PEACH PRALINE BOMBES WITH PEACH SYRUP

Active time: 2 hr Start to finish: 14 1/2 hr (includes chilling and freezing)

serving size
Makes 6 servings.

ingredients
For peach ice cream
2 lb very ripe peaches, left unpeeled
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
For almond praline filling
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/3 cup whole blanched almonds, lightly toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup chilled heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For peach syrup
1 1/2 lb very ripe peaches, left unpeeled
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Garnish: peach slices
Special equipment: an ice cream maker; 6 (8- to 9-oz) paper cups
preparation
Make peach custard for ice cream:
Slice peaches 1/4 inch thick, then toss with 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Let stand 30 minutes.
While peaches are standing, bring cream just to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Whisk together yolks, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in a bowl, then add cream in a slow stream, whisking. Pour into saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it coats back of spoon and registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). Pour through a very fine sieve into a clean bowl and cool, stirring occasionally.

Purée peaches in batches in a blender until very smooth and force through very fine sieve into custard, pressing hard on and discarding solids. Whisk in extracts and chill, covered, until cold, 2 to 3 hours. (Do not chill longer than 3 hours or custard will discolor.)

Make praline while custard chills:
Lightly butter a small baking sheet or a sheet of foil.

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil syrup without stirring, washing down any sugar crystals on side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until syrup turns a golden caramel. Remove from heat and stir in almonds. Pour praline onto baking sheet and cool completely.

Break praline into pieces and pulse in a food processor until finely ground with some small pieces remaining.

Freeze ice cream:
Freeze peach custard in ice cream maker, then transfer to a bowl and keep in freezer while assembling bombes.

Assemble bombes:
Beat cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold in vanilla and crushed praline.

Spoon about 1/2 cup ice cream into 1 paper cup and spread it evenly over bottom and about two-thirds of the way up side of cup, forming a well. Spoon a rounded 1/4 cup praline filling into well and top with another 1/4 cup ice cream, spreading evenly to cover filling. Cover cup tightly with foil and put in freezer. Make 5 more bombes in same manner. Freeze bombes at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.

Make peach syrup:
Chop peaches, then bring to a boil with sugar in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over moderate heat, covered, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until peaches are very soft and have given off liquid, about 15 minutes. Pour peaches and syrup through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing on and discarding solids. Stir in lemon juice and cool syrup. Chill, covered, until cold.

To serve, carefully tear off each paper cup. Invert bombes onto plates and halve each with a sharp knife. Let stand about 5 minutes to soften slightly, then drizzle about 2 tablespoons peach syrup around each serving.

Cooks’ notes:
• Peach syrup can be chilled up to 3 days.
• You can substitute 2/3 cup crushed amaretti (Italian almond macaroons) for the almond praline in the filling (this will result in a stronger almond flavor).

Stuffed Red Peppers

STUFFED RED BELL PEPPERS

Select peppers that are flat on the bottom — they stand up better while cooking. Mashed potatoes would be a perfect side dish.

serving size

Makes 6 servings.

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6 large (8-ounce) red bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 cup cooked white rice, cooled
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 1/2 cups canned tomato sauce
1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef
1 large egg
preparation
Cut off top 1/2 inch of peppers and reserve. Scoop seeds from cavities. Discard stems and chop pepper tops. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, parsley, garlic, and chopped pepper pieces. Sauté until onions soften, about 8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in rice, paprika, salt, pepper, and allspice. Cool 10 minutes. Mix in 1/2 cup tomato sauce, then beef and egg.
Fill pepper cavities with beef mixture. Stand filled peppers in single layer in heavy large pot. Pour remaining 2 cups tomato sauce around peppers. Bring sauce to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and simmer 20 minutes. Spoon some sauce over each pepper. Cover; cook until peppers are tender and filling is cooked through and firm, about 20 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and chill. Rewarm covered over low heat.)

Tiramisu

I have made Tiramisu in many different ways. This is just one easy way to do it.

Recipe for 20 squares of Tiramisu : 500 ml. mascarpone cheese, 1 litre whipping cream, 120 g. sugar, 4 cups double espresso, 100 ml. Tia Maria or Kaluha, 50 ml. artificial vanilla extract, 2 pounds lady fingers.
Put the mascarpone, the sugar and the cream in a mixing bowl and whip them together to stiff peaks . Cool down the coffee and mix with the liqueur and the vanilla extract. Dip every lady finger in the coffee mixture and arrange horizontally in a suitable tray. Spread half the mascarpone mixture on top and continue with the lady fingers but this time vertically. Spread the sacond half on top and shave some semi-sweet bakers chocolate on top if desired. Cover the Tiramisu and leave it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours to set before cutting.

