Italian Sandwich Cookies

Italian Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate and orange is one of the best combinations in a dessert: the bright citrus mixing with the creamy chocolate; it’s a match made in heaven. The chocolate cookies have orange in them and taste great with the fluffy, orange frosting. This recipe, which comes from one of my favorite Italian chefs, Giada De Laurentiis, will not disappoint at any event.

Italian Sandwich Cookies

To make the cookie dough, I creamed my sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Then, in another bowl, I combined the dry ingredients including orange zest. This recipe also called for cornmeal as well as flour which added a nice crunch to the cookie. Afterwards, I added the dry to the butter mixture and stirred with a wooden spoon until combined. As it turns out, using a wooden spoon decreases the amount of air that goes into the dough which in turn makes for a better cookie.

Italian Sandwich Cookies

I let the dough cool in the fridge for about an hour and then began rolling it out. I cut out round cookies and placed them on a lined cookie sheet. I used a spatula to transfer the cookies from my work surface to the cookie sheet which made it a lot easier and left the round shape intact. While the cookies baked, I combined orange zest, butter, powdered sugar, and a hint of orange juice to make the frosting.

Italian Sandwich Cookies

When the cookies had cooled and the orange frosting was fluffy, I began the process of making cookie sandwiches. I spooned a dollop of  frosting onto a cookie and topped with a second. When I pressed them together, I made sure that the frosting was evenly spread between the cookies. When I tried one, there was just enough of a crunch from the cookie to contrast the creamy frosting and the chocolate and orange flavors both shown. Next time, I might make my cookies a little thinner but otherwise, these cookies were delicious. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

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Potato Gratin

Potato Gratin

In French, potato is “pomme de terre” literally meaning apple of the earth which is odd considering how many differences there are between the two. In any case, a seemingly simple ingredient such as a potato can be brought to life with good ingredients, such as Potato Gratin. Here’s another French lesson: “gratin” signifies that a dish is topped with some kind of bread or breadcrumbs and browned. The twist on this dish is that we mash the potatoes instead of slicing them. This recipe combines the ideas of mashed and baked potatoes and the gratin transforms it into something new.

Potato Gratin

I started by peeling and chopping my potatoes and boiling them with some garlic cloves. This recipe taught me how important salt is to a recipe. Anytime you are boiling a carbohydrate, such as potatoes or pasta, the only way to add flavor is with salt. For these potatoes, I added two tablespoons of salt which boosted the potatoes’ flavor.

Potato Gratin

When a fork was easily inserted into a potato, I knew they were tender and ready to drain. I removed the garlic and returned the potatoes to the pan. Next, I added milk and sour cream and lightly mashed the potato mixture. Unlike when making mashed potatoes, I wanted these to remain chunky because it added texture.

Potato Gratin

Next, I added grated cheddar cheese until it was combined. I didn’t have to worry about the cheese melting because the potatoes were so warm, they took care of it for me. After I poured the mixture into a baking dish, I combined Parmesan, a shake of cayenne pepper, and panko breadcrumbs in a small bowl and sprinkled the mixture evenly over the top. Then, the dish went into the oven. The recipe I used said it should go about twenty minutes but after that time, the top had not browned much so I left it in for a good twenty minutes longer. If I had used a lighter topping of the breadcrumbs, it might have cooked in less time but in the end, I was left with the same result.

Potato Gratin

The potatoes were perfectly cooked and melded nicely with the cheese and topping. It tasted like a baked potato because of the sour cream and chunky potatoes but the topping made it feel special. The hint of cayenne complimented the cheese and potatoes but did not overpower it. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

Garlic Herb Halibut

Garlic Herb Halibut

I grew up fishing with my dad every summer and bringing home salmon, halibut, and rock fish. Despite having had fish in many ways, I was never much of a fan. That is until I tried this oven-fried halibut recipe! Fish is a relatively healthy dinner recipe; it is packed with protein as well as many minerals the body needs. This recipe is also somewhat healthier than eating fried fish and has more flavor.

Garlic Herb Halibut

To begin, I carefully cut the skin off of the halibut and sliced the fillet into two pieces so that it became twice as thin as before. This way, the cooking wouldn’t take long and I didn’t have to worry about the fish burning in the oven. Then I mixed up the panko with basil, parsley, garlic, and onion powder. Both the herbs added beautiful color to the fish and the garlic gave a nice complimentary flavor.

Garlic Herb Halibut

I first dredged the halibut fillets in flour. I made sure all the sides were covered evenly. Then I dipped each fillet in egg and finally, the halibut was placed in panko mixture. Once both fish were thoroughly covered, I heated up a pan with some olive oil. I decided to cook each fillet separately so that there would be no pan-crowding. Each fish cooked for about two minutes on a side and for part of the time I pressed the fish against the side of the pan so the sides would be cooked as well.

Garlic Herb Halibut

When both fillets were golden brown, I put them in the oven for five minutes and served them with rice pilaf and lemon wedges. The fish was flaky and cooked through but also had a beautiful golden crust on the outside. My mother, who normally hates anything fish, loved this dish and has requested that it be made again! Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

Chocolate Soufflé

Chocolate Soufflé

Chocolate Soufflé is one of those desserts you see at fancy restaurants and never even consider the possibility that you could make it on your own. As you dig in, steam escapes and with it wonderful, chocolaty smells. As it turns out, if you have a knowledge of melting chocolate and folding ingredients in, you are on your way to making a delicious soufflé.

Chocolate Soufflé

I started by melting the chocolate. I went with a bittersweet chocolate but semi-sweet works just as well. I placed the chopped chocolate into a glass bowl and put it over a pot of almost boiling water. You don’t want to burn your chocolate but you want all of the chocolate melted. Once it was smooth, I set it aside and got to work on the egg yolks.

Chocolate Soufflé

I first combined egg yolks and cream. Then I slowly added the chocolate to the egg mixture. You want to be careful so as not to scramble your eggs while doing this. When they were combined, I added cinnamon and flour. As it turned out, the cinnamon gave the soufflés a nice hint of spice to contrast the sweet chocolate.

Chocolate Soufflé

Beating the egg whites and sugar was easy and I was left with peaks not unlike snowy mountains. When the whites were beaten, I added half of the mixture to the chocolate and folded it in until combined. Then I added that back to the original bowl of egg whites and folded until I was left with a perfect chocolate soufflé batter. It took a little longer than I thought it would and I worried I had lost some of the air that I had incorporated in earlier but everything went fine.

Chocolate Soufflé

I poured the batter three-fourths of the way up and was surprised the recipe only made four instead of the six I thought it would. They baked for a while and came out puffed and once I had decorated with confectioners’ sugar, they were complete. They tasted dense and chocolaty just as you would expect from Chocolate Soufflé. Next time, I will be quicker with my chocolate because I waited a tad too long before adding it to my eggs which made it difficult to incorporate the other ingredients into. Otherwise, I think this recipe will be a new favorite for any upcoming events. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading