Very Cherry Chocolate Cake

 

When Neil Diamond released his Cherry Cherry Christmas song, I embraced that message with my cooking. I enhanced a recipe I had kept over the years from Bon Appetit Magazine. The recipe is for a dense Chocolate cake topped with a rich chocolate ganache, which I often  included during my holiday entertaining. This cake, though really became special  for that Cherry Cherry Christmas, by amping up the cherry flavors by using dried cherries and kirsch along with a little excessive decorating over the chocolate ganache. I think the desserts served at the end of your Christmas meal , should look spectacular and feel like magic. I have an arsenal of edible decorations I collect during the year to give that magic factor to my desserts. One of my favorites is edible glitter in multi colors. It’s so much fun to sprinkle this on top of your desserts. Why not try this terrific cake and create your own dessert magic this Christmas! 
From by the bay …………..
Just a very merry, cherry cherry Christmas.And if all of those who love you gather near,you’ll have a very merry, cherry cherry, holly holy,rock and rolly Christmas this year
Read more: NEIL DIAMOND – CHERRY CHERRY CHRISTMAS LYRICS http://www.metrolyrics.com/cherry-cherry-christmas-lyrics-neil-diamond.html#ixzz1guZA1SYr
Copied from MetroLyrics.com

blog xmas cake

This recipe is adapted from a recipe by Rich Rodgers , originally printed in Bon Appetit  Magazine Dec 2003.   

Very Cherry Chocolate Cake

Serves 8-10

Cake

1 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup Kirsch ( cherry liquor)

1 cup ( sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 ½ cup sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

Glaze

1 cup heavy cream

10 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

¼ cup Kirsch

Decoration

Edible glitter

Edible sugar flowers

Silver dragees

Directions for cake

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9 inch spring form pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper. In a small sauce pan add the dried cherries and kirsch. Bring to a low simmer for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool. Drain the cherries and keep the liquor  and cherries both in bowls separate to be used later. In another sauce pan melt the butter and then remove from heat. Add the chocolate pieces and let sit one minute. Whisk the chocolate until melted and smooth. Whisk in the sugar and then the eggs one at a time. Whisk in the reserved liquor.  Add the flour and salt and whisk again until blended. Stir in the dried cherries and then pour into the spring form pan. Place in the oven onto the center rack and bake for 1 hour. Use tester to make sure the center of the cake is done. Tester should come out moist but with no batter attached. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. ( Can be made one day ahead and kept covered at room temperature.)

Directions for glaze

Place cream in medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add Kirsch and whisk again until smooth. Allow glaze to cool and thicken for about two hours in saucepan stirring occasionally. At this point the glaze should be thick yet pourable. While glaze is thickening, turn cake out onto the wire rack and remove the bottom of the spring form pan as well as the parchment paper. Place cake with rack into a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. When glaze is ready, pour half of the glaze onto the cake and use a spatula to smooth over the top and the sides of the cake. Place into the freezer to set for about ten minutes. Remove from freezer and pour the remaining glaze over the cake and smooth evenly again with the spatula. Place again in the freezer for another 15 minutes . Remove from freezer and decorate with edible sugar and sugar flowers. Keep in the refrigerator until 1 hour before serving. Cut into wedges and serve.

 

 

Cranberry Glazed Ham

I started entertaining over the Christmas holidays, when I moved into my first apartment. I had moved from my parents home on Long Island and into a small apartment in Queens. That first year,  I had a small Christmas party so that my parents could come and pick up all the Christmas presents and drive them back to Long Island so I didn’t have to carry them home on the train. So I started in a very small way something that has become an elaborate tradition. I was not a very accomplished cook and I didn’t have alot of extra cash, so the menu was simple and economic – baked ham,deviled eggs, mimosas and cookies. It was an easy brunch and everyone had a great time and I’ve been entertaining for the holidays ever since. I still like to make  a baked ham, it’s easy , delicious and looks like alot more effort than it really is. This cranberry glazed ham is one of my favorites – whether it’s for Christmas Day, Christmas Eve or any other Holiday meal you have a lot of guests to feed. It’s great for get togethers with children accompanied with macaroni and cheese or for adults served with cornbread and cranberries, like the recipe below. I find that most guests are excited to see a festive holiday baked ham on the table. Start your own holiday traditions using this recipe, it’s a perfect one to prepare!
From by the bay wishing you the berriest Christmas memories!
Maryann
blog ham

 

