Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mushroom and Teleggio Turnovers

Mushroom, cheese and butter is such a beautiful combination. You cannot go wrong with it. Flavor it as you please. This recipe is yet again from one of my favorite cookbooks— American Masala, by Suvir Saran. Saran is chef and owner of Manhattan's highly acclaimed Indian restaurant, Devi. This book is a compilation of some of his favorite recipes from his home. Thank you Chef, you have brought some great recipes into our home.

I loved the idea of this recipe, because it's simple, can be made ahead in time and frozen for when you're ready to serve it and you can alter the flavoring each time and make it your own. This is his recipe, but I used a mixture of cheeses I had in the refrigerator. Swap the mushrooms for spinach or add spinach too by making it Mushroom, Spinach, and Cheese Turnovers. Have fun! And impress those last minute guests with a homemade treat. 

One of my guests didn't eat eggs, which is why I omitted the egg wash. It tasted great  without it. The egg wash will give it a beautiful glaze.

There is nothing healthy or low-fat about this. The puff pastry does enough caloric damage, so don't bother skimping on the butter. This is party food, so be sure that you keep all the yum in it.

Makes 16 turnovers
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground peppercorns
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fruity white wine or vermouth
1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus a pinch, for the egg wash
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
All-purpose flour, for rolling pastry
2 packages frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 ounces Taleggio cheese, cut into 16 small pieces


  1. Melt the butter with the rosemary, pepper flakes, and ground peppercorns in a large skillet over medium-high heat, cooking until it's fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the onions, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until browned and sticky, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes. 
  3. Pour in the wine and cook 1 minute longer while scraping the onion and any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet.
  4. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid and that liquid mostly evaporates, stirring occasionally, another 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the salt, and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning (reduce heat to low is mushrooms begin to brown too much). 
  6. Stir in the thyme, transfer the mushrooms to a bowl to cool, or refrigerate overnight.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400F. Whisk the egg, water, cayenne pepper, and salt and set aside.
  8. Dust your work surface with flour and place 1 sheet of puff pastry on top (if it came folded in thirds, keep folded). Roll the folded pastry sheet to an approximate 12 x 8-inch rectangle.
  9. Starting 1-inch from the left edge, place a heaping 1 1/2 tablespoons of mushrooms in the center of the pastry. Repeat three times, working your way across the pastry, leaving about 1 1/2-inches between mounds and ending about 1-inch from the right edge. Place 1 piece of cheese atop each mound.
  10. Using a pastry brush, lightly paint the long edge of pastry closest to you with the egg wash. Paint the left and right edges up to the midpoint of the pastry, and then paint between each of the mounds up to the middle of the pastry. Fold the top half of the pastry down over the bottom half, press the edges together to seal, and press the dough together in between each of the mounds.
  11. Trim the edges and cut between each mound so you have 4 turnovers. Press the tines of an upturned fork around the turnovers' edges to crimp.
  12. Brush with egg wash and place on a baking sheet. 
  13. Proceed with the remaining pastry and filling, making 12 more turnovers. 
  14. Bake the turnovers until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating midway through cooking. Cool 10 minutes, and serve warm or at room temparature.
Saran's tips: The turnovers can be frozen on a baking sheet until they are hard, about 1 hour, and then transferred to a large resealable plastic bag and kept frozen for 3 months. Let turnovers thaw before baking.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pistachio-Cardamon Cake

When I read this recipe in Suvir Saran's book American Masala I knew it had to be made immediately. My husband, who does not have a sweet tooth, was salivating over the cake and begged me to make it again. This was several years ago. So a few weeks ago when I took this to a potluck with my fabulous girlfriends (where I also took along the Spinach and Cheese Dip from Saran's book) it was a hit! I have re-made it for several occasions in the past few weeks— which made me wonder why I never shared this fantastic recipe with all of you. 

This Lebanese cake is a pound cake is wonderfully soft as the pistachios are ground to a fine powder. As Saran says; "I find that the freshly ground cardamon enhances the flavor of the pistachios, contributing an ethereal citrus essence." The lemon icing is what sends this perfect cake over the top and gives it that irreplaceable finishing touch.

Makes 1 loaf

For the cake
1 cup raw, shelled pistachios
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk

For the icing
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon heavy cream or milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  2. Butter and flour a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with 1 tablespoon butter.
  3. Pulse pistachios in a food processor until they become very fine (be careful not to over process; otherwise you'll have pistachio butter). Set aside.
  4. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamon, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  5. Crack the eggs in a liquid measuring cup, whisk in the vanilla and set aside.
  6. Using an electric mixer, cream the remaining stick and a half of butter and sugar, until they are light and airy.
  7. Drizzle in the eggs, a little at a time, beating between additions to incorporate and scraping the bowl as necessary.
  8. Alternate adding the flour and milk, starting and ending with the flour and mixing until the batter is just nearly combined between additions, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  9. Fold the pistachios into the batter by hang, then transfer to the prepared loaf pan. Bake the cake until a cake tester inserted into the cake's center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack and turn it so that its top faces up. Let the cake cool completely.
  10. While the cake cools, make the icing. Sift the confectioners' sugar and cardamon powder into a medium bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and milk
  11. Spread the icing over the cake, letting it drop over the sides. Once the icing has set, slice and serve.
Saran's tip: The lemon icing is nice finish, but the cake is delicious on its own too. Heavy cream makes the icing opaque and less gritty, but if you don't have any handy, add an extra teaspoon of lemon juice.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Parmesan Shortbread with Fennel and Smoked Sea Salt

