Monday, December 1, 2008

December's Cheese of the Month is....

Havarti!!! Thanks for voting and make sure to vote for next month's cheese too! Remember that you can always make more than one dish and make anything from desserts to soups to dips to anything your heart desires! I'm looking forward to this one. I've seen this cheese in the store and have always wanted to try it. I already have a recipe picked out too!

Please don’t forget to e-mail me when you are done.

Good luck fellow cheesians! I look forward to reading about your delicious creations!

November's Cheese Results

I was really excited for November's Cheese Challenge: Mascarpone Cheese. I have eaten it in desserts but have never tried to use it myself. This month there was only one other participate, but she made TWO dishes.

Cristine of Cooking with Cristine somehow finds the time to whip up all kinds of delicious dishes all while caring for two little ones. How does she do it?! She made two different recipes using mascarpone, dinner and dessert!

For dinner she made Rigatoni with Creamy Mushroom Sauce and for dessert she made a Brown Sugar Mascarpone Pizza.

Rigatoni with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Recipe from Giada DeLaurentis
1 pound rigatoni pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, mincedSalt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound assorted mushrooms, (such as cremini, shiitake and button), cleaned and sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
2. While the pasta is cooking: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the mushrooms to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Turn the heat to high. Add the wine and cook for 3 minutes until all the liquid evaporates.
6. Add the stock and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat.
7. Add the mascarpone cheese. Stir until creamy.
8. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water, and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the mushroom mixture and the Parmesan.
9. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss well to coat pasta, adding the reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta.
10. Garnish with the chopped chives. Serve immediately.

Dessert was fairly simple yet simply amazing. All she did was mixed in a little brown sugar with some mascarpone and spread it on the pizza dough. Then she topped it with blueberries and a streusel topping. After the pizza came out of the oven, she drizzled it with homemade dulce de leche.

That was one family table that I wished I could had been out!!!
You can read all about her adventures here:

And now for my recipe. I only had time for one recipe this one. I had to host Thanksgiving for my family. So, a few days before I had my sisters come down and help me prepare for that fateful day. I had to make dinner for them every night till Thanksgiving. So, the one night I made a wonderful and easy side dish. Twice Baked Potatoes!!! I got the recipe off one of my favorite cheese sites: Wisconsin Cheese and Dairy

My sisters and even my super picky husband LOVED them. They was easy to make and so creamy and flavorful. I even have some mascarpone cheese left!!! These made four HUGE potatoes. This recipe gets a five out of five dancing cheeses.


4 baking potatoes, about
12 ounces each
1 6-ounce package baby spinach or arugula-baby spinach mix
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, optional
1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese
4 heaping teaspoons Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Prick potatoes with fork or make a short, deep slit in each and bake about 1 hour or until tender when pierced with fork.
3. Meanwhile, wilt the greens. Place 2 1/2 cups water in deep sauce pan. Bring to boil and add pinch of salt. Add greens. Boil until wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove to fine sieve and rinse with cold water to cool. Squeeze out water to dry greens. Snip greens with scissors and resqueeze to remove moisture. Set aside on absorbent paper towel.
4. When potatoes are cooked, cool slightly. Cut off a shallow slice from the top of each potato. With a sharp tipped spoon, scoop potato pulp into a mixing bowl.
5. Add salt, pepper and 1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese.
6. Whip with an electric mixer until smooth, or alternatively, mash by hand. You may have to add more mascarpone, depending on the dryness of the potatoes.
7. Fold reserved greens into the whipped potatoes.
8. Place potatoes on a baking sheet. Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of Parmesan over each.
9. Bake at 400°F for about 15-20 minutes.
(The potatoes may be stuffed ahead and refrigerated until baking time.)

See you all next month!!!

DB:Caramel Cupcakes w/caramelized butter frosting

Well, I'm late on posting November's Challenage. I actually made these last week for my husband's teacher friends, but since I was away this weekend I couldn't post till today!

I was really excited about November's Challenage, which was Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. The Caramel Cake Recipe Courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon. The recipe is published from Bay Area Bites. The Hosts/Co-Hosts for this month's challenge are as follows:
1. Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity
2. Alex of Blondie and Brownie
3. Jenny of Foray into Food
4. Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go

I LOVE caramel!!! The thought of making an entire cake, though, was not appealing to me. So, I decided to make cupcakes instead. After reading what others had posted on the message board, I decided to add a dark chocolate ganche to my cupcakes as well. Despite what most people said, I didn't find these little beauties to overly sweet. I loved the combination of sweet and saltly, too. If you ever had a Dark Chocolate Seasalt Caramel from Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, then you can see this is what I was going for when I added the dark chocolate ganche. Everyone at the school LOVED them. They were moist and flavorful and not that hard to make.

With the leftover batter I took my super mini muffin tin and made 100 calorie size cupcakes.

Has anyone ever tried the Hostess 100 Calorie Cupcake Pack? There I was...on a diet...and desperate for something that actually tasted good. I was thrilled to find a healthy cupcake. Image my horror and my anger when I opened the package to find three bite size cupcakes!!! It was that day that I decided that I would rather be fat and happy than skinny and hungry!!!

I burn the sugar the first time and the butter, too!

I didn't have a seieve, so when I came time to put the browned butter through one, I just used poured the butter through a fork and that seemed to get most of the flecks out. But besides that it went pretty smoothly. The frosting was AMAZING! I used the leftover frosting for my Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

and even my mom (who doesn't like anything) loved them. My husband fell in love with the frosting too and wants me to use it as a staple from now on. It differently has an unique flavor.


CARAMEL CAKE (or cupcakes)
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperaturesplash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan. (or cupcake pan)
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. (I used a handmixer)
4. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
5. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl.
6. Scrape down bowl and increase speed.
7. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.
8. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
9. Sift flour and baking powder.
10. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}
11. Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.
12. Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator. (If making cupcakes, I found that 15-20 mintues was the best time. I only had one cupcake pan, so I didn't rotate it).

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

1. In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush.
2. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.
3. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.
4. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

1. Cook butter until brown.
2. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
3. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
4. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time.
5. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated.
6. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.

Dark Chocolate Ganche

7 oz Dark Chocolate, broken up into pieces (Good quality...Hershey is CRAP!!!)
1/4 C Whipping Cream

1. Melt whipping cream and dark chocolate in a double boiler until melted.
2. Let cool slightly.
3. Pour over cupcakes BEFORE added the frosting.


The assembly follows this simple order: