Monday, November 29, 2010

Toffee Lace Cups

While reading Alton Brown's book, "Gear For Your Kitchen" the other night, I came across a recipe for Lace Cups. I was intrigued. They sounded fancy, but pretty simple, so they were moved to the topish portion of my "to try" list. I tried to locate the recipe online so I could bookmark it, but instead came across a different variation - Toffee Lace Cups - and decided I had no choice but to make them right away. Late at night. On a Saturday. Anyway, I made them and they turned out great. We've just been breaking them up and eating the toffee pieces. So good! But the real success was last night when I made Alton's homemade vanilla ice cream (which consequently is the best homemade ice cream recipe I've ever tried), spiked it with crushed candy cane pieces, and served it inside the cups. Successful indeed. Which was a relief since I've had so many unsuccesses as of late. Made that word up I think. So, uh, here's a picture (speaking of unsuccesses...):

Recipe adapted from by Alton Brown


1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 TBSP dark corn syrup (2.5 fluid ounces)
Pinch of kosher salt
A few drops of lemon juice
1/2 cup flour


Combine all ingredients except flour in a small, heavy saucepan over med-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Once mixture is at a boil, stir constantly for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and sift in flour a little at a time, stirring to combine each addition before adding the next. Cool to room temperature or refrigerate for later use. (If refrigerated, allow mixture to come up to room temperature before cooking.) Mixture will thicken a lot as it sits.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper and spoon out mixture with a metal soup spoon or a small cookie disher. Cookies will spread out like crazy, so place dollops 6 to 8 inches apart. Bake 17-18 minutes or until deep mahogany brown.

Once out of the oven, allow disks to sit for roughly 30 seconds before removing from the pan, otherwise they will be too soft to transfer. Use a metal spatula to transfer the hot candy disks to the bottoms of inverted custard cups or small drinking cups, depending on how deep you want the bowls to be. (Have a cup for each disk, or the disks will set before you can get through them all.) Work quickly and the disks will conform to the shape of the cups. Remove when cool. Store wrapped with paper towel inside resealable plastic bags. Makes approximately 14 cups.

Variation: While hot, disks can be cut into shapes with a pizza cutter or broken by hand when cool and used to garnish other desserts. Or do as the Pioneer Woman would do and give this a try, which I plan to do asap.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

White Pizza

I got this recipe from Ina Garten, but I adapted it to my own. For instance, I didn't use her pizza crust, I used my own. And instead of Arugula, I used Collard Greens because that's what I had on hand. You could also use a spring mix or whatever. The full recipe is at the bottom. Here are the steps:

First, make the garlic oil. Ina says not to burn the garlic, but I think I did. It still tasted good.

Next, get out your cheeses. I used Fontina, Goat Cheese, and Mozzarella.

I shredded the Mozzarella, grated the Fontina, and just crumbled the Goat Cheese.

After you mix the dough, shape it into individual size pizzas, like my kids and I did. Or you can just make one big pizza. My kids loved making their own. Here are theirs. After you shape the dough, brush some garlic oil on top, then sprinkle with salt.

Next, sprinkle with Fontina, Mozzarella, then Goat Cheese. Drizzle a little more oil on top.

While the pizza is baking, make the lemon vinaigrette and pour over chopped greens.

I didn't put the greens on top of the kids pizzas, because I didn't think they would like it. I was nervous if they'd like the pizzas at all!

But here is PROOF that they loved them. They gobbled them right up. (By the way, I don't usually let my kids eat in front of the TV, but Josh was working late, so we decided to have a picnic.)

Here is my pizza. I just put the greens on half, because I didn't know if I would like it, but I did and I ended up putting them on the whole thing.
This pizza is pretty rich and filling, but it was really good! I couldn't get enough!

Pizza Crust:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Half of 1/3 cup oil (I don't know how much that is)
3 1/2 cups flour
Mix dough and knead well. No need to rise. Use as soon as you mix.
Garlic Oil:
1/2 cup EVOO
4 cloves garlic
5 sprigs thyme
red pepper flakes
Place all ingredients in saucepan and on low heat, simmer for 10 minutes.
8 oz. grated Fontina
8 oz. shredded Mozzarella
11 oz. creamy Goat Cheese
8 oz. chopped salad greens
1/2 cup EVOO
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
Mix dough, and shape into pizzas. Brush with garlic oil, salt, then top with cheeses. Top with a little more oil. Bake at 475 for 10-15 minutes. Then top with salad.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Baklava Minis

Here's the thing about baklava: it's freaking amazing.