Cranberry Glazed Ham

Serves 12 Dinner

Serves 18 Buffet

1 6-7 lbs fully cooked spiral-cut bone in half smoked ham

4 oz cranberry jelly

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup dijon mustard

¼ cup cranberry juice

1 tablespoon bourbon

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice

Directions

Preheat over to 350F. Place ham in an aluminum foil lined baking pan. In a bowl combine remaining ingredients and whisk together, Brush on to the ham and between the slices. Bake for one hour, until the ham is fully heated. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce

When I was a little girl, my parents would entertain on New Year’s Eve at our home. The celebration only included my parent best friends along with us kids. We would be giddy with excitement as my mother made the preparations. I remember feeling very grown up at six year old being allowed to stay up past my bedtime, although for sure it was not very late. My mom would make an assortment of appetizers and hands down my favorite was the shrimp cocktail. Now when I entertain on New Year’s Eve, I wouldn’t think of not including shrimp cocktail. Today, my mom needs to follow a low sodium and low sugar diet. After reading the ingredients on prepared cocktail sauce, I decided to create my own. My sauce uses the ingredients for a bloody mary – save the vodka, although on New Year’s Eve I have been known to include a splash of vodka in this sauce as well. It’s a perfect twist on my Bloody Mary and it’s also perfect for my mom’s dietary restrictions. We all love it! This will be the best cocktail sauce you have ever had. 

 
From by the bay wishing you a very Happy New Year and may your 2012 be filled with happy food memories!
 
Maryann
blog shrimp cocktail
Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce
 
Ingredients
3/4 cup organic low sodium ketchup
3 tablespoons grated horseradish
1/4 teaspoon tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon vodka, optional
 
Directions
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and chill until ready to use. Serve with shrimp, crab or lobster.

Butter Cookie Recipe

It’s Christmas time and who doesn’t love to have  a platter of cookies at the ready? Whether you are preparing for guests or just trimming the tree alone – it’s nice to have cookies around the house. This is really the only time of year that I would have containers of different types of cookies around the house. It’s one of my favorite excesses at Christmas. A great cookie to try is this french butter cookie. It’s easy to make and I like having a recipe that doesn’t require a lot of work to add to my cookie assortment. This is my version of a cookie I ate in Paris that was topped with a little pillow of chocolate ganache. It was bliss. I also, make some of these topped with jam, since my sister Nancy is not a big chocolate lover. I suggest doing half of the recipe with jam and the other half with the ganache. Even if you don’t consider yourself a baker, this is an easy recipe to try. Enjoy!
From by the bay wishing you the sweetest memories of cookies and Christmas!
Maryann
blog butter cookie
Butter Cookie Recipe
Makes 4 dozen cookies
Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
2 cups all – purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
extra granulated sugar to roll dough
jam to fill cookies
Directions:
In a large bowl add the butter, sugar and vanilla. Use an electric mixer and beat ingredients until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat in well. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture slowly and mix at a low speed. Once blended turn out into a sheet of plastic wrap , flatten and wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Place extra granulated sugar onto a plate. Roll dough into acorn size balls and then roll in the sugar. Place each ball onto an ungreased cookie sheets. Use your finger to flatten each ball. Take your thumb and make a small well in the center of the flatten dough. If you are making jam filled cookies, take a small spoon and fill well with about 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite jam. I like to use apricot, raspberry or red currant jam. If you plan to fill with chocolate ganache ( recipe below) bake as is. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Store in air tight containers.
Chocolate Ganache
Makes 1 cup
Ingredients:
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Directions:
Combine all ingredients into a saucepan and place on medium heat, stirring until the chocolate melts and everything is well combined. Pour into a bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator until you can spoon and shape into small pillow of chocolate to place on top of plain french butter cookies and serve. Don’t stack this cookie on your tray.

Naughty and Nice Gazpacho

 

I am a big fan of the music of Chris Isaak. When I’m creating recipes in my kitchen by the bay, I’m often rocking and dancing around the kitchen listening to his music. If you are not familiar with Chris Isaak, do yourself a favor and check it out.  Chris has just released a great new album called “Beyond the Sun”- recorded at the famous Sun Studios in Memphis. It’s filled with music originally recorded by Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins to name a few. Last year I had the opportunity to meet Chris. I was so worried about what I could possibly speak to him about- and go figure food was a common interest. Chris is a fan of a certain gazpacho soup – one with a little kick in it. This is my version of that recipe. I happen to love to serve shot glasses of cold soups when entertaining and Christmas is no exception. I renamed my soup after Chris – Naughty and Nice Gazpacho and if you have ever seen him perform you’ll know why this is the perfect name!
 
From by the bay wishing you naughty AND nice food memories!
Maryann

blog gazpacho 2

Naughty and Nice Gazpacho

Serves 6

 

Ingredients:

1 28 ounce can whole fire roasted tomatoes ( if you can’t find fire roasted use canned whole plum tomatoes)

1 large roasted red pepper , from a jar packed in olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper , seeded and chopped

1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

 

Directions:

Place all the ingredients into food processor and process until pureed. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Curried Cashews

It’s winter and there is a definite chill that comes across the water by the bay , so when I entertain guests on those cold chilly evenings, I love to serve something warming along with that cocktail. My curried cashews just do the trick . The heat of the curry in these wonderful nuts is the perfect welcoming to guests coming in from the cold. Home roasted nuts are so easy but it makes your guests feel that you took some extra time to prepare to welcome them into your home. Additionally, you can’t buy anything ready made to taste as good as these warm nuts do. Try it the next time you entertain and you’re be receiving all kinds of praise!

From by the bay, wishing you the warmest food memories!

Maryann

blog curry cashews

Curried Cashews

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon curry powder

¾ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups raw whole cashews

Additional coarse sea salt to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Heat olive oil in pan add curry powder, salt, cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant – approximately 1 min.

Add cashews and coat nuts for one to two minutes. Remove from heat and place on baking sheet in one layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven, sprinkle with additional sea salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

blog curry cash2

Very Berry Cranberry Sauce

I know that cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving staple , but I love serving it through out the holiday season. I grew up eating canned cranberry sauce. In fact my Uncle Tom, owned a canning factory in Egg Harbor, New Jersey. This was the family’s source for most of our cranberry needs. We had cases of cranberry sauce and loved it!  When my Uncle Tom decided to close his plant and move onto other ventures we were ready to buy our sauce at the supermarket, but instead my Uncle Tom brought to the house some fresh cranberries and taught me how to make my own cranberry sauce. It tasted terrific and was so easy to make!  There was no going back and I’ve been making some version of his cranberry sauce ever since! This is a favorite of mine for Christmas celebrations, I love the mix of all the berries , as well as that little kick of kirsch. The kirsch, reminds me of  Christmases when I was a little girl watching my grandfather pour a shots of this wonderful cherry smelling liquid to celebrate with his friends and family!  The sauce is the perfect compliment to all your holiday foods –  smoked ham, pork loin, turkey or even beef! You are guaranteed to create some happy food memories with this very berry sauce!

From By the Bay wishing you the berriest food memories!
Maryann

blog cranberry xmas

Very Berry Cranberry Sauce
Serves Six

 

½ cup cranberry juice cocktail

1 cup fine sugar

1 12oz, package whole fresh cranberries

½ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup dried cherries

¼ cup cherry brandy (Kirsch)

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

 

Directions

Combine cranberry juice, brandy and sugar in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, dried cranberries, dried cherries and allspice. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer approximately 10 minutes until the cranberries start to burst. Remove from heat. Cool completely and then chill in refrigerator. Cranberry sauce will thicken. Serve chilled.

blog berry cran sauce

Spritz Cookies

 

blog spritz1

 

Definition: Spritz Cookies are make with a cookie press. A cookie press allows the baker to shape dough into uniform shapes quickly. Cookie presses come in a variety of shapes but this is especially wonderful for Christmas entertaining. Cookies can be made into wreaths, trees, stars etc. These butter cookies are really a holiday staple.

 

My fondest Christmas cooking memory is making cookies with my mother. When I was a little girl, our Christmas tradition was making these wonderful little spritz butter cookies and decorating them. We made them only  at Christmas and we would enjoy them through out the holidays. An equally wonderful memory was when my mother handed over to me the official role of baking these cookies for the holidays along with her cookie press. She came over to my house and taught me exactly what to do. I was not so great at making the shapes when we first started so don’t get discouraged when you first attempt these little cookies. If you don’t like how they look just grab up that dough and throw it back into the cookie press and try again. I had to do that a few times before I finally got the hang of it. I was under close supervision by my mother when she taught me how to make these cookies. The way I knew that I had succeeded in my baking was at the end of the afternoon, mom said to me, why don’t I leave the cookie press here with you now.  You’ll love these cookies and will want to make it part of your Christmas traditions!

 

Come back for more Christmas food ideas!

 
From by the bay wishing you the warmest Christmas food memories!

