Category: Recipes

Cream Puff Recipe With Chocolate Sauce

italian-cream-puffs-recipeAnother wonderful recipe my Aunt Mary shared with me, in addition to her now famous light as air fluffy cheesecake recipe, is her cream puff recipe. These puffs are easy to make and can be filled with whipped cream, custard, or ice cream. When filled with ice cream they are called Profiteroles.

Aunt Mary used a wooden spoon when beating the eggs into the flour and butter mixture. You would need to beat each egg well into the mixture. It is quite a workout for the arm muscles. I found using a food processor for incorporating the individual egg was easier on the arm and did just as good a job as a wooden spoon.

The chocolate sauce gives this dessert an elegant finish and you are bound to get raves! Enjoy this dessert which will complement any dinner or can be served alone with a cup of espresso or coffee.

Ingredients:

Serves: 8-12

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs

Cream Filling:

  • 1 pint whipped cream (heavy cream)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Chocolate Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Liqueur (optional) Creme de menthe, Orange liqueur, Chambord

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Boil water with butter until completely dissolved.
    cream-puff-milk
  3. Add flour all at one time and stir until flour forms a ball and comes away from side of pot.
    cream-puff-batter
  4. Remove from heat and put mixture into food processor with steel blade in place.
    cream-puff-food-processor
  5. Add one egg at a time and pulse with each addition until each egg is well incorporated into mixture.
  6. Paste should be shiny and not too dry.
  7. Drop paste by heaping teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.
    cream-puff-cookie-sheet
  8. Bake in 400 °oven for 10 minutes.
  9. Reduce temperature to 350°.
  10. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until puffs are golden brown and firm to the touch.
  11. Turn off oven, prick tops of puffs with a toothpick and leave in oven for additional 10 minutes.
    baked-cream-puff-shells
  12. Cool on rack and fill or store in freezer bag for refrigeration or in freezer for one week and until ready to use.

Cream filling:

  1. Beat three ingredients well until soft peaks form.
  2. Slice puffs in half and fill bottom half with cream.
    cream-puff-filling
  3. Top with other half.
  4. Pour warm chocolate topping over top of puff and serve immediately.
    cream-puff-chocolate-sauce

Chocolate Sauce Topping:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4  1/2 Tbs. butter
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. In small saucepan combine chocolate squares and ½ cup water. Cook stirring occasionally, over low heat, until chocolate is melted.
  2. Add sugar and salt, cook, stirring until sugar is melted and mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in butter and vanilla. Also stir in liqueur of choice (optional).

Chocolate Bird’s Nest Easter Treats

chow-mein-birds-nest-treatsWhen I was in Middle School, umpteen years ago, all the girls were required to enroll in Home Economics while the boys were in Shop. Home Economics taught us how to clean house, make beds, sew, and, my favorite, how to cook. The boys basically learned how to use tools and would make bookends, bird houses, and model airplanes. Bless our parents who had to grin and compliment our achievements even if we burned the pudding or the bookends collapsed after trying to hold up a few books. These classes were so much fun and we really did learn the necessary basics of homemaking and carpentry.

One of the many cooking recipes taught in class was called “Haystacks”. This was to teach us how to use a double-boiler and to melt chocolate. Today, I bet this recipe would be referred to as “retro”. Just a few ingredients are needed and now with microwave ovens available we can make this quicker and easier.

I have improvised a little on the original middle school recipe and I call it Chocolate Bird’s Nest Treat and I like making it as an Easter treat for the Easter Basket or as a simple after Easter dinner sweet. It is made with chow mein noodles and you will be surprised at how delicious these noodles are once covered with melted chocolate and peanut butter. So simple to make, great for an Easter treat or anytime and all ages can make this recipe. Wishing you all a very Happy Easter and may all your baskets be bountiful this year!

Ingredients:

birds-nest-treats-ingredients

Serves: approximately 12 cookies depending on the size you make them

  • 1 cup chocolate chips ( 6 oz. pkg.)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups chow mein noodles
  • Jelly beans

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper.
  2. Place chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwave – safe container. Cover with waxed paper. Heat on 50% power for 1 minute.
    birds-nest-chocolate
  3. Stir thoroughly and heat an additional 1 minute on 50% power.
  4. Stir in chow mein noodles until fully coated.
    chocolate-and-chow-mein-noodles
  5. Spoon by tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheet, press down with spoon to form a nest shape.
    baking-chow-mein-treats
  6. Place two or three jelly beans on each nest.
    decorating-birds-nest-treats
  7. Refrigerate until firm. Approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Optional topping: Salted peanuts can be used in place of jelly beans.

Italian Zeppole Dessert

italian-zeppole-recipeEaster will be here in early April this year and I can remember the excitement and anticipation of this holy celebration among Catholics starting with Ash Wednesday. My Mother and my Aunts, the blue ribbon cooks in our family, would plan and prepare some delicious meals, including desserts. There were many meatless dishes that were prepared during the forty days of lent.

As children, most of us would give up eating sweets during those forty fast days. Come Easter Sunday, a full course meal of meat, pasta, and salads and pastries, pies, and cakes were a child’s dream after the 40 days of giving up sweets. I can still smell the aromas coming from the family cooks on the days prior to Easter. They would be preparing for days the scrumptious feast for this special holiday.