So, traditional baklava is made in a cake pan and is beastly to cut and dish out and all that jazz, and since I have an affinity for all things mini, I found this recipe that works perfectly for me. So without further ado I present to you, baklava minis:


Recipe adapted from by Giada De Laurentiis

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
7 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
3 tablespoons honey
12 sheets phyllo dough

1/4 cup water
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup honey

(If you've never worked with phyllo before, click here)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the almonds, walnuts, bread crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a food processor. Run the machine until the mixture is very finely
chopped. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and the honey and stir to combine.

On a dry work surface place 1 sheet of phyllo. Using a pastry brush and the remaining melted butter, lightly cover the entire sheet of phyllo with melted butter. Cover the first sheet with a second sheet of phyllo and brush with melted butter. Continue until there is a stack of 6 sheets of phyllo. Comprende? Good then.

Using a pizza cutter, cut the stacked phyllo rectangle into 12 equal pieces (Cut lengthwise into 4 pieces and widthwise into 3 pieces.)

Gently press each cut stack of phyllo into mini-muffin tin cups. Press 1 tablespoon of the nut mixture into each of the phyllo cups.

Gather the ends of each of the phyllo squares and twist to make a sachet shape.

Repeat with remaining phyllo until you have 24 baklava minis, and then brush the tops with any remaining melted butter. Why? Because thou shalt never waste good butter. It's written somewhere...

Bake until the edges of the phyllo are golden, about 18-23 minutes.

Meanwhile, begin making the sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat add the water, sugar, and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Pour 1 teaspoon syrup into each cup and allow it to soak in.

When cool enough to handle, remove the baklava minis and transfer to a serving plate. Or, you know, just eat it all right then and there so you don't have to dirty another plate. Either way.

Well done, Greek people. Well done.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tyropitakia - Greek Cheese Pies

Phyllo (Fillo) dough is basically paper-thin sheets of raw, unleavened flour dough used for making pastries in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines. You can find it in any grocery store in the frozen food section, next to the pie shells and puff pastry. I buy Athens brand because I like the size of the sheets. Each box comes with two packages, with each package containing about 20 sheets. Since its so thin, it dries out super fast and once you cut the top of the bag and pull it out, you basically need to use all of the dough at that time. I've tried putting it back inside the bag, taping it up, and putting it back in the fridge so I could use it another time, but when I pull it out again, it just shatters, so I'm not sure if it can be done. Anyway, it has become one of my favorite things to bake with...and eat. I was completely intimidated by it for years before I finally decided to take the plunge and give it a whirl a few months ago. And come to find out, it's not hard at all. It's a little fickle and you gotta handle with care, but it's pretty forgiving and makes for fabulous eats.

After consuming roughly half my weight in baklava over the past few months, I really wanted to try something savory, so after much research, I finally found this recipe for Tyropitakia (which I have no idea how to pronounce, so we'll just go with Greek cheese pies). I bookmarked. I tried. I loved. The filling is kinda like ravioli, but the flaky phyllo shell makes it especially unique and delicious...and who are we kidding, the abundance of butter definitely doesn't hurt.

So let's get this show on the road...


Recipe adapted from by Cat Cora

  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan or asiago cheese, grated
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • Dried or fresh parsley to taste
  • Grated nutmeg to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (I use unsalted)
  • 5-6 sheets commercial phyllo pastry


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling, combine all the cheeses together with the parsley, nutmeg, pepper, and egg. Mix well. Pull phyllo from the refrigerator and unroll. Be sure to keep it covered so it doesn't dry out while you prepare the pies. I use the plastic that it comes packaged in, covered by a damp towel. Don't be swayed by recipes that tell you to just go ahead and cover it up with a damp towel. If you do this, all your dough will stick together. And you will curse. I promise. Anyway, brush each piece of phyllo with melted butter before cutting. (The silicone brushes work fine, but I'm sure the bristle brushes probably work better.)

Then cut each piece lengthwise into 3 equal strips.

Place a small dollop of the cheese mix in the middle of the top of each strip.

Now you fold. Folding the phyllo is like folding a flag...fold the right corner to the left to form a right angle and then upward. Continue folding at right angles until you reach the top and have a triangle. Place the triangles on an ungreased baking sheet in absolutely no particular order.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on each side.


Makes approximately 15-18 pies.