Tag Archives: moist

Amaretto Milk Cake

18 Jun

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I made this for a very special someone’s birthday. Another recipe inspired by one of Chef Matthew Kenney’s from his book, “Big City Cooking”.

Time: 45 minutes + cool                      Serves: 9

Ingredients


  • Cake


  • 4 eggs, room temp – separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar, separated
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup AP flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond flour/meal**
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • **I made my toasted almond meal by toasting just under 1/2 cup of raw almonds on a parchment lined baking sheet at 400F for 5-7 minutes. Once cooled, I ground them in my food processor.**
  • Amaretto Milk and Toppings


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp amaretto or comparable almond-flavored liqueur
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 8 almond butter thin cookies (Trader Joe’s) or amaretti cookies, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar

How to make it


  • Cake


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8×8 glass baking dish by brushing melted butter on bottom and sides. Fit bottom with a square of parchment paper and brush this with melted butter as well.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/4 cup of sugar until light and creamy – about 3 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with 1/4 cup sugar until soft peaks form – about 3-5 minutes.
  • In three parts, gently fold the egg whites into the yolks. Add salt and vanilla and fold in gently as well.
  • Sift in 1/4 cup of flour, fold to incorporate. Repeat with remaining flour. Add 1/4 cup almond meal and fold to incorporate. Repeat with remaining almond meal.
  • Pour into prepared dish and place in middle rack of oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
  • Invert cake onto a cutting board. Remove parchment paper. Cut off the browned edges of the cake and then cut into 9 even squares. Place cake pieces back into pan.
  • Amaretto Milk and Toppings


  • In a medium saucepan, combine whole milk with evaporated milk and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  • Whisk in condensed milk and simmer for an additional minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in almond extract and amaretto liqueur.
  • Remove one piece of cake. Pour milk mixture into pan in open spot, being mindful not to pour over the tops of the cake pieces.

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  • Replace piece of cake. Let soak for 10 minutes.
  • Serve pieces of cake with extra amaretto milk spooned around, topped with crumbled cookies, raspberries, and powdered sugar.
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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

10 Jun

fried chicken

One thing I try to focus on when creating dishes is being able to eat and make what I love, without having to compromise much. Unfortunately, I suffer from a digestive disorder – what kind of cruel joke is that for a chef and “foodie”?! I’ve done quite a bit of trial and error on my diet to try to keep myself in good health and pain-free. Although I’m not allergic to wheat or gluten, I find that I feel much better when I don’t eat it. It seems a lot of people can benefit from reducing the amount of wheat they consume. With that said, I don’t want to give up my favorite foods or feel like I’m missing out on anything and this fried chicken is the perfect example! The buttermilk marinade adds to the flavor and moisture of the meat while the cornstarch helps to keep the breading from falling off while frying. If you haven’t tried brown rice flour yet, I highly recommend it!

Time: 45 minutes + marinate time                   Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • 1 chicken cut into 8 pieces – about 2.5 pounds
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp rainbow peppercorns
  • 1 handful celery leaves
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • neutral oil, for frying

How to make it


  • Combine buttermilk,salt,pepper,paprika,rosemary,onion,garlic,celery stalks & leaves in a large plastic zipper bag. Seal and toss to incorporate. Add chicken pieces, reseal, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, and up to 36 hours.
  • Place cornstarch in a bowl.
  • Place egg, hot sauce, and water in another bowl.
  • Place flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper in a third bowl. Mix to incorporate.lunapic_137046272434386_28
  • Remove chicken from fridge. Heat oil in a medium stock pot to about 350F – a cube of bread should brown in one minute when the oil is ready.
  • Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip off. Dredge first in cornstarch, then dip in egg wash, and finally dredge in seasoned flour. Place in hot oil and cook for about 20 minutes. Wings may need less time and larger pieces may need a few more minutes. I went about 25 minutes on the breasts, 20 minutes on the legs and thighs, and 15 minutes on the wings. Remove and transfer to a paper towel lined cooling rack. Fry in batches if needed. (I like to fry in smaller batches in a smaller pot to use less oil and give the pieces room to brown well without sticking).

