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Aug 24, 2016
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Baked: Ginger Peach Tarte Tatin

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016



The Song household is still peach crazy. Today, I opted for a simple tarte Tatin, swapping apples for peaches. A classic tarte Tatin covers caramelized apples with puff pastry. It is baked and then flipped onto a serving dish to reveal a wonderfully simple and delicious dessert akin to a pie but even easier to put together.

In this version, buttery, flaky pastry cushions warm peaches punched up with fresh ginger for a zippy finish. I used a heavenly European-style cultured salted butter I found at Trader Joe’s that tempered the sweetness and added a lovely tang. Serve a slice of this decadent treat plain or with whipped cream or ice cream. Either way, it’ll disappear in a day. Enjoy and happy baking!


Ginger Peach Tarte Tatin
Adapted from a recipe at Port and Fin
1 9-inch tarte

3 large peaches, peeled and pitted
1/3 cup cultured salted butter (or regular salted butter)
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
½ Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
Fresh whipped cream or ice cream for serving

• Cut each peach into 6 wedges and set aside.
• In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the sugar, swirling the pan every so often until the sugar caramelizes to a light brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
• Remove from heat and add the ginger, then the peaches in a tight, even layer, making sure each wedge touches the bottom of the pan.
• Return the pan to the stove over medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes, until the peaches have softened and the caramel is thick and syrupy.
• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan or pie pan with nonstick spray.
• Pour the peaches into the pan and spread into an even layer. Cover with the puff pastry, then use a sharp knife to trim any overhanging dough so it fits inside the pan. Cut several small slits in the top to release moisture during baking. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.
• Let cool 10 minutes. Use a sharp knife to run it along the edge of the pastry so nothing sticks. Place the serving dish on top of the tarte, then quickly invert the cake pan, flipping the tart onto the serving dish. (Tap a bit if the tart sticks.) Slice and serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Baked: Broccolini Melt

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016



These broccolini melts are perfect for any meal or cut into smaller pieces for appetizers. Broccolini is similar to its cousin broccoli, but it has longer, thinner stems and a subtler flavor. Imagine gently sauteed, crunchy broccolini with garlic, onions and copious amounts of cheese, all atop a lovely piece of toast. It’s like a healthier version of grilled cheese. Customize with different types of bread and cheese, or make it extra decadent with an egg on top. Enjoy and happy baking!


Broccolini Melt
Adapted from a recipe at Smitten Kitchen
4 servings

1 lb. broccolini, chopped into 2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. water
Kosher salt to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 small or medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
⅓ cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
8 thin slices cheddar cheese
8 slices sturdy bread, toasted

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• In a medium microwave-safe bowl, add the broccolini and water and season with salt. Cover with a lid or damp paper towel and microwave 2 to 3 minutes, until the broccolini is tender but crunchy. Drain well and pat dry, then chop into ½-inch pieces.
• In a saute pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic begins to brown. Add the broccolini and cook 2 minutes, seasoning with additional salt.
• Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add the balsamic vinegar, pecorino and red pepper flakes, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then arrange the bread. Evenly divide the broccolini mixture among the bread, the top each with a slice of cheddar. Bake 8 minutes, until the cheese melts and bubbles on top.

Baked: Peaches and Cream Popsicles

Thursday, July 21st, 2016




The Song household has gone peach crazy. We recently went peach picking at Eckert’s Farm, and my overzealous husband came home with 11 pounds of this summer stunner. Of course, peaches are juicy and tasty as is, but I wanted to toss them in fresh fruity desserts.

Peach popsicles are incredibly easy and fun to make. Freshly roasted peaches and gently sweetened vanilla yogurt make for a wonderful combination. It’s light, refreshing and healthier than a scoop of peach pie a la mode. These are perfect for summer – the oven sees minimal use, and cold treats are the perfect antidote to this blistering heat wave. Enjoy and happy baking!


Peaches and Cream Popsicles
Adapted from a recipe by What’s Gaby Cooking 
6 servings

4 large peaches, pitted and chopped
½ cup honey, divided
½ cup Greek yogurt
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
Small pinch of sea salt

• Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
• Toss the peaches in a bowl with ¼ cup honey, then spread the peaches out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast until the peaches are soft and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove and let cool to room temperature.
• In the bowl of a food processor or blender, pulse the peaches once or twice to create a chunky mix. Set aside.
• In a separate bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, milk and the remaining ¼ cup honey. Stir in the vanilla and sea salt until smooth.
• Alternate spoonfuls of the peach mixture and yogurt mixtures in the ice pop molds until they are filled. Add sticks in the center of each ice pop and freeze until set, 4 to 5 hours.
• To remove, run the mold under warm water  15 seconds, then pull gently until the popsicle release.


