mexican chocolate pound cake

January 23, 2014 § 68 Comments

The definition of a pound cake is a rich cake containing a pound, or equal weights, of each chief ingredient, typically flour, butter, and sugar.  Add chocolate, cinnamon, spicy chile and sour milk and you have a Mexican pound cake.  This cake is deeply flavored and encompasses such a lovely, somewhat spongy texture.  A wonderful stand alone chocolate cake; no adornment needed.  Simply cap with a dusting of confectioners sugar.



Mexican chocolate cake is a surprisingly delicious spicy cake if you are looking for something to do with your bundt pan.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 – 8oz. chocolate bar, chopped
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup chocolate syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Powdered sugar – optional

Preheat oven to 325°.  Melt the chocolate bar.  Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric mixer 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate, chocolate syrup, and vanilla until smooth.  Combine flour and next 4 ingredients; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a buttered and floured bundt pan.  Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and let cool completely (about 1 hour and 30 minutes). Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.


penne con pancetta e crema

January 13, 2014 § 64 Comments

Penne with bacon and cream.  This is what we had for dinner the other night instead of macaroni and cheese.  On a freezing late afternoon my teenage son mentioned how “cozy” it was in the house and he wanted a bowl of macaroni and cheese.  We checked the refrigerator and did not have enough of the right type of cheese.    However, what we did find was a bag of cremini mushrooms, bacon and some heavy whipping cream.  I know, it’s the New Year and we are suppose to be eating light.  How do you tell that to a 15 year old young man who eats constantly?!  He agreed with the prospect of this combination and I was happily pulling the pots out as well as the chopping block.


Perhaps the combination and texture of this sauce would be better with another pasta shape.  I only had penne on hand so finely chopping the mushrooms helped the bits find their way into the pasta tubes.  This is another recipe inspired by the late Marcella Hazen.


If you are craving a comforting carbonara type sauce this is it.  Eggless and wonderful.


I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 good quality bacon slices, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pound good quality pasta

F o r    t o s s i n g    t h e    p a s t a

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • reserved pasta liquid (if needed)

Wash, dry and finely chop mushrooms and set aside.  Place a large skillet on medium heat and add the butter and finely chopped shallots, cook until soft.  Turn up the heat and add the mushrooms.  Stir thoroughly to coat well.  Add salt and a few grindings of pepper, turn up the heat to allow the liquid from the mushrooms to boil away, stirring frequently.  Turn the heat back down to medium, add the bacon and stir while it cook for about a minute or two.  Add the cream and cook just long enough for the cream to become reduced and slightly thickened.  Taste and correct for salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat.  Set aside.

Choose an enameled cast-iron or other flameproof serving pan that can later contain all the pasta without piling it high.  Put in the 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup cream for tossing the pasta, and turn on the heat to low.  When the butter melts, stir to amalgamate it with the cream, then turn off the heat.

Drain the pasta when done, reserving one cup of the liquid.  Transfer the pasta to the serving pan containing butter and cream.  Turn on the heat to low, toss the noodles, turning them thoroughly to coat them well.  Add half of the mushroom sauce, tossing it with the noodles.  Add the 1/2 cup parmesan, toss again, and turn off the heat.  Pour the remainder of the mushroom sauce over the pasta.  Check for dryness and add a bit of the cooking liquid if necessary.  Serve at once right out of the pan, with additional parmesan on the side.

Serves 4-6

rye whiskey banana bread

January 6, 2014 § 70 Comments

I know, it’s the new year and we should be cutting back on spirits.  However, with three overly ripe bananas and this jacked-up banana bread recipe from Smitten Kitchen I just had to indulge with just two more tablespoons of rye whiskey, to be exact.  It’s a fabulous post over at Smitten Kitchen and you really should go read it and then bake some banana bread.  No mixer required, just smash and mix with a wooden spoon.  And, if you notice there is only 3/4 cup of light brown sugar.  This bread is naturally sweetened with overly ripe bananas.   My kind of sweet bread.


I n g r e d i e n t s

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons rye whiskey (not optional, well, ok…optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the smashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla, rye whiskey and then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

parmesan chicken cutlets

December 30, 2013 § 52 Comments

Impressive and expeditious are two adjectives which come to mind when describing these crispy, tender chicken cutlets.  You may ask your butcher to slice your chicken breasts into cutlets and it will not only save you time but also angst if your knife skills are below par. Serve with fresh squeezed lemon and a pinch of sea salt.  The market featured elegantly thin asparagus spears.  Served steamed with a dilled mustard sauce, which was wonderful with the cutlets too! Dilled mustard sauce recipe below.


I n g r e d i e n t s

  • ¾ cup flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 small skinless, boneless chicken cutlets (about 1½ lb. total), pounded to ¼” thickness
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon cut in half

M e t h o d

Place flour in a shallow bowl. Beat eggs in a second  bowl. Combine panko, parmesan, and mustard powder in a third bowl and season mixture with salt and pepper.

