Thursday, February 14, 2013

Meringue Filled Cups

I made my first couple batches of meringues last month.  I was quite proud of myself because this had been on my bucket list for some time.

The first batch was a bomb, not in a good way, but in a burnt way.  I over cooked them and then tried to convince myself they were not burnt.  I was a bit devastated and then I realized it was my oven.  

I had been having problems with it not keeping the temperature and then getting too hot.  I thought I could "work with it".  These are just too delicate to take chances with a broken oven.

I ordered a new oven and tried them again.  They turned out perfect.  Lightly cream in color with a slight caramel flavor to each one.  My family had never had such a treat and found themselves returning throughout the day.

I think this is the tricky part about this dessert: humidity.  I live in Maryland and we have a lot of moisture in the air.  You want to keep these as dry as possible so they maintain their crisp and airy texture.  For me, the best way to keep them dry, was to put them into an air tight container or storage baggie.  Try not to stack them on top of each other either.

I also dipped mine in chocolate and then white candy beads.  This kept them from sticking to the plate if I left them out for company or my family a bit longer than they should have been.

I got creative on my second batch, I made little cups, a pavlova of sorts.  I piped these with a Wilton tip and pastry bag.  I wanted them to look like little nest.  I did the same thing to these little cups that I did with the meringues, I dipped them into chocolate and white candy beads.  You can just as easily spoon tiny dollops of meringue and bake to create a round shape that can also be filled with the filling and topped with fruit and nuts.  The little cups pictured below are very small-bite size.  For this reason I did not add any fruit to the top.  I instead prepared a filling of raspberries and mascarpone cheese.

A magical thing happens to the little cups when you add the filling, they become soft--like soft marshmallow.  I was surprised when I bit into my first one and it melted into my mouth.  The dipped chocolate and candy bead bottom made them easy to pick up.  This did not happen right away only to those that were left sitting out for too long.  

I added these cute little pavlova cups to a mini bundt cake that I made and the softness acted like frosting while the white candy beads gave the mini cake some texture.  I thought they were wonderful.
The mini bundt cake recipe will be published soon.  It's for a gluten free chocolate espresso cake that is rich in flavor and goes well with the pavlova topped cup of raspberry and mascarpone filling.

The recipe that I used for the Pavlova (meringues) can be found over at Tartine and Apron Strings.  There pictures are so wonderful and the presentation of the dessert is breathtaking.

I had to alter the cooking method a bit from what they suggested so my interpretation and process of baking the meringues will be slightly different only because this is what worked for me.  

Recipe:  Meringue for Pavlova's
Adapted from Tartine and Apron Strings

For the Meringues:
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup of confectioner's sugar, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup
1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

For the filling:
8-9 raspberries
1/3 cup of mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon sugar

grated dark chocolate
fruit: raspberries, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries
nuts: almonds, pistachios

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  If your heat element is at the top of your stove, place your rack at the very bottom.  If the heat element is exposed on the bottom place the rack in the middle or towards the top.  You don't want the heat source and the meringues too close.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  This should take about 4 minutes.  I did not use a stand mixer (mine is in the shop) so I used a hand held mixer instead.

Gradually add 3/4 cup of a cup of confectioner's sugar to the soft peak egg whites.  The meringue should start to get a bit thicker.  This should take about3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar with the cornstarch. Gradually beat this mixture into the egg/sugar mixture until very stiff, around 2 more minutes.  Beat in vinegar for 1 minute.

Your meringue  will be very thick.  To make the nest, use a piping bag and any size tip that will achieve the size nest or cup you want leaving an inch space between each one.   To make the pavlova's, drop spoonfuls of meringue spaced two inches apart on parchment lined cookie tray.

This is where I did things a bit differently than the original recipe and mine turned out great.

I let them bake for 40 minutes. Do not open the door.  Turn the oven off and crack the door.  Let cool in oven for 30 minutes.  Remove cookie sheet and remove meringues/Pavlova's to cool completely and then add them to a storage container.

For the filling I used 8-9 fresh raspberries, 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Mash the raspberries, add the cheese and sugar.  Combine well.  Pipe filling into each cup, nest or bowl of meringue.  Fill them right before serving to maintain the freshest dessert..if left out, the filling will turn the meringue in to a "melt in your mouth"-still delicious- dessert.

I grated some dark chocolate over each cup for an added garnish, this is optional.

Written by Sherron Watson

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Strawberry Cups

We love strawberries!

I try to buy them when they are in season but there are times I just want some in the winter too.

