Category Archives: Party Food

Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

I was too busy eating these lava cakes on Valentine’s Day and forgot to blog them.  Chocolate lava cakes, while so luscious and rich, are deceptively simple.  The “lava” is really just uncooked batter, pooling in the center.  I could kick myself for not blogging these earlier because lava cakes are also a perfect date recipe — if you’re cooking a dinner at home, the batter can be made earlier in the day and spooned into a muffin pan.  At just eight minutes cooking time, you can pop these in the oven while clearing the dishes from dinner, and voila! amazing rich delicious hot chocolate cakes.  While lots of lava cake recipes generally suggest serving it with a raspberry sauce, I took a twist on that and decided to just stick a couple of whole raspberries in the center of each cake.  Feel free to omit if you just want the oozy chocolate.  I also added cognac to my batter to give it a warm kick — raspberries, chocolate and cognac are my idea of a perfect combination.  You can serve it with some fresh whipped cream, or even ice cream.  (Mr. Kitchen will put ice cream on just about anything.)
Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Raspberry Chocolate Lava Cakes

Adapted from a Paula Deen Recipe
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Cognac
1/2 cup raspberries, rinsed (optional)
Butter a medium sized muffin pan and preheat the oven to 425°.
In a double boiler, melt the butter and add chocolate.  (For a makeshift double boiler, put a heatproof bowl in a simmering pot of water — it’s better to have the bowl touching the water than the bowl touching the sides of the pot.) As the chocolate begins to melt, remove the bowl from the water.  Continue mixing the chocolate and butter until perfectly smooth and fully incorporated.  Add the cognac and vanilla and mix together.  In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and egg yolks, and then add the sugar.  Mix into the chocolate.  Stir in the flour until smooth.
If you’re using the raspberries, spoon a tablespoon of the batter into each muffin space in the pan (assuming 12).  Put two whole raspberries into each muffin space, taking care to keep the raspberries in the center.  Spoon remaining mixture into each space.  Bake for 8-10 minutes on the center rack of the oven.  Cakes are done when the sides are set and the top is no longer runny.  Top with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, fresh whipped cream, ice cream or nothing at all!
Chocolate

OMG Chocolate

Isolating yolks for the cognac raspberry chocolate lava cakes

Isolating yolks for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Mixing in the flour for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Mixing in the flour for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Pouring the batter for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Pouring the batter for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

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Pumpkin Delicious

With Thanksgiving coming up, I have been all about the pumpkins.   Completely versatile, pumpkins can go savory or sweet and can be used in ravioli, risotto, pies, cakes, lattes — the list goes on and on.   Last year, for a “Pre-Thanksgiving” dinner with friends, I made a bourbon pumpkin cheesecake that was actually really easy and a fantastic addition to the fabulous spread of desserts we had.   I may make it again this year, perhaps with a salted caramel twist.  (I’ll admit, I’m easy prey for some of the food trends, but salted caramel is really just awesome.)  For our recent winery trip, I thought we might want sweet treats to go with the Empanadas so I made Spiced Pumpkin Doughnuts with a Maple Icing Glaze.  The confectioner sugar-based icing is the perfect complement to a well spiced pumpkin dough.  I’d never made doughnuts before and was pleasantly surprised by how easy they were to make.  The one tricky part was making sure that the shortening remained the right temperature.  Too hot and you burn the doughnuts — too cool and they become soggy and oily.  If you don’t have one, it’s best to invest in a candy/oil thermometer before trying to make the doughnuts.

Mr. Kitchen was my sous-chef on this one — we had a great time trying to make sure neither of us got third degree burns from splattering oil.   As Mr. Kitchen found out — it’s best to gently place the dough in the oil — dropping it in = nasty blisters.  There were the obligatory Dunkin Donuts “Time to make the donuts” references and lots of expletives as I grew impatient and tried rolling out the dough before it had totally chilled.  Don’t try that — it’s an exercise in futility.  Of course we just had to try the doughnuts out — you know, to make sure they were edible.  (I think we probably “tasted” half a dozen each.)  If this keeps up I’ll never fit in my wedding dress.

 

Pumpkin spice doughnuts with maple icing

Pumpkin spice doughnuts with maple icing

Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts With Maple Icing

Doughnuts  (Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

*This recipe makes over 20 small doughnuts (if you’re re-rolling out the doughnut holes)

2 tablespoons butter (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup pure pumpkin (canned is fine)

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

Shortening for deep frying  (I think I probably used nearly half a container — you will want your shortening/oil to be at least an inch deep)

You will need a candy/oil thermometer for this for best results.

