Monthly Archives: May 2012

Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad Stuffed Tomatoes with Cilantro and Basil

I tend to do a lot of bite sized things as the weather heats up.  It’s perfect for entertaining.  This dish is just a little something extra to put out at a barbecue while people wait for the main event.  I’ve also made this using heirloom tomatoes and plum tomatoes and it works great as an interesting salad no matter the tomatoes you use, as long as they are ripe. The grilled corn with diced avocado, onion, a little garlic, basil, cilantro, lime is good by itself.  So, if you’re not into stuffing teeeeny tiny tomatoes, I’m ok with you just putting it in a bowl or using bigger tomatoes.  Either way, it makes an excellent salad or appetizer.

You could add some extra heat and spice to it with some chiles, but since the corn is so insanely fresh right now, I wanted to just leave it alone as much as I could.  With the cilantro and the basil it adds a unique amount of freshness that you don’t normally get with an average salad.

It tastes like summer in one perfect bite.


Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad Stuffed Tomatoes


  • 1/4 cup minced vidalia onion
  • small handful of cilantro (about a quarter cup) +more for garnish, chopped
  • small handful of basil (about a quarter cup), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 of one avocado, diced
  • cracked black pepper and sea salt
  • 1 ear of sweet corn
  • 1 lb. tomatoes of your choice

Combine minced onion, chopped herbs, olive oil, lime juice, garlic powder and the avocado in a bowl and toss.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside.

Preheat grill or large griddle over high heat. Remove all silks and some of the corn husks (just enough to prevent it from catching fire over the open flame) from the corn.  Submerge into cold water for ten+ minutes. The water will prevent the husk from catching fire and will steam the corn simultaneously.

Grill sweet corn until fully steamed and partially charred, or about ten minutes.  Remove kernels from cob with a knife once cool enough to handle.

Add corn to vidalia onion and avocado mixture.  Season to taste.

Slice tomatoes in half and remove seeds to hollow each half. Season the hollowed tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Stuff tomato halves with avocado corn salad and garnish with additional cilantro.  Enjoy!

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Intensely Chocolate Cake Morsels (flourless)

I recently tried my first cake bite and despite my innate tendency to not enjoy anything that’s too cute to eat, I was instantly enamored with the idea that an entire cake eating experience could be summed up in one luscious bite.  Cuteness aside, those things are pretty damn tasty… almost confoundingly so:   A shocking punch of flavor that I instantly yearned to intensify.

So, that’s what I did.



I toasted sweetened coconut until golden, nutty and fragrant and set it aside for the morsels to be encrusted.  I then melted brown sugar and butter and poured it over crumbs of mashed cupcakes (fun).  I rolled the cake crumbs into bite sized spherical morsels. Some morsels were shelled in dark chocolate and topped with a smattering of sea salt.  The others were rolled in the aforementioned toasted coconut.

You must be warned: these are not for the chocolate apathetic.  They are a roller coaster ride of intense chocolate flavor.  It hits you like a ton of bricks and then is just as quickly over.  I added some sea salt on top of the ones that were rolled in melted chocolate to cut through the intensity, which made the flavor linger even moments after they were eaten.


Intensely Chocolate Cake Morsels (flourless)

  • 12 flourless chocolate cupcakes
  • 1 stick of butter + more (for easy melting chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • dark chocolate
  • sweetened coconut flakes



In a dry, nonstick skillet over medium heat, add coconut.  Stir and toss until golden.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Drop cupcakes into large mixing bowl.  Mash cupcakes until only crumbs.

In a glass bowl, combine butter and brown sugar.  Heat in microwave until melted and lightly bubbling, about one minute.  Stir and pour into cupcake crumbs.

Using your hands, roll spherical morsels about the size of a large marble (Note: the diameter should not exceed one inch, in my opinion because of the intensity of flavor).

Toasted Coconut Covered (Intensely Chocolate Cake Morsels):  Drop rolled cake in toasted coconut and gently press the coconut into the cake so it sticks, creating a shell.  Place onto wax or parchment paper.   Repeat until desired amount of coconut morsels are created; Store morsels in refrigerator to set, until ready to serve.

