Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Malfatti - Delicious Dumplings From Heaven

Malfatti, when translated from Italian, means "poorly made".  I have no idea how anyone could call these delicate, light, fluffy and delicious dumplings "poorly made".  They are like little bites of heaven to me!  Malfatti are really a Tuscan version of Gnocchi, that are made with flour, ricotta, and spinach (or kale, swiss chard, etc.).

I was recently told about these heavenly dumplings from a friend who had seen the recipe in Saveur Magazine.  I looked them up online and saw that they mixed ricotta cheese with swiss chard and a small amount of flour for what turns into incredibly light pillows of goodness that they serve with a Sage and Browned Butter Sauce.

How could I resist!  I had just been to the farmers market and had close to 2 lbs of kale at home just begging for a new recipe.  Saveur used 4 lbs of swiss chard and the picture of their Malfatti is of an extremely dark dumpling.  I decided to try it with my 2 lbs of kale.  Perfect flavor, the kale was not overpowering but rather light and added a nice green color to the dumpling.

Now, this is a simple recipe and didn't take too long but I will warn you to keep flour on hand to shape your malfatti.  I ended up using two spoons to shape them and dumping the newly formed malfatti onto a plate of flour and rolling the dumpling in that before placing on a cookie sheet.  This kept them from sticking to the cookie sheet or my hands.

The sauce is simple but delicious.  You could serve these with a marinara sauce as well but I really enjoyed the simple flavors of the browned butter sauce with the crispy sage leaves.  My mouth is drooling just thinking about it!  :)

Malfatti via Saveur

1 lb. ricotta
1 tsp. kosher sal
approx 2 lbs Kale (can use spinach or swiss chard)
16 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup flour, plus more for shaping
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg yolks
1 egg
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
24 sage leaves
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Put ricotta in a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl and let drain overnight in refrigerator.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add kale; cook until soft, 3–4 minutes. Drain kale and let cool. Squeeze kale with your hands to expel liquid and transfer to center of a tea towel, bring up edges, and squeeze to expel remaining liquid.  Transfer kale to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Place kale in a large bowl along with drained ricotta, 1 tsp. salt, 8 tbsp. butter, flour, nutmeg, egg yolks, and egg. Season with pepper and mix until smooth. (Test 1 dumpling: Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Measure out 1 tbsp. of mixture, roll in flour, and boil until the dumpling floats. If dumpling falls apart, stir 1/4 cup more flour into mixture.)

Grab a large spoonful of the mixture (1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons of mix) and using two spoons shape portion into an oval and roll in flour on a plate. Transfer dumplings to a lightly floured baking sheet and repeat with remaining portions. (If not cooking immediately, cover and freeze malfatti for up to 6 months.)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add dumplings; cook until dumplings float, 1–2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer dumplings to a baking sheet. Meanwhile, heat remaining butter in a 10" skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add sage and cook until leaves are crisp, 1 minute. Divide dumplings between 4-6 serving plates, drizzle with sage butter, and garnish with more Parmesan and nutmeg, if you like.


This recipe shared on:
The 21st Century Housewife - The Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
Foodie Friends Friday
My Turn For Us - Freedom Fridays

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bourbon Butterscotch Bread Pudding

Bourbon Butterscotch Bread Pudding!  Yep, you heard me right!  Despite our warm California weather, it is fall and time for the comfort food that I think of when I think of fall.  I am in the mood for soups and stews and pumpkin breads and bread pudding!

This bread pudding is probably the best bread pudding I have ever is certainly the best I have ever made!  The custard is fabulous and flavored with vanilla and bourbon and flecked with little poppy seeds!  On it's own, this bread pudding is not too sweet and has a fabulous flavor....but paired with the bourbon butterscotch sauce....ahhhh, to die for!!!