Maple Icing

2 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

4 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon maple extract

The Doughnuts: In  a large bowl, beat butter with mixer on medium for about 1 minute.  Add the sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  Beat until combined.  Beat in pumpkin, buttermilk, egg and egg yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, stir in flour until well combined.  Cover and chill for about 2-3 hours.  After the dough has chilled, roll it out to about 1/8″ thickness (if you want thicker, bigger doughnuts, roll out the dough to 1/4″ thickness).  Cut with a floured doughnut cutter.  Definitely dip the cutter in flour in between cuts.  Re-roll out the dough as necessary (or reserve the centers for doughnut holes).

Keep a slotted spoon handy.  Clip the thermometer to the side of a deep pan and add shortening and heat until the temperature reaches 365-370º.  Very very carefully place the dough into the hot shortening.  With the slotted spoon, turn over the doughnuts after about 45 seconds to 1 minute and cook for another 45 seconds or so.  With the slotted spoon, remove the doughnuts and let drain on paper towels.  Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

The Icing: As the doughnuts cool, prepare the icing by beating together the confectioner’s sugar, milk and maple extract.  Drizzle over the doughnuts.  Best served warm or at room temperature.

Incorporating the flour into the pumpkin mixture

Incorporating the flour into the pumpkin mixture

Rolling out and cutting the spiced pumpkin doughnuts

Rolling out and cutting the spiced pumpkin doughnuts

Frying the pumpkin spice doughnuts

Frying the pumpkin spice doughnuts

Pumpkin spice doughnuts with maple icing

Pumpkin spice doughnuts with maple icing

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Easy Empanadas

A couple of weeks ago, we Kitchens went out on the North Fork of Long Island to take advantage of the lovely not-quite-Fall weather, wineries and pumpkin picking.   Restaurants aren’t exactly plentiful for a good portion of the wine trail on the North Fork, so I thought it might be a good idea to pack snacks.  (Otherwise we’d be two car-fulls of drunks on a Sunday afternoon.)  I decided on empanadas because they pack a pretty filling punch and are fairly easy to make in decent size numbers.  The wineries were super gorgeous! There were pumpkins and delicious looking squash and acres and acres of beautiful vineyards.

 

Now, I know I’m going to catch flack for my recipe.  I don’t use chorizo because I find a lot of it too greasy.  I also buy the dough — I’m sorry, but I’ve tried making it and no amount of kneading or tampering with recipes can get the dough to be like La Fey’s.  So do yourself a favor and just go and buy La Fey discs for these.  Trust me, it’s 10 times easier and they work beautifully in the oven. Goya also makes a decent empanada dough.

Chicken and Sausage Empanadas

Chicken and Sausage Empanadas

Chicken & Sausage Empanadas

The Dough/Discs

2-3 packages of the large La Fey discs.  The filling recipe below makes enough for about 24  (20 if you’re packing it in)  Extras can be frozen.

The Filling

4 chicken breasts (medium/large size), cut into small chunks

5 – 6 Italian sausages (hot), diced/chopped into small pieces

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup Chardonnay or other fairly dry white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 large Spanish onion (diced)

2 heaping tablespoons garlic cloves (diced)

3 Bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cumin

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 cup Spanish green olives with pimentos (pitted)

1/8 cup capers

1 green pepper (diced)

Egg Wash

1 egg lightly beaten with a teaspoon of water

 

I find that most of the La Fey discs are pretty well frozen when I buy them, so let these defrost while you’re cooking the mixture.  For the filling, in a large (12-14″ pan), heat the 2 tablespoons of oil and add diced onions and garlic and saute until onions are softened (5 minutes).  Add diced chicken and sausage and cook on medium high heat, stirring, for about 2 minutes.  Add wine, chicken stock, pepper, cumin, bay leaves, green pepper, olives, capers, salt (basically all remaining ingredients).  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, until meat is cooked and sauce has thickened (about 30 mintues).  After it’s cooked, let the mixture cool uncovered for about 20-30 minutes.

Take this time to pull apart the dough discs.  If you’re using La Fey, they’re generally not separated in the package by wax paper, so be very careful when pulling them apart or the discs will tear.  Preheat the oven to 350°.   Prepare baking trays for cooking — if you’re making 24 empanadas, you’ll likely need three pans.  Lightly lightly grease the pans.   For filling the empanadas — if you’ve got a calzone mold, this will be super easy.  Place the disc in the mold, spoon in about 3 tablespoons filling and close the mold, which will seal the seams.  If you don’t have a mold, it’s really just as simple.  Spoon the mixture on to one side, and fold the other half over so it forms a half-circle.  Use a fork to seal the edges (just like you would a pie dough for a two-crust pie).  Place on baking sheet and repeat for remaining empanadas.  Brush with the egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the empanadas are golden. You can serve these warm or at room temp, and they freeze beautifully!