I pay the extra money to get the large strawberries.  They make wonderful cups.

I filled these with a combination of fresh strawberries and mascarpone cheese...oh, were they good!

To make them sit better, I cut the bottoms and dipped them in chocolate AND then dipped them in little white candy balls.

The combination of strawberry, filling, chocolate along with the crunch of the white candy was a delight to our mouths. For an added touch I dusted some dark cocoa over the top.

This is a super easy dessert.  I would suggest that these be made the morning of your event or family function.  The strawberries are juicy and with each passing day they get a bit wilted and the chocolate on the bottom can get sticky--still delicious mind you--just not picture perfect.

Recipe:  Strawberry Cups filled with Mascarpone Cheese

12 large strawberries
1/2 cup of melted chocolate
2 tablespoons of white candy balls (Michaels or any place that sells cake supplies will carry them.)
1/3 cup of soft mascarpone cheese
6-8 fresh raspberries (use jam if you have that instead)
cocoa (optional) for dusting

Wash and dry the strawberries.  With a sharp knife, cut the bottoms and the tops off.

The strawberries should be hollow inside.  If you need to trim a bit out of the strawberry just use a sharp knife and carefully remove the pulp to create a cup.

Dip the bottom of each strawberry in the melted chocolate and then the white candy.  Let set on a lined cookie tray.

In a small bowl add the raspberries and mash them.  Add the mascarpone cheese and blend well.

I used a baggie and piped the filling into each strawberry.

Dust with chocolate if you desire to do so.

Refrigerate the strawberry cups until ready to serve.

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ox-tail Soup

The local dairy that I purchase my milk, eggs, butter and meat from had Ox-tail.  To be honest, I have heard of it but never used it.

I decided to try a few packages and make Ox-tail soup.  I felt like a pioneer saying "ox-tail soup" throughout the day.  I don't know why, other than to me, I think it sounds like an old recipe and something the pioneers or ranch hands would have eaten along the trails in the wild west.

Yes, I do have an active imagination...LOL

I did some homework and found out how I should best prepare this beef (it's not Ox anymore unless you have a direct source to purchase Ox, it will be beef).   I used this resource HERE to help me decide the best route to prepare the meat.

I decided to make a soup and use my slow cooker.

The meat is tender, but needs to be cooked a long time.  If you don't do this it will come out stringy.  The bones make a wonderful beef broth for the soup.  I would plan on 2-3 ox tail bones per bowl.

The family enjoyed this simple recipe that warmed their hearts and cold bodies during this cold time of year.

Recipe:  Ox-tail Soup
Prepares enough soup for 4 adults

4 cups of water
2 teaspoons of beef stock granules (2 cubes of bouillon)
2 pounds of Ox-tail (estimate-8 pieces)
oil to brown meat
4 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large red onion, diced into big pieces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

In a frying pan heat oil.

Brown each ox-tail on both sides and place into bottom of slow cooker.

Add remaining ingredients.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Meat should be tender and vegetables soft.  Taste to season.

I served this with cornbread.  The soup is great as leftovers too.  ENJOY!

Written by Sherron Watson

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cream Cheese Mints #SundaySupper

I had great plans for this post.  I even ordered the cute little molds to make roses and leaves.  I had planned to get fancy.

Well, you can see these are not shaped like flowers, no leaves in site and there is nothing fancy about this post...LOL

I have been so sick for the last three weeks.  Barely hanging on to be exact.  Two weekends in a row trying to "rest and sleep" this beast away.  No go!

Sometimes life takes over and I have to just say, "oh well".

I am heading to the doctor today to get something to help with the cough and hopefully exile this thing from my body.  It has really messed up my schedule. (Turns out I had bronchitis and my asthma made it worse...the meds are finally kicking in and working).

I was asked to do an interview for a local TV station on Wednesday and was able to muddle through that with the help of a few cold and sinus tablets.

This recipe is special to me because it was given to me by a woman I met 25 years ago.  I met her through church and as we would sit and visit once a month, she would be busy making these cream cheese mints.

Her fingers worked so fast!  This is what she would do for the bride and grooms in our area as part of their wedding gift.  The mints were always a hit at each wedding reception.  How could they not be?

Made with love, each one pressed into the mold and then flipped out onto the table.

Her home smelled so good on the days that she made the mints---minty fresh and clean!

I wrote this recipe down on an old napkin and have kept it this whole time.  When our Sunday Supper group was deciding on Valentine Day recipes I knew this is what I wanted to make.