Chocolate Covered and Lightly Sea Salted (Intensely Chocolate Cake Morsels) – Note: Store pre-rolled cake in freezer for ten+ minutes to keep shape once in melted chocolate. Place dark chocolate into a glass bowl with a pat of butter for every 4 ounces, to ease the melting chocolate. Microwave until melted.  Drop cake spheres into melted chocolate, one by one, then remove once coated and top with sea salt.  Store morsels in refrigerator to set, until ready to serve.






Posted in All, Dessert, Entertaining, For Kids | 19 Comments

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s easy, it has only five ingredients and it tastes like a rich and decadent Oreo cookie magically turned into a cake.  I like to add a little espresso powder to the batter for a little something deeper in flavor, but you can make it without and it will still be awesome. You may also want to add a tiny splash of your favorite liqueur to up the fancy factor a bit, if you’d like.  I’ve made about a hundred different versions of this cake in all different pans with all different additions and toppings, and I know it pretty much works no matter what you do to it.  How many baking recipes are like that?  Not many.

That’s why I love it.

Flourless chocolate cake recipes are all over the place in their quantities, generally speaking.  Some are really eggy and fluffy and others are more rich, like a torte or brownies and you can kind of tell what it’s going to end up like just by reading the recipe and seeing how many eggs it has relative to the amount of chocolate.  You can’t really go wrong with any of the recipes since there’s no flour in any of them, it’s almost like cooking instead of baking. As long as it’s sweet enough and not too sweet and packs enough chocolate punch, it’s going to work.  The only recommendation I have for you is to use good chocolate.   This recipe only calls for 4 ounces, so you might as well get a small bar of the fairly good stuff.   It’s worth it.

Add whatever you’d like on top.  Powdered sugar, strawberries, raspberries.  It’s a versatile little recipe since there are so few ingredients. I hope you love it as much as I do.  It’s my standard go-to easy recipe.  This particular cupcake shown in the photo was filled with warmed hot fudge and topped with freshly sliced strawberries.  I skimmed the seeds off of one whole berry and placed it in the center of the top of the fudge filled cupcake and the juices of the berry released and dripped into the hot fudge underneath it.  It was delicious.

I have to run now, though.  Max just shared this with me and is now completely wild, hopped up on sugar and streaking through the house covered in chocolate.

Ah, the joys of parenting.


Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 extra large eggs, thoroughly beaten
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for dusting the pan



Preheat oven to 375°F and butter 12 cup muffin/cupcake pan.  Dust each cup with cocoa powder.

Note: If you’re having trouble getting the sides of the muffin cups dusted, you can dip a pastry brush into cocoa powder and brush the sides of each cup lightly with the cocoa powder.

Chop chocolate and butter into pieces and drop into a glass bowl. Microwave on high for one minute.  Stir and repeat heating in thirty second intervals until completely melted.  Add brown sugar and whisk until smooth.  Add beaten eggs and whisk well.  Sift 3/4 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter evenly into cupcake pan and bake in middle of oven until  fragrant and tops have formed a thin crust, or about ten minutes. Cool cakes in pan on a rack for about two minutes and gently  remove and place onto cooling rack.

Add seasonal berries and chocolate sauce if desired.


Adapted from Gourmet, November 1997

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Roasted Peppers & Garlic, Savory Compound Butter, White Wine Lemon Cream Sauce, and Pasta Primavera

This post all started with a  very simple little recipe that cooked up in fifteen minutes in my kitchen.  A light lunch for Max and I with tons of leftovers for the afternoon pasta scavengers that so often grace my kitchen in the form of hungry boy.

Sounds simple enough, right?  Then I started writing it and it turned into a beast!

What happened?

