Luxury Marshmallows

Posted in Sweet on January 10, 2011 by Lisa.Trifiro

With Valentines Day right around the corner, I wanted to make something really special for my friends and family. Two years ago on Valentines Day, while at a restaurant famous for their brunch, I had the most delicious, fluffy, airy, melt in your mouth, Cotton Candy Marshmallows. These are not them, but I have wanted to try and recreate them for quite some time. I finally got around to special ordering cotton candy extract and decided to give it a go. Luckily, I tasted the extract, which can only be described as the taste you get in your mouth as a kid when your mom is putting  sun screen on your face and you accidentally get some in your mouth. It would have been a tropical pineapple disaster. My dreams of recreating those cotton candy marshmallows were crushed and I was really bummed, but like any good chef, I quickly came up with an alternative that turned out to be even more delicious than the ones I started out to create.

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown’s Homemade Marshmallow’s : http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-marshmallows-recipe/index.html

Recipe:

Luxury Rose Marshmallows

Ingredients

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons rose water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 drops deep pink-rose coloring
  • Nonstick spray
  • Dried Rose Petals * optional

Directions

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla, rose water and pink drops of coloring  if desired during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Cover pan with a piece of parchment and press down to flatten out. Allow the marshmallows to sit  for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pair of scissors or pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

* For clean-up, fill a large stockpot with water and place mixing bowl, whisk attachment and scissors inside. Bring to a boil. Boil 10-15 min and turn off heat. Once cooled, you should be able to clean without a sticky mess.

Next time, I might grind up some rose petals and add them at the same time as the rose water and vanilla.

Enjoy!




Himalayan Pink Salt Plate Review

Posted in Uncategorized on November 17, 2010 by Lisa.Trifiro

My Himalayan Salt Plate finally arrived and it’s worth every penny!

There are two basic ways you can use your plate. You can either heat it up and use it as a cooking platform, or chill it for aesthetic presentation.  The heating method is best for those looking to add a natural mineral flavor to their cuisine. You can use any cooking methods you wish to heat the plates (gas range, grill, oven or electric stove). The salt plates will retain their heat, allowing you to cook with them table-side. However, keep in mind that once  heated, the plates will change in appearance, bringing out internal flaws that are a characteristic of a natural product. Also, you have to take precautions not to burn the table or yourself if you use this method.

You can also re-refrigerate or freeze the plates and use them as a  serving platform for an amazing table-side  presentation.

My first time use of the salt plate was very exciting.  I stuck it in the freezer to chill and got to work on some homemade sushi. ** Sushi Tip** Make sure you cook your rice  at least  1 hour in advance to allow time for  the rice to cool. Place a cool damp cloth over the bowl of rice, so it doesn’t dry out.

The plate added a nice mild salty flavor to the fish, but wasn’t overpowering. I will definitely use it to serve appetizers on such as  cheese and crackers or a  crudite platter. The possibilities are really endless for uses of the plate. I can’t  wait to try it out with deserts! I’m planning on making  an extravagant chocolate desert for Christmas,  just so I can wow family with the presentation.

Cleaning the salt plate is extremely easy. You use a moist cloth or mildly abrasive brush to gently scrub the surface. You have to let it air dry for at least 24hr. before chilling again. I have decided to use my plate for aesthetic presentation and will budget for another one to cook with. I would recommend owning one to all my fellow foodie friends.

Fun Fact *Himalayan Pink Salt is one of the purest salts found on earth, having been protected by hardened lava within the Himalayan salt beds for hundreds of millions of years. When it comes to purity and mineral content, no other salt compares. Himalayan Pink Salt delivers many healing benefits to the body, including lowering blood pressure, improving circulation and detoxification from heavy metals*.

French Macaroons for your Christmas Tree

Posted in Uncategorized on November 10, 2010 by Lisa.Trifiro

Christmas is right around the corner. I know it’s only the beginning of November, but before you know it Christmas will be here. With a three year old and a newborn, you never feel like you have enough time for anything. So, I am trying to plan ahead as much as I can. I really like to find unique gifts for all of my friends and family members and buying Handmade has become quite an obsession of mine.  I came across these adorable French Macaroon ornaments and I just had to share them. The lead time on these is two to three weeks. They should arrive just in time to decorate the tree. They are perfect for the foodie in your life, although, it’s perfectly o.k. to buy them just for yourself. They would also be perfect for an ornament exchange party. It looks as though she is going through these pretty quick, so if you are interested in them and you don’t see them on the site, contact the merchant and request that she set up a listing for you.