The great thing about this recipe is that you put the whole thing together hours (up to 24 hours) before you bake it.  All of that yummy goodness in the custard has time to really soak into the day old bread.  The other great thing is that the recipe makes more butterscotch sauce than you will need for the bread pudding, so you've got leftover sauce to pour on your ice cream or over your apple pie! :)

Perfect ending to my perfect fall dinner! Pour the delicious butterscotch sauce right over the top of a warm slice and enjoy!

Bourbon Butterscotch Bread Pudding adapted from Epicurious

Butterscotch sauce:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon

Bring brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter  to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking to dissolve sugar. Boil until mixture is syrupy and measures 1 1/3 cups, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; add cream and bourbon, if desired, and stir until smooth. Let cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool completely, cover, and chill. Rewarm before serving.

1 pound day-old rustic white bread (such as ciabatta), cut into 1" cubes
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Pinch of kosher salt
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or vanilla paste
2 cups pecan pieces

Toss bread, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in another large bowl until pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add cream, poppy seeds, and salt; beat to blend. Place bourbon in a small bowl; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve bean for another use). Whisk to distribute seeds, then add to egg mixture, whisking to blend well. Pour egg mixture over bread mixture in bowl. Add pecans and toss to coat well. Transfer mixture to a 13x9x2" glass or ceramic baking dish, spreading out in an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove plastic wrap and bake until top is browned in spots and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, approximately 1 hour. Serve bread pudding with butterscotch sauce.

Recipe shared on:
My Turn For Us - Freedom Fridays
Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate - Thursday's Treasure
The 21st Century Housewife - The Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
Foodie Friends Friday

Monday, October 29, 2012

Guest Post - Cupcake VS Cake: The Pinterest Showdown

The past few weeks have been busy for me with mid-terms at school, deadlines at work and several small catering jobs.  Needless to say....I am behind in my posts!!

Lucky for all of us I have a guest blogger today, the lovely Rachel Hurley who writes for a UK lifestyles blog called Appliances Online @ Home.  Her blog is filled with posts about the, decorating, family, etc.  So many great articles to read!  I could see from reading some of Rachel's other guest posts that she shares my love/obsession with Pinterest!  I was delighted when she offered to write a guest post for me that combines so many of my favorite subjects into one post....cupcakes, cakes and Pinterest!!  

Without further ado.....Miss Rachel Hurley:

Cupcake VS Cake: The Pinterest Showdown

If you haven’t yet been acquainted with Pinterest, let me introduce you. This is a relatively new social media website that’s based around imagery – and a fantastic place for avid cooks. What Pinterest allows you to do is collect all your favourite recipes from around the web and store them neatly on “pin-boards”, which then become your online cookery books. 

There are some fantastic foodie photographers out there who offer a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. You simply can’t help but want to bake with their inspiration. 

Currently, Pinterest is helping me with a seemingly insignificant, yet troubling problem – cupcakes or a cake? Let the pin-boards decide. 


There are some seriously talented people out there when it comes to baking. Some of the cakes pinned on Pinterest are absolute works of art. Whatever the special occasion and however experienced you are, there is a cake you can bake – and you can find some real inspiration on Pinterest. Even novice bakers can give a Victoria sandwich a jolly good go. 

Here are several of my favourite cakes listed on Pinterest:

Leopard Print Baby Shower Cake

With leopard print sponge this cake will make any baby shower a memorable occasion. It’s fabulous in design but so beautiful you don’t want to dig in! I’m sure we could all get over that though.

Beach Time Cake

The winter weather is setting in, so re-live summer with this fantastic beach cake. Turn up the thermostat, put on your bikini and pretend the sun’s still shining – and invite all your friends round to indulge.


Cupcakes are the ideal pre-portioned food, so they’re great for buffets and parties where you don’t want to be leaving knives hanging around on tables. Plus, kids and adults alike love cupcakes, and they can be decorated in an array of different and innovative ways to set the tone for a delicate tea party, or a fun and frivolous children’s event. It’s now even quite popular to substitute a wedding cake with tiers of delicate and ornate cupcakes. 

Take a look at these beauties:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Perfect for kids’ parties and relatively simple to execute – even if you’re not the most skilled baker you could still give green iced cupcakes a good go.