Well apparently, I never really think about preparation of roasting peppers or garlic, or making compound butters, or growing fresh herbs, or always having citrus  and a variety of cheeses in the house… just in case.  These little things might become kind of a pain if you don’t like cooking as much as I do, or if you don’t horde the same ingredients that I do.  For that I am sorry.  But, I recommend having these things on hand at all times because you will always be able to make something delicious if and when you do have them on hand.  Pasta?  Always.  Fresh herbs and citrus?  Yes, please.  The more, the better, in fact…so grow your own herbs indoors so you don’t go broke buying them. I highly recommend it.  Butters and cheeses?  All different kinds, all readily available.  Vegetables?  They vary, but I always have something waiting to be turned into something delicious.  It’s imperative to how I cook and what we eat. addition to this being fantastically delicious and beautiful to look at, it took me barely a blink of effort and it was on the table.  It’s possible with just a little forethought and preparation work.  Of course, if you don’t cook very often and you don’t think you’ll find a variety of uses for compound butter and roasted peppers, you can always just use the store bought stuff to try it and see if you like it.   Although, I do however recommend both the compound butter and the roasted peppers in your frittata  the next morning and you’ll be a changed person.  I promise.

Another thing I love about this dish is that it can both compliment or replace a lot of seafood recipes you see in the summertime.  Lobster, shrimp, mussels, etc., can all be complimented by this vegetarian friendly pasta.  Feel free to add or remove whatever you’d like.  I’ll never know and it will be delicious, regardless.

Pasta Primavera in a White Wine Lemon Cream Sauce
  • 2  tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 (baseball sized) sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 cup roasted pepper strips (recipe below)
  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 2 teaspoons fresh organic lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups packed baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons roasted garlic and herb compound butter (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  •   1 box (one pound) dried angel hair pasta, cooked one minute less than the box directions call for al dente pasta; Drained and still hot with 1/2 cup cooking water reserved.
  • pinch of fresh tarragon
  • handful of fresh torn basil
  • sprinkle of Pecorino romano
In a large heavy bottomed non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt butter and whisk in flour until well combined and bubbling lightly.  Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and red pepper. Stir.  Pour wine slowly while whisking simultaneously. Pour vegetable stock slowly while whisking simultaneously.  Raise heat level slightly to bring to a light simmer.  Watch closely and once the sauce bubbles, add in broccoli, red peppers, peas, lemon zest.  Reduce heat to low, add mascarpone, spinach, compound butter and parmigiano reggiano until all are melted and combined.  
Toss with freshly cooked pasta and add in cooking water 2 tablespoons at a time until desired consistency of sauce is reached.  Add salt and pepper to taste, pour into a large, warmed, family-style serving bowl and top with fresh tarragon, torn basil and pecorino romano before placing into individual serving dishes.  
Serve alongside crusty warmed bread and fresh cooked shrimp or lobster, if desired.



Roasted Peppers
  • 4 large red or yellow bell peppers, preferably Holland
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.   Place the whole peppers on a sheet pan and place in the oven for about 40 minutes, until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, turning them twice during roasting. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Set aside for 30 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.

Remove the stem from each pepper and cut them in quarters. Remove the peels and seeds and place the peppers in a bowl along with any juices that have collected. Discard the stems, peels, and seeds. Pour the oil over the peppers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.


Roasted Garlic

1 head of garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Chop the top off the head of garlic so the cloves inside are visible.  Drizzle visible cloves with olive oil and then sprinkle salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic head individually in aluminum foil and place on a sheet pan in preheated oven until soft and fragrant; about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool slightly before use.


Roasted Garlic and Herb Compound Butter
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 head of roasted garlic (recipe above)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • the leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh organic lemon zest
Mix softened butter until smooth and squeeze the roasted garlic out of the peels and into the butter.  Add remaining herbs and lemon zest until combined.  Spoon compound butter into center of wax or parchment paper.  Roll the paper around the butter to create new “stick” form.  Twist the ends like a candy wrapper and tie the ends with kitchen string to secure before placing into the refrigerator for future use.  Lasts for a week in the refrigerator.
Posted in All, Dinner, Entertaining, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments