Saturday, March 23, 2013

Oysters Rockefeller

A friend recently requested Oysters Rockefeller for his Birthday celebration.  As I was trolling the web for a recipe to pilfer, I quickly found out that you just can't steal this recipe.

Some say that the original recipe went to the grave with its creator, Jules Alciatore, while others say the original recipe is a closely guarded secret which can only be found at the original Antoine's Restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Prep Time:  1/2 hour plus shucking
Cook Time:  6 to 10 minutes
Total Time:  1 hour
Servings:  About 3 dozen oysters

Compound butter ingredients

Finished compound butter


1 stick butter (1/2 cup) room temperature
2 tbsp finely chopped green onions, white and light green parts
2 tbsp finely diced celery
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chopped italian parsley
1 cup finely chopped watercress leaves
2 tbsp Pernod liquor
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

1/8 cup panko bread crumbs

3 dozen oysters - shucked and on the half shell

Rock salt is used to keep the shells upright during baking

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Prepare the compound butter.  Combine the onion, celery, Pernod, and fresh herbs with the softened butter in a small bowl.
  • Place rock salt on the bottom of an 11"x14" baking pan.  
  • Place oysters on the half shell on baking pan.  Add the compound butter to the oysters, with a dusting of Panko over the top.
  • Bake for 6 to 10 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Recipe Links:

Here is a simple version which formed the basis for my version from Chef John.

Here's how to shuck an Oyster 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Homemade Gnocchi

These days I'm interested in taking a more "homemade" approach to things.  I saw this post on's blog and decided this was something I had to try.   

Pronounced Nyoki, these fresh pillows of pasta are fun and easy to make.  These can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to 2 months.

Prep Time:  1-1/2 hours
Cook Time:  5 minutes
Total Time:  About 2 hours
Servings: 4

Cut and rice the potatoes, making sure they don't pile up in one spot

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tsp water

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp white pepper

4 tbsp unsalted butter
8 fresh sage leaves
1 large pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (or to taste)

Sprinkle potatoes with a good amount of flour and aerate with a bench scraper
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the potatoes onto a sheet of foil, add the salt and water and wrap.  Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Peel the potatoes while they are still hot, cut and rice the potatoes, making sure they don't pile up in one spot.  Let the potatoes cool completely before proceeding.
Continue to cut and gently lift the dough
  • To make the dough, sprinkle the potatoes with a good amount of flour.  Aerate the potatoes with a bench scraper and then add the salt, nutmeg, and white pepper.
  • Break up the egg yolks and pour them over the potatoes.  Cover the surface again with more flour.  Continue to cut and gently lift the dough.
  • Test the dough by gently squeezing it in your hand.  It shouldn't stick.  Add a bit more flour, if needed.
Sprinkle with flour and let the dough rest for about 5 to 10 minutes
  • Once done, shape the dough into a rectangle and fold it a few times, using your fingertips to bring it together.  Flatten the dough out until it is about the thickness of your finger.  Sprinkle with flour and let the dough rest for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Cut strips of dough, about the width of your finger
  • Cut strips of dough, about the width of your finger, and sprinkle the strips with flour so they don't stick to each other.
Cut into 3/4" pieces and separate them slightly and flour them well
  • Roll out each strip and cut the ropes into 3/4" pieces.  Separate them slightly and flour them well so that they don't stick together.
Shape the dough with a gnocchi paddle
  • You can leave the gnocchi as is or you can shape them with a gnocchi paddle.  Shaping the dough makes them look better and also creates a little pocket to capture the sauce.
Shaped gnocchi
  • To cook the gnocchi, bring a pot of cold water to a simmer and add the salt.
  • Gently place the gnocchi into the simmering water, stirring now and again, to make sure nothing is sticking.  Gnocchi only takes a couple of minutes to cook, so as soon as they float to the top, lift them out.
  • Separately melt butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat.  Add sage leaves and salt.  Toss gnocchi with sage butter and plate.  Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.
Gnocchi with warm sage butter sauce
Recipe Links:

Here's a link to the must see full video recipe that this post was stolen from.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Holiday Cake Bites

photo: Joanne Rice
These festive cake bites are a fun and delicious finish to any culinary gathering.  The decorating and arrangement possibilities are endless.  I prepared these for the Christmas Holidays.  They were so well received, they were reprised for the New Year.  

I titled this post "Cake Bites" to stress the difference between this technique and that used for the traditional yet similar "Cake Pops".  

Cake pops are made with prepared cake which has been crumbled, mixed with frosting, chilled, and then and formed into balls.  In my opinion, this approach results in a product overly sweet, dense, and hard to the bite.  This is also a lot of work.