Baked: Pistachio Raspberry Muffins

Thursday, July 7th, 2016



I was devastated when my doctor recently informed me that I must switch to a gluten-free diet, likely for the rest of my life. While I no longer partake of flour-based goodies (I do still bake them for my job and for friends.), I’m learning to adapt and develop naturally gluten-free treats that don’t use highly processed gluten-free flour blends.

I was craving one of my pistachio raspberry muffins, so I swapped the traditional all-purpose flour for nut flours instead. Finely ground almonds can do wonders as a replacement for AP flour, and rice flour just adds a bit more texture. Finally, pistachios and raspberries balance each other with tartness and nuttiness. Enjoy and happy baking!


Gluten-free Pistachio Raspberry Muffins
Adapted from a recipe in The Afternoon Tea Collection by Pamela Clark
1 dozen

4 oz. (½ stick) butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
2 cups almond flour*
½ cup pistachio flour*
½ cup rice flour
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup raspberries
2 Tbsp. coarse sugar

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
• In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer on high speed, beat the butter and granulated sugar together until soft and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the vanilla and the eggs 1 at a time until combined.
• And the almond flour, pistachio flour, rice flour, baking soda and salt. Use a spatula to combine, than gently fold almost all the raspberries, reserving a few to top the muffins.
• Evenly divide the batter among the muffin cups. Top each with the remaining raspberries and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
• Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Let cool completely before eating.

*Almond flour and pistachio flour are available at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Baked: Chicken Biryani

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016



Biryani is a spiced rice dish with roots in countries across the Middle East and South Asia. It is essentially a layered baked dish that alternates spiced rice and marinated meat. My sister came up with this recipe and after she shared it with me, I wanted to share it with you.

Though biryani can be spicy, I’ve kept it minimal here, but feel free to add more to your taste. Shan brand spice packets can be found at Global Foods Market and Indian specialty markets. Serve this dish with a side of raita, a cooling Indian yogurt side that will calm the spice. Enjoy and happy baking!

Chicken Biryani
4 to 6 servings

½ cup milk
1 tsp. saffron
2 cups basmati rice
4 peppercorns
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. vegetable or canola oil, plus more for frying
½ large onion, thinly sliced
4 roma tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup European-style plain yogurt
6 cloves garlic
2 to 3 Tbsp. Shan Spice Mix for Special Bombay Biryani*, cardamom seeds removed, plus more to taste
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) butter, thinly sliced and divided
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
Raita for serving (recipe follows)

• Warm the milk in a small pot over medium heat. Remove from heat, pour into a small bowl and soak the saffron in the milk. Set aside.
• Cook the rice according to package directions, adding the peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon stick before cooking. Let cool completely. Remove the aromatics, if desired.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• In a large pan with high sides, warm 1 inch oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and fry until medium to dark brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the onions and place on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool. Set aside.
• In a blender, puree the tomatoes, yogurt, garlic and spice mix together in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
• In a clean nonstick skillet, warm 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, then stir in the yogurt mixture. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
• In an 8-by-10-inch baking dish, spread half the rice in an even layer, followed by ¼ cup of the milk and 2 tablespoons butter. Add the chicken and cover with the remaining rice, ¼ cup milk and butter. Sprinkle with mint.
• Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Garnish with the fried onions and serve with raita on the side.

1½ cup

½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup European-style plain yogurt
3 Tbsp. water, plus more to taste
2 Tbsp. sugar, plus more to taste
2 tsp. chaat masala*

• In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Season to taste with sugar or water

*Shan spice mixes and chaat masala are available at Global Foods Market in Kirkwood or Indian specialty markets.

Baked: Leftover Cake Trifle

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016



I never like to throw anything away, so when I came across these unfrosted white chocolate-vanilla cupcakes taking up space in my freezer, I decided to put together quick individual trifles for a dinner party. After all, cake, custard, spring berries and freshly whipped cream is a winning combination.

I’ve actually shared part of this recipe with you before. The cupcakes are a simple, plain vanilla cake with white chocolate chunks stirred in. They’re moist, lovely and pair well with fresh fruit and cream. Serve it in glass cups, so people can see the layers and feel free to experiment with other cake flavors, flavored creams or different fruits. Enjoy and happy baking!