Maryann

 

 

 blog spritz2

 

Spritz Sugar Cookies

5 dozen cookies

1 lb unsalted butter

1 ½ cup fine sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

5 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Optional: sprinkles, colored sugar, candied cherries, chocolate to decorate

Requires : cookie press or spritz

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl add dry ingredients, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix and keep to the side. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter until fluffy. Add sugar gradually and beat well. Add eggs one at a time until well combined. Add vanilla until blended. Add dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well until the dough is smooth. Using a spoon put dough into cookie press. Press shaped cookies onto an non stick baking sheet. You can decorate the cookies with colored sugar or sprinkles or candied cherries depending on the shape. Bake in oven for 7 minutes. If using two trays, after 3 minutes rotate baking sheets on oven rack and then bake another 4 minutes until the bottoms of the cookies start to brown. Store cookies in an air tight container.

Holiday decorating

Wreaths: decorate before baking with candied cherry pieces and green sugar.

Trees : with multicolor chocolate sprinkles.

Stars: pressed into a long log and cut into 2 inch pieces. Dip the ends in melted chocolate and then dip into sprinkles

 

Turkey Panini with Cranberry Mayonnaise and Turkey Hunter’s Stew

 

I think people fall into one of two categories at Thanksgiving – those who love leftovers and those who hate them. I fall into the love category. Although Thanksgiving lends to alot of  food in the house, I love the challenge of trying to make something new out of what is left. Many times I enjoy just reheating dinner from Thursday, but it’s more fun to fiddle around with the ingredients so that it becomes a dish you would just love to eat at any time of the year. The first recipe is my take on a post thanksgiving day sandwich. I use a nice sliced brioche bread and make a cranberry mayonnaise using leftover cranberry sauce. It’s layered up with turkey, pear slices, brie and proscuitto. The brie and proscuitto are leftover from my Thanksgiving cheese platter that I serve accompanied by fruit – including of course some pears. The second dish is Hunter Stew with turkey. This is a french stew that typically uses chicken. Instead, I made a stew of mushrooms using some of the leftover turkey gravy along with chicken stock and then add the cooked turkey at the end. You’ll love this dish. If you don’t have gravy leftover just add another cup of chicken stock along with 1/2 cup of white wine and increase the amount of flour by another two tablespoons. If you know any leftover haters, these recipes could convert them!

From by the bay wishing you the happiest thanksgiving and fond food memories!
Maryann

blog turkey sandwich

Turkey Panini with Cranberry Mayonnaise
Serves 1
2 slices brioche bread
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon cranberry mayonnaise
2 slices turkey
2 thin slices pear
1 slice proscuitto ham
2 tablespoons softened brie cheese, no rind
Heat panini press or skillet. Butter two slices of bread. Buttered sides are the outside of the sandwich. On one side of bread – not buttered spread the cranberry mayonnaise, add the turkey , then pear, proscuitto. Last spread the brie across the top of the proscuitto. Top with the other slice of bread , press down and then toast until cheese is melted and bread browned. Serve immediately.

Cranberry Mayonnaise
Makes 4 sandwiches

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons leftover cranberry sauce

Mix both ingreidents well.

blog turkey hunter stew

Turkey Hunter’s Stew
Serves 4-6
Ingredients
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
6 tablespoons shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
12 ounces assorted mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups chardonnay herb gravy ( or whatever turkey gravy you have leftover)
1 bay leave
2 springs thyme
4 cups cooked turkey cubed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Directions
Heat in a dutch oven butter and olive oil. Add garlic, shallots and rosemary and saute for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 8 to 10 minutes until mushrooms are also softened and brown. To this add the flour and stir, saute for another minute then add the tomato paste , gravy , broth, bay leave and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for about 30 minutes. Add the turkey and cook long enough for the turkey to warm in the gravy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately accompanied with egg noodles.

 

 

Cranberry and Pecan Biscotti


a CHOCO BISCOTTI

 

Cranberry and Pecan Biscotti

24 cookies

½ cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon shortening (Crisco)

3 eggs

1 cup fine granulated  sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup dried cranberries

½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using an electric mixer , beat together butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time and mix. Add vanilla and cinnamon until well blended. Add the flour , baking powder and salt. Mix well until the dough is smooth. Using a spoon, mix in the cranberries and pecans. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into two. Shape each half of the dough  into a log approximately 2 inch high x 12 inches long.  Place the logs on to an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes on a baking rack. Place on a cutting board and using a serrated knife slice each log on the diagonal  into 12 pieces approximately 1 inch thick. Place the pieces back on to the baking sheet and bake 5-8  minutes, turn the slices to the other side and bake another 5-8  minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Store cookies in an air tight container.