Tag Archives: comfort food

Nanaimo Bars

20 Apr

Nanaimo Bars

Earlier this year, I attended a Pacific Northwest cooking class at The Institute of Culinary Eduation in NYC.  D is from Seattle so I wanted to learn how to make some of the foods he loved growing up.  We learned how to make cedar-planked salmon, venison, butternut squash soup and fire-roasted oysters, among other things.  Nanaimo Bars were one of my favorite dishes we learned how to make, and, interestingly, D had never heard of them before!  Nanaimo Bars are a no-bake three-layer cookie bar with origins in Vancouver.  You can learn more about Nanaimo Bars on its very on Wikipedia page.  This dessert is extremely rich, so even though the yield is a small 8″x8″ pan, you can easily make 60+ bars from one pan because a serving size is so small.  Below is my recipe adapted from the ICE Pacific Northwest Cooking Class.  Enjoy!

Nanaimo Bars
Adapted from ICE Recipe

Bottom Layer:
Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cup graham crackers, crumbled (measured after crumbling)
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup dried unsweetened coconut

Directions
1. Melt butter, sugar and cocoa powder in a double boiler.
2. Add beaten egg and stir to cook and thicken.  When mixed, remove pan from heat.
3. Stir in graham cracker crumbs, almonds and coconut.
4. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″x8″ pan.

Middle Layer:
Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp heavy cream
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder (such as Birds, or substitute instant vanilla pudding powder)
2 cups powdered sugar

Directions
1. Cream butter, heavy cream, custard powder and powdered sugar together well.  Beat until light.
2. Spread over bottom layer.

Top Layer:
Ingredients
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions
1. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat in a double boiler.
2. COOL.  (Don’t skip this step or the top layer will melt into the bottom layers.)
3. When cool, but still liquid, pour over middle layer.
4. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.  Serve cold or slightly cooler than room temperature.

Nanaimo Bars

Sunday Supper: End of Winter Pasta with Cabbage, Speck and Grappa

16 Apr

It’s 85 degrees in NYC today which means that spring is officially upon us!  Last week I made a delicious pasta that is perfect for the final days of cold weather.  Since I found this Andrew Carmellini (former A Voce chef) recipe in a Daily Candy post from 2009, I’ve made this recipe at least once every March/April.  Cabbage is one of those veggies that I know is really good for you but I don’t love cooking with it, so this recipe is a great way to include it in my diet.  Another added plus of this recipe is that it tastes awesome reheated so one pot of this can last me a few days.

Hearty Pasta

End of Winter Pasta with Cabbage, Speck and Grappa
Adapted from Andrew Carmellini recipe (via Daily Candy)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced thin
½ lb. speck, trimmed of overdried skin and cut into thin 1½-inch strips (if you can’t find speck, you can substitute pancetta, bacon or even prosciutto)
1 medium green cabbage
1 lb. dried pasta (I prefer shells because they soak up more of the sauce)
1 c. heavy cream
salt & pepper, to taste
1 egg
½ c. grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
2 tbsp. grappa (very strong Italian alcohol)

Directions
1. Boil a pot of water.  Just before adding pasta, add salt and a dash of olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together while cooking.
2. Heat olive oil and butter in large sauce pot over medium heat. When butter has melted, add onions and speck and cook until onions soften, about three minutes.
3. Meanwhile, remove outer leaves of cabbage and cut in half. Remove hard white core and slice cabbage into thin strips. You should have about four cups.
4. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
5. While pasta cooks, add cabbage to onion-speck mixture and stir continuously until cabbage begins to wilt, about three minutes.  At this point, if you pasta is not finished cooking yet, turn off the heat on the cabbage-onion-speck mixture and let it rest until the pasta is finished.
6. Drain the pasta, saving one cup of the cooking water (you will use if for the sauce).  Return pasta to the pot you cooked it in.
7. Turn heat back on pan containing cabbage-onion-speck mixture to medium heat.  Add cream, black pepper, salt, and UP TO one cup of pasta cooking water. (Note: I usually use 1/2 to 3/4 cup.  It all depends on how thick you want your sauce to be.)  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for two more minutes, until the cabbage has wilted but still maintains a little crunch.
8. Turn heat on pot containing the pasta and add the sauce. Mix well to coat pasta and cook for one minute, so the pasta absorbs some liquid.
9. While the pasta/sauce are cooking together, beat a raw egg.
10. Turn off heat and add egg to pasta, stirring well so it cooks in the hot mixture.
11. Add cheese and stir. Add grappa and stir.
12. Serve immediately in large bowls topped by more cheese and a few cracks of black pepper.

Hearty Pasta

Mom’s Easy Easter Quiche

7 Apr

For Easter brunch tomorrow, I’m making my mom’s super easy and delicious quiche recipe.  She has been making it for so long that she doesn’t use a recipe.  It’s always delicious, but it tastes different with every preparation.  I’m a stickler for following her recipe to a tee because I think the combination of spices is perfect.  Also, this while this recipe calls for heavy cream and whole milk, you can substitute skim or low fat milk if you would prefer.  The resulting quiche will be less fluffy and creamy, but will still taste great with a lot less calories and fat.  In my mind, whenever I make this dish it’s for a festive occasion, so I like to stick with the heavy cream and whole milk and indulge a little!  Note: This recipe makes TWO quiches so if you only want to make one, halve the recipe.  This quiche does well refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for a couple of months though so I always make two and have an extra on hand when a quiche craving strikes!

Mom’s Easy Easter Quiche
Makes 2 quiches, each serving 6-8 people

Ingredients
2 deep dish pie crusts
Dijon mustard
1/2 pound of bacon, cooked and crumbled (6-8 slices)
2 cups shredded cheese (approximately 1 1/2 cups Jarlsberg and 1/2 cup Gruyere)
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
6 eggs
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 cup unsifted flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Grated parmesan cheese
Spray butter or margarine

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Squeeze a large dollop of Dijon mustard on top of each pie crust.  Using the back of a spoon, spread so there is a thin layer of mustard along the bottom and sides of the pie pans.
3. Put crumbled bacon on the bottom of each pie pan.  There should be enough to cover most of the surface area of both pans.
4. Add shredded cheese on top of bacon, dividing evenly between both pie pans.
5. In a large bowl, mix onions, flour, salt, cayenne pepper and nutmeg.   In a small bowl, beat eggs.  Add egg mixture to large bowl of dry ingredients.  Slowly add in heavy cream and milk until fully mixed.
6. Pour mix into both pie pans on top of cheese, dividing evenly between the two.
7. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of each pie and spray a few times with spray butter or margarine.
8. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Then turn temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
9. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Tastes great reheated – simply microwave a slice or warm it in the oven at 350 degrees for a few minutes.

For those of you looking for more of a sugar-filled Easter brunch, check out this link that my mom sent me for some special Cadbury Creme Egg recipes.  I wish I lived in the UK because a Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry sounds really yummy!

Happy Easter everyone!