Baked directly into their spherical shapes, these cake bites present succulent bites of cake.  The perfect serving size and the perfect amount of sweetness.  These are frosted with a simple and traditional butter based cake frosting.

Prep Time:   15 minutes
Cook Time:  30 minutes
Total Time:   2-1/2 hours (includes decorating and wait time)
Servings:     about 24 cake bites

Special Equipment:  cake pops pan

Cake Bites Ingredients: 

3/4 cup (125 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (120 g) butter
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
3 tablespoons (20 g) cocoa
2 eggs
3/4 cup (90 g) flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
24 lollipop sticks
1/4 cup light cocoa candy melts

cake frosting
assorted sprinkles


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease pan; set aside.
  • In medium saucepan, over low heat, melt chocolate chips and butter together; stir until smooth.
  • Remove from heat and pour into medium bowl.
  • Add sugar and cocoa; mix until blended.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • Add flour and salt; stir until blended.
  • Spoon batter into bottom half of pan (without holes) filling each so that it mounds over the top of the pan.
  • Place top half of pan on top and secure with keys.
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out almost clean.
  • Cool 5 minutes in pan, remove cake bites from pan to cool completely.

  • Cool 5 minutes in pan, remove cake bites from pan to cool completely.
  • Melt candy melts according to package directions.
  • Dip lollipop sticks into stick into candy melts and insert into cakes; repeat with all cakes.
  • Allow melts to cool to secure stick in place.

  • Once cooled, frost with your favorite frosting, and decorate with sprinkles.
  • Serve in any arrangement you choose.

Recipe Links:

Here is a Cake Pops Baking Pan video showing the entire baking and decorating process.

Grab them while the gettin's good!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Yorkshire Pudding

Also known as batter pudding or dripping pudding, these pastry like mini cakes are created by placing a small amount of batter into piping hot fat and baking at high heat.  Traditional yorkshire pudding uses beef drippings, but any kind of high heat tolerant fat will work. 

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  25-30 minutes (includes 10 mins preheat time)
Servings:  6


3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 eggs
3/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of pan drippings from roast prime rib of beef

Note:  You can also use vegetable oil if you don't have pan drippings - just call them "puffy popovers" or make up another name... The term yorkshire pudding is traditionally reserved for batter which is cooked only in greasy meat drippings...

Yorkshire Pudding served atop Prime Rib Soup


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Whisk together the flour, salt, and thyme in a bowl.
  • In another bowl whisk together the eggs and milk until light and foamy.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients just until fully incorporated.
  • Place batter in a easy pour measuring cup and let sit while the oven, pan, and fat preheats - about 20 minutes.
  • Place the drippings into a 12 hole muffin pan - about 2 teaspoons per hole - and place into the preheated oven until the drippings are smoking hot.
  • Carefully take the pan out of the oven and fill each hole about halfway.
  • Put the pan back in the oven and cook until puffed and dry, about 15 minutes. 

Recipe Links:

Here is the original video which inspired this dish.

Here is a link to the Prime Rib Soup pictured above.

Here is a link showing a fool proof method of preparing Prime Rib of Beef.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Potato Dressing

Recently, while daydreaming about this year's upcoming Thanksgiving turkey dinner, my mind wandered to a place, a place with a de-boned, slow cooked, fully stuffed version of the traditional family fare... 

I wanted a unique stuffing recipe to pull this off.  Most stuffings are fully cooked when initially mixed, and just need to be heated through.  I wanted one that would cook along with the bird and hopefully finish after 8 hours of cooking. 

This recipe started as an experiment, a "test run" so to speak.  Based on a "Traditional Potato Stuffing" posted by Kay Johnson on her blog "...and then I ate it!", this version is unique in that instead of using prepared mashed potatoes, I used parboiled and diced potatoes instead.

Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook time:  45 minutes
Servings:  8


1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon butter to sauté plus more for topping
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 russet potatoes
3 cups bread, torn into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup of chicken broth

Tip: Slicing potatoes lengthwise allows your potatoes to cook evenly. 