Dredge the chicken in flour, shaking off any excess. Transfer to bowl with beaten egg and turn to coat. Lift from bowl, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Coat with panko mixture, pressing to adhere.

Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet or a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook cutlets until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cutlets to a paper towel–lined plate and season with salt.

Serve with lemon and dilled mustard sauce.

d i l l e d    m u s t a r d    s a u c e

  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup mustard of choice
  • 2 heaping teaspoons freshly minced dill
  • 2 heaping teaspoons freshly minced chives

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

potato soup with smothered onions

December 16, 2013 § 38 Comments

Here it is.  The best potato soup I have ever eaten.  Honestly.  And it comes to us from the late Marcella Hazen.  The potatoes produced a naturally thick and creamy texture and along with the well cooked onions and Parmesan cheese this soup became an endearing flavorful mid week dinner on a freezing December evening.   We served it with a rustic olive baguette.  If you are a fortunate owner of this fine cookbook you will find this recipe on page 96.


I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds onions, sliced very thin
  • salt
  • 3 1/2 cups stock
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

M e t h o d

Peel the potatoes, cut them into 1/2 inch cubes.  Rinse in cold water and set aside.  Put the butter, oil, all the sliced onions and a healthy pinch of salt in a soup pot, and turn on the heat to medium.  Do not cover the pot.  Cook the onions at a slow pace, stirring occasionally, until they have wilted an become colored a pale brown.   Add the diced potatoes, turn up the heat to high and sauté the potatoes briskly, turning them in the onions to coat them well.  Add the stock, cover the pot, and adjust the heat so that the stock comes to a slow, steady boil.  When the potatoes are very tender, press most of them against the side of the pot with a long wooden spoon.  Stir thoroughly and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes.  If you find the soup becoming too thick, add up to a ladleful of stock.

Before turning off the heat, swirl in the grated parmesan and the parsley, then taste and correct for salt.  Ladle into individual plates or bowls and serve with additional grated cheese on the side.

roasted cabbage with bacon

December 9, 2013 § 61 Comments

While trimming brussels sprouts for roasting last week I had a thought.  These little gems are mini cabbages and I wondered if roasting a giant cabbage would be just as delicious.  I have eaten cabbage steamed, stewed, sautéed, braised, pickled in brine, and even raw in slaws, but never roasted.  And without a doubt adding a few bacon lardons would be delicious.  Indeed.


The texture of the cabbage was soft and the bacon crunchy.  The combination of the roasted bacon and the sweetness of the cabbage was truly one of the best things I tasted in quite some time.  I could not quit eating the crispy charred bits of cabbage before bringing it to the table. Served with parmesan chicken cutlets.  Recipe coming…next post.


I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1/2 head of cabbage, sliced 1/4 inch
  • 3 slices of good quality thick cut bacon, sliced 1/4 inch
  • drizzling of olive oil
  • sea salt & pepper

Preheat oven 450°F.   Put all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well coated.   Spread evenly onto a large parchment lined baking tray.  Roast for 30 – 40 minutes turning regularly using a spatula, until well roasted and bacon is crisp, yet still meaty.

Serves 4

simple tomato risotto

December 2, 2013 § 64 Comments


The recipe for this risotto comes from Tessa Kiros and her wonderful book Apples for Jam.  I often feature recipes from Tessa and it is only because every recipe she writes is outstanding and very simple to prepare.   My only problem is every time I prepare this risotto I never seem to make enough.  I have been wanting to make fried risotto balls with the leftovers, however,  this is well liked by all and we manage to finish off the entire pot every time.  Doubling the recipe is highly recommended, or quadruple if you are planning to have leftovers (which is what I am going to do next time!).   This recipe serves three.  I titled it simple because you do not have to stand over the pot continually stirring and adding broth.   You can just allow it to cook and stir occasionally.

It is suggested to serve this with little cubes of mozzarella stirred through near the end.  We have had it both ways, however, I prefer to leave it out.   If you like stringy melted mozzarella by all means add it at the end of cooking,  just before serving.

I n g r e d i e n t s:


  • 1/2 onion, peeled
  • 1 small carrot, peeled
  • 1 leafy celery stalk
  • 3 parsley sprigs
  • 1/2 small tomato
  • 5 cups water
  • salt


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, left whole
  • pinch or two chile flakes
  • 1 cup risotto (arborio or carnaroli rice)
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 large basil leaves, torn
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, to serve
  • grated parmesan, to serve
  • freshly grated black pepper, to serve

For the broth, put the onion, carrot, celery, parsley and tomato in a pan with 5 cups of water.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, then turn down the heat as low as it will go and leave the pan over the heat.

