Maple Panna Cotta

As I was thinking about some of my favorite flavors to welcome Fall, of course maple syrup comes quickly to mind. I decided to incorporate the maple taste into an easy elegant dessert – panna cotta, This is a dessert that I enjoyed many times on my visits to Florence, Italy. Maple seems a nice way to give it an american touch. For many years, I was reluctant to try panna cotta, it seemed daunting , using gelatin leaves and then removing from the mold before serving, but was I wrong , this dessert could not be easier to make.  If removing your panna cotta from the mold is preventing you from trying this lovely dessert then don’t bother. You can serve your dessert in some other little containers such as little jam jars as I did below, or a tea cup or pretty glass. If you are feeling ambitious serve some pepita brittle along side the dish. As always enjoy!
From by the bay wishing you sweet maple food memories!
Maryann
blog maple panna cotta
Maple Panna Cotta
Serves 6
Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup ( optional extra for serving )
3 sheets gelatin leaves
vegetable oil
Directions
Prepare 6 – 4 ounce custard cups by lightly oiling them with canola oil. Place the gelatin sheets in a bowl and cover with water. Set aside. In a medium saucepan add the cream, sugar and maple syrup . Place on medium heat and cook until sugar is dissolved , stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat. Remove the gelatin sheets from the water, gently squeeze to remove excess water. Add to the sweetened cream. Stir until dissolved. Ladle into the custard cups. Cover and refrigerate until firm, several hours or overnight. To unmold, run a knife under hot water, wipe it dry and then run the knife around the panna cottas and invert onto plates. Serve immediately, with a little maple syrup on top.
Optional: if you don’t want to unmold the panna cotta serve in the custards cups as is or in
another glass or porcelain container. I like to use a small glass jelly jar.
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Irish Coffee Apple Caramel Crisp

I love traditions, but sometimes we need new ones. I wanted to make a dessert that delivered just a subtle hint of Irish Coffee to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This Irish Coffee Apple Caramel Crisp does just that! Apple and caramel is a perfect marriage of flavors. There is just a touch of coffee in this rich caramel apple filling, topped with a crunchy crumb. The crisp is covered with a cloud of irish whiskey whipped cream.  It’s hard to make whipped cream taste better but using a touch of irish whiskey or bourbon does just the trick.  This is the perfect topping to any dessert. When you combine all the these flavors you have a winning dessert perfect for any
celebration. You can start a new tradition too!
From by the bay wishing you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Maryann
blog irish apple crisp
Irish Coffee Apple Caramel Crisp
Serves 6
Ingredients
Filling
3 apples such as Gala, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon coffee
1/4 teaspoon salt
Topping
3/4 cup all purpose flour
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degree F. In a bowl mix all toppings ingredients together, making moist clumps. Place in refrigerator to chill. To make filling, add butter and sugar into a saute pan on medium heat until smooth sauce forms. Add coffee to pan and cook, stirring until caramel starts to thicken and foam, about 5 minutes. Add salt and then apples. Toss the apples until coated evenly about 1 minute. Divide filling between 6- 4 ounce ramekins, placed on parchment lined baking sheet. Remove topping from refrigerator and divide the crumb topping over each ramekin. Place into the oven for about 1 hour. The crisp should be golden brown and the filling bubbling. Let stand to cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Irish Whiskey Whipped Cream
Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon Irish Whiskey
Directions
In a large bowl whip the heavy cream into soft peaks. Add the sugar and whiskey to the cream and continue to whip into hard peaks. Place into refrigerator and serve cold. ( Do not make too far in advance, I prefer no longer than an hour).

 

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

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Looking for a pumpkin based treat to satisfy my inner child as well as fully embrace fall and the upcoming holiday – Halloween, I looked no further than my local Starbucks for inspiration. This is my take on one of their seasonal breakfast baked goods. I love the tangy cream cheese filling in contrast to the complex spice of the muffin.  The pumpkin seeds on top add just the right amount of texture and crunch. This is definitely one of my favorites! Make it one of yours and treat out this delicious seasonal treat!
From by the bay, wishing you tangy food memories!
Maryann

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

For Filling
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoons vanilla
For Muffins
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) to garnish top of muffins
Directions
In a small bowl mix the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla together. Place on a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log. Place in the freezer for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Use a 12 cup muffin tray and line each cup with a paper baking cup, preferably unbleached. In a medium size bowl add the ingredients for the batter except the pumpkin seeds. Mix well. Fill each cup about 3/4 full. Remove the cream cheese from the freezer and cut into 12 rounds or pieces about 2 teaspoons each. Place the cream cheese into the batter, it should be level with the batter and showing the cream cheese in the center. Top each muffin with 5 ot 6 pumpkin seeds. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a tester comes our clean from the batter part of the muffin, don’t use the tester in the cream cheese. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before removing from the muffin tray. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.