Dice potato halves into 1/4 inch pieces
Fully prepped potatoes


  • Peel potatoes and slice in half lengthwise.  Parboil in salted water for 15 minutes or so until 2/3 done.  Drain potatoes and place in the refrigerator to cool.  Once cool, cut the potato halves lengthwise and crosswise into 1/4" pieces.  Place in a large bowl.
  • In a skillet over medium high heat, add the oil and butter.  When the butter is melted, add onions and celery, sauté until almost softened 3-5 minutes.  Add in the spices, stir and continue to sauté until everything is soft and translucent, about another three minutes.
  • Hand tear the bread into 1/2" pieces. Place in the large bowl with the potatoes. 
  • Add the celery/onion/spice mixture to the potato/bread mixture and toss until incorporated.
  • Pour the broth over the mixture and toss again.  The broth will disappear into the bread.  Remember there is still moisture in the potatoes which will be released as the stuffing cooks.
  • Place all of the stuffing in an oil sprayed baking dish.  Place a few pats of butter on the top.  Leave the tops rough to brown.  Bake @ 350 degrees F for 35-45 minutes or until crisp brown on the top.

Recipe Links:

Here's the original "Traditional Potato Stuffing" recipe that served as the basis for this dish.

Here's a link to a crazy slow cooked bird video that inspired my Thanksgiving daydream.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Devil's Cupcakes

The original recipe for these cupcakes came to my in-box as "Coffee Kahlua Cupcakes". Little did I know that it was stolen from Paula Dean before it got to me...  Paula calls her version "Chocolate Cupcakes with Coffee Cream Filling".
My spin finishes with some dusted on cocoa and tuxedo chocolate covered expresso beans. 

These cupcakes are devilishly good
Prep Time:  25 Minutes
Cook Time:  40 minutes
Servings:  24-30 cupcakes


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
3 large eggs
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coffee Cream Filling:
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup coffee flavored liquor
1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Coffee Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee

Combine the dry cupcake ingredients before adding the oil, coffee, and eggs
Method (Cupcakes):
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add oil, coffee, and eggs.  Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Mix in the sour cream and vanilla.
  • Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.  Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, for 16-18 minutes.  Let them cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minute.  Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.
  • While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the Coffee Cream Filling (see below).  Pipe about a tablespoon of the filling into the center of each cupcake.  A simple plastic straw taped to a piping tip makes easy work of this.
  • Spread the Coffee Buttercream Frosting evenly over the cupcakes and dust the cakes with unsweetened cocoa and garnish with chocolate covered expresso beans.
A quick clip showing filling the cupcakes

Method (Coffee Cream Filling):
  • In a small bowl, whip the cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add the cocoa powder and whip to incorporate.  Slowly add the liquor and fold in the whipped topping.  Cover and chill.
Method (Coffee Buttercream Frosting):
  • In a medium bowl, beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth, then beat in the coffee.

Recipe Links:

Here's the Coffee Kahlua Cupcakes version from the Just a Pinch Recipes website.

Here's the original Paula Dean version.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Stuffed Peppers

Four colorful peppers and an heirloom tomato provided the inspiration for this recipe.

I stole the recipe for the filling from my grandmother, who used the same in her Golabkis

I stole the idea for cutting the peppers lengthwise from Chef John, who opines that this is a much better way to serve this dish as it "improves the meat to pepper ratio."  It also provides twice as many servings from your peppers...

The idea for topping off the dish with a slice of vine ripened heirloom tomato with parmesan cheese came from the Tomato itself - As I was thinking of how to finish the dish, I noticed it proudly sitting on the counter.  I think I actually heard it say "You've got to work me into this Dish!"

Prep Time:  20 Minutes
Cook Time:  1 Hour and 15 Minutes
Servings:  8


Four large peppers - any color
1 pound of "Meatloaf Mix" ground meat - Beef, Pork, and Veal
1 onion chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 cup partially cooked rice (or) 1 cup fully cooked barley
1 egg
1-1/2 cups freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Divided
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
2 to 3 cups of Homemade marinara sauce 

  • Partially Cook the rice and then immediately cool - about 8 minutes.
  • Cut the peppers in half and discard the stem, seeds, and any large ribs.
  • Saute the onion in the butter until softened and slightly carmelized, let cool.
  • Poor the marinara into the bottom of a large deep casserole dish.
  • Combine the cooled onions, meat, egg, rice, seasoning, and 1 cup of the cheese.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Evenly divide the meat mixture amongst the peppers.  It is OK if the filling goes a little  beyond the boundaries of the pepper - the egg in the filling will keep that under control as it bakes.

  • Place the peppers into casserole dish and top each with a 1/4" thick slice of tomato
  • Evenly divide the rest of the cheese and place atop each tomato
  • Garnish cheese with freshly chopped parsley
  • Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 20-30 minutes, or until the peppers are very tender and the cheese is golden brown.
  • Let rest for 10 minutes or so and then serve.

Recipe Links:

Here is a video recipe from Chef John where I got the idea for cutting the peppers lengthwise.
Here is another non-video version of the same recipe.
And, of course, here's a link to the original golabki recipe.
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