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Rapini & Beans (Vegan)

In Soups and Stews, Vegetables On January 7, 2021 0 Comments

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Rapini or broccoli rabe  is a green, cruciferous vegetable with edible leaves, buds, and stems. The buds resemble broccoli, but do not form a large head. Rapini has a slightly bitter taste, and is part of Mediterranean cuisine.

I learned how to make Rapini and Beans as a teenager in Avellino, Italy (in the Campania region). Although I serve this dish to family and friends year round, it’s especially comforting during the cold winter months. Make this dish in minutes and enjoy it with crusty bread and a glass of wine.  You’ll warm up in no time!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2 to 4

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 whole garlic cloves
1 bunch fresh Rapini, cut into one-inch pieces; rinsed & drained
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
One 15.5-ounce can Cannellini, Navy, Great Northern or other white beans
Freshly-grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, as garnish (optional)

Directions:
1. On medium-high setting, heat olive oil in a 4-quart sauce pot.

2. When oil is hot (but not smoking), add the garlic cloves.

3. On medium-high heat, stir-fry garlic until it turns golden brown (not blackened).

4. When garlic is golden brown, add the cut and rinsed rapini.

5. Let the mixture warm through.

6. When rapini mixture sizzles or bubbles, add  1-1/2 cups cold water.

7. When the rapini and water come to a boil, stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt.

8. Rinse and drain the beans; add them to top of rapini mixture in saucepot.

9. Warm through and taste. Adjust salt level, if needed.

10. Serve Rapini and Beans immediately with slices of crusty Italian bread, if desired.

11. Garnish with grated Pecorino Romano cheese (optional) and enjoy with white wine.
Text & Photograph ©2021 Nancy DeLucia Real

 

 

Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Cake

In Cakes & Cupcakes, Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Holidays On December 14, 2020 0 Comments

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After I purchased sandwich cookie cake molds at a local Williams Sonoma® store, I was inspired to make this cake for our 2020 December holidays – (this is to memorialize a year of C19 lockdowns in March and in December).

Mirroring our current lives, the cake is simple, with no frills. But it’s delicious, too.

Enjoy this comforting dessert with your favorite coffee, tea or liqueur after your Chanukah, Christmas or New Year dinner!

Prep time: 20 minutes (cake); and 10 minutes (frosting
Bake time: 25 to 30 minutes
Serves: 12 to 15

Ingredients for the Cake:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (safflower or sunflower) or unsalted butter (for greasing cake pans)
1/2 cup cocoa powder or more (for dusting cake pans)
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar (unbleached)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup milk (whole or low-fat)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (safflower or sunflower)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces melted, unsweetened chocolate (cooled)

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Grease two Williams Sonoma® Cookie Cake Pans or two 9-inch round cake pans.

3. Sprinkle cocoa powder over greased cake pans; shake off excess. Set pans aside.

4. Measure remaining ingredients in a large (12-cup) mixing bowl.

5. Beat 1 minute on low speed, constantly scraping bowl with a spatula.

6. Beat 3 minutes on high speed; scraping bowl occasionally.

7. Pour cake batter into pans until they reach 2/3 height. If there’s extra batter, grease and dust with cocoa a 2-cup baking dish (make a third cake to use for a separate purpose).

8. Place cake pans on a rack positioned in center of oven; bake for 25 to 30 minutes (bake small, extra cake for 15 minutes; check doneness).

9. Test doneness of cakes by inserting a pointed knife in center of each one. If knife comes out clean, the cakes are done.

10. Remove cakes from oven and set aside on a cooling rack or trivets on a counter for 15 minutes.

11. Invert the cakes onto a parchment paper-lined cutting board.

12. Meanwhile, prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients for the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 to 3 teaspoons milk (whole or low-fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
1. In a large (12-cup) mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, milk, vanilla with handheld  mixer. Alternatively, use a stand mixer fitted with a bowl.

2. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed, until smooth and spreadable. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, using a spatula, turn one cake over and set it on a serving platter (with print side facing down).

4. Spread the frosting evenly over cake on platter.

5. Place the second cake, printed side up, on top of frosting.

6. Serve immediately by cutting cake into slices or refrigerate cake (covered) up to 2 days ahead.

7. If making this cake ahead, remove from refrigerator 2 hours prior to serving.
Text ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

Carrot-Spice Cheesecakes

In Meats On November 25, 2020 0 Comments

Serve these carrot-spice cheesecakes as a perfecting ending to your Thanksgiving Day feast!

Prep time: 35 to 40 minutes
Bake time: 12 to 14 minutes
Makes: 24 mini-cheesecakes

Prepare the Crust:
24 muffin paper cups (use a solid color or cups with Fall decorations)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs or animal cracker crumbs (ground in a food processor)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
-OR-
1/2 cup sunflower or safflower oil

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Divide the paper cups among two muffin baking pans (each one should hold 12 paper cups). Set aside.