Leftover Cake Trifle
Adapted from a recipe at Smitten Kitchen 
8 to 12 servings

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream
6 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 batch White Chocolate-Vanilla Cupcakes (recipe here), cubed
1 cup sliced strawberries and raspberries

• Make a vanilla custard by heating the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until very warm but not boiling. Keep warm and set aside.
• In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the egg yolks and sugar it pales in color. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the warm milk, whisking until it comes together.
• Return the liquid to the saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until it bubbles and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately add the vanilla and the butter and whisk until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
• Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
• To assemble the trifles, evenly divide the cake cubes between 8 to 12 glass cups. Evenly divide ½ cup strawberries and raspberries among the cups, then top each with a generous dollop of vanilla custard followed by a dollop of whipped cream. Top each with the remaining ½ cup strawberries and raspberries. Refrigerate until chilled; serve within 1 hour to prevent the cake from getting soggy.


Baked: Marble Chocolate Piñata Cake

Thursday, May 12th, 2016



A friend recently requested a classic marbled vanilla and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for a dinner party, but considering it’s a Mexican theme, I thought I’d turn the dessert into a piñata cake. This is such an easy way to add a fun surprise element to a traditional treat. You can add any candy you prefer. I opted for M&M’s because they spill out when you remove the first slice. This cake would be great to make for a gender reveal baby shower if you add only blue or pink candies.

The marble cake turns out beautifully, and the frosting is thick and fudgy, reminiscent of classic store-bought chocolate frosting without all the unpronounceable preservatives. The candies in the center add a great crunch. It is rather decadent, but it’s perfect for a special occasion with lots of friends and family. Enjoy and happy baking!


Marble Chocolate Piñata Cake
Adapted from a recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction
1 4-layer 9-inch cake

4 cups cake flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
4 cups (8 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
8 egg yolks at room temperature
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1⅔ cups whole milk at room temperature, divided
8 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, melted
5½ cups powdered sugar
1½ cups cocoa powder
M&M’s or colorful candies of your choice

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray and set aside.
• In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix and set aside.
• In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat on high speed until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs and egg yolks until combined. Add the 2 tablespoons vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined.
• Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Add the dry ingredients and 1⅓ cups milk and fold in with a spatula until the batter is smooth, thick and just combined.
• Remove 2 cups batter and place in another medium-sized bowl. Add the chocolate and stir until combined.
• Evenly divide half the yellow batter between the 2 cake pans. Evenly divide the chocolate batter between the cake pans, pouring into the center of each pan. Evenly divide the remaining yellow batter between the cake pans, covering the chocolate. Use a knife to gently swirl the batters together, creating a marbling effect.
• Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until toothpicks inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean. Let cool completely before removing from the pans. Once cool, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at least 2 hours.
• Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the remaining 2 cups (4 sticks) butter on high until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, the remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla and the remaining ⅓ cup milk and mix on low. Once combined, beat on high 3 minutes until fluffy. Add more sugar to sweeten or cream to thin, if needed.
• To assemble, unwrap the frozen cakes and use a bread knife to carefully slice horizontally through each cake to create 4 layers.
• Use a 4-inch round cookie cutter or a glass to cut out a round in the center of 2 cake layers. Remove and discard the extra cake or reserve for another use.
• Place 1 whole layer (without a cutout) on the cake stand or serving plate. Add a dollop of frosting and spread evenly atop the cake.
• Add 1 layer with a cutout atop the base. Add a dollop of frosting and spread evenly atop and inside the hole, then repeat with the remaining layer with a cutout. Add a dollop of frosting and spread evenly atop and inside the hole.
• Fill the center of the cake to the brim with M&Ms. Cover with the last whole layer. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake evenly.
• Serve at room temperature. The cake will keep at room temperature up to 1 week.



Baked: Enchiladas Verdes

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016



For years, I had only tried tomato-based enchiladas, and they were never my favorite Mexican dish. Then my friend made green enchiladas for a party, and I couldn’t stop eating them. They were tangy, juicy and cheesy. My friend was sweet enough to share the recipe, passed down to her from family friends. I adjusted it only slightly to my own preference. This comes together quickly and makes a large batch that will last all week. Enjoy and happy baking!