GRILLED SWORDFISH WITH CORIANDER LIME BUTTER

ingredients

For Grilled Swordfish
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh coriander leaves
two 6- to 8-ounce swordfish steaks

Accompaniment if desired:
grilled spiced red onions

For GRILLED SPICED RED ONIONS
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
cayenne to taste
1 large red onion, cut crosswise into four 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice if desired

preparation

Make Grilled Swordfish:
Prepare grill.

In a small bowl together butter, zest, 1 teaspoon lime juice, garlic, coriander, and salt and pepper to taste.

Rub both sides of swordfish steaks with remaining 2 teaspoons lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Grill swordfish on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. (Alternatively, swordfish may be grilled in a hot well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately high heat.)

Top each swordfish steak with a dollop of coriander lime butter and serve with grilled onions.

Make Grilled Spiced Red Onions:
Prepare grill.

In a small bowl stir together oil, cumin, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste.

Brush both sides of onion slices with oil mixture and grill on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until well-charred and tender, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. (Alternatively, onion slices may be grilled in a hot well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately high heat.)

Separate onion slices into rings. In a bowl toss onion rings with lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with grilled fish, meat, or poultry

Cream Cheese Turtle Cake

CREAM CHEESE TURTLE CAKE

 

ingredients
Cake
1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
1 18.25-ounce box German chocolate cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cut into pieces, room temperature

Icing
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
5 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup purchased caramel-flavored topping or dulce de leche topping
preparation
For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch metal cake pan. Sprinkle 1/2 cup almonds and 1/2 cup pecans over bottom of pan. Combine cake mix, 1 1/4 cups water, oil, and eggs in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat at low speed until mixture is moistened, about 30 seconds. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Pour batter into pan.
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar (mixture will form clumps); stir in cream cheese. Whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour cream cheese mixture in large ribbons atop cake batter in pan. Using knife, swirl mixture into batter (do not overmix).

Bake cake until tester inserted into center (in cake part only) comes out clean, about 50 minutes (bottom of cake will be very moist). Cool cake in pan on rack. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup almonds and 1/2 cup pecans over cake.

For icing:
Mix sugar and cocoa in medium bowl. Bring milk and butter to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low; add powdered sugar mixture and whisk until melted. Add chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Mix in vanilla.

Drizzle warm icing over cake. Let stand until set, about 2 hours. Drizzle caramel topping over. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.)

SIRLOIN STEAKS WITH POTATOES AND SPICY CHILI BUTTER

ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chilies
2 onions, thinly sliced

3 russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

4 12-ounce sirloin strip steaks, trimmed
Vegetable oil
preparation
Mix first 3 ingredients in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon onto plastic wrap; roll into cylinder. Cover; chill at least 3 hours or overnight. Melt 2 tablespoons chili butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill.)
Steam potatoes until tender. Cool. Melt 3 tablespoons chili butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes; sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Mix onions and parsley into potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Brush 2 heavy large skillets with oil; heat over high heat. Add 2 steaks to each skillet; cook to desired doneness, about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Rewarm potato mixture. Spoon onto plates. Top with steaks. Slice remaining chili butter; arrange atop steaks.

Red Velvet cake w/ rasberries & Blueberries

 

This cake is a southern tradition for festive occasions. It can be completely assembled and chilled one day before serving.

serving size

Makes 12 servings.

 ingredients
Cake
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
Frosting
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 1/2-pint baskets fresh raspberries
3 1/2-pint baskets fresh blueberries
preparation
For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.
Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

For frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. Arrange 1 basket raspberries and 1/2 basket blueberries atop frosting, pressing lightly to adhere. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange remaining berries decoratively over top of cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

CHOCOLATE BROWNIE TORTE WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE AND CARAMELIZED BANANAS

Begin making this one day before serving.

serving size

Makes 12 servings.

 ingredients
Brownie
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 ounce bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup cake flour

Mousse
12 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker’s), chopped
1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream

3 large egg whites

Caramelized bananas
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
4 firm but ripe bananas, peeled, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
preparation
For brownie:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Dust pan with flour. Stir butter and both chocolates in heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature.
Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in large bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Stir in chocolate mixture. Sift flour over and fold in. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center of brownie comes out with dry crumbs attached, about 18 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.