Click here to check out where I found these:

French Macaroons



Cookie Lovers Paradise: Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with a hint of Vanilla Bean Salt

Posted in Sweet, Uncategorized on April 21, 2010 by Lisa.Trifiro

These delicate soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies are perfect for sharing, although they are so delicious, it will be tempting to eat them all by yourself. They are cleverly baked in a mini cast iron skillet and finished with a touch of raw sugar and hint of vanilla bean salt before baking.

Recipe adapted from The Cookbook Chronicles

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup demerara sugar

1 3/4 cups packed, dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup + 1 tbsp bread flour (I used whole wheat bread flour)

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

less then a small pinch of vanilla bean salt for sprinkling over top

18 oz. 70% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Make the cookies:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well after each addition.

2. Add the vanilla extract, the flours, the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. On low speed, beat the mixture until the dry ingredients are well-incorporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

3. Lightly grease a cast iron skillet with vegetable oil. Place a dough ball the size of your palm into skillet and dust the tops of with a little demerara sugar, and a tiny bit of vanilla bean salt. Because this recipe yields about 25 fairly large cookies, you will want to bake some on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. (6-8 cookies per sheet)

4. Bake in a 350 degree oven on the middle rack for 15-17 minutes. (Do not bake these on the bottom rack in the oven–the high proportion of brown sugar will cause the bottoms to darken too much.) At this time, the cookies should have taken on a golden brown color all around the edge, but still look very soft in the center–like hot cookie dough. Remove the tray from the oven, and allow the cookies to cool directly on the tray for 10 minutes before eating.

Classic Breakfast Waffles with Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Organic Strawberries

Posted in Sweet on April 13, 2010 by Lisa.Trifiro

Sunday mornings in my family mean three things: Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes, Homemade Buttermilk Waffles or Tahitian Vanilla French Toast if we have the right bread on hand. I have perfected my pancake and french toast recipes and this waffle recipe is pretty damn good. The best part about these waffles is that they freeze really well so you can double the recipe and have some on hand. Just preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake until warm. I am still on the search for the perfect syrup so if anybody has any recommendations, or  product favorites , please leave in the comment box below.

Waffle Recipe adapted from allrecipes

Homemade Ricotta Cheese is a family recipe

Ingredients:

Classic Breakfast Waffles

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups  buttermilk  room temperature
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Homemade Ricotta Cheese:
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons  kosher salt
  • 18 inch square cheesecloth’s
  • zip ties: a.k.a. cable ties
Make the Waffles:
  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar; Preheat waffle iron to desired temperature. I set mine in between 4 and 5.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in buttermilk, butter and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture; beat until blended.
  3. Ladle the batter into a preheated waffle iron. Cook the waffles until golden and crisp. Top with a few tablespoons of fresh ricotta cheese and a couple organic strawberries.

Make the Ricotta:

1. Line a large colander or sieve with 4 layers of cheesecloth. Set aside.

2. Heat milk, buttermilk, heavy cream, and salt in a large, heavy, nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for the first 10 minutes. Continue heating, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 200 degrees F. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. The mixture will be separated into white curds and clear whey.

3. Using a slotted spoon, ladle approximately 1/4 of the curds into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Gather up the corners of the top cheesecloth and secure closed with a zip tie. Repeat with the rest of the curds, cheesecloth, and zip ties. Use the last zip tie to thread all of the cheeses together. Suspend the cheeses over a large wooden spoon over a large bowl, and let drain for 2 hours.

4. Place the four cheeses, still in cloth, in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, cut zip ties, and transfer cheese to an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Meringues for the Easter Bunny

Posted in Sweet on April 2, 2010 by Lisa.Trifiro

I have always loved meringue cookies. I haven’t had them in ages, and I don’t really know what came over me , but I woke up today and wanted to make them. I figured: Santa gets cookies, why not bake meringues  for the Easter Bunny?

