchen



Trays of Bread Pudding baking in the large ship ovens


Bread pudding trays