Heat the olive oil in a wide heavy bottomed pot.  Sauté the onion and garlic over low-medium heat for 5 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Stir in the chile flakes and risotto, and cook for another minute.  Add half the tomato purée, half the basil and 1 1/2 cups of the hot broth.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.  stirring now and then.  Add the rest of the tomato purée and the remaining broth, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the risotto is cooked (if it needs another few minutes or a little more liquid, just use hot water).  Tessa recommends you remove the garlic cloves and throw them away.  We keep them in and eat them!  Stir in the Parmensan and remaining basil.  Serve drizzled with olive oil and a good grating of black pepper and pass around the extra Parmesan.

lemony chicken and orzo soup

November 25, 2013 § 79 Comments


I am here to tell you this is the best chicken “noodle” soup I have ever had the pleasure of eating.  I actually made this soup twice last week.  Twice because after we finished the leftovers for lunch I could not stop thinking about it.  Three days later I set out to make a second batch.  And why not make it with your leftover turkey?


This recipe came from Bon Appétit Magazine.  In my usual fashion I slightly modified the recipe.  Honestly, I never set out to change what appears to be an already perfected recipe.  It just so happens I am usually without a particular ingredient and it is easier to use an alternative rather than run out to the market.  In this case, the recipe called for a medium leek.  I had plenty of yellow onions on hand and knowing the end flavor would be different it was not enough to convince me to run out for leeks.    This soup is Mediterranean in flavor and as you would expect from this blog, very simple to prepare.  Remarkably delicious.


For round two of the lemony chicken soup I decided to add carrots to the pot.  The carrots were wholesome, however, I preferred the soup to be somewhat sour from the lemon without the sweetness of the carrots.  Nevertheless, the flavor and comfort level was heavenly.  You cannot go wrong with either version.  And perhaps even top it with a little shaved Manchego cheese.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil + a little for drizzling on top
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 pound boneless & skinless chicken thighs
  • 8 cups stock
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 3/4 cup orzo
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Lemon halves (for serving)

M e t h o d

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat.  Add onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, 5-8 minutes. Add chicken and stock.   Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is fully cooked, 15-20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.  Allow it cool enough to handle.   Shred chicken into bite-size pieces.
Meanwhile, return soup to a boil.  Add orzo and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Ladle into serving bowls.  Top with fresh dill, a drizzle of olive oil and a few squeezes of lemon.

asparagus and potato frittata

November 19, 2013 § 57 Comments

With only two breakfast posts on this blog (dutch baby! and finnish strawberry pancake) I decided to post some of our favorite weekend morning meals.  I had asparagus in the refrigerator, however,  as you can imagine just about any vegetable may be used.  Keep in mind this recipe is for a very large frittata, enough to serve six people.   Good choice if you are expecting guests for breakfast during the holidays…


  • 3 russet potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups stock of your choice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 bundle of asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 1 inch length
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the potatoes and broth in a large ovenproof skillet. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, until almost all of the stock has evaporated and the potatoes are tender.

Add olive oil, asparagus and onion to the potatoes and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, turning to to coat well with oil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan, cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, or until the asparagus has become tender.

Turn on your broiler…

Beat eggs with half the parmesan, a little salt and pepper and pour it over the vegetables. Cover and cook over medium until the eggs stiffen on the bottom.  Sprinkle remaining parmesan over frittata and place under the broiler.  Keep an eye on it and remove when the top is golden and the eggs are set throughout, approximately 5 minutes.

Let cool slightly before slicing.

chicken cutlets with tomatoes and capers

November 11, 2013 § 53 Comments

I am sharing another Tessa Kiros recipe with you today.  Yes, I want to be Tessa when I grow up!  I absolutely adore her cooking and she has been a source of inspiration for years.  I love the simplicity of the recipe and it is pleasing enough to serve when you have guests.


Try to purchase chicken cutlets from your butcher.  If not available you may buy two chicken breasts and thinly slice them horizontally into two or three slices.

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (I used diced roma’s here)
  • salt
  • 4 chicken cutlets
  • all purpose flour, for dusting
  • 2 sage sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons white wine or water
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers or caper berries in vinegar, rinsed
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat half the oil with the garlic in a large nonstick skillet.  Add the tomatoes with a little salt, and cook over high heat until they are just starting to pucker.  Lift them out onto a plate.  Set aside.

Add remaining oil to the pan.  Lightly dust the chicken with flour on both sides.  Place the chicken into the pan, add the sage and cook over medium high heat until the underside is golden.  Turn over and season with salt.  Put the garlic cloves on top of the chicken if they look like they are going to burn.  Cook until the new underside is golden brown.  Turn the chicken again and season with salt.  Add the wine, put the tomatoes on top of the chicken and toss in the capers and parsley.  Let it bubble up and evaporate a little, then cover and leave for a couple of minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

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