Fridays have become my husband’s day to take our 2-1/2  year old son to school, so I started my meringue product around 8:30 this morning. I had the kitchen to myself and everything was going my way. The recipe I used called for caster sugar. I wasn’t exactly sure what caster sugar was so I asked a friend who went to a really prestigious cooking school in California  and  he suggested I use Powdered Sugar. I was having  a blast making these. My eggs peaked with no problem, and I loved folding in the food coloring and watching these magical colors appear. I felt like a little kid again. It was great! Then off into the oven they went. That’s when the trouble started. It was a windy day and 15 minutes into baking, the power went off and shut down the oven. The meringues didn’t look so great. They lost their stiffness and became little blogs of melted sludge. And they tasted horrible! There was no way these were going to work, so I scrapped the first batch and figured out my problem. It was the powdered sugar!

Determination got the best of me and I was back to separating the eggs, in the dark. I was hoping to have more time to myself and my kitchen but with no power, the schools closed and sent all the kids home. So, 2 hrs. later,  the power came back on and there I was with my young son in the kitchen with me, deep into my second attempt to make these treats for the Easter Bunny.  I researched  caster sugar and it turns out it is superfine sugar, which is a specialty baking item. But, you can make your own approximation by blending regular granulated sugar in a food processor until it is really fine. I turned the oven back on to preheat and whipped these up in no time. I even got a little nap in when my son fell asleep and awoke to perfect meringues! Yay!

Recipe adapted from Stephanie Jaworski of Joy of Baking

Ingredients:

6 large egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1-1/2 cup superfine or caster sugar (if you don’t have caster sugar, make your own by mixing granulated sugar in your food processor) *** Remember to use 1/4 cup of sugar for each egg white***

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Food Coloring : Red, Blue, Green, Yellow

Make the Meringues:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place rack in the center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

2. Beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar. Continue to beat whites until they hold soft peaks.

3. Add the sugar, a little at a time. Whites will become really shiny. Continue to beat until the whites form very stiff peaks.

4. Beat in the vanilla

5. Prepare six bowls with desired food coloring. I used six different colors. Orange, Turquoise, Lime Green, Salmon, Violet & Pistachio

Orange: 2 drops red, 3 drops yellow

Turquoise: 1 drop green, 4 drops blue

Lime Green: 3 drops yellow, 1 drop green

Salmon: 3 drops red, 2 drops yellow

Violet: 2 drops red, 2 drops blue

Pistachio: 1 drop yellow, 4 drops green

6. Fold 1/2 cup of the meringue into each bowl . Use spatula to gently blend color together. Use a clean spatula for each bowl so colors don’t get mixed up

7. Transfer each mixture of meringue into Ziploc bag or pastry bag and pipe onto baking sheets. If using Ziploc bag, cut small hole on end.  Alternatively, you may use spoons to mound meringue onto baking sheets.

8. Place the baking sheets in oven  for approximately 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. When meringues are pale and fairly crisp, turn off oven.  Hold oven open a crack  with wooden spoon or towel and allow meringues to dry overnight.

Recipe yields 48 (8 meringues of each color)

The Power of Leftovers: Roasted Cocoa Nib Chocolate Carmelized Matzoh with Murray River Salt Flakes

Posted in Sweet on April 1, 2010 by Lisa.Trifiro

So what’s the best part of Passover? Using the leftover Matzoh to make a decadent  desert  that will have  friends sending you thank you notes of course! This recipe is really simple and can be whipped up in minutes. The flavors are amazing together and the matzoh will last about a week in an airtight container. That’s if you can go that long without devouring it!

Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzoh

1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 cup (215g) firmly-packed light brown sugar

big pinch of  kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup (160g) semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)

1 cup raw cocoa nibs

1/4 to 1/2  teaspoon sea salt of your choice. Fleur De Sel works great! Do not use kosher.

Make the Matzoh:

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Make  sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper.

2. Place the  matzoh on the baking sheet, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.

3. Place the cocoa nibs on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Spray with a little Pam or cooking spray. Roast for 20 minutes at 150 degrees. Remove from oven and raise temperature to 350 degrees.

4. In a  small heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together. Cook over medium heat.  Stir  until the butter is melted and the mixture  begins to boil. Then stir constantly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add  salt and vanilla.

5. Pour caramel mixture over matzoh with a heatproof spatula.

6. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up. Keep an eye out and make sure it doesn’t burn.  If you notice any burning or dark spots, remove from oven and reduce heat  to 325F (160C), then replace the pan.

7. Remove from oven and immediately place chocolate chips over matzoh. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.

8. Cover Matzoh with  roasted cocoa nibs and sprinkle with desired sea salt.

9. Let cool completely, the cut into squares or desired shape  and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week.