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Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Cherry Sauce

A good friend of my recently took me to a Lebanese restaurant and we were delighted with the food and the wide variety of small plates offered. This is my version of our favorite dish we experienced that evening. These lamb meatballs are flavorful little bites that work terrific as an appetizer, to serve at a cocktail party or just to make an easy sandwich, a few in a pita bread with some greek yogurt, sliced cucumber and mint. It’s a perfect party food since you bake the meatballs, they fry in the oven, using significantly less oil with a really easy clean up. The sauce has a bit of a sweet and sour component from the cherry preserves and lemon juice, but with a middle eastern twist. It’s wonderful mix of flavors. You’ve love this dish!
From by the bay wishing you , sweet and sour food memories!
Maryann
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Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Cherry Sauce
Serves 6 to 8

Lamb Meatballs
Ingredients
1 pound ground lamb
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
olive oil spray
Directions 
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well using your hands.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with olive oil spray.  Once the meat mixture has chilled for 30 minutes, remove from refrigerator and dampen your hands and form 28 to 30 meatballs approximately 3/4″ diameter. Place on the lined baking tray. Spray top of the meatballs lightly with olive oil and bake in the heated oven for about 30 minutes, until browned and cooked through. Serve with tomato cherry sauce or just plain as a party appetizer with plain greek yogurt and some chopped mint on the side.
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Tomato Cherry Sauce

Ingredients
1 cup warm water
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup organic low sodium ketchup
1/4 cup cherry preserves
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup scallions, chopped to garnish lamb meatballs with sauce
Directions
Place warm water in a bowl and add dried cherries. Let cherries soak in the water 30 minutes. Strain cherries, adding the water into a medium sauce pan.  To this pan add remaining ingredients except cherries and cook on moderate heat stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add the cherries and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve with lamb meatballs. Garnish with chopped scallions.

Asian Style Barbecue Beef Short Ribs

Boneless beef short ribs are larger, more tender and meatier than their pork counterparts – making it a perfect barbecue food. I decided to make these short ribs using some of my favorite Asian flavors – ginger, garlic, cinnamon and star anise to braise the meat and infuse with these flavors, then make a barbecue sauce to brush on the ribs, as they caramelize on the grill. The result is meat that is slightly crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and packed with flavor. It’s really simple to make and the results are terrific.
From by the bay wishing you asian style food memories!
Maryann
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Asian Style Barbecue Beef Short Ribs
Serves 4-6
Ingredients

For the ribs
21/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
2 star anise
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 cinnamon stick
1 inch piece ginger, peeled
chopped scallions to garnish
For barbecue sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup cooking water from ribs
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
Directions
Place short ribs in a large cooking pot with star anise, cinnamon, garlic and ginger. Add water to just cover the ribs. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to simmer and cover with a lid for 45 minutes. Remove the ribs and place on a platter, covering with some foil. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water for the barbecue sauce. To make the sauce, add to a medium sauce pan the hoisin sauce, ketchup, cooking water, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame seed oil. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes. Preheat the grill . Brush the short ribs with the barbecue sauce and grill for 8 to 10 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.

Spicy Maple Roasted Marcona Almonds

One of my guilty pleasures as evening approaches here by the bay is watching the glorious sunsets with a glass of chilled white wine and some little nibble along with it. These spicy maple roasted marcona almonds are the perfect pairing to a glass of wine. Each bit captures the perfect mix of being savory and sweet with an under note of heat. The best part is just how simple these cocktail nuts are to make. Enjoy!
From by the bay, wishing you savory and  sweet food memories!
Maryann
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Spicy Maple Roasted Marcona Almonds
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups marcona almonds, roasted and salted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon smoked spanish paprika
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh coarse sea salt, such as Maldon
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl toss all ingredients except the salt. Turn onto the lined baking sheet, spreading into a single layer. Bake nuts for about 20 minutes, until the nuts are golden and bubbling. Sprinkle with the sea salt and let cool for 20 minutes, before breaking about. Serve immediately or store in an air tight container for up to one week.
Note: if you can’t find marcona almonds this will also work with regular dry roasted almonds or actually any dry roasted nuts that you prefer.

Mini Peanut Butter Cups

I love movies and like people all over the world, I’ll be watching the Academy Awards to see who will be walking on to the stage to accept each award. It’s fun television and although I might be boring and watching those awards home in my pajamas, I definitely like to make the evening a little bit of an event. I like to serve some champagne while watching and indulge some bit size food, including the dessert. For this year, I’m planning on making these mini peanut butter cups. They are decadently delicious and yet easy to make. Now, let’s get down to business , which film is winning Best Picture??
From by the bay, wishing you starry food memories!
Maryann
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Mini Peanut Butter Cups
Makes 12 mini cups
Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
6 tablespoons ground graham crackers
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 ounces milk chocolate
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
Coarse Sea Salt , such as Maldon
Baking Spray
Directions
Take a non stick mini muffin tin and spray with your baking spray or line each cup with a paper liner. In a bowl add the sugar, cinnamon and graham cracker crumbs, mix and set aside. Use a glass bowl to microwave peanut butter and butter in 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval until mixture is smooth. Usually, doing this twice will work. Add this mixture to your graham cracker mixture and stir to combine. Use a teaspoon to place mixture into the bottom of each muffin tin. Place filled muffin tin into the refrigerator to set. Now add the chocolate to the microwave and melt using 30 second intervals to stir the melting chocolate 2-3 times should do it. Once the chocolate is melted add the cream and corn syrup. Stir until smooth. Take the peanut butter filled muffin tin and fill with melted chocolate. Sprinkle coarse sea salt on the top. Place back into the refrigerator and let set for another 30 minutes before serving. You can remove the peanut butter cups from the tin and store in a plastic container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Variations: to the ground graham crackers , cinnamon and sugar mixture you can omit the cinnamon and add 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder to have a chocolate peanut butter bottom, or you can use bittersweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate and omit the light corn syrup to top your peanut butter cups.