One of the pastries I loved, Zeppole, sorry to say is deep fried, but it is a once or twice a year treat and so delicious. It is a Neapolitan Italian treat and is sold at many Italian fairs and feast celebrations throughout America and Europe. This is my Mother’s simple recipe for this Italian delicacy which is always served warm. Enjoy them plain, dusted with confectioners’ sugar, or a drizzle of honey.

Ingredients:

Serves: 6 (Double or triple the ingredients to make more Zeppole)

  • 1 pkg Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup All Purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup water (warm not hot)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil or canola oil

Directions:

  1. Pour vegetable or canola oil in a heavy duty saucepan to a depth of 3 inches.
  2. In a large bowl empty the package of yeast and slowly add the warm water not hot (110°-115°). Gently stir to dissolve the yeast. Let sit till yeast mixture starts to foam.
  3. Add the flour and salt and blend well. The mixture will be stringy and runny.
    zeppole-flour-mix
  4. Cover and let rise in warm area 1 to 1 ½ hours until bubbly and double in size.
    zeppole-batter
  5. Heat oil (3 inch deep) in a heavy saucepan. When oil is hot 375° (test by dropping in a little dough. If it sizzles and rises to the top the oil is hot) drop by tablespoon. Fry three or four at a time.
    zeppole-oil
  6. Fry each side until golden brown. Continually turn Zeppole while frying to evenly brown all over.
    fried-zeppole
  7. Drain well on paper towels. Serve warm, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, or a drizzle of honey or plain.
    zeppole-dessert

Pasta e Fagioli – Pasta and Beans Recipe

pasta-and-beans-recipeIt is amazing to see how many versions of Pasta e Fagioli are printed in cookbooks or on the Internet. I searched many recipes for this delicious Italian traditional dish, but could not find one that was similar to the recipe my Mother made and taught me.

Pasta e Fagioli is Italian for pasta and beans. It can be considered a soup or a stew. It all depends on how much liquid you use. My recipe is more like a stew or as Rachel Ray has coined the expression “stoup”. It’s meatless, quick, hearty, and inexpensive to prepare. How many of you remember Dean Martin singing Amore and the famous lyrics “when the stars make you drool just like pasta fazool”? I guarantee this dish will make you drool! Enjoy.

Ingredients:

Serves: 6

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 28-oz can crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 2 19-oz can cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
  • 1/2 lb Ditalini pasta (small tube shaped pasta)
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 tbs fresh parsley (flat leaf) chopped
  • 2 tbs. fresh basil chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

Directions:

  1. Drain and rinse cannellini beans and set aside.
    washing-pasta-beans
  2. Sauté’ minced garlic until translucent. Add crushed red pepper (optional).
  3. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, fresh parsley, and fresh basil. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until seasonings and tomatoes are well blended. Meanwhile boil a pot of salted water to cook pasta.
  4. Cook pasta until al dente and drain.
  5. Add pasta and beans to tomatoes and cook additional 10-15 minutes on low.
    beans-and-pasta-sauce
  6. Serve pasta e Fagioli hot along with grated parmesan cheese and crusty Italian bread.
    pasta-with-beans

Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated the next day.

Homestyle Lentil Soup

homestyle-lentil-soupMy Mother made lentil soup often and a pot of lentil soup cooking on the stove still reminds me of those cold, snowy days growing up in New York City and the warmth and delicious aromas of our kitchen linger with me today. Mom’s recipe for lentil soup was a meatless dish and with her knack of adding a pinch of this and a pinch of that made this a very flavorful dish.

After the soup was cooked, Mom sometimes added fresh baby spinach, or frozen spinach, or cooked rice, or my favorite, cooked thin spaghetti. She would break thin spaghetti into several pieces, cook in boiling water until tender, drain, and add to the lentil soup. There was also grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top of the soup along with warm, crusty, Italian bread to complete the meal.

I make lentil soup often and add the same ingredients but sometimes I add bacon, or ham or even sausage to my soup. Whichever way it’s prepared, it is delicious, easy, and healthy with loads of fiber and vegetables. Get ready for a taste the whole family will enjoy, particularly on those cold winter days.

Ingredients:

lentil-soup-vegetables

  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced (include the celery leaves)
  • 1 medium onions – diced
  • 3 garlic cloves – minced
  • 2 tbs fresh parsley (flat leaf)
  • 1/4 lb thick sliced ham – cubed
  • 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 16-oz bag lentils
  • 1 tbs Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 8 cups water

Directions:

To enhance the flavors make the soup a day ahead and refrigerate.

  1. Wash lentils thoroughly.
    washed-lentils
  2. In a large soup pot heat enough olive oil to coat bottom of the pot over medium heat.
  3. Add carrots, celery, onion, garlic and ham. Stir and cook until vegetables are tender, 5-10 minutes.
  4. Stir in water, tomato sauce, lentils, parsley, Italian seasoning, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook on low until the lentils are tender, 45-60 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste and more Italian seasoning if needed.
  6. If you prefer a smoother consistency, puree lightly with a hand blender.
    lentil-soup-pot
  7. Ladle into bowls, top with grated parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
  8. Leftovers can be refrigerated for several days.