Have you ever discovered a really delicious dish at a restaurant, savored every last bite, and then spent the next few hours/days/weeks/months thinking about it, craving it, and wishing you knew how to make it just as good (if not better!) at home?
Have you ever caved in, dragged a loved one to breakfast/lunch/dinner, and gone back to said restaurant for justonemorebite, only to find out those fools have sold to new management and your beloved dish is no longer on the menu? Well, I’ve gotta tell you – it hurts. It hurts bad.
This is that dish.
I stumbled across it on a date with my husband in San Diego’s Little Italy several years ago, and have never really been able to get it out of my head. How did they make those gnocchi so soft, so delicate? How did they manage to make their sauce so rich and creamy, yet so light? What culinary trickery was this, and how oh how could I be trained in their ways?
Then it was gone. All gone. I was left with a profound feeling of loss that is difficult to articulate. It turns out that was just hunger, but man I was disappointed. I began scouring the Internet for gnocchi recipes, and was instantly intimidated. You want me to do what with a potato?! It wasn’t until I stumbled across this version made with ricotta and flour that I got up the nerve to get my gnocchi on.
I don’t know what I was so afraid of! This brilliant recipe is both delicious and actually really easy, if you’re not afraid to get your hands a little dirty (or doughy, to be exact!). Paired with toasted walnuts and a simple, dreamy Gorgonzola sauce, this gnocchi is a perfect, incredibly tasty copy of that dish in San Diego. Phew!
What are some of your favorite restaurant dishes that you’d love to recreate at home?
RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH TOASTED WALNUT-GORGONZOLA SAUCE
3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola cheese (not creamy or dolce)
6 tbsp freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, to serve
To make the gnocchi:
Place ricotta, flour, salt, egg and Parmagiano cheese in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir well, until a wet dough forms.
Turn dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead until it feels pliable and smooth (approximately 2 to 3 minutes).
Divide dough into six equal portions. Roll each portion into a long rope the approximate width of your index finger, stretching as you roll (it’s okay if the ropes rip, as you’ll be cutting them into small pieces in the next step).
Cut ropes into 1-inch pieces. Using a fork turned upside down, gently press the tines into each piece (this will later help the sauce cling to the gnocchi).
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.
[You’re not finished with the gnocchi yet, but this is a good time to turn to the sauce for a moment!]
To make the sauce:
If not yet toasted, place the walnuts in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 3 minutes (if walnuts are already toasted, skip this step). Set aside.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the walnuts and saute for two minutes. Add the cream, Gorgonzola, 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, salt and pepper, stirring well to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
[Now, back to the gnocchi!]
While the sauce is thickening, carefully drop gnocchi into the boiling water. They will immediately sink to the bottom, but within 2 minutes will start floating to the water’s surface. At this point, your gnocchi is DONE – immediately remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, transfer to the simmering sauce, and toss to coat.
Remove from heat, sprinkle with chopped parsley and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, and serve immediately.
Super Bowl weekend is finally upon us, which can only mean one thing – GAME DAY SNACKS!!! Oh, and football. And I guess some people really dig the commercials … and the half-time show … and the endless supply of cheap American beer. But seriously, it’s not about that. Any of that. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD.
Well, it is in our house anyway. While my husband and I are pretty ambivalent about who wins and who loses, we’re definitely excited about stuffing ourselves silly from opening kick-off to final whistle with these yummy homemade chicken wings. Bathed in a palate-pleasing mixture of soy sauce, honey, ginger and (lots and lots of) garlic, these baked wings can be thrown together by even the most novice chef in less than 30 minutes – with no frying or messy clean-up!
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled + finely minced
3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1/8 tsp Sriracha (or other hot sauce)
3 lbs raw chicken wings (or drumettes)
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit (215° Celsius) with baking rack on the upper third of the oven. Line a roasting pan or thick baking sheet with foil. Rub some canola or olive oil over the foil to keep the wings from sticking.
In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic and Sriracha hot sauce. Add wings and toss to coat thoroughly. Arrange skin-side down on prepared roasting pan or baking sheet, taking care not to crowd the wings.
Roast in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and – using tongs – flip wings over so they are skin-side up. Return to oven and bake for 10 additional minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.
It seems like forever (almost a year ago? really?!) since I featured a cookie recipe on this blog, which boggles the mind because 1) this is *supposed* to be a baking blog, and 2) I bake and eat cookies all.the.time.
If I had to rationalize their omission, I’d say it’s because this blog – at least lately – primarily features my culinary experiments, rather than those tried and true recipes I’ve relied on for years. I have so many treasured cookie recipes passed down from my mother and grandmother that I’m often on cookie auto-pilot; in other words, I rarely branch out and try new recipes. Well, shame on me! There are literally thousands of incredible cookie recipes – this one included! – that I’ve overlooked in my haze of childhood cookie nostalgia. I take heart in the fact my Grandma Bonnie would have LOVED these Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies – she was a sucker for anything with coconut and chocolate – and forgiven my wandering taste buds. These cookies are soft and chewy, over-sized (which is the best cookie size, amirite?), and not overly coconut-y. They’re best enjoyed 10-15 minutes out of the oven – when they’re still a wee bit warm and gooey on the inside – but can be zapped for a few seconds in the microwave for a similar effect.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the coconut and chocolate chips. Shape two tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball and place 3 inches apart on a baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough.
Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned (13 minutes was the sweet spot for my oven). Remove to wire racks to cool.
It occurred to me earlier this week that, as of late, this baking blog has been seriously lacking in one very important thing: BAKING. I could blame this on my recent love affair with soup (seriouslyhomemadesoupisthebestthingeverrrr), but the fact is I was just plain sugared out after the holidays. I don’t know about you, but I consumed so much cake, candy, and gluhwein in December (okay, and November) that I could hear my teeth screaming for mercy. With the face of my stern and ruthless Persian dentist in mind, I reluctantly placed a moratorium on baked goods.
If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, you probably know that’s when I re-discovered soup. We only ate soup on the rarest of occasions in California, because frankly, it’s way too blasted hot there. Much to my delight, however, German winters are ideal for soup making and eating, and I fell in love experimenting with all the recipes I’d collected – but never tried – over the years in San Diego. We enjoyed everything from Broccoli Cheddar to Zuppa Toscana, from Cream of Wild Mushroom to Cheesy Potato Bacon. We ate soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and probably – no joke – a few times for dessert. We lost ourselves in those heady days of cream and broth and bacon. In the meantime, my oven sat neglected, patiently waiting for me to get back to the business of baking.
Oh sweet oven, you know me so well. Late last week, I started getting that all-too-familiar hankering for chocolate. It started off subtle, but by the weekend I was pawing through my recipes looking for something to satisfy my sweet tooth. When I stumbled across these cupcakes – one of my childhood favorites – I knew I was back in the baking game. And thank goodness – I wasn’t keen on starting a Soup Goddess blog!
Black Bottom Cupcakes instantly remind me of my lovely aunt Rebecca, who frequently brought these to family picnics, potlucks and camping trips when I was growing up in the Pacific Northwest. I hadn’t had one in years, but was immediately transported back to the blissfully happy days of my youth as soon as these emerged from the oven. They are a delicious combination of decadent chocolate cake and rich, lightly sweetened cheesecake, studded with semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips. They’re an especially attractive dessert for those that love cake but hate the occasionally cloying sweetness of frosting. Enjoy in moderation!
BLACK BOTTOM CUPCAKES
Yields | 14-16 cupcakes
Inspiration | my aunt Rebecca
1 1/3 cup finely granulated sugar, divided
¼ cup high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup freshly brewed coffee, cooled
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature (do not microwave!)
1 large fresh egg
6 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners and set aside.
Place 1 cup finely granulated sugar, cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add coffee and oil and mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Add vinegar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, then blend on medium speed for an additional 30 seconds.
Fill each paper liner half full with chocolate batter. Set aside.
Clean and wipe dry the mixing bowl. On medium speed, blend cream cheese, 1/3 cup finely granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and egg until smooth and creamy. (Note: DO NOT OVER MIX. Blend just until lumps disappear, no more than 30 seconds.) Add chopped chocolate pieces and stir to incorporate. Top chocolate batter with one heaping teaspoonful of cream cheese mixture.
Bake for 23 to 25 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from muffin tins immediately and cool thoroughly on a wire rack. The insides will be gooey if eaten within the first hour, but will set thereafter. If you prefer the gooey texture, microwave for 10 to 15 seconds before eating.
2016 is off to a very chilly start in southern Germany – the perfect excuse to snuggle up in front of the fireplace, to wear cozy slippers all weekend long AND to dig deep in my recipe box for new and delicious soups and stews. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for traditional Hungarian gulyás since the beginning of the month, when my husband and I shared fond memories of a brilliant culinary holiday in Budapest for New Year’s Day 2012. The experience had been a first for both of us – his first goulash ever, and my first that wasn’t made with the loving hands of my adorable Polish grandmother. My husband polished off three bowls in one sitting on our first night in Pest, then continued to enjoy it everywhere we went in Hungary’s capital for the rest of our holiday. I hadn’t made it since, but this past weekend – snowy and well below freezing – seemed like the perfect opportunity to walk down a delectable memory lane.
Gulyás (goulash) – a soup or stew made of meat or vegetables, seasoned with paprika and a variety of other spices – is the type of recipe that exists on a very wide taste spectrum. In other words, I’ve never run across a goulash that contains the exact same ingredients in the exact same quantity as another. While sweet, high quality Hungarian paprika is essential, and other additions – onion, garlic, caraway seeds, and bell peppers – are fairly standard, the contents can otherwise be tailored to an individual palate. I tossed in some of my husband’s favorites – tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, beef cheeks and red bell peppers – but encourage you to use the flavors and textures you enjoy. Serve with csipetke (small, pinched egg noodles, also known as spätzle in Germany) or a thick, crusty loaf of bread on your next chilly winter’s day – you won’t regret it!
2 red bell peppers, seeded and membranes removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and membranes removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
2 fresh carrots, diced
2 medium potatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks
5 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve (optional)
Melt the lard in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and cook until slightly browned, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the paprika. Add the beef and garlic, return to the heat, and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink.
Add the bell peppers and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, beef broth, bay leaf, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 40 minutes (see note). Add salt to taste.
Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped flat-leaf parsley, if desired. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, csipetke or thick, crusty bread.
Note: If you’re using a tougher cut of beef, cook the beef first, without the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers, for 30-45 minutes, then add the vegetables and cook for another 40 minutes, until the beef is tender.
My mum and I made this SUPER easy recipe for brittle (courtesy of Cooking Light magazine) a few years ago, and its still one of my favorite candy recipes. The crunchy sweetness of this almond version beats the peanut variety any day, and its low fat and low calorie content are perfect for sweet tooths trying to ease off desserts after the holidays. It’s also ready to consume in under 45 minutes – what could be better? Enjoy in moderation!
TOASTED ALMOND BRITTLE
Yields | 12 to 14 servings
1 cup finely granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1. Line a jelly-roll pan or rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Combine sugar and syrup in a 2-quart microwave bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes (sugar mixture will appear clear and bubbly).
3. Stir in almonds. Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes or until mixture is a light caramel color, stirring every minute.
4. Stir in butter, vanilla and salt. Microwave on HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until mixture is the color of peanut butter. Add baking soda and stir until the mixture is foamy.
5. Quickly pour mixture onto prepared pan. Spread to 1/4-inch thickness and let stand for 30 minutes. Break brittle into pieces to serve.
We’re kicking off 2016 with chilly temps, gray skies and lots of rain showers here in southern Germany – as a native of the Pacific Northwest, this is just my kind of weather! For my cranky, sun-loving hubby, however, this is a less-than-desirable time of year. And like any good (read: wise and patient) wife confronted with her husband’s grumbling, I nod sympathetically, murmur words of understanding and encouragement, and placate. With soup.
When he requested this Broccoli Cheddar Soup last week, it took me all of 30 minutes to get dressed, throw on some makeup, and drive to the local grocery store for ingredients. Not only because I’ll do anything to turn his frown upside down, but because this soup is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Like better than Panera-style amazing (see Averie Cooks for the original recipe). It’s creamy, rich, and cheesy cheesyCHEESY. The secret to this soup is in fact super high quality, extra sharp Cheddar or Red Leicester cheese. While pre-shredded, bagged cheese has its place in the world, that place is not in this soup; the better the cheese, the better the flavor!
BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP
Yields | 4 to 6 servings
1 tbsp + 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 small sweet yellow onion, minced
1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and minced finely
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups half-and-half (regular or fat-free)
2 to 3 cups broccoli florets, diced into bite-size pieces
2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and finely grated
3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp paprika (optional), and to taste
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder (optional), and to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional), and to taste
8 ounces grated high quality extra-sharp Cheddar or Red Leicester cheese, plus extra to serve
In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add minced onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and turning lightly golden, about 4 minutes.
Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
In a large heavy-bottom Dutch oven or soup pot, add 4 tablespoons butter, flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes (until flour is fully incorporated and thickened), whisking constantly.
Slowly add the vegetable stock and half-and-half, whisking constantly. Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms (this is normal).
After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside. Add the salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder, and optional cayenne. Stir to combine.
Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
After simmering for 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute. Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately.
[Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the microwave.]
Apologies to my faithful blog readers (hi Mum and Dad!) – as you may have noticed, I’ve been seriously MIA for the past several weeks. The hubs and I had a very sick puppy on our hands and I couldn’t bring myself to do much of anything besides melt down over his condition every five minutes. Could you abandon this face to get creative in the kitchen? No? I didn’t think so.
The great news is that our wee boy has recovered 100% – and I can get back to cooking and baking just in time for the holidays!
One of our favorite things about living in Germany, particularly during Christmastime, is the delightfully ubiquitous presence of glühwein at virtually every party, festival, and weihnachtsmarkt around the country. For those outside of the German-speaking world, glühwein is a hot beverage of [typically] red wine mulled with sugar, citrus fruit, and a variety of spices, including cinnamon, cloves, anise and vanilla. There are few things more perfect on a cold winter’s night than a mug of steaming hot glühwein, followed by mug after mug of more glühwein.
