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Strawberry Cake

April 18, 2017

This is a simple cake that is perfect for beautiful summery strawberries.  Once they have arrived at your Farmer’s Market, this is a must do recipe.

Martha asks for a 10 inch pie plate.  Unfortunately I don’t have one but I do have a 9-1/2 inch deep dish (1-1/2 inches deep) glass pie plate, which I highly recommend and that worked very well for this recipe.   Per Smitten Kitchen a 9 inch regular glass pie dish (less than 1 inch deep) will be too small.  Deb Perlman also suggests using a 10 inch spring form pan if you don’t have a pie plate.  I experimented with this and I agree, it will work as well.

Be very careful measuring out your flour.  When I made it this second time, I was careless and the batter was overly thick.  So the third time, I made sure I fluffed and stirred my flour before measuring.  The batter had a much better consistency.

**Also, make sure you reduce the temperature of the oven from 350 degrees to 325 degrees.  I made a mistake and kept the oven going at 350 the whole time.  It was good but the outside was a bit too crusty.

Serve this with ice cream, whipped cream or just a sprinkling of confectionery sugar.

Strawberry Cake (Martha Stewart via Smitten Kitchen in the recipe section, Strawberries, Strawberry Summer Cake)

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1-1/2 cups flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (small to medium size strawberries are the best)

2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 10 inch pie plate or 9-1/2 inch deep dish (1-1/2 inch deep) pie plate or a 10 inch spring form pan with Pam with Flour or Bakers Joy.  Set aside.

Measure flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together.

Place egg and vanilla extract in small bowl.

Place butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed.  Add sugar and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Add egg/vanilla mixture and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.

Reduce speed to medium low and add milk.  Gradually add flour mixture until just mixed.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut side down placing them very close together.  Sprinkle the berries with the 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake cake for 10 minutes.   ****Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.*****  Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch.  About 1 hour.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Spray pan with Bakers Joy or Pam with Flour

Wash strawberries, remove stem and leaves and cut in half:

mise en place cake batter:

batter into the prepared pan:

place strawberries on top and sprinkle with sugar:

after 1 hour of baking:



Better-than-Takeout Stir-Fried-Udon

April 10, 2017

This dish has a delicious sauce that is super easy.  Just soy sauce and mirin.  How easy is that? (sorry Ina, just had to say it.)  And it uses those fat, yummy udon noodles that absorb the sauce and make every bite perfect.   Easy week night meal to boot.

I just made a few little changes but you can see the original recipe in the link.  I did not care for the cabbage, maybe I didn’t use the right kind?  Any way I love the carrots and I think they look prettier too!  I also used more ground pork but this is a personal choice.  I tried using less sodium soy sauce but I didn’t think the flavor was there.  Switched back to the regular when I made it again.

I ate the leftovers cold (or you could warm it up in the microwave), lunch for the next day?  Also a vegetarian possibility as well:  substitute the pork with mushrooms and/or tofu.

Better-than-Takeout Stir-Fried Udon (Bon Appetit March 2017)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

8-9 ounces julienne carrots (super skinny sticks of carrots) from 1 bunch of fresh carrots, if possible (fresh carrots still have their green frilly tops attached)

2, 7 ounce packages instant udon noodles, flavor packets discarded

2 teaspoons sesame oil (toasted if you can find)

12 ounces ground pork

5 scallions (1 bunch) white and pale green parts thinly sliced

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger (from about a 1 inch piece)

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1/3 cup mirin

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Combine mirin and soy sauce in a glass or plastic measuring cup and set aside.

Place udon noodles in a large heatproof bowl and cover with 6 cups of boiling water.  Let sit for 1 minute, stirring to break up the noodles, then drain into a colander.  Transfer the noodles back into the heatproof bowl and toss with sesame oil.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large non stick saucepan over medium high heat.  Add julienne carrots, toss with the oil until coated, add 4 tablespoons of water and cover, steaming for about 5 minutes until just tender.  A tiny bit of bite is perfect.  Transfer carrots to the large bowl with the udon noodles.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Add pork and break up into 6-8 large chunks.  Let cook UNDISTURBED (that means do not touch) for 3 minutes.   When the pork is nice and brown, turn over and then break up into smaller chunks.  Toss the pork chunks occasionally until no longer pink.

Add scallions, ginger and red pepper if using and continue to cook, tossing often, for about 1 minute.

Add udon/carrot mixture and  mirin/soy sauce mixture to sauce pan and toss together constantly for about 1-2 minutes until everything is heated through and noodles are coated with sauce.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.  Serve immediately.

julienne carrots: cut in 1/2 lengthwise, cut the 1/2 into 4-5 pieces:

cut those pieces in half.  The top half is probably skinny enough, but you will have to cut the bottom pieces in 1/2 again.

mise en place:

place udon noodles in bowl and cover with boiling water:

let sit:

drain and add back to bowl:

toss with sesame oil:

stir carrots with oil, coating:

add 4 tablespoons of water, cover, cook ~5 minutes until crisp tender:

add to bowl with udon noodles:

12 ounces ground pork:

place in pan and break up into 6-8 large chunks.  Let cook undisturbed:

turn over:  undisturbed crispy brown

break up into smaller chunks and toss together until no longer pink:

add scallions, ginger  and optional red pepper:

cook for 1 minute:

add noodles and carrots and soy sauce/mirin sauce:

toss together:




Caramel Pork

March 31, 2017

This is a really simple and delicious, potential week night meal.

Usually I go with  the original recipe ingredients and directions with a new recipe and tweak after I have made it for the first time.  But not this one. I knew right away that cooking the pork like they said would not work.  Pork tenderloin can be overcooked very easily.  When I use it in recipes I cook it first, set it aside, make the sauce and then re-warm the pork in the sauce quickly.  When I read the reviews, this is exactly what people were doing.   Another reader tossed the pork pieces in a cornstarch/salt/pepper mixture.  I had used this technique before with the chicken in the Sesame Chicken  and thought that would be a great addition to the recipe.

I have doubled the sauce in the recipe.  You may not want that much sauce so in parenthesis are the original amounts.

I served this with steamed broccoli for this post but in the past I have had peas as a side vegetable.  Both excellent.

In the original recipe from Cooking Light, they add a recipe Radish Squash Slaw to serve with the dish. They mention it in the review and wanted to share with you.  I have not tried it yet but seems like it would be a nice addition.   Recipe is below:

Serve with Radish-Squash Slaw: Combine 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce, 2 teaspoons honey, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add 3/4 cup each of julienne-cut carrot, daikon radish, and yellow squash; toss. Top with 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves.

Caramel Pork (Cooking Light)

6 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

few turns of fresh black pepper

1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1-1/2 to 2 inch pieces

1/2 cup chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion (have used Vidalia and a regular onion, both good)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 (1/2) cup chicken stock

6 (3) tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 (1) tablespoon lower sodium soy sauce

2 (1) teaspoon bottle ground fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (this is to your taste, the original has 1/2 teaspoon which would be 1 teaspoon if doubled)

4 (2) canned anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced or 2 (1) teaspoon anchovy paste

Place cornstarch, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Stir to combine.  Set aside.

Make sauce:  combine chicken stock, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper and anchovies in medium bowl.  Stir together and set aside.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add about 1 – 2 teaspoons of canola oil.  Place pork pieces in large bowl with cornstarch mixture.  Toss to combine.  Remove pork, a few pieces at a time with a slotted spoon or equivalent, shaking off excess cornstarch mixture.  Add pork to pan.  Continue with the rest of the pork.  Cook pork for 5 minutes, turning pork half way through cooking.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion and garlic to pan.  Stir fry for 2 minutes.

Stir in sauce mixture, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thick.