For mousse:
Stir white chocolate and 3/4 cup cream in heavy medium saucepan over low heat just until white chocolate is melted. Cool completely.

Beat remaining 3/4 cup cream in another large bowl until peaks form. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Gently fold whites, then whipped cream, into white chocolate mixture. Spoon mousse atop brownie in pan; smooth top. Cover torte and refrigerate overnight.

For caramelized bananas:
Preheat broiler. Line heavy large baking sheet with foil. Spray foil with nonstick spray. Toss banana slices with sugar and lemon juice in large bowl to coat; arrange in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Broil until bananas begin to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Cool completely.

Release pan sides from torte. Transfer torte to platter. Top with caramelized bananas. Serve with chocolate sauce.

GEMELLI ALFREDO WITH PROSCUITTO

ingredients
1/2 pound gemelli (short pasta twists) or short spiral pasta
2 ounces thinly slice prosciutto
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
fresh ground black pepper to taste preparation
Fill a 4-quart kettle three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil for cooking pasta.
Chop prosciutto. In a skillet heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté prosciutto, stirring, until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer prosciutto to paper towels to drain.

Boil pasta until al dente and drain in a colander. Return pasta to kettle and add remaining ingredients except prosciutto and salt to taste. Cook pasta over low heat, stirring, until butter is melted and sauce coats pasta.

Serve pasta sprinkled with prosciutto.

BARBECUED BEEF RIBS WITH MOLASSES-BOURBON SAUCE

Beef rib meat becomes tender and succulent with slow cooking over low, indirect heat. Marinate the ribs overnight and allow for three hours of cooking time on the grill.

serving size

Makes 6 servings.

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Marinade and ribs
1 1/2 cups water
1 12-ounce bottle pale ale
1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
16 beef short ribs or 8 whole beef ribs
Sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup bourbon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Leaves from 5 fresh thyme sprigs

Charcoal chimney
45 charcoal briquettes
preparation
For marinade and ribs:
Combine all ingredients except ribs in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Cool marinade completely. Place ribs in large heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; add marinade. Seal bag; turn to coat ribs. Refrigerate overnight, turning bag occasionally.
For sauce:
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add vinegar and boil until mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add ketchup, molasses, and 1/4 cup water, then bourbon; stir to blend. Bring sauce to simmer. Stir in salt and white pepper. Simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors. Stir in thyme leaves. (Sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Place handful of torn newspaper in bottom of charcoal chimney. Top with 30 charcoal briquettes. Remove top grill rack from barbecue. Place chimney on bottom rack. Light newspaper; let charcoal burn until ash is gray, about 30 minutes.

Open bottom barbecue vent. Turn out hot charcoal onto 1 side of bottom rack. Using metal spatula, move charcoal to cover approximately 1/3 of rack at 1 side. Fill foil loaf pan halfway with water; place opposite charcoal on bottom rack.

Return top rack to barbecue. Arrange ribs on top rack above water in loaf pan. Cover barbecue with lid, positioning top vent directly over ribs. Insert stem of candy thermometer through top vent, with gauge outside and tip near ribs (thermometer should not touch meat or barbecue rack); leave thermometer in place during cooking. Use top and bottom vents to maintain temperature between 250°F and 300°F, opening vents wider to increase heat and closing to decrease heat. Leave other vents closed. Check temperature every 10 minutes.

Cook ribs until meat is very tender when pierced with knife, turning ribs occasionally and basting often with sauce the last 10 minutes of cooking, about 3 hours total. Open barbecue only when necessary to turn or baste meat and close quickly to minimize loss of heat and smoke.

After first 30 minutes of cooking, use technique described earlier to light additional 15 charcoal briquettes in charcoal chimney set atop nonflammable surface. If cooking temperature drops below 250°F, use oven mitts to lift off top rack with ribs and place on heatproof surface. Using tongs, add half of hot gray charcoal from chimney to bottom rack. Replace top rack on barbecue, placing ribs above water in loaf pan. Cover with lid.

Transfer ribs to plates; brush with more sauce and serve, passing any remaining sauce separately.

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