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White Chocolate with Pink Peppercorns

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I love homemade Valentine’s, I’ve beem making them since I was a little girl. There is nothing like taking the time to make something yourself to show you care. I thought making a flavored chocolate this year would be fun. I did a little research and testing and came up with this white chocolate base mixed with touch of lemon zest for tang and some ground pink peppercorns to give a little of heat. The two ingredients offer the perfect harmonious taste when mixed with the white chocolate. What better way to say , ” I love you”!From by the bay, wishing you sweet food memories and a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Maryann
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White Chocolate with Pink Peppercorns
Ingredients
16 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, ground
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Directions
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chocolate in a glass bowl and place in microwave at high for 30 seconds. Remove bowl and stir chocolate with a spatula. Repeat again by placing into microwave for another 30 seconds, remove and stir. Repeat this process until chocolate is melted, which varies althought ususally in total it is 2 -3 times. Stir chocolate until it is completely smooth. Once chocolate is melted add the lemon zest and ground pink peppercorns. Stir well. Pour melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread into a rectangle shape. You can top with some additional pieces of pink peppercorn if you like. Place into the refrigerator to cool. Once cool, break the chocolate into large pieces.

 

Double Chocolate and Toffee Cookies

Sometimes, it’s my pantry that inspires an adaption of a recipe or a new combination of tastes. This cookie was inspired while exploring my pantry. I was looking at what candy and chocolate was still lingering from Christmas. Every Christmas we receive a gift of toffee  with almonds and there was still quite a bit still left over , as well as various chocolate bars received as gifts in food baskets or left from the holiday cookie baking. I decided to bake cookies using the leftover sweets. The cookie dough recipe is a favorite of mine from Ina Garten, which results in a cookie that is soft inside but crispy on the edges. I tossed the toffee into a resealable plastic bag and smashed it with a meat tenderizer, a rolling pin would have worked just as well. I created essentially toffee rubble. Along with the toffee, I chopped up the chocolate into pieces the size of large chocolate chips. I like using bittersweet chocolate but any chocolate would work and the proportions could shift and change based on what sweet left overs you have around as long as you have 1 1/2 cups in total to add to the cookie batter. You can get creative with what you want to add, it could be dried fruit and chocolate or chopped nuts and chocolate instead of the toffee. Make this cookie your own, based on what you like to eat! Happy Baking!

From by the bay wishing you , sweet baking food memories!
Maryann

blog double choco cookie

Double Chocolate and Toffee Cookies
Adapted from Ina Garten, “Barefoot Contessa Parties!” published in 2001
Makes 20 to 24 Cookies

Ingredients
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened ( 1 stick)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup toffee, chopped

Directions
Preheat over to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl add the butter and sugars. Use an electric mixer and beat ingredients until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla  and the then egg and beat in well. Add cocoa and mix well. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture slowly and mix at a low speed. Next add in the chopped chocolate and toffee and combine. Drop dough in rounded teaspoons of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven. The cookie will appear soft, let cool on the pan a few minutes and it will then take shape. Remove and cool on wire racks. Store in air tight containers.

Lentil soup

We continue to be fighting cold weather and the flu here on the east coast. So my call to action is comfort food for strength. I think a hearty soup is the perfect answer.  I used the ham bone I had in the freezer from Christmas , I embarked on making a lentil soup that uses some of my favorite flavors, such as rosemary, thyme, red chili flakes, garlic and some dry sherry. It’s my mother’s lentil soup kicked up a few times for more flavor. I love adding just a touch of heat to the soup with the red chili flakes, and the sherry is purely for medicinal purposes! Lentils are considered a power food, it helps lower cholesterol, helps lower the risk of heart disease and it’s filled with antioxidants. So fortify your family with this delicious and warming soup.

From by the bay wishing you nourishing food memories!
Maryann

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Lentil Soup

Serves 4-6


Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups sweet onions finely chopped

2 tablespoons garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

2 quarts chicken stock

1 ham bone with some meat on bone

1 pound umbrian lentils 

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup dry sherry


Directions

In a stock pot heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté the onions until soften. Add garlic and red chili flakes and saute another minute. Add rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. Sauté until fragrant about one minute. Add the stock and ham bone.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat , cover and simmer for approximately 1 hour. Remove the ham bone, chop the meat from the bone and add back into the soup along with the lentils, salt and pepper and simmer covered another hour. Add sherry and simmer another ten minutes. Remove from heat and serve. 

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