Add pork and stir into the sauce.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes until pork is heated through.  Do not over cook.

Serve over rice with brocolli or peas as a vegetable side.  If making slaw, place on top of pork.

cornstarch mixture:

sauce ingredients:

mise en place:

tossing pork in cornstarch mixture:

then add to pan and cook:

set pork aside:

add onion and garlic and cook:

add sauce mixture and bring to a boil:

add pork back in and simmer:





Chicken Scarpariello

March 25, 2017

My son came home from work and told me that one of the guys brought in this chicken dish with peppers for lunch.  It smelled delicious so he inquired what it was and was told Chicken Scarpariello.  I had never heard of it before but told him I would look it up and try to make it for dinner.

The first one I made was not that great so I ditched that recipe and continued to look.  The second recipe was definitely better but it took a few times making it, to develop it into the recipe it is now.

I am not crazy about rosemary in cooking and prefer the subtle flavor of thyme. The oil amount was perfect for cooking but not draining it produced a really greasy dish, so that had to go.  I thought cooking the thyme and garlic separately would be a good idea but it produced so much   splatter that I thought I would never make it again.  Doing what the recipe said was much better.  Still some splatter but not excessive.  Make sure to reduce the chicken broth.  Not reducing enough makes it saucier but the flavor is just not there.  The Peppadew pepper ( is an essential ingredient.  I am able to find them at ShopRite near the deli section, on top of the specialty cheeses.  They come in mild and hot.  I use the mild version.

It has now become one of our regulars on the dinner menu rotation.  It is also a great lunch item, warmed up and placed on a crusty/soft Kaiser roll.

Chicken Scarpariello (Food and Wine October 2010)

8 small skinless boneless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

flour for dusting

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

8 garlic cloves, peeled, halved lengthwise and lightly smashed

4 fresh large thyme sprigs, broken into 2 inch pieces (you should have about 14, 2 inch pieces)

2 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup Peppadew peppers, sliced in thirds

Place a large piece of waxed paper on the counter.  Take each piece of chicken and unfold it from it’s chicken thigh shape.  Place it on the waxed paper.  Sprinkle the chicken generously with salt and pepper then sprinkle the chicken with flour, covering lightly but thoroughly.  Turn chicken over and repeat.  Take each piece of chicken and dredge it the flour/salt/pepper that is on the waxed paper.  Then lightly pat it so that the flour mixture adheres,  turn it over and do the same.  You might have to repeat this until the chicken is nicely covered with the flour mixture.  Continue with each piece of chicken until most of the flour/pepper/salt is gone.

Heat oil in a large heavy non stick saucepan over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the chicken.  It may seem that there is not enough room in the pan but there is.  The chicken shrinks a bit.  Just put the chicken in, it will be tight but you will be fine.  Cook for 15 minutes, turning half way through.  The chicken will develop a nice brown crust.  Add the garlic and thyme (wedging it between the chicken pieces) and cook for 3 minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned.   Transfer the chicken to a platter, leaving the thyme and garlic in the saucepan.  Take the saucepan off the heat and using the lid (see  picture below), pour off all the oil into a bowl that has been placed in the sink, keeping the garlic and thyme in the pan.  Discard the oil later when it has cooled.

Return the sauce pan to the stove/burner and add the chicken stock to the skillet.  Cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by about half,  4-5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the lemon juice and butter and stir until combined.  Return the chicken and any juice to the skillet.  Add the peppers and cook, turning the chicken until nicely coated in the sauce, about 3 minutes.

Serve immediately over rice, potatoes, noodles or with a nice crusty bread.

mise en place:

unfold chicken:

flour, salt and pepper:

oil (it’s a lot):

add chicken and cook:

add garlic and thyme and cook:

set chicken aside:

drain oil using the lid as shown, hold lid tightly and tilt to drain:

leaving garlic and thyme:

add chicken broth and reduce:

while waiting cut up peppers:

add butter and lemon juice:


add peppers and chicken, cook:

all done:



Sarah’s Roasted Potatoes

March 17, 2017


This is my daughter, Sarah’s recipe.  Simple, delicious and super easy.