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Honey Lemon Lamb En Brochette

5 Jun

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Here it is folks! This is the dish I prepared for the the lamb challenge on Episode 3 of MasterChef Season 4 on FOX. When we were waiting to go in to meet with the judges and found out our challenge, the smells that come with fresh livestock came wafting in to my nose. I looked around to see if any of the other contestants noticed and it seemed many did not. We were all anxious and excited to find out what our challenge would be and for a moment I had a flash of panic, thinking “what if we have to slaughter something?!” After a few minutes, which felt like hours, we were brought in to the judges to find out what we would be doing. When I first saw the sweet little lamb that Gordon Ramsay held in his arms, my heart dropped.

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Then, the rest of the herd was let in and our challenge was announced. We could create any dish with lamb as the star ingredient and we had our pick of any and all parts of the animal. In addition, we had the privilege of using the fully-stocked MasterChef pantry. I had to shake the feeling of being sad for the little lamb and keep my head in the game!

I got the inspiration for this dish from a recipe in Matthew Kenney’s “Big City Cooking”. One of my dearest friends, Katie, gave the book to me as a gift years ago – before I discovered my passion for cooking. It’s a lovely book and back then I found it quite intimidating as many of the ingredients were unfamiliar to me at the time and the preparations are so elegant. I used to flip through it and think, “one day…” Now I can really dig into it. Thanks, Katie!

Time: 15 minutes + marinating                  Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • 2 cups 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 boneless lamb loins – about 10 oz each – cut crosswise into pieces 1-inch thick
  • mint leaves, for garnish

How to make it


  • In a large non-reactive bowl, combine yogurt, oil, honey, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Whisk together to incorporate.
  • Add lamb loin to marinade and cover. Refrigerate for 3-6 hours or let set on the counter for about 40 minutes before grilling.
  • Preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
  • Thread lamb onto metal or wooden skewers (if using wood, be sure to soak in water for 10 minutes so they don’t burn). Reserve marinade.
  • Place skewers on hot grill/grill pan and cook, turning occasionally, until desired doneness – I go 5-6 minutes for medium-rare.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with mint leaves.

As we were cooking, the judges came around to talk to us, see what we were up to, and in some cases take a taste. Gordon Ramsay came to my station and asked me what I was preparing. After I described it to him, he stuck his index finger in the bowl of marinade, lamb and all, stuck it in his mouth and proclaimed, “It’s fucking delicious!” I may have been sent home on this challenge but this was a great affirmation! I know I think it’s delicious, but to know Gordon Ramsay does too… That’s saying something! Check me out doing my thing in the second row from the bottom on the left.

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The marinade may not look like much, but it does great things! The yogurt tenderizes the meat, while the lemon tames the lamb’s robust flavor.

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The lamb is served over a Moroccan Cucumber Mint Salad which provides a wonderful textural contrast and freshness. Recipe coming soon.

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The dish is also served with Harissa

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…and Honey Cumin Yogurt.

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It also pairs perfectly with Moroccan Carrots.

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Lamb Meatballs and Napoli Sauce

30 May

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I acquired these traditional Italian recipes, passed down through generations, from a chef in LA. As per usual, I added my own touches to make this dish sing. The simplicity of the sauce highlights the succulent, herbaceous lamb and everything is in harmony – the pleasant tune of spring.