Every few weeks Denise sends me a stuffed envelope of newspaper cuttings and recipes that she knows I would love. Without doubt I always do and this time the winner recipe (for me) was this shortbread recipe. Shortbread is a perfect cookie to bake, as we are all tea drinkers and my in-laws are strict vegetarians, making this is a nice treat to bake for them. The fennel topping goes great with their taste preferences for all things Indian along with their evening cup of Indian chai.

The credit of this recipe goes to Bon Appétit, thank you! The only change I made was to use smoked sea salt as opposed to regular sea salt. 

Any salty hard cheese, such as an aged Manchego, Grana Padano, or Mimolette, would be a fine substitute for the Parmesan. This recipe is from Caitlin Williams Freeman's upcoming cookbook, The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

Makes 18
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Maldon smoked sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a medium bowl on low speed until smooth, 1–2 minutes. 
  2. Add powdered sugar, pepper, and kosher salt.
  3. Reduce speed to medium and beat, occasionaly scraping down sides of bowl, until light and fluffy, 4–5 minutes. 
  4. Add flour and cheese. Reduce mixer to low and beat mixture until dough comes together.
  5. Wrap dough in plastic and flatten into a rectangle. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours. Do ahead: Dough can be made 5 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before continuing.
  6. Place fennel seeds in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Coarsely crush with a rolling pin or the bottom of a skillet. Alternatively, pulse in a spice mill until coarsely crushed. Transfer to a bowl; stir in sea salt. Set fennel salt aside.
  7. Arrange a rack in the center of oven and preheat to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  8. Remove plastic wrap from dough. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 10x8-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. 
  9. Cut until 18 equal rectangles. Arrange cookies on the prepared baking sheet, spacing 1-inch apart. Brush cookies generously with olive oil and then sprinkle with the fennel salt.
  10. Bake, rooting sheet halfway through, until cookies are golden brown (flecks of cheese will be slightly darker), 20–24 minutes. 
  11. Let cool on sheets for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Do ahead: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cake

There is something about a classic tiered cake on a cake stand, with a ton of frosting on it, a candle in the center and a family singing "Happy Something" around the dinner table. Well, it was my aunt and uncles 18th anniversary. One of my favorite aunt and uncle ever! They've given me two fabulous cousins, and it was so good having all four of them visit us in New York. 
So when it came to baking a cake for their anniversary, I reached out for one of my favorite cookbooks– Alice's Tea Cup and decided to make the Mocha Chocolate Chip Cake that they rave about. Now I understand why— and hopefully you will soon too!

As the book says: If you like coffee (coffee to drink, coffee ice cream, iced mocha lattes, or all of the above), prepare to never make another cake again!

The recipe below is the original recipe from the book– Jean's Not-Yet-but-Soon-to-Be-Famous Mocha Chocolate Chip Cake. The only change I made was from the recipe was that I used my electric stand mixer instead of mixing it by hand. The rest remains the same.

Makes one 8-inch 2-layer cake

For the Cake
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour (Alice's Tea Cup recommends Hecker's unbleached flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 level teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons 2% or whole milk (I used whole milk)
3/4 cup to 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, to taste

For the Frosting
8 heaping teaspoons instant espresso powder
7 cups (two 1-pound boxes) confectioners' sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350F, and butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans, and mix well. Set them aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar by hand. Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix well. 
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, also by hand. Add half the flour mixture to the wet mixture, and mix thoroughly. Then mix in half the milk,  followed by the remaining flour mixture, and then the remaining flour mixture, and then the remaining milk, mixing after each addition. 
  4. Add the chocolate chips, and mix again.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the cake layers aside on a wire rack to cool thoroughly before removing from the pans and frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, combine the espresso powder with 6 to 10 teaspoons boiling-hot water (use less water for a strong mocha flavor and more water for a milder flavor). Set aside.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix one-third of the confectioners' sugar with the butter, salt, and vanilla. Add the next one-third of the sugar, then the final third, mixing well after each addition. 
  8. Add the espresso a little at a time, mixing well as you go, until the frosting has reached the desired consistency. 
  9. Add the chocolate chips and mix again.
  10. To build the cake, frost both layers and stack them; then frost the sides of the cake. (Be sure to wait until the layers have cooled fully; you don't want to melt the chocolate chips!)