Spooky Spiders

Ideal for Halloween, these spooky spider cakes are a cute addition to a themed party spread – or as a special treat for your little one’s lunch box. 

Who’s the winner?

There are a stunning range of cakes out there to help you celebrate any event – from a special birthday to a Tuesday afternoon. But in the cupcake versus cake debate I’m currently in the cake corner – I love the fact that there is a greater area to decorate, and digging in can like opening a Christmas present! What’s the filling under the frosting? You never know quite what’s inside. You might even find some leopard-print spots.  

Authors Biography 

This article was written by Rachel Hurley who writes for Appliances Online. When she isn’t trawling Pinterest for amazing baking creations she enjoys grabbing a glass of wine and relaxing on the couch. Follow her on Twitter @Rachel_Hurley23.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hot Cocoa Cookies!

I'm just back from a short-but-sweet trip to one of my favorite places...Carmel!  I was in need of a quick de-compression from school, work, etc. and Carmel has everything I love....beaches, wineries, romance, shopping, great restaurants, and hiking!  Weekend over  :(   time to get back to work and prepare for my last two mid-terms....ugh!

Before I do, I had to share these fabulous cookies with you.....Hot Cocoa Cookies!!!  YUM!  This is a Rachel Ray recipe, and I don't know why she always says she doesn't much care for baking....when she created this fabulous recipe!

The cookies are a rich, chocolatey cookie that is baked until just done....

Then topped with half a large marshmallow into which a small chunk of chocolate has been stuck.  I chose to use milk chocolate because I had some hersheys bars in the house but you should feel free to use milk or dark chocolate.

Pop the cookies back in the oven for a few minutes, just until that marshmallow gets a little gooey and the chocolate melts.

After the cookies cool for just a few minutes, you can eat them and enjoy all that melty, gooey goodness!  The cookies were good later after they had cooled but according to my son Max, they are best RIGHT out of the oven!!  :)

I made these for a friend at school who was having a birthday and doesn't mind being my guinea pig for new recipes.  I had never made them before and was so happy to see that the recipe is perfect!  Happy Birthday to Julie and Yay me for finding another great recipe!!

 Hot Cocoa Cookies via Rachel Ray

1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
30 large marshmallows
7-8 ounces milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate bars cut into 1 inch chunks
Semi-sweet chocolate bar to grate over the top of cookies

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chopped chocolate, stirring frequently, over medium heat. Let cool for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla at low speed until smooth, 2 minutes. Mix in the cooled chocolate mixture just until blended. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing on low speed until just combined. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour. (If making the dough a day ahead, let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping.)

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 325 degrees . Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment. Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough and roll between your palms to form 1-inch balls. Arrange about 16 balls 2 inches apart on each cookie sheet, flattening slightly. Bake until the tops of the cookies crack, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, snip marshmallows in half crosswise and stick 1 square of chocolate onto each of the cut sides.
Remove the cookie sheets from the oven; gently press a marshmallow half, chocolate side down, into each cookie. Bake until the marshmallows are just softened, about 4 minutes.

Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 5 minutes; grate the remaining chocolate over the hot cookies. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to the racks; let cool. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, marshmallows and chocolate. Bake each batch on a clean sheet of parchment.

This recipe shared on:
Foodie Friends Friday
My Turn For Us Freedom Fridays
Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate "Thursday's Treasures"
21st Century Housewife - Gallery of Favorites

Saturday, October 6, 2012

White Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup

One week ago we were having 100 degrees weather, air conditioners were on, the pool was full of people. Fast forward to today and we are at 70 degrees.  Chilly mornings and evenings, sunny days with gentle breeze.  Fall is here! The drastic change had me thinking about my favorite fall foods and craving apple pie, pumpkin bread and soup.  I love soup!