Enchiladas Verdes
6 to 8 servings

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken, boiled and shredded
½ medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
10 oz. sour cream
1 7.6-oz. can media crema*
1 4-oz. can diced green chiles
¼ cup salsa verde
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
Juice of 1 lime
1 handful chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
20 to 30 corn or flour tortillas
1 28-oz. can tomatillo sauce (green enchilada sauce)

• Place the chicken breasts in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil 5 minutes, then remove from heat, cover and let sit 30 minutes, until cool to the touch. Shred with forks and set aside.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• In a medium nonstick skillet over low heat, gently cook the onion in the vegetable oil until browned, 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel and set aside.
• Add the sour cream, media crema, green chiles, salsa verde, garlic, cumin, lime juice and cilantro to the onions and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add 1 cup cheese.
• Add half of the sour cream sauce to the shredded chicken and mix until the chicken is well coated. Set both bowls aside.
• Return the nonstick skillet to the stove over medium heat. Toast a tortilla 30 seconds on each side. Transfer tortillas to a plate and stack to keep warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
• Coat the bottom of an 11-by-14-inch casserole dish with a thin layer of tomatillo sauce to keep the tortillas from sticking to the pan.
• Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture down the center of 1 tortilla, then wrap the tortilla around the filling and place seam side-down in the pan. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, lining them up side by side until the pan is full. Pour the remaining tomatillo sauce evenly over the enchiladas, then evenly cover with the remaining sour cream sauce and remaining 1 cup cheese.
• Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until light brown and bubbling around the edges. Garnish with chopped cilantro and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

*Find media crema, also called Mexican table cream, in the international aisle of most grocery stores.

Baked: Taco Torte

Friday, April 8th, 2016



Homemade tortillas are so much easier than I ever imagined. You can use them for a variety of Mexican-inspired dishes, but this taco torte was absolutely delicious. It’s a savory cake, like a stacked Mexican pizza. Each bite has all the flavors of a taco with crispy edged tortillas in between. Prepare the tortillas ahead of time (or opt for store-bought) then quickly customize the torte to you preferences for a quick weeknight meal. Enjoy and happy baking!


Taco Torte
Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe
6 to 8 servings

Nonstick cooking spray
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp. cumin or taco seasoning
1 15-oz. can chopped tomatoes
¼ cup tomato paste
2 15-oz. cans black, pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ cup frozen corn kernels
3 cups kale or spinach leaves
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, sliced avocados and/or salsa for serving
6 flour tortillas (Recipe follows.)

• Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
• In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil, then add the onion, garlic, jalapeno (if using) and cumin, and saute until the onion is softened until the cumin is fragrant, about 3 minutes.
• Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, then the beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer until everything is hot, about 3 minutes.
• Add the corn and kale and stir until the leaves are wilted and everything is well combined. Season to taste.
• Place 1 tortilla in the prepared cake pan. Spread one-sixth of the bean mixture evenly over the tortilla, then sprinkle ¼ cup cheese evenly over the top. Repeat with 5 more layers, ending with the last of the bean mixture and shredded cheese.
• Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before removing it from the pan by carefully lifting the foil. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
• Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream, salsa or avocado.




Flour Tortillas
Adapted from a recipe at Cooks.com
Makes 8 tortillas

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1/6 cup vegetable oil
½ cup warm water

• In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the oil and water and knead until the dough comes together until the dough is smooth, about 2 to 4 minutes.
• Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and divide into 8 equal portions. Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten with your hands, adding more flour as needed to keep from sticking. Place on a large plate, cover with a clean towel and let rest 15 minutes.
• Roll each piece of dough into a rough circle about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Set aside in a single layer.
• Place a large pan over medium-high heat. When the surface is very hot, add 1 tortilla and toast 1 minute, until the bottom has a few pale brown spots. Flip and toast another 30 seconds, until both sides have a few light brown blisters.
• Remove from the pan with tongs and stack in a covered container or zip-top bag. Repeat with remaining tortillas, wiping out the pan between each to collect any excess flour. Serve warm or let cool for later use. Tortillas will keep, frozen and separated with parchment paper and stored in a zip-top bag.


Baked: Greek Yogurt-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, March 24th, 2016



I can seriously binge on chocolate chip cookies, so I’m often looking for slightly healthier alternatives. These Greek yogurt cookies are cake-like with a chewy edge. They taste very close to your standard chocolate chip cookies without the butter. The dough is very sticky, so be sure to set aside time for it to chill. These are incredibly satisfying for being on the healthier side, but you’ll still have trouble eating just one. Enjoy and happy baking!


Greek Yogurt-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from a recipe at Baker by Nature
1 dozen cookies

¼ cup solid coconut oil
½ cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup 2-percent or full-fat Greek yogurt
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup chocolate chips or chunks
Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling

• In a medium-sized bowl using a hand mixer, beat the coconut oil with the brown sugar and granulated sugars on high speed until combined, about 5 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla extract and yogurt and beat to combine.
• Use a spatula to fold in the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda and salt until mixed, then fold in the chocolate chips. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
• Wet palms and fingertips with water, then scoop 12 even-sized dollops on the baking sheet a few inches apart. Sprinkle the sea salt flakes over the tops of the cookies.
• Bake 9 to 12 minutes, until cookies begin to brown around the edges.
• Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


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