Time: 30 minutes + simmer Serves: 5

Ingredients


  • Meatballs


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cubed bread (I used Udi’s Gluten Free White)
  • milk, enough to cover bread cubes
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sea salt and black pepper – to taste (about 1/4 tsp each)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large leek, white and light green part only – carefully cleaned and cut into thin half moons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sauce


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 a medium-large onion)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • sea salt and black pepper – to taste
  • 8 basil leaves, roughly chopped or chiffonade

How to make it


  • Meatballs


  • Combine bread cubes and milk in a small bowl to soak.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Once hot, add leeks and cook for about 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Transfer soaked bread to a large mixing bowl. Discard excess milk any remains. Add lamb, parsley, rosemary, thyme, beaten egg, salt, pepper, and cooled leeks & garlic. Mix just to incorporate.
  • Form mixture into 2-inch balls and set on a lined baking sheet.
  • At this point you can bake them in a preheated oven at 400F for 20 minutes. Or you can braise them in the sauce by allowing them to cook for 25 minutes. Finally, you can pan fry them in batches with a bit of olive oil over medium-high until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  • I always cook my meatballs, let them cool, then put them on a baking sheet and into the freeze. Once frozen, pop them into a freezer bag or container and you’ll have homemade meatballs waiting for you anytime.
  • Sauce


  • In a medium stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened and translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, some salt & pepper and stir. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Add basil during last 30 minutes of simmer.
  • Serve meatballs tossed in sauce and spaghetti. Top with shaved Parmesan Reggiano Asiago blend and garnish with small basil leaves.

Nutella Pretzel Bars

26 Apr

4:26 Nutella pretzel bars

These are a fun way to celebrate National Pretzel Day! I got inspiration for this dessert from a cook named nicoled on Tasty Kitchen’s website.

Time: 40 minutes                Serves: 9

Ingredients


  • 8 tbsp butter, melted plus extra (about 1tbsp) for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels, divided (I used cajun seasoned pretzels)

How to make it


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Brush an 8×8 baking pan with butter, line with a sheet of parchment leaving 2″ overhang on both edges. Butter the parchment.
  • In a large bowl, whisk butter, sugars, and Nutella until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Add flour, mix just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in 1/2 cup of crushed pretzels. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread in an even layer with a spatula. Sprinkle evenly with remaining crushed pretzels.
  • Bake until tip is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes (mine took 25 minutes). Set pan on a wire rack and let cool completely. Using parchment overhang, lift bars from pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares (I cut mine into 9 large ones, you can make them smaller if you wish). Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days – if they last that long!

Red Velvet Cupcakes for Two

13 Feb

red velvet cupcakes

Perfect for a sweet ending to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, or anytime you want to express your love.

Time: 15 min prep, 20 min bake          Yield: 4

Ingredients


  • Cupcakes


  • 1/3 plus 1 tbsp AP flour
  • 1/8 baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp red food coloring
  • 1/8 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Frosting


  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 6 tbsp confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 drop red food coloring

How to make it


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line 4 cups of muffin tin with liners, outside edges will rise higher.
  • Cupcakes


  • Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, beat together oil, sugar, buttermilk, egg, coloring, vinegar and vanilla.
  • Slowly add dry ingredients into wet, mixing as you go.
  • Divide batter between four cupcake liners. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Frosting


  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat together until well incorporated. Frost cupcakes. I piped my icing out of a plastic sandwich bag with a small corner cut out.

Boursin Stuffed Chicken

15 Dec

A great combo of moist, creamy, cheesy interior and crispy, crunchy exterior.

Time: 10 min prep, 45 min cook             Serves: 2

Ingredients


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6 oz each)
  • 2 oz. boursin cheese (I used garlic & herb)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Lawry’s seasoning salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • olive oil spray

How to make it


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a glass baking dish with olive oil.
  • Rinse chicken & pat dry. Cut a horizontal slit in the thickest portion of each breast to form a pocket, leaving about 1/2 inch attached, careful not to cut all the way through. Stuff each pocket with 1 oz of cheese. Secure with toothpicks.
  • In a medium bowl, combine egg and milk and whisk to incorporate.
  • Place bread crumbs & grated cheese into a sealable plastic bag or paper bag. Season with Lawry’s and pepper. Toss to incorporate.
  • Carefully put stuffed chicken in egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Then, place into bag with bread crumbs and toss to coat. Carefully transfer to baking dish. Repeat with other piece of chicken.
  • Spray tops liberally with olive oil. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour until juices run clear.