Onions for empanadas

Onions for empanadas

Chicken and sausage empanada filling

Chicken and sausage empanada filling

Filling the empanadas

Filling the empanadas

Molded empanadas

Molded empanadas

Empanadas

Chicken and Sausage Empanadas

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How to Clog Your Arteries Part 1

For the past couple of years, one of my friends has thrown a Bacon Party.  (She’s evil, but obviously well-loved.)  If you don’t know, a Bacon Party is a potluck party featuring only foods that contain bacon (or fake bacon for the vegetarians).  Each year I gain at least 3 lbs from this party.  Let me tell you – it’s totally worth it.  This year I made a couple of dishes to add to the melee — bacon cheddar knots and a pumpkin pie topped with walnuts, brown sugar and, of course, bacon.   Sadly, Mr. Kitchen had to miss the party because he was working.  Luckily I came home with two giant Tupperware containers filled with treats.  (I know, I’m totally evil, but if I’m not gonna fit in my wedding dress — he’s not fitting into his kilt.)

The cheddar bacon knots were surprisingly easy, though in preparation for that and the pie, Mr. Kitchen and I fried up an entire package of bacon.  I could feel the cholesterol and fat seeping into my pores — kinda gross, but damn tasty!  For any of you who are thinking that a bacon party is a brilliant idea, it is, but I would recommend starting on some sort of cholesterol medicine now, followed by lots of fiber.   On the plus side (like bacon needs another plus side), at least I couldn’t actually feel the presence of my gallbladder after this year’s party.

Bacon Cheddar Knots

Bacon Cheddar Knots

Bacon Cheddar Knots

Knots Dough (Adapted Heavily From Nick Manglieri)

4 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 packet active dry yeast

1 2/3 cups warm water

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus oil to coat a baking (jellyroll) pan

3 baking (jelly roll) pans

Bacon Cheddar Filling

3/4 package bacon, cooked

1 8 oz package cheddar cheese (or any cheese you prefer)

Egg wash (1 egg, mixed with about 1 tablespoon water)

Combine flour and salt in large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix yeast into water and let stand for a few minutes until the water fizzes a bit (stir if it doesn’t begin to fizz). Whisk oil into water/yeast mixture.  Make a well in the flour and pour water into center.  Using a rubber spatula, begin to fold the flour into the water center, gently incorporating and mixing outwards until all of the flour is combined.  The dough will be very soft.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit until the dough has risen to double its size (approx 2 hours).  After the dough has risen, scrape it into an oiled jelly roll pan.  Lightly oil your hands and press the dough into the pan so that it is evenly filled. Cover the pan with plastic wrap (oiled) and let the dough rise again, approximately 1 hour.  While the dough is rising, cut the 8 oz block of cheddar into approximately 2 dozen pieces.  After the dough has risen for the second time,  use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into approximately 24 squares (6 length wise, four depth wise).

Preheat the oven to 350º. Cover 2 baking pans in foil and lightly grease.

Take a square of the dough and place about half a strip of bacon and 1 piece of cheese in the center.  Fold two of the opposing corners over each other.  With the other two opposing corners, twist them together, forming a knot on top.  Place the piece in the pan.  Repeat with remaining 23 pieces of dough.  Brush all of the knots with the egg was and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden.

Bacon Cheddar Knot Dough

Bacon Cheddar Knot Dough

Bacon cheddar knot dough

Bacon cheddar knot dough

Bacon Cheddar Knots

Bacon Cheddar Knots

Bacon cheddar knot dough

Bacon cheddar knot dough

Finished bacon cheddar knots

Finished bacon cheddar knots

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Well that didn’t go as planned…

I know that I’m a bit late for the Labor Day BBQ recipes, but I was a little traumatized after my attempt to make peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, only to have them turn out like golden and slightly burned hockey pucks.

I have a baking disaster every once in a while and I guess I was due for one.   I painstakingly put these little babies together, carefully piping some jelly into the batter, topping that with more batter.

Peanut butter and jelly cupcake batter

Peanut butter and jelly cupcake batter, pre-topping

I was worried that the oils from the peanut butter might bake quickly, so I took them out a minute before the low-end on the baking range, but to no avail.  Hockey pucks.  Mr. Kitchen said they were still pretty tasty.  That’s why we’re getting married.  Cause he’s got no problem eating my reject cupcakes.  He accepts my occasional baking screw-ups.  This pairs nicely with my usual ability to ignore the fact that his clothes never seem to make it into the hamper.*

Peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

Sad peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

I think maybe I’ve figured out how to amend the recipe to fix the peanut butter oil problem, but it will take more testing and patience than I’ve got time for right now.  Instead, I’m giving you my absolutely no-fail Oh-My-God amazing butterscotch chocolate chunk recipe.