I've been drinking green smoothies with kale for the last couple of weeks and have a refrigerator full of kale, so I knew I wanted to do something that had kale in it.  Don't say "ewww"!  Kale is fabulous and so good for you!  It has very little flavor and basically takes up the flavor of whatever ingredients you cook it with.  In a smoothie it will taste like all of the yummy fruits you mix it with.  It tastes fabulous sauteed with garlic and prosciutto.  It is also perfect in soups. Sausage in the freezer, cans of white beans, fresh thyme out in the garden!  Sounds like the ingredients for a great soup to me!

This is a very easy soup with very few ingredients and it comes together in no time at all.  Feel free to experiment with it and add more vegetables, different beans, you could even use a different type of sausage.  The point is, this is a very good, easy, and healthy soup that will warm you up on a cold fall night!

See? I don't just sit around all day eating cupcakes!  I even like to eat the healthy stuff!  LOL  ;)


White Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup

1 lb Italian Sausage (I used Italian chicken sausage), cooked and sliced
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 cups chicken broth
2 cans white beans (such as great northern), drained and rinsed
1 piece parmesan rind
1 bay leaf (not California)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 lb kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
hot sauce, to taste

Cook onions in oil in an 8-quart pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add cooked sausage, beans, broth, cheese rind, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper, and kale. Simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes.  Check seasoning, add hot sauce to taste.

Recipe shared on:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mudslide Cupcakes

I have been wanting to make these cupcakes ever since I first saw them.  Naomi from Bakers Royale makes the coolest cupcakes!  They are never just a cupcake and frosting, they always have some fun twist to them, and her pictures are fabulous!!  

I am not so great with the photography but I am always excited to try new recipes and new techniques!  Plus....who doesn't love a good Mudslide!!  :)

The cupcake is your basic chocolate cupcake.  I used the recipe she provided but you could use your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe or even use a box (gasp)!  You could even add Kahlua to the batter to give it an extra kick (I will try that next time).  I made mini cupcakes for my practice run!  What makes these cupcakes special is the frosting.  Swiss Meringue Buttercream (I know....I really am addicted), divide the frosting into two bowls and add Kahlua to one and Baileys to the other....instant Mudslide!

I put each frosting in it's own piping bag, cut  the tips from each and then placed them side by side in a large piping bag with my chosen tip.

This actually works!  The key to success is to make sure each frosting bag is filled with the same amount and positioned equally in the larger bag.  Also, try a few practice swirls to make sure the frostings are both coming out at the same time.

Finish off your cupcakes with some homemade fudge sauce drizzled over the top!

Mudslide Cupcakes (adapted from Bakers Royale)


3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare muffin pans with liners or non-stick spray.

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 18 minutes for standard size, 10 minutes for mini cupcakes.  Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.


3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¾ sugar
Pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into 16 pieces

Combine egg whites and sugar in a large heat proof bowl. Set the bowl over (not on) simmering water in a sauce pan and heat, whisking constantly until sugar has dissolved. The mixture is ready when with it is very warm to the touch, about 2 minutes and approximately 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer.

Remove from mixture from heat and transfer to a stand mixer bowl and beat on high until egg white mixture is fluffy, led to room temperature and holds stiff peaks, about 6 minutes.

Turn the speed to medium low, add salt and the butter a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. Turn the speed to high and beat until mixture is creamy, about 3-5 minutes more. Evenly split buttercream into two separate bowls.

Bailey’s and Chocolate Kahlua Frostings:
To make the Baileys buttercream add 3 tablespoons of Baileys into one bowl and beat until combined.

To make the Chocolate Kahlua Frosting in the other bowl, add 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and 4 oz of melted semi-sweet chocolate and 3 tablespoons of Kahlua and beat until combined.


Place each frosting in separate pastry bags and cut a small opening at the bottom. Use a third bag fitted with your preferred tip and then place both filled pastry bags inside. Make sure that the bottoms of both bags are pointed in the tip. Frost cupcakes as desired.

Drizzle with chocolate sauce to finish.

Recipe shared on:
My Turn for us Linky Party
Recipes For My Boys: Thursday's Treasures
Foodie Friends Friday