You don't go through this much work (referring to the fancy molded mints) for just anybody, you do it for the ones you love.   This is my first batch that is pictured and I went the easy route of rolling the dough into long ropes and cutting them into bit size pieces.  A practice run you could say.

Well, when this bug is all said and done, I will add a few more pictures of the mints in the shapes that I purchased--leaves and roses.

Keep in mind that you can make the mints any color or keep them white.  This batch I have had sealed in a bag for two months and they taste just as fresh as that first week that I made them.

They are buttery, creamy and minty morsels of love.  See below the list and recipes of the Sunday Supper group sharing their LOVE with each of us today.

Recipe:  Cream Cheese Mints

3 oz. cream cheese, soft
3 cups of confectioner's sugar
3 teaspoons of peppermint extract
food coloring (optional)
confectioner's sugar to help with the molds

Combine cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, extract and food coloring until well blended.

The dough should be kneadable (not too sticky).  If this happens, add more sugar.

Knead dough for 3 minutes.

Sprinkle parchment paper with confectioner's sugar and roll  sections of the mint dough into a snake, about a 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes, remove and cut into tiny candy segments.

If using the molds:  Pinch off a piece of peppermint dough, dip in sugar and press into mold. Gently pop them out and store on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

The mints will become harder the longer they sit (7-10 days is recommended).  I stored mine in large bags until I was ready to use and share them.

#SundaySupper Valentine’s Day Breakfasts, Apps & Main Dishes:
#SundaySupper Valentine’s Day Sweet Eats:
#SundaySupper Valentine’s Day Drinks:
#SundaySupper Valentine’s Day Tablescape:  A Romantic Table For Two Please from An Appealing Plan
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here → Sunday Supper Movement.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Oriental Chicken Salad in Wonton Cones #SundaySupper

Are you ready for some football?  I am!

I live in Maryland and so we are, of course, rooting for the Ravens to win.  Although, I will be happy with either team winning--after all, it is still in the family, right?  Wether Jim or John wins they still have an amazing story to pass on and talk about down the road.

Our culture loves football and food...dips, pizza, nacho's, sliders, chips, etc.... We love a reason to get together and to celebrate with friends and family, especially if it envolves a flat screen TV.    

My neighbor told me yesterday that he and his wife just purchased their first large flat screen TV.  His eyes lit up with pride as he talked about watching the game in his living room.  I was so happy for them.

We will also be gathered upstairs around our TV as a family enjoying the big game.  This appetizer will be served.  I enjoy Oriental Chicken Salad.  This salad is a great way to use our teams color--purple.  I used purple onion and purple cabbage.  You can use green cabbage, but for this day, we will use purple.

This is just one of many recipes being shared with Sunday Supper, please take a few minutes and browse through the recipes that are at the end of this post.  I know that their are some winners and favorites being shared today. 

If you are not a football fan, that is okay too.  This appetizer works well for baby showers, bridal parties and birthday events.  The cones can be made up in advance and assembled right before they are served.  Get creative with your filling for the cones if the Oriental Salad is not your choice--you can use cheese, a different salad, mousse or tuna tartar.  

Best of luck to the Ravens and 49er's, regardless of who wins, I just hope it is a good game to watch and I know that spending time with my family will be the highlight and instant replay that I will look forward to with each passing year.

Recipe:  Oriental Chicken Salad in Wonton Cones

Makes 3-4 cups of filling

The step by step instructions for the Wonton Cones can be found HERE.

2 large chicken breast, cooked and diced
1/2 cup pineapple, diced small
1/2 cup mandarin oranges, diced small
1/2 cup of toasted almond slivers
1 tablespoon of diced chives or red onion
1 cup of shredded red cabbage

2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of rice vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
Pinch of salt

Serving suggestions: tiny cups with miniature forks, wonton cones or pre-made puff shells

Combine dressing ingredients and shake well. This is a basic recipe and can be adjusted to your sense of taste by adjusting the sweet/tart levels with more or less sugar or vinegar.

Combine chicken, cabbage, chives, oranges,pineapple and almonds.

Add dressing and combine.  The dressing should be tasted and enhanced to your liking. We like ours a bit tart so I tend to add a bit more vinegar than what is listed.

This can be made up to 2 days in advance.  If served in cups they can be prepared the night before.  If serving them in a wonton cone or pastry shell, prepare the day of the event.

Filling can be served cold or warm.