3. In a shallow bowl and using a fork, mix together the crumbs, cinnamon and either butter or oil.

4. When mixture is uniform, using a teaspoon, put some crumb mixture into each paper cup.

5. Using the back of an espresso spoon or small teaspoon, press down, into the crumb mixture.

6. Set the muffin pans with paper cups aside while you prepare cheesecakes.

Prepare the Cheesecakes:
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons regular or natural cane (unbleached) sugar
1/4 cup cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pureed cooked carrots (alternatively, use 1/2 cup baby food pureed carrots)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. In a 4-quart mixing bowl or in a stand mixer fitted with a bowl, beat together the above ingredients on high speed until mixture is creamy and smooth.

2. Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture over the crumb mixture in paper cups.

3. Set each muffin pan on its own rack in oven.

4. Bake the cheesecakes for 6 to 7 minutes.

5. After 6 to 7 minutes, invert the muffin pans.

6. Bake the cheesecakes for an additional 6 to 8 minutes or until tops look puffed and slightly crack.

7. After baking the cheesecakes, set them IN MUFFIN PANS on a counter to cool completely.

8. When the cheesecakes have cooled completely, lift them out of the muffin pans. To avoid crushing the still-soft cheesecakes, use both hands to grab the paper cups and lift them out.

9. Carefully set the cheesecakes on a serving platter. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ingredients for the Topping:
1 can ready-made whipping cream
24 corn nuts candies
Fresh thyme twigs (cut into twenty-four 1/2-inch twigs)

1 At serving time, place a dollop of whipped cream on top of each cheesecake.

2. Decorate each cheesecake with one corn nut candy and a thyme twig.

3. Serve immediately.

Note: The cheesecakes can be baked up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.
Text and Photograph ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

Create an Edible Ghoul!

In Fun Foods, Holidays On October 14, 2020 0 Comments

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Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Decorates: 1 to 2 individual pastries

How about transforming a premade, individual cake, cookie  or donut into a Halloween ghoul? Have fun!

Ingredients (for 1 to 2 decorations):
3 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons cold water
Cocoa Rice Crispies (for hair decoration)
One 4.25 oz. tube Dec A Cake Green Decorating Icing
One 4.25 oz. tube Dec A Cake Blue Decorating Icing
One .75 oz. Dec A Cake Black Writing Gel
One .75 oz. Dec A Cake Red Writing Gel

Directions:
1. In a 4-cup bowl, mix the powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon water.

2. If needed, add a little more water until a thick glaze has formed.

3. Place the pastry on a dinner plate covered with waxed paper.

4. Pour enough glaze over the pastry so that it’s surface is completely covered.

5. Immediately transfer dinner plate with glazed item to freezer.

6. Chill 5 minutes until almost firmly set.

7. Transfer the plate with pastry to a work surface & sprinkle the Cocoa Rice Crispies on the ghoul to create “hair”.

8. Fit the Dec A Cake Green Decorating Icing tube with a pointed tip.

9. Looking at photograph herein, be inspired to decorate the pastry by create outer green eye circles, eyebrows & nose.

10. Next, fit the Dec A Cake Blue Decorating Icing tube with a separate pointed tip.

11. Create inner blue pupils inside green outline for eyes.

12.  Draw black pupil in center of pupils in eyes.

13. Draw black line for the mouth.

14. Add red fangs to the mouth line.

15. Decorate a second pastry, if desired. Transfer decorated Halloween ghouls to a serving platter & devour them!
Text & Photograph ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

Truly Organic Fig Jam

In Fruit and Jams, Fun Foods On August 31, 2020 0 Comments

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Prep time: 30 minutes
Makes: 3 to 4 cups
Storage: in three 2-cup Mason jars, refrigerated for up to 1 month

With luscious figs in season right now, if you’re blessed with a tree, make this “truly organic fig jam”. If you don’t have a tree, try to find extremely ripe figs at a farmers’ market.

Serve the fig jam on crusty Italian or French bread alongside walnuts and/or cheese. Yummo!

Ingredients:
3 pounds organic fresh figs, rinsed & drained
1-3/4 cups organic, unbleached, granulated sugar
1/2 cold water or a little more

Directions:
1. Cut figs in half and place them in a 4 to 6-quart saucepot.

2. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar; stir until evenly combined.

3. On medium-high heat, bring the figs to a boil.

4. When figs are boiling, add 1/2 cup water and stir mixture so that sugar will not burn at bottom of saucepot.

5. Cook figs on low (simmering boil) for about 30 minutes.

6. Occasionally stir the fig jam as it reduces and thickens or it will burn at bottom of saucepot.

7. After 30 minutes, the jam will have thickened and turned brown.

8. Remove saucepot from heat and set aside on a cold burner, covered.

9. When fig jam has cooled, transfer it to three 2-cup mason jars. Cover and tightly seal jars; store in refrigerator.

Text & Photograph ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real