We went to California to visit Sarah and her husband last September  and Sarah served these yummy little potatoes with her chicken kebobs.  Needless to say, her mother oohed and aahed and all the little potatoes were consumed.

Yukon Gold potatoes are a must.  They do not get overly soft inside when roasted.  Try to get ones that are about 1-1/2 to 2 inches.  If they are not exactly the same size that is ok, some will just be more crispier than the others.

Oh, and we both love parchment paper.  Very easy clean up and non stick.  Try some.

Sarah’s Roasted Potatoes

1-2 pounds of baby Yukon Gold potatoes

olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place parchment paper on a rimmed cookie sheet.

Clean potatoes with water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.

Cut potatoes in half and place cut side down on prepared cookie sheet.

Pour olive oil on top.  Use a restrained pour.  You do not want to get too much on, just enough to coat the parchment paper lightly.

Tilt the cookie  sheet back and forth to distribute the olive oil evenly on the pan.  You may have to re-position the potatoes a bit so they are evenly spaced on the parchment.

Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Place in oven for about 30 minutes until bottom of potatoes are nicely brown and crispy.

Serve immediately.

weighing out the potatoes.  I had to use a few reds because that was all I could get.  That’s why I know they were too soft :

mise en place:

place potatoes on parchment:

pour olive oil:

re-distribute olive oil:

sprinkle with salt and pepper:

out of the oven crispy and delicious:

Yum!  thank you Sarah 🙂




Zucchini with Anchovies and Capers

March 14, 2017

I nearly jumped into the television when Lidia Bastianich was making this on PBS!  I could almost taste how delicious it was, it looked fantastic!

And it was.

The capers are optional.  I have made them with and without, both very, very good.

As Lidia states, serve hot or at room temperature which translates to me, a great dinner party food.

Zucchini with Anchovies and Capers by Lidia Bastianich

2-1/2 pounds small zucchini

6 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (or you can use anchovy paste: 3 teaspoons)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup small capers, drained (optional)

Trim the ends of the zucchini, and slice them into 1/4 inch thick sticks, 2 to 3 inches long (see pictures below).

Set a large skillet over medium heat and pour in the olive oil.  Let it heat up and then add the garlic cloves, cooking for a minute until sizzling.

Put the anchovies into the pan next and cook for another minute, stirring until the anchovies melt into the oil.

Add the zucchini and toss with the olive oil mixture until coated.  Add the salt, toss again and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the zucchini are cooked through and limp and lightly caramelized or browned.

Finally, put in the capers if using and cook for another minute to blend all the flavors.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

slightly less than 2-1/2 pounds but that’s ok:

cut off ends, slice in half lengthwise:

cut each half in half again (which equals a quarter 🙂  ) :

then cut each quarter into thirds:

then cut each third into 3 even pieces ~2 inches:

mise en place:

saute garlic then add anchovies:

add zucchini, toss and cook:

optional capers:






Chocolate and Raspberry Brownie Bars

February 19, 2017


Another brownie recipe,  Yes, yes, I have a couple.  But these are brownies elevated to the next level.  Worthy of a dinner party dessert.

I love King Arthur:  their products, their baking classes, their recipes.  And when ever I get a catalog in the mail (yes I still do!) they always have a few really yummy recipes (that I cut out) that are just slightly different from their website recipe.  And this is one of them.

So you DO have to send away for one of their products (*Raspberry Jammy Bits) to make this perfect, and I know that is not one of my preferences.  But it is so worth it.  And while you are shopping there on King Arthur Flour, pick up one of their cinnamon’s, some cinnamon chips, any one of their excellent cocoa powders, to make your order worthwhile. 🙂

Cocoa powder quality is really important.  I highly recommend  Valrhona Cocoa Powder.  You can buy it on Amazon, directly from Valrhona or Whole Foods.