#SundaySupper Super Bowl Appetizers & Snacks:
#SundaySupper Super Bowl Main Dishes:
#SundaySupper Super Bowl Desserts:
#SundaySupper Super Bowl Tablescape:  10 Tips For A Winning Superbowl Buffet Table from An Appealing Plan
Now that is one feast for sure! I’m sure you found a whole bunch of recipes to make for your next party. Be sure to bookmark this post so you can reference it easily. It is a keeper list for sure.
What is your favorite party food? Is there one you always make when entertaining or to take to a party? I have several and these muffuletta skewers are in my make often list along with pimento cheese balls and stuffed mushrooms. I’m so ready for a party, how about you?
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Berger Cookie--Gluten Free Version

New York has their Black and White Cookies that are adored by many; Baltimore has their Berger Cookies that seem to have an equally enthusiastic crowd of followers. I love how we can attach our love to a city because of a simple tasty treat, a cookie. I have reviewed many comments about the Berger Cookie and how people travel to the city never knowing that they are about to be mesmerized by this cake like, shortbread tasting, fudgy topped cookie.

It is a delight to many the first time they sink their teeth through the two layers of fudge and cookie. Oh, and their are two layers. The fudge is piled high on the cookie; it is a sight to see. The cookie holds together and welcomes the teeth with that last and final have now introduced your taste buds to a new favorite.

My challenge is to try and get as close as possible to this beloved cookie only in a gluten free recipe.

Is it and would it be possible? The question of the day!

I had to try. I found a recipe from 2009 that was printed in the Washington Post which was adapted from a King Arthur recipe. The recipes were both given great reviews and seemed easy enough to follow.

I knew that in order to make an exceptional cookie, I had to start with the best ingredients. For the butter I chose to stick with my favorite, Kerry Gold. For the rice flours I purchased super fine blends because they work the best in delicate desserts. I used whole milk and eggs from our local dairy; milk was creamy white and the yolks were a nice orange.

I followed each step and I hope that you will too. The recipe is one that builds the batter from the first ingredient to the last. With out the gluten in the flour to help the cookie bind together we must add "air" and a foundation for the batter to be perfect. The batter is thick but fluffy and spongy at the same time. This is what you want.

The final key to the success of this gluten free cookie is the pan I used.  I know from experience that some gluten free cookies don't hold their shape and flatten to nothing; then there are others that don't budge...the way you scooped them is the way they bake (those are a bit disappointing to open the door and see a scoop instead of a round cookie).  To make sure that this would not be the case with these cookies, I got creative.   A few months ago at a Goodwill, I bought a whoopie pie pan.  It makes six cookies at a time.  I only paid $2.00 for it and thought what the heck.  I brought it home and threw it in to my cookie sheet drawer and there it sat...until today.

It was the perfect shape and size for the Berger Cookie.  It held an ice cream scoop of batter and allowed the batter to bake and rise without spreading into one large cookie.  The cookies ended up being about a 1/4 inch thick, cakey and buttery--oh, they are delicious! 

You will notice that the frosting on my cookies is not the suggested 3 tablespoons from the original recipe.  I knew that my family would not want to eat the cookie with that much rich and sweet frosting. I think you can add any amount that you're comfortable with and not feel guilty, unless you plan on eating the whole may just never know.

Are you ready for a cookie that is gluten free and will knock your socks off?  I thought so.

Recipe:  Baltimore's Berger Cookie, gluten free
Adapted from a recipe found in the Washington Post on 10-29-2009

NOTE:  I used a scale to weigh all of my flours and starches.  I have included estimates in cups for those that do not have a scale.  I would recommend a scale because then your measurements can match mine in the recipe. 

Cookies depend on size of scoop you use.  I was able to get 21 large cookies.

8 ounces of unslated butter, at room temperature
1 1/2  (184 g) cups confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups (293 g) of fine white rice flour or powder (the later can be purchased at an Oriental store)
1 cup (122 g) tapioca starch
1 cup (135 g) fine brown rice flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup  (240 g) whole milk, at room temperature


1(12 oz) bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (Gheridelli is what I used)
3 ounces of unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons of brown rice syrup (you can use corn syrup if you prefer)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

To make the cookies:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray your pan with Pam or cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, starch, salt, and baking powder.  Mix well with a wire whisk.

In a large bowl add butter.  Beat for 3 minutes until pale yellow and fluffy.

Add the powdered sugar and beat for 2 minutes, add vanilla and combine well.

Add each egg separately and blend well after each egg is added.  You should notice the batter starting to be fluffy.

You will alternate the milk and the flour mix into the butter mixture.  Mixing well after each addition.  It took me 5 sets of flour then milk, then flour again, repeat.   The batter should be increasing in volume and yet still fluffy.

You can make the cookies any size you want.  I used an ice cream scoop and did one scoop per bun circle in my bun pan.  (see note and link above).

Cook each sheet of cookies for 9-11minutes.  Do not over bake them.  You want them cake-like, not dry and crumbly.  The edges should be lighlty brown and the tops a pale yellow.

Let cookies cool on wire rack.

To make frosting:

I will tell you this is like no frosting I have ever made, its very fudgy and stiff yet shiny and moldable.

In a large sauce pan on the stove top, set your heat to medium low.

Combine the first 5 ingredients, mix well.  You do not want to burn this chocolate, so stay by the pan and keep stirring the bottom.  It takes about 5 minutes for every thing to melt together.   

Turn heat off and let cool slightly.

Add confectioner's sugar and beat for 2 minutes.

Slather each cookie with the amount of frosting your family would enjoy.

This is my husbands hand holding the cookie, it is a big cookie!

Written by Sherron Watson

Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to Make Wonton Cones

Wonton Cones are just a cute party addition to any table.  They look fun, they are easy to use and they can be made up in advance.  I like that.  I made these three days before I used them and stored them in an air tight bag.  They were still fresh and crispy as the day I made them.

The cones can be filled with any type of filling:  mousse, salads, cheese, etc....

I have filled mine with an Oriental Salad Mixture (recipe will be shared on Sunday for Sunday Supper and Super Bowl Sunday).

These Wonton Cones are easy to make.  The tricky part is making sure the oil is not too hot and that you have the right tool to work with.

What is the right tool?  Well, I have seen a carrot used, a medal cylinder and a piping nozzle used for decorating cakes.  Hmmmmm.  Well, I decided to use the end of my wooden spoon.  It was an easy decision--I already had tons of wooden spoons, they would not get too hot in th oil and burn me and it made the cones exactly the same each time.  Perfect!

I have put together a step-by-step pictorial so that you can see how they are made.  The list of ingredients needed to make these cones is easy: oil, small amount of water and wonton wrappers.

Make sure the oil is 3 inches deep and the temperature is around 350 degrees (use a thermometer to insure the temperature is correct). If the oil gets too hot, the cones will get very dark.

Please be very careful.  You will be working with hot, hot oil.  The spoon is used as a tool to help you mold and retrieve the cones from the oil, you may be tempted to use your fingers here and there--use caution. 

The cooking time for each wonton is quick.  Maybe 30-45 seconds depending on how hot your oil is and how dark you want them to be.  Once you make a few of them, you will find the timing and rythmn of making the cones and it will move along quickly.  If you have a helper, some one who can make them while you cook them, that would be even better.  I did not have that option.

Place napkins near by so that you can let them cool before transfering them to an airtight container or bag.

The pictures below all contain wrappers that are not gluten free.  I have not made the cones using a gluten free recipe.  If you would like to try a gluten free version, this seems to be the best recipe out there from, Gluten Free on a Shoestring.  You will find the recipe here.

Place each wonton wrapper on your work surface.  The wonton's are more pliable if they are at room temperature.  Let them set out on the counter an hour before you make the cones.

Dip your finger in the water and start in the left corner.
While your finger is wet with water, drag it up one side and return to the corner.
Drag your wet finger down the other side.  Two sides are now wet with water.

Fold the corner so that the tip makes a trianle ontop of the wonton wrapper.

Take the one side of the wonton wrapper and fold it over the meet the other side (you want the two wet sides to overlap and seal the cone).
This is what you should have when the steps above have been followed.

Using the end of a wooden spoon, place it inside the wonton wrapper.  Make sure your oil is hot.  

Add the wonton to the oil, pushing it under the oil and rotating the spoon in a circle in your hand.  You are twirling the handle so that the oil is able to get to all of the sides of the cone.

The cone will start to bubble and you can see that it is turning a light brown.

At some point the cone may fall off of the spoon.  This is okay.  Push it under the oil to cook the inside.  Take the spoon handle and slip it inside the cone shape and pull it out of the hot oil.  You can also use a wire mesh frying spatula to retrieve the cone.

Tip the cone slightly so that the excess oil can drain out.

Let the cone cool for a few minutes and then you can handle them.  They can be filled right away or saved for a later date.

You can see some of the cones are darker than the others.  As long as they don't taste burnt, they are still good.  I found that the cones will continue to darken and cook once they are removed from the hot oil so keep this in mind.

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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