I’ve been honing this recipe for years, and my husband (a true glühwein connoisseur) says it’s the best he’s ever had. Judge for yourself – enjoy responsibly!
Note: Vary the sugar content of this recipe per your individual taste, but do not exceed 3/4 cup. Glühwein is often made with port or claret, but substitute any robust red wine you prefer.
Yields | 6 servings
3/4 cup water
1/2 – 3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 fresh orange
10 whole cloves
1 (750ml) bottle red wine
In a large saucepan, combine the water, sugar and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.
Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the simmering water. Push the cloves into the outside of the orange and place in the simmering water. Continue simmering for 30 minutes, until thick and syrupy.
Strain sugar-water mixture through a fine sieve to remove pulp and solids. Return strained liquid to the saucepan.
Add the wine to the saucepan and heat until hot, but not simmering. Serve hot in mugs or glasses that have been preheated in warm water (cold glasses will shatter).
I’ve been looking forward to making these yummy pumpkin cinnamon rolls since discovering the recipe last year on the brilliant and beautiful blog Sweet and Savory by Shinee. Because pumpkin and cinnamon rolls deserve each other, and I’m nothing if not a slightly reckless matchmaker.
I was hoping I could try this recipe after the arrival of my household goods, as the use of a rolling pin makes rolling infinitely (and obviously) easier. But as usual, my sweet tooth and reckless abandon won out as I found myself pulling all the ingredients off our market shelves without hesitation last week. Fast forward to Sunday morning, when I then found myself staring down step 5 with a smidge of doubt and a dash of disappointment. “Roll out on a floured surface into a large rectangle approximately 18 x 15 inches”, you say? Hmmm. Perhaps I should have waited for my rolling pin to arrive after all. But I’m nothing if not resourceful (and a little reckless – did I mention that?), so I scoured my pantry for something – anything – to get my rolls back on track. Can of soup? Too small. Husband’s obnoxiously giant bottle of protein powder? Too unwieldly. Half empty, mostly stale old tube of Pringles? Now we’re talking.
Long story short, you too can make these incredibly delicious cinnamon rolls with a can of Pringles that should have been thrown away two months ago. Or a rolling pin, if that’s your thing. Just make them. Because pumpkin and cinnamon rolls should have gotten together a lonnng time ago. Because it’s still socially acceptable to pimp pumpkin. And because they’re freaking amazing, and you haven’t made cinnamon rolls in a long time (or maybe ever?!). Enjoy in moderation!
1 standard package (0.25 oz; 2 ¼ teaspoons) dry active yeast
¼ cup warm water
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup pure pumpkin puree
¼ cup (4 tbsp) buttermilk
For the filling:
4 tbsp butter, melted
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
For the glaze:
4 oz (110gr) cream cheese, at room temperature
7oz (200gr) sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup (4 tbsp) Pumpkin spice coffee creamer
1 tsp vanilla extract
To make filling:
Mix together brown sugar, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Set aside.
To make dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine dry active yeast and warm water. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl with yeast, add pumpkin puree, buttermilk, egg and flour mixture. Knead* for about 6-7minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Transfer the dough into large oiled bowl. Cover it with wet towel and put it in a warm place for an hour to rise. I put it in a microwave with glass of hot water.
Once the dough has doubled in size, roll out on a floured surface into a large rectangle about 18x15in. Pour melted butter and spread it evenly. Leave about half an inch on opposite edge of the dough. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the butter. Wet the opposite edge of the dough that has no butter and filling.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Bake the rolls in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown. Cool on wire rack while making the glaze.
To make glaze:
In mixing bowl, whisk together cream cheese, condensed milk and Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer on medium speed until smooth.
Pour over the warm pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Serve warm.
*Note: You don’t need a stand mixer to make this recipe. You can easily mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon and knead the dough by hand for 6-7 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Every Halloween for the last few years, I’ve tried my hand at a new doughnut recipe. I’ve struck gold in the past with flavors like Apple Cider and spiced Pumpkin, and had high hopes that these little guys – fashioned after the Girl Scout cookie classic, Samoas (also known as Caramel deLites) – would be just as yummy. Mission accomplished! The combination of sticky caramel, crunchy toasted coconut and semi-sweet chocolate was divine, if not a wee bit messy (which just means ooey-gooey delicious, right?). The recipe below makes 12-15 miniature doughnuts – perfect for a brunch treat or a morning meeting in the office. Enjoy!
Tip: Make sure that you use a slightly thickened (but still drizzly) caramel sauce rather than a caramel syrup. The thickness of the sauce helps the coconut adhere to the doughnut’s surface, preventing the whole thing from falling apart while eating.