Super yummy and man-o-man is this perfect with a glass of milk.  Speaking of milk, did I mention that Mr. Kitchen’s family used to own a dairy farm? I’m trying to concoct a death-by-dairy recipe in honor of our recent trip to Michigan.  If you’ve got suggestions, let me know.  In the mean-time…. Butterscotch Chocolate Chunks!

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

*Adapted very heavily from Nick Manglieri’s Modern Baker

(Makes about 12 large cookies)

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

10 tbsp softened butter (salted) (about 1 1/4 sticks)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

12 oz chocolate chunks (I tend to over-chunk my cookies, but I love em this way) — Note you can mix dark chocolate, bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate

2 cookie sheets (I like to line mine with foil, but parchment is also an option)

Preheat oven to 350º

Stir flour and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine softened butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla and beat with mixer until just mixed.  Then beat in egg.  Be careful not to over-beat this mixture, which will result in flat cookies.  With a large spatula, stir the flour into the wet mixture.  Add chocolate chunks and gently combine.  Drop heaping spoonfuls of dough on to cookie sheets lined with foil or parchment.  Gently press cookies down.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies have risen a bit and are golden.

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Gently mixed dough for Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Giant cookies!

Baked Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Baked Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

*Sometimes I go ape-shit over this.  Once it’s out of my system, I bake him cookies.

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Are You Ready for Some Football?

I mentioned last week that I am dying for fall to begin.  It coincides with all my favorite things — the weather finally turning from ungodly to tolerable and then downright pleasant, the return of hearty recipes, sweaters, school supplies and football.  I love football.  I’m one of those crazy people who yells and screams at the TV during games, because in my sports-induced insanity, I think the players can actually hear me.  (I’m looking at you Manning.)   Mr. Kitchen and I started getting serious right around the start of football season,  and he says he was really pleasantly surprised when he found out I was a fan of the game.  He gets a kick out of my insane TV ranting.  So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to game-time snacks, I’ve got em covered.  Trust me, even if you hate the game, if you’re dating a sports-guy, you’re gonna end up at  at least one game.  You’re likely going to a Super Bowl party if nothing else.   Make these, and you are insta-Sports Girlfriend Goddess.

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Makes 2 thin loaves

I am including a recipe for the dough that has been adapted slightly from Nick Malgieri’s “The Modern Baker,”  but if you are short on time, most supermarkets carry pizza dough.  (Pillsbury makes a dough if you’re really short on time.)

Bread Dough

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt**

2  1/2 teaspoons active yeast (one packet)

1  2/3 cups warm water

3 tbsp oil  (olive is best, but vegetable will do)

Additional oil for coating the pan

Filling

3/4 lb very thinly sliced pepperoni

3/4 lb very thinly sliced provolone

Additional

* 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese optional (shredded) for top of bread

1 Egg, beaten for wash

** The recipe would normally call for 2 teaspoons salt, but I find that the pepperoni is salty enough on its own to balance out the bread, especially if you’re topping the bread with Parmesan.

The Dough — Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir well to mix.  In a separate bowl, whisk the yeast into the water and whisk in the oil.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour liquid into center.  With a spatula, begin stirring in the center of the bowl, gradually stirring from the center outward, incorporating more and more flour as you go.  Once the flour is totally incorporated, the dough will still be very soft.  Knead the dough very lightly, by folding the outside edges into the center — keep folding until there are no dry bits left.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk (generally 1-2 hours depending on the air temperature).  Lightly oil your hands and turn the dough over once.  Cover again and let rise, approximately one hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 º.

The Roll — Once the pizza dough is prepared, roll out half the dough flat into a rectangle approximately 18 inches wide and 12 inches long.   Lay out slices of provolone in one layer across surface of dough.  Layer pepperoni slices on top of provolone.  Starting at the top of the dough, roll edges downward horizontally so that dough forms a roll.  Press down on seam and twist ends to seal dough.  Place the roll on a tin-foil lined cookie sheet in a U-shape, seam-side down.   Repeat rolling, layering provolone and pepperoni and sealing for remainder of dough.   At this point, you can sprinkle shredded Parmesan on top of rolls and press cheese gently into dough.  Brush egg wash across entire top surface of each roll.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until dough is golden.  Let cool on pan for 15 minutes, then slice into 1″ wide slices.

Pepperoni provolone bread

Dough rolled out for Pepperoni provolone bread

Pepperoni provolone bread

Layer the cheese then the pepperoni for Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Rolling the dough for the Pepperoni Provolone Bread -- I ran out of provolone in the second loaf, but you can easily mix in some mozzarella.

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Brushing the egg wash on the Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

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