I used to be a die-hard Gold Medal All Purpose Flour girl but since that scare with E. coli they had over the summer, I switched and now will only use King Arthur Flour.

Chambord Liqueur:  somewhat expensive BUT you can buy a fairly small bottle, it lasts virtually forever and there are many recipes that ask for it, so it will not go to waste.

If you want to serve the brownies the same day, make very early in the morning so that the ganache has enough time to set.  Otherwise make the day before.

Chocolate and Raspberry Brownie Bars (from King Arthur Flour)


4 large eggs

1 cup (8 ounces) butter, melted

2-1/4 cups (15-3/4 ounces) sugar

2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1-1/4 cups (3-3/4 ounces) good quality unsweetened cocoa Powder

1 tablespoon Espresso Powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1-1/2 cups (6-1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour

1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet Ghiradelli Mini Chips

1 cup (6 ounces) *Raspberry Jammy Bits

3 tablespoons (2-1/4 ounces) raspberry jam, with seeds or without

1 tablespoon Chambord Liqueur

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1-1/3 cups (8 ounces) Ghiradelli 60% or 70% Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar

1-1/3 cups (8 ounces) Ghiradelli Semi-sweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar

1 tablespoon Espresso powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray with canola oil spray a 9 inch x 13 inch baking pan.  Line the pan with aluminum foil (see pictures below), leaving foil sticking up above the edges of the pan, by about 2 inches.  This way when the brownie is ready to come out, you will have these lovely aluminum handles to lift the brownie out of the pan.

Place eggs in medium bowl, add vanilla and set aside.

Combine cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt, baking powder, flour in medium bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine mini chips and raspberry jammy bits in another medium bowl.

Place the raspberry jam and the chambord in a small microwavable bowl.

Place melted butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat on low to combine.  Add eggs/vanilla and beat until combined. Increase speed to medium high and beat for about 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients and when almost combined, add chips and bits and beat until just combined.

Put batter into the prepared pan and while holding the aluminum foil, spread the batter evenly into the pan.  The batter will be quite thick.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

Remove brownies from oven.   Heat the chambord and jam for about 10-15 seconds in the microwave and stir together to combine.  Brush the still warm brownie with the chambord and jam mixture.  Cool completely, for an hour or longer.

When the brownie is almost completely cool, make the chocolate ganache.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces (see pictures below) and place in a medium/large microwaveable bowl.  Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a microwaveable glass measuring cup for about 1-3 minute in the microwave, until steaming but NOT boiling or simmering, be careful.  Pour cream mixture over the chocolate and wait 5 minutes.  Stir the chocolate with a whisk until smooth.  If for some reason you are still seeing chunks of chocolate, place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir again.  When nice and smooth, add espresso powder and stir again until completely combined.

Pour the still warm chocolate ganache over the brownies and spread evenly.  Cover brownies with aluminum foil (don’t let it touch the ganache) and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, until the ganache is completely set.

Take a dinner knife or a cake spatula and slide along the pan and brownie on the side that does not have aluminum foil.  Then remove the brownies from the pan using the aluminum handles and place on a cutting board.  Remove the foil.

Cut the brownie in half, crosswise, and set the second piece aside.

Using a very sharp knife, cut the brownies into serving pieces.  Do the same to the other half.

Serve and watch as your guests swoon 🙂

mise en place:

mis en place

prepping pan:


butter, sugar, egg/vanilla light and fluffy:


spread batter into pan:



chambord/raspberry jam mixture:


spread onto warmed brownie:

039 040

chopping chocolate for ganache and placing in microwaveable bowl:




pouring cream over chopped chocolate:


stir until smooth and then add espresso:


pour over thoroughly cooled brownie and spread:



the ganache should look like this when taken out of the refrigerator:


remove from pan, take off aluminum foil and cut brownie in half:


and cut into serving pieces: